Artists you should know: Before Perils

The Fresno BeeMay 23, 2013 


Inside every classical music fan is a metalhead waiting to be discovered. At least, that's the sense you get from listening to Before Perils. The band plays instrumental acoustic music that is equally inspired by classical and metal traditions -- though the members enjoy some B.B. King and David Bowie, too.

This is a busy weekend for the band. Friday night, it releases a new album, "Escape to Reality," at Tower Theatre. On Saturday, it is part of the Hmong Music Festival at the Fresno Fairgrounds.

We caught up with guitarist Jon Napoles to find out more about the band.

Let's start with some basic info: Who does what in the band? How long have you been playing together?

The band is Jon Napoles (rhythm/lead acoustic guitar), Lianna Stuart (violin), Benjamin Napoles (lead/rhythm acoustic guitar) and Edson Lopez (percussion). It'll be three years in October since our first performance.

You are one of those bands that defies genre description. How would you describe the music you play?

I think most artists strive to be different and stand out in the crowd. With us it was different. We really didn't try to sound different, it just happened. I think the instruments we use, and the various genres we individually bring to the table, has helped us do what we do in a more natural way. It's always a tough question because we incorporate so many kinds of genres and styles, from blues to metal and folk to Latin. So it's hard to pinpoint it, which is a good problem to have. Generally speaking we'd have to say "instrumental acoustic fusion."

"Escape to Reality" is a concept album. Walk us through the story.

Don't want to give away too much of the story, but it involves our main character, Luiseach (Loo-sek), escaping captivity from a castle and her experiences and journeys throughout her newly discovered world and reality. You'll have to get the CD to find out what happens in the end.

And the CD itself follows that concept, right?

Being in an instrumental band, with no lyrics, we wanted to find a way to make the physical CD itself appealing to the eye. For every song there is a piece of art that is a part of the story told through the eyes of that artist. Originally we planned on having Benny doing all the artwork, but we realized that it was too much for one person to do. So we asked friends and family to be a part of this project. It's really incredible to see the whole story come together with the different art and styles. It came out better than we had ever imagined!

The release show includes a performance by a violin class from the Youth Orchestras of Fresno. How did that come about? Why was it important for you to include them?

We weren't sure what to do about an opening act, because a lot of our plans were falling through. Then our friend Mike Uremovic from Live Music City suggested that we get involved with the community and invite a local youth string ensemble to play with us. We immediately thought of the "Accent on Access" violin program because Lianna is a teacher there and because the program specifically caters to disadvantaged youth. We were, and are, very excited about giving these kids the opportunity to play at a historic local theater and hopefully inspire them to continue playing music.

The reporter can be reached at (559) 441-6479, or @JoshuaTehee on Twitter. Read his blog at

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