We had a chat with Rodrigo from the popular Spanish guitar duo Rodrigo y Gabriela about their new album Area 52 and what is coming up next for them. Watch the trailer at the bottom of the post for the DVD that comes with the album. Our chat is an interesting read, you can listen to a preview and make sure you get a copy of the album Area 52 here.
Milky Tea Kid: You have quite an exciting new set up with your new Cuban band, the C.U.B.A both musically and performance wise. Was this a natural progression for you, to go from a guitar duo to a full band?
Rodrigo: “We wanted to do something different after the first album and 11:11; we were curious about Cuba and the music that comes out of there; so it felt like an interesting experiment in the first instance; but then it grew into something bigger. I wouldn’t say that it is our new direction or anything like that; that’s not how we work”.
MTK: How did joining up with an amazing band of musicians come about?
R: “Through YouTube and Skype mostly. I had an album by Alex Wilson, the guy we worked on the arrangements with; which our live agent gave me years ago. Once we had Alex on board to arrange and play piano; we worked with the studio in Cuba who sent us links of local players to check out online”.
MTK: Is it a completely different experience for fans of Rodrigo y Gabriela as a guitar duo?
R: “I hope so and I hope they come with us on it; both on the album and in the forthcoming live shows”.
MTK: The new album, Area 52 was recorded in Havana during the summer, did the location add a lot to the feel and vibe when recording with this new band?
R: “It was a key factor; we had never been there before; and it was a step into the unknown. ‘Area 52′ itself is a little joke about the musicians and the culture being completely alien to us; once we got to know them; we were blown away by their musical ability”.
MTK: You revisit nine of your original compositions on this album with your thirteen piece Cuban band, why did you make the decision to use previous tracks and rearrange them?
R: “The record label were asking when we would record a new album. We had done two movie soundtracks after 11:11; and we were touring for two years promoting it. Area 52 was an opportunity to take a break and do something fun and different”.
MTK: Can you give us some more ideas on what is on the new album?
R: “It’s nine songs taken from the self titled first album and 11:11, totally rearranged for two guitars and a thirteen piece Cuban orchestra; it was co-produced with Peter Asher in Havana; and then mixed in LA with Rafa Sardina. We had great guests involved: John Tempesta from White Zombie, Anoushka Shankar and Carles Benavent; as well as some of the best young players in Cuba”.
MTK: You have a Making Of Area 52 DVD which will also be released, the trailer already shows an interesting insight into how the album came together. Do you think the DVD will help explain the progression from the guitar duo people know you as to this new sound?
R: “We like to give the fans an insight into the creative process; we did bonus DVDs with the two previous studio albums, so it seems right to do it again”.
MTK: After the release at the end of January, what have you got planned for the rest of 2012?
R: “We are coming to Europe in February for the first live shows with the Cuban band; starting in Dublin on February 19th. Then we have a big US tour and then we will be into the festival season; so lots of touring coming up”.