Pájaro - Santa Leone

Interview with Andrés Herrera Ruíz “Pájaro”

Andrés Herrera Ruíz has been many years in the shadow, Santa Leone (Happy Place Records, 2012) placed him in its place; he’s not “poultry”, he needs his own space to unleash that sound that defines him. Pájaro is an experienced veteran — you can perceive it on stage — the rogue gunman who is in turn the Good, a Han Solo of Rock ‘n’ Roll who does not disappoint in the face to face.

He tells me that is working on his new songs, “I’m making the music for a Charles Bukowski’s poem called Bluebird — he tells me excited — it’s beautiful, it talks about me”, about the last film he has watched or about his dog, “When I play for him La Vida Breve by Falla (Manuel de Falla) he cries, but he cries like saying, “please, play it again”.

Andrés Herrera Ruíz - Pájaro

Pájaro is currently recording the next album – they will be performing a few songs from it on the next edition of Monkey Week – and so far it is brutal, more turns, now he is trying Latin American sounds, not forgetting the Rock and Roll, that taste to Semana Santa, Italy, and now also to Quilapayun and Atahualpa.

And like this, like any bar counter tavern’s conversation, the interview begins.

B.C. Are we in times of change?

P. We are in a time when people have to consider starting over, to think in their dreams, but well, who consider that having children, at fifty years old?

B.C. You have started again.

P. I start again every day, as my life is so extremely anarchist without a god ruling it… and it goes well. Ten years ago I was the guitarist of Los Chanclas, I earned money, and it’s not the music I like to do, I had a good time, obviously it’s not a kind of music that disgusts me.

B.C. There’s no a God for Pájaro?

P. Yes, I do believe in God, I do well with God, I am a believer, I believe and I simply believe in something that is inside us all, that’s all. Nowadays people can go online to have their brains washed.

B.C. Are you writing new songs?

P. Unfortunately yes, go slow but I’m doing it.

B.C. With the same band as in Santa Leone?

P. Of course, this band is irreplaceable, you can’t change even a button; it’s important because otherwise it turns into a fair; normally solo artists have a band, they sometime change a bassist, a drummer, etc. I think it takes a few time until people fits into this, you have to wait then. The band I have, no! better said, the band I play with, is excellent, couldn´t ask for more.

B.C. How come out the songs?

P. I go around with my head — no matter where it catch me, I get the idea, I record it a bit, and I bring it to the studio and we develop it there; most times this way, we are a team. Then I also bring to the studio some other ideas that I have very clear, that I’m very hot on; crossovers I make between the Semana Santa and Italian things, I’m very clear about that.

B.C. The influence of Italian swing is quite clear.

P. I really like Italy, I like even Raffaella Carrà, I love her. I know Raffaella for her first period, she sings brilliant. Later she had that period when she was like Georgie Dann but woman. I respect much Dann, he’s a bit fool but there has to be a bit of everything. I prefer that to what is happening now; music can’t be a little machine. There must be people who play and people who sing, I’m not going to be conservative now, experiments are OK. You must have real respect for the instrumentalist; music has to sound with people playing.

B.C. And also Italian but in another line, Ennio Morricone is another reference source for Pájaro.

P. My father projected cinema in Torreblanca in a summer cinema; people clapped when “the goods” appeared, that’s why I like so much music of Western movies. That’s why I couldn’t watch Cinema Paradiso yet; my father died when I was fourteen, and I went to project films with him since I was seven; your father, the funnier man in the world dies. My mother died one year ago and I suffered, but it’s different because at that age you can’t accept death. My father used to take me to the Lope de Vega Theatre to see the Municipal Band of Seville at the premieres of the Easter music, it was good music, I was five o six, I don’t forget that.

Andrés Herrera Ruíz, Pájaro

B.C. Changing a bit the matter, the music boom that took place in Seville in the seventies, that musical movement so special, it left a mark on the city? Are there traces of all of that?

P. It Undoubtedly has served as school, the Seville school; from Baroque to rocanrol the Seville school has always been important. There are also young people who don’t know about this, but most young people have all this in mind because there have been great things in Seville, well in Seville and in Andalusia.

