As a genre that has long held ties to life’s more sinister subjects, be they theatrical applications of satanic imagery or quite literally using the art of serial killers as an album cover, heavy metal’s gloomiest corners have long revelled in finding new ways to creep out their listenerships. But in 2018, overplayed tropes and overexposure to once-shocking sounds and imagery have saturated their impact. As such, in recent years, the most interesting and memorable artists have been those who set out to offer something different, and perhaps that’s why the surreal, bluesy noise rock mashup of Buñuel hits so damn hard. That’s not to say that their latest LP, The Easy Way Out, is the heaviest thing you’ll hear all year (at least musically speaking), but it’s certainly one of the most visceral listening experiences you’re likely to come across for some time.
Building on the foundation laid down by 2016’s A Resting Place For Strangers, the album is a rollercoaster of unsettling ferocity spearheaded by frontman Eugene S. Robinson (of Oxbow), whose raspy yells are poignant but in-your-face, like a twisted take on traditional blues vocals. Bolstering the perturbing shouts is the disconcerting racket conjured up by guitarist Xabier Iriondo (of Afterhours), bassist Pierpaolo Capovilla and drummer Franz Valente (both of Il Teatro Degli Orrori and One Dimensional Man).
A rollercoaster of musical extremity, The Easy Way Out is a haphazard listening experience, a runaway train with rusted brakes which, ironically, offers no easy way out of its rabbit hole. But, whilst its eccentric approach to heavy music draws heavily from surrealism and avant-garde textures like those championed by the filmmaker from whom the band take their name, it’s also gritty, bloody and bruised, conjuring up very real images of the fucked-up world we live in. How fitting that is too; in a world in which its increasingly hard not to feel pessimistic, the lines between imagination’s dark edges and the bleakness of reality grow more-and-more blurred.
With the aid of Google Translate, we had a chat with the band’s Pierpaolo Capovilla to talk surrealism, improvisation and more.
The Easy Way Out is not an easy listen; do you aim to create music that’s unsettling and challenging?
Sure. We certainly don’t aim to please our listeners with any kind of entertaining music. We only aim to make the music we like best. Our music is not made for fun, it’s something that relates to the reality we all live in, which is not nice at all.
Eugene’s vocal style is particularly distinct. What are you trying to convey with the lyrics and the way they’re delivered?
In my personal point of view, Eugene’s lyrics represent the efforts of a real poet to describe the world of threats and violence that we are witnessing all around us.
How do you think the music on The Easy Was Out has progressed since your debut?
I personally think that The Easy Way Out is a continuation of the discourse we began with the debut album. The Easy Way Out probably differs from A Resting Place… for its composition, which was made in a really fast way this time. No more than four recording days, without any rehearsal time beforehand; everything dictated by instinct.
Your name is a reference to the avant-garde filmmaker Luis Buñuel. Is your music directly inspired by his work?
I don’t think directly inspired.
Frankly speaking, during the very first discussion about the name of the band, I proposed “Los Olvidados”, which is the title of Buñuel’s first movie, a story of poor and marginalised kids. Eugene told us there was already a band in San Francisco named exactly that, hence he proposed Buñuel instead, and we all thought that was a great idea. We all liked it because we all love Luis Buñuel; the reference to the great master of surrealism made us all agree.
How do you take the inspiration of other mediums (Buñuel’s films, art, etc.) and transport it into sound?
We breathe art, and art is exactly what we do in the attempt to make our living. In our case, rock music is the form of art we belong to, thus we try all the time to make some new songs, new albums, and new tours. The latter is what is most important for us, because the stage is never a fictional moment of life, but always a time of reality; the moment we become true to ourselves. A concert is always an event of real life, instead of all the fake life the system imposes on us every day.
Surrealism is often tied with philosophy or the idea of exploring the unconscious mind, but it can mean different things to different artists. What does it mean to you?
Surrealism to me means revolution. Revolution of our lifestyle, of the way we see the world, and of the way we live in this world. It means a perspective in which our eyes don’t look at the surface, but at the deeper contents of daily life.
Your music is often surreal, but at times it can be quite poignant and expressive in a bluesy manner. Is blues an inspiration on your music?
Yes. Definitely! Blues is the source of our music.
What role does improvisation play in your music, if any?
As I mentioned before, we made the new album in a very fast way. That had been possible because we like improvisation. We like to make music by instinct, without thinking about all the details too much.
‘Shot’ is a surprising burst of punk surrounded by slower-paced numbers, where did the track come from?
When we recorded the instrumental parts we didn’t expect that Kasia [Meow] would have sung the song. The final result, something among Bikini Kill, Sonic Youth and The Jesus Lizard, has nicely surprised us all. And I don’t hide that it’s one of my favourite tracks.
What’s next for the band?
We’d love to make a European tour as soon as we can. It won’t be easy, because all of us play with different bands and have so many different commitments, but we’ll do our best, for sure!
The Easy Way Out is out now on La Tempesta. Purchase here.
Words: George Parr