I first saw the name Los Bitchos on the poster for Ty Segall’s London residency last October and thought, ‘that’s a sweet name, I gotta check them out’. Unfortunately, a depressingly common lack of funds meant that I spent most of the evening outside the venue drinking Polish lager before rushing in minutes before his set, missing the support. Their name popped up again a few weeks later on the bill for The Black Lips at Earth. This time I had been a little enthusiastic with the after-work drinks earlier that day and woke up the next morning face down on my sofa, fully dressed and covered in blood, the owner of which I am unclear of. Safe to say I had missed out again. I vowed that 2020 I would right this wrong and finally catch a show. We all know what happened next.
So, for the time being, I have to settle for Spotify whilst I wait for the world to sort itself out. With no albums as of yet, their releases have been sparse but have been sufficient enough to see them tour with some big acts, from The Murlocs to Mac Demarco, and it’s not hard to see why. Their infectious brand of guitar-led instrumentalism takes you on an eclectic world tour. Latin Cumbia meets Afrobeat meets Surf meets Turkey & the Middle East. It’s all there and it all works.
With lockdown easing enough for drinking establishments to reopen, I took the opportunity for some much-needed human interaction and met them for a drink and chat.
Serra (Guitar): I’m gunna try not to sit too close to the mic. The tone of my voice hurts my ears when I hear it back. It just burns.
Duncan Clark [RAW MEAT]: You’re Australian?
S: Yup and they say it just cuts through ice.
DC: How about you?
Josefine (Bass): Swedish.
DC: Oh nice. That’s a pretty interesting mix.
J: It is! We’re definitely from all over. Nic is missing, she couldn’t make it.
DC: Your drummer, right?
J: Yes, she’s British.
DC: From London?
DC: So how long have you been in London? How’d you find each other? Were you in London before you met?
J: I think that we all met because we live in London, but I’ve been here for about 9 years now, and met Serra through music, friends in common, doing music. The same scene, I guess.
S: We have known each other for a while, probably like 8 years?
J: Yeah, I’d say so. And I met Augustina through the band, so we didn’t know each other.
DC: I'm pretty new to the party, so I’ve never seen you live, but…
DC: Yeah, I feel terrible. I probably started listening to you like 8 or 9 months ago. I went to see Black Lips and saw the poster and thought, that’s a pretty cool band name. And I went to see TY Segall and you were on that bill as well.
DC: And, like, I need to remember to listen to them!
J: Fashionably late!
DC: I got there and started listening to it, and obviously COVID came in. You had some dates up for September?
J: They’re moving to February. Same rooms, same tour.
S: We’re announcing a new tour soon, probably next week or something.
DC: It’s been a bit of a nightmare. I think basically the consensus is that 2020 is a write-off.
J: It is, yeah. We’ve just given up now. It’s a shame.
DC: Gigs seem to have started up again here and there, outside, with people in little segregated areas. I would imagine it’s super weird.
J: Super weird. I’ve seen there’s a couple of big festivals trying to do it with cages.
Augustina (Keytar): It’s not going to work. Let it go.
S: Don’t worry about it.
DC: Just leave it for a while.
J: I think that’s how we feel. Only if we can do it properly. Don’t really see this desire in it. I mean, the whole live stream thing I think is interesting. That wouldn’t have happened if this hadn’t happened, and I think that’s fun. We haven’t done one, but there are some bands who have done some really good ones. I think they’re good, because they’re more inclusive. People from all over the world can attend if they want to.
DC: That’s true. Do you think that’s something that would have a life span after this is over?
J: You can’t compare. Live, in real life, rather than on the internet is just never going to compare.
S: I think it’s something that’s come in as a response to the lack of live gigs, but I don’t see why some people -- you can still do both. It is a good idea as well, in case maybe your album comes out and then your shows are much later, but you want to debut it.
DC: You could stream a live show.
S: You could definitely do something.
J: Absolutely. I think it’s really nice. That’s a kind of positive.
DC: You did a video as well, with everybody sending in stuff.
A: Yeah, for the Pista anniversary. That was a month ago.
S: We just asked people to send it in.
DC: Is that an existing dance already?
S: Yeah, the little hand dance.
DC: Where’s it from?
S: We were always doing those really sassy vogue moves. It just always stuck. We would do it at the start--I’m just doing it the whole time. We did it at the start of Pista and we do it and the crowd does it now.
DC: Everybody can do it, which helps.
A: It’s super easy.
DC: One of the most interesting things, I think, is genre. It’s a surfy kind of thing, where it’s obviously instrumental and guitar led and a lot of Latin America comes into it, but also Afrobeat.
A: And Turkish.
DC: Yeah, a lot of a sort of Greek, Turkish, Middle Eastern kind of feel.
S: We love that sort of stuff.
DC: Was that a decision beforehand, or was that something that just kind of happened?
S: No, not at all. The Cumbia was a decision to do a Cumbia inspired instrumental band. No, it just evolved into what it evolved into, really, because we never really set out just to do any songs a specific way or to have a certain feel. It just sort of happens by accident in each of the songs, especially when you’re in the studio. Ever since we’ve been working with Alex as well, people’s ideas will just come to life. We’ll try something on a track.
DC: Is Alex a producer?
S: Yeah, Alex Kapranos (Franz Ferdinand), hi.
DC: In London?
S: He’s in Scotland now, but he lives just around the corner from here. But yeah, it’s what makes each track really exciting, because you never really know. You can have a basic demo, and then you can take it off into all sorts of directions. It’s an eclectic mix.
