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Rodrigo Y Gabriela Q&A - A cold beer on the beach, along with some good taco after a long tour in Europe wouldn't be a bad idea


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 maestro, Rodrigo.

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 acoustic.

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 acoustic partnership?
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 what provided
the inspiration?
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 to Mexico?
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 bad idea.

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 live album?
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

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