Bernardo Llobreagat | Patricia Tapia | Oscar Pérez | Francisco J. Rodríguez| Jose ángel de la Banda
photograph Nacho Cembellín | image © Now & Then Records 2003
Nexx - Colours
album review and artist reflections
review, interview and HTML © Russell W. Elliot 2003
images © Now & Then Records / Nexx 2003
all photo credits cited | used with permission
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Last updated: 10 November 2003
Nexx are a five person Spanish AOR-influenced band fronted by the stunning powerhouse Patricia Tapia. Discovered at Gods Of AOR in the UK during 2001 and subsequently signed to Britain's Now & Then Records, their debut album Colours met with vast audience and critical acclaim.In addition to their incredible lead vocalist, the band consists of Bernardo Llobregat (guitars, backing vocals), Jose ángel de la Banda (bass, backing vocals), Oscar Pérez (drums) and Francisco J. Rodríguez (keyboards).
Read our exclusive interview with Patricia and Fran and the indepth review of the band's debut album Colours. A video recording of the band's live performance of "Rock The Night"--with Patricia in especially fine form-- is available for download from their website. Clearly this band must be explored further--there live performances must be incredible. Be sure to visit the band's website where up to date information, lots of additional photos as well as exclusive downloads can be found.
Musical Discoveries: Why don't we start with you telling us how Nexx was formed?
Fran: In late 1999 Oscar, Bernardo, Jose and me started with this project called NEXX. All of us had different musical experiences behind us but there were some things in common and some coincidences that made us make this band. We all live in Madrid, though Bernardo and me were born in Vigo, a city of in the west of Spain. We were next door neighbours in the same building when we were kids. We lost contact at age five or six. It was a huge coincidence the way we met lot of years before in the university.
OK, so how did things come together?
Fran: Bernardo and Jose were friends and they wanted to make a band to play in the clubs--hard rock, AOR and covers--just to have fun. Jose was playing with Oscar in another band that was going to split and Bernardo had found me, so it was just a matter of time that we got together and make the band.
We didn’t know that we were neighbours when we were kids, in fact we were just in the same class and talked once in a while but actually we weren't friends. One day something made us talk about our hometown and we found ourselves talking about the same town, the same neighbourhood, the same building, the same floor--incredible but true!
We started rehearsals playing songs of Whitesnake, Europe, Mr Big, Van Halen, etc, while we were looking for a singer. This was a real tough thing because it was difficult to find a guy that could sing this type of music well. So, as there were no guys that could do it properly we started to audition girls.
So how did you find Patricia?
We had two female singers that didn’t fit the band perfectly, and after one year Patricia, the singer of the old Oscar and Jose band, said "Hey! I’m here!" So she entered the band in that time. She has everything that we were looking for.
Tell us about the creation of the vocals for Colours.
Patricia: The vocal parts were as difficult as the rest of the music. In l ittle time we had to write many songs, some of them were written jamming in rehearsals: the guys showed me the instrumental parts and I put a melody line, and step by step the songs were having a shape. Other songs were made in a different way, somebody brought the structure and a melody already done making everything more simple to me.
Some days were like hell, we changed the melody of a song so many times that I couldn't remember which one was the good one! (laughs) Anyway, we are very happy with the final result.
How about the songwriting?
Fran: It was hard work writing all the songs for the album, because when Now & Then showed interest in signing us--after playing in the Gods of AOR of 2001 in Wigan--we only had five or six of our own songs, so we had to work a lot to create enough own material to make a good album. At the end we had seventeen songs or so to choose from for Colours and indeed it was quite hard to leave some of the songs behind.
What have been your musical influences?
Patricia: My influences are very diverse as I don't have a defined style of my own yet, and that probably makes me be a little bit of a "crazy head." What I look for in a band or a singer is that he or she makes me vibe with his or her voice, with feelings. I like nearly all type of music styles: rock, AOR, pop, soul, funky, even some techno. My Spanish roots make me appreciate flamenco and similar stuff.
