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The Student News Site of Sunny Hills High School

The Accolade

The Student News Site of Sunny Hills High School

The Accolade

MUSICAL VIRTUOSO: Senior Ricardo Gonzalez shares musical journey in forming his band, ROUNDHOUSE

Asaph Li
Senior Ricardo Gonzalez and his band, ROUNDHOUSE, perform “Hypocrisy” at the Oct. 26 Conservatory of Fine Arts Fall Festival in the quad. The song is one that Gonzalez wrote.

A quick, muted guitar riff plays alongside low-fidelity drums leading into the chorus. 

Lead singer Joe Strummer begins to sing. 

“You better cheat-cheat / No reason to play fair” 

These lyrics to “Cheat” from the 1977 album The Clash aided the debut of the British punk-rock band “The Clash” and brought about then 10-year-old Ricardo Gonzalez’s newfound love for music. 

According to Gonzalez, he appreciated the instrumentals, riffs and the lyrics that are fun to sing along to, which inspired him to deepen his musical interests. 

“It was the first ever album I ever really listened to all the way through,” said Gonzalez, now a senior. “From there my love for music really only grew.” 

At the same age, he got his very first instrument — a trombone. 

With rock and roll taking hold of his heart, the musician began learning the chords to different songs, starting with the bass line to “Seven Nation Army” by The White Stripes. 

According to Gonzalez, he had heard this song many times throughout his childhood; however, he took interest in studying it at the age of 12. 

“It was the only thing that seemed feasible to me at the time,” the singer said. “Being that it’s such a popular song, it made finding tutorials for it much easier too.”


Drawing inspiration from the lead singer of the popular rock band Nine Inch Nails, Trent Reznor, Gonzalez joined and created numerous short-lived bands throughout his middle school years. Eventually, Gonzalez created his most recent ensemble, ROUNDHOUSE, in his junior year of high school.

“[Trent Reznor’s] story of starting from scratch, learning all the instruments himself, recording, writing, performing — it all just resonated with me a bit,” he said. “So when I started really diving into music and trying to develop my own style, I really looked up to him.” 

The origins of this group go back to March 11, 2022. 

Gonzalez said he heard organizers for the Conservatory of Fine Arts [COFA] Quad Show were looking for performers to close out the event with a song.

“I found out about it from the band director…” he said. “I decided to try to get some people to play a song for it, which ended up forming ROUNDHOUSE.” 

Gonzalez said he then began to search for musically talented students on campus in hopes of creating a band that would play covers of popular music like “Brain Stew” by Green Day. 

Meeting through mutual friends, guitarist junior Max Soto, bassist sophomore Matt Solio and drummer junior Joshua Puwardi began rehearsing alongside Gonzalez with the American Punk Rock band Adolescents’ song “Kids of The Black Hole” — a piece written in 1981 about a group of people in Fullerton — which the group also chose to perform at their first gig. 

The entire reason that the band was able to be created was because everyone in the band was from Sunny Hills,” he said. “So we figured we would do a tribute to that.

— Ricardo Gonzalez

“I found one of my friends, and he played bass, and then he knew a guy who played guitar, and then he knew a guy that played drums,” Gonzalez said. “The original purpose of the band was just for the quad show.” 

The last step was for the band to choose its name. 

Hoping to create something memorable for students on campus, they ultimately landed on the name ROUNDHOUSE, chosen as the namesake of the outdoor cafeteria building on campus. 

“The entire reason that the band was able to be created was because everyone in the band was from Sunny Hills,” he said. “So we figured we would do a tribute to that.”

Since then, the band has played a repertoire of cover songs, including “Minor Threat” by Minor Threat and “Real Thing” by Turnstile. 

Soto said Gonzalez holds the majority of the leadership roles within the band, taking charge of all the social media promotions as well as the organization for practices. 

“Ricardo contributes a lot of creative ideas, both musically and just overall, for the band,” the guitarist said. “[So,] in many aspects, I do feel he is the leader of the band.” 

