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Madrid City in English
Friday 24th of November 2017
Chelsea Mooney 1302 5th of February 2013 by editor 5th of February 2013
Autumn Comets, Photo: Alvaro Perez
The Comets’ tale

They pen lyrics in English, find inspiration in the strangest places, and have a new album under their belts. Chelsea Mooney meets Madrid’s Autumn Comets

Inspiration for songs from the Madrid-based group, Autumn Comets, comes from unusual sources: whilst they include their favourite bands, they also mention nightmares about snakes and even a drunk woman at a concert. In fact, lead singer and guitarist Julian P Campesino says that the title of their new album, Moriréis en Camboya (You will die in Cambodia) originates from a fan at a concert in Zaragoza. “There was a woman, who was in her late 40s. She was really drunk, and she was yelling things like ‘Más punteos, Robert Palmer!’ and ‘Más rock maricones!’” Suddenly she stood up on a table and said “Moriréis en Camboya!” Julian’s brother, Pablo, who’s the drummer of the band, turned and said, “That’s going to be the name of our next album,” and although initially it was just a joke, the more they talked about it, the more it seemed to fit. Sure enough, Moriréis en Camboya will be released on 5 February.

A bass on which to build
The Autumn Comets formed in 2008, with Julian and Pablo, along with guitarist Emilio Lorente and keyboard player Gonzalo Bautista being amongst the founder members. In 2009, they were joined by viola player Manuel Moreno, and they released two albums, Paredes (2009) and A Perfect Trampoline Jump (2010), as well as playing more than 50 concerts all over Spain.
     But by the summer of 2011, the band didn’t know if they had what it took to keep recording together. They had to find a new bass player, which at first seemed straightforward, but trying to locate someone who matched their sound and level proved a challenge. However, in September of that year bass player Mario Perez was recruited, and in less than twelve months they had recorded Moriréis en Camboya. The album has made them positive about their progress, and they see it as a reward for their hard work. It’s Julian, Pablo, and Mario who join me for a chat about the album, and to discuss what makes the Autumn Comets different.

Defining notes
Julian says the new album is more direct and stronger than their previous ones. “With our previous work, many people thought that our sound changed a lot from the recorded version to when we played live,” he says, adding that this is not likely to be the case for the latest songs. Julian isn’t alone in thinking that their sound has changed for the better, as newcomer, Mario, agrees. “When I listened to the band’s music before meeting them, I thought they had a lot more potential than their CD showed,” he comments. “I could tell that they were good, but the recording quality seemed poor.”
    Critics have referred to the Autumn Comets as playing everything from electric folk, ambient pop, and post-rock. “To an extent it’s post-rock, but to a certain extreme. When we ask friends [what type of music we play], each person says something different,” continues Mario. Pablo adds that although it has post-rock elements, it can’t really be classified as post-rock because of the lyrics and the melodies. “It’s complicated, but I think that’s a good thing, because it means that we’re more original,” he says.
    The group credit their unique sound to the fact that the six members have likes and influences that range from one extreme to another. Keyboard player Gonzalo gets his inspiration from electronic music, and Julian likes groups such as Low, an American indie rock band. [An interview with Low can be found in InMadrid’s March 2012 edition.] Pablo thinks his drum-playing sounds nothing like his favourite band, The Walkmen, but he still considers them influential, whereas Mario tends to listen to noise. “But obviously, we’re not a noise group,” he states, “and I can’t perform the same way I would if I was in a noise band. But I have to contribute in my own way. For me, it’s really important to adapt the sound of what I like to what the group needs.”

Language issues
Although every member of Autumn Comets is Spanish, to date they’ve written and recorded all their lyrics in English. “For the type of music we create English seems to fit better, but that doesn’t mean that you won’t see a Spanish album from us in the future,” admits Pablo. “We are at a point where we could easily record our next album in Spanish, then return to English, or even record an album with songs in both languages. We work hard on the English lyrics and the pronunciation. For us it’s like an extra instrument.”
    There are, however, some disadvantages to using English vocabulary in Spain, and Julian suggests they often feel as though their hard work goes unnoticed. “Many people don’t understand our lyrics and don’t make the effort to try to understand them. They don’t even talk about the lyrics in the album reviews,” he laments. Pablo agrees with his brother that it can be frustrating. “In Spain, many people think, ‘If it’s in English, I’m not going to understand’ or even ‘If it’s in English, then they can’t have anything interesting to say in Spanish.’ It’s absurd.”

Snakes on the patio
For those who understand English, there are some curious stories behind their songs. Their newest single, “Snakes at 3:00 AM”, released in December, tells of the reoccurring nightmare that Pablo had in the summer of 2011. For several nights, he found himself waking up after dreaming that he was on a patio full of snakes. He says he remembers jotting down a few lines about the nightmare on his mobile phone in the middle of the night, from which he penned the remainder of the lyrics.
    With one exception, Pablo wrote all of the songs on the new album, but there is no set rule to the writing responsibility. Like many creative processes, it’s a question of time, and Pablo is not shy to admit where that time is found. “I spend at least one hour on public transport each day, and I use the time to come up with ideas for songs. But the next album could have more songs written by Julian, or maybe even instrumental,” he smiles. “Or maybe it will be in Hungarian,” he adds, as his smile breaks into a laugh.

Moriréis en Camboya is available from 5 Feb. The Autumn Comets will also perform the same day at FNAC Castellana (Paseo de la Castellana, 79. Metro: Nuevos Ministerios) at 7.30pm. See also www.autumncomets.es.

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