Interview by Jack Foley
ON THE eve of the release of Rodrigo Y Gabriela's live album
(in Dublin and Manchester), IndieLondon's Jack Foley traded shots
of tequila and banter (well, something like that) with guitar
For those that don't know, Rodrigo Y Gabriela perfected their
guitar-playing skills in their hometown of Mexico City by playing
hard, fast, US-influenced heavy metal for seven years in a band
called Tierra Acida, before deciding to make the break and go
Yet, after busking their way around Europe, including spells
in Denmark and Spain, they eventually settled in Dublin and were
soon wowing crowds at Womad.
Q. Your success is an inspiration to anyone who dreams
of playing a guitar successfully for a living; just how easy was
it to make the decision to switch from a heavy metal band to an
A. Frankly, it was a necessity because we had sold all
the gear we had with the band to travel 'the world' after the
disappointment of not making our living out of playing thrash
metal in Mexico....!!!
Q. How does life on the road differ now, from when you
were part of
the heavy metal set-up? Are there any wild anecdotes from your
metaller days that are worth imparting?
A. Well the difference is that when we toured with the
metal band we used to come back home with lots of debts and all
mistreated from such a terrible truck we used to hire to travel
in.....especially those days where we had to ask for a ride back
home from towns hours away from the city.
We also never stayed at hotels, we used to stay in the venues'
kitchens and all that shit.....
Q. When did both of you first start playing guitar? And
A. I (Rodrigo) started in 84', along with my brother,
who is five-years older than me; the day he came back home from
school with the Kill Em All album and got rid of Motley Crue's
Shout at the Devil.
Gabriela started a bit older when she was 14 thanks to her dreams
of becoming Jimmy Page!!
Q. How does life in Dublin compare to life in Mexico?
What do you prefer? What do you miss? Do you have plans to return
A. Yeah, we'll be back to live on the beach hopefully
some time next year; we have been in Europe for almost six years
now and we are really feeling the effects of the lack of sunshine,
although we love it here. But a cold beer on the beach, along
with some good taco after a long tour in Europe wouldn't be a
Q. Who are your musical influences?
You reference The White Stripes on the live album - is this one
influence, in particular?
A. No, I think they are very original for being a mainstream
rock band and we respect them because of that, but the influences
that hit us to do what we do are as extreme as you can imagine,
from Megadeth to Tomatito to Michel Camilo to Slipknot to Paco
de Lucia to Al Di Meola.... that's how my CD collection looks....
Q. How would you classify your music. It's been referred
to as world music, flamenco, Spanish guitar, folk, etc, so how
would you categorise it? Or does the beauty in your new-found
freedom lie in your ability to be eclectic?
A. I think we are a mix of what we like to hear and that
doesn't stick to one particular type of music; we did an interview
for Kerrang! last week, next week we'll do one for Jazz Wise.
Q. What sort of advice would you give to someone picking
up a guitar for the first time?
A. To have fun and try to pick up as many things just
by ear, instead of going to learn somewhere, well that's what,
in my experience, has worked out better; we don't worry about
reading music, or anything like that - we just love playing without
having to respect any rules.
Q. How tough was it busking around Europe?
A. It was very hard, but that is the best school you
can have as a musician, I learnt so much, and the amount of people
you get to know is amazing. It is hard but really pays back.
Q. How did it feel to get such a terrific reaction from
the Dublin and Manchester crowds, which is fully evident on the
A. Very happy, because for being an instrumental act,
you don't expect such a reaction, we are very glad and looking
forward to play it out in England and the rest of Europe. Those
nights were good, with great crowds and nice venues.
I think some times you play amazing and the crowd don't seem to
get it, other times you play shit and the crowd love it.
This live album was good for both our playing and for the crowd.
Q. What are your plans for the future? Are you back in
the studio yet? Planning any more tour dates?
A. We start a tour in the UK and Ireland in October,
then we'll release an EP tribute to Metallica early next year
(all acoustic), at the time when the live album comes out in Europe.
And some time next year we'll do our second studio album, to put
it out at the end of the year.
Tour dates at www.rodgab.com