Seven years ago, Florida-based hard rock band Oblivious Signal posted an ad for a new lead vocalist after losing their original front man. It was a move that would drastically change the course of the band. “It wasn’t really something we thought about — having a female vocalist,” says guitarist, Nick Orisino, “but I’ll tell you what: she came in and totally changed our outlook on the band.”
With the addition of front woman Cristina Feliciano’s powerhouse vocals, the pulsating beats of drummer Jason Talley and rhythmic melodies of Nick and bassist Greg Andrews entwined to create a sound ready to capture the hearts of music lovers worldwide. Since the release of their debut album in 2010, Oblivious Signal has generated a great deal of local buzz performing shows throughout Florida, including spots on Hard Rock Rising and the 2014 Vans Warped Tour. Now after five years, the band is set to release their sophomore album, Exordium, on June 2nd with plans to embark on a summer tour.
Eager to “spread the signal” despite their busy schedules, Cristina and Nick spoke with Music Existence to discuss Oblivious Signal’s evolution, the perks of being a female-fronted band, their upcoming release, and their future plans.
ME: What made you want to pursue a career in music?
CRISTINA: It was a combination of just doing different things career-wise and finally figuring out, you know, I like music, so why not make a living out of something that’s fun and influences people in a positive way? I’ve been into music since I was a kid and just growing up in that atmosphere made me want to do this.
ME: You mentioned being a positive influence as a motivation for pursuing music as a career. What musicians have had a major influence on you?
CRISTINA: Musically speaking, some of my influences are actually from Europe, like, I love Laura Pausini. She’s one of my favorite Italian singers. I like different types of music, so it can range anywhere from Carrie Underwood with country music to very good lyricists like rapper Eminem. Just about anything that has that powerful message and is written very well influences me.
ME: It seems the best musicians are the ones who don’t limit themselves to one genre because they’re drawing their inspiration from multiple channels.
CRISTINA: Yeah, and I think that’s what I brought into this band. Nick is a very classic rock guy. Jason, our drummer, is a little bit more modern rock, but he also listens to hip-hop. And Greg, our bass player, is just straight up jazz. Combining that with our music is the key.
ME: How did Oblivion Signals come to be a reality?
CRISTINA: Nick, you wanna take that on?
NICK: Well, basically what happened is my father worked with our drummer, Jason [Talley], and he told Jason, “Hey, my son plays guitar. Why don’t you guys jam out?” So, we started jamming out and writing some music. We actually had a male singer at the time, so our sound was a lot heavier than it is now. When he decided to go for a different path and chose to stop playing music, we put an ad out and Cristina responded to it. It wasn’t really something we thought about – having a female vocalist – but I’ll tell you what: she came in and totally changed our outlook on the band. We’ve clicked ever since, and that’s Oblivious Signal today.
CRISTINA: Seven years later.
NICK: (laughs) Yep. Seven years later.
ME: What’s the story behind the name Oblivious Signal?
CRISTINA: Hey Nick, take that one on too since you guys made it up before I was in the band (laughs)
NICK: Jason texted me one day because we were trying to think of band names, and he texted “Oblivious Signal.” It had a cool ring to it, so we started using it. But when you think about it, people give off oblivious signals all day long, whether it be the way they dress or the way they act, so it kind of made sense. Even though we weren’t sure what the name meant to us when we thought it sounded cool, it evolved our whole way of thinking.
ME: In what ways did your experiences evolve and shaped the band to what we see today?
CRISTINA: I know Nick and I have probably been the most stable members for the longest time. Our drummer moved out of state for a little while, but when he came back to the band, he added a more mature sound to the music. It made us grow more as a band because we used to be a lot heavier than we are now. During this time – it was like what? Two years when Jason was gone? – Nick and I traveled. We met with labels and different people just trying to get the band going, and everywhere we went, it was always, “You guys aren’t ready yet.” When Jason came back, it was like everything clicked again. We were a family again and automatically knew how to write everything. It provided stability for us to be who we are as a band today.
ME: Cristina, your vocals have a very soulful, almost beautifully haunting vibe about them. It’s very reminiscent of Evanescence’s Amy Lee. As a band that is fighting to get its own name out there, how do you take being compared to other bands?
CRISTINA: I think it’s awesome, but that’s because I love music. Like I said earlier, I love all styles of music, so to be compared with people who are making it in this industry and are making their dreams a reality, that’s like, damn, I’m finally at that register in my life. I don’t mind the comparison. A lot of people might get bothered by it but I don’t. I consider it a compliment. Amy Lee’s got an amazing, beautiful voice. Definitely one of my inspirations for doing rock music, so I think it’s a cool thing.
ME: What major challenges did you experience coming up, and were there ever times you felt as if these challenges were a result of being a female-fronted band?
