AJ Salazar drums his way into the spotlight

By Mariela Limon |Staff Writer|

CSUSB’s very own AJ Salazar is working hard towards his education while playing a key component in local bands Spirit Fangs and What Hands Are For.

Most students not only go to classes and study, but they also have jobs and families to take care of. This gives us very little free time on the side to do much more, but that doesn’t stop Salazar.

Salazar is the drummer for both bands. “I started in seventh grade. My friends in middle school wanted to start a band and they needed a drummer.”

“I took private lessons for two years. I learned how to read music and technique,” said Salazar. He has been apart of 10 bands since then.

Although music is a passion of his, Salazar’s academic life has taken a different route. He is currently pursuing his Bachelor of Arts in History.

“I’ve always enjoyed the subject,” said Salazar when questioned on why he did not pursue a degree in music. “I wouldn’t have enjoyed college.”

Balancing school is difficult enough for a regular student and even more so for one who is actively involved in music. “It does get hard during midterms and finals,” said Salazar. “I’m always writing papers.”

Being involved in the music business means that he often has to rehearse and play gigs. “Lately it has slowed down a little bit,” said Salazar “but we try to rehearse three or four times a month.”

Both bands are from the local scene. What Hands Are For recently relocated to Los Angeles from San Bernardino. Salazar describes the music’s genre as alternative rock. Spirit Fangs is based in San Bernardino and their music is described as indie rock with a punk edge.
What Hands Are For won a talent show a few years back on campus and subsequently was hired to play a few shows. “I used to get really nervous, but now I’m 100% comfortable performing, ” said Salazar.
“A major incentive for me to continue performing is seeing unknown fans at shows singing along to the songs,” said Salazar

Aside from being the drummer, Salazar has also participated in the song writing process. He has written, produced and completed songs for What Hands Are For and contributed lyrics for Spirit Fangs. He also taught himself how to play the guitar. “After a long day I like to lay down and play my guitar for hours,” said Salazar.

Salazar plans to graduate this fall and become a high school teacher. He has been working with kids at an after school program called CAPS for the last two years.

Aside from wanting to become a history teacher, it is clear that he still wants to be involved in music. He plans to be a substitute history teacher for the first year so he can continue performing with both bands.

For any additional information on the bands, music and upcoming shows visit their official websites or like them on Facebook.