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Serpentina Satelite

Kent u dat gevoel? Dat je vrolijk wordt van het luisteren naar een plaat? Dat je een CD in je CD-lade schuift, jezelf in je favoriete hoek van de bank nestelt, een slok koffie neemt en vervolgens geniet van een brok heerlijke muziek. Muziek die je meevoert naar landen waar je het bestaan niet van had kunnen dromen. Muziek die je hoofd leeg maakt om vervolgens weer te vullen met hallucinerende beelden. En dat allemaal zonder dat er een slok alcohol in je koffie zit of zonder dat er een pilletje is in beland. Dat gevoel kreeg ik namelijk bij het beluisteren van 'Mecanica Celeste' van Serpentina Satellite, een band uit (notabene) Peru. Uberheerlijke stoner, doorspekt met psychedelica. Het leek me een goed idee om één van de twee gitaristen van de band, Renato Gómez, eens aan de tand te voelen om wat meer over de band te weten te komen.

Door: Wim | Archiveer onder stoner

Hello there, congratulations with the release of your second album 'Mecanica Celeste'. I must say I was a little bit suprised listening to your album and finding out you are from Lima, Peru. It is not the kind of music you expect from a band out of South America, is it?
Thanks. Well, there is an extensive tradition of psychedelic rock in Peru and all over South America since the early 60's really, it's just not part of the mainstream and it has never been over commercialized. Unfortunately the media takes care of over exposing singers or bands that are nothing but lame-corporate-overproduced-shit and people get a wrong perspective on what South America's sounds and multiculturalism really are. Rock n' roll is all over the place of course, it's universal. To reduce our expectations towards art according to its place of origin is not healthy at all. Rock listeners outside South America should be a bit more curious, more than ever nowadays.

Your previous release 'Nothing To Say' was released last year but recorded in 2007. What happened in that two year period?
The record was actually released by the end of 2008, it got more promotion during early 2009 and so forth, so some people think it's a 2009 record. We take a bit of time in the studio to mix and finish each track we record as well. The original recordings for Nothing to Say took place during May of 2007.

Is there a difference in music, in approach, in the line-up or whatever difference between this new record and your previous material?
There is more production involved in this record. We have set more guitar and bass layers, more overdubs, as well as effects, keyboards, oscillations and what not. There is more use of vocals and text all through the record and we did some recordings with a choir. Some are part of the record; others have not been released yet. The sound of it as a whole is a bit different, heavy and subtler but more intricate. There are many messages within the songs for the listeners to find out as well. This time we've tried to include a wider set of references in the record.

Your record company is Rocket Recordings, a small label from the UK. How is the relationship between the band and the label? Why is your CD distributed in such a sober way; for instance there is no inlay, etc.? Did you guys have enough budget for the recording of the album?
Mecanica Celeste is being released on vinyl and mp3, there is no cd version of the record. Perhaps you refer to the promo cd you received. The record will come out as a limited edition lp, only 600 copies, 100 or so in blue vinyl. The cover is foiled and shines like a crazy diamond. The vinyl comes with a free digital download. Our relationship with Rocket is great, Chris and Johnny have done a great job with Mecanica Celeste, I guess you should get the vinyl to have a better perspective of what it's all about. Distribution wise they work really hard too which is convenient for the record. As any other underground band we have our issues when it comes to budgets for recording and such, but we are not afraid of taking risks either when we have a clear goal on what we want to do in the studio.

I think the name of the band fits perfectly with the music of the band. It is quite mysterious, it sounds hallucinating, it stimulates my brain to think of where the name is coming from. Can you help me with the answer to that question; what do you guys mean by that name?
Glad you like the name. I was going through an exhausting sequence of automatic writing exercises somewhere along 1997, trying to delete repression of thought under substances for long hours. One of the phrases that popped out of the experience was Serpentina Satelite. I saved the notebook where I wrote it. Years later when we formed the band I proposed it and we all liked it, and so it stuck with us. About the meaning, all I can say is that YOU are Serpentina Satelite.

