David Lebón belongs to that handful of Argentinian rock pioneers that are still working hard and innovating, not content with living off former glories.
In September, he tied with Argentine rapper Wos for the most nominations at the Gardel Awards, Argentina’s annual music industry awards.
Lebón landed nods for album of the year (Lebón & Co), song of the year (for “Mundo Agradable”), record of the year, best recording engineering, best rock album, best cover design, best duet/collaboration song and producer of the year. He ultimately won six awards, including album of the year.
“I think that with eight nominations, I have to win at least one!” he tells Billboard Argentina, laughing. “I’m already happy about the party and what it means, regardless of who wins or who doesn’t win. I earned something that does not exist and that very few can win, which is the love of the people. I have a wonderful audience that understands everything.”
Check out the rest of the Q&A with Lebón below.
Are you enjoying this recognition?
Absolutely! Do you know what I like about this? That one of the things that is happening to me is that my ego is coming out. It’s as if David got tired of being humble. I believe a lot in destiny and not much in our plans. We can make a plan after fate made us feel that we are going to do something, but it is very difficult the other way around.
And I never imagined that they would honor me like that. I always wanted to win a prize. Perhaps, we’re already used to both: to fail and to win. And failure is not forever. We lose a game, but we will win the next. I am very happy and very grateful to Sony; I have a great love for all the people who work there, Damián, Sergio, Nacho and a lot of people. And I have a beautiful band and team who take care of me and respect me.
Did you get back together with the band when protocols eased up and rehearsal rooms opened?
No, I didn’t! We talk on the phone, but it’s annoying, since you don’t see each other. I miss them a lot. We know each other very [well] and we know how to play the game. If we played soccer, we’d win every match, because we know what to do. The best thing we did was to get a producer to make Lebón & Co, so we could focus and do what we know, and that is to play. Just record a good song and everything will go well.
I remember when we played with [Argentine guitarist] Pappo, we did what we wanted. We played and we didn’t care about the sound. We didn’t care if they were recording us and if later that was going to come out, or if we were going to make money with it. Now, almost everything is for the money. Sometimes cash trumps feeling and you’re happy to believe that those bills are going to take you somewhere. But they eventually run out.
One would think that “Volume Two” could have Eric Clapton or people like that, right?
We thought of something like that. But we were producing it ourselves, and bringing someone was complicated. Now I would encourage [girlfriend] Patricia to write a letter to Keb’ Mo’, someone I would love to have down here playing. Or at least to have him record his part at home and send the track. I would love Clapton. I’d go nuts! Since [Jimi] Hendrix is gone, he’s the second on the list. Back when I was younger, Hendrix was the first for me. Now that I’m listening to Clapton, though, I realize that he is God, as they say. He is an Englishman who plays like a Memphis bluesman. A very strange thing.
I was always surprised to hear people calling [Lebón’s former group] Serú Girán “the Argentinian Beatles,” given there are other noticeable musical influences, like King Crimson or Supertramp or Steely Dan.
What do you remember from the first time you heard that phrase, and what does it mean to you today?
When I first heard it, it seemed silly to me. It seemed total nonsense to believe that. But comparing Serú with the Beatles was nice to the people and it was something super-respectful and super-beautiful because the people are choosing, and this time they chose well. I am very proud of the Argentinian audience, everything, the cumbia audience, the bachata, the trap audiences.
We are all trying, and that means we are alive and moving forward. Let’s take care of ourselves, because we need to avoid losing a lot of people, for God’s sake! Many of my friends have already gone. I miss them and sometimes I feel alone.
Still, comparing the band to the Beatles is the highest compliment.
Yes. The love that there is for the Beatles all over the world is unsurpassed even today. The other day I saw Ringo [Starr] on his birthday and I nearly died. Even if he doesn’t open his mouth and just stands there and looks at you, it means a lot. Any of the Beatles means a lot to me! I listen to the Beatles now and there is still no group that can lift a finger to them. None! You listen to “Martha My Dear,” the song that Paul [McCartney] did about the dog, and you hear George Martin’s production, the song and the melodies.
Then I listen to the Red Hot Chili Peppers and while I love them, I feel each song is similar to the first one they ever did. The melodies they have are very similar! And one thing the Beatles taught me is how to do songs of all kinds. From “Michelle” to “Happiness Is A Warm Gun,” from “Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da” to “Helter Skelter.” I learned that: to make songs that are ballads that people love, and then rockers like “Suéltate Rock and Roll.”
There are songs that are heavy and are loaded with a feeling of love or the sadness of love. But they’re always about love.