The Parrots have played across Europe, the US and Central America – packed nights at the Shacklewell Arms and chelada-fuelled lunchtime showcases at SXSW, raucous gigs of elemental garage noise, feelgood ferocity and many, many stage invasions (“Everybody else gets very motivated when they see us play,” says frontman Diego). After three years and half a dozen singles and EPs, they are ready to release their first album, Los Niños Sin Miedo, on Heavenly.
Diego García, Alex de Lucas (bass) and Larry Balboa (drums) met at university in Madrid, began playing music together, and noisily hacked out a place for their primordial, loose-hipped rock’n’roll. “The idea of Los Niños Sin Miedo – The Fearless Kids – came about because in Spain it’s really difficult to make it as a rock’n’roll band,” they say. “When we started there were so many indie bands, indie bands, indie bands. No one would back us, no other bands, no media, nobody. So we got on with it, and people started coming to our shows, promoters started booking us, but at the beginning it was just our gang of friends in Madrid, working on our music, writing, singing, DJing, art, photography.” That gang includes Hinds, whose brilliant recent album Leave Me Alone was produced by Diego, and Los Nastys, one of whom is Diego’s flatmate. “Now people are talking about the Madrid scene, Madrid’s ‘new wave’, and we’re like, ‘Fuck you, you ignored us for so long!’ So we do it for us and our friends. We were scared of nothing, we wanted to do it all the way. It has always been rock’n’roll until the end, as hard as we can.”
They played hundreds of shows, getting tighter and louder and better: “It’s the best half an hour of any day if we get to play, to get crazy, to be ourselves and do whatever we want,” says Alex. And that developed into new songs and new ideas: “You come home from tour and you don’t want to play the same songs, you want to write new songs. We always said we want to do an album when it’s a good album, and after we did our last EP we realised we could have recorded an album. We had so many songs. So we decided it was time to do a big piece, not just the classic garage stuff, something with bigger ideas behind it.”
They recorded Los Niños Sin Miedo in one week last September, at the studios of much- loved Spanish sound engineer Paco Loco and his wife Muni, down by the sea in Cádiz. “Paco has these crazy ideas, like, ‘I think you guys need a solo here,’” says Diego. “So I get my guitar, I drink, I smoke, I start playing and Paco says, ‘Oh this is amazing!’ You think it’s too crazy but he says, ‘If you heard this from John Cale you’d think it was amazing! You are an artist too!’ He gets completely involved.” The studio’s idyllic setting helps too: “They have dogs, they have a swimming pool, and they make the best food ever. It’s such a good vibe there, and it gets you seriously focussed on the music.”
There was more work to do when they got back to Madrid: “We wanted it really dirty when we were in the studio, but when we got home everybody was like, ‘Fuck, my ears are gonna bleed!’ Then Heavenly introduced us to Mikey Young – he remixed No Me Gustas Te Quiero and we’re like, ‘Fuck, this is amazing, it sounds really good.’ So we thought, right, he should keep going with the whole album. It’s better that we’re not in the mixing studio with him, shouting, ‘DIRTY! DIRTY! MORE DISTORTION!” Now the album sounds like we thought it should sound. We love working with other people because they make you see what you have in mind better than yourself sometimes.”
The results include lead single No Me Gustas Te Quiero – cowritten and sung by Diego and Alex – a louche garage gem with twanging guitars and Diego’s great drawling yawp. The Parrots have that genius-stupidity of all ace garage rock bands, and they mix sunbaked stoner elation with a gleeful mangling of the English language: “If sometimes I express myself in the wrong terms, because I’m not English, for me it doesn’t matter,” says Diego. “Let’s just get wild and do it the way we feel. When I first heard Jonathan Richman singing in Spanish, I loved it. He gets it all wrong and that has so much charm.” They also cite The Monks, The Groupies, 13th Floor Elevators, Buddy Holly and Elvis as inspiration, and Diego’s biggest musical love is Marc Bolan: “He has always been my main guy, he’s always there in my mind. I love the way some of his songs sound so naive but at the same time so mean and so tender. No one can say ‘baby’ quite like him.”
Heavenly asked The Parrots to tour with Hooton Tennis Club after seeing them at SXSW last year, and the seeds for a longterm relationship were sown. “That tour was amazing,” says Larry. “All the shows were perfect. So when we finished the album we showed it to Heavenly first and they loved it. We decided to join the label, and at SXSW this year, we thought, Let’s do it here. We signed the contracts on top of a pool table in a bar. It was fast and good, and that’s how we like it. Our smiles lasted a week – we’re still smiling. We’re going to be very happy in the Heavenly family.”