Héctor of independent gig collective Ojala Este Mi Bici is an independent artist and independent music supporter based in Barcelona, Spain. As the member of the OEMB group, he is an active participant and collaborator in different artistic projects related to punk and other areas of DIY music. As of late, as a musician as well as an artist, he is involved in a new tasteful, alt post hardcore band ABOBINABLE, featuring members of DECURS, KVASAR, PARMESANO, ZÓNULA, and FAMILEA MIRANDA. The band’s debut record ‘Piedra con Piedra’ is a well-thought, dark and strikingly mature achievement for the quartet and it served as an obvious focal point of our recent interview. We asked Héctor about his inspirations, lyrical core of the record, his local music scene and his passions.
ABOBINABLE‘s “Piedra Con Piedra’ is available for free through the player below and will be out on vinyl later this month.
Hey Hector! Hola Ciutat Comtal! How are you? How’s Barcelona?
Hola IDIOTEQ! We’re doing fine and glad of being able to keep on doing things. Winter is coming and the hordes of tourists are going back to their countries, Barcelona seems to be recovering its nature again… until next summer.
Haha, awesome! Barcelona is still on my ‘to visit’ list, so it was not me pissing you off, haha.
I’m pretty sure you and people who might read this wouldn’t act like tourists, nice people is always welcome.
Ok, so I would definitely like to find out a lot more about your local music and independent art scene, but first of all, congratulations on your atmospheric experimental dark record ‘Piedra Con Piedra’! How are you proud of this release?
Thanks a lot! We think this album reflects the band we were when we made the recording, all the recording and mixing process has helped us to get perspective on what we’re doing and how we want our sound to be. So, we can say we’re moderately proud of our record but at the same time quite proud of what we sound like as a band.
The title translates to ‘Stone With Stone’ and the cover art obviously reflects that. Can you share some details on the concept behind the record? What are the album’s themes?
It could also translate into “Stone to Stone”. When deciding the title for the album we thought about the sound we deliver and the topics of the lyrics. There is a song called “Están cayendo” ( “They’re falling down”) that talks about the global consciousness respecting the oppression we are experiencing as people, and how all the injuries the factual powers impose upon us are going to come back to them in the form of stones. The powerless people will stone the powers to death, that’s the real meaning of this song, that can extent to the rest of an album that talks mainly about the struggle common people suffers and how to overcome it. Stones are fought with stones as fire is fought with fire. In this fashion our music would be the stones we respond with to the suffering we feel about the world’s present and historical social situation.
What draws you to these cultural references? Also, what is the relationship between your political views and your work with ABOBINAB:E?
It’s basically the world we all live in. You can’t escape from it. If we feel disoriented, scared or angry it’s because of the influence of things that are really beyond our control. I guess is just that we don’t throw stones to the police or the people who enact the rules, which is something that many times you feel you’d have to do. So we throw our stones in the form of music.
Everything depends on how you view politics. For us, personal is political, and we certainly don’t think that by playing in a DIY band we are going to change the world. The way to make a difference that at least works for ourselves lies in how we do things. First of all we do feel we need to create and express ourselves just to feel alive, that’s the main reason for us to play. And doing this as a band is also a good way to learn how to team up with other people, to listen and to create and organize collectively. This is a real change we can feel in our lives, we’re learning a lot about collaboration and about ourselves. We always work according to DIY ethics, so we try to take our political views to the practical side of playing in a band. The lyrics are not openly political, maybe more sociopolitical, but we don’t normally address to any political circumstance in particular. They have more to do with our way of understanding our own place in the world and how helpless we feel relating to the structures we are inevitably trapped in.
How does this new record relate to your previous work? Musically, lyrically, how have you guys evolved since your early days?
Well, this is our second recording, the first one was a demo we recorded at our rehersal space, so I guess the main change is that in this LP the sound is much better. After the demo, as we started to make new songs we found ourselves more confortable with each other. I think our demo helped us a lot to find our sound, and after that we just started to think about putting some more emphasis on making more solid song structures that could work better as a whole. We also put some more focus on how we fitted the voice.
Lyrics have changed too, the have become a little less based on personal experiences and more focsed on social issues. But in general we don’t think too much about what we’re doing or even in the result of the songs we make, we just get together, play and try to make something we like and find interesting.
Has writing for this band helped you grow personally?
