The third consecutive gig night of the week meant I was feeling a tad weary but also excited to see Guadalupe Plata back in Norwich again. They played an unforgettable gig for Punk Rock Blues in a Jug Jaw’s Beat Club night at Bedfords Crypt about three years back (Boy do we miss those nights!) They also played Red Rooster a couple of years ago but seeing a favourite band at the NAC is always special, especially when it was announced that the mighty Beast With a Gun were supporting.
At first it didn’t seem like it was going to be a particularly large gathering but suddenly, from out of nowhere, the place just suddenly filled up. I think it’s these light evenings that are throwing our gig clocks out of whack.
However, walking into a very dark hall just as Beast With a Gun took the stage was quite exciting, I’m used to seeing them in tiny underground spaces but wherever they play they always deliver. Here they were loud, fresh, funny and very much on form. I enjoyed the set immensely. You can get hold of their recent EP here.
At about 9:30pm it was time for Guadalupe Plata but it was still light outside! No worries, they soon brought the darkness. Red stage lighting isn’t usually my favourite but in the case of trio Guadalupe Plata I don’t think anything else would do to accompany their demonic form of brooding gothabilly which has a cinematic quality to it at times. The guitar, drums and bass (washtub bass and cigar-box bass!) create a powerful and ominous sound which is quite hypnotic and compelling. Some of these songs would be perfect in soundtracks.
Watching them was fascinating, just three of them with the drum kit right up front. The bassist Paco started on washtub whilst sat on a flight case … he almost looked like he was fishing into the very depths of Hell itself. Then later moving onto the cigar box bass and getting the most incredible tones before mid-song perfectly catching a maraca tossed over from the drummer Carlos and shaking it vigorously into the mic as singer-guitarist Pedro continued his vocals. I think most of us absolutely loved them. The audience was an interesting mix with just about everyone who was at that Jug Jaw’s gig in the Crypt also back again, plus those who heard through word of mouth, Beast With a Gun fans, and those simply curious from the descriptions, and who wouldn’t be? Washtub bass, electric guitar, drums, cowbells, maracas in some dark and demonic rockabilly, psychobilly punk blues but also with the essence of Spain itself. Fascinating stuff.
Wonderful band and absolutely lovely people too. I came away with yet another vinyl album I can ill-afford but I don’t regret it after one of my most enjoyable gigs of the year.
Guadalupe Plata + Beast with a Gun
Saturday 15 June 2019
TICKETS >> http://bit.ly/GuadalupePlataNorwich
“Guadalupe Plata” (2018/19) is, in the group’s own words, “a new attempt to go further and beyond, in our crusade for regression and the idea of creating our own personal “Gris Gris”” – the record that dominated the tour van on their last tour of the UK. “Our idea was to get closer to the ceremonial, the sacred and the ritual sounds of our country from one end to the other, the different folk musics, the music that is made in backyards with whatever instruments come to hand, or to accompany the various ritual “fiestas” that take place all over Spain” – some deriving from or referring to Catholic rite, many clearly pre-christian, or unchristian. “So we chose to delve into the sound of the wash tub as the main bass sound, a drum amplified by the minimum number of mics so that it would sound as natural as possible and an electric guitar plugged directly into an amplifier, no intermediaries that would disturb the peace in the monastery. We dared to add some new instruments to the mix in some songs, such as a bottle of anise, a beat-up bandurria and some sounds made by old doors, in order to add a little bit of flavour of deep Spain”. All these rustic elements, an old harmony guitar, stinking of incense, bottles of anise, the omnipresent bass wash tub, the spectral sounding drums, are in stark contrast with the huge plasma screen tv where they plugged the Nintendo Switch during the recording recesses.
The record was written, recorded and mixed through 3 weeks and a half between April and July of 2018 in La Mina (Sevilla), unusually for Guadalupe Plata. Compared with the previous 4 albums, which just required 3 or 4 recording days, this new album took weeks. Mostly because it was written there, on the hoof, getting carried along in the moment. But also, the possibility of adding sounds, as the grinding doors, made the recording longer than expected. I remember, during the third week of recording, calling Mark Kitcatt, chief of Everlasting Records, to tell him that everything was going great but that we needed a couple of extra days. He asked “if we thought we were My Bloody Valentine”. I didn’t quite understand but I laughed nervously. Just as well, on the 25th of July I got a text from the producer, Raúl Pérez, saying: “I’ve neutered the last 10 arrangements Perico (guitars, voice) wanted to add. we just finished the album”.
The final result is 12 songs where you can find the classic Guadalupe Plata sound but also their immersion into other wastelands such as corraleras, clueca, waltz and secret rhythms. there are also two remarkable homages: one to their patron saint, Screamin’ Jay Hawkins (“Oigo Voces”), and the other to an old friend from Úbeda, “Corral”, to whom at last they fulfill their promise of dedicating a song with the lyrics he suggested: “Corral, corral, why do you scare girls? Don’t know, don’t know”.
If we were to compare this new record with their previous album, at first sight, we could find a couple of common denominators: again, we recorded it at La Mina studios, even though we warned Raúl that we never record twice in the same studio; we ended up nostalgic for his swimming pool and the Cuban food served at the cantina where the studio is placed. Also, we returned to our connection with Chile, through Sebas Orellana from La Big Rabia leading an immersion into his country’s folklore in “Lo mataron”, adaptation of a traditional song (“El afuerino”), that Roberto Parra (1921-1995, Violeta Parra’s brother) made popular.
The cover, made by Paloma Almagro and Pedro De Dios, is an acrylic painting whose style is inspired in Mexican votive offerings (“ofrendas votivas”). In it, the band recall a visit to the “Pantano del Tranco”, the Tranco Swamp, in Jaén, to eat, celebrate the end of the recording and mastering sessions, and pass the afternoon of September the 12th with some friends, and the decisive help given by the patron Saint of Úbeda, the virgin Guadalupe, in preventing the theft of their instruments by some demons while the members of the band were out in the middle of the swamp, on a pedal boat excursion (the video accompanying the first single “Corraleras de veneno”, by the Mexican design studio Pneuma, goes deeper into this remarkable event).
I’d like to finish with the first conversation I had with Paco Luis Martos (bass, guitars) when we just got to La Mina, as typical of Guadalupe Plata as the other elements already detailed. “So, Toni, Why have you come to the studio?”, he asked. “So you wouldn’t ask me why I haven’t”, I told him.
Toni Anguiano, Guadalupe Plata’s manager”