7 questions for amor de días

when we think of “royals” from the united kingdom, naturally we think of AMOR DE DÍAS, featuring alasdair maclean (frontman of the papillon-obsessed lite psych combo THE CLIENTELE from fleet) and lupe núñez-fernández (one half of the slapdash & adorable pop duo PIPAS). we could not be more excited about seeing them play at chickfactor 22 at the bell house on thursday, march 20, along with withered hand (whose live band will feature pam berry of black tambourine and kenny anderson of king creosote), lilys and jim ruiz set (and mc gaylord fields of wfmu)!

interview by the legendary jim ruiz & photograph by shoko ishikawa

1 distance running
2 love life
3 the live experience
4 where do you most want to live/retire?
5 your meeting gail stories
6 borrowing your name
7 gearhead question

chickfactor: considering the dominance of the UK in middle and long distance running in the past; sir roger bannister’s four-minute mile, sebastian coe and steve ovett’s amazing rivalry on the track, and the astonishing world record of paula radcliffe at the marathon, it was really not a very big surprise to see that you are specializing in the 10k. tell us a little about your training and how you feel it’s going. any tips for those of us who want to start running? what’s your PR (optional)?
alasdair: we have no expertise in running, or specialisms in the 10k. we both ran the new forest half marathon last year and counted ourselves lucky to be alive by the end. the only tip for a 10k run I could offer is don’t sprint the first 3k, the next 7k will not thank you.
lupe: it’s handy for catching the last tube back home after a gig, or the train to the next city on tour. that’s definitely our specialty distance.

charlotte and emily want to know if you are a couple. I assured them I would ask you.
lupe: buy our records and find out! there are hidden messages if you play the vinyl backwards.

emily and I were at an amor de días gig at the triple rock in minneapolis about 3 years ago. that gig was an introduction to your music, it made a big impression on me and I made it a goal to play with you someday. in fact, whenever we visit our friend’s house there is a poster from that gig framed on their wall. do you think that touring is worth it because you never know what impact it has, even if the audience might be small on a given night? or do you think that touring has had its day?
alasdair: what a nice thing to say! I suppose in my career the model of the small gig with a strong connection to the audience has been mostly how it’s happened, and when when that connection really works it’s amazing, nothing can beat it. opening for much bigger bands has taught me that my songs work better in a small space, chamber music rather than a nuremberg rally or a mass singalong.
lupe: touring is usually when you might get to play in front of strangers who’ve never heard your music, and see a sincere reaction. it’s probably very self-indulgent but there’s something to be said for that, whether it’s a good one or not.

living in the middle of a vast continent as we do, without any real possibility of moving anywhere exotic, we are in awe of your EU passports and your seeming ability to move anywhere you please on the continent. do you plan to stay in the UK forever? do you ever miss the sun?
alasdair: come on, minneapolis is about as exotic as it gets! prince lives there! I was born in scotland so have never known the sun. It would be nice to be an internationalist rather than stuck in the UK. I’ll have to work on it.
lupe: when we were in minneapolis a couple of years ago we talked about moving there. I’m not kidding!

tell me how you first met gail….
alasdair: outside NYU in the freezing cold. I think we had eaten polish food for the first time and were semi-comatose.
lupe: I was aware of this cool chick with retro glasses and blond braids at all the shows at fez I went to in the ’90s but I didn’t know her name (or that she’d curated the shows, and put out chickfactor). years later we met in london through our friends pam berry and mark powell—the heat broke at the place where she was staying and I told her she could squat at ours. instant family.

last year the aislers set seemed to take no offense when we changed our name to jim ruiz set. how would you feel about our recording under the name amor de ruiz `rE- ahs?
feel free. it has a classy ring to it.

the classical guitar scares the hell out of me, yet you make it sound so easy. are you self-taught players or do you have years of pumping nylon behind you at some music conservatory? who first inspired you to play classical? who do you listen to for your inspiration?
alasdair: I learnt classical guitar as a kid, my parents put me in for lessons, but I gave up around age 11, and lost a lot of my technique. the first guitarist in the clientele,innes phillips, had the same teacher as me, so we both grew up playing adagios and tangos and only came to playing pop music later—the way for instance george harrison played was a total mystery to us. ¶ my favourite guitarists: toquinho. argentinian folkloric guitarist atahualpa yupanqui. In the flamenco world, nino ricardo. rock guitarists stacey sutherland (13th floor elevators) ron morgan (west coast pop art experimental band), vini reilly (durutti column), maurice deebank (felt) and tom verlaine/richard lloyd. I also really rate ignacio aguilo (hacia dos veranos) and archer prewitt.

lupe: haha definitely self-taught and very limited in my knowledge. I bought a classical guitar for 27 pounds in hackney in 1999, with no previous musical experience or knowledge of what a chord was, etc. I really wanted a bass, or drums, but the guitar was much cheaper, portable. it’s handy as a way of noting a song down, but I definitely don’t consider myself ‘a guitarist’, I just write songs, and make it up as I go along. I think I’m actually a lot better at percussion; my dream is to tour the jazz circuit as a jazz drummer, maybe by the time I’m in my 70s. ¶ my favorite guitarists: probably alasdair, linton from the aislers set, sam prekop and my brother víctor, who taught me that crucial first bass line that started it all (it was “bela lugosi’s dead”).

exclusive world premiere of a brand-new amor de días track!


