Los Bitchos Craft Deranged Tropical Rock on Alex Kapranos-Produced Debut

Photo Credit: Tom Mitchell

Fusing a global array of funky, psychedelic sounds, London-based quartet Los Bitchos has crafted the soundtrack to strange days and weird nights shared with your friends, where it seems like anything can happen. Their debut album – fittingly called Let the Festivities Begin! – is comprised of instrumental rock bangers with cheeky titles like “Tripping at a Party” and “Lindsay Goes to Mykanos.” The latter is a nod to the reality series Lindsay Lohan’s Beach Club

“We’ve always had that sunshine, tropical sheen with an edge of deranged-ness. I think that’s been there from the get-go,” says Guitarist Serra Petale on a recent video call. “Sound-wise, we really cemented ourselves in the studio because that was the first time that we all recorded together in the same room and we were able to really get behind the production-side of things.”

Petale and bassist Josefine Jonsson had known each other for years through a mutual friend. Nic Crawshaw came into the fold after the band had formed and put out a call on Facebook for a permanent drummer. “Up until that point, we were getting our friends and stuff to fill in for gigs,” says Petale. But\ it’s the story of how Petale and keytarist Augustina Ruiz befriended each other that says a lot about Los Bitchos’ vibe.

The two had run into each other around town, but an encounter at a party cemented their friendship. “I had fallen into a body of water and I was wet and Augustina was really kind to me and she helped me dry my sock and shoe and we were talking for the rest of the party,” Petale recalls as her bandmates, who have all joined in the call from their respective homes in London, laugh in the background. “She was great. We really hit it off from there.”

In a bit of happenstance, the band was able to connect with Alex Kapranos of Franz Ferdinand to produce the album after he caught them live. “We wanted to promptly go into the studio and we thought that we would just ask him,” says Petale, adding that they had only “semi-met” him at the show a few weeks earlier. “The worst he can say is no. But, he didn’t. He said yes!”

“It happened really quick. One minute, he’s saying yes and then the next minute we’re having a meeting with him at our manager’s house and then weeks later we’re in the studio with him,” Petale adds. Those first sessions resulted in the band’s previously released singles, “Pista (Fresh Start)” and “The Link Is About to Die.” Later on, they would go on to record the full-length. 

“He really transformed the album. He put a lot of himself into it, and his ideas, they’re just so creative, and they come from such good and clever place,” says Petale. “The way that he would explain ideas and why things can go somewhere or why he can turn this structure around on its head or working on little parts of the songs, he put so much of himself on the record. Again, he invested as much love and time as we all did, which I think made the record that much more special.”

The collaboration resulted in friendship as well. “It was really nice to get to know him and become mates,” says Petale. “It’s a nice thing to have in your life.”

Photo Credit: Tom Mitchell

It would take some time, though, for Let the Festivities Begin! to come to life. They had finished a good chunk of the album in early 2020, with Petale and Crawshaw recording some of the final percussion overdubs just prior to the initial COVID-19 lockdown. “Then the rest of the guitar overdubs and synth sounds and things all happened gradually whenever people were allowed to get together,” says Crawshaw. 

Overall, the band members estimate that it took at least a year to make the album— “with very big gaps in between when no one was allowed to do anything,” Crawshaw adds. 

Yes, that did make it a bit of a frustrating experience. “With any record, you either want to feel like you’re constantly working on it or you just want it to be finished,” says Petale. “You want to put it out because it’s a body of work that we’ve all been working so hard on.”

But, adds Petale, “There were other issues in life at the time. It’s just the way that it was and it happened how it happened and now it’s finished and we’re super happy with how it turned out.”

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