Obviously, your music will attract people who love the music of Hawkwind, Monster Magnet, and so on. People who are not afraid of listening to long, psychedelic music without real structure and with hardly any vocals. Do you think your music will also attract other people? Is there a real market for this kind of music in your home country?
No, there is no real “market” for space rock in Peru. What there is, is a growing underground culture that has many contrasts and embraces many genres, from psychedelic, indie, doom, metal, electronica, noise, etc. Young listeners in Lima I would say jump from one genre to the other without any issues. It's great to see this, especially since all the “dogmas” that sometimes rock n' roll genres and sub genres imply create more division than togetherness. So in the long run, all people should come together under any type of music, of course this is really idealistic but not impossible. We've attracted people that are not used to space rock in Lima since we started. I'm pretty sure the same phenomena is happening abroad and not only with our band but with many others.

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There is one track that really differs from the other material. Not only in music but also in the title, which is rather long and in French. 'Imaginez Quel Bonheur Ce Sera De Voir Nos Chers Disparus Ressuscites'. First of all: what does that title mean and secondly, can you tell us a bit more about the song musicwise. For instance: the female vocals: is that something ethnical from Peru?
The title is telling you that you are the cosmos but in a different way, I won't translate it, I think it's better if listeners do that on their own, maybe they can come up with a better translation than us. No, the female vocals are not ethnical, is just a chant we came up with in the studio. Listeners should figure out the text that lies underneath it to get a clearer idea of what the record is about. “Ooops! But it's in Spanish!” Yes friends, it's time for you to start learning Spanish as well. It's better to make an artistic experience problematic so the audience can question it and themselves.

What is it, the same female voices sing in the last minute of 'Sendero'? It sounds like a sort of prayer, is that correct?
Maybe it is, I don't remember. So you see how a slight barrier is probably being broken by a word: you didn't know it and yet you guessed it was a prayer. What made you believe it was a prayer? Have you heard something like that before? What resonance does it have in you even if you are a believer or not? Does that matter?

Songs like 'Fobos' (which is brilliant!), 'Ai Apaec' and 'Sendero', they all sound like jam-sessions, not like structured songs. Is that how you guys compose your songs, by jamming in the rehearsal room and wait until something magical comes along?
Yes, we mostly jam out of two or three chords and then songs build up. 'Fobos' is a jam we recorded in the studio, it wasn't rehearsed. Of course it has a few extra strings. Ai Apaec was also a jam in the rehearsal space. There is a bit more involved in 'Sendero' I would say. 'Sendero' is only the beginning of a much longer track.... Jamming is a great way to start any song, the skeleton of the tracks comes from there and we all have the same level of input when writing new material.

Obviously the guitar parts by Dolmo and Renato are very dominant in the overall sound of the band. Who are the guitarists that have influenced their guitar playing for this band?
Manuel Göttsching, Dave Mustaine, John Lee Hooker, Ron Asheton, Sterling Morrison, Malcolm Young, Lee Ranaldo, Kawabata Makoto.

On your MySpace site I saw a picture of the band with four people but underneath the picture are five names. What does 'hope and providence' mean; the things Flavio Castillejos is responsible for?
Flavio is Aldo's son; he has been with us since the beginning of the band, in the rehearsal space and in the studio. He does words and vocal parts in our songs; he played around with some oscillators and effects this time too.

About performing live: do you play a lot in your home country or maybe even in other South American countries? I think you guys should play on the Roadburn festival in 2011, over here in The Netherlands. Do you know that festival? Any chance of you guys playing Europe in the near future?
We haven't played live in Lima for quite a while. At this moment it's not a priority, rehearsing and writing more material is. We'd love to play all around South America, but then again the costs of travelling from one country to the other are not affordable, distances are still long, unlike Europe which we look forward to tour sometime next year. We'd love to play at Roadburn, Walter decides who plays in his festival or not. We have had contact with him before, I understand he likes what we do, so perhaps sometime in the future, we are more than ready.

I hope the album will do well when it is released in a couple of weeks. Thank you for the interview and good luck, see you soon?
Thank you for your interest, see you all soon, do not stop listening, YOU ARE SERPENTINA SATELITE.

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