Interview with Alejo Stivel, musician, producer and founder of the group Tequila

Interview with Alejo Stivel, musician, producer and founder of the group Tequila
Interview with Alejo Stivel, musician, producer and founder of the group Tequila

Alejo Stivel (Argentina, 1959) emigrated to Spain in 1977, where he formed the band Tequilawhich was a hit in the late seventies and early eighties. He has also been, and is, a producer, and currently combines his career as a solo singer with the radio program Música para Animales. I should be dead (Espasa) takes us on a journey through his life, a trip from the cultural environment of Argentina in his childhood, in the years before the coup d’état, to a Spain that was making its debut in democracy and to the musical and youthful environment of those years: the tours, the drugs, the loss of some band member… And, as it could not be otherwise, he swears that everything he says is rigorously true.

–This “I should be dead” thing reminds me of Joaquín Sabina when he sings: “Survivor, yes, damn it, I will never tire of celebrating it.” In other words, a mixture of nostalgia on the one hand and celebration on the other. Is that the meaning of your book? What was your main motivation for writing it?

–The motivation? (laughs) Well, more than anything, the insistence beyond the unbearable of the publisher, who almost harassed and threatened me (laughs again). And that was what convinced me to start writing like someone who goes to the slaughterhouse. Of course, I started to write and I started to like it and, although at first I didn’t really want to, now, after going through all the possible emotional states, I can say that the experience has been very interesting. I have cried, I have laughed… and I would say that, more than remembering, what has happened to me is that I have relived all the stories I tell, because I put myself in the situation and wow! In the end, at this point I am very glad that they harassed me in that way.

–Juan Cruz has written that this book is something like the chronicle of someone who has lived a special and risky life. Is he right with both adjectives?

–Yes, yes. Juan Cruz is a very sharp person with outstanding judgment. He appreciated that, and I think he did so correctly.

–Drugs and their consequences are very present in this book. One day a rock musician told me that he was fed up with being asked about the relationship with drugs, because it gave rock a bad name and because, although businessmen and bank executives also take drugs, they are never asked about it. Should I listen to this musician?

–In this book, what I wanted, and did, was to bring out everything I had inside. I should be dead I don’t just talk about drugs, but about many other experiences, stories… about many things. The idea was to tell as much as possible because, when you write a biography, as soon as you can remember, you have to keep as little as possible, and that’s why, once I was writing, I decided to tell as much as I could and not hide anything of what I had experienced.

–Like fame, a cursed word, and yet it is what almost all artists seek when they start out, even before money. But when or why does a famous person feel that fame can kill them or is killing them?

–Fame never really consumed my life, it never even affected me negatively, because I come from a family of actors and people who were already very famous when I was a child, to the point that you could say I grew up among celebrities, back in Argentina. And not just because of my relatives, but also because of their friends, who were mostly very well-known people. So, as I told you, fame is not something that has consumed me in any way; fame, in my case, is something that I don’t value very much in the sense that I realized very early on that it is temporary, that it is something that comes and goes, and that therefore you shouldn’t believe it too much, because the truth is that it doesn’t serve much purpose other than to get a table in a restaurant that is full.

–You were prepared, but most were not.

–Of course, of course! Fame, for someone who doesn’t know how to manage it, dose it or assimilate it, can undoubtedly be fatal, like drugs. Thus we have so many cases of famous people who end up very badly, especially those who were successful when they were very young, because it is true that fame is something that can be very unbalanced for those who do not have the tools to be able to live with it.

–In Tequila, or half of Tequila, you were Argentines and rockers, and next to you were the movida groups, very playful and extravagant. What was the relationship between you and the movida people?

–I’ll be very honest with you. We were doing 120 concerts a year, recording an album a year, with all that that meant writing songs, rehearsing, being locked away in the studio, making arrangements… and, on top of that, we were doing a brutal promotion. So we didn’t have a single free minute and, as far as I’m concerned, I didn’t even have time to appreciate what the damn thing was about. We lived in a kind of micro-world where, truth be told, we didn’t have much of a life outside of Tequila. For me, the whole thing was something that passed me by.

“We didn’t compete with anyone, because we had no rivals, we didn’t “play” to beat someone”

–It’s like what good football teams do, rather than focusing on their rivals, they concentrate on “what we know how to do.”

