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Madrid City in English
Monday 18th of December 2017
1205 14th of June 2012 by laura 14th of June 2012
Explosively cool

With Game of Thrones Natalia Tena as lead singer, the UK’s Molotov Jukebox release a new EP this month. catches them in Madrid for a chat about their unique sound and style

It may be Molotov Jukebox’s first performance in Madrid, but they sure know how to take advantage of the Spanish capital. Due to play at the launch of the ManchaPop festival later that evening, the UK-based band have strategically situated themselves on the rooftop bar of the trendy ME Reina Victoria hotel. Scattered musical instruments and quirky costumes indicate they are no ordinary hotel guests, but remove these from the equation, and an unsuspecting passerby is likely to mistake the band and its crew for a group of friends. For, above all, Molotov Jukebox seem to be here to have a wild time, which is reflected perfectly in the hangout vibe dominating the bar. Given this thoroughly relaxed atmosphere, any veneer of formality, however thin, that is often present during interviews is lost immediately when band members reject my outstretched hand in favour of a kiss on each cheek.

            Six talented musicians comprise Molotov Jukebox: front-woman Natalia Tena (lead vocals, accordion), Sam Apley (vocals, violin), Adam Burke (guitar), Tom Wilson (bass), Max Burnett-Wain (drums) and Angus Moncrieff (trumpet). In addition to lending her distinct and sultry voice to the band, Tena is known for her acting roles as Nymphadora Tonks in the Harry Potter films and Osha in the HBO hit series, Game of Thrones. Tena credits the band’s manager and her acting agent for helping her juggle two demanding careers. When I ask her whether one takes priority over the other, she is quick to stress their equal importance: “I try and do both. But it’s hard,” she admits.

 

Weird and wonderful

The band, whilst still relatively unknown, have played at a number of music festivals in the UK, including Glastonbury and T in the Park. In light of their legionnaire status, I ask them to share their weirdest experience. It is a tough question, “so many weird experiences, but the one that stands out took place at our first gig—the one gig that really mattered. A dude in front of us took off his pants and stood there waggling his dick at us the entire time,” smiles Natalia as she jumps on her feet and pantomimes the incident.

            Molotov Jukebox have coined the term gypstep (a combination of gypsy and dubstep) to describe their music. The self-proclaimed genre, though undoubtedly innovative, is misleading merely because their music is by no means limited to these two genres and, in fact, contains a myriad of other elements, such as electro, pop, calypso, funk and latin. Given this eclectic range, I am curious to know how they manage to incorporate these diverse styles. “We’re obsessed with music and listening to music. I almost find it strange that more bands do not do it. Just the fact that people stick to their one genre is bizarre. Why would you do that? I mean, wouldn’t it get very boring? You don’t eat the same food every day, why would you want to listen to the same music?” explains Sam Apley. Here lies the band’s greatest professional accomplishment: the ability to blend these pronouncedly different sounds and produce a delicious cocktail.

 

Raw and ready

A secret weapon in Molotov Jukebox’s possession is the striking, almost remarkable, sincerity of its members. There is no false formality or pretense, much like there is not the slightest doubt that they are primarily here to enjoy themselves. Their outlook is confirmed when Sam speaks about their favourite gig to date—“a tiny little bar in Brazil, when we turned up and got a gig that no one knew anything about. We started playing in the bar and there were only around five people there at first, but by the end of our set, the crowd was so big you couldn’t see where it ended. It was incredible.” Molotov Jukebox’s music is a kaleidoscope of sound and style but, more than anything else, it is a manifestation of the six talented individuals that make up the band.

            As the interview reaches its end, I find myself unwillingly saying good-bye. On my way out, band members and crew wonder whether I will be attending the gig. Though initially uncertain, a few hours later I find myself in the venue, Goya 43, eagerly awaiting their performance. There is a lot of sweat, which as Sam Apley points out is “a common theme,” but they deliver a scorching set that exceeds all expectations. There is more to Molotov Jukebox than their fun and upbeat songs; what actually leaves their fans swooning is the band’s raw energy. Natalia Tena, daughter of a Basque father and an Extremaduran mother, adds to the excitement with her fluent Spanish, while other band members gulp down red wine, pulse around the stage and generally seem to have a blast. The audience devours the band, which seems to reciprocate the sentiment: twice they announce their last song before having to return onstage at the demand of the insatiable crowd. Why would we want them to leave?

Molotov Jukebox’s new EP, Bang, was released on 21 May. The first single, “Tick Tock”, is available now.

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