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Punk Isn’t Just a Music Style

Branquias Johnson, the punk musician from Ronda with a very personal style, was at the Monkey Week festival in Seville, where he gave a concert on the 22nd November and exchanged impressions on the Spanish music scene and other aspects with TEVEO.

TEVEO: You’re going to be at Monkey Week in Seville this week, but it isn’t your first time at this festival. Last year a shorter edition took place at the Puerto de Santa María (Cadiz) and it was called Monkey Weekend. What makes you repeat?

Aside from having a great time, it’s a very nice festival. There is confidence between the organizers and I really enjoy it. I like how it’s organized.

What makes it different from other festivals?

This is the first time I attend to Monkey Week, but at the Weekend I saw a lot of different styles spread out throughout the streets. People go from one concert to another… and this makes it all so familiar, very close. All groups present are in contact with the public and I really like that.

It’s true that the connection of the artist with the audience enriches a lot a performance…

Yes, yes, yes. In addition, the places where the concerts take place have a nice view, for example (talking about de Monkey Week), the terrace of the Santa María bar. You get there going up on tremendously small stairs. A lot of people gather around, and they make great concerts.

Andalusia, the land, also has a lot of attraction…You are a musician from Ronda. Do you think that the place where you are born and raised determines you in some sort of way on a personal level, or, in your case, on a musical level?

Well, in my case it has influenced me but in other aspects, not in the style of music I make because it’s not very “Andalusian”, but it’s true that you acquire something from your surroundings. Ronda, specifically, hasn’t a very big music scene, but you can set yourself up to pull off a band and play music. There you have to propose it to yourself like to “make your bed and then lie in it” and it’s more difficult than doing it somewhere else, because in other places there are more people willing to play, set up, produce… and in Ronda we were practically three or four, no more. If you want to do it, it’s going to cost you, so, if you do it, it’s because you like it. Then, if I had lived somewhere else, where it would’ve been easier, maybe I would’ve changed from one band to another and maybe abandoned it for not being focused on nothing concrete.

You define your work as “garage, junk and poisonous rock”, but I would like you to explain these concepts a little bit to me…

It’s basically this (laughing), I couldn’t explain it any another way. After all, I make rock n’ roll avoiding all types of intrusiveness, simply basing the music and the CD on attitude and energy. We simplify rock n’ roll to the maximum so that only the essence stays.

 This “garage rock” can remind us a lot of the grunge aesthetic at the time…

I don’t want to trick you… When we started playing, it was very precariously, we didn’t even have any amplifier. Then we asked ourselves what we could do with what we had. When these things happen, attitude is what is left, and I think that all the bands of this kind, the real ones, not the ones pretending, we share this “without tricks” attitude. We thought “What do we have? A guitar and an amp, even if it sounds dirty and gross?” So, we go on with that. At the end, it’s what you project that matters.

You are fitted in the Andalusian punk and it’s something remarkable that it isn’t only about the musical genre, but we’re also talking about a certain designation of origin, like Triana did with their Andalusian rock. How does it differ from the normal term of punk?

Primarily, I don’t think of punk as a music style, but as an attitude. The difference between the English-speaking punk and the Andalusian punk is what surrounds you in each place, what you end up projecting and the way it’s done. I have a lot of influences, mostly from psychedelic and mainly from Latin America.

What are your musical references?

My musical references are many, not only garage and rock and roll: from Little Richard to The Crumbs. I feel much identified with a Peruvian band from the sixties called Psico. They are quite ‘poisonous’ when they make music.

What is missing and what overruns from the Spanish music picture?

I think it misses a very concrete thing: firstly, the veto from playing in theatres and in bars because of the noise and permits issues. I think it’s stupid because, afterwards, the same noise is made in the streets during a procession of the Semana Santa, for example. It’s not that I’m against it, but they play the trumpet and drums on the street for hours… Gigs last one hour and they benefit both the bar and the people. Then, from my point of view, what the bands are missing is constancy, or we all miss it. We must create more than just copy, not relying heavily on an influence to make it yours. Making mistakes and not being afraid of publishing EPs and CDs is important. I think it’s fundamental.