Listen: Amor de Días, “Jean’s Waving”

(Merge Records)

chickfactor is thrilled to present a new song from from London supergroup AMOR DE DÍAS, featuring Lupe Núñez-Fernández (Pipas) and Alasdair MacLean (the Clientele).

“I have no idea what it’s about,” says MacLean about the song. “Maybe describing a movement away to suburbia, leaving behind the eerie/bohemian life in the city. The song wrote itself.”

Their second long player The House at Sea is every bit as tremendous as 2011’s Street of the Love of Days. The combination of Spanish guitar, English melancholy, the spirit of Gal Costa and a touch of cinematic magic makes them one of the most intriguing songwriting pairs working today. They recorded it in nine days because they liked the idea of a quickly made, minimally arranged, no-fuss record. Plus: the musicians on board nailed their takes quickly. Amor de Días will tour the U.S. in February and will play some Spanish dates.

The album will be released on January 29, 2013. Pre-order The House at Sea now in the Merge store. LP Preorders will include a free Merge Records LP slip mat and a poster. Preorders will ship to arrive on or around the release date of January 29, 2013. Don’t forget . . . the Merge Holiday Code works on pre-orders, too!



pipas are people.

just like dead can dance, pipas have become one of those bands that reside in various locales, currently lupe is in london and mark’s in brooklyn. we caught up with the big-haired chanteuse/songcrafter/multi-tasker lupe nunez-fernandez and she was kind enough to answer our mini-interview questions. she says that they plan to record a new album in march, “might play some shows after that,” have cds for sale and t-shirts (the sorry tour design) and maybe a bag or two via pipasforthepeople.com…..

what is the weirdest thing someone has said about your new album sorry love?
that it’s too long. no just kidding, I think I dreamt that. the weirdest thing anyone’s said is that they thought we’d broken up! you go quiet for a while… no people, we’re here to stay, at least for a while.
what do the pipas fans look like?
many different ways. too tall too short too skinny and too fat all rolled into one, and let me tell you, they always look damn good. they always look like they’re high on caffeine. generally they look happy. they usually go for the natural cruelty free look. big hair and glasses. you dig what I’m saying? can’t complain.
we hear that mark powell is the pipas fashion stylist. what does he tell you to wear?
he tells me all sorts of stuff but it’s pearls before swine, I never listen. I used to try to cleverly mis-match t-shirt slogans, like he’d wear his ‘I’m an army wife’ shirt and I’d obviously reach for my ‘sweet burger’ number (my other band. I mean my other-other-other band gail!). in general the plaid button down look never fails. I won’t include my mariachi shirt in that category, that’s not such a popular number in our dressing room. I wanna dress like pidg [mark’s nickname] and one day I will.
where have you received the best vegan food and or hospitality on tour?
well many places! our recent show in leipzig was unexpectedly preceded by our friend’s delicious vegetable gratin — so decadent, total stick to the ribs sort of half, double, and quadruple soy cream involved. we were practically licking the dishes. everyone treats us too nicely. germany in general fantastic for vegans — it’s the land that produced among other things green peppercorn streich, now a staple in our tour bag. if you’ve never had this… gothenburg was extraordinary this past time, we stayed with our heroic friend who is a vegan chef in his free hours… so it was a long and delicious 4 course meal, including the biggest artichokes we’ve ever seen and homemade swedish waffles with lots of sauces. genoa for the farinata (deliciously unctuous savory chickpea crepe bought at a bakery at 3 in the morning). finland, finland, what did we eat in finland? great coffee across the street from kiasma in helsinki. barcelona for annika’s gorgeous toy kitchen stocked with all kinds of friendly delights. madrid for, um, churros. utrera outside seville gave us ajoblanco, that vinegary white garlic soup otherwise known as the nectar of life. athens was good to us — good beans eating in, good beans eating out, and ecstatically good olives all around. if we look back over the last few years, it would be hard to overlook australia and california as wholes — best tofu scrambles, flat whites, homemade baked beans, waffles, etc etc. in new york I find there is too much fake meat, too much tofu, too much salt. not complaining! but things don’t have to be the same always. we also enjoyed the humble diet-like vegetables in tomato sauce and garlic rye croutons in estonia. as long as there’s something to put in our stomach — preferably involving bread, olive oil and coffee — we ok.
for more details on the dyn-o-mite duo, head to pipas blog and pipas site

photograph: gail o’hara