On their 2010 full-length debut (the very excellent Subiza), Spanish group Delorean managed the clever hat trick of fusing what is ostensibly jangly indie-pop with Balearic rave beats and a smattering of gentle house music vibes. The album is all kinds of effervescence — nine tracks that, when taken as a whole, provide a fantasy soundtrack to what one imagines might be the most perfect Barcelona club night EVER, all drugs and sweat and romance. After touring on the back of Subiza for the better part of three years, the four members of Delorean returned to Barcelona to find themselves not only exhausted, but that nearly a quarter of Spain’s population was suddenly unemployed thanks to a crippling financial crisis. Add to this equation a number of dissolving personal relationships and a general unease about what to do next and…well, it wasn’t exactly a party vibe. Given the circumstances, it makes sense that the band’s new album, Apar, is a heavier affair than it’s predecessor. Still, the record is hardly a bummer listen — by most band’s standards, the record is still an exercise in carefully designed lightness — but this time around the songs are anchored by bigger production, live vocals (as opposed to samples), and the kind of emotional gravitas that only three years of relentless touring and a dose of bad breakups can provide. I called up frontman (and bassist) Ekhi Lopetegi at the band’s studio in Barcelona to find out how Apar came to be.
STEREOGUM: How was the making of Apar? From what I can gather from the press materials, it all sounds very dramatic?
LOPETEGI: Yeah there’s been some dramatic events, it all sounds very dramatic right? The making of this record has been kind of slow. We wanted to be separated or isolated from our environment, but to a certain point working here in Spain was not as easy because of all the things that were happening — the recession and everybody being so … everybody felt very negative around us. So we would wake up every day and come here to the studio. Everything has been pretty crazy in the country and because there’s been this and still this kind of negativity in the air, and but still I think … I don’t think the record is related to those events in a direct way, it’s not like cause and effect, it’s more something that was everywhere and made things a little slower … but once we we’re in the studio here we’re trying to be isolated and trying to only be in the music and it’s kind of a safe place for us to be honestly.
STEREOGUM: Were you very consciously trying to do things differently this time, recording-wise?
LOPETEGI: We had an idea for the record. Subiza was basically made on the computer by clicking on the mouse. We wanted to make the record differently. With all do respect to them, but we didn’t want to feel like graphic designers instead of musicians. So one thing we decided to do was to buy a bunch of hardware and synths. Most of the synths we used as plug-ins on the last record we bought them for real this time, so that was the first idea. Real synths, not just synth sounds created in a computer. It was like, Ok, we know how to edit sounds and work on the computer, let’s try to work in the studio where there’s a computer of course, and most of the ideas come up that way because it’s so fast to work on the computer, most of the ideas come from, you know, messing around with a computer … but then we wanted to take it to somewhere else. That’s why we built this studio and all that. And wanted to incorporate more real sounds, real people and instruments.
STEREOGUM: Was that perhaps influenced by all the touring?
LOPETEGI: No, I don’t think so. I just think that … that need to write songs differently came pretty naturally. I think Subiza felt a little like the end of that way of working. Because we did so many remixes before we made that record — we did, like, 12 remixes and we did the EP and then we did Subiza … and there’s so many other demos that we never put out. So that’s about maybe 25 to 30 songs that were out there that were created basically using the same methods, so we were feeling like we needed something else … and we needed to feel like we were somehow limited by the instruments in order to try and think differently.
STEREOGUM: Well how was that? Once you started working, how did it feel?
LOPETEGI: Well, I have to say that in the end … this is the first kind of approach that we had, but things are never precise or that clean. So in the end we ended up working a lot on the computer too, there’s was always gear around us and there was always a bass that I could play, but there were all these other computer elements that became involved by the end … so I’d say the output has been some kind of mix of the way we worked on Subiza and this new approach we tried.
STEREOGUM: And you also worked with different live vocalists?
STEREOGUM: How was that?
LOPETEGI: It was pretty great! A very good experience, we usually sampled all the female vocals that we used on our records. We’d pitch them up and down and edit them, but we always felt like … because there are so many bands we loved that used backing female vocals and stuff we always that those samples sounded cool, but in the future they needed to be replaced by actual singers. So now, not all of them, but some of the melodies that the girls sing are based on audio sampling, but then we wrote down some lyrics and worked with actual singers to make it all real.
