Though they hail from the scene that produced Bruce Springsteen, the members of deSol have a strong affinity for New England.
“We love it there,” said front man Albie Monterrosa in a recent phone interview. “Asbury Park is our first home, but we feel the same way about Asbury as we do about New England.”
“Karma,” the 2005 debut single from the rock band with a Spanish soul, garnered radio airplay and great fan response. “People were supportive of the band and what we stood for,” recalled Monterrosa. “Countless people have helped us up there. … New Hampshire is a hidden gem.”
So if anything can coax deSol out of a three-year hiatus, it’s an appearance at the annual Concert for the Cause benefit for Child and Family Services of New Hampshire.
“We’ve worked with them in the past, bro, and to us it’s so important,” said Monterrosa. “They’ve treated us great and we stand behind the cause. We’re all about it.”
The band’s music has been called “rock with a Spanish soul.” Monterrosa grew up with classic rock instincts, moving to the New Jersey suburbs as a teenager and eschewing the ethnic stew of Queens, where he was born. His first instrument was the piano, and in high school he listened to Billy Joel, Elton John and singer songwriters like Jackson Browne and Paul Simon.
But a self-described “awakening” around 2000 caused him to follow his roots, inspired by Spanish performers like Ruben Blades and star-crossed salsa singer Hector Lavoe.
“I said, ‘You know, this is who I am, so why not put it into the music?’ So I started playing my parents’ music,” he said with a laugh. “But I grew up listening to John Lennon and Bob Marley … people who had a voice for society, for love, for the real things in this human existence.”
Out of that balance, deSol was born.
A 2001 independent album got them a major label deal. The band spent most of the decade touring, playing from 200 to 250 shows a year. Eventually, the rigors of the road wore them down, but they haven’t lost a step at their recent gigs, according to Monterrosa.
“The camaraderie is there,” he said. “We have a history that is of friendship, starting something together and dreaming of it and allowing it to happen in our lives and moving toward it.”
There were plenty of highs, and Monterrosa remembers one with particular fondness.
“We were playing in Seaside Heights at a club that no longer exists — Sandy knocked it out. There were around 150 people. Then we fly off to Mexico City to play with REM at Palacio de los Deportes and it’s a big deal. The press is there, and there are 27,000 people. I remember hearing for the first time the way the audience sounded. There’s something about when you hear the applause from the stage; it sounds like a crescendo, a dynamic lift, because you hear it from the front row all the way to the top seats.”
From the early, hungry gigs in Asbury Park, saving up to make the first record, to globetrotting tours and playing for troops in the Middle East, it’s been a band-of-brothers existence for the group.
“I don’t think people really understand how special it is to … stick together like that,” said Monterrosa. “Then to take a hiatus — not everybody wanted to, but life was happening and we were missing life at home. Now we’re back on stage, and it’s just picking up where you left off.”