With his trademark black beanie and skater-style, 19-year-old Rivers Ventura said him and his band have been gaining a larger listening crowd after winning this year’s Battle of the Bands, according to Ventura.
Their indie-rock music consists of Ventura’s, “almost comedic, not so serious thoughts.”
His last show, prior to the pandemic, was played without the accompaniment of a band, leaving Ventura to rely on backing tracks, which showed to be unreliable after a night of continuous skips.
Embarrassment from that night forced Ventura’s hand in a search for some bandmates on Instagram, who now consist of Adrian Marquez as drummer (they call him Larry), Rafa Dayrell and Leonardo Chavez on guitar, and Gilbert Parra on base.
Shortly following Ventura’s release of his single “Lollygaggin’” in April of 2020, the song hit 5,000 streams in less than three days, leading Ventura to take a more serious approach in the development of his music.
Ventura dove deeper into his creative process as the first wave of COVID-19 hit the city.
With school online and no way of performing any live shows, Ventura found the opportunity to focus on developing his sound as an artist.
“It was just me in my room writing songs, and I was able to find, I think, what I like to do now,” Ventura said. “(The pandemic) helped me find what I make today.”
Although he’s now one of El Paso’s up and coming teen-rock-stars, Ventura grew up playing baseball, traveling to different cities and states to compete, but by the time his sophomore year rolled around, Ventura’s love for skating overpowered his drive for the game.
Like almost every high school teen movie, Ventura told his dad he was quitting the game to pursue his passion in becoming a professional skateboarder, but it was in this pursuit, that he found a passion for music instead.
Ventura picked up a guitar for the first time after watching a friend play his junior year of high school.
From there, Ventura would continue to teach himself the basics through YouTube, mainly playing covers from other bands during his first couple of performances.
With only about two weeks to prepare, Ventura booked his first show at Lowbrow Palace, with the help of his high school teacher, as an opening act for Motel Radio in December of 2019.
Despite the small skepticism Ventura’s parents first displayed about their son seeking a career in music, both have become overwhelmingly supportive after seeing the innocence in Ventura’s motives as a musician.
“I think at the time, they thought, ‘okay, he wants to do this just to do drugs and just get girls’,” Ventura said. “After they saw me actually putting a-lot of time into my music, not doing drugs or whatever, they were starting to back it.”
Ventura’s dad designed shirts that say STAFF on the back and wears them to every show.
And one time:
“He made this poor kid go get his manager, and the manager comes out and he’s like, ‘is there anything we can do for you, sir?’ and my dad goes, ‘yeah, you can put Rivers Ventura on,’” Ventura said.
Ventura was flushed with embarrassment. Despite the initial shyness, it’s his favorite story and he said it reminds him that he’s grateful for his father’s support.
His expanding popularity on all music streaming platforms has led to a growing fan base with unique acts of devotion.
“Somebody got a tattoo of my name on their thigh, which is super cool, so thank you to them for that,” Ventura said.
With increasing numbers and a competitive spirit , Ventura looks forward to a future with more shows being played out of town while still calling El Paso home.
To Ventura, it would be easier to stand out in a city like El Paso, with an established fan-base, as opposed to somewhere like Los Angeles, where there are hundreds of thousands trying to accomplish the same goal.
As stated in his song “Sean Miyashiro,” Ventura dreams of getting a chance to work with record label 88 Rising, as a big part of his personality is getting CEO, Sean Miyashiro, to notice him.
Looking back at the high schooler who was first introduced to music in his friend’s garage, Ventura would tell his younger self to wear the black beanie more frequently because the grey one didn’t quite fit as nicely and to act with confidence, despite the fear of how people will perceive you.
Photography by Alberto Silva
Story By Ariel Castillo