Exploring Spain’s garage rock scene & Doctor Explosion’s new single ‘Insatisfacciòn’ Video Premiere
Insatissfacciòn is the new hypnotic, driving, rhythmic single from Spanish gods of garage Doctor Explosion. In their own words; “Nobody remembers when Doctor Explosion began, not even them. Yet everybody in Spain knows they have been doing their Garage Rock thing for over thirty years.” They ”combine like no one else a wild hooliganism with the utmost professionalism”. Mention the name Doctor Explosion to anyone over a certain age who is into their music in Spain and they know Jorge Explosion (Jorge Muñoz-Cobo), the enigmatic, incredibly talented, energetic frontman who has powered the band through three decades of world tours, eight albums and a couple of line up changes. I have tested this thoroughly!
In the last few years there have been some well deserved breakout acts from Spain into the English language/ UK music atmosphere – Fuel Fandango, Rosalià…. Hinds were probably the band that introduced most people to an indie scene that they hadn’t been familiar with before, however. Hinds’ 2014 album Leave Me Alone found audiences worldwide searching to understand the sweaty, powerful performances and the bands that were orbiting around them.
The scene was not a new one. At the end of the 1970’s and throughout the 80’s Spain’s underground punk and rock movement roared with unmanageable energy and drive and multiplied quickly (fuelled in part by La Movida Madrileña – part of the Madrid and the country’s wider cultural rebirth from Franco’s rule). Gigs took part in cramped rehearsal spaces, and any spaces at all possible with bands like The Pleasure Fuckers and Sex Museum ready with names to shock and also fit in with the sexual revolution the country was undergoing. At this time Spain wasn’t on the map for international touring bands.
By the 90’s, however, that had started to change as had the indie/DIY scene as an undeniably Spanish “garajero” sound emerged from those musical experiments and jubilance. Garage is popular in artistic scenester pockets of Europe, but Spain’s thirst was unknowable. The Spanish genre was a charged, varied, slightly nostalgic version encapsulating everything from lo-fi, to psychedelia to surfer rock. So passionate were the followers of these bands, so dedicated were the musicians and the network of small regional DIY labels that ran and still run the scene (Subterfuge, Bankrobber, BCore, FOLC, etc) and so raucous were the shows that it’s hard to remember that this was and still is the underground, the peripheral.
One band to come out of this exciting era was 90’s garage band Doctor Explosion. The music is garage but with a dirty pulse. Jorge Explosion is the heartbeat and an exceptional performer. One of Spain’s most popular garage festivals is Tarragona’s Bule Bule Toga Fest, demanding all performers play in togas and the photos from their performances there capture so much life.
A side project to Doctor Explosion is Las Munjitas Del Fuzz (The Nuns of Fuzz), where, you guessed it, Jorge performs dressed like a nun. They are still performing from time to time in Spain so look out for their next gig.
Following a crazily successful Latin American tour just before Covid struck us all into suspended animation, Doctor Explosion have returned with their new single and have just finished work mastering the album that is to follow. The LP is out on Slovenly Records in the fall.
Jorge Explosion told me over drinks in one of his favourite bars in his hometown Gijon that Insatisfacciòn“is a song about contradictions, about an inability to make decisions, but also about feeling alienated. Alienated by our decisions but also our differences.” This can perhaps be seen as a metaphor for garage music itself finding a place in Spain, or people and young people in particular needing garage or DIY music in Spain to express themselves. The alienation they felt through difference needed an outlet just as Victor Guillet, Jorge’s alter ego in the song needs to take action. The video also features Nacho Álvarez (bassist in Manta Ray) and radio journalist/lead singer, Miguel Escalada, recently deceased, and to whom this is dedicated.
If we zoom back out to see where Doctor Explosion and Hinds land in a once again blossoming garage landscape in Spain right now people talk of a revival. Dave Simpson of The Guardian describes the Madrid indie scene; “The queue for La Vía Láctea club (the Milky Way) stretches up the street. Some 500 bands have passed through the Pandora’s Vox rehearsal space since its 2012 opening, and a significant number are making some sort of garage-inspired racket.”
If you want to experience the passion and energy of it all I can’t recommend highly enough some of the fantastic garage festivals that take place every year such as Fuzzville, Funtastic Dracula Carnival (both in Benidorm) and Motorbeach.
I have also put together an Intro to Spanish Garage Playlist for you to enjoy, and to explore beyond, to use as a starting point.
Doctor Explosion will be releasing their new album on Slovenly Records this fall.
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