Alex Torres is the leader of one of the biggest bands in Upstate New York -- literally. Not only does Los Reyes Latinos (The Latin Kings) have many members, but also have been wowing audiences at local gigs and international festivals alike with their unique blend of salsa, merengue, and other Latin American styles.Alex recently took some time out from his hectic schedule to answer some questions about his background, the band, and his musical goals.
Paula: How long have you been playing music, and what got your started originally? How did your band come to be? Alex: I've been playing music since the age of 6, starting in the South Bronx. The youngest of my siblings (there was a 6-7 year difference between the last sibling and myself) my mom used to have me in the playpen, in NYC. And the radio was on 24/7 on the AM station, listening to Machito, Tito Puente, Tito Rodriguez, etc. I was bombarded in the playpen, listening to this music. I moved to Amsterdam, NY at the age of 14 and there was NOTHING in the whole area in a 200 mile radius. I loved my heritage and my music, and I was a fish without water, a tarzan without his jungle! Basically, what I did was, I started teaching some of my friends in school, who had like, very little connection to their heritage. They were Latino but didn't know their heritage, so I started teaching them percussive instruments. I couldn't find a bass player to play the Latin rhythms so I bought a bass and started playing bass, by ear. We started jamming, we rehearsed every single day, seven days a week, and we stayed out of trouble after school. Eventually one thing led to another, we formed a band so we could play at functions, and the guys named us Alex Torres y los Reyes Latinos. We've kept the name ever since. Paula: What is it like being the leader of such a large band? Alex: Its insane! But I love it. Its challenging, and you become a part time psychologist, because you deal with 13 individual egos. So, it fulfilled my medical career.