Great music transcends language because it is its own form of communication, it expresses feelings and captures moods and sparks the imagination, speaking volumes beyond words. Rata Negra are from Madrid, Spain and sing in Spanish; when we first found them we didn’t know yet what they were singing about (English being our first language) but the power of their great songwriting, their music and its melodies spoke to us. Rata Negra are one of the coolest punk bands you might not know yet. We interviewed bassist-vocalist Violeta to get to know Rata Negra better.
Rata Negra are from Madrid, Spain; what’s it like where you live? Can you tell us about your neighbourhood?
VIOLETA: Madrid is the capital and it’s a big city in the centre of the Spanish peninsula. It’s a pretty cool city with lots of things to do, but I live in the worst neighbourhood ever. Right now I live in an apartment which belonged to my grandmother. When she moved out here at the beginning of the 80’s this was the outskirts of the city in the north, and it was lots of open space. Right now it’s the rich neighbourhood of the city where the worst people live, all of them unsupportive rich bastards with a total lack of respect or solidarity. So right now I’m trapped here and can’t wait to move out.
What were you like growing up?
VIOLETA: I was a total loser, had lots of problems making friends and going through high school. That made me who I’m now, a total hater. Thankfully that hate was pretty productive so I came out as a very creative person and my concerns kept me making things, drawing and composing music.
How did you first find punk rock?
VIOLETA: My best and only friend in high school was from the US. Back then, we didn’t have internet or such an easy access to the culture as we have right now, so she introduced me to the Ramones first and then we started exploring punk music.
I understand that one of your favourite bands is the Adolescents; what do you love about them?
VIOLETA: Their music sound immediate and fresh to me. They have the best energy. Simple and perfect at the same time.
I know you are inspired by pop punk from Spain from the 80s; what are some of the bands you would recommend to us?
VIOLETA: Some of my favourite pop ones are Alaska y Dinarama or Pegamoides, La Mode or Los Zombies. Also some more punk like Deshechables, Parálisis Permanente or Ultimo Resorte. And finally the sad and darker ones like Décima Víctima, Ataque de Caspa or Golpes Bajos.
What made you start a band?
VIOLETA: I’ve always find making music a very fun process. I met our guitarist Fa the last year of High School and we used to spend the afternoons making songs with an acoustic guitar and recording them track by track in a double deck cassette player. Time went by and we met other people interested on music so we started Juanita y los Feos.
Can you tell us about your process for writing songs? Is it collaborative?
VIOLETA: Some of the songs just come up at our practice space, but most of the times we start from an idea, the most common thing is that Fa composes a guitar line at home, record it and shape it adding other instruments in a digital format and then send it to the rest of us by mail so we can start thinking about our part and finally we put all the pieces together at the rehearsal. So yes, we all collaborate in the process.
What are some of the feelings you’re trying to get across in your music?
VIOLETA: I always say that sadness, anger or other obscure feelings are more interesting than positive ones ‘cause people can relate more easily when you are telling your problems than when you are proclaiming how happy you are or how wonderful your life is. So normally I talk about things that I find frustrating or that I’m struggling with. Mostly death and getting old. But also things that I see and find interesting.
Where did the title of your last album Justicia Cósmica (Cosmic Justice) come from?
VIOLETA: In the song ‘te elevas’ we talk about this person who is not moving on while everybody else is doing great, we try to reflect the frustration behind that feeling, and also how we find peace on thinking that the “cosmic justice” will put everyone in place sooner or later. We believe in karma in that sense.
What is the song ‘El chico de las estrellas’ about?
VIOLETA: ‘El chico de las estrella’s tells the story of a friend of us who is certain that some of these days the aliens would come and take him with them. He loves psychedelic drugs, and he is very serious about all that. I found a resemblance somehow with David Bowie and the Spiders from Mars, also inspired by Rocket Man by Elton John…you mix all that and ‘El chico de las estrellas’ came out.
Your latest release is the EP La Hija Del Sepulturero (which translates to The Daughter Of The Gravedigger); what inspired this song/EP?
VIOLETA: The song “Que tendrá” is based on a poem with the same name by Gabriel y Galán, a Spanish poet from the XIX century. My friend Hector from the band Sudor, found it and sent it to me because he knows very well the things I like and the poem is very dark but also very funny. It tells the story of this girl who happens to be the daughter of the gravedigger whom nobody likes but is always happy, and nobody likes her cause she is always showing off with new clothes and people gossip about how all of those clothes come from all the bodies his father buries.
I love that you include your lyrics with your music; why is this important to you?
VIOLETA: I’ve always loved to sing along with my records, so I try to help people to do the same with our music. Is not essential but I think that is important to know what a song talks about.
Outside of music what are some things that are important to you?
VIOLETA: Art and Literature. I’ve studied Fine Arts and I love drawing. I love making posters for the incoming shows. Pablo, our drummer and I screen print. Also love comic books and really enjoy reading.
What are your working on at the moment?
VIOLETA: Musically we are working on our third album. In the real world I’m an art teacher in High School. Pablo works as a printer in a workshop. Fa is a graphic designer and illustrator and he designs most of our artwork.