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Nexx - 2003 Interview with Fran Rodriguez
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on December 02 2003, In Interviews , 1 Comment , 2480 Reads , Print

INTERVIEW: Nexx (Jun 2003)
It's a Spanish Palette of Colors, as illustrated by Fran Rdoriguez.

WRITTEN BY: Gdazegod (JUNE 2003)

It seems like a million years ago when we first heard about the young Spanish band out of Madrid called Nexx. At the time, our previous website HEART of the ROCK was working with Spanish contemporaries Elyte and Seven Ltd, and by comparison, Nexx had a lot of work to do to get to their standard, or so it seemed. A series of cover tracks put up as MP3's showcased their potential, but ultimately listeners weren't quite sure what to expect from this promising but rather raw bunch. 2001 was the year things really began to take shape for the fledgling melodic rock outfit. A five-piece, with two things going for them: a powerful vocal presence in the shape of Patricia Tapia, and the ability to write good original songs. Late 2001 saw the release of Nexx's 5 track demo, and the change from cover band to one that produced sparkling originals was remarkable indeed. As a live band, the band were an even better proposition. Nexx generated quite a stir at the 2001 Nemelrock Festival, enabling the mainstream European audience to witness them first hand. To compound things even further and for the better, Nexx were invited to play the UK Gods Of AOR gig in 2002, albeit as an unsigned band! Some achievement!

The lineup of the band has remained stable throughout. Nexx are currently: Patricia Tapia - vocals; Bernardo Llobregat - guitars; Jose De La Banda - bass; Francisco Rodriguez - keyboards and Oscar Perez - drums. It is this stability, combined with their ability for writing quality material, and overwhelming live appeal which swayed the Now And Then/Frontiers label to sign the band. The result? Nexx's first full-length album 'Colours', which was released last month, both to an appreciative audience and positive feedback from the rock media. This was the first poser I put to band spokesperson Fran Rodriguez, that 'Colours' was getting a lot of attention from people in the right places (i.e. the print media) and for the right reasons too. 'We're very happy about the great reaction of the media about this album' says Fran, 'and also a lot of people are giving us very good feedback as well. Sure, 'Colours' has been tough work for us, but it's been very enjoyable at the same time.'

One of the earlier issues with Spanish bands was their reluctance to move away from their native tongue, to the more universally accepted medium of English. If earlier efforts by bands such as Elyte, Le Fase, and even way before them, a band like Baron Rojo was anything to go by, the transition is certainly not an easy one to make. However, Nexx were well aware of what was needed to be done to become a recognised band outside of their homeland - sing in English, and don't get too far ahead of themselves, as Fran reveals. 'It is not an easy thing indeed, but you know, I think we may have a big bag of luck somewhere. Though we understand that everything in this music business can be difficult, funnily enough, for us it has been quite simple, and each small step we've taken has led us onto another.'

'Singing in English hasn't been a problem either. Well, the major record companies in Spain would never release an album like ours in English or in Spanish for that matter; so, from the beginning we knew what 'our world' was to be. Besides, We like these songs more in English so we play it that way. It's so easy. The melodic rock fans in Spain are used to English, so it's not a big problem.'

Our team here at GLORY DAZE (and before that HEART of the ROCK) had more or less grown up with Nexx since first knowing about them, and have kept a close eye on their progress. Artistically they've grown so much between 1999 and now. Fran explains what the key things have been to get the band to where it is today. 'I think there are three main things. The first is the good personal relationship between the band members. Many bands split because they can't stand each other, but in our case we get on very well and we enjoy playing together. Second, it could be the rehearsal work. Although we have regular jobs we get together to rehearse as often as we can, and all that work is not in vain. Thirdly, I think that playing live often gives the band a more compact sound. If you mix all that with the all the things that have happened to us, you get what Nexx is today. Yes it's true, when I look back a couple of years ago I too see how far we've come since those times as a covers band. We've grown a lot since then' he says.

