Plain and Simply Lollygaggin’ with Rivers Ventura

Ariel Castillo, Writer

With his trademark black beanie and skater-like appearance, 19-year-old Rivers Ventura and his band have been gaining a larger listening crowd after winning this year’s Battle of the Bands. 

Their indie-rock music consists of Ventura’s, “almost comedic, not so serious thoughts.”

His last show, prior to the pandemic, was played without the accompaniment of a band, leaving Ventura to rely on backing tracks, which showed to be unreliable after a night of continuous skips.

Embarrassment from that night forced Ventura’s hand in a search for some bandmates on Instagram, who now consist of Adrian Marquez as drummer (they call him Larry), Rafa Dayrell and Leonardo Chavez on guitar, and Gilbert Parra on base. 

Shortly following Ventura’s release of his single “Lollygaggin’” in April of 2020, the song hit 5,000 streams in less than three days, causing him to take a more serious approach to the development of his music. 

Ventura dove deeper into his creative process as the first wave of COVID-19 hit the city.

With school online and no way of performing any live shows, Ventura had the opportunity to focus on developing his sound as an artist.

“It was just me in my room writing songs, and I was able to find, I think, what I like to do now,” Ventura said. “It (COVID-19) helped me find what I make today.”

Although now one of El Paso’s teen rock stars, Ventura grew up playing baseball, traveling to different cities and states to compete, but by the time his sophomore year rolled around, Ventura’s love for skating overpowered his drive for the game. 

Like almost every high school teen movie, Ventura told his dad he was quitting the game to pursue his passion in becoming a professional skateboarder. 

During his time of trying to be the next pro-skater, Ventura picked up a guitar for the first time after watching a friend play his junior year of high school. 

From there, Ventura would continue to teach himself the basics through YouTube, mainly playing covers from other bands during his first couple of performances. 

With only about two weeks to prepare, Ventura booked his first show at Lowbrow Palace from the help of his high school teacher as an opening act for Motel Radio in December of 2019.

 Despite the small skepticism Ventura’s parents first displayed about their son seeking a career in music, both have become overwhelmingly supportive after seeing the innocence in Ventura’s motives as a musician. 

“I think at the time, they thought, ‘okay, he wants to do this just to do drugs and just get girls’,” Ventura said. “After they saw me actually putting a-lot of time into my music, not doing drugs or whatever, they were starting to back it.” 

Ventura’s dad has no shame advocating for Ventura’s music and even designed shirts that say, STAFF on the back, wearing them to every show. 

One of Ventura’s favorite stories displaying his dad’s supportive tactics was from a time they both went to T-Mobile and Ventura stood awkwardly as his dad asked the worker if he knew who Rivers Ventura was. 

“He made this poor minimum-wage kids go get his manager, and the manager comes out and he’s like, ‘is there anything we can do for you, sir?’ and my dad goes, ‘yeah, you can put Rivers Ventura on,’” Ventura said. 

Ventura was flushed with embarrassment but grateful for the support. However, if his dad asks, school comes before music. 

His growing popularity on all music streaming platforms has him more than grateful for the fans who have supported him along the way, especially the ones who have showed greater acts of devotion. 

“Somebody got a tattoo of my name on their thigh, which is super cool, so thank you to them for that,” Ventura said “I am inferior to all of my fans because without them, there would be nobody going to my shows and watching me perform.”

With growing numbers and a competitive spirit to release quality songs, Ventura looks forward to a future with more shows being played out of town but still calling El Paso home. 

To Ventura, it would be easier to standout in a city like El Paso, with a growing fan-base, as opposed to somewhere like Los Angeles, where there are hundreds of thousands trying to accomplish the same goal. 

As stated in his song “Sean Miyashiro,” Ventura dreams of getting a chance to work with record label 88 Rising, as a big part of his personality is getting CEO, Sean Miyashiro, to notice him, according to Ventura. 

Looking back at the high schooler who was first introduced to music in his friend’s garage, Ventura would tell his younger self to wear the black beanie more frequently because the grey one didn’t quite fit as nicely and to act with confidence, despite the fear of how people will perceive you.