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Layabouts - Interview

  by Tom Fogarty

published: 25 / 5 / 2013

Layabouts - Interview


Layabouts are a no-nonsense Madrid-based heavy rock/punk act. Tom Fogarty chats to singer Javi C at a show in London about Layabouts' strict musical ethos, their three albums and future plans

Layabouts are a no-nonsense heavy rock/punk four-piece, hailing from Madrid, who adhere to a strict rock and roll code of conduct when they play. The rock genre is not heavily rooted in Spain, so the band play against the grain in their home country - but are striving to change the music scene there. The band consists of lead singer and guitarist Javi C, Roberto S on guitar and backing vocals, Victor “Vito” A on drums and Jon A on bass and vocal duties. Layabouts have released three solid albums independently and tour relentlessly, having recently finished their international tour promoting their last album - the critically acclaimed ‘Savage Behaviour’. The band opened at Benicassim in 2012, where they played alongside the likes of Queens of the Stone Age and the Strokes and have previously supported the Subways on tour. The band love all things rock, but count Queens of the Stone Age, the Hives, the Cure, Joy Division and the Who among their many influences. Back in London ahead of the release of their next EP, Layabouts performed at the Lexington in London on 1st June in a one-off show, dubbed ‘We Are The Amigos’. Pennyblackmusic spoke to lead singer, Javi C, before the show to get his thoughts on touring, the music industry, Layabouts’ music ethos and their future plans. PB: Can you tell us a bit about the show tonight? JC: Well, the show tonight is our third time here in London. It’s going to be a mix between our 3 albums. We finished the tour for our last album, ‘Savage Behaviour’, last Christmas so we’re doing a few shows now while recording new material. We’re looking forward to it because it’s another gig here in the UK. We’re also going to play some new songs tonight – it will be the second or third time we’ve played them live – so that’s pretty much what’s most exciting for us, playing our new tunes tonight in the UK… and giving the people here tonight, who maybe don’t know who we are, a pallet of what we do; a small selection of our career from 2007 until today. PB: Excellent. Well, you’ve actually just already answered my next question, which was going to be are you playing any new songs tonight? So can you tell us about the new album – when is it coming out? JC: Well, it’s going to be an EP. We’re planning on finishing the recording during the first week of July, and it will probably be out in the beginning of 2014. We’ll keep on doing some shows around summer and stuff, and we’re thinking of releasing a single with a video around Christmas – before releasing the EP. It’s going to be around five or six songs, and we know there’s going to be a cover in it… we’re also going to play two covers tonight. As a rock and roll band, I feel it’s quite a tradition to play some covers. As a genre, it’s about short, sharp effective songs. Even Chuck Berry and the Ramones, they used to play lots of covers. People thought they were actually their songs, so it’s a thing that most rock bands should do; play the old songs and keep those songs alive. When young people come to see the shows, those old songs should never die – they should keep on getting to the ears of young people. So, I think we’ll do four of our own songs and then a cover…but we still haven’t decided which ones! But maybe ‘California Sun’ by the Ramones and then ‘New Rose’ by the Damned. We haven’t played that one for a while but we thought – we’re coming to the UK so we have to play the Damned. PB: So, you’ve mentioned the Damned, the Ramones and Chuck Berry – who else are your main influences? JC: Well every time someone asks us, “You’re a band, what do you play?” - we like to keep it pure rock. Our influences go from Chuck Berry, Howling Wolf – people like that – to the Ramones, Sonics, the Who, Queens of the Stone Age, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club. Even stronger acts like Pulled Apart By Horses – we personally love. Most of us come from a background of playing in hardcore bands so anyone who has those codes of ethics that I mentioned before – key riffs, great vocals, 2/3 minutes – and just play to the edge that’s good for us. PB: Brilliant. So is your EP going to be released in the UK? JC: We’re hoping so. It will be digitally available through iTunes worldwide but we’d love to have it out there in physical format in the UK. But the music industry – especially in Spain – is so tough. We’d love to get a record label to do the distribution or maybe we could come with a bagful of EPs and go round the shops. We don’t want to get some money from it, but we just want people to get to hear it and know us. PB: Sounds great. So do you prefer making albums or playing live? JC: Playing live! I think that most rock and roll bands would give the same answer. Bands learn to play music – to play shows. It’s really what Layabouts is about. It’s about the gigs. It’s about seeing us on stage. If you hear an album you can like a band, but seeing the show – it’s such an extra style you get to see that’s missing on an album. You get a real connection. We’re concerned about giving a good show – that’s the extra. I hate those bands that just hold their guitars, look down and just stand there for the whole show. Sometimes I think, “I’ve paid money to see their show and really I could have the record on, turned it up double and got the same experience at home.” So when we do shows, we like to throw the guitars around, do some walls of death, get some moshpit stuff going – create an atmosphere. It adds value to our shows. Recording for us at the beginning was a big deal. For every day in the recording studio, we go back to a real do-it-yourself spirit. This EP, instead of spending 11,000 euros recording it – it makes more sense to us to lay down some guitars and some base at our sound engineer’s studio. He’s got a place in the mountains in Madrid. We are near neighbours, so we’re just going to plug in the amps and that’s good enough for us. We think of recording more as going to the office kind of stuff – not boring – but you lay down the track, release it – but all our passion, all our rehearsing, goes into the gig. PB: So how has the tour gone? JC: The tour was great. We owned that tour and we got to go to the UK. We weren’t on the road constantly, but just at weekends. We played every Thursday to Sunday for one year and eight months in Spain. It’s quite hard for us – we’ve done some great festivals like Benicassim. We did a Spanish tour with the Subways, and we’ve played in Portugal. We have an audience that follows us in