José María Sanz, Loquillo, returns to the forefront of recording with his studio album Diario de un trugua (Warner), a work composed in complicity with the musicians Igor Paskual and Sabino Méndez and the poet Gabriel Sopeña. And he has already begun to present it with the El Rey tour, which will land at the Jardins de Pedralbes Festival on July 15, and will be followed by performances in Cambrils, Pineda de Mar or at the Cerdanya Music Festival in Llívia. And we must not forget the recent Loquillo either. The official biography, signed by Felipe Cabrerizo
His previous album, The Last Classic, came out at the end of 2019. He barely managed to turn it around, right?
When there were 15 days left to start the tour, the confinement occurred. And the economic chaos was tremendous because we had the places already paid for, for example, and the album stopped in full swing. There are a few months of absolute decomposition of everything and I make the decision that in some way we have to leave, to defend the trade, the workers and, basically, by an act of faith. The WiZink Center proposes to me and others to do a concert to open the covid protocol, with 2,000 people where 18,000 fit. In the end, the only ones who accept are us. In 2020 we played in the cities that left us for 100 or 200 people, with promoters who risked everything to keep the flame going, in the face of the absolute apathy of regional presidents, etc., including the minister. And I can say it because I lived it, and I say it with pride. I know what happened: those who stayed in their little houses, in their farmhouses, in their hamlets, and that many speak of solidarity and forgot that this is a trade. I swear it's the tour I'm most proud of and I learned a lot.
Do they seem like distant times or not yet?
There were no vaccines yet, and we could only do that act as a rock band because we couldn't do it anywhere. Such an atrocious fear was created and culture was put as the worst of all, so I decided that the only thing we could do was go with the most romantic, in quotes, which was to put us all in a van, four musicians and Gabriel Sopeña , and touring Spain carrying contemporary poetry records [such as the record he and Sopeña made together 1994 La vida por advance], singing Brassens, Brel. Apparently we are coming out of the pandemic with very tough figures in cinemas and theater, and we are still waiting for the Ministry of Culture to campaign in favor of culture. It is not about giving money, but a campaign to encourage people to go, to consume, to enjoy. We are going late because it is something vital for all the performing arts.
At the end of that tour, what was raised?
It so happens that we had our album The Last Classic Pending because we hadn't been able to turn it on. And a little before starting that tour they detected me, I think due to everything that happened, a lump in my throat, because I couldn't close my shirts around my neck, and they recommended that I operate. I refuse, because that lump was right on the vocal cords and having surgery could have screwed me up. I called Sabino Méndez, Igor Paskual, I told them the story and said that for me the best thing was to record a new album in the next few months.
One day I was looking at Young Literary Jewels, that Bruguera collection with which we all grew up and that taught so much; I see A Tale of Two Cities by Dickens, and I decide to reread it in a book and I tell myself that what Dickens is talking about is today. I called Sopeña and told her that I had to put it to music. And that was the last song that was recorded, already in 21.
Is there a thematic axis?
There is. A diary is always a reckoning with oneself, and I had it. On the cover of The Last Classic there is a photo of me that was accompanied by a flame that burned the photo. If you like Eduardo Cirlot as I do, you will understand that this is a symbolism, which denotes the end of a character and a century, and I took that as a reference, thinking that that, the pandemic, was the end of the 20th century. The cover was already telling me, without knowing it. And, I insist, it is the end of that character, in the sense that The Last Classic was an album made after the great 40th anniversary tour, and the typical record of someone so to speak above good and evil, of an artist who decides to record songs by different authors. The album was very good but there I saw that what the character needed was a twist, bringing together the two characters I have played all my life: the one from rock and roll, excessive, and on the other hand the character from my career as contemporary poetry. And what I had to do on this record now was find them.
Are we talking about the end of a cycle?
The cover was already telling me, without knowing it. And again, it's the end of that character, in the sense that The Last Classic was an album made after the big 40th anniversary tour, and someone's typical record, so to speak, above the good and of evil, of an artist who decides to record songs by different authors. That album was very good, but there I saw that what the character, Loquillo, needed was a twist: bringing together the two characters I've played all my life, the excessive rock and roll character, and on the other hand the character of my trajectory of contemporary poetry. And what I had to do now on this record was find them.
