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Madrid City in English
Saturday 25th of November 2017
Vicky Knill 1304 4th of April 2013 by editor 4th of April 2013
Whole lotta rock

In these times of Justin Bieber and Gangnam style, Vicky Knill discovers that Chamán, a Madrid-based AC/DC cover band, still offer good, old-fashioned rock ‘n’ roll and can also boast a strong connection with the original group

The atmosphere is electric and the sense of anticipation emanating from the crowd is contagious. A drummer and guitarist, both dressed casually in the unofficial rock uniform of denim and t-shirts, enter the stage at Sala Boite, followed a minute later by a dapper-looking man in a suit and tie, complete with waistcoat—the band’s lead singer Mat Van Kriedt. This is Chamán, a Madrid-based band that, until meeting Mat and deciding to become an AC/DC cover band, had been rocking the local circuit for about 20 years. If Mat’s name sounds familiar, it’s because his dad is part of rock music history.

Rock and roll family trees

“My father [Larry Van Kriedt] was the very first bass player in AC/DC,” explains Mat. “He’s from San Francisco and his father, my grandad, was a really well-known jazz man.” Indeed, David Van Kriedt was a jazz saxophonist and composer, who worked with the Stan Kenton band and whose compositions were played by famous American jazz pianist, Dave Brubeck. “He was scared of losing his family to the Hippy explosion during the late 60s, so he packed up and moved everyone to Australia!”

            “I was born the same year as AC/DC and my mum was kind of a crazy groupie. She made my dad take me along to rehearsals, which wasn’t the best choice for my hearing or for my dad’s popularity with the band!

            “My dad is a guitarist and also a good double bass player so he had some licks. He had a Gibson, an old GS semi, and Angus Young [AC/DC co-founder, lead guitarist and songwriter] fell over backwards to get his hands on it. It turns out that it was the first Gibson Angus ever played.” It would later become Young’s favoured make; so much so that Gibson would make a custom Angus Young Signature SG model.

Queque and quien: Partners in rock

As well as Mat, Chamán consists of guitarists David Muñoz and Angus Siete, well-known drummer David Bao and bassist Queque. How did Queque get his name? “Basically Queque needs to be told everything twice,” jokes Mat, before admitting, “It comes from a childhood nickname.”

            The unusual Christian/surname combination of Angus Siete also originates from schooldays. “Angus had a mate from school who decided one day that from he was going to change his name to Malcolm [after AC/DC’s Malcolm Young],” explains Mat. “Angus, whose real name was Javier, said to his buddy: ‘Hang on, that’s what I wanted to do!’” But it was too late, so instead of becoming Malcolm, he adopted Angus, after AC/DC’s lead guitarist.

             The current line-up started performing together about two years ago. “I knew this guy from the village where I live,” says Mat, “and he was always telling me about some mates who have this band, and that they wanted to come and meet me, have a few drinks and talk about AC/DC. I didn’t really know what he was after but he was so persistent that I finally agreed to it to get him off my back. But it actually turned out to be a lot of fun.”

The current starts flowing

“For me I think the first show was unforgettable. We were changing the Chamán of old and doing something that the fans had never seen before. We were all nervous, especially me. I had never thought about doing an AC/DC cover before for fear of what the actual AC/DC would think of me. My dad is in touch with the other original members and I didn’t want him to get any flak from the guys. So I was worried about doing a good job. After the third song we all felt like we were floating away from our bodies and looking at the crowd pouring beer over themselves and banging their heads in a trance. It just took off and became something that felt right for everyone involved.”

            Chamán is an unusual name for an AC/DC band. Does it have some religious meaning, or is it a hint at leading their audience through the spiritual wilderness? “I think probably drug-taking is to blame for that!” Mat smiles. “The band have been around for 20 years and they’ve always had the same name. The values were different then than they are now but the name has remained. It isn’t easy to put aside 20 years of history.”

Let there be rock

Back at the gig, the band plunges into a series of powerful, high-octane rock covers, including “Whole Lotta Rosie”, “Shot Down in Flames” and “Up to my Neck”. The gig is a tribute to Bon Scott, the former AC/DC lead singer who died in 1980. “We were invited to do this homage to Bon Scott by El Ra/Na, a guy who is the kingpin of the Spanish AC/DC fans. He had heard about us doing shows from his subordinates, who’d had a good time watching us. We focus on the Bon Scott era only so it made sense for us to agree to it.”

            In addition to the rocking guitar riffs and powerful drum solos, it is Mat’s exuberant, high-energy performance which grabs the attention. While quiet and laid-back off stage, while performing he is transformed into a screaming, wailing, rock ‘n’ roll superstar. Which of these two facets of his personality would he say was more his true self? “My real life has always been around music so the ‘me’ you saw on stage is probably closer to reality. Playing old school rock ‘n’ roll is a real buzz and, yes, it can be tiring but I don’t really realise how much it’s taking out of me until after the show. We’re not as young as we used to be. When we’re on stage we’re having such a good time that it just flies by and before we know it I am back into my ‘real’ life.”

Those about to rock

Reflecting on the past, present and future, Mat’s happy with the band’s progress. “The plan from the beginning was to learn the AC/DC tunes back to front, so that our compositions would take on an AC/DC flavour of their own. At the moment, we have seven killer songs up our sleeve and we sometimes like to give our fans a treat every now and then, but the idea is to keep things under lock and key until we have enough material to make an album worthy of its heritage. Right now, we plan to continue doing AC/DC covers around Spain and hoping that with each concert a little more magic will rub off on us.”

            When he’s not singing with Chamán, Mat is a booker for “electronic Music Cathedral”, Fabrik, so there’s little time for anything else. “Chamán is all the band that I can take at the moment,” he explains. “Way more than enough—I think I lose a kilo and a half at each show. We don’t mess about.”

If your rock appetites have been wetted, check outChamán on 4 April at Sala la Mala (Metro: Campamento)—where they play the firstThursday of every month—or 13 April at Custom Spring Bash (Urtinsa industrialestate, C /Polvoranca, Alcorcon).  Bikerclubs Custom 13 and the Piratas will be at the latter.

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