LOS BITCHOS – Interview

Foto-© Tom Mitchell

2022 startet mit dem Debütalbum unserer neuen Lieblings-Partyband Los Bitchos! Ihr Sound bewegt sich irgendwo zwischen peruanischer Chicha, Cumbia, türkischem Psych, Surf-Gitarren und ein bisschen schwedischem Pop. Ihre Instrumentalstücke erinnern an Szenen, in denen man in einen Wüstensaloon stolziert und eine Reihe flammender Sambucas anzündet. Das Album mit dem passenden Titel Let The Festivities Begin! erscheint am 4. Februar bei City Slang.

Wir haben im Januar mit Serra Petale, Nic Crawshaw und Agustina Ruiz über die Platte gesprochen. Im Interview erzählen sie, warum sie ohne Label und eigentlich auch ohne Plan die Aufnahmen zum Debüt gestartet haben. Außerdem sprechen wir über verlorene Songs im Internet, was der niederländische Hase Mifi mit ihrem Songwriting zu tun hat, warum sie auf einen Anruf von Tarantino warten und ob Producer Alex Kapranos (Franz Ferdinand) sie ins Studio gezwungen hat oder andersherum.

Congratulations on the album! It has been a long time coming, you have finished the recordings before the pandemic hit. How do you feel about finally releasing it?
Serra: We are incredibly relieved.

You are signed with City Slang Records now, but you recorded it before you signed the deal.
Serra: Yes, it has been such a stab in the dark, to be honest. We had so many songs and we have been playing them for such a while. We had already done some recordings before, which we released on 7’’. We just did not want to wait, we wanted to keep going. We did not know if anyone would be interested in putting it out. We thought it would be best for us to run our own race and if anyone wanted to join into that race – amazing. And they did.

You already have such a big fan base. There are conversations about some of your earlier work disappearing from the digital world. Can you tell us more about the process of finding the sound of Los Bitchos?
Serra: The sound has changed so much from when we first put out songs. Even the stuff we did with Strong Island Recordings and with our friend’s label BLAK HAND RECORDS, where we put out some tapes. We did a bunch of releases – mostly on our friend’s labels. But the sound changed so much, the songs changed. We wanted to re-brand ourselves and introduce ourselves fresh in this formation that we have now. It is the strongest and the best we have ever sounded.
Nic: To anyone who is panicking: “You do not need to panic. It is all going to be okay. Just wait.”
Serra: Yes, so many people asked. It is actually nice that people care. But after a while you are just like, “Oh God, yeah…” I can understand that it is annoying to people. It happened to me with other bands. I think of My Bloody Valentine, when they took down their discovery field. One day, I looked them up and I thought, “My Bloody Valentine, where are all your songs?” But obviously I was not going to email them or comment on their Facebook or anything like that. I just waited silently until it came back and it did.

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This is the sign to all of us to buy more records or tapes.
Serra: Yes, if you had bought the 7″, you would not have this problem. [everybody laughs]

It is your first album and although you have been around for a while, you are just diving into the music business. Is there anything you promised yourself to do or not to do? Any resolutions?
Nic: No, we are just very excited. I cannot wait. Joe and I have about two weeks left in our other jobs. We are just excited to dive in head first and see what happens.

You are now full time Bitchos.
Nic: YEAH, full time Bitchos.

The record is called Let The Festivities Begin!, that is quite fitting in that sense then. What else are we celebrating with you?
Agustina: Life! Music! Friends!
Nic: Bullshit! Adventure, touring, having a nice little drink, eating well, meeting people, sharing out music…
Serra: Tequila, little snacks, getting up ridiculously early for flights…
Nic: Little cheesy breads, yes!
Serra: With tomato on it.

Tequila must also be the second most used word to describe your sound with number one being “Tarantino soundtrack”. How do you feel about that?
Nic: Loving it!
Agustina: It would be amazing if Tarantino would call us.
Serra: Yes, we are trying to put it into as many interviews as we can, so on the off-chance that he or one of his people might read it.

Apart from Tequila and Tarantino – how would you describe your sound?
Serra: The sound itself is quite rich. All of the sounds and all of the productions that I particularly like myself are from the 1980s and the early 90s. I love the chorus, I love an overdrive, distortion, I love a wall of sound as well. That can be found in New Wave productions especially. I guess that is what you are always trying to emulate: things that you love. You are trying to do that yourself, but inevitably it is going to change, because we are using different technology. When I was doing the demos, I did not know what I was doing. I still do not know what I am doing. I am still stabbing in the dark. The main thing I knew I had to have on my guitar was a chorus pedal – just that nice oscillation of sound. With me, whenever I hear that type of guitar, even if it is on the 90s lush stuff like Dead or Alive, any Duran Duran track, it is just so oohh…

Maybe I am just all wrapped up in nostalgia, but I love the way it makes me feel. It is something about the way that sounds. And with the layering of percussion, you can have so much fun in the studio. And we did. It is such a blast to play live, too. You can add little bits, take out little bits, change things around. We arrived on the sound purely just by trying to emulate any 1980s production.
Nic: And flailing around on our instruments, really. Just trying my best to play one of the 15 drum parts Serra put on the demos. [all laughing]