In fact everything you do as a collective helps you to change ways and to know yourself better, that’s something totally unrelated to the kind of music you make. Working with different people always gives you different points of view, and right now we are learning a lot about each other and ourselves.
Could you tell us a little about your backgrounds? What attracted you to independent music scene, hardcore, punk and experimental rock in the first place?
As far as we can remember, music has always been with us. Discovering what’s the kind of music that moves you is a really important part of growing up for someone who loves music. As kids, music was the escape from everything and it was the place where you always fitted, I think our approach to the underground was just like almost everyone’s. You start listening to music when you’re a teenager, then you search and investigate deeper, so deep you somehow find some stuff nobody seems to know about, then you meet some nice people who likes the same things you like and in the end you realize that people in bands are just people like you. And then at some pont it becomes quite natural to get an instrument and to start doing your own music.
We all four come from different musical backgrounds, from hardcore punk, indierock or experimental stuff. With slightly different approaches we all felt it was just the right place to be, with so much energy around, the political approach we felt confortable in and, the most important, knowing that it’s a place where you can express yourself.
What was the motivation behind forming this band?
Something as plain and simple as playing together and creating music the way we wanted to.
Going across all o your projects, do you see a similar tendency in your own work?
Yes definetly, I think we all tend to do things the same way in all our projects. Maybe that’s because, as I said, we do not think too much about what we are doing, we play because we feel the need to express ourselves and to see what comes out of our limbs and throats. The paradox is that although we always do it the same way, the outcome is very different depending on who we do it with. We have several paralel projects with other people (Decurs, Familea Miranda and Zónula) and musically they are all very different, between them and in comparison to ABOBINABLE. The similarities are mostly in how and why we do it. Maybe the most recognisable feature in all our projects is that we like experimenting, having fun and not sticking to a predefined band concept.
How do you feel about the music scene in Barcelona? How would you describe it and what makes it unique?
I’ve been involved in punk music for almost 20 years and most of the time I haven’t felt really confortable with the scene in Barcelona. This city is not as big as one might think, but right now the scene is atomized in a bunch of small subscenes like in big cities; and although we all kind of know each other, I find that nobody is really interested in mixing with any subscene other than their own, even in the punk scene, traditionally more open minded.
We all 4 are a part of a gig collective called Ojala Esté Mi Bici, we’ve been organising experimental and post-whatever gigs for almost 9 years and we try to break this tendency including local bands of all kinds as long as they are DIY. It works with some of them but in general we find few feedback from other local scenes as our bands are rarely invited to play in the gigs they organise. It’s nothing personal, they are all nice people, they just seem to be too close minded in music terms.
For us what makes unique the scene in Barcelona is that it has the name but not the bands. We feel that in general there’s a lack of originality and bands seem more interested in following trends than in being themselves or trying to find their own ways in music. The result is that too many bands sound the same. The scene in Valencia and Euskadi is much more interesting than here, although we luckily have ZA!. They are fucking great.
Are there any spaces and venues that are exceptionally unique and close to your heart?
Here in Barcelona there are several venues where we feel at home. Number one is the Kasal de Roquetes, this is where we organise most of the gigs we do with Ojala Este Mi Bici and we’re also a part of the association that runs it, so it is like our second home; L’Ateneu de Nou Barris, where we organise gigs and also have our practice space; El Pumarejo, a nice and cozy venue run by really friendly people; the Hi Jauh USB, the only DIY IndiePop collective I’ve ever seen… There are very nice places here if you run away from commercial venues.
In the rest of Spain we love The Rincon Pio Sound in Don Benito, La Faena in Madrid, Arrebato in Zaragoza, La Residencia in Valencia, Liceo Mutante in Pontevedra and Plug In The Gear in Benicarló. This places are run by passionate people that make you feel like you never left your town.
Everytime is becoming easier to find nice places to play in Spain.
Has your booking collective Ojala Este Mi Bici hosted different, art related events, or just live shows?
Until now we’ve only booked live music shows, but a week ago we hosted the presentation of a documentary about the DIY scene around the world, Do It Toghether. The director came to make the presentation and after that there was a very interesting debate with him and all the audience. We liked it a lot and now we’re discussing if we should also move to do other kind of stuff.
Oh yeah, getting more interaction in this kind of events sounds like a right direction to me.
Gig-wise, what are some of the considerations when choosing artists to host shows for?
We focus on what they do and how they do it. First of all we have to like what their music and find it interesting, we are 17 people in the collective, therefore we’re very open to very different kinds of music. Our standards are very heterogeneous.
