Ears still ringing from a hastily arranged sound check, Breed 77 guitarist Pedro Caparros and his bass playing band mate Stuart Cavilla slump onto the leather sofas either side of me looking decidedly nervous. Guitarist Danny Felice will not be making the show in Reading tonight so being one down at short notice things are a little different. ‘It’s going to be a bit of a weird one for us,’ explains Stuart in his Spanish accent with a hint of London, ‘because Danny’s basically hurt his back and he literally cannot even walk. So we were rehearsing yesterday and we decided to go ahead with the gig and we rehearsed as a four-piece [with lead singer Paul Isola and drummer Andre Joyzi]. Pedro’s had to change guitar parts and stuff to accommodate for the set we were doing tonight and like they say the show must go on!’ he chuckles.
It’s the eve of festival season in the England. Tonight for Breed 77 and headliners Soil this is a pre-Download Festival warm-up, a chance to blow away any cobwebs before they play one of the biggest shows for rock and metal bands in the country. It is not the first time the band will have been back to Donington, a fact Pedro seems proud of. ‘In our ten-year career so far, five years makes it half of our career attending Download. A pretty big success especially nowadays with the state of the music business,’ he says, spreading his arms wide across the back of the couch as if cradling two imaginary groupies. ‘But Download is always an experience not only for yourself as a musician but also as a fan you get to check out so many bands in such a short time.’ As cool, calm and collected off stage as he is on it, Pedro Caparros is the more obvious rock star of the pair. The coiled, black hair seems to be holding his wiry frame down and gets an occasional hand sweep. His I’m-too-cool-for-this-shit posture is evident and I quietly hope for some artist petulance if only to up my game and fire it back. But, to be fair to him, that is a situation I have misread and to show how much of an arsehole he most certainly is not, Caparros answers all of my questions with complete honesty in his thick Catalan-accented English and quickly made me feel like one of his mates. ‘One of the things I really enjoy at Download is the possibility of meeting those guys that you know if we wouldn’t be in the VIP or the artist area you wouldn’t be able to just talk to them and see that they are just normal, like you are, to know that you’re on the same level. I think that’s a very human thing, you know? It’s a very interesting thing.’
By contrast Stuart Cavilla is wide-eyed, jittery energy on stage but unassuming, modestly funny and disarmingly friendly off it. Definitely the quieter of the two but no less affable, Cavilla could make friends with anybody. It can not be said of all musicians. ‘We’ve met all sorts,’ Stuart laughs at another Download memory. ‘One year we were there and Guns N Roses was playing and when Axl [Rose, GNR lead singer] came to the building they didn’t want any of the other bands around so that he could walk through the VIP so he could go to his backstage. Everybody had to go out and I’m talking all the bands.’ Pedro nods in agreement as Stuart continues: ‘Big names. Everybody out so Axl could walk. Nobody see him [or] look at him.’ My eyebrows raised in amazement at such an act (although in hindsight, nothing Axl Rose is said to have done should shock anyone anymore). That’s some ego, I agree.
One band Pedro and Stuart always enjoy meeting up with came as a bit of a surprise. Both impart tales of sharing a few beers with the rhythm section of Swedish progressive-death metal goliath Opeth. At the start of their respective careers meeting up at festivals they shared common ground, especially with ex-drummer, Uruguayan Martin Lopez. ‘With Michael (Akerfeldt, lead singer), no. But the rhythm section, yeah’. Not two bands you can imagine being on the same bill all too often. ‘I remember when these guys was starting to make some noise about the time that we was blowing up as a band as well,’ Pedro’s face becomes momentarily serious as if he is still trying to figure out how the rest of his anecdote came to pass: ‘And we got to play the same festivals. Well, they were not higher on the bill than us but it was like they were pulling maybe fifty people more than we were and, you know, they’ve gone bang and we’ve gone beong!’ He laughs as he raises one hand in the air and holds the other down by his feet. ‘But in a cool way we’re still here. But that’s one of the amazing things that you get to see when you’ve been in this business for such a long time, you know...they deserve it, they’re amazing.’ ‘Yeah, very good guys,’ Stuart agrees.