According to his band members, the new experience pushed Gonzalez to connect with new people, allowing him to bond with peers he considered to be only acquaintances before. 

“I knew about Ricardo vaguely, as we both had mutual friends,” Solio said. “Ultimately, the band brought all of us closer together.” 

On [date], Gonzalez and his bandmates prepared a performance at Gardenhill Park in La Mirada, which the band planned themselves, including bringing lights, generators and instruments. 

“We had a very fun time; it was a nice audience of 40 people,” Gonzalez said. “We brought some good bands to open for us, and we just had a blast.” 

The band closed the March 10 prom assembly; however, playing the rock genre in a school setting proved difficult for the group to connect with their listeners.

“I hadn’t really performed outside of a classical concert setting, but I’ve been to a few punk rock shows before, none of my own at the time,” he said. “But it’s still hard because we are performing to an audience where the majority of them don’t like that kind of music. ”

When the band began to gain a level of commitment from the members, it occasionally met for practices and developed five of its own songs, according to Gonzalez. 

A personal favorite of the senior is titled, “Matt Song,” which came to be after one of the band’s  practice sessions.   

Later that day, he went home and attempted to lyricize the music they had created, creating the lines that are now the opening words. 

“Rage is coursing through my veins / My blood cells releasing steam / I gave you all of my trust / but then you went and threw it all away”

The title was originally a work-in-progress after the band member Solio — yet it ended up as the final name, as they felt it fit the piece better than any other one could.

“The riff is good, the lyrics are good — even though you can’t really hear them when I’m singing,” said the senior, who works on the songs late at night after practice, scribbling down the lyrics to finish it. “All of that combined is probably why it’s my favorite song the band has produced.”


Even though Gonzalez’s musical roots stem from the 1970s punk rock era, that didn’t stop him from contributing his musical talents at school.

In his freshman year, he joined the Lancer Regiment and Symphonic Band, primarily playing the tuba. 

“I liked band and I needed to satisfy a PE credit, and the marching band checked both of those boxes at the same time,” he said. “After I joined and started marching, I really found  out how much I enjoy the sport.”

Then he began playing the bass guitar for Jazz Band and the drums for the Percussion Ensemble in 2021.

Over time he ventured further into his musical passions, picking up the bass, guitar, drums, concert percussion, tuba, keyboard, baritone and vocals.

He’s really good at all of them. You would think his [primary] instrument was all of them

— Whitney Stanton

“He’s really good at all of them. You would think his [primary] instrument was all of them,” band director Whitney Stanton said. 


Though Gonzalez’s approaching graduation poses a concern for the future of ROUNDHOUSE, the members said they hope to continue making music together on occasion.

“I can say on behalf of the guys that we definitely want to keep in touch,” he said. “And hopefully make music to some capacity.”

In 2023, after applying to NAU, Gonzalez received the Founders Gold Scholarship, which is worth $24,000 — also the highest available scholarship for an out-of-state student.   

Gonzalez said he plans to study at Northern Arizona University [NAU], channeling his love for the outdoors and mountain biking with a major in parks and recreational management. 

“I think that his major is perfect for him,” his sister Riley Gonzalez said. “His future goals really suit him [and] I’m really proud of him.”

Currently, he hopes to put his focus on becoming a park ranger, acknowledging the unlikeliness of making it in the music industry. Despite this, he still dreams of becoming a musician and will continue it as a hobby. 

“I would love to be a stage performer, touring musician; that would be the ultimate dream; however, that is very difficult to achieve,” the senior said. “If it could happen, I would love for it to happen, but it’s not the No. 1 option for right now.”

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Alexxa Berumen, Spotlight Editor
Junior Alexxa Berumen returns for her second year on staff as the special sections editor after dedicating her sophomore year to her feature editor position. She hopes to expand the topics the publication focuses on during her year of working in the spotlight section. Berumen has earned several Best of SNO awards starting her freshman year, as well as 2 honorable mentions for stories written in the 2022-2023 school year. Outside of The Accolade, she enjoys volunteering, reading and listening to music.
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