Tuesday, 18 August 2009


Photo by Camila Montenegro

A visceral rock is born. Calling back the 70’s sound, they take us to the Uruguayan under which struggles to get outta the well fearing nothing. Rodrigo Gils (Bass) and Nicolás Taparauskas (Guitar) take us for a ride!

Hattie Carroll: Let’s start at the beginning, when was the band born?
Rodrigo Gils: Around the middle of 2005, we all came from other bands, we all needed a change.
Nicolás Taparauskas: Exactly.

H.C.: Did the other bands you came from belong to other genres, different from Vellocets?
R. G.: It was more Punk Rock before Vellocets, and we all felt like getting into another sounds, less structured ones.
N. T.: It came naturally; we didn’t have to push it.
R. G.: Though we were always interested in that sort of spirit, the way Punk Rock transmit its emotions, direct and to your chest, but in another musical format.

H.C.: Was that influential when you decided to create Vellocets sound? Coming from other genres of Rock?
R. G.: Yes, of course, because even if we extended ourselves a lot more musically, I think the way we transmit it remains.
N. T.: Although we don’t show it too straight forward.
R. G.: Exactly, it’s not like a manifest or a posture.

H.C.: Maybe it’s a matter of attitude? The way you guys handle your shows. I’m talking about that energy Punk Rock has on stage, which remains from the old days of your other bands.
R. G.: Yeah, some, but not in terms of speed, it’s more in terms of canalizing emotions. We aren’t a Punk band though, the music we make isn’t Punk, not that there’s anything wrong with Punk, it’s just that what we do exceeds it.
N. T.: Being raw.
R. G.: We don’t think how we are on stage, it’s not that strategic (laughs).

H.C.: Anyone that listens to the record can clearly see that you guys aren’t Punk, I hope (laughs). And what about the formation of the band? Was it always the same or has it changad along the way?
N. T.: Vellocets started with four of us, Federico, Damián, Rodrigo and me. After we recorded the album Hernán joined us.

H.C.: So Hernán didn’t take part in the recording of this LP? Did Nicolás record all the guitars himself?
R. G.: Yeah, he didn’t record this album with us. But the entrance of Hernán brought to the band the possibility of opening ourselves more, Nicolás recorded them all and Hernán took it from there.

H.C.: Did Hernán come from another band too?
R. G.: No, I don’t think Hernán was in any band at that time, and one of the great things about him is that he never tried to emulate Nicolás guitar playing, he did his own reading of everything.
N. T.: He enriched everything.
R. G.: Yeah, and we could all liberate ourselves more when he joined us, especially Nicolás, from having to carry the songs in his playing all the time. Because even if the compositions are freer now they’re still songs, and Nicolás being the only guitar, he had to handle them all.
N. T.: Yeah, it was like carrying a “target” sign on my chest (laughs).

H.C.: Now that you guys mention it, how is the process of writing songs in Vellocets? How does that happen between you?
R. G.: It’s always something that we do together. We’re not one of those bands in which one being the writer writes and the others play, there’s nothing wrong with that, but we don’t work that way. Generally somebody brings a riff and we all work on it and it never stays the same, it changes of course.
N. T.: Most of the time things come up at rehearsals. Or someone brings a little piece that’s been worked on and we take it from there.

H.C.: And regarding the lyrics?
R. G.: Lyrics so far have been Damián’s ground, but because it went that way. It’s always the last part of the process but we don’t forget what it is, the lyrics of a song. In my case I don’t like lyrics which are excessively literary. I think we all want to contribute into that, not because it’s needed but because we’re very invasive (laughs).

H.C.: Tell me more about the album; where was it recorded? Did you have the back up of any label?
N. T.: Good old “DIY”. There wasn’t any backup, it all came from ourselves. It was a great experience really. I felt I was doing something for real. We recorded it at Arizona Studios; I think they’re called Arizona Road Studios now. It was great to get to the studio with all the songs and all but the helping hand of Fede Langwagen was huge.
R. G.: Yeah we had backup, from our families who gave us their money (laughs). I told my mother there was assured hits on it, almost like buying Coke Cola stocks shares (laughs). And yes, there was a perfect kind of climate at the recording, I’ve never felt anything like it before, I can’t compare it to any other experience. It was a lot of hard work, without leaving out the spontaneous feeling of the moment; I think you can feel that, we got to the studio like excited teenagers at a disco (laughs).

H.C.: Was Federico Langwagen your sound engineer?
R. G.: Yes, he also helped us with the whole production and gave us words of encouragement when we needed them.

