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andrés calamaro: "love songs are never nonsense" roberto herreros, victor lenore   Calamaro arrives almost on time to his favourite bar in Malasaña. He’s looking well, quick to break into a smile and he’s carrying a little bag from a pharmacy. "I’ve been sending terrorist e-mails all day. Most of them have been to gobshite musicians who condemn pirating. I sent Diego Manrique (music critic) one as well. I told him he was Jennifer Lopez’s lackey because he writes in all the shagging mags she appears on the cover of". He asks us up to his gaff which is three doors down. On the way there we chat about why the press turned their back on his last record, El Salmon. "I couldn’t give a flying fuck, they can write what they want about records, but a lot of serious critics seem to fall back on sensationalism so easily". He shows us his two metre-square home recording studio where his pussy does what it wants with his wires and gadgets. Andres flakes out there all nice and comfy. There’s a sticker with a Bob Dylan quote on the window that reads: “To live outside the law, you must be honest...”. Halfway through the interview he takes out a CD and spends about 20 minutes skipping from track to track as if he were fluting around with a radio dial. Blues, scratch, flamenco, drums (rehearsals?), Columbian dance bass melodies and he keeps saying stuff like “don’t knock my madness, it’s only temporary craziness”. Ever since the release of El Salmon, interviewing Andres has become a type of pleasure-filled ritual: you listen to new songs, you try and understand him as he rabbits on (quite confusing at times) and you crack up at the anecdotes he tells you. We spent an hour and a half with him, swimming against the flow as ever, and not a word did we hear of big new strategies. “Recording is something you follow up on in my view: I only ever cover the mixing desk when I off on my travels. I turn on the power and let it hum for six months. I have lots of musical differences with the world. But I must say that I agree with recording in stereo.”

Have you written anything today?
I’m working on the soundtrack for a film by an Argentinean friend of mine. He’s a bit sad because his last film got an X rating and he didn’t make any money on it. In all fairness, I saw the film and he leaves nothing to the imagination: gore, fannies, pills... I’m doing the music for his new film. It’s about a chef caught up in the Argentinean crisis. He loses his job and he can’t use olive oil any more. He starts working as a domestic servant like Filipinos, he gets involved in all kinds of tangles but it’s got a happy ending. He loses his scruples but he gets to work as a chef again. I meet up with Jerry Gonzalez a lot to work on it. I didn’t know what to use as the principal track and I tried a version of Cole Porter’s “Every time we say goodbye”. But when I read the script I thought the song was too melancholic. I did two sequences as well, like Mark Knoplefler’s Local Hero.

They way you work has radically changed since you recorded El Salmon. Can you tell us why?
I gave up writing on my own. I started doing stuff with Marcelo Scornik and later on with Jorge Larrosa. Me and Marcelo had a bit of a personal crisis and we snorted down lines of shit off scalpels. We decided to write about real people, about crimes that take place in and outside prison. We started speaking to the grandmothers of the Plaza de Mayo and that was really important. Then we started visiting prisons. We got really close to the songs without releasing them. The reality of Argentina, drugs, prostitution and crime, just blossomed before my very eyes. We started writing about that just when the three of us kind of considered ourselves as not being the caring type. We did a 360 degree turn in order to find ourselves once again. Dylan’s “The Times are-a-changing” sums it up perfectly: people regard us as bandits, drug-pushers and coke heads. Sometimes the fact you go against the mainstream is more a question of survival, more than a glamour type thing. I think that’s where we’re at.

Something you recently said comes to mind. “The songs Scornik writes are more political whereas I write nonsensical love songs”. Why this separation?
That’s not true. Marcelo came up with most of the heavy weight love songs on El Salmon, love songs that stir the blood in your veins. “Tu Pavada” is super heavy weight. I can’t bring myself to listen to Marcelo’s lyrics again. The most beautiful ballads on El Salmon, “Tu Pavada” or “Rumbo errado” are his. The last five hundred songs on the record aren’t love songs all the same. And love songs are never nonsense.

What have you learnt since the release of El Salmon?
It was a bomb of a year. Since 2001 I’ve been fiddling around with the guitar, keyboards and samplers. I’ve done some stuff with a four track recorder as well, some experimental stuff with a blues head friend of mine called Alberto. He brought me a few recordings of “Los piratas del flamenco” and afterwards I heard Diego Cigala again and I was stunned. We all got together a week later, became friends and recorded some stuff at Diego’s place. I’ve also played with “Niño Josele”. This year has been more of a “playing with people” year rather that a “song writing” year. I’ve been with Cubans, Brazilians, flamenco musicians... I’ve satisfied all my musical hungers with these people These last two months I’ve just hung around the neighbourhood. Taking things easy. Thanks to the film I’ve done a bit of work with Jerry, prodded on by the coke...

What do you think on what’s currently going on in the music industry?
I think that music should basically be free. I couldn’t be bothered with all that fucking awful promotion shit, I just want people to hear and know my music. I have nothing against the people in the offices but I think music is for the people. I don’t understand these anti- pirating operations that are plastered all over the TV. They are bad news for the people. Just like when they catch a boat loaded to the gills with Charlie. Who does that kind of news cheer up? That’s not to say that the CD blanket selling isn’t commercial. I preferred the type of pirate records we all looked for before... I have about 80 by Dylan and about the same by The Stones. My speciality are the Some Girls years (78-79). You get the free DVD on records nowadays because they don’t pay any shagging royalties. Now you can sell five records for the price of half a gram. The fact that El Salmon was marginalized really pisses me off. People need to wake up. People prefer music you don’t have to pay much attention to. That way they don’t have to invest any of their time in it. These days most records are affected like El Salmon but in the worst sense. These days all you can find in record shops are Ibiza Mixes and 8-CD packs. I don’t know if they are cheap or expensive. That’s not to forget the difference between the half a euro that a record costs and the 20 euro they charge. That’s a difference of 19,50euro. About 4,000%.