You are close friends, you are bandmates, do you also write together? How does the process work for you?
Serra: It has happened in a couple of different ways. When we first started, I was doing quite a bit of it by myself in my little bedroom studio aka just me on a computer. But I have actually thought about this recently. I am listening to this band called Turnstile and I have been, “wow”! For the last few months, I have had a bit of a writer’s block. I was busy, I was not in the mood, I was not inspired. If I am inspired by something someone else is doing, that personally spurs me on. It ignites a fire, I cannot explain it. It is like, “Man, I want to do something like that!” Another great way of how it happens is that someone sends me little thingies, little ideas. Agustina was sending me these weird little casio keyboard demos…
Agustina: Mifi!
Serra: Yes, from Mifi – the little bunny. She sent me those and in them I found little things that I thought were really good and I built a structure around that. But obviously, as Nic said, I then layer it with about 50 bits of percussion. When we take that to a practice room, then of course everyone puts their own touch on the parts. And depending on the producer we are working with, the arrangements change. It happens in many different ways. With this album, some of the songs changed in structure and sound – Alex really made us work it, which was great.

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I read that Alex Kapranos basically ushered you into the studio to make that record. I love that picture of ushering someone to work.
Serra: Did he usher us or did we usher him?
Nic: I think we ushered him in many ways!

The press release says he ushered you.
Nic: I must have missed that.
Serra: Maybe we ushered each other.
Nic: Maybe we just held hands and skipped in.
Serra: Before we did that though, he was in the rehearsal studio with us working really intensely. Me and him would work together – not even necessarily writing stuff or doing anything, just listening to references or sounds or guitar sounds and percussion stuff that we wanted to put on. There was so much pre-production that he did with us.

Let’s Talk about your bandname. How did you become Los Bitchos? I heard you started it as a joke.
Serra: I just made up the name, because I do not know what I am doing. We just wanted to have a dancy-Turkish-psychedelic theme. It was just the first name that popped into my head.
Nic: Always go with your first instinct.
Serra: Exactly. [Jokingly] It is what my heart told me. But honestly, when we say joke, we just mean that we did not know what we were doing. I could not play lead guitar; I could barely play rhythm guitar. Agustina did not play synths. She was like, “I am keen to join.” And I said, “Sure! Sounds good. Why not?” [laughs] We just went for it. That is all I can say. We did not know what was going to happen. We did not plan anything. We just let everything go as it did. And now we are here talking to you.

Yes, it worked out pretty well! You very much have your own aesthetics; everything seems to be so on brand. Almost like a Los Bitchos universe. How did that evolve?
Agustina: I think we all share a vibe with what we want to do. We have amazing people around us that help us to achieve our crazy ideas. We always tell Tom [Mitchell] for our videos, “We need to do this, we need to that”. He puts it together and makes it look nice. We have got a really good team of people around us.
Serra: We do!
Nic: We have such a lovely group of mutual friends, who are so talented. I think we have not really worked with anyone who has not been a friend first. We are just lucky in that way to have a really creative friendship group. We all tend to like the same stuff. If someone suggests something, the rest of us usually says yes. It does feel lucky that the four of us met and we just want to do the same weird, tacky, crazy things.
Serra: Tacky has always been a big one for us. I love the tackiness; it has to be tacky.
Nic: We all want to do as much as we can with the band and we are really hard working. We do not take ourselves too seriously and I think that comes across in the videos. There is a comedy element in a lot of stuff that we do. That is just us fooling around and having a laugh.

Yes, but the comedy is so detailed that you can see you have spent a lot of time creating it.
Nic: We spent a lot of time last summer sitting at airports. We had a lot of time to kill. We were having these very elaborate conversations about concepts of videos. We ended up making a trilogy. It feels like a lot of videos are very arty these days, but we wanted to tell a story.
Serra: That is a lot like what they used to with the 1990s videos actually. I saw a little documentary about video clips the other day and in the 90s and 80s the budgets were ridiculous. Companies were spending hundreds of thousands of Dollars on videos. A lot of these clips, like the Beastie Boys’ Sabotage clip for example, tell a story. It is almost like a little movie that goes with the song. Obviously, styles and trends changed and of course I love a good performance video just as much as the next person. But all of us just wanted to tell a little story. Something funny to go with the song as we do not have any lyrics. That really leaves us so open to do the most ridiculous storyline that essentially makes no sense. But they are funny, they are fun, they go well with the song.

All for Tarantino to see! Thank you very much for the interview.

Los Bitchos Tour:
21.04.22 München, Milla
23.04.22 Berlin, Urban Spree
24.04.22 Hamburg, Molotow
26.05.22 Berlin, Desertfest
01.06.22 Augsburg, City Club
02.06.22 Schorndorf, Club Manufaktur
26.-28.08.22 Darmstadt, Golden Leaves Festival

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