The Basque-Buenos Aires Garage Rockers Fell in Love over Lou Reed
Capsula are the nicest garage rockers operating in Basque country. The trio, guitarist and singer Martin Guevera, bassist and vocalist Coni Duchess and drummer Ignacio Villarejo, who goes by Natxo, visited our offices during their latest stint in NYC, and melted our hearts with their stories of loving David Bowie, their awe of producer John Agnello, and Argentineans in Spain. Currently, the trio are working on a reinvention of The Rise And Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars, by David Bowie, for the fortieth anniversary of the album’s release. It started out as a tossed off agreement to perform the entire album live back in Bilbao last year, which led to twelve-hour rehearsals for six weeks…and then adulation.
But Capsula bristle at the thought of doing a cover album. “Absolutely not!” says Martin. It’s a reimagining, based on all the music that’s come since then — MC5, Sonic Youth, the Stooges. Not to mention…Capsula!
So you guys were recording late last night? How late?
Martin: It was twelve hours nonstop. We started at half past nine in the morning, and we really started at eleven, and we ended at half past eleven.
And what were you doing?
Martin: We’re mixing. Because we have been recording last marchi n Hoboken at a very nice studio it’s called Watermusic. It’s a mythical studio where Yo La Tengo, Sonic Youth…
Oh, is that John Agnello?
Martin: Yes! We’ve been working with him on the album. He’s the producer. We did last march, so now we’re mixing it. And he is a very hard-working man. Twelve, thirteen, fourteen hours, working non-stop. but then some snacks, some fruits, very healthy.
And you guys are hanging out…?
Martin: No no, all the time we’re like ‘Let’s put some effects in there, let’s plug this guitar pedal on the vocal!’ All together, it’s a very creative thing, doing it all together.
So you must be tired.
Coni: And fun! And exciting.
Martin: Yesterday was the first day, so it was very exciting, all the emotions — and it makes you more tired.
How did you meet John Agnello?
Coni: We met him in Spain, in the south at a festival in Andalusia. We were playing in an open air stage.
Martin: It was an old cathedral. A very nice place. They open all the ceilings and we played in the middle of it. And a journalist from there, a very well known journalist, he told John, Oh, you have to see these guys.
Coni: So he came, and he said that when he saw us he just fell in love.
Martin: He told me, ‘Okay, next album, you will do with me.’
Coni: And we were so, so excited. Because we’re fans of his work, so it was really exciting to meet him, it was a new experience working with him.
Does he speak Spanish?
Martin: No. He knows some words. Just three words. But he really loves Spanish culture…
Natxo: Spanish wine.
So how did you meet?
Coni: Martin and I met in Buenos Aires at a party. And Natxo…
Natxo: I was born in Argentina too, but I met them in Spain. Three years ago.
Are there a lot of Argentineans in Spain?
Natxo: Yes, in the south of Spain, but not in Bilbao.
Martin: Yes, the city where we live. We live in the very north, close to the border to France. So it was very strange, good coincidence.
You guys are a couple in addition to being in a band. So were you musical partners before you fell in love?
Martin/Coni: I think it was together.
Martin: Everything at the same second. At the same millisecond.
Coni: I have a story about that. My theory is that when we met, he was obsessed, in a nice way, with the Ziggy Stardust album by David Bowie. And I was listening every day to Transformer, by Lou Reed. So I think the influence of those albums made us meet and fall in love. It’s what music does.
Martin: I think we looked at each other, but the first thing we said was, ‘What are you listening to?’
And this was back in 1998, when you started the band. Now you’re re-releasing old albums — from 1999, 2000, and 2002. Do you feel like you’re going back to an old you and bringing it back?
Coni: We have a strange relationship with time. Like the story of Capsula with space and time is that we’re not going just in one direction. We are doing strange shapes, we are moving. Like we start in Buenos Aires and we go to Bilbao — with time I think we do the same. We’re thinking of the sound of the future, mixing it with dreams, mixed with past sounds.
Martin: Yeah, and especially with those albums. They were very do it yourself. We had our own label at that time, we did the distribution, we did the package, we did everything. and the recording. So we really loved those albums for all that hand-crafted feeling. Last year a label from spain suggested to us maybe we can re-release them. We listened to them, and…
Coni: They were nice!
Martin: Yeah, it was some time ago, but it’s the same feeling, it is like the way we are right now, it is the place we wanted to be at that moment, back then. It’s part of the history.
In your new album Land of Silver Souls, some of your songs have a really tight, sexy groove, like “Whats in the Mirror.” Do you think of yourselves as being sexy people in real life too?
Coni: (Pause) Not in real life. But…
Martin: We think that sex is all around everybody all the time. It’s part of life. It’s the opposite of death. Sex is life. We think of our music as very alive things.
Coni: Like a creature — our sound is a living creature.
Martin: And that creature has sex.
But you [Natxo] think no?
Martin: He’s a liar! He’s the one that takes the girls.