Another reason perhaps is the songwriting aspect of the band - a strength in fact. I asked Fran what sort of subject matter interests the band, enough to write lyrics about at least. 'I think personal stories are the main ones, whether you feel happy or depressed or you're going to go out with a girl or you break a relationship, etc, a lot of times you feel that you need to express those kind of feelings in a song. It's a kind of personal liberation, or call it healing if you want. Of course, you could always write a fictional story or a real thing that has happened. For example, 'Arches of Faith' is about Ulysses coming home after the war looking for Penelope. However, the main theme of the songs on 'Colours' is about personal relationships' he confirms.

There is a growing admiration of fellow Spanish bands, which has gone some way to putting credibility into the overall Spanish scene. Look at the recent achievements of 91 Suite, Airless and Golden Farm, who have all boosted the profile of Spain as a melodic rock destination. Nexx have been fortunate in timing their run to coincide on the back of positive exposure. Fran definitely agrees on that one. 'There are some very good rock bands here in Spain nowadays. The melodic scene definitely is growing up. After bands like Niagara and Sangre Azul disappeared, there was a time around the mid 90's where these was hardly any melodic rock at all. Well, only Elyte were there during their beginnings, but in the past year or so, a lot of young bands are now coming out of the underground scene.'

'As the big labels don't pay attention to melodic rock at all, all these bands together, along with people like Jose Herrera, promoter of the Nemelrock Festival, are making people pay attention to this kind of music. Also, there's a very good relationship between all these new bands. We've shared the same stage with Elyte, 91 Suite, Golden Farm and others. All the bands, including ourselves are helping many others to come out of their local areas to be better known by the fans.'

Moving on to the work involved for 'Colours', the band were fortunate to get serious rehearsal time behind them beforehand. 'We spent a lot of time at the rehearsal room before entering the studio' says Fran. 'We had recorded and produced demos ourselves so we knew what we wanted, but we made a big pre-production of all the songs so whenever we enter the studio we can record without too many problems. Also it was great having producer Pete 'Pee Wee' Coleman in the studio, as he made everything go that much more smoothly.'

I think it's clear for everyone to see that Nexx come off really well in a live environment. Many of the GD readers will testify to that. Some also say that Nexx sound far heavier live than on CD, but that's to be expected according to Fran. 'Well... yeah... that's true. We're a 'live' band. We love playing live and it could be that our sound is more harder-edged, as Patricia sings with more strength and Bernardo can improvise more. On the album we all tried to play for the songs - that's the main thing on an album, the songs. Once you're playing the album live you can do a lot of things to entertain the crowd, and that inevitably leads to more heavier stuff, more solos, more fun! On the other hand, we've also played some acoustics shows, piano and voice. This shows our sweeter side.'

As for the songs, the lead off track 'Arches Of Faith' is (in a phrase).. Intensely epic. Surely an interesting choice for a lead-off, as per the Ulysses/Penelope theme as Fran pointed out earlier. 'The company chose the order of the songs for the album' he says, we just recorded them. They showed us their track order and we agreed. It's a good order to listen to all the album without getting tired.'

Being close to the material for so long, Fran admits to liking all the material and why shouldn't he. 'There are some songs that I like a lot from a pure songwriting perspective. I mean, it doesn't matter how you record them because I like them anyway. In this group, I put '40 Days And 40 Nights', 'If You Could Read My Mind' and 'Arches Of Faith'. Then there are other songs that have grown a lot in the studio like 'Indifference', 'Wake Up' and 'After The Storm'. But yeah, I really like all the songs, and that's one of the good points of being on an indie label. You play what you like and you don't have any guy from the label saying this or that. Mark Ashton gave us the freedom to play it as we wanted to do it.'

I remarked in our review that I would have loved to have heard an updated version of 'Time To Fly' (from Nexx's 5 track 2001 demo CD). Just how many tracks did you eventually have at your disposal for 'Colours'? 'We got 17 songs done.In the rehearsals but we were very restricted so there were many songs that we passed on. 'Time to Fly' was one of our first songs and who knows, maybe one day we might re-record it.'

I know you are a huge fan of Marillion, as is one of our staff writers. Were you able to impart some of those Mark Kelly type moments into 'Colours'? 'Yes I am a huge fan, but I'm a million years away from him. He's a master. I love how he chooses the perfect sounds for each songs and how he make them fit perfectly into the complex harmonies they use. My fave Marillion album is 'Brave' which in fact is my favourite album of all time! I'm more into his way of seeing the music rather than the Jordan Rudess way of 10000 notes in a second, though amazing to watch live, I much prefer Mark Kelly's way.'

