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A study in Scarlett 

A hardcore, head-banging band
named Scarlett O’Hara, whose members range in age from 17 to 21, sport matching haircuts, and come from, of all places, McAllen, has a lot to prove, and 19-year-old singer-guitarist René López knows it.

Talking on the phone from his home in Edinburg, López bets that, “If we tell half the bands we play with that we’re from McAllen, they’ll say, ‘Where the fuck is that?’”

Despite the odds, somebody at Artery Management saw something in them, and Rise Records signed Scarlett to a contract, only three years after the kids picked up their instruments, and a year-and-a-half after they launched their band. Now they’re label mates with the Devil Wears Prada and Attack Attack, two bands they admire.

Either the guys got the goods, or they’re some lucky bastards.

López’s high-school mates Eddie Cano (18, vocals), Alek Samodouroff (17, guitar, vocals), Logan Burns (18, guitar), Andrew Mena (21, bass), and Arnie Bernal (17, drums) round out the band. This summer, they’ll be recording with producer Joey Sturgis (also The Devil Wears Prada and Attack Attack), with the album due out in the fall. Until then, your only chance to hear their music is through a CD sold at live shows and in a handful of YouTube and MySpace videos, which show off a ferocious three-guitar attack (Logan does all solos and sweeps, while René and Alek concentrate on the rhythm) marred by a constant headbanging that seems overacted after 15 seconds. Or should we say, over-rehearsed.

“If the fans hear the music but don’t see you doing anything — you’re just standing there playing your instruments — they’re going to get bored quickly,” López says. “People want to see it and hear it, and it all goes pretty good together. We move nonstop in practice; we headbang a lot. Sometimes we’re so tired at the end, our necks hurt. But it’s all worth it.”

With so much headbanging, hair care is important. Scarlett’s members sport the same style and length — straight, feathered cut just above the shoulder — as if they were all customers of the same Valley coiffeur.

“It’s not that we’re very concerned `about the hair`, but we do want to look good,” López says. “Who doesn’t want to look good? If you look good and you have the music to back it up, what’s the problem? But I do my own hair; I don’t trust anyone with my hair. There are a few `barbers in the Valley`, but they charge like up the ass for haircuts. Eddie goes to a guy down the street from his house. The other guys, I kind of help them with it. Yeah, besides guitar and vocals, I’m the barber.”

The important thing is why they keep their hair that way.

“We love our straightness,” he says playfully. “We’re all straight in this band.”

That sounds a little homophobic to me, I confess.

“Oh, no,” he’s quick to clarify. “Gays are awesome. I was friends with a couple of gays, and, yeah, they’re pretty cool.”

We’ve heard that one before, but López insists that, whether you’re gay or straight, a boy or a girl, Scarlett O’Hara wants to make you a fan.

“A lot of people are saying, ‘These guys suck, they’ll get dropped from the label,’ just because we come from nowhere and they can’t believe we were signed by a big label,” López says. “So we have to prove them wrong.”

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