CAL1FA's frontman Ruben Salazar is relentless when it comes to getting his music to the masses and putting Santa Ana on the map. Originally the frontman for local group Badfish, the band ran into their first major hardship in the early 2000s when they had to change their moniker due to a Sublime cover band out of Rhode Island using the same name. As Badfish – A Tribute to Sublime's success grew, Salazar had trouble keeping his band separate from the other. Although the Santa Ana native had solidified his style of "Barrio Roots-Reggae" in the late '90s, constant confusion arose from the tribute band using the same name that he had worked so hard for.
Not one to be easily discouraged, Salazar and his band continued moving forward and their debut album, Soundbwoy Killas, was released in the US in 2002. Eventually it received worldwide acclaim as far as Japan before they decided to call it quits. After a seven-year hiatus, Salazar came back with a new band, a new name and the same mission.
"It's been a long journey back," Salazar says. "I had to start from scratch, including finding new musicians to jam with. At first, a lot of them were not a perfect fit for the band so it was very hard to remain confident and positive throughout the entire process. But hard work and perseverance will always pay off."
As the lead singer for CAL1FA, Salazar made a triumphant return into the reggae scene back in 2009 with a breakout performance at The Galaxy Theater (now known as The Observatory) that had the newly formed band playing alongside reggae legend, Eek-A-Mouse, as well as The Dirty Heads, Mishka and special guests Rome Ramirez and Eric Wilson of Sublime With Rome. With Sage Adrian on bass, Mikey Chiara on rhythm guitar, Gary Larason on lead guitar and back-up vocals, Jason Swieso on the keyboards, Sean Chaffins on the saxophone, John Seedborg on trombone, Mark Paul Meza on drums, and Cancun Joey on TurnTables, Salazar and his band are finally ready to put out some new music for their fans.
Aside from starting a whole new band, Salazar also struggled because of previous management mishandling his finances while in his previous band. "When I came back I had no idea where my money was and royalties from my first album were nowhere to be seen until about 2006," Salazar says. "Starting from the bottom up again meant sometimes you got paid for gigs and sometimes you didn't. This is why I have waited so long to put out new music. I finally lucked out as one producer that saw me perform at the Santa Ana art walk took interest in our sound."
CAL1FA is now preparing to release their first single–a track titled, "Give Me Your Love"–featuring guest appearances from Casey Sullivan of Seedless, Moi Juarez of Tomorrows Bad Seeds and Kat Nestel. As production on the single nears completion, Salazar has also revealed plans to release an EP later this summer. With Bob Stewart of Stewart Sound in Santa Ana providing expert engineering and added production coming from Big G Productions, Italix, and Diego Nunez of Argentina's Hurlingdub, the new music coming from CAL1FA is sure to impress new ears and complement the band's stage-owning sound.
More recently, CAL1FA has performed at various events around OC and Long Beach, including the first annual Surf City Music Festival at Perqs Bar in Huntington Beach, the St. Maria Goretti Carnival in Long Beach and the 420 Summer Soundclash at the House of Blues on Sunset Boulevard.
Salazar's hard work and dedication to representing the city of Santa Ana is one of the main factors in CAL1FA's resurrection. The band continue to add new fans with each show they play while keeping Salazar's original supporters coming back for more.
CAL1FA perform on June 12 at The Copper Door at 8 p.m. with Fayuca, True Press and Ease Up. Free admission. For full show info, click here.