I’m sure people would say the same thing about you guys, I point out. An utterance I didn’t count on both of them laughing out loud at and both saying ‘maybe!’ Stuart picks up the thread: ‘There’s lots of people who respect us a lot. We’ve earned it. We’ve earned our respect. But [if] they do speak well about us we must be doing something good!’ he says but can’t resist a laugh. Pedro continues: ‘The thing with this band is we’ve been struggling a lot simply because it’s very difficult to classify this band as a metal exclusive band, as a hard rock act, flamenco rock or whatever you want...in one hand that’s exactly what happens to be the fact that has provided us such a large fanbase and loyal fanbase because what we did is unique in all senses. On the other hand for the, I don’t mean this word in a bad meaning but more for the plain metal audience, sometimes it’s quite hard for them to enjoy our music because it’s a bit more alternative compared to what they’re used to...so it’s always been like that but we’re still going. It’s our sixth album that we’re just about to release, you know, in ten years. I think it’s good!’
Entitled The Evil Inside and originally slated to be released in the next couple of months, Breed 77’s next release following 2009 corker Insects, will now be released September/October this year. A time which Pedro tells me is the best time to release an album to make an impact and also because after the festival season in the UK it will be the best time to kick off a tour. To go with this new album which the band are very pleased with is an acoustic EP, a kind of thank you to the fans for the support on their successful acoustic tour and a good way to engage with the Breed 77 fans while raising money for the new album, says Stuart: ’We basically ran a pledge campaign through pledge.com. We needed funding for the album, and the video clip we are going to shoot soon, and so for one of the pledge things we went into the studio and did an acoustic EP. It was only going to get released by the pledge site which was a really good thing to us as well because we gauged our fan reaction and it was very positive. So it was a good thing for us as well to test the waters for when the album comes out. We had a phenomenal reaction to that, it was brilliant really. We’ve got a very good, loyal fanbase. The people have stuck with us and they really are into the band and they follow us a lot so that’s quite positive to know. It’s given us fire and a breath of fresh air as well; we’re looking forward to this album now. It’s good.’
The conversation soon turns back to festival performances and Pedro remembers one particularly fondly that was ‘in Ireland. We were completely pissed at midday. Ok the story about the festival it was maybe one of our first important festivals. I remember perfectly everything because it was my first important festival as a musician, outside Spain...about ten years ago before releasing the first album and it was Motorhead headlining and a bunch of bands, Soil, you know, a lot of nu-metal going on at the time. So we got the ferry...four hours sleep; crash bash everywhere and we got our slot which was ten o’clock in the morning up until twenty five past ten in the morning, right? It was the main stage, there was only one stage so we played the main stage, so we played and we were knackered, we didn’t get much sleep. We were drunk, nearly drunk, when we jump onstage so [afterwards] we decided to carry on partying...so we keep drinking and around midday I remember walking to Lemmy and asking for an autograph for a very close friend of mine who is very into Motorhead. But I couldn’t speak; literally my tongue was like it occupied every single space in my mouth and [Lemmy said] ‘Sit down, sit down! Oh, you want an autograph? Yeah, no problem!’ He laughs at the memory, shaking his head in awe.
Speaking of festivals and live shows, I ask if they still enjoy getting out in the road, a question which they both answer affirmatively with nods of the head: yes! Stuart answers first: ‘Yeah, of course, I mean that’s what we like. I mean we like anything to do with music. I actually like it more now than before. The studio, to record, I enjoyed it more recently, but for me the main thing is to tour. Especially, I like touring everywhere, but you go abroad and it’s exciting, you know! It feels like an adventure or something! It’s always great, it’s like that’s what we do it for, just to tour and play.’ Pedro is more succinct: ‘That’s what we are, that’s what we do.’
So the bit you don’t like is all this and the waiting around? Stuart laughs and nods his head. Pedro speaks up. ‘The waiting around, you get used to it. In the beginning it was dangerous because you get drunk,’ he says with the embarrassed knowing of a man who has been inebriated in public. ‘It was like, ‘Oh man, look at those cases of beer! Here’s some Jagermeister,’ you know? Our festival version of that shit was mental, it was just fucking party everyday. But you need to learn because you need to live through and just control yourself. I mean I might just take one beer before going on or a glass of wine, maybe a couple, but no more than that. Then after [the show] that’s another story...it’s not like, ‘woah, wild party!’ We might have one wild party in every tour. We say it’s going to be this one let’s get wasted! The gig afterwards is just like,’ he moans as if crippled by hangover. ‘But, you know, its rock and roll at the end of the day.’