ABOVE: MOURN IN BARCELONA, FEBRUARY 2015. PHOTOS BY LAS COLECCIONISTAS.
Before last month, Carla Pérez Vas (18) of punk rock band Mourn had never been on an airplane, let alone dreamt of playing shows throughout Europe and soon the United States. Pérez Vas boarded her first plane in January alongside bandmates Jazz Rodríguez Bueno (18), Jazz’s sister Leia (15), and Antonio Postius Echeverría (18), en route to Amsterdam. “It was like a roller coaster!” she says between earnest giggles.
Although Mourn has only been making music together for one short year, they have already released a buzz-worthy LP, played shows throughout Europe, and will soon take the stage in the United States. The Catalonia-natives’ self-titled debut album dropped in September 2014 via their homeland’s Sone Records, and yesterday, Brooklyn’s indie label Captured Tracks re-released Mourn on vinyl. Throughout the record’s 11 songs, the band conveys a certain sense of maturity as well as angst-ridden urgency with standout tracks like “Otitis” and “Dark Issues,” volleying between existential woe and, literally, “boys are cunts” lyrics.
Iconic women rockers, such as PJ Harvey, Patti Smith, and Sleater Kinney, heavily influence Jazz Rodríguez Bueno. When we recently Skyped with her and Pérez Vas, their adoration of and respect for these women became clear, but that’s not to say they didn’t bubble with excitement at just about everything else. Speaking in broken English, the two were all smiles and laughs, finishing each other’s sentences and expressing complete awe at the fact that we were interested in talking in the first place.
BENJAMIN LINDSAY: What’re you two up to? I know it’s about 3pm there.
CARLA PÉREZ VAS: We’re going to cook…
JAZZ RODRIGUEZ BUENO: …Eggs with rice or something like this.
LINDSAY: A nice afternoon meal, not bad. You have been friends for a while and then the Mourn quartet kind of sprouted from there, right?
RODRIGUEZ BUENO: Well, we met at high school, maybe when we were 16. Two years ago. But with Antonio, the drummer, I think we’re friends since we’re 12.
LINDSAY: How is it that you all started playing music together?
PÉREZ VAS: Jazz and I met and we started playing together and doing covers of PJ Harvey and Elliott Smith, but we didn’t know what we were doing, so we started writing songs and we just said, “Whoa. We have something. We just have to record it.” That was when we talked to Antonio and Leia and we started thinking about recording the album.
RODRIGUEZ BUENO: And making a band.
LINDSAY: When you started recording, you were uploading it straight to YouTube, and then that got the attention of Sones Records?
RODRIGUEZ BUENO: Yeah.
LINDSAY: I watched some of those videos. That first one, “Boys Are Cunts,” really gets to the point!
PÉREZ VAS: [laughs] We recorded those videos just because we wanted just to see us playing and hear the songs, and that’s all. We put it in YouTube… I don’t know why.
RODRIGUEZ BUENO: The videos were funny for us.
LINDSAY: What kind of music did you, Jazz, and Leia listen to growing up? Were you listening to punk all the time?
RODRIGUEZ BUENO: Not all the time. We like bands from ’90s, but I think my favorite band is The Clash. I’ve grown up with them. They’ve been my favorite band since I was a little girl because my father showed them to me. I think that’s why I started playing because I wanted to make songs like that. And Leia, too. Leia didn’t know which bands are her favorite. We listen to different kind of music. Leia loves Haim.
PÉREZ VAS: Antonio really likes rap music, heavy metal… stuff like that. And Jazz and I listen to just similar music, I think.
RODRIGUEZ BUENO: Yeah, but different bands. We started listening to different bands, and then we’ve been, I don’t know, exchanging bands—me and her.
PÉREZ VAS: I think I listen to more music like Jack White and The Strokes, something more mirrored to me.
LINDSAY: More personal?
PÉREZ VAS: Yeah.
RODRIGUEZ BUENO: And my bands are The Clash, Sunny Day Real Estate, Archers of Loaf, a bunch like this.
PÉREZ VAS: Jazz is more ’90s or more of a mash-up of a lot of things.
LINDSAY: Jazz, how did your and Leia’s parents react to Mourn and having both of their daughters be a part of it?
RODRIGUEZ BUENO: My father is really proud of us because he plays too, and he sees that we’re happy when we play.
PÉREZ VAS: And he really likes our band!
RODRIGUEZ BUENO: Yeah, he’s a real fan! [laughs] And my mom, well, she’s more worried. But she likes it, too.
LINDSAY: Worried because you’re pursuing music and the arts?