B.C. But there was a unique move in Seville…

P. But it had its reasons; Americans placed a base in Morón what made possible that we could access to the rock and roll to us in the 60’s – 70’s, and it was when electric guitars began to come. Imagine a gypsy as Raimundo or Rafalillo taking suddenly a Stratocaster, those guys got sparks from it. And albums! Of Jimi Hendrix, for those used to watch Manolo Escobar’s movies suddenly listening to Electric Ladyland, it happened to me and it changes your life. Sevilla got that new rhythm that was rock ‘n’ roll, that’s why Sevilla has that touch so rocker, as well as other cities in Andalusia, there are many good musicians in Córdoba, in Jaén. That’s how special has had Seville, city that has been treated miserably. It has had some exhibitions which made seems that it was the manna and it has left a shit. All the Expos in Sevilla have been made for people to get money, the ones who always get it.

B.C. Are you pro-nostalgia?

P. Look, the first time I listen Guadalupe Plata was in Salamandra Concert Hall (Barcelona), I think, I made a song the day after (he refers to TLP). It cannot be otherwise, that’s good, people think you always must talk in past tense, Pata Negra, Triana… but nowadays there’s people making good music. Certainly you have to look back from time to time; for me there are two albums that seem madness but for me they’re similar and unique, one is the album of Veneno and the other one Electric Ladyland. Veneno (pause), it’s a shame they didn’t continue because the album is magic, they hadn’t it done, they did it there. I listen to the Electric Ladyland once a year to remember all that but as I’m telling you it’s nowadays where we have to look.

B.C. Do you have formal musical academic training?

P.  My father got me into the conservatory when I was nine but I left almost the same day; I wanted to play, not read bullshits. The Conservatory was in The Alameda (Seville) and I preferred to go play out there, go to see hookers… I wish I had studied music but I don’t regret it, that’s how it is.

B.C. When you sing in Spanish I can’t help remember to Silvio and when you do it in English you remind me of Elvis Presley.

P. I remember sing Víctor Jara’s song Te recuerdo Amanda when I was nine years old and that kind of things. I had a beautiful voice; it was a dirty trick when my voice changed. When I really listened to Elvis —I was nineteen — I already had a man’s voice; I started singing around, Silvio used to tell me (he imitates the voice and gesture of Silvio) “Don Paxo, sing for me Loving You”. What connects me with Silvio is that we have the same accent, we both studied in the French School of Seville, we had so much in common and I’ve spent so much time with him… When I play I’m inspired by some guitarist; when I sing I remember Elvis or Silvio in Spanish, because he was the only one who knew how to change the Spanish (language) to put it into the rock and roll, he left me a great legacy.

B.C. Has it been the rock and roll in Spanish discredited in Spain?

P. There’s much stupidity and too much prejudice; do you know who really sings rock & roll? The Argentines, they aren´t prejudiced; Tequila could seem a catchy band but damn, they were rock and roll guys, at that time they used to appear on television.

B.C. There are no bands on TV nowadays.

P. Well there’s at night but look what it is, a seedy thing to make money with copyrights. A guy who worked in radio, I won’t say his name, the guy called me, gave me fifty bucks and I harmonized what he gave me, some horrible songs, and it was for that, and it was sang by a little poor girl whom they took advantage and made some dough with copyrights; Is disgusting, they take advantage of a young girl whom they promise to make her famous. The fact that this happens it tells me a lot, you turn on the TV at night and it tells a lot about what we have in this country; the worst is that I’ve seen Jorge Pardo there and I say to myself, shit but how it can be! I’m fifty years old and music is what makes me live, that’s what I want to get from life, the music.

B.C. Finally, some other objections?

P. When I say “Viva Spain” I don’t say “VIVA SPAIN” (he stands erect as a soldier when he says Spain in that fascist way), what I mean is about the people, the Spanish people.

Interview by Ramón Honrado Reca for Blind Carre. Photos by Joaquín Aneri.

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