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Albuquerque's Saving Damsels: Rocking That Native Soul in 2014

An interview with JJ Otero of 'Native Soul Rock' group Saving Damsels on the band's success in 2013 and plans for the future.

Saving Damsels had quite a year in 2013. The band won Best Rock Recording for the 2012 release Find My Way at the 2013 Native American Music Awards, and in the Best Native American category at the 2013 New Mexico Music Awards. These accolades were complemented by a television appearance on The After After Party, hosted by Steven Michael Quezada and signing product endorsement deals with Reverend Guitars, Heil Pro Sound Microphones and Armor Gold Cables. And 2014 ought to be another prosperous year for the purveyors of "Native Soul Rock," who've become one of the hottest bands in New Mexico. ICTMN caught up with front man, JJ Otero, Navajo/Hopi, after a recent show to ask. (For more information on Saving Damsels, visit the band's official site, Facebook page, and Reverb Nation profile.)

RELATED:JJ Otero of Saving Damsels: Finding His Way

How have things changed for Saving Damsels, given your recent success?

Where it's actually changed is the opportunities. The doors were closed -- now people open those doors a crack. So, there's more chances for getting our name out there.

Izell Garcia of Saving Damsels at Frogville Studios in Santa Fe, New Mexico, in November 2013. Photo by Jason Morgan Edwards.

Did we hear a couple of new songs in that set?

Yes, we played a country song at the end that we rarely perform. It's never been recorded. We play it every once in a while just to give a different feel. For the most part, tonight was a rock set. And then the country kind of gives a little different flavor, kind of a curveball to the audience. Then there was the song "Me & the 99" -- we've played it in the past, but it's never been completely fleshed out, in terms of arrangement.

You've got a new drummer, Izell Garcia, of the Pueblo of Santo Domingo -- how has he affected the Saving Damsels sound?

Yes, Izzy comes to us highly recommended by a fellow drummer and we are super happy with his play and contribution to the Saving Damsels sound. More specifically, he's brought some different feel to the song "Me & the 99," different drum patterns. His drumming allows us to give a fresh perspective to that song.

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When do you plan to start recording the next album?

We recorded three songs at Frogville Studios (in Santa Fe, NM) in November. This album is probably going to be eight to ten songs, whereas Find My Way was twelve songs. So, make it a little shorter, but some really heavy, some good quality songs that we're working on that haven't been heard in any of our shows. It will probably be ready for release this spring.

Is there a link to hear/see one of the new recordings?

Not yet. We are planning to release one of the songs with a music video. We are definitely very much in the exploratory stage of doing music videos but have always had that as a goal.

Saving Damsels in September 2013. Photo by Jason Morgan Edwards.

How did the television appearance come about?

I had inquired in years past but hadn’t received any definitive answers. Turns out that friends of the show had suggested us and lo and behold we got an email asking about our interest in performing on the show.

Anything you can tell the readers about a potential Saving Damsels tour?

Well, we hear rumors that the Midwest folks love their rock n roll, so we're working with a few people out there, some casinos and some booking agents. We're trying to put together some kind of a significant tour out there. It hasn't come to fruition. It's all conversation, right now, but we're hoping to put some legs on it, and do something this spring, along with the CD release.