Fortitude unlocks success. It’s the ability to roll with the punches in the face of all opposition and emerge triumphantly. It’s also honed by years of quiet dedication, devotion, and diligence. This mental, physical, emotional, and musical wherewithal fuels Sons of Texas on their aptly titled second full-length album, Forged By Fortitude [Razor & Tie]. Proud disciples of Pantera, Alice In Chains, Stevie Ray Vaughan, and even Vicente Fernández, the McAllen, TX quintet—Mark Morales [vocals], Mike Villareal [drums], Nick Villarreal [bass], Jon Olivarez [guitar], and Jes De Hoyos [guitar]—rise up from the Rio Grande valley with a rollicking hard rock sound steeped in metallic intricacy, grunge soul, southern-fried blues, and just the right amount of Tejano spirit.
“We’ve put everything we can into Sons of Texas,” exclaims Jes. “There’s more to it than the awesome forty-five minutes we’re on stage. Over the past few years, we’ve gone through good times, but also some real rough spots. Those moments show you who you are. If you’re able to come out of the tough times on top and not let them get you down, that’s a big thing. Our experiences inspired the title.”
It’s been a wild ride since their 2013 formation in the city of McAllen, which lies 238 miles from the nearest metropolis of San Antonio. Over the last four years, the boys would put their hometown on the map as far as rock ‘n’ roll goes. Releasing Baptized in the Rio Grande in 2015, they immediately hit the road with everyone from All That Remains and Buckcherry to HELLYEAH, Trapt, and Texas Hippie Coalition in between show-stopping festival appearances at Houston Open Air, Rocklahoma, River City Rockfest, Welcome to Rockville, and Loud Park 16 in Japan. Their debut yielded the titular anthem “Baptized in the Rio Grande,” which amassed over 990K Spotify streams and 549K YouTube/VEVO views and counting. In addition to praise from Revolver and Loudwire, Kerrang! proclaimed that their music, “gets better with every ride.”
Wrapping up this first go-round, Sons Of Texas wasted no time getting into the studio with producer Josh Wilbur [Lamb of God] in January 2017. Together, they further sharpened that signature style.
“We wanted to up our game across the board,” continues Jes. “The heavier parts got heavier. The melodic parts got more melodic. The instrumentation got more interesting. The goal was to step up every aspect.”
“We’re loud and proud to be from Deep South Texas,” smiles Mark. “That comes through in the record. Where we come from, there’s a hell of a lot of culture. We want to be ambassadors of the valley and show the world what it’s all about.”
The musicians kick down the door with album opener “Buy in to Sell Out.” After a hum of ominous bells and water drip, an airtight riff rolls full steam ahead in tandem with Mark’s gruff and guttural growls.
“Buy in to Sell Out is just a reflection of the past two and a half years of grinding it out on the road. We were naïve and learned a lot. It touches on aspects of everything from the biz to where the state of rock music is today. It just came out of shear aggravation and really just me venting my spleen.”
“Feed The Need” snaps from a thrashing groove into an immediately irresistible refrain shouting out those who have helped the guys on their journey. “I was very inspired and really touched by all of the support fans gave us on the first run,” Mark admits. “Plenty of people took us under their wing and provided food or a place to stay from Flint, MI all the way down to Atlanta, GA. They didn’t just adopt the music; they adopted us as well. It’s homage to them.”
“’Cast In Stone’ is one of those tunes where I tried to convey a strong sense of detachment from everything and everyone. I am neither here nor there, neither now or then, living somewhere between the spaces of the past, present, and future. In essence, it’s about a yearning for belonging.” Meanwhile, “Beneath The Riverbed” taps into those Texas roots with a lyrical lick that slides into a refrain “about the touring life and grinding it out to get to where you want to be.”
“Turnin the Page” illuminates their knack for a gorgeous melody, and closer “Slam with the Lights On” serves up an ode to “gettin’ it on”—a rare anthem among 21st century rock.
“Stone Temple Pilots had ‘Sex Type Thing’ and Soundgarden had ‘Big Dumb Sex’; Sons of Texas has ‘Slam with the Lights On’. It is just a feel good tune that can crack a smile.”
In the end, Forged By Fortitude gives rock ‘n’ roll a well-needed kick in the ass…
“I hope listeners connect with it on some level,” Jes leaves off. “It’d be great if people could just have a good time cranking it up.”
Mark concludes, “I hope they walk away thinking that rock isn’t dead, and there’s still some integrity there. That’s the ultimate goal.”