Albertucho is one of those diamonds in the rough that are a pleasure to hear perform. Perched on the edge of a fountain in an immense patio at the EMASESA cultural centre with a guitar draped over one knee, his voice filled the space like no other. Singer-songwriter Albertucho has collaborated with the likes of Juan de Dios Martín, Alejandro Pelayo from Marlango, Los Delinqüentes and Xoel López from Deluxe to blend his special style of rock, blues and even chirigotera rhythms that he performs solo, or with a trio, cuartet or big band. A curiously self-effacing character who claims “I don’t really sing that well” and identifies with the anti-hero that is Capitán Cobarde (Captain Coward - the name of his fourth album), this is one musician to look out for. If you get the chance to see him live, grab it with both hands.
Q: Shall we begin?
A: I should probably throw away my cigarette, right? You can’t smoke anywhere anymore. In a concert in Guadalajara a little while back I eat a cigarette. I eat it as an act of protest. I was dying for a fag and while they did the bass solo I stood on the side of the stage and eat it.
Q: Did it help?
A: Nope. I spent the next half hour spitting it out (laughs).
Q: You’ve said you can’t “sing for shit” on several occasions. Don’t you need to have a good voice to be a singer?
A: I’m a songwriter, not a singer. Singers need to have a great voice. But if what you’re after is creating songs and expressing your feelings sincerely, the most important thing is to feel the music. Being in key is important, but there’s no need to be Montse Caballé.
Q: Bob Dylan, Tom Waits, Leonard Cohen… What’s your inspiration?
A: In the beginning it was Spanish and urban rock: Pata Negra, Smash, Extremoduro… As time passes one tends to expand ones horizons and get to know new music. I feed off the things I like. At the moment I’m getting into Dylan, Tom Waits, Leonard Cohen, Lou Reed. Music in general. Good music.
Q: Are you more of a poet than a singer, like Sabina?
A: I’m neither a poet or a singer. I’m a songwriter. I think of myself as a guy who expresses what he feels and tries to be honest about it. Poets are very important people. I’m no poet.
Q: Do you feel more comfortable with a pen or a microphone?
A: Both are part of my way of understanding life since I work with both on a daily basis. Composing is more relaxing because it can be done at home. But, being a true rocker, I love performing live. I love the fury and passion.
Q: And where’s your guitar in all this?
A: It’s my chosen instrument. I’ve been playing since I was little to release my inner beast. Like Nietzsche says: to conduct my very own psychoanalysis. My guitar is the way in which I channel my thoughts. It’s the instrument I most understand and so I can express myself naturally.
Q: Capitán Cobarde is the title of your fourth album. What is Captain Coward afraid of?
A: Capitán Cobarde is like a character from a Woody Allen film. Noble and pure, he’s the first to abandon ship when it starts to sink. I believe that bravery has been misunderstood and equated with a type of courage induced by guns, canons and invasion. Why should I be brave if bravery often equates with murder? I’m a coward and I smell the flowers. I don’t break them.
P: Alejandro Pelayo from Marlango, Los Delinqüentes, Xoel López from Deluxe… The Captain is a coward but he’s not alone…
A: I’ve been lucky enough to have a lot of company on this journey, this pirate ship. Their collaborations have often come from them: they’ve liked what I’m doing and they decide to take part. In the case of Diego from Los Delinqüentes, he’s part and parcel of the album. Xoel López from Deluxe listened to some tunes and decided to add some chords. I cooked a carne ‘mechá’, bought a few beers and he played for the album… It’s really fulfilling when people want to help out. I think it’s made the whole project more honest.
Q: What’s left of the Alberto who created your first album Que se callen los profetas?
A: I try to maintain some of the purity of adolescence. I started out when I was only seventeen and I try not to loose sight of some of my naivety. Life tries to drag it out of you any way it can, but I try to be true to myself. Obviously one gets influenced by new things over time that give new ideas to express through music.
Q: In one of your songs you mention that you can’t see because of the fog. Is the music industry these days confusing for an artist?
A: It’s not that the music industry is confusing, it’s more that people need to believe in you to invest in you. Sometimes one can get lost in it all and feel unappreciated. I often wonder “who are all these people, I’ve got nothing to do with them”. But time has a way of helping me learn to take it on the chin and get on with life.
Q: How many of you are there in your band?
A: We’ve created different formats. I’m a “singer-songwriter” but I work in different formats. Alone with my guitar, in a trio, a quartet and a big band that includes a wind section, piano and double-bass, Tom Waits-style. You have to adapt to different budgets.
Q: Especially these days.
A: Now more than ever.
Q: Do you still live in Seville?
A: I still live in Seville. It’s where I feel most at home.
Q: Is Andalusia a good base camp?
A: Andalusia isn’t an easy place for rock music. Andalusia has flamenco. Andalusia has theatre. And these get support. But rock and roll is undervalued. Those of us creating rock music in Andalusia don’t often get called up to play here.
Q: What was the first stage you performed on?
A: It was at “el local”, a sort of cultural association/squat near the Alameda in 1998. I played in a punk band called Cogorza. I was hooked and I’ve considered myself a rocker ever since.
Q: Describe your final performance.
A: I love what I’m doing so much that I think I’d like to die as I walk off stage for the last time.
Q: You produce an album every two years. Will Captain Coward be more daring on the next one?
A: Capitán Cobarde will be what he is today. I’m currently listening to more and more new American and English folk music with a little sweet kick to it. Things like the Fleet Foxes and Mumford and Sons. I tend to investigate and incorporate the things I like. But I’ll continue to be the same Capitán Cobarde. There’s not a brave bone in my body.
These albums related to Albertucho may interest you.
- • Albertucho. 2008. Amasijo de porrazos.
- • Albertucho. 2010. Palabras del capitán cobarde.
- • Albertucho. 2004. Que se callen los profetas. Productor: Eugenio Muñoz.
- • Albertucho. 2006. Lunas de Mala Lengua.