Local country band, Matt & the Herdsmen, is nominated for Single of the Year and New Duo/Band for the sixth annual Texas Regional Radio Music Awards (TRRMA).
Matt & the Herdsmen have released a total of three singles–all of which are charted high on Texas radio. Their most current single, “Too Drunk Anyway,” is being played all over Texas, Oklahoma and Wichita, Kan., in about 40 radio stations. Lead singer Matt Castillo said the band has gone on two radio tours and has opened up for the Randy Rogers Band twice–the third time will be this August in the Hill Country community of Concan.
“We’re a high-energy band, live performance, we really take into account the performance aspect of it and we love it,” Castillo said. “We work with a lot of great bands, we have a lot of respect for those guys and it’s a small community down here, but we like to travel outside the Valley. We love playing for the Valley. They love us, we love them, we feed off each other, but every now and then it’s good to get out of town and just spread the music. And that’s what it’s all about–spreading the music and spreading the love. This is what I love to do [and] this is what I’ve always wanted to do. Now that I’m actually doing this, I’m barely scratching the surface.”
Matt & the Herdsmen are in their second round of voting for Single of the Year and New Band/Duo. Voting consists of three rounds before artists and bands will be on the official TRRMA ballot. Fans have until Saturday to vote for Matt & the Herdsmen on the TRRMA’s website.
Castillo, a Fall 2014 University of Texas Pan American graduate, started off playing country music his sophomore year of high school. Castillo never took music seriously until he performed his first acoustic show in Austin.
“I never really [put] pen to paper, never really took the front of the stage, so I finally got the courage and once I [performed] with a buddy of mine, it was like a drug,” he said. “I couldn’t really just stop what I was doing. It moved with me when I moved back here.”
Castillo grew up around country music while he lived in Austin. His mom listened to country artists such as Garth Brooks and George Strait. Eventually, Castillo learned more about them and wanted to follow in their footsteps.
“My mom bought those cassette tapes and we were just listening to country music–whatever Mom listened to, I listened to,” Castillo said. “You gravitate to who you look up to and I look up to my mom … and I think if she was listening to anything different then my path or my career would’ve been different. And later on, I didn’t like what radio stations were playing. Then I found my way into Texas music [or] Texas country and that kind of just took me for a spin. I fell in love with that and I just started writing. We consider ourselves a Texas country band and just country music in general.”
Matt & the Herdsmen got together in October 2013. Castillo once performed an acoustic show and invited one of his bosses. She approached him after the set saying she knew another person who was interested in starting a country band–drummer Ruben Cantu. From there, Cantu had a friend, Everto Cavazos, who is now their lead guitarist. It took a while for the three of them to settle with a bass player. They went through about three of them until they found Danny Salinas.
After nearly three years of being together, the members of the band continue to motivate each other. With that, their fan base is ever growing. They range from 20- to 40-year-olds and loyal fans continue attending their shows.
“Hard work does pay off and we’re seeing that now,” Castillo said. “It just motivates us and we’ve been very blessed to have bands take us under our wing. We’re very blessed to have venues keep calling us back. And we’re very grateful for the fans that love us [and] really support us.”
This month, Matt & the Herdsmen have been performing locally. Once July comes around, the country band will venture out to record its second record. The album will feature 10 songs with three singles.
“We’re done with the pre-production. We’ve got some good musicians other than our guys,” Castillo said. “We’re going to have a lot of extras. Our biggest thing is making a good album. We want to make a great sounding record so that people can listen to it from here until they die because we care about that. We want to give the song what it’s supposed to be. So having these players on our album is going to be way different from our first album; it’ll be like a 180.”
Castillo used to get nervous performing live. However, through experience, he’s gained confidence. He said if you just focus on what you’re trying to do, then everything’s just going to come naturally.
“I don’t get nervous anymore. I think the last time I got nervous was when we had to do the radio show in Austin about three weeks ago,” Castillo said. “I was nervous because we were live on the air and, typically, we’re live when it comes to radio stuff, but this time there were fans involved, new people we’ve never met and the radio. I know for one song I repeated the same verse but after that I kind of snapped out of it and had a great show.”
The band has played at local venues such as Bourbon St. Grill in McAllen, The Dog House in Brownsville, as well as Paradise and Mustang Lounge Night Club in Weslaco. Matt & the Herdsmen once played in Pharr during the Watermelon Festival and South Padre Island has recently gotten in contact with them.
Matt & the Herdsmen will be performing at 10 p.m. Saturday at Monster Carwash, Bar and Grill, located at 2702 W University Dr. in Edinburg with no charge. The band has been playing there for more than two years and considers it home.
“They took us in, they took a chance on us and they loved us. They’ve seen us grow from the very beginning of Matt & the Herdsmen to where we are now,” Castillo said. “Playing at Monster Car Wash is like playing in our backyard. It’s easy and fun exposure. It’s a job–they hired us to put on a good show and that’s what we’re going to do. It’s been nice to be loyal to those guys and we’re loyal to a lot of the venues down here.”