Native Sun Found Its Musical Influences in New York and Miami

The way Danny Gomez and Nico Espinosa tell it, they had to leave South Florida to make their rock 'n' roll dreams come true.

Native Sun Found Its Musical Influences in New York and Miami
Life Style

"I was born in Colombia, and my family moved to Fort Lauderdale when I was 8," Gomez tells New Times. "New York City was where my obsessions lay. Lou Reed, Television, William Burroughs, Sonic Youth — music history can be traced back through the years in New York."

Still, it took some time for the band Native Sun to form, according to Gomez. "I had to learn the streets. I had to take some time living before the band came, and I started writing songs," he adds.

The first EP, Always Different, Always the Same, came out in 2018 with influences from all those CBGB touchstone bands he mentioned and hints of other New York rock faves, from the Strokes to New York Dolls.

At a show, Gomez met another South Florida rocker in exile in Espinosa, a drummer who had moved to New York from Miami Beach as one half of the band Deaf Poets.

"When we toured, we always looked forward to coming to New York City," Espinosa says. "There was a sense of something bigger there. It seemed like every person had a story."

During the lockdown, the band became a trio when bassist Justin Barry joined. "When COVID started, I made myself write a song a day. It was a great distraction," Gomez explains. "Once we could hang out, we started playing the songs live, and they found shape. I don't like to say it's a pandemic record, but they're the highs and lows of the time."

Those highs and lows came together as the EP Off With Our Heads in 2022.

"We rehearsed those songs as much as we could because we always wanted to record the songs live on tape just like our heroes did. We wanted that live energy," Espinosa says.

And though you can take the rockers out of Miami, you apparently can't take the Miami out of the rockers. The band admits to being heavily influenced by their hometown.

"We bring in a fresh perspective," Gomez adds. "Our type of music has always been dominated by white artists. Both of us with Hispanic roots — salsa, tango, merengue, bossa nova — all rhythmically subconsciously influence the band. Rock 'n' roll was originally about getting people moving."

Espinosa also thinks the quality of musicianship in Miami helped strengthen his skills as a drummer.

"I started playing at Churchill's, Gramps, Las Rosas. I was shaped by those experiences," he says. "There was so much competition for attention in Miami — that's helped me on stage."

When the band makes its Miami debut at Gramps on June 10, the experience will be a homecoming of sorts for Gomez and Espinona.

"There's going to be a lot of people we know and waiting," Gomez says. "It's going to be unpredictable, chaotic. Anything can happen at our shows. We've had everything from people giving us peanut butter to spread all over ourselves to dangling on the roof. We play every show like it's our last."

But before the chaos is unleashed onstage, Espinosa stops socializing and looks for a quiet space 30 minutes before showtime. "I try to get my yoga and stretches in. I need to get in my own world and have a quiet state of mind. I listen to the Osees song 'Animated Violence,' and I make sure to have one nail painted red so I can see it when I whack the snare."

Gomez says his pre-show ritual is much simpler: "I just get up there."