By Jonathan Baca, Copy Editor | Photos Courtesy of myspace.com
Business major and musician Glenn “Buddha” Benavidez grew up in Belen, New Mexico, played lead guitar for one of Albuquerque’s most popular bands, experienced the trials and glories of near rock stardom in Hollywood, and came back to tell the tale.
In the late 90’s and early 2000’s Benavidez’s Latin hard rock band Stoic Frame became one of New Mexico’s most successful acts, moving to Los Angeles in 2001, and going on to perform at some of the nation’s biggest live music venues, such as the Viper Room, The House of Blues, and Whiskey a Go Go, he said.
“It was really hard work, but I wouldn’t change it for the world. I got to travel to the most awesome places. I have some great memories,” he said.
He is now back in the Land of Enchantment, playing bass in a local reggae-rock band called Reviva, he said.
Now he is married, has started a growing DJ business, and after sixteen years he is back in school, he said.
Benavidez first started playing music when he got a guitar from his grandmother on his thirteenth birthday, he said.
While playing in the band 86’ed, he joined Stoic Frame, which became more and more successful as they played around Albuquerque over the next ten years, he said.
Stoic Frame eventually opened for big acts such as Everclear and Alice in Chains guitarist Jerry Cantrell; they graced the main stage at an early Edge Fest music festival alongside Kid Rock, Incubus, and Limp Bizkit, he said.
Benavidez said the most memor a bl e show he ever played was at the South by Southwest festival in Austin.
“It was completely packed, and I just remember you could see the whole crowd was jumping. We could feel the floor shaking underneath our feet. That was probably the most epic show I remember with Stoic Frame,” he said.
In 2001, the band set their sights on the ultimate prize of rock stardom, quitting their jobs and moving out to California, he said.
“Stoic Frame had gotten as popular as we could here in Albuquerque and New Mexico. So we wanted to expand our horizons, and basically try to do the whole rock star fairy tale in L.A. and Hollywood,” Benavidez said.
The first year there was hard, he said, but the band never gave up.
Benavidez got a day job at Millikan High School in Long Beach, working as an educational assistant for special needs kids, he said.
But at night, he and his band were working hard trying to make a name for themselves in the ultra-competitive L.A. rock scene, he said.
“It’s really different out there. You have to pay to play when you first start out,” Benavidez said.
In order to perform at the big clubs like the Viper Room, they had to sell their own tickets and pay the show promoter for the chance to take the stage, he said.
Through hard work and sheer determination, they began to grow in popularity and started playing with the big boys in town, performing with many huge acts like Static X, Soulfly, and underground hip-hop hero KRS-One, he said.
“It was great, man, the energy — just to play the Whiskey, where The Doors played, and the Red Hot Chili Peppers; playing the House of Blues, knowing that Prince is in the audience watching. You’re right in the middle, the heart of entertainment,” Benavidez said.
Stoic Frame made several albums at the time, including 2007’s ‘Spinning the Roulette God,’ which was recorded in Vancouver, Canada, and was the band’s last record, he said.
Although they came close several times to signing with a major record label, they never quite made it, and Benavidez came home to Albuquerque in 2009, he said.
“It’s a really tough business. But I don’t regret it,” he said.
After coming home, he helped form the reggae-rock band Reviva, going back to bass guitar, he said.
Since then, Reviva has opened for Bob Marley’s band The Wailers, Tribal Seed, and War, and in 2011 recorded their first album, ‘Change’, at Central Root Studios, Benavidez said.
Benavidez had always been interested in turntables and DJing, so he bought some equipment and began spinning under the name Buddhafunk, starting out at weddings and small parties and eventually opening for acts in clubs all around town, he said.
Although the dreams of being a rock star might have faded away, Benavidez said that he still loves nothing more than playing music, and he does not plan to stop anytime soon.
“I play music for fun these days. The whole ‘making it’ thing is kind of out the door. But Reviva is just a band that moves people man, I don’t know what it is, but people love it,” he said.
He said he plans to start producing electronic music next, working with rappers and MC’s.
Benavidez is married to local slam poetry heroine Jessica Helen Lopez, and through her he has befriended Burque’s poet laureate Hakim Bellamy, who he hopes to collaborate with soon, he said.
After everything, Benavidez said he encourages anyone with big dreams to go for it.
“You just got to grab your dream and take it as far as you can, despite what anyone tells you. It’s a lot of hard work, but it’s worth it,” Benavidez said.