One week I could be listening to Journey, Toto, Heart or Harem Scarem, and the next one I could be with Sting, Dakota Moon, Shania Twain or Alanis Morrisette. Though I've always liked singers as Tina Turner, Fontella Bass and Aretha Franklyn.
The rest of the members of the band each have different tastes. For example, Oscar likes Deep Purple or classic rock acts and fusion jazz/rock. Jose likes The Beatles, Harem Scarem and AOR in general. Bernardo likes from Steve Vai to Steve Wonder and Fran likes Heart, All About Eve, Marillion, Genesis and other stuff from pop to progressive. I mean, the band is really a mixture of different tastes, and that is something that must be reflected in our music in some way.
Where did you draw the inspiration for the music and lyrics for your music?
Patricia: It depends on the song itself. I guess it's a mixture of styles. As I said before what I try to do is see what the music makes me feel and based on that I try to make a melody line, of course, the lyrics have to be good enough and have to be related to the musical vibe of the song. The inspiration comes from real life, own experiences or just a spark makes us invent a whole story. It really depends on each song.
Jose is a good lyrics writer and he has done some of the best lyrics like the Ulises based "Arches of Faith." Fran and Bernardo have also written some of the lyrics. Colours is definitely not a conceptual album.
And how would you characterize your music?
Fran: With a female singer in the band people always use to compare us just with female fronted bands, and really I don't think our music is like any of those bands. I'm a huge Heart fan, for example, but our songs are way different from theirs. I understand it more when people compare Patricia with other female singers, but even in that case we've heard and read tons of names of different singers so, we really don't care too much about those kind of comments.
I think that as a part of having a clear AOR base, and a female singer, the band includes some different things that give us a unique sound. Of course we haven't discovered the wheel, and we haven't invented anything, but I think with this album we have just put a first brick in the "Nexx sound," whatever that means.
Would you say that the material develops in a particular way as the album progresses from beginning to end?
Fran: Not really. In fact we discussed different song orders before choosing a final one. The label helped us here and I think they chose a good order in the way that you could listen to the album entirely without getting tired.
Tell us about the development of your vocal style.
Patricia: I think it's too soon to say how my vocal style is as it's something I'm acquiring slowly. I hope one day I could find out this "style," but today the only thing I could say is that I am trying to learn as much as I can. Each live show presents an opportunity to learn more, being me the one who is singing or being other person, both ways you could learn a lot. The best way to improve is with practice, so the stage is really my favourite place for that.
But, of course, it's very important to study, to educate the voice and to practice vocal exercises all that together make everything much easier. So my advice to young singers is to find a good teacher that shows you the correct way and try to get onto a stage as much as you can. I took some classes, though I've got to admit that it's been less than I'd wanted.
And what about your live performances?
Fran: People react very well to the band with Patricia's performance. She couldn't stay still for a moment, but that's her personality, so she is jumping, running, rolling in the floor--it's funny--and I think people appreciate that because a thing that many people always tell us is that they prefer the band live more than on the album. This is because we play a little more in a hard vein and Patricia is more free to improvise so that way, I think, she could express herself better. If I had to say a strong point of the band I’d say is our live performances, and that's because of Patricia in lots of ways.
What do you do in your free time; do you work outside the music industry?
Patricia: Oh yes, I have to work. Everyone in the band does. It's a luxury not having an outside job nowadays, though I hope this could change someday, but right now there is no other choice.
In my free time I just go out with my friends. I like to go to the cinema or live concerts, I like to have a drink, you know the usual stuff. Though in one way or in another, music is always there. I sing in other projects, doing backing vocals, I just try to do different things. I don’t like to sit around without doing anything. (laughs)
What plans to you have to tour and promote the new album?
Fran: We started the promotion of Colours playing at the Gods of AOR in Bradford (England) last May. Since then we've played some dates in Spain. For example, we were the support band of the Jeff Scott Soto Spanish tour. We also did some acoustics shows, piano and voice, playing classic covers and some Nexx songs. In this format we played opening for Bob Catley in Santander (Spain) a few weeks ago and also we've done a radio show playing live on a big Spanish Top 40 station. A funny thing is seeing some songs of Colours being used in some advertisements on tv of the mobile company Amena. Who said rock is not commercial?
