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Interview by Amanda Astramowicz
Prior to their show at the Hard Rock Cafe Barcelona, Metropolitan sits down and chats with the members of Luz Verde about the band and their 6th and newest album, ‘El Final del Mundo Vol.2: Nada Es Imposible’, to be released May, 2014.
Willbert Álvarez (Guitar & Vocals)
Eduardo Benatar (Drums)
Carlos Mendoza (Guitar & Vocals)
I have to ask, what happened to the fourth member, Pedro?
Eduardo: He became a father. We were together for like 18 years, but now he's been immersed in his family life and he didn't have much time left for the band. So now it's just the three of us. We ended up needing a bass player and now we have a fourth member, a long time friend of ours, but he's not an official member- although he's been collaborating with us and he recorded the album with us, too.
Willbert: As long as he can play with us, he'll play with us. I hope it lasts! He'll also be playing with us on the 15th of May at the Hard Rock Cafe.
So you've been together since 1995?
Willbert: Yeah, we met at school, even before we played guitar. Then when we were 15 or 16, bands started forming in school and we all got together. Then we met Eduardo and it got kind of serious.
Eduardo: That means I'm the only serious band member. [laughs]
Willbert: That's kind of true. And then we did a demo tape, literally a cassette tape- and since then we've done all the rest of the albums.
Eduardo: We won a nationwide contest, like battle of the bands, and then we released our first album in 2000. Then we started talking about leaving Venezuela, because at that time in the country, the people and the media weren't so kind to Venezuelan bands. People at that time had the mentality that everything made in Venezuela was not good. And after releasing the first album, we were talking about leaving Venezuela for about a year and a half while we recorded our second album, and once we released that album we came to Barcelona. Carlos came first and we all came four months after that. It was in 2004- so this is our 10th year in Barcelona. When we got here we started playing everywhere we could, at parks, contests, festivals and even at Festa Major de Gracia.
Willbert: Yeah, we've been doing the Festa Major de Gracia for about 6 years now.
Eduardo: It's like a tradition for the band to play there every year. Soon after that, we started talking to producers to try and get serious in Spain, and we found Roger Rodés, who produces for Macaco, a big Spanish star. With Roger we produced our 3rd album 'Manual de Buenas Costumbres' (2008), which was our first album recorded in Spain, and as luck would have it, we had the opportunity to go back to Venezuela as part of our tour. Since the last time we were there, things had changed a lot musically.
Did you become more popular in Venezuela after coming back from Barcelona?
Carlos: Yes, exactly. It's like that myth you know, It's like what they say- when you leave and they don't see you for a while, and then you come back, and you've changed and grown [as a band], people tend to appreciate you more.
Willbert: It also helps a lot that radios in Venezuela were supporting our music. Also, by law, they have to play a certain percentage of some local productions and this helps a lot. Some people remembered us but the radio really helped us in exposing our new album.
What sort of venues do you prefer to play in?
Willbert: I think we enjoy all kinds of venues, in small bars it's really fun because it's more intimate and you see the reaction of the people, it's a bit more intimate and interactive. When playing larger ones, it's a different kind of energy, like a bigger wave, not necessarily stronger, but bigger. And yeah, you can concentrate more on yourself or on the band while you're playing.
Eduardo: We have played all types of gigs, we have played in 19th-century theatres, as well as in parking lots on the back of a truck.
What was your largest audience, ever?
Willbert: I would say, 4 or 5 thousand people at festivals in Venezuela.
Carlos: But those are- I'm not sure, I don't like those that much because you feel a big distance between yourself and the audience. You don't even see their face!
We talked about why you moved to Spain, but why Barcelona, in particular?
Willbert: Well when we came here, for us it was like a big sea of opportunities if you compared that to Venezuela. There were only three places to play in the capital city where we lived, so it went from really small to a universe! Barcelona was still within the last moments of a good live music scene.
Eduardo: Yeah, the first three years [after we moved here], it was great, and then it started slowing down... and now it's at its lowest point ever.
Willbert: Another reason we decided for Barcelona was that it had a beach! It was between Madrid and Barcelona, once we had ruled out Argentina and Mexico because, for sure, we thought that Spain would have a more steady economy...
Eduardo: [Ha, ha] We mean in 2004, not now...
Willbert: The joke is on us. But yeah, hopefully it should be getting better soon.
Do you have any songs in English?
Willbert: Released? No nothing. It´s really hard to translate them. I was meaning to write to Shakira so she could translate them! It's difficult to translate a lyric keeping the same sentiment. We have some songs in English but I don't think they are good enough.... eventually we'll get there.
