CULTURA TRES, a Venezuelan sludge / psychedelic metal band, are putting out their new album “El Mal Del Bien” on November 12th via the UK label Devouter Records. We are giving you a chance to find out what’s in these guys’ heads right before the big day. We discussed the album, touring, their inspirations and more. A good read to start with if they’re new to you.
“El Mal Del Bien” was originally self-released digitally / on vinyl in South America in 2011 and on vinyl world wide in the beginning of 2012. The outing received tons of great reviews honoring their outstanding performance, going beyond the borders of sludge and putting interesting touches on this album.
Hey! Thanks so much for taking some time with us, guys. Is everything cool in CULTURA TRES camp? Where are you right now? How are you? [smiles]
Hola que tal? Gracias a ustedes! We’re ok thanks. We’re preparing things for our visit in the UK next month, to support the CD release of our second album there.
Yeah, you’re putting it out on November 12th via Devouter Records. Tell us about what’s different comparing to the original 2011 release of the album? What formats have you decided to use this time? Tell us all about the differences between both editions.
Well, officially we released “El Mal Del Bien” on vinyl in South America and then we have been selling it on internet and at our shows. We’re glad that Devouter Records is putting out our album, that way we can reach even more people at the other side of the globe. In that sense it feels like a new release, even though we’re already quite known in the underground. But we expect that this will help us to get our album in new places and to a new public outside the underground scene. This release will be on CD, a Digipack to be exact. It actually contains two songs that don’t appear on the vinyl, so make sure you get your hands on one of them!
What has the early response to the album been like?
Overwhelming! We have received extremely positive reviews. It seems that what appeared to be normal in our Latin American scene is something refreshing and different in the world wide arena, it is nice to read that reviewers can’t compare us with the American or European sludge/doom bands!
You’ve recently released the official video for the song “El Sur de la Fe”. Tell us about the religious part of the lyrics and the creation of the video itself.
The song is about the marriage of religion to politics, and about how this marriage is still used to instill fear and maintain ignorance, and about the disastrous consequences of this marriage that we’ve seen over the centuries. Symbolically, the clip was released on the 12th of October, when in South America festivities are organized to celebrate that our continent was ‘discovered’. The plundering and genocide that followed was backed up and facilitated by the church, quickly decimating the ‘newly discovered’ indigenous people. Not much to celebrate. Unfortunately, this is not just a dark page in history: even recently, in the last few decades ‘civilized’ democratic governments still invade, manipulate, rob and murder individuals; all condoned by ‘god-given rights’. This is what this clip is about.
For the imagery, we wanted to show how the culture of South America is influenced by religion, and some of the consequences we see. We included also archive news material that illustrates that the effects reach far in our world. Additionally we included shots of our live performances at Trutnov Open Air – Czech Republic and Desertfest in London – UK. All the video clip productions of the band are made by guitarist Juan De Ferrari and guitarist/vocalist Alejandro Londoño.
Cool. About live shows, are there only 3 dates coming up in support of the re-release? What are your upcoming touring plans?
Yes indeed, we have the 15th in Colchester (The Hole in the Wall), 17th in Birmingham (The Asylum) and 18th in London (the Purple Turtle). Since we are busy recording the third album we did not want to plan anything longer at the moment. So unless a nice opportunity draws us out of our cave, you’ll have to wait to the release tour in 2013!
What are the differences between your local shows and the gigs you played on your European trek?
One difference is how the crowd communicates to the band. The north-west European crowd seems to be more reserved when they see a band for the first time, while South Americans simply enjoy the music if it is good even if they haven’t seen the band before. Another thing is the infrastructure of the concerts. In Europe most of the time the concert is guaranteed to be well-organized with a good stage, sound, etc. In South America you never know what you’re going to get, it’s always a surprise! But well, that has its magic too and at least gave us an edge: the ability to adapt our show to any kind of situation. If we manage to sound good in a humble venue, for sure we’ll deliver a good show in a good place. But to be honest, in the Mediterranean countries and Central Europe, things start to resemble South America in many ways, and we feel a bit at home!
Good to gear that [smiles].
How did you like this year’s DesertFest?
It was great: the atmosphere, the people, the bands, the organization, amazing! It felt like a family festival, with everyone helping each other to make this movement grow. We’re glad that the first edition was such a success, proud that we were invited to be part of it, and we hope the coming versions will have the same magical feeling. For sure we hope to join again!
What’s the most unusual venue you’ve played?
Once we were invited to a gig in the Netherlands called Deaf Metal, where most of the crowd was deaf. The venue put a small stage where the people were standing on, which had a vibration system for them to feel the beats. Then on stage there was a girl who was dancing and used the sign language for deaf people to translate the lyrics of the songs to the crowd while we were playing. It was amazing; people were having so much fun! In the audience you could find people of all ages and musical tastes: you could see by the way they dressed that some of them didn’t have anything to do with heavy music, they just came to enjoy and had a great night. There should be this kind of events everywhere, really good concept!
