Thanks to much to Ros, Dani, Ochi and Sonia for this fantastic interview! I translated a bunch of questions from Spanish, I hope I haven’t lost the energy or the charm of these answers! If anyone wants I can always share the original answers! Anyhow, Las Pulpas were a fantastic short-lived band from Madrid that released just one CDR demo with three songs. I loved these three songs for so many years and wrote about them some time ago on the blog. I was happy that they got in touch with me and were up to telling me their story as a band, so I’m sharing that with you all. Enjoy!
++ Hey all! Thanks so much for being up for the interview. So Las Pulpas are no more, so let’s start from there. Whereabouts in the world are you? And are you still making music?
ROS: I’m in Manchester now, but about to move to London. Ochi and I have a band called Wachi Wachi here in Manchester, and I’m also playing in Trash kit in London and Electrelane.
Dani: I’m still in Madrid and I sing to myself. It helps a lot these days.
Ochi: I’m in transition from Manchester to London right now. I tried to learn instruments all my life but thought I didn’t have any talent until recently I realised that I have a natural talent for drumming and I am now the drummer of Wachi Wachi.
Sonia: Not right now.
++ In the past all of you have been involved in many other bands. Mind telling me a bit about some of your favourites projects you’ve been in?
ROS: I’ve been in quite a few bands but my favourite was definitely Las Pulpas. We never got anything done, just drank and ate all the time and never bothered to book any gigs or tours but it was great anyway. Also my other favourite band I was in was The Battys, a very short lived queer band in London. We recorded a live CDR which we put out as part of the Homocrime 3″ CDR club.
Dani: The coolest group I’ve been in has been Las Pulpas. It was a party every time as our friends would always show up and join as at our practice space. And after the party we would end up having tapas, of course. (By the way Ros I still have The Battys CDR)
Ochi: My favourite one is still Las Pulpas because it was so much fun, every time we met for a rehearsal it was a party. It was a great time.
Sonia: I had a band when I was in university in Alicante with which we won a band contest and we recorded a CD (it was the 90s). Now I’ve found out that the “leader” has formed another band but with the same name with young girls and without telling any of us that were part of it back in the day. If he thinks we had a NAME, that’s great. So funny. So yeah, definitely Las Pulpas.
++ Let’s go back in time then. When and how did you all meet? And how did Las Pulpas start as a band?
ROS: For me it was all down to Hello Cuca who I was totally obsessed with. I met them at Ladyfest Glasgow 2001, and then I moved to Madrid in 2004 and I met Ochi who Lidia (the singer from Hello Cuca) introduced me to, and then I met everyone else.
Dani: Oh, what a mess. I remember clearly that in the beginning we used to meet for playing, eating and drinking at Sonia’s house, with no real drum kit. And also that Alexis used to join us. Soon after we had to find a practice space so we could be noisier.
Ochi: I slept with them all one by one, even Dani, and then we made a band.
Sonia: (I thought that that myth about sleeping with everyone was about Rosa, our “manager”, but it seems I was wrong). Some of us met before, some met later, and eventually we were together in a band. When we started Las Pulpas we were already friends.
++ And tell me, when was the first time ever did you pick up an instrument? How did you learn to play it? And do you still own that first instrument you ever bought?
ROS: I’ve been playing stuff all my life I think. I still have my first guitar, it was a samick, an imitation strat, I saved up for it working at a sandwich shop on weekends when I was 15. it cost me £60. I tried to replace it for a more expensive one when I was about 22, but it wasn’t as nice to play.
Dani: I bought the guitar just after watching The Subsonics playing live. I then learned four basic chords on an internet tutorial. It’s red. Sometimes I think that I would have liked best the black one.
Ochi: I tried to learn bass and guitar and keyboards but I couldn’t do it so I sat at the drum kit last March and realised I could play it. I don’t have a drum kit though yet.
Sonia: When I was little, around 8 years old, I started piano classes and also my grandpa taught me a bit of clarinet.
++ What about the name of the band? Who came up with it? And why?
ROS: I can’t remember but it may have came out of the tapas we were eating, as mostly our rehearsals consisted of drinking cañas and having tapas in the Galician bar just round the corner from the practice room. that was probably it. We ate a lot of octopus. for me it also made me think of Pulp, who I love.
Dani: I would love to know why. But it sticks, right?
Ochi: I don’t remember how it happened but as the others said it was brainstorming names in a bar over tapas.
++ When you were around there were many exciting bands in Spain that were releasing mostly CDR demos like you, or publishing songs on Myspace. Which other bands from that period did you like? And did you ever felt part of some scene in Madrid?