Do you mean that the Loquillo that we all know is already history?
Yes of course. When you reach absolute success, which I have reached several times, I realized that I was at the same point I was in Go for them...! [album released in 1989 with Los Trogloditas]. The thing is that I had gotten ahead of myself, I had already seen what was going to happen to me, I already imagined where my career was going to go, and I said “finished here, I'll start again”.
Because he didn't like what he sensed was going to happen?
Exactly. I got rid of some collaborators and got back on track: I killed the messenger and I killed the character.
And what happened to the lump in the throat?
During the recording of the disc it disappeared; the healing power of rock'n'roll. It's not shit. If they say to me 'are you a believer?', I answer 'I am a Christian sympathizer'.
Has a different, more human person emerged from this whole process?
We have all come out different after the pandemic. In my case, the character has been transformed, has changed; I grew up with Bowie and Lou Reed and I guess that's part of my DNA too. Yes, there has been a transformation; this is a good word to describe it.
Tell me some more characteristics of this new character, of this new Loquillo.
I am very clear that the character I am going to have from the age of sixty is one that is closer to the theater than to the big stadium. Because when I finished the tour that we have already started, he thinks that I have another album already recorded. And it is that I have recorded the collection of poems Europa by Julio Martínez Mesanza, National Poetry Prize, recorded and that I mix this month. I always use poetry as a reference to move forward, and then when I go back to rock and roll, I'm not sick of the character. It surprises me how people continue with their same character all their fucking lives: changing, transforming is part of show business, point one, and on the other hand, because we are not always the same person.
But just the same, the fan from the outside does believe that you are still the same character.
I'll tell you one thing: José María Sanz has a great time with the adventures of Loquillo, but he also has a lot of fun with the prequels. Yes, it is true that I do not aspire to be of a certain age and continue bouncing on stage. I am very clear that I will end up in auditoriums and theaters, the theme of European music tradition that will lead me to that. I'm not Latin, I'm European, and my influences are very clear: Spanish pop, French, Celentano, nouvelle vague, nova cançó, free cinema, Antonioni, Rovira Beleta... that's my culture. Because it must be terrible to reach the age of sixty, see yourself and think that the rest of your life you are going to be subject to that character.
When did this reflection begin?
In 1995 I already began to prepare theaters, because theater is where I have learned the most.
You define this Diary as a Spanish rock record truce. On the one hand because he sings in Spanish and on the other, as an act of vindication of a style that they say is losing prominence?
When I was fifteen years old they already said the same thing, and when the Sex Pistols came out the nonsense stopped for those who said it. There are two artists who play in the same league and in which the others don't play, who are Jorge Ilegal [Jorge Martínez, leader of Los Ilegales] and me. Jorge is 67 years old and he takes care of me. He has taken care of me throughout that period. If I have taken anything out of this period apart from personal transformation and trying to do things better, it has been to empty my phone book, it has been a liberation.
In what has not changed is in the clear and forceful verb...
We have always been protagonists of current affairs, not observers. Being observant has that thing of not getting wet. I like creators like Jorge Ilegal, Robe Iniesta, Jota de Los Planetas, even Albert Pla, people with whom you don't even agree, but who question the status quo. That interests me, the discrepancy interests me. I can't stand political correctness; not from pop-indie anymore, that's not supposed to be a joke, but from the establishment of Spanish rock even... I like people who release things that make you
In short: they are not weirdos, but artists with their own criteria.
It is quite likely that something will happen, I don't know when. I mean, there's a whole generation of kids who are totally blown away by today's world, the importance of clicks, that correctness, immediacy. Rap, which for many years replaced rock, has been diluted by that strange thing called I don't know what and that is still stale and potato. Action Reaction. What happened to the folkloric Spain of the mid-seventies, with its shows of vedetes and varieties? From there emerged rock or Spanish pop. The great artists remain, but in rock that hasn't happened yet. And let's not forget that we are the first generation that emerged after democracy that was able to make songs without censorship. And the first of those was Ramoncín, let's never forget him, because people have forgotten him. Let's remember that people called him 'el madrileño', and if you want to see C. Tangana watch the videos of Ramoncín from the beginning because you freak out. We are the first to reach an age maintaining a career and above all being characters since we are part of popular culture.