Rock n’ Recipes: Melenas
It’s been a minute since we’ve run a proper Rock n’ Recipes piece, and what better way to get back into the swing of things than to reach out to Spain’s Melenas. Today, Trouble In Mind Records is dropping the band’s brand new record, so we reached out with some questions to talk about the album, having a US label and the obligatory futbol comment.
** Editor Note ** I originally reached out to the band in the middle of the World Cup, wandering how they felt about their team. But, that was before the fallout of Rubiales, so I reached back out with a new question to deal with that, rather than the generic fan question.
Special shout out to RayRay for the formatting and Bill at Trouble in Mind for helping us get organized.
ATH: The new album title, Ahora, translates to Now. Time seems to play a huge role with the band (Dias Raros, 1986), so what is the importance of the title in regards to the band or the record? Are we talking about “now” or “the present”? Or how does the band view the importance of time as a whole?
It does, indeed! Time means a lot to us, we have always been very aware of it, and we always talk a lot about it, about how fast or slow it passes, about our perception of it Ahora is an affirmation of the importance of the now and, consequently, of the time: the here and now is what we really have, and our choices and decisions about it determine the future history of our lives. Were taking awareness here about the way we spend our time, about who we spend it with they have to be things and people that are really meaningful to us!! In this sense, in Ahora we also take a look at our roots and origins, and we acknowledge that some of them are still here with us in this now, that they make part of our current identities. And at the same time, Ahora its a message about the importance of the us, the strength of the union, and a recognition of this togetherness.
ATH: In comparison to Dias Raros, there’s a bit more focus on the electronic/synthetic pieces for the songs this go-round. Was that a natural progression?
Yes, it has been kind of natural, or at least something that we really wanted to explore. There have always been synths in Melenas, but they first became prominent in two Das Raros songs (Primer tiempo, El tiempo ha pasado) andthen especially in Osa Polar, our Grauzones cover: that was really the turning point, we really loved these new vibes and in Ahora we decided to continue this way: there are synths but also drum machines, sequencers We are absolutely in love with these sounds and the variety of textures that they give to our music. Still very Melenas, anyway 🙂
ATH: And if you go track by track, the album, for the most part, operates between energetic tracks and more pensive/thoughtful numbers? Is the balance purposeful there? What ideas did the band have in setting up the running order of the tracks?
Yeah, that’s true! About the existence of these two sides, its not something that we consciously aim for, its just something that usually happens when we compose and write our songs. And yes, we reckon that our music has always had these different energies, which also coexist in our personalities. And yes, once we finished the recording and started thinking about the tracklist we tried to balance the different types of songs and vibes, in order to give more variety to the listening experience, trying to make it more enjoyable and meaningful at the same time.
ATH: So far we’ve got two singles out into the world (Dos Pasajeros, Bang). How does the band or TiM decide upon singles? What are you hoping to achieve with each individual track?
Its not always easy, to be honest! The thing is that we are very happy and in love with the songs in the album, so there were several candidates 🙂 Anyway, Bang was an obvious first-single-favorite: its powerful and catchy, it has a memorable melody and also a lot of beautiful details (synths, harmonies, back vocals). It is clearly a Melenas song, but at the same time it shows our new increasingly electronic sound. And Dos Pasajeros seemed to us a perfect example of a different side of our music: more delicate, sensitive, it offers a wider range of textures. And What are we hoping to achieve? To connect! We really want people to enjoy our music, thats our biggest wish, for sure!
ATH: And with that, does the band have a favorite track that represents the theme of the LP, aside from Ahora? Whether it’s a single or not, which is the track the group is most excited for folks to hear?
Such a difficult question! We have been discussing it for hours and we have come to the conclusion that we think that Bang represents the spirit of this album. Its a direct and powerful song that talks about the main topic of Ahora: follow your own path, learn to say no, avoid losing your time and energy with people and things that try to interfere (in a bad way, obviously). We are together in this!
ATH: I’m always interested in where bands draw their inspiration, plus I love getting turned on to new stuff…so, what are some of the less obvious influences on Ahora? Were there any records the band was listening to during the writing/recording process?
Lets start, just in case, with the more obvious which would be Stereolab, Electrelane, Broadcast, Grauzone but apart from them all, other bands and artists would be Yo La Tengo, Young Marble Giants, Suicide, Antena, Solid Space, Reymour, Anika, Automatic, Cate Le Bon, Thibault, Magnetic Fields, Verde Prato (this is a basque female artist, we completely recommend!). Anyway we listen to a great variety of music during our creative processes So who knows, maybe there could be some Juan Luis Guerra or Destinys Child vibes somewhere there, hidden in our songs!
ATH: Touring is never an easy thing…but with the new album and an American label, do you have plans to come to the States in support of the new LP? What are the difficulties you face as a band in regard to touring or promoting your music with a huge fanbase overseas?
The biggest problem is the price of the visas, which has recently increased a lot, and its almost unaffordable. But we really want to go there, its one of our biggest dreams. We really hope well find the way and the resources to do it someday.