Next year we'd like to go to England again and we'll also try also to go to Germany or central Europe. We like to play live a lot!
How has the internet influenced your musical career?
Fran: Well, we've been always linked to the web since the beginnings of the band. How could a Spanish unknown band be signed to a British indy label like Now & Then and sell CDs in countries like Japan? I mean, this kind of thing only happens in the internet era. I think the web is a natural way to get in touch with people. The internet has already brought us many fans from different countries. We have lots of visits from Japan and England, apart of Spain, of course, but you could see in the web stats acceses from Singapore, Australia and Peru, to name just a few.
Our website has changed many times in its short life, trying to always follow the look and spirit of the band in each moment with easy navigation always in mind. Any new suggestions are well received by the web designer, I mean, by me (laughs). The address is www.webnexx.com. Stop by and say "hi" to us.
What are your plans, hopes and dreams for 2004 and beyond?
Fran: Now we're writing new stuff. We have, at least, another album to do with Now & Then, so we've started to think about the second album. In fact, in our last show in Madrid we already played a new song. So I guess that in late 2004 we could be recording this new album. I think it's going to be very interesting as we learnt a lot of things in the recording sessions of Colours with Pete Coleman, so for the second album we sure will see things from a different point of view.
A dream? Seeing more rock in the mainstream, but not necessarily a "come back." We could build something new ...
Colours (Now & Then (UK) NTHEN46, 2003) is a twelve track collection of AOR tunes that give the listener a good taste for what Nexx is like in the studio. A most impressive production, with vocals mixed way above the thick guitar-based arrangements, Patricia's lead is primarily sung alone although backing harmonies add depth and richness to the sound. Keyboard washes and crisp percussion add to the overall accessibility of the sound.
After the album's opening rocker, the tempo drops but the harmonies increase in the accessible "Remember," which effectively blends rhythmic guitar with lush keyboard washes beneath Patricia's evocative vocals. Hard rock references emerge in "Get Fire" although the powerful chorus has a strong melody. The power and pristine clarity of Patricia's voice and lack of native accent during the delivery are tremendous. Vast guitar excursions demonstrate the artists' virtuousity.
The tempo drops while the power remains in the tender ballad "Indifference." While her accent comes through in some of the softer passages, the vocal delivery is again superb--powerful instrumentals underscore the lyrical message. A short keyboard instrumental called "Sitting There" precedes the metal edged rocker--and album standout--"Wake Up." Thick electric guitar and bass arrangements provide the foundation for Patricia's powerful and soaring lead vocal. But it is the stunning vocal and instrumental harmonies in the chorus that make this song work so wonderfully.
"After The Storm" is a straight guitar-based verse-chorus-verse rock song while "In a Blue Moon" has a funkier beat that draws on the raunchier end of Patricia's vocal range. We especially liked the interplay between guitar and keys in the arrangement. The album's one torch ballad--"One More Day"--is most illustrative of Patricia's expansive power and crystalline tone. Beginning with just a piano backing, the song develops with the full band in support. But it is the breakthrough vocal solo excursions that are most heartwrenching.
Lush Abba-like vocal harmonies and crisp rhythm guitar and percussion dominate the everso accessible and standout rocker "Good Time Comes." An extended guitar solo during the bridge highlights Bernardo's skill while Jose Angel's deep bass provides a great texture to the track. Interested visitors should point their browser to the "misc" section at the band's website and download the band's live rendition of "Rock The Night." It provides a unique insight into what they must be like on stage.
The first of the album's final two tracks, "If You Could Read My Mind," mixes ballad-like vocal textures in the verse while the band comes fully into its own in the robust rocking chorus. The ballad closes with the tender, piano-backed ballad "40 Days & 40 Nights." With keyboard washes building as the song develops, the entire scope Patricia's vocal talent is illustrated with clarity, power and range and well as emotional delivery all resonating with the lyrical message.
Clearly Nexx are a band to be explored by our visitors further. Worth a trans-Atlantic journey, their debut album Colours is a must listen!
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