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Rodrigo y Gabriela: Mettavolution

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Photo by Ebru Yildiz.

It's hard to imagine a loftier musical ambition than portraying the history of human evolution on a largely acoustic album.

But if anyone can do it, it's flamenco-meets-metal pioneers Rodrigo y Gabriela. Known for their energetic live performances, the Mexican cult favourites are approaching their twentieth anniversary. But far from slowing down they're celebrating the release of their fifth record, which includes an 18-minute Pink Floyd cover.

We caught up with the duo in the wake of the release of their new album, Mettavolution, and between world tours that would take in two emotional returns to Dublin, where their career took off.

Mettavolution is your first album for five years. What caused you to return to the studio, and was the bigger gap between albums planned?

Well, we are touring all over the world a lot of the time, and we don't write songs quickly, so the gaps between albums are often quite long. But we had reached a point around spring last year where we felt we had a strong selection of new songs for the new album, so we went back into the studio in the autumn, and the actual recording process happened quite quickly.

The promo for the album says it incorporates your interest in Buddhism and "the history of human evolution and the liberation of the potential we have as a species". How do you translate these ideas into music?

The new album represents a number of themes, but one of the central ones is how can we train ourselves to be better on the inside so that we might become a better citizen of the world on the outside. We hope the music creates an atmosphere or mood which takes the listener to a place where this could be possible to achieve.

You've got a reputation as being amazing to watch live. Do you find recording in the studio is more difficult or less rewarding than playing live?

It is a challenge to play with the same intensity in the studio that we do live, as we draw so much positive energy from the audience.

Dublin, and Ireland in general, is a big part of our story

That said, we always aim to bring a new level of spontaneity and discovery to the studio performance whenever we record new music.

You've done cover versions on previous albums, but is the 'Echoes' cover on Mettavolution the hardest cover version you've ever done? Do you have any more covers planned?

Well, 'Echoes' evolved over a period of time, and grew from live performances, as we worked out how to link it all together. It was a challenge to bring our own interpretation to life, as well as being careful to respect the Pink Floyd original. There are some interesting new covers coming quite soon!

One of the dates in your European tour of the new album in April was in Dublin. Does playing there feel like a homecoming after living there earlier in your career?

Dublin, and Ireland in general, is a big part of our story. It was the first place to welcome us, and we lived there for a number of years, until we were spending so much time on the road it became impractical. But our manager and record label are still based there.

We love playing there, and are back again soon. In terms of highlights, it has all been great so far, and we have enjoyed seeing the music from the new album being so well received by the fans.

You've been putting out music for a long time now. Do you pay much attention to critics' reviews and fans' reactions to your albums?

As I just said, the best feedback you can get is from the fans at the gigs clapping and singing along to the new songs in the same way they do to 'Tamacun' or 'Diablo Rojo'. Obviously it is nice when people are saying and writing positive things about you, but I think our success owes a lot to word-of-mouth from people who see us live, listen to our records, and tell their friends.

Finally, are there any things that no-one has asked about the album that you want fans to know?

We just want the fans to know we really appreciate them coming to see us and supporting our music!

Dan Rawley

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