"Together we are stronger" Baroque Punk Band Melenas im Interview

Melenas sind eine vierköpfige Band aus Pamplona in Spanien. In ihrem dritten Album "Ahora" singen sie in ihrer Muttersprache über Zeiträume und wie es diese zu gestalten gilt. Am vergangenen Mittwoch spielten sie in La Parenthèse, einem kleinen Club in Nyon, ihr bisher einziges Konzert in der Schweiz. Wir redeten über ihr spanisches Grauzone Cover und warum es wichtig ist, mit wem man seine Zeit verbringt. von Mirco Kaempf

Als wir um 19:30 den Keller von La Parenthèse betreten ist die Bühne noch ziemlich leer. Sie hätten gerade etwas Verspätung, haben noch nicht mal den Soundcheck gemacht, sagt uns Drummerin Lauri müde lächelnd. Sofort der warmen Coolness der Band verfallen entschuldigen wir uns, fragen ob wir später wiederkommen sollen, und werden aber sofort von Bassistin Leire und Sängerin, Gitarristin und Synth Spielerin Oihana vertröstet. Mit ihnen beiden begeben wir uns in den kleinen Treppen-Zwischengang und beginnen das Interview.

It's your first time in Switzerland! We are at La Parenthèse right now, a really small tunnel-like club. How do you like it so far? You haven't had sound check yet, but any words on it?

Oihana: I think it's gonna be cool. We like small clubs where you can feel the audience close to you. This works well for us.

Leire: Yeah, the atmosphere that it creates, the small places next to the audience, yes. It's kind of magic.

Since it's your first time playing in Switzerland, I have to ask: three years ago you released a single called Osa Polar, which of course is a cover of «Eisbär» by swiss band Grauzone, very much a classic not only in Switzerland, but of course in other countries as well. What made you do a cover of this specific song?

O: Well it it started because we had to record some live songs of our LP, «Dias Raros» on TV. And they asked us to do a cover of a song that will not be in our style at first. And we were thinking about a song and we all loved that one, so, so much. We thought it would be cool to try to do it uhm... 

L: Make it ours, like in our own style.

O: And at that point I bought a new synth and we tried it with it and it was all with synths, no guitars. And after that  it also changed out sound. 

Does this song have any political connotations to you?

O: It was not a reason to to choose that, but I feel it has some kind of message. Of course, yes.

With starting to utilise synthesizers more your sound changed.  The songs on «Ahrora» sound very textured, and the first single that you released from it was  «Bang» . I listened to a live recording that you did of it today and I was very surprised, because suddenly I was crying and I couldn't understand why.

Who was crying?

Me! Suddenly it happened! And I didn't know why, but maybe you could explain it to me. What is this song about?

O: Well, this song talks about the power of togetherness. Of the four of us, because we have been working together a lot. I don't know if you say it like this, but it’s about not listening to all these messages that have come from some people. From people and their voices that could have stopped us or make us go in another direction. It talks about not listening to these 'shots' from outside, these 'bangs'.

L: Yeah. Negative voices that want to stop you. It's like, no, we can go on. And if we are together, we are stronger. In the video we made for the song you can see it. The four of us are walking  our own way [along the road].

The album is titled «Ahora» - in the liner notes of the album you speak about the factor of 'time' and how it plays a big role in your songs lyrically, like what you do with your time and who you spend your time with. It seems to me very much in the sense of an art historical notion. Like «Momento Mori» or «Carpe Diem» of baroque times. In a way, it's almost like you're a baroque punk band! Has ‘time’ a political component to you?

O: I think the topics we choose are the things that are important or are in our minds. That's why you talk about things now and it has a component that is political because we talk about.

L: Yes

O: Because in in this, for example in «Mal» we talk about why do we have to spend so much time on our jobs if that's not what we really want to do. We talk about the people you spend the time with and how does it change your life? As we said, «Bang» talks about  this 'togetherness' to live the moment with more power or to keep going on your path. I don't know - It's it's political, yeah.

