May 16, 2021

Vancouvers, the return of Malasaña's 'punk-pop' | Blog North American Route and beyond

Vancouvers, the return of Malasaña's 'punk-pop' | Blog North American Route and beyond

Only Malasaña could conceive a musical rarity in our country as Vancouvers, the quartet admired by Alex Chilton (The Box Tops, Big Star) and one of those few formations that, due to their instrumental skills, seemed to come from the United States or the United Kingdom. A great anomaly that was left to know more than two decades ago. It even seemed like they had not existed, only remembered by the most music lovers or drunks in the place. But they did, with their songs like explosive pills. And now they return.

They do not do it because of an exercise in nostalgia – so much of our days -, not even for a matter of pasta – have they ever seen it? They do it for a deceased friend: Rafa Fustes, famous owner of the iconic Flamingo Bar de la Malasaña. Her concert tribute brought together on stage Marta Romero, Juan Santaner, Angel Cubero and Kiki Tornado. And, after 21 years without touching together, the spark jumped. "We met without pressure, naturally, to have fun again," says Santaner, who is dedicated to the musical promotion after the end of the band. "It was a reunion with people that I love very much and it filled me a lot to think about Vancouvers", confesses Romero, singer of the group and dedicated from his end to work in an administrative office.

Founded in 1988 in the Faculty of Philology by Marta Romero and Juan Santaner, Vancouvers separated in 1997 after years surviving on the road. The break came after the end of the relationship between Marta and Juan, now friends. Today, his return has gone from anecdotal to strength. At the beginning of January they played in Bilbao and this Friday the 18th they will do it in the Joy Eslava room. "If you tell me four months ago, none of us thought about it," says Santaner, who says that this year they have a tour scheduled with stops at different festivals and hope to add more bowling.

Before gentrification, tourism low-cost and the madness of the airbnb devour the original spirit of Malasaña, the neighborhood was a hotbed of rock groups, in all its variants, under the rogue and alternative environment of its best bars such as La Via Lactea, The Tupperware, Free Way, Moloko, Angie, Louie Louie or New Vision. And, among all, the Flamingo, a meeting place for many cultural activists of the Malasaña scene. "There we met The Enemies, Sex Museum, Def Con Dos …", explains Santaner.

So, Malasaña was not what it is today. Maybe not what the most romantic chroniclers want it to have been. But for a long time, between the end of the move and the emergence of indie spanishIt was a musical scene so lively and varied that it marked the Madrid night, serving as a mirror to many outside the capital. "I am very clear that there was a Malasaña scene but the problem is that we did not have a defined style. Each one did something different. Of course, the Malasaña sound was the Rock And Roll. And there was community, "says Santaner. Romero points out the same: "It was not very homogeneous because each one of us pulled to one side. We all fell very well and we stayed to drink beers. Each band was very personal. It was not like the current indie, where some are copies of the rest. "

In that effervescence, Vancouvers had their stamp of identity. its Rock And Roll malasañero supposed a hinge between the proto-grunge or derived from the American gen alternative music and the power-pop. "There was a fanzine from the time they called us 'the intellectual dwarfs of rock,' says Santaner, laughing. "We were too pop for punk and too punk for pop. It can be said that we were in no-man's land, but the songs I think have lasted, "adds Romero. On discs like No Particular Place (1990), Quintessential (1992), Assorted Cookies (1994) or Up To You (1996), they planned influences as fascinating as Big Star, Replacements, R.E.M., Hüsker Du, Saints, Neil Young, Green Day, Posies or Radio Birdman. An explosive combo played with juvenile rage. "Everything very crazy. It was punk-pop. Punk attitude with pop melodies, "Santaner sentence.

They managed to draw the attention of great in the shadow of American music such as Alex Chilton, Young Fresh Fellows or producer Mike Mariconda. "Alex Chilton played in Madrid and we gave him a model. He played a song of ours live in Manchester. We had to believe it when a third person confirmed it. He sent us a handwritten letter to ask us to produce. It was wonderful, "says Santaner, who admits that Chilton, addicted to drugs, was a very peculiar guy, who did not remember having recorded with the soul guitarist Steve Cropper, base stone of the Stax label. "There was a lot of generational difference. I think he saw us as four Spanish kids and maybe we were not as rockers as I thought maybe. We did not take as much advantage of him as we should, but he left us a lot of freedom. He made all the mixes. We talked a lot with him. We take more with Mike Mariconda and, above all, with Paco Loco. Being with him was always spectacular, "says Romero.

Vancouvers. The return. With tour and new songs. Or as Marta Romero affirms: "Those years of youth served for something".


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