For most students, winter break is a time to go home for the holidays or binge watch a series on Netflix. For John Benitez, Andrew Gonzales and Michael Guerrero, the month of January brought an entirely different opportunity: the chance their band to go on tour.
A Hero to Fall, founded in 2011, is composed of John Benitez (drums), Andrew Gonzales (guitar/vocals), Michael Guerrero (guitar/vocals) and Nico Mulletgnarly (bass). The group has released one EP, “What Doesn’t Kill You,” along with several singles and is currently working on its upcoming EP, “Past Lives, Current Lies.”
Although AHTF has performed several shows throughout Sonoma County and the Bay Area, the band is most proud of their recent west coast tour, which took them across three states and twice as many venues.
“It took us five years to get there,” said Benitez, a fourth-year communications & media studies major at Sonoma State University, “We put in a lot of hard work, determination, and dedication to do so. We couldn’t have been happier and more excited to hit the road and play in cities we had never been to before.”
The music they play is fast and powerful. The energetic drums are paired with hyper-technical guitar phrases that make it almost impossible to not get pumped up while listening.
If restricted within a single genre, AHTF would most closely resemble progressive metalcore. But the everyday relevance of the themes within the music cannot be denied, touching on subjects ranging from relationships to depression and suicide, the lyrics are meant to shine light on topics that affect a large part of society.
In “Breathe Again,” from the album “What Doesn’t Kill You,” the lyrics emphasize the struggles that many young adults go through: “As time stands still/ And you don’t feel like you can go another day/ Just remember, it goes away.”
For Guerrero, a fourth-year early childhood development major, playing music is much more than a hobby.
“I’m planning on becoming a special education teacher,” he said, “There are tons of ways that music can benefit children, both typically and non-typically developing.”
The passion for playing music is paralleled by all the members of the band as well.
“There are so many times where I can be found beating the living daylights out of my truck steering wheel with my fingers,” said Benitez, “It’s all because of the music I’m listening to… It’s infectious.”
The band’s energy is most palpable at their live shows, which they frequently have all around Sonoma County.
“I have lots of fun memories at their shows,” says Lizzie Trout, a longtime fan. “There was a holiday show that the guys did at the Arlene Francis Center where the bassist wore a Grinch mask and danced on stage while he played. He was the highlight of the show.”
While being in a band has been very rewarding for its members, it has not been without a few challenges. According to Benitez, the most difficult obstacle has been funding the project.
“There’s recording costs, merch costs, transportation costs, equipment costs, management costs, not to mention personal costs,” he said. “Nonetheless, we are determined to get our music in the hands of people, and if that means paying for it ourselves, then so be it.”
The burdens of being in a band became all too real when the AHTF’s brand new equipment trailer got totaled while on tour in January. “It put a halt to the project and we are still feeling the effects of the incident,” said Guerrero. Still, the group remains optimistic and directs their energy to the music.
Information for upcoming shows can be found on A Hero To Fall’s Facebook page.