Rey Pila: Julian Casablancas' Mexican Protégés
There’s already a big crowd of people smoking outside of Baby’s All Right even though Rey Pila – the headliners of the night – don’t start playing for another hour and a half. “We can go into our van, it’s parked right there and it’s quiet,” guitarist Rodrigo Blanco says, and we all laugh at how sketchy this probably looks as we make our way into the all black, tinted-window vehicle. The Mexico City born and bred band has been playing a concert circuit in order to promote their sophomore album The Future Sugar, a fresh, heart-felt, and synth heavy follow up to their eponymous debut album, which aside from boasting Julian Casablancas as one of the producers, is also the first album recorded as a full band.
But while the band might seem new, they are actually all veterans of the Mexican music scene, having filled stadiums and amassed cult followings with their old projects Los Dynamite and Chikita Violenta. This is why Rey Pila is so exciting, because, as front man Diego Solórzano tells me, “time has gone by…we’re older and wiser.” It’s particularly exciting interviewing the band tonight (which is comprised of Diego – who is wearing a white blazer that I tell him reminds me of Miami Vice, Rodrigo, Miguel Hernández, Andrés Velasco, and Sebastian Farrugia), as the venue is packed with a combination of music aficionados and Mexican ex-pats, all who are here to watch the band kick some ass. Stuffed in the band’s van, Milk Made’s own Mexican member Ana Velasco gets the lowdown on what it’s like working with Casablancas, not wanting to meet their heroes, and the surprising motif that led to the title of the band’s new album.
How did you all decide to form Rey Pila?
Diego Solórzano: I played with Mickey in another band a long time ago, so I ended that band and started the other one – started writing songs and came to Brooklyn to record an album in 2010. That album was just me alone and then started playing that same album in Mexico, where I called my friends Rodrigo, Mickey, and Andrés. Then we started touring for a while, and then we started working on pre-production for the album that’ll come out in September.
What took so long to record this new album and what was the biggest difference with recording it?
DS: Well the biggest difference basically is that we’re now a band, so there’s more on the table for everyone to talk about. The songs are different – continually working on songs is a discipline that makes you create better material, and I think we now have better songs. We’re older and wiser (Mickey laughs in the background), and we’ve kind of learnt how to take shit without crying. When Mickey and I were in that other band we used to be really snotty and spoiled kids because we had not even medium success, but we were just not old enough to digest it.
Julian Casablancas produced three songs on this album. What was it like to work with him?
DS: He’s very nice, fun – a very, very cool guy. We love him. Good times…we’ve learned a lot of tricks from him.
What’s the biggest difference from playing for crowds in Mexico as opposed to playing for crowds in the US?
DS: It depends because we’ve toured in the US with a bunch of bands. We’ve toured with The Darcys, which is a Canadian band that is not that well known, then we’ve toured with Interpol, which is really, really well known, and then we’ve toured with The Rentals, which are between The Darcys and Interpol (Rodrigo laughs). We’ve played with two people or three people at times – last night’s show at Piano’s was packed, so it’s a variation.
In Mexico we usually play festivals, we don’t play clubs anymore. We stopped doing that a while ago because we want to do something more special. Vive Latino, which was last year, was huge. It’s a different type of crowd – Mexicans are more passionate about their bands and at the same time more aggressive if they don’t like them (laughs).
You all are or have been in side projects, so what is what you do together as a band different than what you have done as side projects?
DS: Age. Time has gone by. When you grow up you learn to make peace with a lot of shit. I don’t know if ‘make peace’ is exactly what I’m looking for. It’s more like ‘accept shit.’ We’ve accepted certain things, we’re here, we’re doing this now – and we firmly believe that having a band is all about working hard and being thankful.
What musicians or bands made you want to become musicians yourselves?
DS: David Bowie and Bryan Ferry.
Rodrigo Blanco: Yeah I mean basically those bands unite us.
If you could only eat one typical Mexican food for the rest of your life, which one would you choose?
MH: Cochinita pibil.
What made you guys want to live in New York?
DS: We actually don’t live here, that’s something that TMZ said but it’s not true (laughs). We spend 40% of the year in the US and that being New York – we’ve played here a lot, all over the place. We actually played Baby’s like a week after it opened. There was two people in the crowd.
What is your favorite thing about playing live?
RB: I think each concert is so different and you meet challenges that you would never think of. Like right now we’re gonna play without Andrés, and you learn to adapt. That’s what I like about the gigs, that it’s live, so you have to do it. Go big or go home.
You guys mentioned some of the people you’ve toured with, aside from touring with Albert Hammond Jr. Who is the next dream collaborator?
DS: I think that meeting your heroes is not always positive because it’s this thing that you sort of develop in your head – especially expectations, which have no use. I think that I don’t want to meet those heroes…how it is in my head is perfect.
Which one of you guys is the funniest?
DS: Hmm I don’t know. Mickey is funny, Sebastian is funny, Rodrigo is funny, I’m funny.
RB: And güero [Andrés] laughs a lot.
Who is the messiest?
DS: (turns to Rodrigo) I think that would be you.
RB: Pffft. No! Messiest?! Look who’s talking!
DS: That might be me. You’re right.
What is the meaning behind the title of the album?
DS: We have a lot of references to movies. We did a single cover that was based on Halloween 3, and we have a shirt that has a shark like from Jaws, and there’s this movie by David Lynch called Wild at Heart. There’s a phrase in that movie where, ah I can’t remember the actress, but she tells Harry Dean Stanton, "We need to talk about the future sugar."
I know this is unfair, but what’s your favorite movie?
DS: Right now, for the month, Apocalypse Now.
MH: American Psycho. I don’t know, I have a lot of them.
RB: The Shining.
You guys are all very stylish, I have to commend you. I can see how you like Bryan Ferry so much! Who are your style icons?
MH: Bob Dylan.
Finally, if you had to describe Rey Pila in three words, what would they be?
RB: (laughs) That’s only one word! Maybe pizza, fun, whiskey?
The Future Sugar will be released on September 25. Become familiar with there music in the meantime
Photos by Sergio Granados and Abby Ross