Interview

Andrew Staffell

Musician

Making music fun and accessible

Watch the interview at:
www.cataloniatoday.cat/a/1477468
Why did you choose to come to Barcelona?
I’m from London, and I came to Barcelona 10 ten years ago, I wanted a break and it didn’t take me long to get used to the Mediterranean style. Barcelona is a human-sized, beautiful and comfortable city, so I ended up staying there.
Are you a professional musician?
Not really. I own a web design and development company, but music has always been a big hobby, the thing I’m most passionate about.
Is Barcelona a great city for music?
The simple fact of London being so much bigger means there are more small venues for many genres of music. In Barcelona the scene is smaller, and there are quite restrictive laws about live music licences and noise, which is understandable because it’s a very densely packed city. But that means that the number of very good live music venues isn’t that high, so there’s quite a lot of competition to play in the good venues, which have good sound, a good capacity, and good facilities, which is surprising for some people, given the fact that Barcelona is so famous for festivals, such as Primavera Sound and Sonar. But despite that reputation, the fact is there aren’t so many live music venues compared to other cities, such as Lisbon, Berlin, or London.
You are quite a new band.
Yes, we were created a year ago, and the fact that we only play original material means that the initial gestation time to get to the point where you can play live is longer than if you’re just doing covers. Natalie saw Gabriel and Marc play and approached them to propose a joint project, and then they started looking for a drummer, and so I am the last one to join the band. We recorded our first EP for Christmas.
The Risk of Your Life, what’s it like in terms of style?
We are a rock’n’roll band, so the references are quite clear: 50s and 60s music, Gene Vincent, Jay Hawkins, surf rock, but I can confidently say that we don’t sound like a pastiche of all of these older acts. In fact, we sound like quite an updated kind of rock’n roll. My Dad, who’s also a musician, calls it post-modern rockabilly. Think of Quentin Tarantino soundtracks, because it sounds a bit like that.
What inspired the spy movie look of the music video?
We worked with two great directors,  Merli Marlowe and Joan-Pol Argenter, and it was their idea, but these aesthetics of film noir, nouvelle vague, also emerged naturally from the fact that the music already makes reference to spy soundtracks. The four of us were the actors and we did it over one weekend in Barcelona and L’Hospitalet.
You all come from different musical backgrounds. Has this influenced your style?
Inevitably. Natalie and I are English, Marc is Catalan and Gabriel, the bass player, is Brazilian. Various geographies and various musical influences have definitely created a sound that is special to us. I come from influences further away from the rest: more black music, black funk, Brazilian music... We’ve so far had good chemistry, musically and interpersonally, and there’s a good flow of communication between us.
What’s your working routine?
We meet to rehearse on Friday afternoons, as we all have different jobs, and Natalie and Marc, who write the lyrics, sometimes meet separately to compose and share ideas.
What are the most common themes in your lyrics?
Our lyrics sit between spy movie themes and more conventional love song kind of narratives. We have one which we like to think will be the next James Bond theme tune, it’s called Just Another Goodbye.
What about future projects?
We have enough songs now to do our first LP, having done the EP, and the idea is to keep touring, get some more gigs, in and outside Barcelona. Playing live is what moves us more than anything else, and doing recordings as well. Playing outdoors is the best; the acoustics are different of course, you can’t control it as much as in a concert hall, but playing outside in the open air is fantastic. We would love to play in Primavera Sound; we are open to offers!
What can the audience expect from a live concert with The 54321s?
Our music is fun and accessible, not simplistic, a good show. Natalie is a real presence, a fantastic singer, she is a power house and the centre of the band and somehow this system works and we all orbit her, in a way. A good coherent fun, energetic live show. But come and see us and judge for yourselves and see if my biased evaluation is fair enough!
We are a rock’n’roll band, so the references are quite clear: 50s and 60s music OUR LYRICS SIT BETWEEN SPY MOVIE THEMES AND MORE CONVENTIONAL LOVE SONG KIND OF NARRATIVES

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