CRISTINA: I guess I’ve always felt different than most girls. I’m kind of one of the guys at the end of the day; they’re like my brothers. We have a rule that you can’t be in a band if you get offended easily (laughs). Being a female in a band isn’t too much of an issue. I feel bad for the guys because maybe one week out of the month, they’ve got to deal with my craziness (laughs), but we all get along great. As for being a female-fronted band in general, a lot of female-fronted bands will say, “Oh, it’s so hard in the industry because we’re a female-fronted band in a male world,” and it’s really not. I mean, we’re having fun; we’re trucking along; were doing what we have to do. It’s like any other business at the end of the day. We don’t really find too many issues, you know.
ME: Nick, what is your perspective on this?
CRISTINA: Uh-oh! Here it comes (laughs)
NICK: I agree with her. We haven’t really found any negativity about being in a female-fronted band. I think it kind of sparks more of an intrigue for people to want to listen to our music because we’re a female-fronted hard rock band. It kind of appeals to people more in a male-dominated genre, which is what rock mostly is nowadays. It brings a different vibe to it. People are more intrigued by it from what I’ve seen
CRISTINA: How is having a female in the band different from having a male in the band? (laughs)
NICK: (Laughs) Well, three weeks out of the month….(laughs) no, but really it’s fun working with her. I couldn’t imagine working with anybody else. I love it. We all have our days, our moments, but at the end of the day, we’re a family and we pull through no matter what
ME: Cristina, you’ve worked with a few artists in the past. How have your past music experiences influenced how you approach the creative process for this band?
CRISTINA: Oh man, it’s funny because I started playing Christian music when I first started doing music in general. I was actually the guitar player, not the singer. Now that I don’t play any instruments in the band or anything, my mind has definitely opened up. I’ve worked in different studios with different producers and with different artists. I don’t know if you remember the group Menudo from back in the day. They were like the Spanish version of New Kids on the Block. I’ve worked with some of those kinds of studios as well, and I think gathering from all those different experiences – how people write, how people set up their instrumentations –have been eye opening for me, and I bring a lot of that into the band. For example, Nick comes up with a riff and if I don’t feel it I’ll go, “I don’t feel it’ I don’t like it. Scrap it.” If I don’t feel I can write a good verse to it, then we scrap it, unfortunately. Sorry Nick. But working with different kinds of artists has given me a wider perspective in terms of being more commercially appealing because at the end of the day, you want people to like your music. It’s a business and you want people to enjoy what you’re writing and be able to relate to it. I’ve definitely learned how to do that with the many different people I’ve worked with in the past. In terms of production, I did this whole past album for us. I learned a lot working with a really good producer down here; his name is Luis Salazar. He’s worked with Lil’ Wayne and all of these major people, and I learned a lot from him.
ME: Speaking of Menudo, there are a number of international acts that strive to break into the American market. With your Puerto Rican heritage and ability to perform in Spanish, do you think Oblivious Signal will try to venture into the Latin rock market?
CRISTINA: It’s been talked about. I know the guys and I have been asked before. We did a three-hour set for a show down here at Bayside in Miami, and we did all the songs from English to Spanish. That was the hardest thing for me to do because I had to make sure all the grammar was correct, and transcribing that kind of stuff is a little more difficult because with English and Spanish, the terms don’t really mean the exact same thing. But, it is something we have been talking about because there are people who really enjoy our music and who want to hear it in a different language, and because I am bilingual, I feel that we can bring that aspect.
ME: In 2014, Oblivious Signal played at Warped Tour. That’s a huge deal for bands trying to get their names out there. What was the experience like?
CRISTINA: Well, we played in Florida, so it was really hot! The crowd’s reaction was great, and we had a blast. We actually played for [the] Ernie Ball [stage] this past year, and we had a blast. It was a great experience. I always say it’s like a stampede of teenagers coming in as soon as those gates open, I imagine the movie Jumanji (laughs). Just seeing that happen from behind the scenes was awesome. We’d love to do it again
ME: Was that the band’s first time playing for a crowd of that magnitude?
CRISTINA: We also did some shows at the Hard Rock [Rising]; that was a pretty big crowd as well. It was exciting, but it wasn’t a first for us in terms of that, because like I said, we played some other shows where there have been a good amount of people.
ME: You new album Exordium will be released on June 2nd. Why was this name chosen as the title of your sophomore album?
CRISTINA: Well, we were actually doing the album right after we got signed with Pavement [Entertainment]. We were like, man this is great for us right now: we’re doing this album, all these great things are happening in our lives music-wise and career-wise, and we needed the name of the album to mean something. We started looking up different Latin terms for “New Beginning,” and exordium was one of them. For us, it’s a new beginning, it’s a new adventure in our lives, and we’re all just leaving everything we kind of had to do this. That’s why we named it Exordium. It’s a new beginning for the band and for the music.
