The seeds of The Battle of Santiago were planted in the early 2000's, when Michael Owen (bass), Michael Butler (saxophone) and Daniel Mansilla (lead percussion), performed, in different combinations with Avenue One and All I See Is Red. A move to rural Ontario led Owen and Butler into a reggae/dub direction before being drawn into the lush Afro-Cuban rhythms.
“In 2009, we started to make a record in the ‘Mongo Santa Maria' vein (traditional Afro-Cuban Music from New York Circa 1954),” explains Owen. “Just for fun, I recorded some bass and guitar on two rhythms and Michael tried out some horns and flutes. We ended up loving this path we had stumbled onto - taking Afro-Cuban rhythms into a very non-traditional directions.”
The group's post-rock sound was further infused with the addition of Lyle Crilly (guitar), still without a working band name, they began to record and produce their debut release “Full Colour”. With the desire to present this music live Jason Hay (flute & sax), and Joel Perez (percussion) were invited to join the group completing the band as a 7 piece.
As the groups' sound and direction became more clearly defined no one name could truly describe what they were trying to achieve. With such a diverse cultural history and coming from very different musical backgrounds like hip hop, jazz, rock, country, latin, experimental and dub finding a suitable name was very difficult. Understanding this project is a vehicle for creative musical exploration, the group decided on the only name that can describe their direction.