Eduardo: We thought about playing some songs in Catalan and in Spanish because they have that same law here [as we mentioned before]. The radios need to play a certain percentage of music in Catalan, so that's why some bands play in Catalan so they can be sure that they will be on the radio.
Willbert: And I've tried it, but what happens is that, well, my Catalan accent is terrible.
So you're sixth album, El Final del Mundo Vol.2: Nada Es Imposible, how does it compare to the previous albums?
Willbert: It has a more optimistic view on life. We're still alive. The fifth album included the last songs of a "dying and ending world" and we decided to do the album before December- before the Mayans predicted the death our planet! But, in the end, the world kept on going and so we named our sixth album, 'Nada Es Imposible' (Nothing is Impossible). It's a rebirth, and for me personally, I think that if people can change, we can make it work, instead of destroying the planet as we are [now], unconsciously destroying society, relationships and communities, etc. Well, that would be utopia but- like i said- nothing is impossible.
Carlos: We're in a more positive mood with our newest album. We have songs that relate directly to the concept of 'nothing is impossible' and in the previous album, the songs were completely apocalyptic. Now, we're being reborn- that dying world is not the physical world that ended but- for us it was the end of an era- we were four but now we are three members and it kind of crashed down when Pedro went away [last year].
Willbert: It's a way of saying to ourselves, we can keep on going even though all four members are not together anymore.
I see that Pedro leaving has affected you all, quite a lot, as a band.
Willbert: Well yeah, he's one of our best friends and we basically grew up together.
Eduardo: When we came here, we came here together. We were a very strong nucleus because we were the only people we knew here. Also, especially for me as a drummer, the connection with the bass player is something really special in a band. So, for me, it was like losing my connection to the rest of the band. Everyone has a particular role in the band, musicality-wise, personality-wise and business-wise, and when one of them leaves, the equilibrium shifts.
Willbert: And we were like BFFs. [Laughs]
How would you describe your music?
Willbert: Very honest, very sincere and very direct. It's our interpretation of different stuff we like and we mash it up with the classic rock that we've always liked.
Eduardo: I think we're like 'eclectic pop rock'. Because we play rock, we have pop songs, and we have an eclectic mix, because once in a while we try different genres to spice it up a little bit. For example, Latin music, Venezuelan folklore, European swing...
Your band's music videos were shown on MTV at one point, correct?
Eduardo: Yes, with our third album, 'Manual de Buenas Costumbres' (2008), there were two videos on rotation on MTV, the second and the third single - when MTV still played music videos.
Are you planning to make any more music videos for the newest album?
Eduardo: Yes, we are. There's one in production and one in pre-production.
Carlos: There will also be a documentary on the 'making-of' of the album recording, and also some interviews.
The Hard Rock event will be your sixth album's release party?
Eduardo: Yeah, but the online and web releases will be available the weekend before that, around the 10th or 11th of May. In Venezuela there's an online radio circuit and they have the exclusivity of the album and they'll be playing all the songs of the album then. Later on it will be available in physical format, in stores such as Fnac.
What are some of the best and worst moments for Luz Verde?
Eduardo: When we came back to Venezuela in 2008 and 2009, a lot of people showed up and we didn't expect that... it was really nice. Other things we like to remember are the stories that happen during our concerts, for example, there's a particular story we like to remember about two people meeting and falling in love, and dedicating something very special to us in return. It makes us feel good about what we do.
Willbert: A terrible moment was when you fell and broke your two wrists, Eduardo.
Eduardo: Oh yes, that was a very bad moment. Six weeks away from one tour, I fell off of a ladder and broke my two wrists. They are kind of important for a drummer, you know. We had the tour booked in Venezuela and the band started rehearsing with another drummer. I was in a cast for 5 weeks, then one week of rehabilitation and then went straight on tour. It was a bad time, but it was good in the end because I able to do it... and before that happened, I always thought to myself, I will never get a motorcycle because I don't want to break anything, because I never want to stop playing! I kept patronising everyone about it. I didn't even want to play sports- and then I went and fell off of a ladder.
Willbert: Yeah, I think that in life, if you're always trying to be so careful and not living it to the fullest, the bad stuff will always catch up to you in the end anyway, and you wouldn't even have had enjoyed any of the good stuff.
Thank you Willbert, Eduardo and Carlos for such a great and enjoyable interview. I'm looking forward to seeing you at your next show.
Luz Verde: Thank you!
May 15th: Hard Rock Cafe
May 23rd: La Maseta (small acoustic gig)
June 14th: Sala Monasterio (Second release party with new albums for sale)
June 27th: Hard Rock Rising beach festival (Montgat)
All albums by Luz Verde are available for streaming at: luzverde.bandcamp.com
Listen to Luz Verde on Spotify here.