It's a shame that all those Spanish Metalbands are not that well-known outside Spain and South-America, because some are actually very good. Examples are TIERRA SANTA and MAGO DE OZ, but also SARATOGA, these are excellent bands that should deserve more attention. The only thing that sets them apart from the other European and American acts is that they sing in the Spanish language, which is for many non-Spanish speaking people kind of problem. But why should that be a problem, because it sounds just great, and it's the music that cares here, not the lyrics, and SARATOGA is one of those great Spanish bands, therefore an interview with them...
Please introduce us your band, when did you form SARATOGA?
Saratoga was formed in 1992 when Nico offered Jero to create a band where they could express their ideas. They decided to have a good line-up with Fortu (singer) and Joaquin "El niņo" (drummer). With this line-up they recorded two albums, "Saratoga" and "Tributo" (that is a tribute to the most important heavy metal Spanish bands of the last twenty years). Then Fortu left the band and was replaced by Gabi, who the band recorded "Mi ciudad" with (translated:"My city"). After playing in the most important cities of Spain Gabi and Joaquin left the band due to different points of view about how to work in Saratoga. At the time Leo (singer) and I (drummer) learned of the new and took part of Saratoga after an audience to check if we were suitable to play in Saratoga.
Please tell us about your CDs...
Apart from the albums mentioned, since Leo and I were the new singer and drummer respectively Saratoga recorded "Vientos de guerra" ("War winds") in 1999, "Tiempos de directo" (difficult to translate, itīs something like "Time of live concerts") in 2001 and "Agotarás" (the name of the band read from end to beginning) in 2002, this lastest album is probably the work we are proudest of, it defines whith most accuracy the kind of music we want to play. Finally, this last summer we released a DVD showing one of the many concerts weīve performed.
For us, non-Spanish speaking people the lyrics are hard to understand, are there any stories behind the songs on your CDs?
Of course, the lyrics are very important for us. The lyrics depend on who has composed the song, but usually they deal with actual matters and situations anyone can have. Some lyrics talk about the idea people have about God, other ones talk about books we have readand we are impressed with, or some talk about people (for instance Charlie Parker), we try to talk about issues people can be identified with.
You just released a cd-single, with English lyrics, why the change in lyrics, do you want to breakout of the latin/Spanish speaking countries?
thatīs right. In Spain weīve always had two important problems with the heavy metal music. On the one hand the English level here is very poor, people that want to speak English very well have to pay for it, because what is taught in public school is not enough. On the other hand the level of the musicians was usually low. These two reasons have made heavy metal bands here to be always "delayed" in the rest of Europe. Luckily this has changed, we have reached a high level and now Europe is beginning to listen to Spanish bands. Itīs obvious that the heart of the heavy metal music is Europe, and if you want to be known there you have to sing in English.
I thought your new cd-single showed some of your best work so far, and now we are all looking forward to a full-length CD, when is it gonna be released?
The 1st of March , by the time you read these lines, the new album is likely to be already released. Its name is "El clan de la lucha" (translated:"The fight clan").
And are you working on songs, can you tell us more, the style, the lyrics English or Spanish, just tell us more about yor time in the studio?
It follows the same patterns that "Agotarás". We have recorded it in English and in Spanish. This album is more
complete in all aspects. We have been very carefull with the production, the arrangements, the lyrics, I mean, we thinkwe have made our best work up to now.
Which bands influenced you?
Every member in Saratoga likes different music. Leo and I like bands like Helloween, Manowar, Cradle of Filth, Dimmu Borgir, Crematory, Rammstein, Korn, etc...(in fact Leo and I have made up another band
named "Stravaganzza" where we play a darker music), Jero and Nico prefer bands like Yngwie Malmsten, Deep Purple... Maybe the secret of Saratoga is that each member has a different musical culture, but we all find a common place where to develope our ideas. In my case my favourite bands are Blind Guardian and Death, althought currently I listen to many different kinds of music (jazz-fussion, visual rock, brutal-death, etc...).
Do you feel thereīs a lot of competition in Spain between all the bands, because there are quite a lot of bands playing your kind of style?
I donīt think thatīs a problem. Itīs true that there are a lot of bands playing heavy metal, but there are many of
them that are not very good, they play fine, but they donīt know how to develope their ideas in an original way. In my opinion there is a problem with the heavy metal music in general, there are a lot of bands, but very few create something new, itīs a shame that many bands are only copies of other bands. In fact, we would even like there were more good bands here, because in that case people would have a better opinion of Spanish heavy metal. The problem here is that people are close-minded, and the only way of being promoted are four magazines and the "mouth-to-ear". Television here doesnīt support heavy metal, even itīs treated unfairly. Itīs very difficult for a heavy metal musician to be able to earn enough money so as make a living out of playing heavy metal alone.
How does the future look like for SARATOGA?
very good. We are one of the luckiest bands in Spain, weīve got a great amount of fans and weīll be playing for one year long. We may perform in several countries in SouthAmerica.
Thanks for answering the questions, anything to add for yourself?
Just thank you for supporting us, itīs been a pleasure. See you soon.
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