Years ago, Chilean-American singer/songwriter and guitarist Chris Bowers Castillo moved to the Chilean port city of Valparaíso and became a walking tour guide. “I would dress up as Wally and give tours to families and kids,” he remembers with a laugh. “It was great, because I got to know the city incredibly well. I’d walk for hours, then spend the rest of the day partying and drinking, probably way too much. But I also wrote lots of new songs.”
When he got to to Denver, Bowers Castillo searched for a moniker that reflected the evocative and subtly rebellious musical concepts he had brewing and his head, and eventually settled on Kiltro. a Chilean slang word for a stray dog or a mutt. He then teamed up with Will Parkhill (bass) and Micheal Devincenzi (drums). He then recruited Fez García (percussion) to join the band for their live shows. “I wanted to do a project mixing different styles and aesthetics,” Castillo explains. “Valparaíso is my favorite city in the world and will always influence my music. There were street dogs everywhere, and I’m a mutt myself.”
Slated for a June 2, 2023 release, the Denver-based outfit’s forthcoming sophomore album Underbelly reportedly represents a bold, new chapter for the band, as they seamlessly fuse Latin roots music with American rock music. “When we first started the band, I was playing folk songs – focusing on my interior spaces and finding catharsis through melody,” Bowers Castillo says. “I’ve always been attracted to music that is melancholy and personal. Then we added the rhythmic component, and I realized that having a bit of noise and chaos can add emotional depth. Underbelly reflects everything that happens inside your soul when the world stops on its tracks.” “We tried a lot of new things on this record,” Kiltro’s Will Parkhill adds. “We were living through unprecedented times and coming to terms with all of it. The album is a reflection of that. At the end of the day, we wanted to create the kind of music that we didn’t hear anywhere else.”
The album’s first single “Guanaco” is built around a sinuous and propulsive groove paired with glistening guitars, Latin-influenced percussion, four-on-the-floor, Bowers Castillo’s gently cooed Spanish delivery and a sleek, almost dance floor friendly hook. Sonically, “Guanaco” sees the Denver-based outfit specializing in the sort of off-kilter funk reminiscent of Fear of Music–More Songs About Buildings and Food–Remain in Light-era Talking Heads but with a defiant, genre-defying flair.
“A guanaco is a South American animal that is a bit like a llama. It’s known for spitting,” Bowers Castillo explains. “In Chile, it has another meaning, and is colloquially used to refer to police vehicles that shoot water at protestors. We wrote this song in the wake of the 2019 protests for a new constitution in Chile. The line “ya viene el guanáco” means simply “here/now comes the guanáco,” which against a driving, melancholic backdrop, had an almost fairy tale quality to it. I felt it communicated a sense of foreboding and nervous anxiety. Taken more literally, it means a beast is coming, here. Of course, a guanaco is not a terrifying thing, but a police line in riot gear with the machinery of dispersion and violence, is.
He continues “To be clear, the aim was never to make an explicit political point. Rather, I wanted to capture that peculiar environment of communal tension and mounting emotional energy, be it conviction or catharsis, or fear. The album had yet to take shape in those months, but I was certain the song would make an apt intro to whatever came next. I hope you enjoy it.”
“All The Time In The World,” Underbelly‘s second and latest single is a decidedly folk turn, built around simmering reverb-soaked acoustic guitar, Latin-influenced rhythms and atmospheric synths with Bowers Castillo’s plaintive delivery. And at its core, “All The Time In The World” simultaneously evokes a wistful and bittersweet nostalgia over things that are lost and can never return and a hope for a bright new future ahead.
Written during quarantine, “All The Time In The World” was a breath of fresh hair for the band while making the record in dark times. “It’s a reminder that no mater how the world may spiral, it’s important to stop and take a breath,'” the band explains.