L: Yeah, maybe in the album «Dias Raros» [the second album],  we talked more about our dreams or projects or the past, and it was more melancholic. [...] During and after the pandemic we had time to think about many things. Like, what do we have that is in front of us right now.

Would you go as far as to say it's a pandemic Album?

L: No, no, no, not at all. No. It's different that.

O: this happens when you start thinking about what it is about, because it was not like a conceptual album. We made all the songs, we composed all the songs, and once  they were recorded, we were thinking about what were we talking about in this album. And we realized that this was something important.

Hm I thought it was pretty significant for today where everybody has  these gadgets and things and it's sold to you as to save yourself some time. In the end it just glues you to a screen and you forget everything around it – at least that’s a thing that I take away from it.

But when we talk about time, I also thought it was quite interesting looking at the two weeks of your EU tour that you're doing right now. You are playing some amazing smaller venues like Komet in Hamburg, Schokoladen in Berlin and in London, of course, the Shacklewell Arms. I thought a band of your notoriety would be able to play bigger venues if they wanted to. Was it a conscious decision to spend your time touring smaller venues with smaller crowds?

OI don't know. We were just trying to tour. We didn't know if we can even go to bigger venues...

L: It's the second European Tour really. And well, the first one was very good and the venues were crowded, but...

O: Yeah it was our first time in Berlin for example and in Germany we were like once or twice before

L: So we are testing it right now. So maybe we will have to come to bigger ones. I don't know, we love all!

Well, what do you think is is more important: to play for a crowd in the Shacklewell Arms or to play for the New York Fashion Week?

O: Both!

L: New York Fashion Week was fun. Yeah. We like. We like to live different experiences. So that was like surrealistic dream. Yes, being there and...

O: ...Playing in a very different atmosphere. And the experience of seeing the models walking with your music, it was pretty crazy. I mean, I couldn't look at them because I was like *chicken skin*... I don't know. Very crazy.

Well, if we talk about big scenes and small scenes, I have a bit of a carte blanche question for you. What do you think is the most problematic thing about rock music or the rock music scene? Do you have any opinions on that?

O: The conditions for us musicians are not easy, because you have to pay for a lot of things when you tour. And yeah, I mean, it's not easy always.

LYeah, not in Spain at least. We have our own jobs because we can't live off our music, it's super difficult and it takes a lot of time of work, and it's not really fair.

O: Yes

So you feel like there is not enough funding for musical culture?

Yeah, exactly. Yeah.

How much do you rehearse?

O: Well it depends, ha. I mean now that we are playing that much, we just rehearsed before the shows, but this summer, for example, that we had to introduce this rhythm machines and new synths and stuff, we've been rehearsing a lot. Almost every day.

Still in Pamplona?


Why don't you shout out some of your bandfriends for us to check out? 

So there's Exnovios for example, they do this reverb core pop too.

Then we have Touchers [?] that are friends too, that is more pop-punk in Basque

Hiuzz, that's more 90s oriented

Then Kokoshca, different music for different generations that's coming

And like Chill Mafia

Lots of music coming out in Pamplona

Sounds so prosperous! Well, 2 last from our weekly Indie music special MAINSTREAM. I know you have recorded la music video for très segundos where you play it like a sitcom intro.


For what kind of movie would melenas's pen a soundtrack to? Given the chance, what kind of movie would you make?

OOh my God.

O: I think it will be an indie movie too. I don't know.

L:  High fidelity.

Person working in a record shop making lists all day.


And now imagine you're DJing in front of a huge crowd. Everybody's feeling all the vibes and it comes to a peak of  vibrancy and atmosphere. What song are you dropping?

O: It's an obvious choice for for us, but I would say French disco? I love French disco [Stereolab]

L: Yeah, yeah. We are always listening to music and these kind of questions are the most difficult.

Well, thank you very. Thank you for taking the time to talk to me and I hope you have a wonderful...

O: I know another one! Yeah. The one we play when we finish the show sometimes.

L: Ah! "Conga", Gloria Estefan.