OVNI is a fantastic Progressive Rockband from El Salvador, probably the only band from that country. They have released 3 CDs so far, all much recommended to fans of IQ, JADIS, PENDRAGON, PALLAS, YES... The past few weeks you could read the reviews of those albums, and now I had an interview with OVNI. Let's see what they have to say to us...
Please introduce us your band, when did you form OVNI and did any of you play in bands before OVNI?
RAFAEL ALFARO: Well, I´ve always say that OVNI began not for the music, but for the friendship. We were two pairs of brothers who used to ride bikes and called ourselves KARN (Kristián and Ayax Calderón and Rafael and Mauricio Alfaro, who we called sometimes Neto), and in 1978 we I began to experiment with an old guitar and the others get exited to see I was getting somewhere with the instrument, so they decided to play one too, eventually KARN became OVNI in 1982 when a friend suggested the name and we adopted it.
ALFARO: OVNI was form in 1982, some of the members played before
in a band called KARN in the early eighties, OVNI was active to
the years of 1982 to 1995 then the band broke up, each one made
other musical projects of our own and get back together in 1998 -
Can you tell us all about all the albums you released?
ALFARO: We released many singles during the 80´s (1986-1990)
before that we have played in English but because of the rock in
spanish invasion we began to sing in Spanish in 1986. It was
until 1991 that we made our first album called PALABRAS, this was
a cassette with 8 songs, after that we did another cassette album
called IRIS-1 witch stands for ARCOIRIS with another 8 songs, in
1993 and in 1995 We decided to do a CD album with the most
popular songs we had, so we did OVNI... EN ALGÚN REINO witch
contains some of the songs of the two passed albums and some of
the singles that were not in any album. Than OVNI took a brake
and I did a solo album called RETRATOS in 1997 after that in 1998
We began to work in a new one called ENTRE SERES Y SUS RAÍCES
witch is a double album containing in the first CD new songs an
in the second one the songs from the cassettes and the singles
that were not included in EN ALGUN REINO, and finally We did LA
EXPERIENCIA a live album from the concerts We had during the year
2000. I´d have to add that in all this process there have been
many members changed but Mauricio and myself (Rafael) have been
the only ones who have survived al these years of changes, Kristián
has gone and come and in each album We made there were different
influences of styles because of the members that have
ALFARO: In 1986 we recorded some songs like "Célula",
"Ciencia Muerta" and others by our own, but we didn´t
mead a record, in 1991 we made our first commercial production in
tapes that had songs like "Murmullos",
"Herencias", "Lluvias" and others, in 1995 we
recorded our last production who carried songs like "La
Danza del Sol" and "Río circular" witch was the
only song we recorded specially for that album, actually,
"En algún Reino" was a recompilation of those old
productions that we made until 1995. "Entre Seres y sus Raíces
" CD two was another recompilation that we made from those
songs recorded between 1986 and 1995 that weren´t include in
"En algún Reino" . The new material that we recorded
between 1998 and 2000 came
in CD one. "La Experiencia" was a recompilation of all the concerts we made.
You play a high quality form of Progressive Rock, which bands influenced you?
RAFAEL ALFARO: From the beginning We had The Beatles´ influences and eventually for some people We began to know about Yes, ELP, Genesis, Jethro Tull, UK, and now people like Spock´s Beard and The Flower Kings, I think our influences come from the classic Progressive Rock (the 70´s) more than the one that is played today witch is more heavy, I like melodic songs very much and this groups are like that very melodic yet complicated also. Mauricio likes complicated and instrumental music such as in classic music and is very much in to it, maybe that combination is fundamental in OVNI or at least has been until now, maybe I´d like to change that a little bit...
ALFARO: I have a lot of influences, mostly in instrumental music,
and in the progressive rock I can mention ELP, YES, UK. In the
classical style PROKOFIEV, BARTOK, KEITH EMERSON.
In your country it's quite unique to play this kind of style, because you're the first band I ever hear from El Salvador?