ROS: The first thing I did when I went to Madrid, before I met any of Las Pulpas, was to go round to this guy Murky’s house. He runs Alehop! records, which is one of my favourite labels. I bought a whole load of records off him for a distro I was involved in back in London. he had some really great compilations. I loved Solex, Nananas, Hello Cuca. There was also a connection with some of the bands I knew from London, Wet Dog and Reverend Pike I think? Country Teasers were on some of the compilations and would play gigs with Solex. I was going to a lot of gigs then, it was the time when Gsssh Gsssh record shop was still open and they had a great label. then soon after we formed Las Pulpas there was a Ladyfest Madrid, so we were involved with that. But I don’t know how much we were part of a scene. there was this really great band called Kaken who were our friends. And Hello Cuca of course.
Dani: I believe Hello Cuca was a big influence for all of us. Around that time we were very into Bananas, Los Incrucificables, Los Muebles, Sibyl Vane… That year, as Ros reminisces, was the year when the first Ladyfest Madrid happened. It was really inspiring.
Ochi: I agree with Dani. Hello Cuca are the band in Spain.
++ Talking about Madrid and Spanish pop. How influential was to you the music from La Movida? If you were to picky up your five favourite Spanish bands ever, who would they be?
ROS: Really influential I think, although I don’t want to talk for anyone else cause I’m not Spanish, but I discovered all that stuff (Alaska, Kaka de Luxe, Paralisis permanente, Los Nikis) through Las Pulpas, mostly through Ochi who listened to those bands a lot at the time, and Carlos Berlanga too. My five favourite Spanish bands are probably Hello Cuca, Bananas, Solex, Los Incrucificables and Kaken. I would also highly recommend the soundtrack to the film ‘Animals’ that just came out, it’s all Spanish bands and is really really good. You can get it here:
Dani: Parálisis Permanente, TCR, Crono, Los Nikis, Hidrogenesse.
Ochi: The movida was and has been and will be an influence for all pop bands in Spain because there was an explosion of freshness and creativity and revolution at that time. I don’t have favourite things but I love Alaska y Los Pegamoides and the Radio Futura first record, from la movida. And then Los Fresones Rebeldes are my favourite band of all time.
Sonia: Golpes Bajos, Carlos Berlanga, Hello Cuca, Parálisis Permanente, Bananas. The soundtrack that Ros mentions is really good, in it you can see what’s happening in Barcelona.
++ And what about your favourite places to hang out in the city? I’ve been a couple of times, and mostly for Madrid Popfest, but I’ve been around a bit. It’s a lot of fun! If you can give me some tips where to go next time, that’d be great!
Dani: As The Specials used to sing, “this town is coming like a ghost town”.
Ochi: I haven’t been in Madrid for 7 years so probably everything has changed. I’m sure the others could say something
Sonia: Now I mostly go to friend’s bars where you eat really well. And when we feel like listening to music or dancing we hang out at someone’s house. I’m not sure what’s going on out there.
++ Tell me about the CDR you released? How many copies did you do? Who made the artwork? And how well did it sell? Did you get many reviews?
ROS: It was Marina, our friend and sort of honorary member of the band. there were often about 15 people at our rehearsals, just hanging out. the image is of her eating pulpo! I don’t think we made very many at all, and it didn’t reallly sell because we hardly ever played and we weren’t really trying to sell it, except to our friends. I don’t think we got any reviews really (but I can’t remember).
Dani: We recorded in a studio in the same practice space we used to rent, during a weekend. I think that the person in charge of the studio didn’t take us seriously because we were a ‘girl group’. Marina was the designer and also the model for the cover art.
Sonia: I think that the CD was a demo that we presented it nicely because we’d like to show it off and also to sell it. We didn’t end up very happy with the recordings, we weren’t ready yet when we went to record and the engineer didn’t want to get too involved. He wasn’t our producer but someone who we just paid for the space. But I’m really glad that we did it!
++ What about the songs on it? Care telling me the story behind them?
ROS: “Me estoy cansando” is a song Ochi wrote about our relationship – a bit embarrassing! It means ‘I’m fed up’ (as in i’ve had enough). “Vaya momento” is about her photography teacher who she had a massive crush on and who looks exactly like her. “Angels on TV” is about a spanish tv presenter.
Dani: “Felices fiestas del mañana” is about when you invite a lot of people to your house and then later there’s no way for them to leave.
Ochi: Me estoy cansando is about the clash of culture between Britain and Spain, the coldness of British people against the warmth of the Spanish as played out in my relationship with Ros. Vaya momento was initially recorded with my first band Ochiqueochenta, but it was a sort of rap song, and with Las Pulpas it became a pop song and it is about or for my mentor, a very important person in my life. I guess you could call it a crush.
++ Why, after that fantastic demo CDR, didn’t you get to release anything else? Was there any interest from labels at some point?
ROS: I don’t think we had any label interest and we just never got around to doing anything. and then people moved away.
++ And do you happen to have more proper recordings other than those three songs?
