Venezuelan rockers Telegrama are ready to take on the world.
Venezuelan rock band Telegrama finally arrive in the United States, despite the social and political unrest in their home country, to promote their third album, Cambia Tus Amigos, and its single, “Vamos.”
Although largely unknown to American audiences, Telegrama has been around since 2005 and describe themselves as a Spanish rock and alternative band. Their previous releases received critical acclaim, including the album Country Club, which was their first exposure to the American market through MTV and placed them at the top of the Venezuelan charts.
By 2013, the band had developed a more defined sound and identity, and began working on their new album. The result is a more mature project that promotes individual growth in every person.
Reaching the states is a dream come true for the group, who have waited a long time for the opportunity, due to the unstable economical and political climate in their native Venezuela.
Telegrama is comprised of Javier Garcia, Roberto Castillo, Daniel Pirone and Gonzo Suarez, and in an exclusive interview with Living Out Loud, vocalist Garcia discusses their past struggles, their new album and their upcoming plans.
Living Out Loud: Why was the wait so long to approach the American market?
Javier Garcia: Well, as you may be aware, we’re from a country that is a bit …complicated. Venezuela has being submerged in a deep economic crisis for years now, and that delayed our projects and plans for about two years. That, combined with the difficulty with air travel out of Venezuela due to so many airlines leaving the country, made the delays even longer. For us, it seemed like an absurd dream at first, because we had only ever promoted in Venezuela, but finally we have an opportunity to do it over there.
LOL: Has the political unrest in your country limited or hindered the band’s freedom of artistic expression?
JG: Up until now, we’ve had complete freedom of expression. The only reason that would change is if we somehow posed any threat to the government, and so far, that is not the case. The only instances I know of repression are of people who belong to anti-political organizations that challenge the corruption our government has become known for. Otherwise they leave people alone, but the classism in the country is enormous. We’ve never been repressed, but we have been placed within the absurd class system as rich, in a system that only has very few rich and mostly poor.
LOL: So you have complete freedom with your social protest songs?
JG: Yes. At first, we did several protest songs like “Dejar de Hablar” and “Prisionero.” Now with this new album, we did a song that is a lot more provocative in order to make our protest something more proactive. We want people to look within themselves and evolve into change. We know we need a change here, but that can only start within each of us.
LOL: What message do you wish to deliver with Cambia Tus Amigos?
JG: The main message is that change starts inside of us to improve our lives. We know change is necessary, but where does that change start? Here in Venezuela, we’ve developed bad habits such as not respecting traffic laws, not paying taxes, etc. There are very basic ideals about Democracy that most Venezuelans are just not well-versed in. We can’t ask others to change unless we change first, and that’s what we want people to understand.
LOL: Do you think that you’ve evolved and matured as a band since your last album?
JG: Yes. It’s not only musical maturity but life maturity as well. We were younger when we released our last album, and we’ve changed our style. Also, the socio-economic crisis we’ve experienced has influenced our way of thinking.
LOL: Tell us a bit more about the recording process of the new album.
JG: Roberto Castillo who is also our guitarist and Ruben Gutierrez, who is a friend of the band and comes from another band called Gaelica, produced Cambia Tus Amigos. We recorded here in Caracas in Ruben’s studio, and then the album was re-mastered by Mark Barbiero in New York. Masa, who already won a Grammy for us in 2012, did the concept and design behind the album. We also had the support of several other bands, and we launched it in Venezuela in October of last year.
LOL: What is “Vamos” about?
JG: “Vamos” is about hope and optimism, and talks about continuing to work in music, which is what we love, and how here in Venezuela that has been very difficult.
LOL: How would you describe the state of Spanish rock in Venezuela?
JG: Honestly, some of the best music out of Latin America is made here in Venezuela. If you stop and think of all the old and new music that’s come out of here, it’s astonishing. Nevertheless, the market is at rock bottom, and many industries have actually come to a halt due to the crisis. We’re a perfect example of the great music Venezuela has to offer, it’s just that most don’t have the resources to make themselves known abroad.
These young men definitely bring something new to the table, including very strong objectives to promote social change through their music, not only in Venezuela, but in other parts of the world. They are now embarking on a very ambitious promotional tour throughout South America, including sold-out shows in Peru and Colombia. As far as a performance in Los Angeles, they are in talks to set up some dates soon.
Cambia Tus Amigos is currently available. For more information, visit telegramamusic.com.
Edison Millan contributed to this story.