Who Is Andy Pena?
When Andy Pena straps on a guitar and steps up to the mic, he becomes a different person. Suddenly, he’s no longer the introverted, shy people-watcher. Instead, he quickly becomes the center of attention when the veins pop-out of his neck like roots in a tree and a voice much larger than his body grabs your attention like the ringing of a high school bell when class lets out. You’re locked in and pleasantly forced to hear an entire set of Dignan songs. It’s funny, though. He’s not so quiet if you approach him. “I love meeting people and getting to know them. But, I won’t be the one to go up and initiate conversation most of the time. If I was at a party, I’d be the guy in the corner watching everyone, but if someone came and talked to me, I’d talk their ear off,” says Pena.
A little about Pena: He’s 50% Mexican and 50% Caucasian. His father, who died on Christmas Day 4 days before Andy was born, is from Mexico, and his mother, from South Dakota. Andy’s full name is Atanacio Andres Pena. One month shy of being 24 years old, he and his band, Dignan, currently reside in McAllen, TX. Andy and the rest of his band recently found themselves in a major crisis when suddenly their differential in their tour van went out. The predicament left them with no other choice than to cancel about a week’s worth of shows– something every touring band fears having to do. So, when I called him for an interview, he had plenty of time to talk to me.
Any band or singer-songwriter who professes religion, Jesus Christ, God, divinity, or any other spiritual term in their lyrics, I want to talk about it. And since I knew from prior knowledge that Dignan formed in a Christian church, I wanted to talk God with him. Being raised in a Christian home, Andy was introduced to the teachings of Christ at a very young age, although Andy will be the first to admit that he’s not the most diligent Christian. Personally, I like to call him a honest Christian. “I suppose I’ve thought about walking away. I mean I think everyone second guesses their beliefs at least once in their life. It’s not an easy thing to have faith in something you can’t see. But I do still believe in God and I believe in Jesus Christ. I’m not much of a Bible reader. I’ve always tried to be, but like with almost everything I do, I start it then I don’t finish it,” Pena admits. Oddly enough, in every Dignan song, we hear lines that reference to apathy, fickleness, heresy, God, redemption, and much more. It’s clear that Pena is a thinker. Recently, he and his band played a show in Macon, GA, when I happened to notice that before he went on, he quietly sat in the corner of the venue with his bearded chin resting on the palm of his hand. In the midst of very loud, rock music blaring through the speakers not even 7 feet away from me, I remember thinking, “I’d love to know what this grungy dude in the back corner is thinking about.” Was he thinking about God? I don’t know. Regarding his relationship with God, Pena confesses, “I rarely feel close to God. Again for me, it’s hard to feel close to something I can’t see. I pray regularly and follow the teachings I’ve learned in my life, but that’s always been a really mysterious thing for me. How people can be so close to God. I’ve gone through all the Christian motions but I always feel like I want something more. Something to fill me up, and I really haven’t found it in the modern church.” For more on Pena’s thoughts on the modern-day Christian church, listen to his song, “Charlatan” HERE.
Interesting tidbits about Andy Pena:
- Home-schooled throughout high school.
- Biggest Fear: “to be a stagnant human being, stuck in a monotonous routine.”
- Goal: “to open my own studio.”
- First instrument he learned: “Drums, not that I’m good, but that’s the truth.”
- He’s surprised Barack Obama won the Nobel Peace Prize.
- Not political in the slightest bit.
- His girlfriend, Nicole January (a.k.a. Nicky), is a writer for The Blue Indian.
- He and Nicky once had a side project called, “It’s a Hit.”
- What makes Andy cry: “thinking about leaving my mother alone.”
- He doesn’t know the chords/notes he plays on the guitar more than half of the time.
- His favorite singer-songwriters/bands are: David Bazan, Grizzly Bear, and Blonde Redhead.