Sunday, July 08, 2012

Furguson’s Swindlers and Cross Country Runners

In THE BOMBER JACKET’s interview with Barcelona’s Mujeres, the group mentioned a little town outside of the city called Vic where they said a makeshift D.I.Y. music community had formed. Such types of spaces are great at producing creative (or extremely weird) acts. Furguson is an example and they are part of the Vic collective Famèlic, although they’re from the village’s neighbor, Gurb.
What’s immediately noticeable about the music is the fusion of punk rock and electronic elements. The singer’s voice barks with a grit similar to Minor Threat or At The Drive-In and is guided by overdriven power riffs, but it’s backed by 8-bit synthesizers and effects. Even though the songs are in English, the vocals are as distorted as the guitars, making the grumbling shouts sound like it could be in any or all languages. It’s a fresh sound and the music is full of pop experiments listeners wouldn’t expect. And true to the suburban area that it comes from, listening to the music makes you think of friends in a small town with nothing to do, piling into a car on a Saturday night and speeding off down a dusty road.

Furguson, My Friends Are My Culture
Furguson draws inspiration from extraneous elements. The band is named after a Scottish swindler (see below) and on the opposite end of the spectrum, the song “Casacuberta” is about a Olympic runner from Gurb who was their soccer coach. The song is addictive and it’s from their last release, which was a split EP with the band Aliment. Like Beach Beach, who The Bomber Jacket interviewed last issue, both bands are on the label and collective that is doing a lot to promote alternative music in Barcelona, La Castanya. Furguson also has a full-length album out called My Friends Are My Culture and plan to record another album this year.
Listen to “Casacuberta” below:

THE BOMBER JACKET talked with the guys from Furguson about their music and about tricksters and inspirers.
TBJ: So, who is Furguson?
Eduard Vila (vocals, guitar): Arthur Furguson was a Scottish swindler who allegedly became known for “selling” English national monuments and other government property to visiting American tourists during the 1920s. We were 17 years old looking for a name’s band and suddenly we found that man. The last name sounds good and his story is cool. That’s all.
What makes Furguson stand out is that fusion of punk rock and electronica. How did it come together?
We don’t know. We love punk rock, of course, but we aren’t strict punks. And we have an electronic DJ in the band named William Dafoe. I think the reason is 21st century. The sound grew naturally.
Do you prefer to play in sweaty basements or disco dance parties?
I think in a sweaty disco basement disco party!
How many members are responsible for the digital elements? Is it hard to integrate into a hard rock sound?
Only two. I don’t know if it’s hard, it’s part of the process. Sometimes we use electronic elements as ambiance and create weird places, and other times they’re just melodies supporting the song.
Watch the video for “No Return” below:

What is it like in Gurb? (it reminds me of the word “grub,” which is kind of punk rock).
Is a little village with middle class families and farmers, quiet and boring. It’s actually not pretty punk rock.
I interviewed the band Mujeres and they told me that there was a lot of DIY stuff going on in Vic, which is right next to Gurb. Can you tell me anything about what’s happening there?
Vic has always had a lot of musical activity (mainstream and underground). But recently, we created a label called Famèlic and we have the best bands ever, like L’Hereu EscampaMates Mates, and Ohios. And people are very receptive to them. At the end of this year we’ll release a 7″ of Vic Godard & Mates Mates(!). The thing is that we organize small but crazy shows, which is the most fun part!
What’s your experience playing music in Barcelona?
Good, there are a lot groups and good places. But I think we need more concert halls for underground groups. We used to go to a disco called Moog with a lot of real aternative music concerts, but it closed because the neighbors.
It seems like there’s a good community going revolving around your label, La Castanya. What’s that like?
Yes. La Castanya is run by two brothers with a extensive musical background. Joan is a big fan of Washington D.C. and knows everybody and Albert played with Nueva Vulcano, one of the best groups in the universe. They have a lot of “amigos” that play in groups.
Listen to “Cabrit d’un Campanar” below:

How have you progressed as a band from your last record My Friends are My Culture?
I think that the songs are more complex and elaborate. The digital elements became more useful.
Did you take the photo on the cover of that album?
No, Albert Polo took the photo. But the things that are pictured are ours. He is a brilliant photographer of bands and skaters.
Tell me about your split with the band Aliment. Did you record it together?
No. We are really close friends and each of our groups wanted to do a 7-inch, so finally we decided to join forces and make a split EP, which turned out to be a beautiful thing.
Watch the video for “Casacuberta” below:
There seems to be this reoccurring theme with runners. For example, your video for “Casacuberta.” Are you really into track and field? Is Casacuberta the name of a person?
[Laughs] We aren’t into track and field, we are more into drinking pints! Here’s all the info:
Pere Casacuberta, like the Furguson chaps, is from Gurb, a small town embedded in the Plana de Vic (Plains of Vic)  famous for its pig farms and country houses. Back in the ’80s, with not much to do after long shifts in a famous cold meat factory, Pere Casacuberta liked to clear his mind and amuse himself by running through the surrounding fields. He finally got so good at it that in 1984 he decided to trade in the dusty trails of la Plana for the bleak pavement of the Big Apple signing up for the New York’s World Cross Championship. Pere returned to Gurb as the flamboyant World Cross Champion of his age category. His time: 21 minutes and 32 seconds.
Taking advantage of this twist of fate, we decided it was time to merge both stories: Pere and Furguson, our give-and-take admirers. Pere became our soccer coach when we were only kids and now we’ve written a tribute song of his persona ”Casacuberta” on our last split EP.
The director of the clip, Alex Sardà, made an effort to portray the father-coach-guru-son-trainee relation cutting together a video-documentary that revolves around the gold medal that Pere won 28 years ago with images of both Pere and Furguson in their hometown Gurb.
Do you have a new record coming out soon?
We’re going to record an album in October, but it’s taking us some time to write new songs.

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