ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Sergio Rios is part of a well-oiled machine. The guitarist spends nearly 300 days a year performing with the Los Angeles-based funk band Orgone.
After 10 years in the music business and five albums, the eight-piece band shows no sign of slowing down.
“We do a lot of meditating,” Rios quips during a recent interview. “With a schedule like ours, we use our days off to drive or do laundry. What gives us the energy to be on stage night after night is the crowd. They are the reason we work so hard.”
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Rios says the band has evolved quite a bit since beginning as a four-piece instrumental group. The core members were friends for about eight years before adding more players.
“We underwent a natural progression and added horns and a vocalist,” he explains. “On our current record, we became more refined in our focus. We started to write better hooks and songs that highlight (vocalist) Niki (J. Crawford). The songs are also better in arrangements and production.”
Orgone has evolved into an incendiary live act, both as a headliner or opening for artists including The Roots, Al Green, Gil Scott-Heron, Rebelution, Galactic, Ozomatli, Snoop Dogg, Thievery Corporation, Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings, Groundation and Aaron Neville.
Whether playing clubs or slots at national festivals, the band is one that grabs attention.
“It’s like I said earlier,” Rios explains. “We are drawn to the stage to perform, but it’s the reaction of the crowd that gives us the energy. If there was no crowd, it probably wouldn’t be that interesting of a show.”
The eight members – Crawford, Rios, Dan Hastie, Stewart Killen, Sam Halterman, Ethan Phillips, Darren Cardoza and Devin Williams – are working on an upcoming album that Rios describes as “solid sounding.”
“We’ve had some friends come in and help us out with the lyrics,” he explains. “There is a theme of love in the songs. Recording the album has evolved in that the band has dialed in its production techniques. We’ve all gotten better at what we do and there’s so much more room to grow.”