RODRIGUEZ BUENO: Because we have to travel and all this, but she’s getting used to it.
LINDSAY: Do you ever write songs about your parents?
PÉREZ VAS: [laughs] We didn’t, but we should. We’ll try.
LINDSAY: Why do you choose to write and sing in English?
RODRIGUEZ BUENO: It just came up this way. When I knew Carla, I didn’t have any songs, maybe little things, but I never wrote anything…
PÉREZ VAS: And I did.
RODRIGUEZ BUENO: I remember she had one song, and it was in English, so I thought, “Well, if I play with her, I will make stuff in English, too.” And that’s it. That’s why we wrote in English. We’ve written in Catalan, too. The new EP we’ll release this spring—
PÉREZ VAS: We recorded it two weeks ago or three weeks ago.
RODRIGUEZ BUENO: It has a song in Catalan.
PÉREZ VAS: We don’t know exactly the [release] date.
RODRIGUEZ BUENO: But this spring.
LINDSAY: Could you walk me through your songwriting process? Is it one or both of you sitting down to write a song or you each write your own music?
PÉREZ VAS: Jazz and I meet and then we just start playing. All the ideas come to us and we start writing.
RODRIGUEZ BUENO: It’s very spontaneous ’cause we start improvising: “Oh yeah, I like that!” We just keep playing and when we have something that we like, we start writing the lyrics and it’s very fast. It’s cool.
LINDSAY: Is that a process that the four of you are a part of, or is the improvisation just you two?
PÉREZ VAS: The first part is just Jazz and I.
RODRIGUEZ BUENO: Yes, and when we have the song more or less constructed, we meet—the four of us—and Leia and Antonio do their part.
PÉREZ VAS: And do their magic. [laughs]
RODRIGUEZ BUENO: They improvise, too.
PÉREZ VAS: The idea of the song changes a little bit, but I think that’s the important thing—the song is the four of us, not Jazz’s and my thing.
LINDSAY: What is it about punk and rock-‘n’-roll that speaks to you? Why is it that you first wanted to delve into those musical waters?
PÉREZ VAS: I think that rock-‘n’-roll is a style that we like and a way of thinking. We really like the philosophy of punk.
RODRIGUEZ BUENO: We like what these bands say to us.
PÉREZ VAS: Their ideas.
RODRIGUEZ BUENO: They are sincere and honest about what they are doing. That’s what we’re like. We like to be ourselves and that’s it.
PÉREZ VAS: And we do that. [laughs]
LINDSAY: Something that keeps popping up with anything I’ve read about Mourn is how your sound is mature beyond your years…
PÉREZ VAS: We’re doing what we like and it doesn’t care about if we are 15 or 18.
RODRIGUEZ BUENO: We are growing up as persons since we’ve been playing, and I think that the new songs are more… Yeah, we’re maturing. It’s the same style and the same things, but a level up, you know?
LINDSAY: With the new LP, you recorded it live in the studio over two days. Did you feel that approach brought a certain authenticity or rawness to your sound?
PÉREZ VAS: I think that it’s good because we record the music in that way, and then when people come to our concert, it’s…
RODRIGUEZ BUENO: It’s the same energy. It’s honest because we just play how we play. With mistakes or not, that’s the way we do it, so that’s the way we record it.
LINDSAY: Well, obviously the LP has gotten you a bunch of attention overseas. You’re now signed with Brooklyn’s Captured Tracks. What’s it been like to receive this kind of attention?
PÉREZ VAS: Amazing.
RODRIGUEZ BUENO: It’s kind of crazy.
PÉREZ VAS: At first it was weird because we just felt like, “What the fuck is happening?”
RODRIGUEZ BUENO: Because we’ve been playing just for a year together.
PÉREZ VAS: It’s happening so fast.
RODRIGUEZ BUENO: But we’re so, so excited. It’s awesome.
LINDSAY: Have you been to the United States before?
RODRIGUEZ BUENO: No, never.
LINDSAY: To be performing together for just a year and then have it take you around the world is pretty incredible. And Jazz, you’re still studying animation through all this?
RODRIGUEZ BUENO: Yes, I’m still studying because it’s something that I like. Sometimes I have to stop going to class because I have to do interviews and stuff. It’s a little bit hard to go to class, and while I prefer to play than to go to class, obviously, I have to keep studying. I don’t know what I want to do with this, but I had to do it by myself, you know? I wanted to learn something. Last year, in this pre-college preparation, I didn’t learn a thing. Education in Spain is awful.
PÉREZ VAS: Well, everything in Spain is.