ATH** When we reached out originally, we were in the middle of the Women’s World Cup. Now that Spain has won, how does the unfolding of the scandal with Rubiales impact your band as women and leaders? Does that come through in the record as just a general response to machismo, which is likely prevalent?
The victory of the women’s team, as a consequence of their hard work, has been really amazing, in opposition to the behavior of Rubiales, which has been absolutely unacceptable and upsetting. This scandal, his attitude -from abuse to denial-, and all the men around him trying to excuse his actswell, its the exact definition of what machismo means in our society. At least, the public discussion around this terrible event has contributed to raise awareness about the long way we still have to walk. Thankfully, it appears to have led to some changes in the Spanish Football Federation and now the voices of women players are being finally heard. But, beyond football, it has shown to a lot of people that this kind of attitude is not admissible in any area, and it will be prosecuted.
These kinds of incidents are painful, tiresome and unfortunately they remind us of situations we have lived as women (and musicians). So we need the determination to keep on going, and to try to fight against these attitudes (its so sad that we still have to do it, but). We hope that maybe some songs in the new record (were thinking about Bang right now) will inspire some other women to follow their path, to feel free to explore and go wherever they want to; to say no to those who try to stop them; and to find strength in togetherness and in those people who are supportive. Lets go!
ATH: After the elections, it appears that the rise of Vox has been stifled (perhaps temporarily). Does the band ever address politics in the songwriting process? Does the conservative movement impact art/culture in Spain…from your perspective?
Yes it does, and we feel so relieved about it. We were really afraid, to be honest. We hope this fall continues, people have to realize the horror that fascism may bring. The conservative movement endangers freedom in every respect: art, culture As well as our right to public education, health, our social security system Besides, its obviously a threat to women and LGTBIQ+ rights As a band, our music may not appear to have a straightly political message but in fact it is there: we talk about the power of our union to get what we want and what we need, we talk about the right to decide about our lives, about the right to choose how to use our time, about the excess and nonsense of the workload in our lives. All this is personal, indeed, but it is clearly political too.
ATH: Pamplona is always the “Running of the Bulls,” etc. What are three things visitors to the city “must-see”?
About the Running of the Bulls, we are not proud of it at all, we are against animal abuse, and we think that these kinds of traditions which involve it should be urgently revised. Of course there are other aspects of the festival of San Fermin (which takes place from 6th to 14th of July, being the particular context of this questionable tradition) that are beautiful, such as the traditional music and dances, or the street performances of the Gigantes, Cabezudos y Kilikis. But not every tradition is good just for the fact of being a tradition.
Apart from these festivities Pamplona (Irua in basque language) is an interesting city with a rich history and a beautiful old town that you’d love to visit any time of the year (though the winter may be a little cold). You can go for a walk along the old town, where you’ll find medieval churches and baroque palaces, as well as a gothic cathedral, with one of the most beautiful and best preserved cloisters in Europe It also has a lively streetlife, and super good restaurants and bars where you’ll enjoy the typical gastronomy and wine, and, why not? a crazy long night, if you’re looking for it
Very close to the old town, you can stroll along the five-kilometer old city walls, where you’ll enjoy the views of the picturesque mountains and countryside around. Connected to these walls there are two really beautiful parks, Taconera (a XIXth century Romantic park) and Media Luna, with a great variety of trees and plants. In fact Pamplona is one of the greenest cities in Spain, and this is really something to be happy about (we hope real estate speculation wont ruin it!)
ATH: If you are doing a rock n’ recipe (recipe and the interview, what is the story/importance behind this recipe?
Here Mara is cooking for you! 👩🍳
In Melenas we have different nutritional needs: Laura is gluten free and I (Mara) am a vegetarian. We always try to eat healthy food when we are touring but its not always easy to find it on the road. Sometimes we cook at home to take away and to make sure that we can eat at least one proper meal during the weekend. “Pisto” is one of the recipes that we usually cook.
PISTO NAVARRO GF/VG <3
“Pisto” is a typical recipe from our region. Navarra is known for its excellent vegetables and I’m going to use some grown by my brother-in-law in their village, Alzrriz.
Ingredients for 4 people
1 big onion (or two if it is small)
3 garlic globes
2 green italian peppers
3 tbsp tomato sauce
1 tsp pimenton de la Vera
Olive oil (AOVE)
Chop the garlic and add it to a pan; spread with olive oil until it gets golden.
Then add the onion cut into dices (you can also cut the vegetables in an irregular shape). Add some salt. Wait 5 minutes and do the same with the peppers (take the seeds off first).
When all the ingredients look half cooked, cut the zucchinis into dices and add them into the pan.
When the vegetables are almost cooked, add a teaspoon of “Pimenton de la Vera” (you can also substitute it with smoked paprika powder) and three tablespoons of tomato sauce.
Blend it and add more salt if needed. You can eat it right after cooked or set aside overnight for more delicious and stronger flavor 💪
You can serve it in a veggie way with a fried egg on top.