Spain, but it’s hard because we’re like this rock band that sings in English. Spanish is such a powerful language – it’s like a rule that people like their bands to sing in Spanish. They don’t value that they have a band that can sing in English and write decent lyrics in English – and do a show that has international standards – so we fight against that attitude with every single record, and I’m very satisfied because I think we’re pushing that roof up and every time the following gets bigger and bigger. I don’t want to be disrespectful here, but you have some really shitty Spanish pop bands. We are really small compared to them, but we’re really hopeful and we’re not going to change what we do. I think it’s our truth. And I’m happy to say each show we get more kids to the show. I think there’s a generation in Spain going from 12-years old to 16 who are starting to go back to the classics – the Ramones, Guns ‘n’ Roses, the Who – and those kids are from the 21st century. They have Twitter, Facebook and they don’t care if it’s in Spanish, English, French – they just care about the connection with the band. I think every day we’re getting closer to where I think we deserve to be in our country. PB: Where else have you played besides Spain and the UK? JC: We did a tour in Portugal and we did some little shows in France, but that’s about it. We don’t have such a big following in Spain, so it’s really difficult to get an alliance overseas. We’re our own record label. We could have a record deal in Spain – but the terms are “just give us your music and don’t ask anything back”, so we decided to do our own record label. Not just for us – but in the future we’d love to be able to be a home for bands that in a few years will be going through what we’re going right now. We’re such an independent band – we do everything ourselves – our management, communications, everything – so it can be quite hard. Whenever we get a chance, it mainly comes from big festivals in Spain, alongside big bands. Last year we played with the Strokes, Queens of the Stone Age, Subways. Any time we get those kinds of opportunities, we show up and try to be lucky, on the spot – maybe someone will turn up at the right time, who really wants to give us a bigger chance abroad. PB: Have you ever thought about doing any UK festivals? JC: We would love to do some UK festivals. We were thinking a few years ago of moving here and starting from scratch, but it never came through in the end. We like to play as many gigs as we can – sort of to earn the merit to get an opportunity – like the show tonight. We’re really hoping that someone will turn up to see the show and like us, or maybe after reading this interview go on Spotify, Facebook, Bandcamp and check out these Spanish guys, hear us rock and give us a chance. We’re going to do as many shows abroad as we can. Mainly I think we’re much more understood by people like you and the media than people in our own country. PB: How does it compare playing in the UK to back home? JC: Back home it depends on the city. We have our fan base. At some shows people know the lyrics and wait for us at the doors, whereas here it’s almost like starting again. But I do get a sense, starting from the sound check, that people here are very understanding – they get what we’re doing and they like the music we grew up listening to. In Spain we’re like weird music. For you it’s like A-B-C that a kid picks up a guitar at 12-years old and learns to play ‘Hey Ho, Let’s Go!’ In Spain we are the weirdoes in our school. PB: Do you like it that way? JC: Yeah, we do like to be the outcasts. That’s how people meet – people that share the same interests. Here I get a sense of belonging musically. It makes us feel super comfortable. PB: OK, one last question – it might be a tough one to answer – but do you have a favourite gig that you’ve played? JC: Ha, ha, that’s hard – it’s like choosing between your kids! I think there are three for different reasons. The Benicassim gig was a special one. It was massive and we were main stage, but it was a difficult one as we were the first act on and we thought no one would turn up but then 80,000 people arrived. They’d been camping and they were desperate to hear some rock. Benicassim is more indie/electronic. We decided to do a massive wall of death with the people, and everyone was so thankful we played our hardest and fastest music – so it was very cool to be at a pop/indie festival and get that kind of response. It was a very special moment for us. But then last year we did this gig at a smaller festival in Spain that’s growing really fast, and we played on Sunday at 2 a.m. in front of 35,000 people and they were just bouncing, bouncing, bouncing. There was a millisecond where we all just stopped and we thought, “We did it!” Even if we don’t get anywhere with this music at this moment, we’re going to value this moment and tell it to our grandchildren, and this is worth everything – the suffering, all the playing. There was also another gig last year in Spain. Only thirty people turned up, but it was probably crazier than the 35,000! People were standing on the bar, and people were getting on stage with us. We got our foot pedals and took them down to the pit, and we were playing with the people. No one cared that it was empty – we were all involved with the show and there to have a good time. We just valued the experience. It was just the band and thirty people, and they were playing with us - because they were part of it. There were times I was just sitting on the stage, and they were the show. I was just putting on the music to what they were doing. They were the show. They were the gigs that were so authentic – I have the best memories of them. PB: Awesome. And finally, is there anything you would like to say at the end – to the fans, the music press? JC: Even though it’s strange that some Spanish kids can do some hard rock and roll in proper English – if anyone can give us just a minor chance to do anything – we’re in a great opportunity to do stuff now. We’d love to do more stuff here. Secondly, I’d like to thank you and Pennyblack and anyone who did a review of our records, or took five minutes of their time to listen to us. It makes a big difference to us and we really value it. It’s part of our dream to be some guys from Madrid, to be sitting here in London doing an interview. Thank you, I hope you enjoy the show. PB: Thank you.

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Layabouts - Interview

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live reviews

Lexington, London, 1/6/2013
Layabouts - Lexington, London, 1/6/2013
Tom Fogarty watches Madrid-based punk band Layabouts play a fantastic set in a rare UK show at the Lexington in London



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