'I hope one day I can record a bunch of sympho songs of more than 10 minutes which I've got stashed away in my wardrobe! On 'Colours', there aren't too many sympho moments, although some people have told us that they've noticed something here and there, and perhaps there are some harmonies that are more complex than the typical ones you hear in AOR.'

Some of the keyboard lines are very interesting and modern too in some places. In much the same way as Timo Pudas from Urban Tale did on their latest 'Signs Of Times'. In that regard, I suppose Nexx is a great band in which to experiment with keyboards. 'Well, indeed I like Timo's playing a lot' says Fran. 'I got the chance to watch him playing live twice, Gods 01 and Nemelrock 2, and I loved it. Also we met at the recent Gods, although we missed their show. He's a very nice guy. He has a great palette of sounds and a very good way of playing them. Also we're from a new generation and so our influences come from more modern stuff. It's nice to enter into a song and look for the proper type of sound and apart from all the synthy stuff I like to play a lot piano sounds. It might be from the 18th century but it's still the greatest instrument ever created.'

It's not often we get a keyboardist in for an interview, and I couldn't pass up the opportunity to ask the Tech-Head thing, considering I dabble on keyboards/synths myself. Fran takes us through his rig. 'I mainly use Roland. A 13 year old D-70 which still gives me a lot of very good quality sounds, and a newer XV-3080, which is the modern line of Roland gear nowadays. You can find tons of new sounds and make your own easily. Then I have a Kurzweil PC2 for piano playing and I use it as a master keyboard. In fact, the pianos in 'Colours' are mainly taken from this one. I_ve also got some Alesis gear and now I'm entering into sampling. In the recording studio I was very lucky because one of the owners of Mastertone is the keys player of the band The Quest, Graham Woodcock, and he lent me some of his Korg stuff, and some software synths, The modern sound of 'After The Storm' for example came from there. Graham is great with gear and a very friendly guy.'

As many of you will know, Nexx played at the recent Gods event in Bradford England. Frans reflects on those few days abroad. 'It was great. Everything was fantastic, from the venue, to the people and everything went absolutely great. We had a very good time there and from the reaction of the people there, it seems they also had a very good time!'

Being musicians themselves, the Nexx gang were curious to see and hear their contemporaries play, even though they missed a lot of the bands due to travelling from Spain to England on the Saturday. 'For me Talisman are out of this world. They are top top quality musicians and made the American segment of the show, even though they're half Swedish!' chuckles Fran. 'Also I enjoyed Stan Bush, who has a classic voice, and I like Dare too, though they played again without a bass player, and they appeared to be quite tied to a sequencer. But I love their songs from 2001's 'Belief' album.'

Fran gives us an idea as to what Nexx are up to in the very near future. 'In Madrid, on June 21st we'll introduce 'Colours' to the Spanish fans in a special show in a very nice venue, Caracol. It will be a 90 minute show. Also, we're waiting a little bit to see how the record sales go, and just to check what we are going to find when we travel, but yes, we'll go to some Spanish cities along this year and, who knows, maybe we have the chance again to travel outside of Spain again. We're really looking forward to playing live when the opportunity arises.'

And finally Fran, thanks for sharing a few brief words with us. Continued success to you, Patri, Jose, Bernardo and Oscar. It's lovely to see you guys out there now. Now all you need is 20,000 seater stadium to play!! 'Yes, to play football!' laughs Fran! ' Thank you too George for giving the chance of making this interview, and good luck with this great advance of GLORY DAZE' - Fran Rodriguez.

Related Articles:

Nexx - 2001 Promo CD

Nexx - 2003 Colours

Nexx - Interview with Fran Rodriguez (Jun 2003)

Nexx - 2006 Another Dawn

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Facebook Comments
#1 | ROBERT on February 17 2006 05:25:04
Mi grupo Espanol Actual Favorito junto con 91 Suite!!

Colours es una Autentica Gema d puro A.O.R.!!

NEXX Forever!!
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