Hector Saldaña

Hector Saldaña
Photograph by Al Rendon

In the early seventies, Hector Saldaña founded San Antonio’s Krayolas, whose British Invasion/Tex-Mex rock and roll made them a regional phenom through the early eighties. A 2007 singles compilation, Best Riffs Only, led the band to re-form; their comeback album, La Conquistadora, garnered national acclaim in 2008. They’ve just released their follow-up, Long Leaf Pine (No Smack Gum)(Box).

How did the band get started? The Krayolas came out of Lee High School. My brother and I were a two-man rock and roll band; friends from school rounded out our earliest incarnation. We played the Beatles, the Kinks, the Rolling Stones, the Who—and a couple of mine. One day this tall, long-haired kid named Van Baines rolled in a big Marshall amp, turned the whole rig backward toward the wall, plugged in, and wailed. I’d never seen that. When Van left, my mom said we sounded “professional.” The next thing I knew, my dad came home one day and said we were going to make a record. He took us to the West Side to ZAZ studios. They had a deal: two sides, four hours, three hundred 45’s for $300. In those days, ZAZ was the kind of place where you’d see Flaco Jimenez hanging out, sitting on an ice chest and drinking a beer.

The K in Krayolas was in tribute to your favorite band, the Kinks. Was the band an anomaly in the seventies? There’s disco all around us, and here we are with matching Rickenbacker twelve-string guitars. Audiences didn’t know what to make of us. But the Krayolas rose through the ranks very fast because we were very young and very cute. Musically, we were often a calamity.

Was there a rivalry between you and your brother, like the rivalry between Ray and Dave Davies? We had guys quit the band because of how much David and I fought. We love each other, but that’s just the way we talk to each other. I broke my hand on his face in a fight we had coming back after our first tour in New York. I remember my brother chasing me around the inside of the house with a baseball bat. I told him, “If you swing

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