I’ve recently run into this very special band from New Jersey called OLA MADRID (ex-PORTRAITS). I’m not sure what caused the strange feeling, but I have this weakness for them… I simply love their 2012 EP called “Distance Is Decay”. I was just about to write that I never heard nobody play like that, but I realized it would not be true :) Anyway, I think they have the factor x when it comes to this progressive indie post punk niche.
Here’s, what I believe is, their first interview ever. I asked them a few questions about their story, touring / recording plans and the general approach to making music and being a rock band. Launch the player below and see (hear) if my excitement is justified :)
Hey! What’s up, guys! Thanks so much for reaching out. I love your EP! Thank God you e-mailed me [smiles]. What’s u-p?!
Hey, that’s awesome, we’re so stoked you liked it!
Well, since (I) Dylan recently joined the band back in August, we’ve been working on new material.
“Distance is Decay” was written before I joined so understandably, I’ve been eager to show our fans my influence on the band.
Right now, we’re writing our sophomore EP for release in the Spring. We’re really excited and until then we’ll be continuing to play all over NJ to consistently build our following.
Yeah, man. I hope there’s like over billion of plays of this little player of yours, because the September stuff really kills it. My friend, a pretty good reviewer, told me yesterday that almost no one plays like that these days and I believe he’s bloody right! It’s dope.
What does your name stand for and what’s the meaning behind it?
We were formerly a trio known as PORTRAITS. However, once I (Dylan again) joined, we realized there was already a few other groups that already had that name. In addition to that fact, I felt like with a fourth member on guitar, we became a different band altogether.
With that said, Oscar and I were going back and forth with names for weeks trying to come up with something. One day, Oscar sent me the name OLA MADRID. I liked it a lot. Our other two members, Damian and Ralph, agreed and from that point on we have been known as OLA MADRID.
As far as a literal meaning, OLA MADRID translates to “Waves to Madrid”.
As far as a deep, metaphorical meaning, there is none!
We just wanted a name that wasn’t redundant, yet sounded beautiful at the same time. We believe the name, OLA MADRID, best fits that description.
So what line-up changes have you gone through over the years and how has this effected OLA MADRID musically?
As a trio, playing live, moving around and screaming wasn’t the easiest thing to do on my own as the only guitarist. However, it did make me a better musician, since I had no other guitar to back me up. I had to learn to sing and play at the same time as well as learn to write wholesome riffs that wouldn’t sound so empty without a second guitar.
Now that Dylan came into the picture, I feel as if I found my right hand. Writing and playing with him has given us a more mature, wholesome sound. Now we’re doing things we couldn’t do as a trio.
Yeah, I’ve been comparing the new material we’ve been working on to “Distance is Decay” and let’s just say I’m really anxious to record this stuff.
I really like working with these guys because we all bring a different style to the table. Not only do these different styles make us challenge ourselves as musicians in writing together (which is awesome), they also just mesh together so well. It gives us what we believe to be an original sound.
How would you label that sounds? You call yourselves a post progressive punk band, right? [smiles] On the other hand, there’s a lot of 90s screamo / post hardcore references in your music. I know we all hate labels, but sometimes you just have to name it. So… how would you describe and name the art you produce?
I personally labeled us as Post Progressive Indie Rock. I’ll break it down for you.
Post, because vocally, I believe we give off some Post Hardcore vibes. In other words, we can hang with those types of bands.
Progressive, because well, we write progressive-sounding songs. We don’t utilize the cookie-cutter verse/chorus/verse/chorus/bridge/chorus song structure.
Indie, because we have that underground, alternative vibe that you’d find in a basement or New York City rooftop late at night.
Finally Rock and Punk, because we write songs with the intention of making you want to move!
Great! I like that [smiles]. So who, when and where will you be moving in the coming months? What are your touring plans?
Oh man. We have multiple, very exciting things in the works (tours and big shows). Unfortunately, we’re still working out details so I can’t talk about them. (I know, I’m no fun!) What I can tell you though is that these things are definitely worth checking out in the near future.
Other than that, I have a few things I can tell you about.
Sunday, March 10th, we’re playing with LIONS LIONS (Century Media Records) at the Foxhole Lounge in Berkeley Heights. We’re stoked about this one just because LIONS LIONS is such a good live band. Great performers. As well as playing with our post hardcore buddies in A THOUSAND TIMES GOODNIGHT. My best friend plays guitar for them, check them out.
The last thing I’ll spill is the William Paterson radio’s Brave-a-thon. On Friday, April 5th from 2-3 PM, we’ll be doing a live set and interview on the air. Be sure to tune in on your computer or radio! I’m super stoked about this one, it will also be filmed if you miss it *insert tongue face here*.
Other than that, we have a couple of our first out-of-state shows coming up next month and our sophomore EP release in the Spring so keep your eyes and ears open!