Wow. I didn’t expect that! Amazing concept, indeed.
Have you already started writing for the next release?
Yes, we’re busy at the moment in the studio, composing and recording demos. We have a three-track demo ready to do initial promotion and booking for our release tour next year in spring, but there’s more killer songs that need to be written. We’re working hard to exceed the standard that has been set with “El Mal del Bien”, which literally received only good feedback, so the pressure’s on!
Good luck with that [laughs]. You had set the standards really high.
What can we expect from the new tunes? How’s the evolution of your sound going? [smiles]
The sound that we found in “El Mal Del Bien” will be the source from which we develop further. There will definitely be an evolution; we are continuously trying to add more beauty and power to our existing expression, exploring the edges of evil and sadness to evoke more emotion. In short: our goal is always to overcome our last album.
Have your inspirations changed over time?
Not really changed, but we would have to say they have definitely become richer. We were always inspired by bands like BRUJERIA, LOS NATAS, SEPULTURA, PESTILENCE, THE MARS VOLTA, ALICE IN CHAINS, GODSPEED YOU! BLACK EMPEROR and NINE INCH NAILS. Over the years, we have experienced how influences of traditional South American music, like RUBEN BLADES, SILVIO RODRIGUEZ and ASTOR PIAZZOLA have surfaced in our compositions and lyrics. Lately, our sound is much inspired by the natural sound of seventies rock, from bands like FREE, BLACK SABBATH, etc. I guess in the end some inspirations stay the same, but we often get inspired when we hear or see something new. That’s the advantage of been touring with the band, to refresh our minds, it helps coming up with new ideas for a next album.
And what’s the furthest outside your genre and style you listen to?
Oh, that’s quite far, for all of us. We are omnivores, and our musical tastes range from CARCASS to CALLE 13 from APHEX TWIN to LENNY KRAVITZ and from PINK FLOYD to BUENA VISTA SOCIAL CLUB. We can enjoy classical music, cumbia, hardcore, Hungarian folk, anything with heart really. We even have a side project called EL ENSAMBLE CULTURA TRES which we’re about to release. It is an acoustic band playing a kind of South American folk music combined with a moody, melancholic vibe.
Wow, dude. How did I miss that? [smiles] I’ll tap you for another interview with this one.
What language would your lyrics be this time? Do you have a certain scheme according to which you pick up English or Spanish?
Nope, no schemes and cunning plotting! The lyrics just come at the spot, during recording. There’s very little cognition involved, the lyrics mostly dribble up from the muddy subconscious. That’s why it’s so powerful to us, as well as many others. And perhaps also why it’s such a jumble of Spanish and English [laughs].
[smiles] Has your DIY approach to making music and artistic integrity changed after you were featured on several mainstream media like Metal Hammer or some television shows?
No, we’ve managed to stay true to ourselves despite the limousines & caviar. Seriously though, such a question never came to our mind: that mainstream attention arose from the uncompromising music we made, so that could never be a reason for us to change. If we wanted mainstream success we’d be better off playing R&B or something. But to us, the mainstream recognition we’ve tasted merely shows the beauty and power of the underground, especially in these times of internet. It proves there’s no need to aim for ‘pleasing the masses’. If art stays true to itself, it doesn’t take mainstream plugging and promo to strike a chord with listeners from all over the world.
What’s a record label’s role in it?
Up to 2012, we released our EP and our first and second album completely independently, through our own label Dead Plan Records. But after we have teamed up with Devouter Records for the re-release of “El Mal del Bien” the label has done much to spread the word about CULTURA TRES to new ears, their philosophy and commitment to the underground makes us feel part of a family instead of just having a business partner. So it seems to us it is the beginning of a new period in the life of the band, filled with more tours in the UK and the rest of Europe.
If your music is a weapon, what do you aim to destroy?
Ignorance and apathy.
What’s next for the band once this upcoming mini tour is over? What’s your game plan for 2013?
As mentioned earlier, we are already busy in the studio to compose and record our third album. We aim to release it in spring 2013, with a release tour through Japan, South America and Europe, and perhaps USA if it all works out. Additionally, we will release a couple of impressive new video clips to accompany the music, and then basically, well .. conquer the world.
Sounds like chillin’ and one big holiday. [smiles]
Thanks! Would you like to add any closing comments?
Muchísimas gracias! The questions were very good, and we truly appreciate your interest in our music. Make sure to check www.culturatres.com for all links to our music, social media, and video clips; and we hope to meet you and your readers on the road sometimes in the near future!