But the main filter is that all bands and artists have to be able to work in DIY conditions, which means there will be no contracts, no hotels, restaurants or such and no guaranteed fees. We do everything ourselves and we put a lot of love in what we do, so we need the bands to trust us. These simple guidelines have always worked perfectly when it comes to choose who we were booking or not, we’ve met a lot of really nice and inspiring people that feel things the same way we do.
Ok, so lastly, considering both your bands and promoters’ work, what other projects or goals are you looking forward to?
Our next project is building our own practice space/studio, along with our guitarrist’s synth and pedal physical shop, Mutan Monkey (now it is just an on-line shop). There will also be a sleeping room for bands that come to play and a common space for us to share ideas, music or any art form with each other and other people. We’re very excited about that.
With our bands we just want to keep on making music, playing it live anywhere and making some records. It goes the same as promoters, keeping on giving a space to play for forward thinking artists we love.
This sounds like a full time job. Are you able to live off of music? Is it your goal?
Yes, it is really a lot of work indeed, we don’t even have the time to get bored! We do all this stuff in our spare time because most of us have full or part time jobs, and none of them have anything to do with music. Trying to live off of making your own music in Europe is really difficult, we wouldn’t like our bills and rents to depend on what we do as a band, that could lead us to money based decisions we don’t want to make. Music is our escape and we don’t want to mix it with something so horrible as money.
I think our only goal is to have fun, share things and learn to work collectively.
And this actually requires it to be a way of life, right? I mean, especially having a dayjob, it’s not possible to be so involved in music related activities just in your ‘spare time’.
You’re right, we can’t always be as involved in music as we’d like to but I think we are doing quite a lot of stuff despite that. We’re used to that and we’re quite effective in terms of making the most of our time. Right now I’m supposed to be working, but I’m answering this interview. This is what I call “recycling hours”, I do a lot of music stuff during my job hours, if they’re trying to steal my time and energy I have the right to take it back the best way I can.
Most of us somehow have to choose between having a job and some money but no so much time or having a lot of time and no money. I think we all agree that money is the boot on everyone’s necks, we all have a way to try to live with that. I personally feel I’m much more free if I don’t have to think about money.
Are there some ideas, values, and experiences that you brought from this music related endeavour and translated it into the general ethos of your everyday life?
Yes, definitely. Everything we do in our everyday lives is affected by how we manage our bands and collectives and by how we create our music. Horizontal collaboration changes the way you see the world, your life and the interactions with all the people around you, it subverts the axiom of individualism that capitalism has inoculated in all our minds.
And sometimes it makes it very hard to get back to the real world where collaboration and understanding are not the main values. This has become such an important part of my life that right now it is quite difficult for me to understand how people can even try to be happy without these values.
I like to think that values can be taught from books, which often happen to transmit morals and all kinds of things important in life. If you had to choose one book or two to recommend to our readers, what would it be?
Kropotkin’s Mutual Aid, I know it’s quite a classic but I think it explains quite well what collaboration is all about. The best thing about this book is that you can easily put all its theory into practice in your everyday life and in your creative spaces.
Thanks! Finally, how about some of the best records you’ve heard this year?
I have just made my favourite records list for my blog Roq Roto, Copón! It may not necessarily represent all our members taste and it is not in any order of preference.
FAMILEA MIRANDA – Radiopharm (this is our drummer’s other band), JESIEŃ – Jeleń, PICORE – Si No Olvido Bien, FOSTER BODY – Moving Display, UKANDANZ – Awo, THE OBSERVATORY – August Is The Cruellest, MERMAIDENS – Undergrowth, HASHASHIN – Nihsahsah, WRECK AND REFERENCE – Indifferent Rivers Romance End, MOUSE FITZGERALD – Mouse Fitzgerald Presents: Living Like A Mouse, GUILI GUILI GUOULAG – Saint-Arnault 3018, HEBOSAGIL – Lohtu, THE CONFORMISTS – Divorce
Wow, thanks a lot!
Also, thank you so much for your time. It’s been a pleasure. Please let’s keep in touch. The last words are yours.
Thanks a lot Karol for all these thoughtful questions and for all the inspiring stuff you do on IDIOTEQ. You’re more than wellcome to come to Barcelona anytime you want. And Polish bands too, we love Polish bands.
Haha, thanks so much. Cheers from windy Warsaw! :)