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Interview: Los Labios

Hitting Australia for the first time to play a handful of shows, Sammy Taylor and Charlie Cepeda of Spanish rock ‘n’ roll band Los Labios took some time to chat with us at Yours & Owls Festival. From playing birthday parties in The Bahamas, to recording their latest album with Lenny Kravitz, to producing their own documentary, the outfit have had a whirlwind year so far, and it doesn’t seem as though they’re planning on stopping anytime soon.

How are you finding Australia so far?

Sammy: Very cool.

Charlie: So far we’ve been to Melbourne, Canberra and Sydney and now we’re in Wollongong.

Sammy: The best show we’ve had and best club I’ve been to in a long time, anywhere in the world, was Frankie’s Pizza in Sydney. It was like a throwback to smokey bars from years ago, which was amazing. It was full of people that were rabid, wanting something good and I think we gave them that. We got a really good response there too

Charlie: Yeah it was a great reception we got, and the place had such a good vibe.

Is it the band’s first time in Australia?

Charlie: Yes, it’s our first time in Australia, and we’re so excited to finally be down here.

Sammy: Well that’s the short answer to the question. I’m actually Australian; I grew up in England, though. Then I came and spent 20 years in Australia and went to Spain, and found the best the best rock guitarist in Spain (Charlie) and created a rock ‘n’ roll band with him. So we ended up making kind of a super group, because each individual is renowned for being the best at what they do. It’s a cliché, but you don’t know where to look when you’re watching us. We don’t sound like the Red Hot Chilli Peppers, but they have that thing where you can’t help but looking from one player to the other then to another one, and they just have so much stuff going on; we’re a little bit like that. We’ve found that the Australian audiences have definitely taken to this rock sound a lot. I don’t know if there’s a slight connection to your classic pub rock, I think we have a bit of that sound, which is why I think people have responded so well in Australia.

Charlie: A lot of people have told us that they love this kind of rock ‘n’ roll vibe, and people love to see real rock n roll shows.

What’s the music scene like in Spain?

Charlie: Right now we don’t have any rock scene, but what we do, I think it’s coming back again; it’s kind of like a cycle. So, for us, we are doing as much as we can, playing shows and festivals and we get a good response, but at the same time we are doing a lot of work overseas. We did a record with Lenny Kravitz in his studio and have played at the Whiskey A-Go-Go, so we are not just playing in Spain.

I wanted to ask you about the album you put it out earlier this year. How has everyone responded to it?

Sammy: I haven’t read a bad review yet, but you can never really tell. It’s actually a really crazy story about how it started. We played at a birthday party in The Bahamas, and we knew Lenny Kravitz might be there, so we were like we have to play really well; he did come. There was a bit of an intermission in the show, and it seemed like he was loving it and we were having a bit of a chat with him, and I said, “I heard you produce,” which he does with his guitarist Craig Ross. I said to him, “do you guys want to produce our album,” and he goes, “maybe, give us a call.” So within two days he was sitting me down saying that no one apart from and his albums had worked in that studio. He let us into this sanctuary of a studio and we were using the Jackson Five’s bass guitar, Ringo Starr’s drum kit and all this Rolling Stones vocal equipment; he’s a collector of all this stuff. We also used some of his band on sax and keyboards, so he’s like out silent champion. That all happened about a year ago, while we were working on a documentary about us on our American tour, so it’s just been finished now and it’s going to be played at a couple of festivals in December.

So is the documentary just footage from that tour?

Sammy: It’s about six months of footage from when we went to The Bahamas, Mexico through to Texas, and the whole Lenny Kravitz thing.

Charlie: Everything you see in it is all real, there’s no screenplay or script. It feels like a real movie, but it’s just our lives.

Have you got much else planned for the rest of the year?

Sammy: We’re going to London for the first time after this to do a couple of showcases, then we have a big showcase festival in Spain and heading back to The Bahamas; for the same person’s birthday we mentioned earlier but for his 50th. The documentary is also going to get a screening at The Bahamas film festival, so we’ll do a concert to go along with that. After Christmas the calendar’s empty, so we want to come back here, hopefully before summer ends; we’re looking at January or February.

Written by Emily Mathison