Interview by Tom Saunders.
The latest album by Spanish post-rock outfit Toundra, entitled “III”, really managed to tickle our fancy. Toundra’s Esteban sat down with us to give his two cents on the band’s latest album, musical influences, the current state of the music industry and future plans.
I was rather impressed with III, so would you mind talking a bit about the writing process? How does an instrumental post-rock record come to fruition?
First of all, thanks for this interview. It’s a pleasure for us to answer these questions. We are a strange band because we don’t listen to too much instrumental music. Maybe the most similar bands to post-rock we love are Mastodon, CAN, some jazz (Keith Jarret, Coltrane, Davis). Our writing process is simple: we focus our work on never doing any similar song to another one we’ve written before. We go to our rehearsing room with some ideas and we work on them there. Twice per week, two and a half hours per day. We record every rehearsal so we can work on the song out of the rehearsal room.
Are there any themes you wanted to convey on III? Obviously without lyrics, you’re relying purely on the music to carry your message.
Without lyrics you can’t say anything. Music is not an explicit language so what we’ve tried with this album was to record our live sound. We wanted people to be able to reproduce our live shows in their homes. This is the hardest album we’ve made to date—it may have happened because we are living through hard times in our country. Our economic and social politics are done… they don’t work anymore and we need to change a lot of things. So we are a little bit angry.
Following on from that, where do you draw inspiration from when you write?
We read books, we love films and we love music. I think the most important inspiration for this band has two sides: classical rock bands from the 70’s (as in Black Sabbath and Led Zeppelin) and punk rock bands we’ve been growing up with (Dead Kennedys, Fugazi). I like this question because yesterday I went to bed thinking about watching all Luis Buñuel’s films again to find inspiration for the next album.
Post-rock and metal seem to have had a real boost in popularity over the last few years, have you noticed this? How has this affected Toundra?
It’s difficult to understand, but we formed this band because all of us were sick of the singers of our previous bands. When we met each other in the rehearsal room for first time all we wanted was to imitate what local bands like Adrift, El Páramo or Emerge were doing some years before us.
From the perspective of being a relatively small band, within a fairly niche genre, what are your thoughts on music piracy?
I work on music. I work for other bands and labels. So I have been thinking about this a lot. The problem of piracy in Spain is that the people have never had a good education about us. They think we are just products or rock stars. For Spanish people, music is not culture… and we are. For example, young people don’t listen to Camarón here. One of the most important music artists ever was born here and young people don’t think his music is art. On the other hand, there’s a lot piracy inside multinational companies and a lot of bad people inside of the music industry (no good professionaly—they’re just there to be the coolest people at the next hottest party). But we have to keep fighting. Using Marx’s terms, they have structures that we have to break. Does anybody really care about the new albums from a TV music show? Does the music industry really need it?
Having had a quick search, I see your two most recent releases are on Spotify. What do you think about this method of accessing music? It sounds like the bands (and the label) get a pretty raw deal.
Personally, I would prefer people to listen music using a physical format. I prefer vinyl. There’s a radical difference between digital music and analogue music. It’s something like the difference between eating in McDonald’s and eating your mother’s home cooking. But I use Spotify too, so I think we can use several methods to enjoy all the music.
Being a post-rock band, you have a rather expansive sound. Does this make touring difficult, or getting the right sound whilst on tour difficult?
I prefer to considerate us a “space instrumental rock band”. We have a really good sound engineer for our live shows. He knows what we need and we write songs thinking about the shows, so now we know how this works perfectly—though it hasn’t been easy.
How much do you tour, and how much does touring affect your day to day life?
We are not a professional band because we don’t live on the money we earn from the band. We are pretty romantic about this. But we would never have jobs we couldn’t tour with. The most important thing in my life is my family. Second is Toundra and I’ve structured all my life around the band. So Toundra is not our job… but it’s the thing I love the most.
Obviously III was released recently, but are there any new plans for Toundra already on the horizon?
We are touring around Spain right now. We are gonna record one single inspired by The Who in February. We want to go to Europe in April (we’re booked on some festivals there) and after that we want to play in festivals here in Spain. We want to keep growing up as a band. After that we want to start writing IV. That would have a different sound. Inspired in surrealism maybe. I have to talk about this with my mates.
Finally, what do you like to listen to when you’re not writing post-rock? Are there any albums from this year you particularly enjoyed?
The last albums of Converge or The Mars Volta. This year I discovered an old album from Ry Cooder called Chavez Ravine. I really would like to make an album like this one… but I know that my mates would not allow me to do it, haha!
Again, thanks a lot!