Chat: Mourn

Gerard Marcus

As people were filing in to see Mourn’s first ever US concert at Baby’s All Right in Brooklyn (you can check out our Field Report here), we bumped into them at the bar and convinced them to have a brief chat before the openers went on. Two of the Barcelona-based teenage rockers, Jazz Rodriguez and Carla Pérez Vas, talked about their surprise signing to American label Captured Tracks, their quick and dirty recording methods, and what they really want to be when they grow up.

ThrdCoast: When and how did you get started playing music?

Jazz Rodriguez: When I was thirteen I started playing drums, but then when I was fifteen I decided to play guitar because I liked it better… so. That’s it. And you?

Carla Pérez Vas: Well, I started playing guitar when I was ten or eleven or something. I just started playing guitar because I wanted to sing with an instrument you know? At the same time. That’s why I learned guitar.

TC: Are you from musical families?

JR: My father is.

TC: And you?

CPV: No. My parents just like weird music. Spanish music, Sevillana.

TC: What’s weird music to you?

CPV: Sevillana cultural music, it’s a kind of Castilian folk music. You know.

TC: I’ve read that early influences of yours include people like PJ Harvey and Pattie Smith. Who introduced you guys to their music?

CPV: Internet. Yeah, that’s my case. The thing is, I discovered the Red Hot Chili Peppers and then just started discovering a lot of bands on the internet and all these things.

JR: Well, I have a lot of records at home because my father has a huge collection, so I can enter his room, pick up some records, and listen to them. I discover things like that.

TC: Early on you guys did acoustic YouTube videos. How did the sound change when you decided to go for the electric four-piece you have now?

CPV: We started doing that because we were writing the songs and we had to record them.

JR: To remember how the songs went. We knew from the very beginning that we wanted to play with electric guitars, and the videos were mostly just to remember the songs.

TC: When did you add Antonio Postius and Leia Rodríguez?

JR: Like a month later.

TC: So it was pretty quick.

CPV: Yeah, after that everything was quick.

TC: [I fumble through my notes for a minute, trying to find the next question] It’s probably not great for a music journalist to be so easily distracted by background music.

Both: [Laughing] Don’t worry.

TC: Here we go! So this recent album of yours was recorded completely live, just you guys in one room right?

JR: Yeah. In two days.

TC: How did you like it? Did you plan to do it that way, or was it just happenstance?

JR: First it was because of the money.

CPV: Yeah. It was cheaper.

JR: And, like, two days are better than four, you know? [Laughs] So we decided to do it live and recorded all eight songs in a day, next day mixed it, and that’s it. And when we did it we thought it was great, and we want to keep recording like this.

CPV: It was better.

TC: I think it gives it more of a human feel with a straight live recording.

CPV: And I think it’s better because when you just listen to a record that is recorded live, when you come to the concert you can understand it more.

TC: It translates better.

CPV: Yeah. You don’t think, “Oh, it sounds different,” you know? Because it’s how you hear it all the time. I don’t know.

TC: What are some subjects you find yourselves writing about a lot?

CPV: Life.

[Both laugh]

JR: It depends. Anything that pops into our heads – like squirrels, for example. There’s a song about a squirrel.

CPV: Why not?

JR: Why not! That’s it. I don’t know. Thinking about something that pisses us off or… you know, all kinds of things.

TC: Do you usually write the songs together?

Both: Yes, yes.

TC: I’m sure those must be fun writing sessions. Seems like they’re getting ready for the opener, but I’ll try to sneak in a couple more questions. How did you guys team up with Captured Tracks?

CPV: So this guy, Mike Sniper [drinking a beer right behind us].

JR: This man here!

[Both laugh as he finally makes eye-contact]

CPV: He just emailed us. Emailed?

JR: Sent us an email, yes. And he said, “I’ve seen that you haven’t released your album here in the States, and I’m glad because I want to do it.” And we were like, “Who is this guy? Um… fine, talk to Sones, our label here in Spain.” Then we searched Captured Tracks and saw all the bands and said, “Oh fuck! I’ve been listening to all of these!” And it happened so fast.

[Both laugh]

CPV: At first it was like, this is a joke. Or something. Not a joke, but it was, like, four in the morning. I remember just waking up and being like . . . I don’t know.

JR: We thought “Oh, he wants to release the album there,” but we didn’t know that we were going to actually come here you know?

TC: Must have been unreal.

JR: And now we’re here! [Laughs]

CPV: It’s crazy.

TC: So you didn’t know much about Captured Tracks before?

JR: No. Well, we knew the bands on Captured Tracks but not about Captured Tracks.

CPV: Mac Demarco, Diiv.

JR: Wild Nothing.

CPV: Yeah. Wild Nothing, Beach Fossils.

TC: What do you guys do when you’re not a rock band?

JR: We make videos. We like to make funny videos and little movies.

CPV: With different stories.

JR: Always when we go to France or whatever. When we have a little free time we record little stories like… I don’t know. Yesterday we were in Brooklyn, in the house we were staying at and I was like, “Oh Carla, lets record a movie,” and it was like…

CPV: In an American way.

[Jazz strikes a pained, melodramatic pose]

JR: “Michele…  I’m going to Stanford.”

[Both laugh]

JR: It’s stupid, but it’s funny.

CPV: We do this and, like, comedy-drama movies. Yeah. It’s a thing.

TC: Are you guys going to school or anything?

JR: Yes, I’m studying animation.

CPV: I was studying photography, but I left. I love photography. That’s why I left.

TC: So how is life back home now that Mourn is becoming a bigger deal? Is it still the same or has it changed at all?

CPV: The thing is that sometimes we feel like we’re just touring, you know, playing with our band on weekends. And then you come back home and it’s…

JR: It’s the same.

TC: I feel like that could be relaxing. Returning to a place that always feels normal.

JR: Yeah. But I feel sad because I want to be playing every day.

CPV: Yeah! That’s what I wanted to say.

TC: You miss it when you’re home?

Both: Yeah.

TC: Are you guys planning on releasing another album after this?

Both: Yeah! Yeah, for sure.

TC: Any rough tracks already written?

Both: [Laughing] No.

CPV: A couple, but we have to write more songs.

TC: You guys are still pretty young. Anything else you want to do when you grow up, other than music?

CPV: …I don’t know?

JR: No! I just want to keep playing.

CPV: When we were kids – well, we still are, but…

JR: I wanted to be like Indiana Jones, you know?

TC: You still could.

JR: I could. But I prefer playing. I could be Indiana Jones and in Mourn at the same time.

CPV: Yeah, I want to be a photographer too. And a musician. Like, on the same level.

TC: Do you have a portfolio?

CPV: I have a Tumblr where I just post my photos.

At this point, Past Life were making their way onstage. We figured it would be polite to pay attention.