Q&A: Santiago Motorizado of Él Mató A Un Policía Motorizado on La Plata, Landing a Record Deal, and Die Hard

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Can a band like El Mato A Un Policia Motorizado make it in the US, despite having a name a large portion of the country will be unable to pronounce in its entirety? Nacional Records thinks so. The LA-based label recently inked a deal to bring the band’s latest album, La Dinastia Scorpio, to the US, with a few bonus tracks attached.

The band recently completed a tour of the country that began in NYC with shows at LAMC, and ending in California at the Viva Pomona Festival. It was in Pomona that I witnessed the band play to a small but loving crowd that already knew every word to every song.

I spoke with singer/bassist Santiago Motorizado about where exactly the band name comes from (hint: it wasn’t from “Die Hard” as is commonly suspected), as well as the band growth from humble beginnings in La Plata, Argentina to touring the world, and taking off with a publishing deal from Nacional Records.

Is this the band’s first US tour?

Yeah, we came here last year for SXSW in Austin but, this time, we set up a tour that began in New York last week for LAMC. It was much better than we could have hoped for. Every time we travel out of the country, we do so with no expectations. We travel with the hope that all will go well and that all surprises are positive ones. We’ve enjoyed our time here in the US, and we’re excited about our Nacional Records releasing our album, so we’re just soaking all that in.

That attitude/mentality reminds me of the band’s music. It’s very simple and straightforward.

It’s a bit like that. Basically, the music is a combination of things we liked when we were young. That motivated us to create the band. Part of our sound is to look for simple things in our lyrics and in our music– minimalism, you know? We don’t want to overdo anything.

It does sound that way…many of your songs are about some little thing that happened to someone in the band and, hey, why not write a song about it?

[Laughs] Yeah, we’re kinda like that.

So how did this deal with Nacional come about?

Well, I don’t really know how they heard of our band. It could’ve been through YouTube or Bandcamp, who knows? They also saw us in Spain. We’ve toured there many times and there’s a record label out there called Limbo Starr, who published our album out there, and so we toured there again in May on our fifth tour there. A few people from Nacional were in Madrid at our concert. Our manager Sylvie Piccolotto met them and she later told us that her contact was there front row with his friends who were really rowdy [laughs].

It’s interesting to see how quickly the band’s popularity grew after the release of your single “Mujeres Bellas Y Fuertes.” What caught me by surprise was that it wasn’t your debut–you released your first album in 2004!– so it’s interesting how one album can provide such a turning point.

Yeah, with this recent album that includes “Mujeres Bellas Y Fuertes,” we were really able to reach a point that we couldn’t before. That album was released in Spain, Mexico, and now also the United States. It was also well-received in Argentina and lots of people finally gave us a chance with that album. Outside of Argentina, everything happened thanks to this most recent album.

Our success in Argentina was a very gradual process. Our first album did well, especially in La Plata. With Navidad De Reserva, more people started showing up to our shows. Then our third album, Un Milllon De Euros, included a song called “Amigo Piedra” that was featured on a compilation that really helped us out.

I have a few friends from La Plata who were happy to know I was familiar with Él Mató. They also pointed out how you used to play out there all the time but now you’re big rock stars who only play overseas.

[Laughs] Well, we don’t play there as much as we used to. Our shows there now are not what they used to be. We have to make time for everyone [laughs].

For our readers who don’t know too much about Argentina, tell us about the difference between Buenos Aires and La Plata.

Buenos Aires is the capital, and most importantly the city where the majority of people live. One bad thing about Argentina is that it’s too focused around Buenos Aires…it’s too centralized. That creates a very odd phenomenon. A lot of these cultural scenes [in Buenos Aires] aren’t created there, but are from other areas.

La Plata has an advantage in that it’s close to Buenos Aires, about an hour away, but has the peace of mind of a small town. On a creative level, I think that’s the best. It’s also a college town and young people from across the country visit often, so that creates a youthful dynamic that gives it a very unique vibe. I was born and raised in La Plata and I love its laidback vibe, but it does have that advantage in being so close to Buenos Aires.

Is it true the band name originates from a bad subtitle in a “Die Hard” film?

It’s from a subtitle, but not from “Die Hard.” It’s a movie called R.O.T.O.R. We were watching it at a party, and weren’t really paying attention until we saw that line of dialogue. We loved the way it sounded and used it.

La Dinastia Scorpio is now available in the US.