Alpha Punk with their instruments

Hometown band talks music and performing

With four band members now attending three different universities across the state, you won’t find Alpha Punks performing at your favorite hangout every weekend during the school year. But this summer they played two shows at Sidewinders on Red River St. in Austin, where they also filmed their first music video.

Band founder and lead singer Francis Nieves and Alpha Punks band members Porter Kalka and Karina Ortega all hail from the first graduating class of East View High School (2014). Newcomer Derek Sanchez, as Porter humorously points out, is an outsider. “Yeah, I just kind of showed up one day,” Derek jokes.

It’s not unusual for a band to gain and lose musicians. (Ever hear of the 5th Beatle?) In fact, the name Alpha Punks was chosen by a band member who’s no longer with the group. The musician left, but the name stuck. After Porter became the Alpha Punks’ drummer, other band members came and went, until Karina came along.

Alpha Punks

Francis, Porter, and Karina knew each other through East View’s marching band program, so they already had a love for music when they joined forces as Alpha Punks. Karina admits to being a rigid performer on stage. “Through music, I learned more about communicating, which is something I’ve always had trouble with. Being in a band provides the perfect challenges and environment to improve yourself and your skills,” she says. “Having kind and patient bandmates helps, too.”

They set out just to have fun and play the best music they could until Francis realized they had some really great talent: “I remember thinking, ‘We might be able to really do something. We might be able to be a little more serious about this.’”

Getting serious involved getting actual gigs. Alpha Punks played at Red Eyed Fly before its name changed to Sidewinders. In Georgetown, they performed at Roots Bistro and at the 2014 Red Poppy Festival. East View High School has been supportive of its own. Alpha Punks has performed for band and choir parties and the Sparkler Spring Show.

The group plays covers from rock albums ranging from the seventies to more recent years, but Bowling for Soup and Blink 182 are favorite bands. Alpha Punks also performs original songs, which Francis describes as a “new take on the old rock styles like metal, hard rock, and pop punk.” Francis and Porter collaborate on the music. As composer, Porter adds structure and flow elements to their music, while Francis writes the lyrics.

Francis and Porter enjoy creating the songs, but the whole band agrees nothing beats playing together onstage. Porter says, “It’s great to play live because it’s such a different experience.”

“As frontman,” Francis says, “I decide the energy output, but it’s also in the music as well! We purposely write the music so people can get moving. Our main goal is to give the audience a great show!”

Francis loves performing, and he’d like the opportunity to play for a big crowd. Derek agrees: “It would be very cool to play any festival in Austin, like SXSW or ACL.”

Alpha Punks drumming

Karina has a slightly different perspective. “The thing I like about being in a band is being able to coordinate with people on a level that is unlike any other. It’s almost like being part of a sports team, but in some ways better. In music, and especially when you play with others, you have to be able to feel it.” It’s easy to see and hear that the Alpha Punks do.


For more information about Alpha Punks, to listen to their original song playlist, and to view their video, visit www.reverbnation.com/alphapunks or follow the band on Instagram @alphapunks or the Alpha Punks Facebook page.

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