RAFAEL ALFARO: Indeed, We are the only ones that took the risk and play this music but only because We feel it in our souls not because We want to be different. When You like something and go after it and learn more about it eventually you will try to go up in order to know more about it not to go backwards, so if We have done music in some ways, at the end We have tried to do what we think is the more interesting music and Progressive music to me is the way up in the music. I hope I had make myself clear... is kind of difficult in English ja, ja....
MAURICIO ALFARO: I can say for sure that we are the unique band playing this kind of music, but we were the most popular band playing this stuff.
How popular are you in your country?
RAFAEL ALFARO: We are not the must popular group here in El Salvador but we are respected, because We are the only group from the beginnings of the 80´s that has survived, and haven´t sale ourselves to the media doing songs just to be popular. We have songs that have been in the number one of the charts and some times people like the songs and they don´t even know the group that plays them is from here or it´s called OVNI, they only like the song and when they find out is a big surprise ´cos they don´t think this kind of music exist and that some group called OVNI from El Salvador plays it, but still, people know about us because they know We try to do the best music We can do within our technical and human possibilities... I´ve always say that sometimes some people buy an album because there´s this song witch is very popular, but once they´ve gotten the album they find out there are better songs in it although they´re not the most commercial ones... well OVNI is one of those songs inside the album but You have to look for it to find it.
MAURICIO ALFARO: I can't really answer your question in a objective way, some times it seams to me that we were a very popular band mostly in the early 90's and some times it feels the opposite way, and no one knows about us.
How are your CDs released (independent or through a record label)?
RAFAEL ALFARO: They are independent, there are not record labels here in El Salvador, so as You can imagine it is very difficult for us to make an album since not even the music is understood by many... so We don´t make a big deal in sales You know.... at least not yet.
MAURICIO ALFARO: Independent.
Do you have contacts with labels from abroad, in Europe perhaps?
RAFAEL ALFARO: We are working on that right now, I have contacted some labels in Europe that are interested but We are talking yet....MAURICIO ALFARO: Our geographical position doesn´t help.
What are you favorite albums at the moment?
RAFAEL ALFARO: I like The Beatles´Abbey Road, Yes´Topographic Ocean, ELP´s Brain Salad, Jethro´s Heavy Horses, UK´s first album, Spock´s The Light... and many more... October Project, Mocedades and so many...
MAURICIO ALFARO: There are a lot of great albums in very different styles of music, but I should say that my favorites are WORKS VOL. 1 from ELP, FRAGILE from YES, I really enjoy some master classical pieces like "PIANO Concert's of ALBERTO GINASTERAS, PROKOFIEV and BARTOK.
When you write your songs, what are they about and are there any interesting stories to tell about them?
ALFARO: I´m the one in charge of the lyrics in the band, I think
that only 3 songs´lyrics are not written by me so, I try to say
things that I feel and think in the songs, they talk about
society, Maya´s culture, God,
reincarnation, deforestation, the moon , Mars, love, myself, etc., etc., So many things, I try to talk about so many different stuff. I really do music because I want to express myself that´s the main reason of doing it...
Now a story... there are many, but I´ll tell You that many people here in El Salvador think that the song called Y SI VUELVE is a love song and maybe that´s why it became number one, but the truth is that this song talks about
the reincarnation and it was inspired by a story that Kristián once told me, so You see people think what they want to think not what really is... and yes, the whole world can be wrong.
MAURICIO ALFARO: Actually, almost all my songs are instrumental, there a few ones that are sung and the lyrics are done for some one else, in OVNI by Rafael.
What are the plans for the next coming months?
RAFAEL ALFARO: Well as for myself I want to work in a new album but since the other members want to take a brake maybe I could think in other people to make a new line of OVNI....
MAURICIO ALFARO: In the nearest coming months I have others projects that are not involved with music at all, but I hope to record something soon.
Finally, do you have anything to add to our readers?
RAFAEL ALFARO: Thanx for these opportunity to express ourselves and the interest in what We do, feel and think because; not all those that see your works see your virtues...
MAURICIO ALFARO: Well, I would like to think that all the effort we have made in the past, in some way, shows to the progressive community and the world, that we have interesting music to export, thanks for the space.
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