Spanish rhythm masters La Pegatina are bringing their 2018 world tour to Badlands Bar this Friday, May 18. The Catalan group have been touring their musical party across the world for the past 14 years, stirring up a melting pot of different cultures, languages and musical styles into infectious and energetic live shows. Their combination of Latin rhythms, Catalan rumba, punk and ska already seem to translate the good times to wherever they’ve travelled, but taking in more of the world and turning it into new music is still a source of inspiration for the group. BRAYDEN EDWARDS spoke to vocalist and accordion player Romain Renard about their beginnings in the “mestiza” scene in Barcelona, recording video clips in a car wash and bringing “all the instruments they had” to the studio to record their latest album Ahora o Nunca.
It’s exciting to have a band like La Pegatina come to Perth playing a type of music we don’t get to enjoy all that often. For people who aren’t familiar with the band, what kind of music can we look forward to at your Perth show?
During the show we’ll play all the songs from our brand new album Ahora o Nunca, and some songs from the other five albums we’ve released since 2007. We’ve got all the emotions in our repertoire, but what we like best is to make people dance and cheer. Rock music, ska music, Latin music and many more styles of music are our weapons for that!
And what is the background of this kind of music? You’ve been described as coming from the “mestiza” scene in Barcelona… can you tell us a bit more about what that means?
Meztizo means “mix up”. In Barcelona it began with bands like Dusminguet, Amparanoia, Manu Chao, Color Humano and many other bands. They started mixing traditional Latin styles of music like cumbia and vallenato with other styles of music like ska and rock. We are playing that way too, adding more “SHOW, Espectáculo!”
We want the audience to participate in the show by dancing, singing and clapping hands with us. Lights, decorations, clothes, personality and charisma are also important to make a good concert and to make people trust in your party.
In 15 years, we’ve had the luck to play in 31 countries all over the world. We sing in nine languages and we always try to sing some lyrics in the language of the place we playing in. For example, in Holland we play a famous popular Dutch song every time we go there. People are really thankful for these small attentions. They feel comfortable and identified. That’s the point with us: We want people to have the best time of their life during our concert! We never said “we should sing in different languages”. It came out naturally by travelling to different countries. One day you wake up in Italy, you listen to somebody speaking in the hall of the hotel. He says “Mamma mia, Non è Facile quando andiamo fuori di testa.” And you like how it sounds and you try to make songs from this.
If party music is a language that everyone understands, what countries have you been to that seemed to understand that language the best?
There is no best and no worst. There are different cultures, colours, smiles, tears, girls, boys, sweat and beers! We are so glad to see that language is no barrier to make the audience have fun. All the ages are coming to our concerts and enjoy them their own way.
A lot of your video clips seem like they would have been a lot of fun to record. What’s been your favourite of these so far?
Miranda could be the one. We recorded it at an auto-wash nine years ago. We look so “9 years ago” younger! It was directed by CHOBICHOBA. Actually, he directed a lot of music videos for us like Muérdeme, La Sorranchera and many others that were so funny to record. The last one, Ahora O Nunca, was directed by Manu Viqueira. He used the app Prisma to make it, and the result is fantastic!
And your new album of the same name Ahora O Nunca…was that also different from what you have done before and does that translate to your live shows too?
Every album is different from the last one. They all sound different. The structure of the songs are different from one to another. The lyrics, the energy and the production are always changing. This album was produced with Rafa Arcaute. He worked with Calle 13, Calamaro and other bands like that. It was a new experience for us. We got in the studio without pre-producing the songs. We had about 20 songs with lyrics, a few melodies and chords and Rafa just told us to bring all the instruments we had at home. We started “playing” in the studio and finally, 10 songs were produced for this sixth album.
During the months of February and March we produced the new show at our local. We wanted to play all the songs from the new album Ahora o Nunca and more songs from our past albums. It was fun to adapt the new songs for the show. But it was also really hard because of the production of the songs on the album. Okay! There are nine of us on stage, but we don’t have eight arms for each body! So we had to find a way to make the new songs sound like they did on the album, but with less instruments!