Almost two years after their recent stunning record “Flores, Carne”, it’s hard to believe Andalusia’s VIVA BELGRADO haven’t exhausted the limits of their atistry. Their new album ‘Ulises’ proves itself worthy to stand with most inspiring and moving efforts of recent years. We sat down to see how they’re doing and learn more about their interesting idea and perspective of a modern Ulysses, narrating their own Odyssey through this beautifully crafted record. VIVA BELGRADO consistently does a phenomenal job of blending various moods with a unique musical and lyrical sensibility.”Ulises” is a triumph and it appears as nostalgic, yet very modern and uplifting endeavour that will fuel your thirst for finding the new in the old, succeeding in issuing an entirely new statement.
1. Latin name for Odysseus, Greek hero and main character in Homer’s Odyssey. In regard to the journey and the constant transit in pursuit of Ithaca.
2. 1922 novel by Irish writer James Joyce. In regard to the recurring style changes and to it’s effort depicting the modern citizen’s odyssey through 24 hours in the life of an office worker.
“Read your own obituary notice they say you live longer. Gives you second wind. New lease of life.” – James Joyce, Ulysses
Hey there guys! I’m so glad you’re back! It seems like the prolific artists don’t need to much time to serve quality follow-ups to their acclaimed masterpiece records, huh? How was this past year for the band and how did you decide to pop up with a new record so quickly?
Thank you. Actually for us it seems like a long time has passed since our previous record, recorded in October 2014. Since then we’ve toured extensively for over 100 shows and we felt it was necessary to write and play new songs if we wanted to keep our shows interesting for the audience.
What were some of the most memorable shows of your recent tours?
Barcelona is always a sick place for us to play. The crowd there is lovely and gets super involved. Probably our last show at Casal de Joves de Roquetes is one of the shows we’ve enjoyed the most ever. Playing at Primavera Sound was also a cool experience as we are not used to that kind of places but it was worth to check it. And without any doubt our show at Fluff 2016. Not our best show technically speaking but the crowd, the atmosphere and the positive energy at the fest were amazing. Our favourite festival up to date.
Great! Have you witnessed the whole festival, all 4 days?
Yeah, we were there for the whole fest and had a great time. It was our first time there as both audience and musicians but we can assure you it won’t be the last. We had the chance to see plenty of inspiring shows: NO OMEGA, RVIVR, ERICA FREAS, OLD SOUL, POTENCE, NERVÖUS, THE BLACK HEART REBELLION.. And our pals from WILD ANIMALS and MINORITY OF ONE.
Great bands. The recent LP from WILD ANIMALS (premiered here on IDIOTEQ) is literally one of the most captivating punk rock records I’ve ever heard! Absolutely stunning.
Back to festivals, would you recommend some more gatherings in the vein of Fluff Fest?
Here in Spain we recently played Actitud Fest. It is much more smaller than Fluff Fest but you can somehow feel a similar atmosphere: positive energy, DIY and people taking care of each other. Anecdotally it is also set next a pool and you get free entry with the festival ticket.
Photo by TempestonaTeaCup.
Ok, so back to the band, please tell us, how have you developed VIVA BELGRADO and what have you learned from experiencing the ‘Flores, Carne’ era? How has the band changed since late 2014?
It depends on the aspect i guess. Musically speaking I think we’ve all learned to give more room for each other to the develop his own instrument parts. We’ve also learned a lot from touring about what kind of parts work better live and which ones we should work more on. When we started playing together none of us knew a lot about amps, tubes, strings, etc. Now I think we have more concrete idea about how we intend to sound and how to achieve it.
On a different level, “Flores, Carne” was written in a very naive and somehow improvised way. With “Ulises” we’ve planned much more how we wanted to the dynamics in the record to be – like, what kind of song should be in what place through the album – and what kind of sound we wanted for it. We’ve also experimented with different influences and I like to think we’ve taking some risks while doing it.
Photo by Hannes Hümmer.
“Ulises” sounds like a natural follow-up to ‘Flores, Carne’ and it’s almost tangible that its magnificent delivery ensures your story feel exceptionally true. What themes do you touch in your lyrics this time?
In “Flores, Carne” we reflected about how to cope with pain and how to end up making something positive out of it. But we also dealt with other issues that we were going through at that age, being 23-24 years old, such as deciding whether to leave or stay at our home city/country. “Ulises” somehow deals with what has happened after that and it’s kind of a response to those doubts. It’s a collection of reflections and stories that have happened during the life we’ve been going through in the past two years, which has a lot to do with living in constant transit and travelling. That’s why there’re plenty of references to cities, airports, passports or constellations. In that way, “Ulises” (Ulysses) was chosen as the title because of being the main character of Homero’s Odyssey, who is always in transit searching for Ithaca, as if we were writing from the perspective of a modern Ulysses or narrating our own Odyssey.
Seeking your ideas and main purposes in life? Tell us more about your Oddyssey.
We are talking about finding your place in the world, deciding what to focus your life on, settling down. I guess it’s something everybody goes through. For some reason one always believes that there is a point where something clicks, things work out and happiness comes easy. But we keep growing older and that point doesn’t seem to arrive. In a more specific way, part of this angst comes from the political and economical situation we’re living and Spain and more specifically in the south. We ourselves come from a city where the unemployment rate reaches 30% and as you can imagine being a touring musician under this circumstances can be hard. Combine that with trying to maintain bonds with close people while on tour and the average kind of problems everybody has and I guess that’s the Odyssey we’re talking about.
Photo by Niko Bleach.
Both composing and recording wise, out of all of the tracks from the record, which one was the most enjoyable to work on and why?
Probably “Por la mañana, temprano” and “Apaga la llum” were the most fun because they are something completely new for us. We started wanting to do a couple of interludes (the titles translate as “Early in the morning” and “Turn the light off”) in the line of Nujabes, experimenting with electronic beats, but both songs ended up being something completely different. There’s even one part were we experimented with autotune and Santi, the sound engineer, insisted in leaving a little detail on “Apaga la llum”. The vocal parts reflects some rap we’ve been listening to the last year but also our the influence bands as MOSS ICON, MEWITHOUTYOU or LA DISPUTE have on us.
Photo by Juan Fandiño.
Ok guys, so where does VIVA BELGRADO go from here? What plans do you have for the coming month and what changes and challenges are you excited about?
We will tour Europe for 12 days in October and then play 2-3 shows every weekend in Spain until late winter. After that we still don’t know but we will definitely try to tour Asia and/or America with this record. It will be challenging to play the new songs live as there are little details recorded that we’ll need to leave behind. At the same time I think these new songs will make our set more interesting because we’ll be able to play with different dynamics. We are also very excited about the future of the band composing-wise as we think this album sets a coherent background in order to experiment deeper into other styles, something we definitely would like to do.
Thanks a lot for taking some time with us! I hope you enjoy the rest of the year! Cheers from Warsaw!