Interview: Oiram and Rata from Austin TV

By on Thursday, 19th January 2012 at 12:00 pm

I interviewed the Mexican post-rock maestros Austin TV shortly before their headline performance at Bull and Gate, Kentish Town, London. Read on about the inspiration for their costumes, comparing the Mexican and British music scenes and festivals, and more…

Austin TV aren’t that well known here in the UK, to people who haven’t heard you before, how would you describe your sound?

Rata (bass): Just instrumental rock and an experimental instrumental rock band.
Oiram (guitar): Musically we’re from the punk-rock scene, each of us used to be in hardcore bands, that’s the way we met. We’ve been together for ten years now and we do instrumental rock because we wanted to do something different from what we were hearing. The instrumental you’re used to is so low, we try to do it as hard as we can, and as fast as we can. Our latest album has two ways: calm and slow, and fast and furious.
Rata: Sometimes we’re very serious with the messages we’re trying to say, sometimes we just want to have fun. We’re human beings.

Is punk the primary influence on your music?

Rata: Our influences were like punk-rock and hardcore mostly. Some of us now like different music from when the band was starting. We’re very happy that Refused are getting together for Coachella.

Why did you decide not to have a vocalist?

Rata: We just wanted to make sure we didn’t lock our songs in just one lyric. If I write a song about any moment in particular, like I’m drinking this beer, it’s going to be a song about drinking this beer.
Oiram: When the beer was finished we’d be lying about drinking a beer because there’s no more beer.
Rata: It’s like you have girlfriend and make a song about her, telling her ‘I love you blah blah blah’, then she breaks up with you and you stop loving her, you have to sing about her and you don’t love her. We didn’t want that to happen with our music, everyone can listen to our music and think or imagine whatever they want.

You wear masks and outfits on stage, how important is the visual element to your music?

Oiram: It’s like 50/50. It’s one of the most important things that we have. We have some people in the band who are designers and graphic designers, so we have been working hard with that. At first we tried to use ready-made costumes, that wasn’t so cool. We couldn’t find anything that was special, so we started using our own costumes. That way we started to do better things and the records are always the best we can do.

Where do you get inspiration from for your costumes?

Rata: It depends on the concept of the record. For our current album (‘Caballeros Del Albedrio’), we tried to not make them costumes but uniforms. We went to the woods to compose this record, we lived for 5 months in the woods, just the five of us. There were some moments where we had differences, but at the end of the day we wanted to spend time together because of the music. It was more important making music than anything. It was more important making music than to be selfish. We learned we don’t have to be at the same channel to be together and make music.
Oiram: We’re growing up together. Back in the day we used to listen to the same bands, the same music every day. Now we’re older, each one of us has taken a different road, but that’s the interesting thing. Years ago Chiosan (keyboardist) used to only listen to pop-rock, now she’s into Pink Floyd and psychedelic things, she’s going crazy on that. Xna Yer (drummer) is trying to experiment with beats. I don’t listen to these things, but that’s what makes this unique. He’s put a little electronic into this record and we’re really happy to be making that because we don’t want to sound electronic, from ten years ago, we want to sound like the newest thing and he’s the one to do it. We tried to mix everything and make a good cocktail, but first of all we have to be friends.
Rata: What we’re trying to say is that we’re like a union. You can get together with other people just to create things, it doesn’t matter if you’re different. That’s what the costumes mean – an army of people who’re trying to spread of word of ‘let go the selfishness and try to be together with other people’.

You’re from Mexico City and grew up with the Mexican music scene, how does Mexico compare to somewhere like the UK?

Oiram: Well, you’ve got Pink Floyd (laughs). We cannot compete with that, but we’ve got a growing scene right now. There used to be a good scene in the ’80s and that went on until the early ’00s. There were many bands like us who were trying to create new music, but there were no doors opening. There were no radio stations or magazines, but now there are more radio stations, magazines, bigger festivals with more people coming. Right now I believe, and I hope it’s not selfish of me, (but) in Mexico we have some of the best festivals in Latin America and people are really looking to it. We’re really happy to be a part of this and we believe we’re not the only ones.
Rata: I think what happens next is there’s going to be a world scene; the internet is changing everything. You don’t know what’s going to happen because we’re living the moment right now. The scene is going to change, it’s not going to be the Mexican scene, it’s going to be music. We’re very interested in different countries’ music.

You mentioned festivals. You’ve played a lot of Mexican festivals, have you got any plans for playing UK festivals?

Rata: We haven’t been booked, but we want to. It’s step by step. We’re hoping that people who come to the show tonight (Bull and Gate, Kentish Town, London, the 12th of January 2012) will talk about the show and spread the word. We’re very patient about it – in Spain they’ve released our album.
Oiram: We’re planting the seed. We plant the seed today and we’ll come back next year and add some water, and keep doing that. It’s what we’ve been doing in Mexico and South America and hope it works. And if it doesn’t, it doesn’t matter. We’re having a good time, we’re in a good place and it’s amazing.

Finally, if the Mayans are correct and the world is going to end this year, what is the last thing you’re going to do before the world ends?

Rata: I’ll probably do the most cheesy thing and spend time with my family. Call my friends and be like “Hey man, it’s been great to know you”. I’ll just be grateful because my life has been amazing. Just saying that I can pay for this beer because of music, it’s amazing. If I have to die tomorrow, I’m just happy to say that I’m happy.

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11:30 pm
11th September 2013

[…] typically chirpy PR emerged from the deeply stained woodwork and called Luke up for the interview. With nothing better to do, I thought I’d tag along but, with me playing the role of drinks […]

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