Rolando Sanchez in MIDWEEK!

Old Friends--Rolando Sanchez, by Jaime Kim
(From Midweek, November 25, 2015)

Rolando Sanchez comes from a family chock full of musicians. His father was a pianist and singer-songwriter. His mother and aunt also played music and sang. Then there's the uncle who played percussion in various bands, and who knows how many others.

Music is in his blood, you might say.

So at a very young age, when Sanchez recalls getting ahold of his mother's wooden spoons so he could hit pots and pans, he realized something: "It was a natural thing for me to do--bang on things," he says, laughing.

His drum of choice is the timbales, a percussion instrument he puts on full display with his latest album, Suenan Mis Timbales.

Released earlier this year, the 10-track album initially was to be only a single. Also titled Suenan Mis Timbales (a phrase that translates to "sound of timbales" or "listen to my timbales"), Sanchez chose to include nine other songs from his albums dating as far back as 1989. The result is a compilation of sorts, in addition to the single, which Sanchez says is doing well throughout the world in places as varied as the U.S., Mexico, Japan, India, France and many others.

"When you release something from Hawaii, especially when it's something different, and it's getting accepted worldwide, that is beautiful," he says.

Since all but one song previously had been recorded, Sanchez says Suenan Mis Timbales came together rather quickly. The album marks Sanchez's 11th in a career of more than two decades--and if Sanchez has his way, it won't be his last.

"I just want to keep recording, keep writing songs," he says, adding that he hopes to enter Suenan Mis Timbales for Na Hoku Hanahano Award consideration.

When it comes to music, there seems to be no part of it Sanchez doesn't like.

"The physical, the mental, the fans, the musicians with the band--just everything," he says.

He's lived in Hawaii now since 1984, having moved here from the San Francisco Bay Area, though his decision to relocate here came much earlier than that. In 1979, while on tour in Japan, Sanchez stopped here for one day.

It was enough to convince him to return.

"I realized that this place reminded me of my country, completely--I'm from Nicaragua," he says. "When the time came for me to make a decision to relocate, Hawaii was the best choice."

It's a similar landscape, he explains. Hawaii and Nicaragua are both home to volcanoes, mountains, beaches and surf, for example.

"I love it," says Sanchez.

Up next, Sanchez is in the process of recording a brand-new single, though he's coy in the details. Even the title of it was a secret until now. Expect Aloha Mambo to be released sometime in January or February 2016.

"It is going to take Hawaii by storm, and hopefully internationally," says Sanchez.

Suenan Mis Timbales is available online only. For more information, to purchase the album and to keep up with Sanchez, visit

--Jaimie Kim