With ‘Station Invasion,’ Puerto Rican Retro Rock Trio Los Stations Escape the Tribute Trap

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Building a following playing covers can result in a frustrating, inescapable pigeonhole. For Los Stations, though, paying homage to the past will likely be a boon to their future. The Puerto Rican trio simply isn’t an average tribute band.

For the past year and a half, Los Stations have been blowing away crowds all over the island, playing rock and soul hits of the 50s and 60s. Their delivery is so immaculate and inspired that their following is perpetually swelling, which means they’ve positioned themselves perfectly for the release of original material.

Los Stations actually released ¿Qué Hago? in March of last year, the same month they formed. It was brief, and of its three songs, one was a cover. Their second EP, Station Invasion (out today), marks their first true collection of all-new tunes – yet they still manage to exude the same vintage nostalgia of their borrowed onstage staples.

From sentimental doo-wop sways (“Esa Chica”) to surf rock beach party vibes (“Watusi”), Los Stations channel their influences pretty literally. Frontman Kristian Bob, who handles guitar and harmonica, and drummer Seba Oliver are cousins and have been playing together since they were kids growing up in Guaynabo and Bayamón.

“Every Mother’s Day or Thanksgiving, Seba and I would be playing Beatles songs on acoustic [guitars] while everyone else was eating turkey,” Bob says. Bassist Ale Rodríguez may not have been present at family function jams, but they were friends back then; for years, they all performed together in a church band. Don’t take them for a religious group, though – unless it’s satire you’re looking for. The EP’s lead track, “Coca Cola,” is a jab at the commercialism of religion, and a “fuck you to marketing and branding,” Bob explains. “’Coca Cola’ is kind of a gospel song for our time. If money is God, then Coca Cola is definitely Jesus Christ,” he laughs. “We also thought it was kind of hilarious to say the name of a brand so predominantly in a song, like forgetting about the rules of copyright and whatever.”

It may have taken Los Stations a while to find themselves, but with Station Invasion, they’ve escaped the tribute trap. Somehow, it all still rings like a welcome salute to rock ‘n’ roll.