You may have seen them on tour with Interpol in 2014, or this year with Brandon Flowers, or perhaps you just noticed the casual onslaught of synth-rock nuggets by them over the last couple of years, or maybe you haven’t heard of them at all…that won’t last for long though. Especially picking up this year in anticipation of their second album, The Future Sugar, Rey Pila are making waves and slowly but surely making their way onto the tips of tongues everywhere.
The band began as the project of Diego Solórzano, who was previously the front man of the highly successful Mexico-city based band Los Dynamite. Recalling the indie scoops and hooks of bands like Phoenix, Rey Pila add their historical context and artistic flair, not to mention the low timbre of Solórzano’s silky smooth voice, to the mix, creating a sound all their own.
With two large changes between albums — the move from a combination of Spanish and English lyrics to solely English and the move to Cult Records under the care and counsel of Julian Casablancas — The Future Sugar feels like a signal towards a new, consciously crafted and intentionally sought start. The album title poignantly refers to a line in the David Lynch movie, Wild at Heart: ‘We need to talk about the future, sugar’.
I had the pleasure of hopping on Skype with Diego Solórzano, who was taking some down time in Mexico City prior to the launch of The Future Sugar and the continuance of their tour. It was an interview that unfolded like a conversation, hopping from comic books (and our mutual lack of knowledge about X-Men), to visual influences, cultural home-finding, language identity-making, their new album, touring, and the songwriting process.
While transcribing to the page can’t fully capture the experience of Solórzano’s warmth and kindness or the chuckles that passed, the words and thoughts remain. I invite you into the dialogue below, and hope you take up your own conversation with the new album, The Future Sugar, released September 25.
N: I saw you last time you were in Los Angeles at School Night. You were kind of crawling up the walls almost, getting right on in there with the crowd. I thought you were gonna pull a Spiderman and crawl up the ceiling.
DS: That would be pulling an Eddie Vedder. Do you remember that video? It’s live footage of Pearl Jam playing back in the nineties, and he starts crawling on the theater, all around the pipes, like old pipes from an old theater. I wanted to do that, but no. I’m not as skilled as Eddie Vedder is.
N: Do you have any superhero dreams, if you could be one in specific?
DS: I don’t know, good question. I kind of like the one that reads people’s minds. He’s in a wheelchair?
N: Yeah yeah, I can’t remember his name either, but I know who you’re talking about. Much better to read other people’s minds, than to have them read yours, I think.
DS: Yeah, I think it’s kind of evil.
N: So you would rather be on the super villain spectrum, then?
DS: Yeah, yeah.
N: The album art of Future Sugar reminds me a bit of a comic book in the way that it’s detailed. And you guys seem to be a very visually oriented band, with your album title coming from a movie and having covered “Lady in Red”, a song featured in American Psycho. I was wondering if you had any specific visual or aesthetic that helps you along in your process.
DS: Well we do look for a lot of visuals. We really like movies, so we always try to emulate, in a way, certain aspects and certain images of movies to try and put them into our art. It’s a cool input to have. And we all like different kinds of movies. It’s a very movie oriented band.
N: Would you guys ever want to have images playing behind you while you’re on stage, or do you want your performance to be solely focused on the music?
DS: Well, we haven’t actually played a show where we can have our own thing yet. We just finished one last Saturday, but we didn’t have the time to sit down and choose images to project. We haven’t yet, but when we have the opportunity to headline some of our shows, we definitely try to do something interesting and cool. We really like the old school stage layout, so maybe a combo of something like that and something new.
N: And you guys are playing ACL in a couple of weeks. Are you looking forward to that?
DS: Yeah, I’m kind of bummed that we’re playing at the same time as Billy Idol.
N: Ohhh yeah, that’s a hard scheduling problem.
DS: I really wanted to see Billy Idol.
N: Do you guys like Austin?
DS: Yeah, we’ve been there a bunch of times. Actually, we’ve played Austin even more times than we’ve played Mexico City. We’ve done the South by Southwest Festival probably six or seven times. We’ve played ACL, we’ve played the Mohawk. Have you ever been to Austin? You know the Mohawk? Well it has extremely good barbeque. And we’ve played…well we’ve probably played every bar in Austin. We are one of those band that goes to South by Southwest and tortures themselves by playing six or seven times a day.
