Today I have the pleasure of interviewing Mr. Paco Trujillo, bass player and general conceptual mastermind behind the Spanish band Kermit. Their music makes a very wide range of references and is a truly interesting proposition, able to shift the tempo and the dynamics quite substantially, although with a very deliberate, patient demeanor. There’s a full concert at very high quality to accompany these words, as well as plenty of visual and literary material, kindly provided by Paco. The text fragments are from the liner notes of the CD and LP versions of Kermit’s debut album – Autoficción. I hope you’ll enjoy reading this talk as much as we enjoyed having it!
ZaRecords: Hi Paco! Thank you so much for granting me this interview. Let’s start with the band name, and go from there. How come you decided on Kermit?
Paco Trujillo: Choosing a band name can be a really difficult task if you expect to find “the name that defines the band”, simply because it doesn’t exist. You may look for it for ages…
We wanted a proper name; that is, a name that meant nothing. We thought of some such as Marlowe, Kowalski, and others, yet I don’t know why Kermit made it to the end. Possibly because it is easily read in almost every language. The muppet was a nice and warm precedent, but it was by no means a defining factor in our decision.
ZR: So you didn’t start off with an overall view of how the band should be defined. Very interesting, very wise! Does that carry over to your compositional style? How do you work together?
PT: Miguel, Gonzalo and I formed the band in early 2011. We didn’t know we were forming a band at that time, because we met just to have fun writing and playing our own songs with two guitars and a bass; and then an analogue synthesizer.
The 12 tracks in “Autoficción” started with either a rhythmic guitar or a bass line brought from homework and developed in our rehearsal room. We met twice a week and joined to improvise on homework. This is how ideas appeared and were delivered. All tracks had been written when Alvaro joined Kermit in February 2012.
Alvaro fit Kermit like a glove, thus shaping our current line-up. It is then that we became aware of the fact that we had a band, and that we needed no singer, as songs worked extremely well without vocals. That is when Kermit was really born.
We don’t know how our writing procedure will be for our sophomore effort, but we’re very eager to see how it works with him behind the drums.
ZR: That sort of organic growth can be felt in the music, it really does feel like the songs grew along with the group. Do you guys still allow yourselves to improvise live? Do you like performing live? Lately I’ve met many bands who say they like the live scene more than actually sitting down and polishing their songs together. It just seems that Kermit works just as well in the rehearsal room as on stage. I was wondering which of the two aspects you prefer, if any.
PT:Yeah, we’re glad that the band’s growth can be noticed in Autoficción’s songs.
Since improvisation took part in the creation of the songs we play live, it also takes part in Kermit’s live concerts, though it’s not our main strategy. We’re now working on some new elements to introduce into our next live concerts; some of them are meant to involve some degree of live improvisation.
Kermit is basically a live band, because we’ve always enjoyed playing our songs. There’s a special intensity when we’re playing live that can’t be felt so easily on a stereo. However, no matter how tedious it might be at times, writing work in the rehearsal room is also very important to us. The results end up paying the effort back!
ZR: Tell me an “on the road” story, some funny, weird, strange thing that might have happened to you guys at a live venue somewhere. I find there are always plenty of those stories in a band’s repertoire.
PT: I think we don’t have many of those road stories, but we can say to have spent really good times while playing gigs with other bands. Kermit is still in baby stages but it’s growing very quickly, so I’ll tell you some road stories when we come back from a brief Andalusian tour.
However, we have already spent nice times with other bands such as Modo Bélica, Oh Trikelians, dUASsEMICOLCHEIASiNVERTIDAS (from Portugal), Mulakong, etc.
ZR: I see there’s quite a kinship between bands. Is there a post-rock “scene” in Spain? In Romania, certain genres, including post-rock and its derivatives, are really deep underground, there’s no real sense of community.
PT: For now we can’t talk about Spain or even Andalusia – only about Málaga. Now there are some interesting bands in Málaga playing these styles, and we share gigs now and then. It can be said there’s a sort of post-rock community, yet very informally.
However, all this stays underground, as it occurs almost everywhere.
ZR: How do you promote yourselves visually? I heard you handle the graphic aspects connected to Kermit, as well as a literary element.
PT: Both the literary and the graphic parts are closely interconnected in Kermit. Autoficción mainly deals with the idea of life as a sea voyage that goes through different stages and changes both in sea conditions and crew moods. We’ve mainly based the work on this idea on the work by Bolaño titled The Savage Detectives. Indeed, the front cover of the album is the poem Zion by viscerrealist poet Cesárea Tinajero in The Savage Detectives.
The album also includes 13 literary passages that are meant to make music a vehicle to transport the listener in little trips around his/her everyday life. These passages are by different authors such as Bolaño himself, Cavafy, Henry Miller, Arthur Rimbaud, Antonio Orejudo, etc.
By the way, Autoficción is a literary genre fairly common in Spain nowadays, in which authors deal with their actual lives in their works, though they distort it, so readers cannot know whether details are real or not, yet they know that the overall structure is real… or may be not!
ZR: It seems you have a very strong concept behind the album, it’s wonderful when such a concept can grow as naturally as you’ve described… I’m not sure why, but your answers made me think of a relatively new trend in which old, silent films, get projected with live music being performed by experimental and/or post-rock musicians. Would you consider doing a project like that? Which movie would you choose to illustrate?
PT: Yeah, it’s a good question! We haven’t thought about playing the soundtrack for a silent film yet! For the moment, we’re supporting our live shows with graphic artist Omar Alonso‘s creations, although we would like to create or have specific graphic productions created for Kermit’s music.
Alvaro joined the band in February, Kermit played the debut gig in La Casa Invisible (a multidisciplinary space of independent creation in Málaga) in April, entered Dune v2.0 studios in late June, mastered, mixed and worked on album art in the summer, and finally will share a brief Andalusian tour with Madrid pos-trock act Autumn Comets soon. We’ve had no time for anything but working on all this. We need a bit of relax time, sort of a break, to start thinking of new ideas to introduce in our live shows.
We know some graphic artists that are very interested in these ideas, yet we have to find the way to match such busy working agendas.
ZR: One more, very open question: Inspiration or Imagination?
PT: I think both fit Kermit’s songwriting. I think that it is inspiration which triggers imagination sometimes, while some others it’s imagination that looks for inspiration as an attempt to find some kind of support, though everybody knows that creative innovation is making our way through darkness and the unknown, where you expect to get where nobody has been before, so there is little chance of finding any kind of, let’s say, “confirmation”.
ZR: Thank you very much for taking the time to answer all of my questions, Paco. I hope to get the chance to see you guys live sometime, in my travels or yours.
PT: No problem! Indeed, it’s been a pleasure for me to answer your questions and would be a pleasure for all of us to have you in our gigs.