H.C.: You’ve got some Saint Mothers there huh? And making the album must have almost felt like becoming a mother! (Laughs)
N. T.: Yeah!
R. G.: Yeah, but easier to leave if you don’t like how it turns out (laughs).

H.C.: And what about it’s distribution did you also do that by yourselves?
R. G.: That was the most frustrating part of it all. We recorded the album at the end of 2006 and edited it at the beginning of 2008.
N. T.: We edited it thru Perro Andaluz, a local label.
R. G.: It’s a small label, without any profit, with limited distribution meaning we weren’t too exposed, but they gave us a hand and that helped a lot, without asking for anything in return.

H.C.: What about the editing of the album in the US?
R. G.: That was thru an American guy, Ron, who reviewed the album for a North American Blog. He is the owner of a label up there, Zodiac Killer Records and he was happy with the band. I think they find it exotic to find bands like us down here; we’re like a tasty dish to the tourists (laughs).
N. T.: Ron is a very cool guy who liked the band that’s all.

H.C.: When will it be released in the US then?
N. T.: We don’t have an exact date yet, because Ron is on the road.

H.C.: You guys mentioned that there was an almost 3 year breech between the recording and the releasing of the album, is there new material for a second album?
R. G.: Yeah, that is what the band is working on right now, all of our energy is centered in the second album. We’re exploring a lot, processing influences that are more diverse. It’s going to be an album that’s going to keep the visceral spirit, but it’s going to be far more explorative.
N. T.: With Hernán the musical spectrum of the band got wider, we are more relaxed each on our own instrument, so the material coming from that is far more interesting. Besides we all share common tastes but we also listen to different things. We hope to record it early next year and to have a faster edition!

Photo by Camila Montenegro

H.C.: Talking about influences, how do you guys handle that? Many bands often don’t like to talk about influences because they’re afraid to get attached to a genre or dislike being called “they sound like…” and therefore “lose” originality, what’s it like for you?
R. G.: I think, and this is my opinion, that even if on the surface the band might remind you of another one, it’s not that tangible. More than bands I’d like to name styles. We feel close to the 70’s and the psychedelia that left its taste from the 60’s, as well as the pre-punk era of the early 70’s. But we also are people that were born 30 years after, therefore those influences are processed individually and then as a group. We’re not away from new sounds either. The thing is not to put yourself under any manifest when you are in front of a music piece. We’re not interested in emulating a time or a genre, but to be personal. Music as any other art, is never independent, it nurtures from everything. We’re not interested in ideological pamphlets or literary works, those are important, but it’s not who we are.
N. T.: I mean influences are always there, but we try to give it our touch to make it our own so it doesn’t end up being a copy of a copy of a copy. We work that a lot when we’re working on details and adjustments of a song.

H.C.: So which 6 words would define Vellocets? Without thinking!
R. G.: Visceral, climax, irreverent.
N. T.: Energetic, domineering, and unique.

H.C.: Cool. Tell more about Montevideo’s “under scene” if you believe there’s any.
R. G.: There’s no under scene here. “Under” here means being inside a dark well which nobody looks at but everybody pees in. Here either you’re in the media crème or you’re inside the well. It’s a marketing matter too, everything is small here, very few people. The “under” will never work here. I’m not interested in that sense of “under”.
N. T.: Oh don’t paint the picture like that or I’m going to end up in Argentina! But yeah, there are only a few places to play and very few people that care.

H.C.: So how do we fix that? What part does Vellocets play in that?
R. G.: To be completely honest, we’re not the best defenders of the under scene, we’re interested in independence of course, but we’re also interested in being able to show what we do. And you can’t fix it here.

H.C.: And do you think that comes from having a small playing circuit in Montevideo or is it an ideal of the band?
R. G.: You don’t have to care about it, which is different. The ideal of the band is doing what we like; it doesn’t go any further than that. I’m not interested in that sense of “under”. Because being “under” here almost has a sense of occultism, nobody knows you, nobody gives you a chance, and you’re out of everything.
N. T.: Mmmmmhhh I don’t think I have an idea formed about it. I mean, it’s “under”, 7 feet underground.

H.C.: How does it work having such a big Rock Mecca like Buenos Aires so near? Is it helpful or not?
R. G.: I’m sure it’s helpful to some, it’s not yet to us, it’s not bad either, we’re a bit isolated from Buenos Aires for now.

