Thursday, May 17, 2012

Beach Niche

Photo by Adrià Cañameras
The sunny island of Mallorca is in the middle of the Mediterranean and is a part of Spain. It has some breathtaking beaches that you would think only existed on postcards or computer desktop wallpaper, some awesome caves (complete with dragons) and a tourist hotspot called Palma. Yet, the guys from Beach Beach said that actually living on Mallorca can be kind of boring, especially in the winter. Their solution was to start a band.

If you didn’t guess, its beach music poised to stave off the winter. Yet, their songs delve into a bit more depth than just surfing, maybe because surfing in the Mediterranean sucks. It’s great music with a subtle, charming Spanish accent, perfect to listen to from the trunk of your car while you sit around a beach fire and drink Beach Beach’s favorite, a Pomada (read on to find the complicated recipe!).

The Spanish island of Mallorca is pretty well connected to Catalonia, the region where Barcelona is. The band is also similarly connected, as their record Tasteless Peace (listen here) was released this year on Barcelona’s La Castanya. The label is also a joint booking venture and is responsible for supporting several cool bands and organizing interesting events around the city.

THE BOMBER JACKET talked with Beach boys Pau Riutort and Tomeu Mulet about their music, La Castanya, and the perfect beach drink.

TBJ: Why Beach Beach?
Tomeu Mulet: When I was a teenager I tagged a wall with graffitti at Sa Ràpita’s Beach, in South Mallorca, that said “Beach Bitch.” We changed it in an “easy listening” way because the original sounded too electroclash-oriented.
You folks come from Palma de Mallorca then, right? What is playing music like there?
T: Well, Mallorca in general is an island full of good musicians. But there’s a lack of scene, regular venues and creativity. So living and playing there is usually hard and boring… and it’s kinda difficult to go touring across the mainland from Mallorca too…
Do you speak in Mallorcan? (It looks like Catalan, which I’m used to, being in Barcelona.)
T: Yeah, everyone in the band is a Catalan-speaker. We speak Catalan proudly in the dialectal form from Mallorca. And you are right, the Mallorcan colony in Barcelona is huge… just like a plague!
So, why sing in English?
T: It has to do with our influences (which are 99% sung in English). We have songs in Catalan too (featured in Minimúsica #3: Els Animals, a compilation of Spanish indie bands with songs for children).

Photo by Adrià Cañameras.
Do you guys surf?
T: No, I don’t. It is known that the Mediterranean Sea is not good for surfing. I prefer chilling and drinking beer.
Pau Riutort: Yes, you can only practice windsurfing and as Joan Miquel Oliver (a Mallorcan songwriter) says “windsurfing is not so cool” (“es windsurf no és tan guay”).
What is your favorite beach drink in Spain? (San Miguel, mojito, calimocho, etc.?)
T: I love ice cold beer, but I hate those ads about hippy-wannabes drinking and driving across the Balearic Islands. I also hate people who leave empty bottles and cans on the beach, making it dirty and ugly.
P: Pomada. Is not exactly a beach drink, but it could be. It’s a mix of the Menorcan gin Xoriguer with lemon juice, perfect for summer nights.
What does Tasteless Peace mean?
T: “Tasteless Peace” is a metaphor that means something like “calm is not fun, nor constructive.”
P: And it’s also part a verse of the song Tasteless: “What a tasteless peace without wild war across your body…!” or something like that, Tomeu writes the lyrics.
What sorts of things do you write about in your lyrics?
T: I usually write about personal experiences with people around me (friends, lovers, workmates…), politics or trekking accidents.
How did the recording go for Tasteless Peace?
P: We had no songs composed, just a few ideas, chords, melodies… So, we decided to make things easy. We recorded rhythmic guitars and added other instruments with our first impulses. Something like improvising, but without the musical knowledge and the skills of a veteran jazz musician. The same with the lyrics, Tomeu wrote them while I was recording the second part of the guitar tracks.
Favorite song to play live?
T: I really enjoy playing “Plants,” “Easier,” “Manoeuvre” and “Desired.”
P: I like to play “Trembling” and “Tasteless” linked.
Something about the cover is striking. Who is the girl?
T: The girl on the cover is Marina. She is the younger sister of Alba Blasi, who does keyboard duties in Extraperlo (and used to have an amazing band called Granit). The cover is a tribute to Maria del Mar Bonet’s (a Mallorcan folk singer) first record.

Album Cover for Maria Del Mar Bonet.
What can you tell me about the label La Castanya?
T: La Castanya is two enthusiastic brothers that, first of all, are fans of their own work. They take care of their bands and encourage them to work and grow up together. We are very happy being part of that family.
What can you tell me about the state of independent record labels in Spain?
T: There’s interesting things…really small labels such as Discos Humeantes, Famèlic Records, Discos Walden, Gramaciones Grabofónicas or La Castanya itself that are achieving certain underground success. Mainly because they also are into booking and/or management and I think that’s the reason they survive: they sell the pack of records and shows that helps to create some kind of underground scene.
How was your Record Store Day in Barcelona?
T: Funny and tiring! We played late in the morning at a fancy, old record store (Discos Juandó where, for an unknown reason, it was sold out) and we kept on drinking and attending cool gigs (at Luchador Records, for example) until late at night. Such a good day!
P: I always wanted to play in a record store. That’s so cool, isn’t it? And Discos Juandó is a really cool record store.

Photo by Adrià Cañameras
What are some of your favorite bands from anytime, anywhere?
T: Mega City Four, Hüsker Dü, Jawbreaker, Aina…
P: I like loads of different bands from different times, but if I have to say some: Teenage Fanclub, My Bloody Valentine, Any Trouble, Aztec Camera, Prefab Sprout’s first LP, The Sundays, and maybe 30 more.
Are there any places in Mallorca to see cool live music that you would recommend someone to go to if they were visiting?
T: Unfortunately, there’s not many cool venues in Mallorca. But if you go to Palma, most of the good gigs take place at Vamp, Jarana or Sa Possessió.
P: I think Sa Possessió is a really nice place to play music. There are not many gigs yet, but wait and see.

Beach Beach goes sightseeing at Park Güell. Photo by Adrià Cañameras

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