When you say an album is like someone reading from their diary, most people picture a confessional singer-songwriter softly warbling the wrenching details of a break up. Mourn‘s new album Ha, Ha, He. is very much like a diary – singer and guitarist Jazz Rodríguez Bueno even describes it that way – but it’s about as far from that picture as you can get. It’s immediate and very personal, but there’s nothing hushed about it. It’s not so much like hearing someone read from their diary as it is like hearing someone yell out lines from it, while making uncomfortable eye contact with the person the entry is about.
The young Catalonian rock band has been busy since their self-titled grungy punk debut came out on Captured Tracks in 2014, while the members of the quartet were all still teenagers. Since then, Rodríguez Bueno, her fellow guitarist, singer, and best friend Carla Pérez Vas, drummer Antonio Postius, and bassist Leia Rodríguez, who is Jazz’s younger sister, have been touring and living life, picking up new musical influences and having new experiences. They’ve also been caught in a brutal legal battle with their Spanish label Sones, which has prevented the band from touring or releasing the LP in Spain. Every moment hasn’t been easy, but strong bonds have made things easier.
Rodríguez confirms that being in a band with your best friend is “really, really fun,” but having her sister in the band is huge. “She’s like my support. When I’m tired or sad on tour, I have her there and it’s like being home,” she says. Then there’s the mentoring relationship the Rodríguez sisters have with their musician father Ramón, who has long had a successful career in Spain as The New Raemon.
Through it all, Rodríguez and the rest of the band have been writing music together. The result is a collection of new songs that are louder, wilder, and more layered than those on their first album, and each one has a story to tell. We talked to Rodríguez to hear some of her tales straight from the source.
On How Her Dad Mentors the Band
He is a kind of mentor. He’s always recommending me and my sister albums and bands and a lot of things, since we were little. He was always recommending books, movies. We learned a lot from him. Most of the bands that I listen to now are because he gave me records for my birthday. My dad gave me Kristin Hersh’s book Rat Girl last summer. I started reading it without knowing Throwing Muses. I liked the book, so I decided to check out her band. I thought it was awesome and I’ve been listening to their albums, like a lot. [laughs] Now, we’re a bit influenced by Throwing Muses.
“I always say this album is like a diary of 2015.”
He once told me that he didn’t want me to be a musician, because he is a musician and he knows what it’s like. He confessed that he didn’t want us to be musicians, but now I think he’s proud of us. He says he’s a big fan. He’s encouraging us to write more songs. I think he’s happy.
On the New Album’s Diaristic Chronicle
It’s been a long process. We constructed it over this entire year of touring. I always say this album is like a diary of 2015. All the songs talk about things that happened this past year. I’m not sure where it began, exactly. I always bring a notebook with me, so I write what comes to my mind every day.
They are separate songs in time, so I think we worked more on each song than on the previous album. Also, they’re more personal and sincere. I remember, after we recorded the album, we were listening to it in the car and I imagined myself singing those lyrics and it was a bit emotional. I was a bit scared because they were my life, you know?
“Writing is a lot easier because the other members of the band understand you more.”
“The Unexpected” is the oldest one. It was a day when Carla and I met some new people and made new friends. We were surprised that we could feel so close to another person who wasn’t us, because we didn’t have a lot of friends. It’s this feeling of “Wow, there’s more cool people out there!”
On How They’ve Grown Together as a Band
We learned a lot and we play much better now, so we can try new things. Touring united us, because we had to live together for many days. This connection helped us find a stronger or more solid sound. We’re more confident now about what we do, so we’re not scared of trying whatever.
Writing is a lot easier because the other members of the band understand you more. We understand each other much better now than in the beginning. We’re all different, but, now that we’ve spent more time together, we can understand what the others are thinking or feeling. That helps a lot with writing because now we understand why Carla does something or Leia does something.
On The Song “President Bullshit”
It talks about Mariano Rajoy, the president of Spain. He’s really dumb. 2015 has been a crazy year for him because every time he was on TV he said something stupid by accident, so it went viral. All of the internet was making fun of him. It was crazy, so we wrote about it.
Mourn’s Ha, Ha, He. is out now on Captured Tracks.