N: How do you like the vibe of LA or Austin compared to New York City? Or are they all home to you in different ways?
DS: New York feels more like home to us, since we’ve spent so much time there. You start knowing the place, right, you know where to get your coffee or get your hamburger, pizza, whatever that you like. You start developing a system, and a system could translate into feeling at home. So New York is different, but now we’ve spent some time in LA. And, you know, we like it. It’s just such a different town, lots of cars
N: They are insanely different. It’s amazing to me that they are in the same country sometimes.
DS: Yeah, yeah…and Austin is really good, we love Austin. It’s really nice. Texas might have the fame being a little bit like the South, especially really conservative, right-winged, or Republican or whatever, but Austin is free, a cool place.
N: Yeah, it’s a bit of a bubble in the middle of a different culture.You’ve said in previous interviews that your writing comes out naturally for you in English. And there are studies that have been done that say that people who speak multiple languages inhabit a different personality when they are speaking a different language. I was wondering if writing in English, or performing as Rey Pila, has created a different personality for you or if you feel more or less similar in both languages.
DS: I feel that writing in English, for me, is the way to go. Writing in English definitely drives a character, more angry I guess, that’s the way I usually sing. I have a friend from the US that always says that I’m really soft spoken in English and when I start speaking Spanish, for some reason, he thinks I’m really mad, which I think is the opposite.
N: Do you know any other languages? Or are there others you want to learn?
DS: My mother went to school in France, so she speaks fluent French. And we’ve talked in French, which I kind of understand it, cause if you speak Spanish, which is Latin, you can understand French, Italian, and Portuguese easier. I would love to speak German, it’s a country and a language I think is great.
N: German, it’s a difficult language, but it’s very fun or it can be, at least.
DS: Yeah, totally.
N: In addition to ACL, you guys have your new album coming out. Your video for “Alexander” seems to be very emblematic for what I understand of the album as a whole, in terms of, in the video there were a lot of bright colours, and your use of synth jives with that, and then there were darker undertones moving through it. And I was wondering if that was a natural pairing for you or if that emerged in the songwriting?
DS: You feel influenced or inspired by your surroundings. Mexico City is that kind of town. It’s bright, but it’s dark. Maybe that’s a weird way of putting it, but there is a lot of romanticism around death in Mexico. So it has a very dark vibe to it, but nice. Goth bands here are very popular. I feel that we are inspired by that, especially in songwriting. At the same time, it has sort of a rock bite to it, like we’re classic rock.
N: There are also themes of control, and on a song like Surveillance Camera, a concern around policing, self-policing in a way, of understanding boundaries of control, between safeness and wildness that runs throughout the album. Was that similarly inspired by the city or is that a more general theme you were working through on a different level?
DS: Surveillance Camera is definitely about begging, that point in a relationship, when you look back at it and you look at how stupid you were cause you were begging like a little kid for something wasn’t going to happen. That whole begging thing has a really dark side to it too. It can be super dark. In a way, you start following that person, not literally following, but you start checking your phone to see if they’re there and you become sort of a surveillance camera I guess.
N: In addition to the album and ACL, do you have anything this year that you are especially excited about?
DS: We are excited about the Wiltern on Friday night, for sure. And are we are excited to finish this tour with Brandon Flowers, who has just been great. He’s a great dude, and his whole staff is awesome. Looking forward to ACL, looking to the album release, and to playing more.
N: Will you guys tour for a good chuck of time before you work on another album, or are they interwoven with each other?
DS: We are touring on the first or second week of December. We’ll do a couple of weeks touring, and then go back home for the holidays. Then we start touring again in January or February and try to stop to start writing the next album.
N: Do you guys find a lot of idea fodder in touring or does it take time a way from the touring circuit to really get into a songwriting mode?
DS: What I do is, I generally write the melodies at home, and I record them on my cellphone an then I share them on tour. That’s how I start thinking about lyrics or other melodies that can go with the ones I already have.
N: And this a process you do by yourself or is it more collaborative?
DS: I generally do that by myself, and then after that we all start working on the arrangements.
N: Wonderful. Well, I’m really excited for your new album to come out. And best of luck to you guys with your touring!