Maybe it all comes down to being in the right place at the right time. Maybe luck has something to do with it. Or maybe it's crafting a vintage-era sound with odes of talent that landed Hacienda a lottery ticket to musical gold.
It's no secret that The Black Keys likes to take on extra projects, and singer/guitarist Dan Auerbach is known for plucking bands right off the streets -- just ask Jessica Lea Mayfield, Radio Moscow or the Buffalo Killers.
As luck would have it, a night at Emo's in Austin would forever change the lives of Hacienda brothers Rene (guitar), Abraham (keys) and Jaime (drums) Villanueva, who have become Auerbach's biggest lovefest to date.
In a relatively short span of time, with Auerbach producing and leading the way, Hacienda has managed three albums, toured with national recording artists, once did 12 SXSW gigs in three days, landed a coveted spot on David Letterman, and even played the part of backing band for Auerbach's 2009 solo effort, Keep It Hid.
It all started with small talk about women and music on that fateful Austin night. A demo got passed around and emails went back and forth, followed by a personal invite to Auerbach's Ohio-based home studio, Akron Analog.
The result was 2008's Loud Is the Night, where Hacienda melds songs that soar, growl and stomp their way through garage rock swells via visceral grooves and vocal harmonies recalling the best of '60s doo-woop.
Their second collaboration, Big Red & Barbacoa, led the boys right back to their Tex-Mex roots with some gyrating Booker T. soul and a little amped-up Everly Brothers, resulting in a more muscular groove and proving that traditional music doesn't always have to be so damn traditional.
Last year's Shakedown, with Auerbach co-writing the songs and lashing out on guitar, creates an intense, angsty musical atmosphere that cuts deep with a Motown twist on songs like "Savage," "You Just Don't Know," and "Pilot in the Sky."
Lessons in climbing the musical ladder in just five steps with Hacienda:
1. Stalk your favorite icon when he comes to a town near you then bombard him with homecut demos until he agrees to have a listen. He just might.
2. Continue to bombard said icon. Use demos, live shows, email or even snail mail until step No. 1 garners your band the attention it so obviously deserves.
3. Find a known artist with an indie label then offer to couch-surf and eat them out of house and home in exchange for some of your best tracks. Cultivating mutual friendships within the music industry never hurts, and hopefully it pays off for both parties.
4. If that doesn't work, offer to be his backup band. Hey, it's rough out there.
5. Hit the road or die trying. After the show don't disappear to the van for the rest of the night, hang out with the crowd, you never know who might be in the audience.
Bonus Points: Never forget where you got your start.
Famous Last Words: "It's good to learn that you can be successful and genuine together. Trust yourself, never let anyone tell you what you can or can't do, and finally don't worry about success, just enjoy every experience." -- Hacienda
Hacienda rolls the dice tonight at Warehouse Live's Studio with Houston's Young GIrls and Knights of the Fire Kingdom. Doors open at 8 p.m.; bring demos.
Keep the Houston Press Free... Since we started the Houston Press, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Houston, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Houston with no paywalls.