Hailing from the Basque Country, avant-indie quartet Belako invite comparisons with the more adventurous rock bands of the past and present, taking an open yet principled approach to creating music and pursuing their musical vision.
Their sound is eclectic to say the least, poppy and perverse in equal measure, but even in its most challenging still maintains melody and craftmanship at its core. On the cusp of their U.K. tour which starts September 17th in London, and sees them play Manchester which makes us very happy indeed (you can find out about how to get tickets here) we decided to put some questions to the band in order to learn about them, their music and a year that has seen them a dozen countries on three continents.
Tell us a little bit about yourselves. What’s the story behind Belako and how would you describe your sound?
We got together thanks to our similar eclectic musical tastes, with no idea how to play really, but since then we have progressively grown as a nonconformist band that mixes different influences and turns them into experiments in constant transformation. We’re still trying different sounds on our recordings, but our live shows are much more organic, visceral and the best presentation card we have.
What motivates you and inspires your music, aesthetic and vibe?
We are motivated with every gig, because we enjoy ourselves a lot on stage and watching new faces in front of us, people discovering us; it’s a challenging situation that we embrace. We are inspired by Gorillaz, Talking Heads, Flaming Lips, Grimes, MGMT and The Voidz because of their unlimited creativity and Savages, Dreamwife, Empress Of, Surfbort, Idles, because of their attitude and live performances. We also have strong influences from bands from our own home, the Basque Country, because of their sound and use of the Basque language in music which we try to conserve, they are from the 80’s, Itoiz and Hertzainak.
Were you into specific bands or musicians when you were younger? Do you think they’d have any influence on the music you make today?
We all really liked Sonic Youth, The Clash, Joy Division, Pixies, The Breeders, Smashing Pumpkins, Nirvana, Blur, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, The Strokes, Daft Punk … and of course, these are influences for us aswell.
You come from a fairly small town in the Basque Country near the Bay of Biscay. What has the journey from there to becoming an internationally known rock act been like?
We are not sure if we are an internationally known rock act yet, but we hope that will happen sometime. We have worked on this for seven years now and it has been a progressive process. We were quite young at the beginning and we couldn’t have made it without our families’ support. Their help is still crucial, and we are aware of how quickly things can change in this path we’ve taken so we keep in mind how tiny we really are in this huge world, and we just try to continue doing the same, but improving everyday!
Was there a particular theme behind your most recent album, Render Me Numb, Trivial Violence?
That title comes from the chorus of the song Render Me Numb and trivial violence refers to T.V.. We thought it summed up pretty well all of the lyrics in one sentence, being all of them about different violent situations we observe from the lucky side of the planet while we keep a passive attitude about them.
What’s up next for Belako? Any upcoming gigs, new releases on the horizon, other projects?
We are very happy to announce our UK Tour! We will play London, Manchester, Glasgow, Birmingham (17th to 20th of September), then off to Hamburg for the Reeperbahn Festival, Bime Festival in Bilbao, and several dates in Spain including big venues in Madrid and Barcelona. We will stop touring in 2019 to prepare our fourth LP, looking forward to rehearsing new songs :)
Render Me Numb, Trivial Violence out now via Primavera Sound’s in-house label El Segell.