–Yes, with the difference that we were not competing, there was no rival, we were not playing to beat anyone, we were simply following our own path.

–In the photos of Tequila’s concerts, the passionate girls are always in the front row, like in the Beatles’ photos. Did you think of them in particular when you were composing your songs?

–No, not at all, and it wasn’t exactly like that. We had a lot of female fans, but also a lot of male fans, let’s say half and half, but the thing is that the kids are always less noticeable (laughs). No, no, with us it didn’t happen like it did with Pecos or Miguel Bosé.

Musician Alejo Stivel.

–The Beatles also gave off that image in their early days…

–Well, you know that girls are the ones who shout the most. And that was reinforced by the campaign marketingI’m sure that behind the girls who screamed at the Beatles concerts, there were also many boys. But, as I said, we always composed what came from within us.

– It’s great to be successful, but it’s even better to see that Tequila’s songs are also very popular with the younger generations. What is the key to this maintained freshness, to the fact that their songs don’t age?

–I don’t have the slightest idea. If I knew why that happens, instead of having fifteen or twenty songs that have survived, I would have three hundred, because I would have replicated that formula many more times. I don’t know, but I think that whoever thinks they know is mistaken, because here we enter the realm of magic. When, in my adolescence, I was composing “Salta” or “Dime que me quieres”, or “Me vuelvo loco”, “Vamos a tocar un rock and roll a la plaza del pueblo”, “Quiero besarte… a man in a black suit, tie and dark glasses had come into my room and said to me “Hey, you, this song that you are composing now in 50 years will still be heard on the radio, in bars, in people’s houses… and when you go out to a certain place everyone will sing along with you”, well I would have thought he was making fun of me. That is why these things must be attributed to magic, because they have no rational explanation.

– Years after your disbandment, there was also a comeback, a return of Tequila. Weren’t you afraid of breaking the myth? Why did you do it?

–I guess we thought it was worth it and that’s why we did it. And it turned out that what we thought first We confirm it in the aftermathBecause the truth is that we had a fantastic time, it was really fun for us and for the people, and also in my current concerts I also sing Tequila songs and I see that I like doing it, and so does the audience.

– Before they became fashionable in Spain, replica bands were already very popular in Argentina. What do you think of this, let’s call it, musical phenomenon?

–I confess that I am not very aware of this. I have heard of replicas of the Beatles and I know that in London a few years ago an Argentine group won a contest for the best Beatles imitators.

–Well, there are Queen, Pink Floyd, Dire Straits…

–I find it a nice diversion.

– What conditions would you set for some kids who came to you and said: “We want to make a Tequila replica band”?

– Not at all. Long live freedom! First of all, legally you cannot prevent others from singing your songs, but what’s more, how great and wonderful it is that someone wants to sing your songs! I think that’s fantastic.

–I don’t know if you’re a believer, but even if it’s metaphorically, do you swear that everything you say in I should be dead is the truth, the pure truth and nothing but the truth?

-I swear.

–Your work on “19 Days and 500 Nights” would be enough for you to be considered a great producer. What conjunction of stars had to occur for that album to come out so… well-rounded?

–The first and foremost is that Joaquín Sabina was at the most inspired moment of his career, and even more so when it seemed that he was in decline because his previous albums, although they had good songs, he was not yet considered a great artist. superstar. But when he called me, I found fabulous material, incredibly lucid, and without it the final result of that album would not have been possible. For my part, I believe that I could have contributed some of my vision, my creativity and my skills as a producer to complete that work so that it would have the highest quality and impact possible. But, I repeat: the main thing here lies in Joaquín’s talent.

–Were you the one who advised him that, on that album, his voice should sound as rough as it was, and not “soften it,” as happened on the immediately preceding albums?

–I had a lot to do with that, yes, because, basically, that was the reason why he called me. One day I asked him why he didn’t record the albums the same way he sang them at home, without trying to embellish something “un-beautifiable” (if that word exists), because that way he would gain depth and expression. Well, he already says it in one of the songs: “through the wrinkles in my voice that filters desolation.”

–And musically?

–I tried to make sure that the bases that accompanied him were not so processed, because that took away from the truth of his lyrics, and that he opted for nudity, for the color that he really had so that he could transmit all his expression.

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