Often a musician's family heritage is sacrificed to produce music that appeals to the mainstream audience. But for Julius Sanchez, family heritage and the desire to make his band Fade 2 Black a success go hand in hand, with neither sacrificed for the other. Sanchez is very proud of his family's Pilipino (Pacific Islander) heritage and wants to prove that the group can be 'just as successful as other groups out there' in the pop/rock arena. In February 2004, Fade 2 Black released it's' debut album 'Fade Away' which Sanchez calls 'an alternative to alternative'. One of 13 children, he had his first taste of musical success when he took up piano at the age of three. Spurred on by older brother Gregg, a pianist in his own right, Sanchez was soon banging out Mozart to the astonishment of family members. He dreamed of making an album. That dream is now reality. 'Fade Away' blends influences from such diverse groups such as Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin, blink 182 and The Carpenters and from solo artists such as Debbie Boone and Mariah Carey into a musical concoction Sanchez labels as 'bittersweet, like dark chocolate...a dark overtone with an underlying bit of hope.' 'Fade Away' captures the pangs of adolescence in several songs blending smooth musicianship and clever songwriting. 'Something Special', 'I Will Always' and 'Rainy Days' illustrate memorable hooks that stick in your mind. 'Simply Miss Your Kiss' talks about love /Like the rain, it washes it all away/Like the snow, It's cold when you go, while 'Placebo' comments on the facades we put up in our day to day lives.... /You put on a smile/It feels like a broken arm. Groundbreaking for Fade 2 Black began three years ago, when daughter Amanita wanted to play the guitar after seeing the self-taught Sanchez play. She quickly learned three chords from Chuck Berry's 'Johnny Be Good' on her way to becoming the group's lead guitarist. Next, god daughter Norell (lead singer and rhythm guitarist) was picking up the six string and joining the fun. Ironically Sanchez' wife Katherine became the group's drummer. While trying to motivate another family member on the drum set, she discovered an affinity for drumming. Sanchez, in addition to piano and guitar, provides the steady bass lines. Lyrics are a family affair. The majority of the songs are written to reflect on experiences of teenagers growing up in today's society. No more is this self evident in the groups catchy 'I Will Always.' The song tugs at your emotions in the verses, but provide an enlightening chorus to soothe the listener. The lilting 'Rainy Days', and the dark haunting 'Caped Crusader' capture the crystal clear voice of Norell, along with carefully constructed backing vocal talents of Sanchez and Amanita. Many of the tracks feature the stellar piano melodies from Sanchez. The music on the album mostly originates from Sanchez piecing together chord variations, then transferring these to guitar so that Norell and Amanita can learn them. Sanchez is well versed in interchanging overlapping vocals and instrumentals to give 'Fade Away' a perfect balance of peppy pop, hard rockers and gentle ballads. R. T. Glass Freelance Journalist.