Vetusta Morla is in an enduring musical discovery, a journey that began in 1998 in Tres Cantos, a city north of Madrid, that forged a strong alliance between its members. “We know each other since school, and we now cohabit within a band,” guitarist and composer Guillermo Galván tells Billboard over the phone as we chat about the tour in support of Mismo Sitio, Distinto Lugar which kicked-off on March 2018 and will bring them to the U.S. for the first time on Oct. 1.
It’s almost nighttime for him and his voice seems to be in no rush for the day to end.
On November 2017 Mismo Sitio, Distinto Lugar (Same Site, Different Place) was born, a 10-track set produced by Carles Campi Campón and one of Vetusta Morla’s most innovative efforts with searing musicality and introspective lyrics. The set globalizes the band’s aesthetic as it places it as one of the leaders of the current Spanish alternative rock scene and the genre’s evolution across-the-board. “Probably it’s the album with greater effort, from an artistic point of view,” Galván says. “We recorded it in Berlin and that was an incredible experience. Even with all that is accomplished throughout the years, clearly, one still feels vertigo by new challenges and Mismo Sitio, Distinto Lugar has been one of them.”
As the band traverses across an escalating path of artistry spanning from its first EP 13 Horas Con Lucy in 2000 to their most aspiring project, Mismo Sitio, Distinto Lugar, it’s inevitable to perceive its creative maturity. In between, Vetusta Morla journeyed across trienniums of musical experimentation with three LPs that kept them in an untiring motion of self-assessment; a musical introspection channeled through its songs.
Un Día En El Mundo (A day in the world), its first LP released via the band’s own record label Pequeño salto mortal, arrived in 2008, allowing the group to freely cohabit within the intricacies of life in full force. “Un Día En El Mundo served as the introduction of the band, without artifices and where the vocals played as another instrument,” Galvan says. Indeed, the set’s core are intensely expressive lyrics product of the band’s visceral emotions.
Three years later, Mapas (Maps, 2011) landed. Map in hand, the band navigated through a sea of sensibility, this time, however, strengthening its structure based on complex lyrics. An album which checked all the boxes: a direct and clear dialogue of emotions, hummable tunes, and a spotless instrumentation with the guitars and drums as main elements.
Move forward three years and Vetusta delivered A La Deriva (Adrift, 2014), an album with an undertone of pop, a starting point for each of its members subject to what was happening in their surroundings. That space allowed Pucho (vocals), David “el Indio” Garcia (drums), Álvaro B. Baglietto (bass), Guillermo Galván (guitar, composer), Juanma Latorre (guitar, keyboard) and Jorge González (percussion), enough freedom to treat the songs differently: a candid concept and a direct sound bringing onboard their own limitations without fear.
Vetusta Morla walks in a world of stimulating visuals and graphics and Mismo Sitio, Distinto Lugar is no different: the artwork is quite conceptual; it invites to mental activity. “The artwork was done by Ruben Chumillas, with the metamorphosis in mind as the living organisms that we are,” Galvan explains. “The cover has to do with that, whether animal or vegetal, one realizes that we are a sum of many frequencies.”
Most of Vetusta’s songs are poems of their own, small fables. “Once the music is defined — we need to flow with it — once it’s outlined, then the vocals come,“ says Galván, almost as if vibrating with a new melody in his head. “Lyrics are as important. The precision of the words and its narrative is significant.”
Mismo Sitio, Distinto Lugar gazes forward and discerns an individual’s history in retrospect, opening a space for its present to shape the synthesis of the past and the future. “No matter the time, as musicians, we have to let each album vibrate in its own frequency, in its own time,” Galván adds.
“23 de Junio,” the current single, is a waltz-tinged tune which roves from one reality to the next; a tale about a transitory love with a deep yet brief connection. The video was directed by Goya winner Paula Ortiz and features actors Álvaro Morte and Verónika Moral as main characters convoyed by the six members of the band.
Why June 23? Galvan explains that the date is a special one. “It meant that school ended, and summer began, our heads were in another reality, it meant a period of transformation. In the Mediterranean countries, on the 23–24, during the night of San Juan, villages exorcise the bad things of the previous year with bonfires on the beach,” he adds. “It’s also peculiar that the concert with the largest crowd we had was in Madrid on a June 23.” The concert drew about 40,000 in attendance.
There is a harmony between the musical production and the lyrics. It transits with ease from nostalgia to optimism. Yet amid abundant poetry and sympathy, there is the fierce “Te Lo Digo a Ti,” a tune jam-packed with punk rock air. “It was the first song with a bullseye,” Galvan jokes. “When one has all the clear ideas and the need to stick a dart, to vomit repressed emotions, an inner strength arises and the images of the faces to which one wants to reproach something, fly freely in your head.”
Vestusta Morla will visit the U.S. a year after Mismo Sitio, Distino Lugar tour launched on March 1, 2018 in Lima, Peru. On Oct. 1 the Spaniards will land in Boston. The band will not be stopping by South Florida, however, perhaps indicative of the lack of reception for a Spanish alternative rock band in the market. We remain hopeful.
I read somewhere that the band can now wear the indie rock-in-Spanish crown after the release of the album. When I ask Galván, he laughs about it: “We prefer not to. We avoid thinking about what we have achieved because once you arrive to a certain spot, then there is a void. We always treat each achievement as the engine for the next one.”
Mismo Sitio, Distinto Lugar 2019 North American Tour will stop here:
Oct. 1 – Boston, MA
Oct. 2 – New York, NY
Oct. 3 – Washington, DC
Oct. 5 – Toronto, ON
Oct. 6 – Chicago, IL
Oct. 9 – Dallas, TX
Oct. 10 – San Antonio, TX
Oct. 11 – Houston, TX
Oct. 13 – Tucson, AZ
Oct. 15 – San Diego, CA
Oct. 16 – Los Angeles, CA