ME: How did recording Exordium compare to recording your debut album, Into the Night?
NICK: It was a lot more relaxed. I had a lot more freedom. We weren’t under a time limit of we only have three hours to record this track or two hours to record that track. I really was able to come over after work one day and lay down the tracks. If I didn’t like something, we could go back to it later and work on something different. It wasn’t like we were rung under a time clock. That was a lot less stressful, and I felt I was able to be more creative. Say I have a solo, I could do four or five different versions and pick which ones I liked best and go from there. I didn’t have to do it the first time straight through and hope I get it right, or have one or two times to try to do it right, so it felt a lot more relaxed. I loved it. It was a lot better.
ME: The music video for “Crash” was released not too long ago. Of all songs, why was “Crash” chosen as the title track for this album?
CRISTINA: “Crash” is a really personal song for me. It’s actually about a friend of mine that passed away while driving under the influence. When we first played the song, we got a good reaction from it. When we perform it, you can really feel the emotion behind it, and I think people really like it because most people have gone through somebody who has passed away, especially down here in Florida, it’s crazy. Most people have gone through that, so the song is very relatable, it’s very catchy, and it packs that punch. It’s the heavy-hitter for us. When we were thinking of releasing the single, we did two videos for “Crash.” Our first one is a story line video and when we found out we were signed with Pavement, we did just a band version of it. That was their first thought as well: Crash has to be the single. It’s a thing that everyone knew that was going to be the single. We’re all happy with it.
ME: Oblivious Signal recently played with a number of other female-fronted bands on the Women or Rock show. What is it like to share the stage with other female-fronted bands.
CRISTINA: I loved sharing the stage with female-fronted bands. I’m a big advocate for females; I like females a lot (laughs) so, it’s great to see other women out there. It’s so empowering. I love seeing talented women rock the stage. When we played for the show – think it was last weekend. We partied a lot so I can’t remember too much of it (laughs) – it was a lot of fun. Red Calling are great friends of ours. They’re very, very talented, if you want to see a badass female drummer, you go see that band. Badass guitarist as well, and Jessica [Pons] who is the front-person. We’ve played with Love in War as well. Very, Very talented band. And Virginia Rose, also talented as well. It’s awesome, we loved it.
ME: If Oblivious Signal could cover one song from any of those bands, which band would it be and what song would you choose?
CRISTINA: It’s funny, I was just texting Red Calling yesterday about this. I was telling them that I really like their song “I Will Find You.” When I walked in, as we were setting up our merch, it had just started playing, and it’s one of those songs that you just have to sing along to. The singer is looking at me like, “I can’t believe you’re singing along to my song.” And I’m like, “I’d come up there and sing the song with you if you’d let me” (laughs). Definitely Red Calling’s “I Will Find You.”
ME: Oblivious Signal will be on tour soon. What do you hope to experience and what do you hope fans will experience?
CRISTINA: As a band, we just hope to gain more exposure and more availability to reach out to more people with our music and just kind of get out there and get more fans.
NICK: Oh, definitely. We want to spread the signal to as many people as possible and I think this tour is really going to be great for us. We definitely invite anybody who comes out to the show to come up to us afterwards and say hello and talk to us. Talk to us about the music and how they relate to it. We love when fans come up to us after a show and tell us what they feel our songs are about to them. It’s cool because you can have one song and have so many different relatable subjects from a fan. It’s really cool that people take it like that. We’re just hoping that we can get more and more people to come out and enjoy the show with us.
CRISTINA: As a band what do we hope?
NICK: Oh, we hope this is the first of many tours! For sure.
Check out Oblivious Signal on tour
- 5/26 – The Masquerade – Atlanta, GA
- 5/27 – The Warehouse – Clarksville, TN
- 5/28 – Tremont Music Hall – Charlotte, NC
- 5/29 – RiffHouse – Chesapeake, VA
- 5/30 – Hard Times – Hagerstown, MD
- 5/31 – The Chance – Poughkeepsie, NY
- 6/02 – Montage Music Hall – Rochester, NY
- 6/03 – Agora – Cleveland, OH
- 6/04 – The Machine Shop – Flint, MI
- 6/05 – Oddbody’s – Dayton, OH
- 6/06 – The Boondocks – Melbourne, FL
- 06/13 – VOODOO – Punta Forda, FL
- 06/19 – Oglethrope Lounge – Albany, GA
- 06/20 – The Burro Bar – Jacksonville, FL
Oblivious Signal second album, Exordium, is available now
Follow Oblivious Signal for more information on new releases and tour dates