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.”

Follow Los Bitchos on Instagram and Facebook for ongoing updates.

NEWS ROUNDUP: RIP Fats Domino, Alice Glass Alleges Abuse & More

  • Fats Domino Dies At Age 89

    The singer and pianist from New Orleans penned a number of hits, like “I’m Walkin'” and “Ain’t That a Shame,” that defined 1950s rock ’n’ roll by blending occasionally the sounds of his hometown with R&B. His part in the genre was highly influential; Elvis referred to him as the real king of rock ’n’ roll, and he was one of the first to make it into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. After news of his death on Wednesday, New Orleans honored him by throwing a street party. In Texas, artists such as Elvis Costello, Dr. John and Trombone Shorty covered his songs at the Austin City Limits Hall of Fame induction. Watch below:

  • Alice Glass Alleges Abuse Against Bandmate

    In a harrowing post on her website, Alice Glass revealed why she actually left Crystal Castles in  2014. She details a history of both emotional and physical abuse by bandmate Ethan Kath, starting when she was just 15, before the band became successful. Kath has denied the allegations, but the new iteration of Crystal Castles (which includes Edith Frances in place of Glass) was dropped from upcoming show and festival dates. An old article from 2008 appears to back up many details of her statement. Read the full thing here.

  • Other Highlights

    Julia Holter also speaks out about Matt Mondanile, Eminem donates lawsuit money to hurricane victims, Franz Ferdinand announce new song/album, listen to Gord Downie’s final albumSam Smith opens up about gender, watch new videos from Morrissey, Spoon, Angel Olsen and War On Drugs, Billy Corgan covers Miley Cyrus, an all-women music festival, let Beyonce tell your future with Beyonséance, and a Buffy The Vampire Slayer inspired video from Charly Bliss.

INTERVIEW: The Intelligence


The Intelligence Vintage Future album cover

Imagine that aliens have invaded; they’re taking control, except instead of ruling the planet, what they really want is to jam in your garage.  What you’ve got then is The Intelligence, an LA-based post-punk band that grows more and more with each new album (and they’ve had eight great ones, it’s hard to keep up).  Just a week or so after the release of their latest LP Vintage Future, I got to speak with founding member, lead singer, and resident genius Lars Finberg via e-mail.

“I think maybe we have tried to have a foot in the future and one in the past?” says Finberg, in terms of where exactly this extraterrestrial sound comes from.  “I am a fan of antiquated rickety presentations of the future like Buck Rogers or Joe Meek.”

The influence is clear – it’s like Meek’s I Hear a New World got a bit of a modern upgrade on Vintage Future.  The album’s title track especially emphasizes this imagery, starting with an other-worldly ringing and ending with a robotic voice whining, “But I was just learning how to love.”  A tragedy indeed.

The fantastic production value of this record makes for a clear vision of what exactly a vintage future might be.  Says Finberg, “I think our engineer/producer/recordist Chris Woodhouse improves from greatness with each record he makes.”

A clean and cohesive lo-fi sound coupled with simple, catchy lyrics capitalize the band’s thematic lyrical poignancy, as well as their ability to be unforgivingly and cohesively strange.  These lyrics and themes have a way of creeping into your brain, and it’s brilliant to see Finberg keep coming up with more and more, seemingly never running out of new ideas.

“I X-ray what’s inside me and try to read the blueprints as clearly as I can,” he says.  “If it sounds like someone else’s X-ray I’m not afraid to use white out or tape or glue to make it newer to me.”

A standout for me is “Dieu Merci Pour La Fixation De La Machine a Coudre,” which is a near-translation of a track on 2009’s Fake Surfers record, “Thank You God For Fixing The Tape Machine.”

While the original track fits right in with their garage rock sound, the latter is a slower serenade. Lyrics like “In the moonlight/Out of the cruel light/I’ve been mesmerized/I think I almost feel right” backed by a swoon-worthy guitar make you want to go for a tango in Paris.  Though the songs sound worlds apart, Finberg calls the connection between the two “a secret puzzle.”

“Cool you noticed that,” he says. “The Fake Surfers song was related to a tape machine and love.  The Vintage Future update was inspired in France at a club called ‘Machine a Coudre’ or sewing machine, and love. Or some kind of version of it in either case.”

And it all seems strange to us from the outside, but that’s part of the magic in listening to The Intelligence – wanting to understand just what’s going on in Finberg’s brain.  “To quote Mitch Hedberg,” he says, “‘Come inside my head and tell me that doesn’t make sense.'”

Catch The Intelligence supporting Franz Ferdinand + Sparks at Terminal 5 on October 6.

[fusion_builder_container hundred_percent=”yes” overflow=”visible”][fusion_builder_row][fusion_builder_column type=”1_1″ background_position=”left top” background_color=”” border_size=”” border_color=”” border_style=”solid” spacing=”yes” background_image=”” background_repeat=”no-repeat” padding=”” margin_top=”0px” margin_bottom=”0px” class=”” id=”” animation_type=”” animation_speed=”0.3″ animation_direction=”left” hide_on_mobile=”no” center_content=”no” min_height=”none”][fusion_soundcloud url=”https://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/217249825″ params=”auto_play=false&hide_related=false&show_comments=true&show_user=true&show_reposts=false&visual=true” width=”100%” height=”450″ iframe=”true” /][/fusion_builder_column][/fusion_builder_row][/fusion_builder_container]