When Kevin Rodriguez traveled to Germany in 2008 to train as a semi-pro tennis player, he was not expecting to return to the U.S. with a new passion for writing and playing music. Even though he has owned a guitar since he was 10, Rodriguez's interest in music did not take hold until his roommates in Germany lit the fuse.
"All of my roommates played like five different instruments, and they made me want to learn something," said Rodriguez, who grew up in the Tomball area. "That's when I actually picked up the guitar and started learning the chords and writing my own songs."
After posting a few songs online and developing a fan base, Rodriguez initiated his own tour around Germany under the performing name The Rise of the Broken. He took the train from venue to venue with his acoustic guitar, playing where he could. Thanks to word-of-mouth and the promotional power of the Internet, his fan base continued to grow in both Germany and the U.S.
Rodriguez would later release his first full album, "Nickeled and Dimed," through Tate Music Group in November 2011. The album was a mix of everything he had done up to that point.
After playing shows around Tomball and Texas, he began touring the U.S.
"I had a band playing with me and my music was starting to evolve," Rodriguez said. "I was starting to write songs that weren't just for solo acoustic shows."
He recalls a show in New Jersey where 300 people packed into a small venue—many of whom were not familiar with his music—were energetically dancing and crowd surfing during his performance.
"To see all of those people going so crazy over my music was like no other show I had played before," he said.
The trajectory toward a more full sound continued with the release of the second album—"Stop Chasing Ghosts"—June 22. Rodriguez, 21, said the new sound, while similar to his past work, is more upbeat and more complex.
"Some of the songs are based on more hardcore music, with electric elements mixed in with my older sound," he said. "People seem to be liking it. It allowed me to expand my fan base without losing the fans I had, which can be hard to do."
After playing a batch of local shows, including at South by Southwest, the next Rise of the Broken tour is set to begin in Dallas July 6. Rodriguez will play with The Woodlands–based band, Anchor North, traveling up the Midwest before heading back down the east coast.
Rodriguez, who books all of his shows, said his objective is for people to have fun and leave happy. He works hard to make sure his performances are high quality.
"If I'm not content with my work, I'm not going to put it out to people," he said.