In the newest installment of our Rock Discoveries series, Mallorca based rockers POOMSE look back over the highlights of their career, 90s indie rock influences, and discuss their amazing new record “This Is How We Fail”, proving them to be prolific artists capable of exploring melancholic territories with graceful dynamics and dazzling results.
“This Is How We Fail”, the newest record from POOMSE was released on September 5th through Espora Records in Spain and Custom Made Music in the US. For fans of slowcore/sadcore indie rockers CODEINE, RED HOUSE PAINTERS, Boston alt rockers COME, and dreamy indie rockers from Minnesota’s LOW.
Photo by Sebastià Mesquida.
Hey there guys! How’s Mallorca? I believe you’re the very first artists from that area being interviewed for IDIOTEQ! I’ve recently attended a Spanish/Polish wedding and I’m really in kind of a ‘Lovin’ Spain’ mode, so I guess it’s the perfect time to start this interview :) How are you?
Hi there! We’re fine, thank you. Mallorca is starting to get its Autumn mood, putting swimsuits back in the wardrobes and letting tourist finally go home after two months crowding the island; and we’re just enjoying the release of the new record. We’re really looking forward to playing these new songs live.
Have you been raised on the island? Living and creating music there, is there a sense of isolation of any kind?
We’ve all been born and raised in Mallorca but a couple of us lived in Barcelona for some years. They say that living on an island shapes your character and that Majorcan people are reserved and distrusting, maybe because of tourism and historical invasions. When it comes to making music, I’m not so sure we’re that close-minded. Since the 70s there have always been lots of bands in Majorca with a lot of variety regarding styles. I think that, with the Internet and globalization, geographical character is not so defined anymore.
Tell me more about your local rock scene, how thriving it is and what local venues, lables and bands you would recommend for our readers.
As I said before, there are lots of good bands in Mallorca. For example: ORA (guitar-and-drums instrumental duo, great musicians); MIKROPHONE (sampler wizzard of instrumental hip hop; he recently remixed one of new songs); LOS CHICOS DE JOHN DEERE (very original pop songs with great lyrics in Spanish) or SAÏM (post-hardcore), just to name a few.
However, there are not so many venues where a loud rock band can play nowadays. In Palma, we have Sabotage Bar and Novo Café Lisboa where local bands play regularly and then Ca’n Moix in Felanitx. After years of right-wing cultural policies in Palma, the new leftist government is trying to open public theatres and city spaces to rock music and also help local bands to play outside the island, but there’s still a lot to do in that sense.
Finally, I would also like to name Pecan Pie, an indie concert promoter that greatly supports local bands; and Favela Estudis, our rehearsal space and also a recording studio with a taste for experimental rock and daring productions.
Ok, so how do you fit into this environment? Tell us about your backgrounds, experience in other bands and the path that led you to forming POOMSE.
I’ve been writing songs since I was sixteen more or less, mainly keeping them to myself, storing them on tapes first and later on hard drives and occasionally playing them with some friends. I went to university in Barcelona and I stayed there for ten years, getting to see most of my favourite bands play live and absorbing a lot of music, cinema and so. I formed a band there but it came to nothing after a couple of years. Ten years later, when I came back to Mallorca, I decided to buy some equipment and started to write and record more experimental stuff using the computer, with lots of noisy samples. That’s when POOMSE was born, really. I uploaded those first demos on myspace and Foehn Records contacted me and offered to release my first record. Dream come true. Check. A year later, more or less, I started playing guitar in PETIT, a more classical rock band, where I met POOMSE’s bass player Gaspar Reixach, who had been playing in bands since his teens. While I was still playing in petit, I started recording POOMSE’s first record at home, in a very amateur way. The record was released at the end of 2010 and we spent most of 2011 playing those songs live, opening for CLEM SNIDE or EVENING HYMNS in Mallorca or getting to play in London, which back then was a big thing for us. Around spring of 2012, the current line up was formed with guitar player Sebastià Mesquida (who was playing in the post-rock band POAL at the time), Joan Llabrés on drums (at the time in RUTINA), Gaspar on bass and me. All three of them are very gifted musicians and good friends so you could say that now POOMSE is, more or less, a four-headed mess.
