On The Fly

31 March 2012 | 11:24 am | Michael Smith

Any chance to tour Australia suits Spanish rockers Los Chicos down to ground.

Spanish for The Boys, Los Chicos are very much that – the complete rock'n'roll gang, together ten years now, all punky swagger and garage rock energy, with a dash of soul, old school r'n'b, country and power pop thrown in for good measure. That's as well as, it turns out, a healthy dose of Australian indie rock.

“We met in a bus,” a remarkably jovial guitarist Gerardo Urchaga, considering he's only just got out of bed having arrived in Melbourne 3.30am and immediately dropping a sleeping pill, explains of the genesis of the band. “My brother [fellow Los Chicos guitarist Antonio] and me had friends in common with the singer and we met in bus and started talking about music and we like a lot of the same bands, like MC5, Radio Birdman – and we wanted a band like that and that's what happened. One of the first times we met Rafa [vocals], he was on the street playing guitar, he was singing a Neil Young song and we fell in love with each other.

“We are really big fans of Australian rock'n'roll – when we are young we are listening to a lot of Australian bands. I remember I saw The Atlantics at a festival in Spain called Wild Weekend some years ago. That's why it's so great for us to come to Australia, because last time we were here we met a lot of people from bands that we love and it was great.”

They first came to Australia two years ago courtesy the release of a compilation album, 10 Years Of Shakin' Fat, which was especially compiled for the tour. As it happens, around the same they were just releasing their then latest album, We Sound Amazing But We Look Like Shit, which includes Australian guitarist John Spittles AKA Johnny Casino of Asteroid B-612 on the track, Wreckin' Rome, so their European label wasn't interested in getting involved.

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“[Off The Hip] wanted to do something for the tour, as here in Australia nobody knew us so the compilation was a good opportunity for Australian people to know us. But the songs that we included from our first record we had to record again because we don't like our first record because of the sound.”

As for that most recent album, its title comes courtesy an encounter with an unlikely English fan – Los Chicos has toured the UK ten times to date.

“We were playing in a festival in Nottingham in the UK and after the show, an old woman came and she had bought our record in the merchandise stall and loved it and was talking to Rafa and suddenly she said that sentence to him. So at that moment we said we already have the title of our new record [laughs] and we began singing it that same day at the festival with all the English drunks [more laughter] and finally we did the song.”

While it seems to suit their fun times approach to rock'n'roll, the band's name, too, turns out to have been more happenstance than carefully thought out.

“It was stupid,” Urtaga admits. “The first time we were practising there was a very big fruit and vegetable shop and in big letters on the wall 'Los Chicos' and we say we could have the name Los Chicos and have here a photo with the name [laughs]. At the beginning it was stupid, but finally it was the definitive name.”