Interview

The Boys From Valencia | Polock at the Latin Alternative Music Conference

by Pablo Medina Uribe

Polock started big, with a debut album, Getting Down from the Trees, that was released in 2010 in their native Spain and beyond in the United States, Canada, Mexico, the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Switzerland, Austria and even Japan, where the group became a sensation.

With an incredibly polished sound and a defined graphic style on their covers, the boys from Valencia are now shaping up to be the next big thing in the English-speaking indie pop/rock world.

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We caught up with Papu Sebastián and Pablo Silva at the Latin Alternative Music Conference in New York to talk about their music, the music that inspires them, and the state of Spanish music.

Play Too Much: What kind of music do you make?

Polock: We do pop-rock, sharp rock, danceable rock.

PTM: Why did you decide to sing in English?

Polock: Well, we think English is the language of rock, and we thought this was a way to get out of our country and play shows abroad. Also, most of the bands we listened to sang in English, so when we began, the idea of doing something similar appealed to us.

PTM: Have you been able to tour abroad?

Polock: Yes, we’ve toured England twice, we played in the Netherlands, we recorded our first album in Berlin, we’ve also played in Japan, and this is the second time we are playing in the United States.

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PTM:  You had a particular welcome in Japan, a special event with some masks, right? What kind of reception did you have in Japan?

Polock: Yeah, we released [Getting Down from the Trees] there, and some of the people at Tower Records, which was one of the biggest music stores there, had the idea of having their employees wear masks with the cover of our album while they worked. They really loved the design.

It was incredible. We got there and we knew sales were good, but didn’t know what were we going to find there. All of our merchandising was sold out on the first day in the venue where we played, people were really into the music. We finished the show by singing with them, it was a great experience.

PTM: How has the reception been in New York this time?

Polock: It has been different, but it has been great, because the last time we came here it was our first time, our album had been released not too long ago, and so maybe it was not enough time for people to know the songs. There were one or two people, but it wasn’t enough time to have a lot of people singing, like it happened to us last night [at the LAMC showcase].

PTM: You have a very defined graphic identity, how did that come about?

Polock: Well it happened because of Carla Fuentes, who is [singer Papu Sebastián’s] girlfriend. We started this along with her, she helped create our image in MySpace and all social networks, and we realized that her image and vision worked together very well with the music we were making, so we created that partnership.

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PTM: What would you say your musical influences are right now?

Polock: Lately, we have listened a lot to Arctic Monkeys, Last Shadow Puppets, Radiohead’s latest album, Unknown Mortal Orchestra, Tame Impala, those kinds of things.

PTM: What about Spanish or Latin American music?

Polock: Yeah, there are some bands. We like Piratas a lot, for example, Quique Gonzáles has some great albums. Also Andrés Calamaro, Soda Stereo, things like that.

PTM: What would you say is the state of the music scene in Spain?

Polock: There are many music festivals, they have been sprouting all over Spain in the last few years, which is pretty great. But it’s a bit weird with concert venues: if you are going to see 30 groups in two months, why would you go to a show featuring only one band? We’ll see how that pans out. But the fact that there are so many festivals is quite good for us, because as a band we can have a good summer of work, with lots of people in the audience, and enjoy it a lot. Also, it seems to me that is a good moment there for rock, indie-rock and similar genres, because of that precisely, because there is a big audience that wants to go see those acts.

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PTM: So what do you think then is the relationship between the Spanish scene, Latin America and the US?

Polock: We have been able to come twice to the US, thanks to a lot of movements between there and here, like Songs from Spain, which are the ones who are helping showcase Spanish music abroad, and helping bands like us. So thanks to that we have been able to come to the US twice. We really want to go to Mexico, Argentina, Uruguay, because we get feedback from those countries, but we haven’t had the chance yet to step on them. I think it’s a good moment, thanks to social media and the ease of communications, so the Americas, Europe, and every continent can enjoy a fluidity in terms of music and culture, and we can all enjoy of the interesting things from everywhere.

PTM: What has been the evolution of your sound between your albums?

Polock: We have evolved, mainly because we have grown as we recorded the albums, we have learnt about the processes, we have changed our attitude and our philosophy regarding recording. In every process involving a person, that person is going to change and mature, and it has been the same with our albums. And the third one we are recording now is another turn of the screw, we keep going with constant change.

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