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Posted June 16, 2020 by Jeff in Tunes
 
 

Alt-Rock Act Circo Returns From 13-Year Hiatus with Adventurous Concept Album

Circo
Circo

After a 13-year hiatus, the Puerto Rico-based alt-rock band Circo has returned with its latest studio effort, Adiós Hola. In December of last year, singer Fofé, keyboardist Egui, drummer David and guitarist Orlando returned to the recording studio to work on the album, which they recorded in its entirety in Puerto Rico. 

The Verano Intenso (Intense Summer) of 2019 in Puerto Rico served as the backdrop for the songs, and the album’s title signifies a goodbye to the band’s 13-year hiatus and a hello to a new chapter.

In a recent phone interview, Fofé and David both spoke about the album, a conceptual release that finds the band delving into rock, pop and electronica.

Fofé was in San Juan, and David was on the west side of the island.

Talk about how the band first came together. It was in 2001, right?

Fofé: David, Egui and I were in a previous band, El Manjar de los Dioses, which means “peace for the gods.” After that band broke up in 1999, we decided to create Circo. We invited Orlando to play guitar and we had a bass player, Nico, who went away from the band. It’s just the four of us. We released the first album in 2001, and it was a Latin Grammy nominee, and it was the first time that alternative rock was in the headlines in Puerto Rico. After that, we got a contract with Universal Mexico and moved to Mexico and Los Angeles for a while. We made a second album that was nominated for a Latin Grammy. Then, we created the third album and signed with Sony Music Latin. It gave us some experience playing in Mexico, Argentina and the United States. In 2009, we took a break, but we never imagined it would go for 13 years. Here were are today back and presenting this new album. It reflects the changing times we are experiencing right now. 

As one of the first alternative bands to come out of Puerto Rico, what did you draw upon for your influences?

David: There are a lot of influences that come to Puerto Rico. We’re in the Caribbean. We hear rock and folk and Latin stuff. On the album, there are things that complement the styles of music that Circo uses in the songs. 

Fofé: Living on an island is very different than living in a big city. On the island, we are all mixed up. The musicians on the island can play salsa and bolero and rock. I think the rockers can do more than the other ones. In Puerto Rico, we have an alternative scene that is more underground and not recognized by the mainstream media. There are bands from Puerto Rico that travel around the world. They might not be known on the island, but they are known throughout the world. There are different bands, from garage to punk to hard rock to hardcore to electro pop and metal. 

I think a reunion concert brought the band back together. Talk about that. 

Fofé: We had shows in 2009 and then again 2012 and 2014. We released “Libre,” which we included on this album, in 2014. It’s always a great experience to perform. We didn’t have the time to go to the studio to create an album like we wanted. This album is a conceptual album, and the ten songs are related to each other. It’s a complete experience to enjoy the album from beginning to end. It takes you on a journey of influences and sonic atmospheres and feelings. 

Was it easy to get back into routine of playing together? 

Fofé: In the 13 years we were on this hiatus, we always exchanged ideas. We were involved in different projects that kept us working all the time. It’s super emotional and a great experience to work together as a group. We have a connection that is difficult to ignore and difficult to express in words. It was so much fun to make this album and show our different influences and to build each song and to reveal our uniqueness and the sound that we expressed. It was like we were never apart. 

You recorded the entire album in Puerto Rico. What was that like?

David: We’ve been working on the road. Some of us have been traveling or doing some things. We connected on the internet and sent ideas all the time. I guess we were anticipating the way things are right now with the pandemic. We were doing this in 2018. 

Fofé: Everyone was working on different projects, and the production was mostly remote. The drums were recorded in a studio, and the keyboards and some guitars and bass were recorded at Spectra Studios, which is on the west side of the island. The voices and some other things were recorded in San Juan. The production was made by Puerto Rican talent. We worked with some excellent Mexican producers on previous albums, but with this one we decided to do it ourselves and felt good doing it. We had been working on different projects for the past 13 years, and this made us ready for this quest, and we’re very pleased with the results. 

The album features lots of electronica in songs such as “Las Joyas” and “Perdidos en el Bosque.” Talk about expanding your musical boundaries. 

David: We usually want to try new things. We made an album that travels from the most quiet and vulnerable to the most epic song. There is lots of drum programming, and one characteristic is the use of vocoders for effect. The first song is mostly created by vocoders. 

Fofé: We use Puerto Rican rhythms in songs like “Donde Nadie Nos Conoce,” which is based on the bombs rhythm, but, of course, it’s in conversation with electric guitars, and it’s kind of an industrial approach, which makes everything more interesting. The rhythms are interesting. 

David: It’s like electro dancehall. We were just having fun with it. 

Fofé: David had a blast with it.

The opening track, “La Tormenta,” is such a beautiful ballad. Did Hurricane Maria inspire it?

Fofé: Not specifically. Not literally. It has to do with this climate of urgency. It’s like a critical moment that makes you have contact with your inner feelings and everything you love because everything is about to change. That’s what the song is about. Of course, it can be with a political experience and the earthquakes and with the drama that has come to Puerto Rico from 2017 until today. 

I like the album cover artwork. Who did it?

Fofé: It’s made by a great and talented artist from Puerto Rico. He’s Sebastián Gutiérrez. He’s on Instagram by mayigetasebastian. He’s an excellent artist. We commissioned him. He did an amazing job. He listened to the songs and interpreted them.  

It sounds like it’s a good time for art in Puerto Rico.

Fofé: I think so. It’s an island that is full of talent in music and performances. Everyone is high on their feelings and creating stuff about everything that has been happening to us and to the world. It’s a great moment to create art. 

Have you started to think about the next album yet?

Fofé: Yes. We were talking about that just minutes before we got connected with you. 


Jeff

 
Jeff started writing about rock ’n’ roll some 20 years ago when he stood in the pouring rain to hitch hike his way to see R.E.M. on their Life’s Rich Pageant tour. Since that time, he's written for various daily newspapers, alt-weeklies, magazines and websites. Feel free to comment on his posts or suggest music, film and art to him at jeff@whopperjaw.net.