How do you compare your early days with this new era that has depreciated MySpace and changed the music landscape a bit?
I remember Myspace as being a much more innocent place than Facebook or Twitter, for example, where you have to look cool and say something funny or interesting all the time. I find that constant crave for attention pretty pointless but I always end up falling for that myself. I try to update the band’s facebook page every now and then but what would take around five minutes ends up with me scrolling down my news feed and probably watching video after video of shark attacks on youtube. I’d say that social networks have been quite useful for the band through the years to make contacts, get gigs and stuff like that but it’s also a bit tiring. When you’re on facebook, you’re not making music. Going back to Myspace, I think it dug its own grave with one of the last interface updates. It was a real mess.
With your new record being out, how would you comment on your evolution as a band?
Part of the philosophy of the band has always been to use whatever is around at a given moment to make music, either lyrically or sonically. At the beginning, on the demos ‘The Phantom Hand Theory’ and ‘Footnotes to The Phantom Hand Theory’, it was me alone in a room sampling sounds from my record collection and putting pieces together in quite strange songs. When recording the first record, ‘Tomorrow will come & it will be fine’, I had just started playing in a more classical sounding rock band (petit), so the songs ended up sounding more ‘normal’ than they were at the beginning, with lots of acoustic guitars, for example, which I barely had used before. On the third record,’Poomse vs the Kingdom of Death’, we had just put together the actual line up and I was still bringing mostly finished songs to the band and then we worked them out together. On ‘This is how we fail’, most of the songs started or were developped playing live in the rehearsal space all together, jamming on a riff for weeks and weeks. It’s usually me who works on the different pieces of music at home, editing, structuring and writing lyrics and melodies but Gaspar, Joan and Sebastià have contributed a whole lot to these songs. Everyone writes their own parts and has a say on songwriting decisions so I consider this record a collective creation. To sum up, Poomse has gone from one man working alone in a room to four people playing and making music together in a bigger room. I’d say that the songs sounded more claustrophobic and melancholic at the beginning and that they’ve become more expansive and alive over the years.
What themes and lyrical concepts unite and define your instrumentally varied work?
It’s difficult for me to talk about the lyrics because, in my case, it’s a very unconscious process. I write them and later on I realize what they’re about (if I ever do). I usually write things down on different notebooks: things I read, random sentences I take from movies or TV series, things I make up while driving, things I hear on the streets,… Some of these things eventually filter into the songs and, strangely enough, fragments from very different sources end up making sense together. However, it’s always a kind of mystery to me. I’d hate to sound esoteric but I find the mystery element to be essential. I don’t need to know what the lyrics are about. If I knew exactly what I wanted to talk about or say, there’d be no need for me to write the song. Songs are questions. I like lyrics to have different levels of interpretation. Very few times I’ve planned to write a concrete lyric about a given topic. I guess that during some time my mind is set up on some issue and consequently all the information I compile during that period of time deals with that topic. I think some of the lyrics on the last record are the product of the political and social situation we’ve been through in the last few years in Spain and in Mallorca but also at a more global level. It could also be about the music industry. ‘This is how we fail’ as a band, ‘This is how we fail’ as a society. It’s an angry record but not a negative record. We make songs out of our frustrations and problems and I think that’s something positive, almost therapeutic.
Where do you want to take POOMSE next? Do you have some goals that you want to achieve in the near future?
We don’t think about the band in terms of goals or, at least, not commercial goals if that’s what you mean. The goal is to make records we’re proud of and play good shows as long as we feel we’re being true to ourselves and to our idea of what the band should be. I think we’re on the good path, we work well together and there’s still a lot of music to explore so I hope we keep making music together as long as we’re happy with it. Of course, we’d like to reach bigger audiences and play bigger shows but we know our place in the music business. We’ve been in it long enough to know how things work. We’ll see what the future brings us.
Ok, thanks a lot for your time guys. Please feel free to wrap it up, share your final thoughts and take care!
Thanks a lot for interview, Karol! It’s been fun and really insightful. Cheers!