H.C.: But how’s the vision of Buenos Aires to the musician from Montevideo?
R. G.: I don’t think the vision changes a lot. Without a doubt it’s an interesting place because of the expansive possibilities it gives you. And besides it’s always tempting to show what you do to people that doesn’t know you, you get there as an outsider, and that’s good, it motivates you to think that it doesn’t end here.
N. T.: To me it's great simply because I haven’t played there

H.C.: It’s interesting to talk about this, because here in Buenos Aires, there are some musicians who complain about the “under scene” saying it doesn’t exist, but I’ve been here in Montevideo and for example, the amount of places to play is completely different, I think it’s important to talk about it ‘cause it opens your mind a bit.
N. T.: If we’re talking “under” here, what are we talking about? Two or three places to play? And only one of them has good sound. You got Bluzz, Decibelios and BJ.
R. G.: To those who complain about Buenos Aires “under” I invite them a weekend here (laughs). You see? That’s the “under” here, you came and spent a weekend and you saw everything! But hey! We know how things are; we’re not crying babies; that’s not going to slow us down.

H.C.: That’s the spirit! Getting back on track with the questions: you guys have a “moving” member, Fede, who also plays drums in Guachass, how do you guys handle that in terms of organization?
R. G.: Since he started playing with Guachass his agenda is a lot busier, but honestly it hasn’t affected us at all. We organize things well, and to be honest he gets a lot more around with Guachass than with us (laughs).
N. T.: We always try to have gigs and rehearsals dates as separated as possible.

H.C.: And talking about other Uruguayan bands, who do you guys feel close to?
R. G.: I tend to get closer in personal terms more than musically. So personally I feel close to Revolver, Oro, Culpables; we have a great relationship with those guys. But musically I find it hard to relate, not because we’re unique or anything, but because I feel every band is so personal here, that none seems to be like the other, and that’s something to stand out since we’re all friends, we all grew up together.
N. T.: Yeah, we feel close to the heavy blues guys, Revolver, Oro and with Guachass too, we have known each other for years. That’s the interesting thing about here, it’s not like there are 300 bands that sound all the same. You've got each band doing it its way.

H.C.: So maybe after all there is an “under”, what lacks is a structure, but the spirit of reflecting something personal and new thru different art forms exists. After all “under” is supposed to be that, the spirit of expressing something, whether it has a structure or not.
R. G.: Yeah but I think that goes far beyond the concept of “under”. That should be a posture before life. It’s totally human. Call it “under” or spoon.

H.C.: So aside from making music, do you express yourselves thru other art forms?
R. G.: Hmmm I’m a filmmaker. We’re about to film a movie next year. It’s a project I have with some friends.
N. T.: Hmmm, I draw, but since I’m not that good I never say it (laughs).

H.C.: So if Vellocets had to be the soundtrack of a movie, which movie would that be?
N. T.: Ummm a Terry Gilliam film, I’d like that!
R. G.: Umm that’s a tough one, more than the soundtrack of a movie, it would be the soundtrack of an idea if “expressing without any bonding” was a movie.

H.C.: Maybe a surreal one?
R. G.: Yeah I like Buñuel. Though taking part on a Lynch one would be great. Or a Coen movie, Von Trier would be nice, but no, I love what he does, but he would be mean to us and we don’t like to be mistreated (laughs).
N. T.: I’d like a western.

H.C.: With whom would you like to play that you haven’t? Dead or alive…
N. T.: I can’t lie about it, Hendrix!
R. G.: Lysergic Beatles or the older Stones. I’d like to play with QOTSA; they have the capacity of talking about freedom and being visceral at the same time. Or Nick Cave… it would be fun to play with Daniel Johnston too.
N. T.: I like QOTSA a lot, but I wouldn’t get mad if I had to play with the Fuzztones.

H.C.: Some bands! And changing subject, what about the artwork of your album, who did it?
R. G.: Nicolás designed it along with a friend called Marcel Salord who draws illustrations.
N. T.: At the beginning someone else was going to do it, but I started working on it and showing the guys the results to know what they thought about it. After everything was finished a friend helped me digitalizing everything, because the artwork is all handmade. Craftsmen %100.
R. G.: Hippie Nick (laughs).

H.C.: Ok guys, after being 2 hours under my siege, I’ll let you ask me the last question.
R. G.: If we were to play in Buenos Aires, would you go see us? Would you tell your friends to go? Why? And I’m taking notes!!
N. T.: And did you enjoy our company?

H.C.: Yes, I enjoyed your company very much, and yes, if you come to Buenos Aires (and let’s hope that happens soon) I’d give you shelter, I’d give you beer and I’d go to your show with a crazy troupe because I believe in Rock and Roll.

Photo by Camila Montenegro


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