Over the course of band’s more than 20-year existence, La Armada has frequently toured throughout North America and Europe, shared the stage with legendary groups like Propagandhi and Sick Of It All, built a passionate fan base composed of listeners from all around the world, released some powerful and altogether awesome material, and helped shine a light on some of the social injustices many people face. Even more impressive than what the veteran band has accomplished is what they gave up in order to make its two-decade run possible. Before earning a reputation as one of Chicago’s (and the Midwest’s) premier hardcore outfits, La Armada’s members were living in the Dominican Republic, where they were setting up punk shows in a nation enamored by merengue music and preparing to move to the U.S. in order to take their artistic ambitions to the next level.

Recently, My First Band host Tyler Maas spoke to La Armada guitarist and founding member Paúl Rivera about his band’s lengthy tenure, their new EP that’s preceding what looks to be a busy 2022, highlights from his life on stage, and what he still hopes to do before his days as a musician are through. Of course, the conversation also turned to Rivera’s musical origin story, which found him growing up in the Dominican capital of Santo Domingo, discovering punk rock as a kid, buying “a shitty guitar” and forming a band in his teens, and booking some of his favorite bands (Belvedere, Death By Stereo, and Strung Out) to play in “The D.R.” Rivera also talked about the band immigrating to the U.S. and struggling to settle into their new county before eventually finding their footing in the Chicago music scene.

My First Band is sponsored by Mystery Room Mastering and Lakefront Brewery. The show is edited by Jared Blohm. You can listen to My First Band on iTunes, Stitcher, Spotify, and wherever else you get podcasts. You can also listen to rebroadcasts of previous My First Band episodes on WMSE every Wednesday from noon to 12:30 p.m. CST. Music used in this episode comes courtesy of Devils Teeth (“The Junction Street Eight Tigers”) and La Armada (“Death On Replay”).