Interview: Bosnian Rainbows' Egalitarian Approach

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Who are Bosnian Rainbows? That’s a question we set out to answer a few months ago when we spoke to members Omar Rodríguez-López and Teresa Suárez who, together with Deantoni Parks and Nicci Kasper, were touring with their new group. What we learned then was that the band was an effort in leader-less collaboration, where each member had equal say and input on the writing and recording process.

Now that we’ve listened to the album, due on June 25th, we can safely say that they’re one of the most solid groups around. The group’s self-titled effort features 11 tracks that play to the strengths of everyone involved, resulting in a record that has more in common with ’80s alt-rock (think Juju-era Siouxsie & The Banshees) than with anything from any member’s past repertoire.

It’s a welcome change for López, who is always on the lookout for something new despite any misgivings listeners may have. Keep in mind that this is the same guy whose body of work includes over 30 solo albums ranging in genres from acoustic (Ciencia de los Inútiles) to musique concrète (Despair).

“If you can define, forever, what one person sounds like,” he explains on the phone from El Paso, Texas, “then that’s kind of weird. I’ve made punk records, I’ve made acoustic records, I’ve made pop records, I’ve made jazz records, I’ve made Mars Volta type records so, I think, anyone that is surprised that it sounds different is maybe just a passerby and not necessarily a fan of what I’ve been doing.”

Suárez also flips the script by changing her vocal style from her usual punk wails in Le Butcherettes to a style that sounds like a haunted version of Debbie Harry. It’s a switch that surprised even her family and friends but something she’s always worked on.

“In my room, I’d always write all kinds of music,” she says, “little ballads, little ukelele songs. I love to sing and, you know, I’m not angry all the time. It’s good to be able to get that out in Bosnian Rainbows.”

Meanwhile, Parks and Kasper drop the drum/bass duo experimentation from their work in KUDU and Dark Angels for a more layered and textured rhythm section. The end result is a strong debut from a group of equally talented musicians doing what they do best: creating.