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Much has changed for indie instrumentalists Tristeza since forming in San Diego in 1997. In 2003, guitarist Jimmy LaValle left the band to pursue his solo project, the Album Leaf, and in 2005 guitarist Christopher Sprague moved to Oakland. Two years later, drummer James Lehner also relocated to the Bay Area. (He now lives in Michigan.) Bass player and founding member Luis Hermosillo is the only member of Tristeza who stayed in the area. He lives in Tijuana and works in San Diego as a shipping clerk.

The distance is a “challenge” for the band, writes lead guitarist Christopher Sprague in an email. “Luis and Jimmy [Lehner] and myself have a great connection and friendship. The music seems to keep coming. Until I feel we don’t have anything interesting or new left to say through our songs, it will keep coming.”

And while the band members are spread out, Tristeza’s ties to San Diego remain. In early 2010, Tristeza was informed that their song “Manitas,” from their 2009 album Fate Unfolds, was selected as audio for It’s Not Where You Go, It’s How You Get There, a skateboard film featuring Encinitas pro Kyle Leeper.

The band’s digital label, Better Looking Records, which also releases recordings for San Diego bands No Knife and the Album Leaf, set the deal up early this year.

“The filmmakers are familiar with Tristeza,” writes record-label owner Paul Fischer, “and [‘Manitas’] fit with what they are doing and [Leeper] was into it.”

Added Tristeza drummer Lehner about Leeper skating to their song: “We don’t personally know [Leeper], but the dude is a shredder for sure. We’re honored.”

Tristeza plans to return to San Diego to play the Casbah in support of upcoming release Paisajes. After getting some grub at favored Mission Hills taco stand La Posta, of course.

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