ROS: No, we have some live recordings though.
Sonia: There’s only some audios recorded live from practices and videos from a concert.
++ What about gigs? Did you play often? What would you say were your favourite shows and why?
ROS: I think we played less than 10 times. my favourite was a couple of years ago at our friend rosa’s wedding. she was our ‘manager’, although that didn’t involve anything except getting really drunk at our gigs. we were really terrible, and afterwards emma told me off for playing badly, we were pretty drunk though so I don’t think it mattered. we also played a great gig with kaken in a bar in madrid. and we played at a slaughterhouse that had been turned into a cultural centre, that was odd.
Dani: The first gig, at the Ladyfest, was lots of fun because we only had a handful of songs but it was the perfect time for playing our debut show, so we made a lot of noise.
Ochi: My favourite shows were the rehearsals, we always had an audience.
Sonia: The practices with our friends were the best, no doubt. And the Ladyfest was really special.
++ Because some of you live in UK, I wonder how do you feel about the scene in Spain compared to the one in UK. Where do you think it’s easier to play? Or to be successful? What differences do you see?
ROS: It’s different. I feel like in Madrid there is a bigger difference between bands that come from abroad and bands that come from spain – there’s this weird hierarchy. It also exists in the UK with bands from the US but not as much. And gigs with bands from abroad tend to be really expensive. I guess the best example of that is when you go to big festivals like Primavera sound and all the Spanish bands are playing on a separate stage during the day, as if it was like a showcase or something, and then the bands from abroad get the ‘proper’ slots. Then there is the DIY scene that is not so much like that. but when I was in Madrid there was definitely more of a bar culture than a gig culture, I think there were less DIY venues than in london at the time. In england we don’t really have bars so much, it’s pubs, and they’re mostly owned by big breweries, they tend to be bigger so you get venues in pubs, in Spain there are bars with live music but the bars are much smaller so venues tend to be elsewhere. but there is a really amazing pop scene of course in Madrid – that’s what people in the UK know, most people that are into spanish bands are into the pop bands that play at indie tracks.
Ochi: I think the scene in the UK is more prolific and it’s not about being successful or not because that doesn’t matter, people just do music for the sake of it and then things happen. British culture is very musical, there are gigs everywhere, every night all the time.
++ Why did Las Pulpas split up? And what happened to you all right after?
ROS: I can’t remember! we are all still friends, I think it was maybe when ochi and I went to london, and then the others formed Las Olivas, who are really great.
Dani: I suppose it’s because it’s really difficult to combine a life of rock n’ roll with a very disciplined and successful life.
++ And these days aside from music, what other activities or hobbies do you enjoy doing aside from music?
ROS: Listening to records, does that count?
Dani: Lately the ones that don’t cost money.
Ochi: I am a photographer so most of my time I spend preparing for projects, reading about other artists and reading theory.
++ Now just some questions because I’m always curious about these things. Do you still buy music? And what’s the favourite record store you’ve ever visited?
ROS: I buy records all the time. the last one I bought was Los Cripis 7″. also I bought cleaners from venus, and a karen dalton record. and tapes of all the bands I see in manchester, like dinner party, sex hands, the comfortable on a tightrope cassette club. I buy most of my records from norman records in leeds, but also sometimes picadilly in manchester. my favourite record shops are probably the ones you don’t expect, in small towns. I went to a really great one in hull once, and found some great cheap stuff but I can’t remember what it was called.
Dani: I buy less music than I would want to. The record store that I remember the most is the one Ochi and me, as teenagers, used to visit in Alcalá de Henaras. On the front it was a jewelry shop but on the back of the shop they had the records. You couldn’t tell from outside, from the street, that they sold records. I agree with what Ros says, that the best record stores are in smaller town.s
Ochi: Ros is the one who buys music at home so I mainly listen to what she brings home apart from a record that I don’t have yet but I’m going to buy, the mantles new LP. I listened to it yesterday in my friend Alex’s car.
Sonia: I really buy little music lately. When I do, they are usually vinyl records and mostly when they happen to be from friend’s bands.
++ And what’s your favourite Spanish dish that you can cook? And your favourite Spanish dish just overall?
ROS: I like them all! I make good tortilla, and gazpacho. I really like arroz con pollo that ochi makes. and Sonia’s paella is the best. I was vegetarian before I lived in spain but it all went out of the window when I met ochi.
Dani: The paella that Sonia makes was a fundamental element in the existence of Las Pulpas. I love eating animals with tentacle.s
Ochi: I don’t have favourite things but the other day for my birthday my friend javi cooked a whole octopus (pulpo) for me and I loved it.
Sonia: Creo que el arroz es mi especialidad porque también es lo que más me gusta. I love eating and cooking. And the most important part of food os the social element of it. I believe that rice is my specialty because it’s what I like the best.