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But she did, and she rated well with fans at that audition. Now, of course, she performs a nearly two-hour set without any problems. Not so bad for someone who had not been in a band before Bop Skizzum beyond singing with her dad while growing up. "I gotta say," notes Almeria, "after doing musical theater my entire life and doing this, this is so much better."
With Almeria on board, the band was ready to start building momentum. But then this past spring, she suffered an injury that stalled their efforts temporarily. After her mother implored her to go to the hospital, Almeria ended up spending a week there being treated for a tear to her vertebral artery and another five and a half months recovering. Although she eventually ended up playing shows with a neck brace decked out with rhinestones when she recovered enough to perform, the band had to come up with another plan while she was healing, so Guerrero enlisted Shane Franklin — whom he had seen put in a powerful performance with Air Dubai earlier in the year — to join the band.
Franklin grew up seeing his aunt, a dancer, perform at Cleo Parker Robinson Dance School, and it was there that he learned the importance of putting on a show and not merely performing the music. As he puts it, "It has to be a real-life production that makes people go, 'Oh, my gosh, when's your next show?'" With Franklin bringing his considerable rapping and musical talent to the band and Almeria now recovered from her injury, Bop Skizzum is back in top form.
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"Bands are all about families, relationships and communication," Guerrero points out. "The fact that I have a group that wants to make music with me and trusts my leadership is important. Being a good leader is listening to everybody. I value what Julie has to say about stuff. Serafin's like my main partner man. Shane is the newest member of the group, and somebody I respect.
"At the end of the day," he concludes, "I can learn from the mistakes that happened in Flobots. I've been down this road before, and we need to focus on these things, because that's what's going to get us to making a living off of playing our music. We have to be grounded. We have to be committed. It's a lot of hard, hard work. No one is going to hand it to us."