Five years since their last album, Mexican acoustic rock guitar duo Rodrigo y Gabriela are ready to embark on the next chapter of their remarkable story, with the release of the most ambitious music of their twenty year career together. Check out what they have to say about their style, upcoming tour, and brand new album Mettavolution…
What guitarists inspire you from both metal and traditional Mexican genres?
Hi, Rodrigo here. Well, from rock and metal, I’d say Alex Skolnick from Testament, the late, great Dimebag Darrell from Pantera, James and Kirk from Metallica, and Dave Mustaine as well. Carlos Santana is a giant, he plays rock with a soulful latin feel. In the world of fusion and Latin, I’d say Al Di Meola, Vicente Amigo, and not forgetting Jorge Strunz and Ardeshir Farah.
What techniques do you use to keep both genres alive when your sound is so diverse?
Our sound has evolved over the course of our career, I’m not sure either of us consciously think “I’m gonna play a metal riff here” or “time for a little Latin percussion break” anymore. We’ve always been quite instinctive about what feels right at the time, our music is a melting pot of lots of different influences.
Are there any other genres or styles you’d like to explore next?
There are a couple of projects in the pipeline, which should be out in the next few months, which have been great fun to explore, and might surprise people.
You’ve said that your new album Mettavolution captures your interests such as, “Buddhism, the history of human evolution and the liberation of the potential we have as a species”. How do you translate these themes into your music without the use of vocals?
Even though our music is instrumental, we always think in terms of songs. I think it is up to the individual listener to interpret. With ‘9 Dead Alive’ we wanted to highlight some great humanitarians, and if that encourages someone to learn about Harriet Tubman or Viktor Frankl, then great. With the new album, we wanted to create songs that might sound-track a moment of reflection to think about how we can be better citizens of the world.
Tell us about how you came to contribute to the Puss in Boots and Pirates of The Caribbean: On Stranger Tides soundtracks.
That was a long time ago! I think they both came through our US agent at the time. Some of ‘Puss’ was done on the road, the studio sends you a rough version of the animation to write to. ‘Pirates’ was done in Mexico and L.A. with Hans Zimmer.
How did the songwriting for those differ from writing your usual music?
Film cues often require very specific instructions: “nine seconds of rhythm for a cat dancing” which we wouldn’t encounter in our own work.
Are you open to working on more soundtracks in the future?
You come from a background of busking and still occasionally do it; is there anything you miss about it that you don’t get in bigger live shows?
It was a great way to learn about holding the attention of an audience, the longer you can hold a crowd of people, the better chance you have of them popping some cash in the case. There were some real characters on Grafton Street in Dublin, you don’t get that crazy Irish humour anywhere else.
Your cover of Pink Floyd’s ‘Echoes’ has quickly become a fan favourite; can fans expect you to play it on the UK tour?
Yes, the arrangement on the new album evolved from playing it live last year. Even without us announcing it, fans quickly worked out what it was were were doing on stage.
What’s been your favourite track from Mettavolution to play live?
The whole thing. The songs feel fresh and exciting to play, and the gigs throughout the summer in the US and Canada have been great fun.