STEREOGUM: Wow, how will it be touring this record? Will your live set up change from how you played before or will do these new things fit with playing the old material too?
LOPETEGI: We’re trying to make everything coherent, and a lot of the songs from the Subiza album were pretty high beats — they were like 130 BPMs — and they sounded very frenetic. These … like most of the new ones are slower, so we’re still playing songs from Subiza, but we’re trying to make them a little more relaxed or something. The beat is still there, it’s always there, but we’re playing new songs and trying to make them come together with the old ones. And so far the result has been pretty cool.
STEREOGUM: When Subiza came out, I seem to remember that people often had a hard time figuring out how to classify what you were doing. Were you a dance band? A rock band? What was your experience with that?
LOPETEGI: Well I think that Delorean, we’ll always have dance music as an inspiration, but we’ve never been a natural “club band” … but we’re not a rock band either. So, yeah, we’ve always been somewhere in between. I think people’s reaction with the last record was very positive, and I think when the shows were good I could feel there was some crazy energy going on there, and I don’t think it was about dancing. It was definitely about moving your body somehow, but because it was so frenetic and we’d play like a rock band on stage there was just a crazy energy going on. Those were the good shows, like this enthusiasm that you can hold onto … but there’s nothing you can really dance to because it’s not a club track. It’s not a track, it’s a song. So yeah it’s basically intensity, like dance energy.
STEREOGUM: This record has the same kind of lightness to it as Subiza, but it definitely seems like a much more emotional record. There’s an edge of seriousness that maybe wasn’t there before.
LOPETEGI: Well it’s definitely more emotional, and not only because of the lyrics, but because of the mood. It’s more contained and I think the songs are about us, not only about me personally — the person who wrote the lyrics — but about us as a band. I think like Subiza was about something that was happening around us to a certain degree, and that was perfect there’s nothing wrong with it, but this time we went a little bit inward, the approach was more about, “Well, what kind of music do we want to be playing for the next couple of years?” and it’s definitely more about us. There are pop songs, but it’s also personal from my perspective too. I’ve got to say that I don’t think the songs are like a storytelling thing, it’s not a biography. That’s something that I consciously wanted to avoid. I don’t think it’s very interesting to sing about my personal stuff, but it definitely has to feel personal, but at the same time if it’s too much like a storytelling thing — like a biography — you’re not going to reach out to anybody. So that’s why I think the lyrics don’t really tell … they’re not biographical even if they’re personal.
STEREOGUM: Thinking about what has happened to the economy in Spain over the past couple of years … does that make it harder for you guys to continue to do this band? How does it affect you?
LOPETEGI: Well, what do you mean? Do you mean on like a professional level?
STEREOGUM: For my friends that are in bands here in the states, the expense of going on tour and maintaining a practice space and somehow being to make a living as musicians — even under the best of circumstances — it not easy to do.
LOPETEGI: I don’t know. We got lucky on that front because we stopped before everything blew up here. We saved some money so we could stay away from the road and we can kind of have our own bubble here in our studio. So it didn’t really feel like we’re falling apart like the rest of the country. So from that point of view, we’ve been like, “Yeah, we’ve got a pretty easy life.” We have a studio here, we come to work every day and we leave after work. It’s a very normal life. We’re lucky.
STEREOGUM: Do you imagine that you’ll tour this record as hard as you toured the last one?
LOPETEGI: Well hopefully we’ll tour more than that. We’re better at that. I don’t think we’re going to touring the same way because when we put out Subiza we were just starting, and getting to be known and getting to … you know, having our little place. So we might skip the first step. We would like to tour better and bigger and make things like … probably more organized. We’re kind like a little older too you know? But yeah, we would like to tour more, better, and bigger. That’s what we want. We’re also working on a stage set — some lights and some visuals — and we’re taking care of that so we can put on a big show too, instead of it just being us on stage playing like a rock band … or a dance band … however you want to think about us.
Delorean’s Apar is out 9/10 on True Panther Sounds.