Oh one more thing, we’re doing a compilation CD for SwitchBitch records (run by Mike Abiuso of THE VENETIA FAIR).
Awesome guy, sick band, it’s going to be amazing. Definitely look out for that!
Are you already thinking about touring in foreign countries?
We’d love to, we’ve actually been contacted by fans in Sweden. However, we want to conquer the US first then I want to hit Europe! I’d love to check out the UK.
A lot of stuff going on. I guess you are paying a lot of attention to the band now, huh? Is it a struggle to square this “hobby” with your everyday lives?
Ehh, not as much as you would think!
Oscar manages a bar, fortunately, his hours are flexible.
Ralph goes to school.
Damian sells cars. It’s an issue sometimes because he works till 9 during the week, so sometimes we have to turn down show offers, but we’re content with that.
Myself, I’m fresh out of high school working at Guitar Center so I have a lot of free time.
Damian and Ralph are the busiest members of the group currently. One focusing on school and the other focusing on a full time job. However, since we all share the same dream, passion, and drive, we move as a team and make it all work.
We’re driven and relentless.
What are your biggest dreams about this band?
Our dream is to be a full-time, signed touring band. We want our names to be on club signs, sold out shows, arena sets, big festivals like Warped, Coachella, Glastonbury, etc.
We want to go big. That’s the plan. We will not stop until our dreams become reality.
[smiles] You would have to redesign your songs structures, add some electronics and change your hair to do that [laughs] Come on! Are you for real? [smiles]
Yeah. We need some sleeves, redundant stage moves and “hardcore” breakdowns to be cool. Damn.
Nowadays, the youth thirst for a new sound and image. A voice that they can relate to. We feel most bands today are plastic; the essence of emotion is gone.
We’d love to think that we are trying to repaint that picture. There are many like-minded bands, but they fall under deaf ears.
More people need something to identify with and we want to provide something real. Something they can listen to and feel at home.
What artists would you like to thank for inspiring you? Are there any active bands that are not plastic, and furthermore, are there any bands that try to repaint that picture, too?
We draw inspiration from acts such as BLOOD BROTHERS, COHEED & CAMBRIA, ELLIOT SMITH, FUGAZI, BUDDY RICH, GLASSJAW, BIGGIE, HAVE HEART, MEWITHOUTYOU, AT THE DRIVE-IN, DANCE GAVIN DANCE, CIRCA SURVIVE, JOHN MAYER, SAETIA, ENVY, DAUGHTERS, DEFTONES, TITLE FIGHT, and many more.
Active bands we find to be “real” are mostly all independent bands that are NOT mainstream (for the most part). Shout out to all you hard-working local bands out there!
In our opinion, bands/artists trying to “repaint that picture” would be MY BLOODY VALENTINE, DEAFHEAVEN, LUKE HOLLAND, THE VENETIA FAIR, COMADRE, LISTENER, LOMA PRIETA, and EL TEN ELEVEN (pioneers of looping).
Any European bands you’d like to shout out to?
Not that we know of!
Come on! You’re hurting me!
I’ve noticed a familiar surname in your last EP’s description – the mastering was done by Adam Cichocki. Do you know the guy? Does he have any Polish roots?
Yeah. We know him. He produced our EP. His band GATHERER are our good friends.
Will you be teaming up with the same people to co-produce your next EP?
Tell me more about it. What are some of the goals you set forth? Is there a timetable for this release in your mind?
All we have worked out is that we’ll be recording 4 songs for this EP due out in the Spring. We’ll be working with Adam in his studio at Timber Studios. That’s about it for the moment, we’re really excited to be recording again though!
Did you promise yourself to accomplish certain things this year? Any resolutions for 2013?
We just promised ourselves to have this EP written by Spring and thus far, we’ve been keeping that promise! [smiles]
As far as resolutions, we want to keep evolving as musicians, writers, adults and of course, as a band.
We also want to do a tour in Summer!
The future is exciting.
Alright. I wish you to fulfill your biggest dreams. Please drop me a line with some news from time to time. Feel free to add anything you want!
One last thing, just announced, we’re supporting NC band, Empire, on two dates of their NJ/NY tour.
Monday, March 11th at le Meatlocker (Montclair)
Thursday, March 14th at The Place (Brooklyn)
Thanks so much!
OLA MADRID’s upcoming dates:
Wednesday, February 13th – 10th Street Live, Kenilworth
Saturday, February 16th – Lamp Post Bar & Grill, Jersey City
Friday, March 1st – The Tuscan Cafe, Warwick, NY
Tuesday, March 5th – Some bar in New Paltz, NY
Sunday, March 10th – Foxhole Lounge, Berkeley Heights
Monday, March 11th – The Place, Brooklyn, NY
Thursday, March 14th – The Meatlocker, Montclair
Sunday, March 24th – The Railhouse, Rahway
Friday, April 5th – WPU’s Brave-a-thon live set & interview, Wayne