Not many—or, really, any—underground rock acts originating from Buenos Aires come readily to mind, but that’s not the only reason that Capsula is a distinctive band. Based in Bilbao, Spain, the Argentine expats make a brand of rich, weighty rock that blends psychedelic, glam, and straight-up alternative influences that gets its point across with no translation necessary. With a reference to “Space Oddity” in its very name, Capsula worked with long-time David Bowie collaborator Tony Visconti on its latest album, Solar Secrets. With the release of Solar Secrets imminent, PopMatters touched base with band members Martin Guevara and Coni Duchess to find out more about the making of new effort as well as what it was like touring with South American psych-rock legends Os Mutantes. Premiering on PopMatters, Solar Secrets is due for release on Tuesday, 27 August, via the Krian Music Group.
Photo by Inigo de Amescua
PopMatters: You’re quite an experienced and accomplished band, though perhaps just gaining a foothold in the U.S. For those who aren’t familiar with Capsula, how would you compare Solar Secrets to your earlier albums?
Capsula: For us, this album is a step beyond in our sound, but keeps the bones of our previous works like In the Land of Silver Souls or Rising Mountains. Solar Secrets keeps the primitive and wild energy of the live sound of the band, but also gets more dark and sophisticated in some other moments. We had a great time developing each song, putting all the sonic pieces together.
PopMatters: On a related note, you worked with legendary producer Tony Visconti on Solar Secrets—how did collaborating with him add to your sound? Considering that your band name is apparently a reference to lyrics from David Bowie’s “Space Oddity”, it must have been a thrill to work with him.
Capsula: It was like a dream coming true. He is one of the heroes in our rock iconography and all the sounds he created in the past are a huge reference to us. Working with him was nothing less than traveling to the essence of the songs. We wanted to maintain the freshness of the band playing live, and with Tony’s help, to discover what we wanted to express with every sound and every word of the lyrics, looking for the most natural way for the three of us to express ourselves. There is something very special in the way he makes suggestions from the control room to bring the best out of us as musicians, and more. He is the master.
PopMatters: Of course, the main thing that stands out in your biography is that you’re an alternative rock band that started out in Buenos Aires, before moving to your current home base to Bilbao. What kind of indie rock scene was going on in Argentina and South America when you first came together and what is happening there now?
Capsula: The underground rock scene in Buenos Aires when we started was very rich and interesting. The shape of the land of Argentina is like a funnel, so I think all the sounds coming from everywhere were getting down there like a crazy whirlwind. There we were, like antenna kids exploding with sounds from different decades. But there was a moment that Martin was listening to Bowie’s Ziggy Stardust every day and I was doing the same with Lou Reed’s Transformer, and I am sure those albums made us cross each other and stick together.
PopMatters: How do you think your international background has impacted the way you have developed as a band? In your mind, have your experiences been different or similar to your peers from the U.S. and the UK?
Capsula: We feel the miles we’ve been doing together on the road all these years are part of our sound right now. The sound of the band is like an animal that is growing and growing, being fed by the experiences we have on the road every day, and it has been non-stop. Every city and all the friends we make on the tours have a story to tell—every one special, unique, and beautiful—and that’s the real engine of the band.
PopMatters: Recently, you toured the U.S. with Os Mutantes, one of the best-known rock bands from South America. Have you worked with them before and have they influenced you in any way?
Capsula: They did really influence us, as they were one of those bands that open the sky for you and makes the universe wider. They show you more than what you have around you. Sérgio [Dias] is so talented and an awesome person. He is his music. We toured with them last April and we had the best time ever living together on the road.