“It took us three years to actually know how to play properly.” The Parrots’ frontman Diego García is struggling to disguise his amusement as he reminisces in the band’s formative days. The Madrid racket merchants’ unstoppably upbeat leader may have been rocking and rolling from a young age, but when he met Alex de Lucas and Larry Balboa – bassist and drummer respectively – at university, neither had ever played an instrument. He describes that period frankly but fondly as “a total mess”. It was all “just destruction.”
Even though Diego only considers the “real start of the band” to be the release of their first EP, ‘Aden Arabie’, early in 2013, The Parrots have been in the game for what one could feasibly call forever in new band terms. But they’ve made full use of those three-and-a-half years, touring tirelessly on both sides of the Atlantic and releasing numerous lovably rambunctious singles and EPs along the way. Crucially, they’ve done it all with “no fear”, and it’s that spirit which gave rise to the title of their incoming debut album, ‘Los Niños Sin Miedo’ (‘The Fearless Children’).
“We’ve always felt like that,” Diego explains. “Everybody was telling us what to do, what not to do, and when we started doing this kind of music, there were [no] bands trying to do garage [rock] here that sounded fresh – not trying to sound like a revival thing. Everybody had a strong opinion about what we had to do. We felt just like the little kids in Peter Pan; there was no one that we actually looked up to.” As he proudly says, they went “all the way with no fear and [did] it our way 100%. That spirit is something that we try to reflect in the songs. It’s about leaving stuff behind from your childhood and becoming someone.”
‘Let’s Do It Again’
‘Los Niños Sin Miedo’ is far from an exhibition of the kind of unadventurous revivalism Diego alludes to. It could only possibly have been made by The Parrots, and it’s a weird but wonderful, dirty but delightful, bonkers but brilliant journey through their own distinctive world. It’s also fitting that it should drop almost two years to the day since their first ever UK gig at London’s Sebright Arms, considering their brilliantly ramshackle live show is where they’ve built much of their reputation – or notoriety, some might say. “Playing music, for us, is the best 30 minutes of [any] day,” Diego enthuses. “We’re really doing what we want to do with those 30 minutes, and [it] reflects on the people who see us – they have a great time because we’re having a great time as well.” Not a moment of ‘Los Niños Sin Miedo’ passes without Diego, Alex and Larry sounding like they’re having a blast.
They may have filthy rock ‘n’ roll coursing through their veins, but The Parrots had to escape the buzz of Madrid to best bring that out on record. They headed some 300 miles south-west, to the historic coastal city of Cádiz and the studio – complete with resident dogs and swimming pool – of popular Spanish producer Paco Loco. “I recorded once in Madrid but the vibe [in Cádiz] is just amazing,” says Diego, “and you stay really focused, like 24 hours thinking about music – I think that would be impossible to do in Madrid. There, you feel really isolated, and Paco is a great guy and he makes you try your best all the time. It felt like the normal thing to do, just go there and enjoy it.”
"I'm proud to be where I'm from."
— Diego García, The Parrots
They would ultimately send the finished product to the folks at Heavenly Recordings, whose radar the group were already firmly on. They instantly took to it. “It just happened,” states Diego, almost shrugging off the significance of their signing to the label – one for whom he has a great affinity. “Lots of the bands I actually admire right now and really listen to everything they release, they’re on that label,” he says, mentioning the likes of Night Beats, The Wytches and TOY. “For me, when they wanted to release us, it was a big surprise but also in some kind of way, [it] felt natural.” The Parrots and Heavenly: it’s a match made in, well, heaven.
Every aspect of The Parrots’ success ultimately stems from having an ambition – and a vision – that much of the scene they emerged from lacked. “We felt that most rock ‘n’ roll bands in Madrid weren’t very ambitious,” Diego says. “They were happy to do music and work in a shop or something. That’s something I never understood. The only thing I know how to do is to make music – I think I’m terrible at pretty much everything else – so I never wanted to do anything [other] than this. This is it.”
He admits to feeling something of a need to escape Spain in order to “actually live 100%” and to a certain extent, making a name for themselves overseas has quashed any conception that they’re a ‘Spanish’ band above all else. “I think that we are accepted as a band,” he says, “but I think we might have something different from other bands. It’s just easy to point it out as the nationality. I’ve never seen it said as a bad thing. I’m very proud to be where I’m from [and] the day somebody says it in a bad way, [they’ll] have an argument with me.”
The Parrots' debut album 'Los Niños Sin Miedo' is out 26th September via Heavenly.