DC: It fits really well together, but I can’t put my finger on it. Do you have a name for the genre?
A: No, not one.
S: Not anymore.
A: I think we’re changing it all. Different songs for a different world now.
S: Yeah they are. We play it a lot heavier live as well, it has more of a punky edge to it live, compared to recordings. That in itself brings it into another genre.
DC: Genre is a horrible question.
S: I’d call it instrumental.
A: It’s a sing-song elevator in the Caribbean. Is that a genre? Should we write to iTunes?
DC: So far you’ve got only singles, right? Four on Spotify.
J: That’s it, yeah.
DC: Are you going to continue single after single, or do an EP or an album?
J: We’re working on an album. It’s pretty much done.
A: We’re trying!
DC: Did you finish recording it before lockdown?
J: We finished recording in the studio, but we have more guitars and synths and bits and bobs to do.
S: The finishing touches. We like to yell on our tracks as well, so there needs to be more yelling, more body percussion.
J: We did ass slaps. We were like, oh, let’s clap, but it sounds really good when you slap your ass and you’re wearing jeans, so we did a little session of that.
DC: How many tracks have you got?
S: We recorded 10 or 11. I think we recorded 11.
A: I think we didn’t do the last one, did we?
S: We’ll see how everything sounds.
DC: Is it in the mixing stage?
S: No, I still have to do some over dubs. We’ll get there.
DC: Were you all separated during lockdown?
J: It was shit.
DC: Do you have a due date?
A: No, we’ll see how it goes.
J: So much is up in the air as well. We’ll see. It’s definitely in the works.
DC: I saw that you had some new pictures on Instagram.
A: Oh, with Miista? We are going to do a collaboration with a show brand.
S: That’s probably what you saw. I think that’s the only thing that’s been up there.
J: We had so much fun. They put us in these incredibly nice outfits and gave us some really beautiful shoes.
S: So fancy!
J: We were very happy.
A: We love you Miista!
J: They were so nice, and we had the best time. Such a fun time.
A: Just to be together.
DC: Was that the first time you’d done something like that, a project together since lockdown?
DC: Are you back to practicing now?
J: We have...
S: We used the Miista shoot as a chance to rehearse. They wanted us to play a bit, and we were like, perfect, yeah yeah yeah. Get us extension cords - we’re playing. It added to the vibe, I think.
DC: So you’ve got your UK tour for February. Does that include European dates as well?
J: We’re going to Paris.
S: I think we’re going to Paris.
J: I’m not sure if that’s a headline though, or if it’s part of something else.
S: We do good in Paris, at least in my mind we do good in Paris. I have a good time.
J: We’ve been really lucky with the people we’ve been able to support.
S: We did The Murlocs in Paris, who else?
DC: Were they the first notable support slot that you had?
J: It’s definitely one of the first. I remember that was February and it was three different stints with three different bands. We did a stint with The Murlocs, Bill Ryder-Jones and International Teachers of Pop.
S: That was our first trifecta of notable shows.
A: It was amazing.
DC: You’ve done so well for a project that is still so young.
J: We’ve been amazed by the response, that definitely wasn’t an expectation.
S: It started out as joke.
DC: Such an interesting mix, there’s not a lot of bands who sound like you. So, I’ve got a couple of hypotheticals for you. If you were putting together a supergroup, who would you have in it?
J: We could get Marie Fredriksson to sing.
S: Obvs, done.
J: Guitar, Van Halen?
S: I was just going to be like ‘Bitch, no one else is playing guitar other than Eddie Van Halen’, obviously.
J: Drummer, someone insane.
S: I would actually go Karen Carpenter. But that’s just me. We could have two. How about Travis Barker?
A: I used to have a crush on him.
S: Oh yeah, I’d definitely bang him.
A: All of them actually.
J: I can’t stand Blink 182.
S: I’m just gunna go with Buddy Rich, you can’t go wrong with Buddy Rich.
A: What about on synth?
J: You can just put anyone on synth, and they can improvise.
A: How about the keyboardist from the Doors?
S: Who is that again? Ray Manzarek.
A: And Dee Dee Ramone on bass.
DC: What’s the band called?
A: Los Snichos!
DC: Ok last question. If you could put together a dream line-up, who would you have on the bill?
A: Abba and the Ramones!
S: Ok Abba, headlining.
A: Ramones to open.
S: Pretty good warmup.
S: Is this a personal thing or do we have to please people?
DC: I mean you’re gunna have to sell tickets.
A: Let’s have Gilda, the Argentinian tropical Cumbia singer.
S: I would really like to see 80s and 90s era Madonna. The Blond Ambition tour.
J: It’s important it’s that era.
J: That would be cool.
J: Santana too. We are gunna be charging top dollar for this.
S: A grand minimum and that’s for shitty tickets.
J: Ok, done.
Los Bitchos will be releasing their unnamed album on an unknown date, via an unknown label. I, for one, can’t wait. You can catch them early next year across the UK with a cheeky stopover in Paris. Warm up your wrists, pack some tequila and enjoy!
17.02.21 – Hope & Ruin - Brighton
18.02.21 – Elsewhere - Margate
19.02.21 – Yes - Manchester
20.02.21 – The Crescent - York
21.02.21 – Hug & Pint - Glasgow
22.02.21 – Hare & Hounds - Birmingham
23.02.21 – Moth Club - London
24.02.21 – Moth Club - London
25.02.21 – La Boule Noire – Paris
Words, illustrations and fantasy festival posters by Duncan Clark.