Los Chicos

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Los Chicos


In 2010, Spanish band garage rock band Los Chicos – the members of which are largely drawn from Madrid, rather than the region Galicia in which Santigo de Compestela is located – undertook their own pilgrimage; in this case, to Australia, the country from which Los Chicos took its original rock’n’roll inspiration, courtesy of the New Christs, the Celibate Rifles and the Beasts of Bourbon. “I don’t really remember anything annoying at all while we there,” says guitarist Gerardo. “Everything was perfect. We were living a dream so everything was awesome. “We met wonderful people all over the country. We made a lot of friends, and are looking forward to seeing them again now. Also the kangaroo meat – we ate a lot,” Gerardo laughs. “And we loved the Coopers beer – the beer that talks!”

Spanish crowds are characteristically vibrant; Melbourne rock’n’roll audiences, on the other hand, are notoriously not vibrant, often preferring to stand sullenly with arms folded, notwithstanding the band’s enthusiastic efforts on stage. A few minutes of watching Los Chicos on stage at the Old Bar on its first Australian outing – with Gerardo and twin brother Antonio being plied with pints of Cooper’s ale by welcoming punters during the cover of Roy Trait and the Heads’ Treat Her Right – sent the crowd into a dancing frenzy. “Everybody told us that we shouldn’t think that in Australia the audience was going to dance as they do in Spain, but what we found was completely different,” Gerardo says. “We had a lot of people dancing in the gigs. Sometimes it looked like some crazy shows in Spain!”

While in Australia Los Chicos hooked up with long-term friend and mutual benefactor John Spittles (aka Johnny Casino), as well as other Australian friends who’d previously made the trek to Spain. “We played with friends that we already knew, like Johnny Casino and Midnight Woolf,” Gerardo says. “I already had already seen Russian Roulettes and Digger And The Pussycats in Spain, but the rest of the band didn’t know them and they were really shocked with them. I remember also Kids Of Zoo, Wrong Turn, The Knockouts.” And Gerardo is keen to find more like-minded Australian bands to play with in future. “We’ve played with some of our favourite bands, and this tour we’re playing with some more, like New Christs and The Meanies,” Gerardo says. “But if I had to say two bands from here I’d love to share stage with, I would say Radio Birdman and The Celibate Rifles – they’re the first two bands I listened to from Australia when I was young.”

One of the more intriguing gigs Los Chicos played was at The Tote at the end of the band’s tour. Having already seen Spencer P. Jones play solo earlier in the evening at Labour in Vain on Brunswick Street, Los Chicos were on hand to see Jones play a particularly intense set, featuring songs written in response to Jones’ marriage break-up – with Jones’ Spanish former wife, and a friend of the band in the audience. “We had been listening to his record in the car when we were travelling Australia,” Gerardo says. “At first we though it was about [Lorena, Jones’ former wife], and then we were not sure, but finally we found out that it was. I knew Lorena before coming here, from Spain, yes. “It as very good seeing them talking together the days we were here”.

While there are plenty of decent Spanish rock’n’roll bands to seek out – Gerardo reels off a long list including Real McCoyson, Soul Gestapo, Guadalupe Plata, Samesugas, The Government and Discipulos de Dionisos, in addition to the label Gerardo and Antonio set up, FOLC (Friends of Los Chicos) – finding somewhere to play hasn’t always been easy. However, Gerardo says, there have been plenty of opportunities in recent times, despite the tough economic context within which Spain currently finds itself. “For us now it’s very easy get gigs, as we’ve been playing a lot – in fact we have to reject a lot of gigs,” Geraro says. “For bands that are starting now I think it’s very, very difficult, but it was also when we did. With the crisis we’re living in Spain, maybe it’s more difficult because there’s no money for rock’n’roll and you have to pay for playing, and you may lose money if no-one goes to the gig, but you must do that for playing, and that’s the only way to make a band, play and play, and never stop doing it,” he says. 

And is there a convenient Spanish phrase to describe the musical travesty that is Europop?  “We call it the same here: SHIT!”, Gerardo laughs.