INTERVIEW WITH LOLAS
Date: November 13, 2015
Interviewer: Bobby Caughron
A FEW MONTHS AGO, I POSTED A REVIEW OF THE ALBUM ‘PANTERA TERRITORIAL’ BY THE BAND LOLAS. RECENTLY, I GOT THE CHANCE TO TALK WITH THESE TALENTED LADIES AS THEY FILLED ME IN ON THEIR NEW EP, TOURING AND THE STATE OF ROCK N’ ROLL IN THEIR HOME COUNTRY OF PANAMA AMONG OTHER THINGS.
Sleaze Roxx: Tell me about the rock music scene in Panama.
Massiel Pinzón: The rock music scene over here is very interesting. I think we have some of the best musicians in the region, some amazing frontmen and front women — Monica of course [laughs] — and great bands that are constantly pushing themselves forward to release good music in studio and also onstage. But on the other hand, there are very few proper rock and roll venues, so all the time, we find ourselves struggling about where to play. It’s a small country and a tropical one, so it’s not precisely easy. It’s like we always say, when you play in a band in Panama, it’s not a speed race, it’s a resistance race. I’m not sure if that translates well in English! There is no proper “music industry” so basically all the bands are independent and pretty much everything is very DIY, which is mostly fun. Most bands don’t have managers. They manage themselves and do everything from booking gigs to manage social media, design gig flyers, etc.
Massiel Pinzón: Me, Bethy and Irene (our founding bassist) had been playing with bands since we were very young. [It was] mostly bands with guys, except me. My first band ever was all female too, but after that always with guys. Monica was already a classic cover vocalist in bars and events, so basically I called all of them to form a covers band with a twist. We started covering ’80s pop songs but with our very own hard rock arrangements resulting in a very fun and rocking way to listening live to songs like “Careless Whisper,” “Billie Jean,” “Time After Time,” “Voices Carry,” “Shout,” and stuff like that. We used to our advantage the fact that we were already known in the scene so it was like an all girl super band [laughs]! There aren’t many female musicians in Panama, let alone all girls band, so we started playing around in all kinds of venues and events, and because we were playing very famous songs, we kinda hit it and were called even for birthday parties. That resulted in good money savings to record our first album ‘Pantera Territorial.’ Obviously, soon after we started playing around, the original songs came.
Sleaze Roxx: Can you tell me about yourselves? Who are your musical influences?
Bethy García: I listen to a lot of different music genres besides rock, such as classic music, jazz and blues. That gives me a special inspiration when composing melodies for our songs. But my main influences are metal bands: Pantera, Motörhead, Megadeth, Anthrax, Metallica. I also love Tool and Nine Inch Nails. Maynard James Keenan and Trent Reznor are very important influences for me.
Massiel Pinzón: I listened to a lot of different kinds of rock music, but also love seeing jazz and flamenco played live. My most important influences in music are alternative rock, shoe gazing, hard rock, classic rock and ’80s glam rock. It’s difficult to point out bands, but I can tell you my biggest idol is PJ Harvey.
Mónica Porras: Besides Lolas, I work in theater and I also dance. I also love flamenco as my dad is Spanish. I listened to all kinds of classic rock and alternative rock.
Carolina Courville: I love metal [laughs]. Symphonic metal, heavy metal, etc, but also I like Frank Sinatra. I’m a weird person [laughs]!
Sleaze Roxx: I was really impressed with your debut album ‘Pantera Territorial.’ Can you tell me about the process of making that album?
Massiel Pinzón: It came out very spontaneous and natural. We started working on them and putting them in the setlist every time we played live, so by the end of 2011, at least 70% of the show was original music. The lyrics and the tone of all the songs were very honest and genuine and reflected very much what we were going though in our lives off stage. We were single and partying and having a fun time. Then we decided we had enough songs to put together an album. Back in those days, we were still thinking about making whole albums, the idea of recording singles or EPs didn’t even cross our minds. So we called PTY Studios, which to our criteria was the best studio in Panama, and started recording in September 2011. I remember I went to the studio with my Tama Starclassic on a Saturday. Pablo Governatori, one of the engineers, tuned it and micqued it. We made a few tests and the next day — Sunday morning — I went into the studio and recorded 11 songs in less than seven hours! By evening, we were done and having a beer. Pretty much the same logistic happened with guitar layers, bass and percussion and we took a bit more with Mónica’s lead vocals. It was Mónica’s first experience ever recording original songs — not jingles — so it was nice to produce her and guide her. [The] final touches were backing vocals by Bethy and me. So yes, it was an album recorded and mixed in record time between wine, beer and having a great time with the guys at the studio. Actually, mastering took the most time because we changed the mastering studio, but the final result was good.
Sleaze Roxx: I also really like the new songs. It seems like your sound has changed a little without losing any of the head banging quality of the first album. Tell me about the new EP called ‘Brio?’
Massiel Pinzón: It is definitely a change, a big one. In ‘Pantera Territorial,’ we were the party girls and our sound was very ’80s glam rock. In ‘Brio,’ it is more modern hard rock, a more mature and better produced sound which is also a direct reflection of our current lives too. We wanted to have a more “adult female rockers” image, more than “glam rocker girls” which is what we did in ‘Pantera Territorial.’ Less cursing also [laughs]! Actually, [there is] no cursing on ‘Brio.’
Massiel Pinzón: In Panama also but we hired [the] producer, singer, guitarist, songwriter and leader of Los Angeles band Cage9, Evan Rodaniche. He’s a Panamanian born musician/producer [who] relocated to Los Angeles, California [USA] nearly 15 years ago. Back in the ’90s, Evan was responsible for most — and the best — records of Panama bands, and we are also avid fans of Cage9 which has a very modern hard rock sound, so he was a perfect choice to be the producer of ‘Brio.’ He came from Los Angeles to Panama and [we recorded] mostly guitars, vocals and arrangements in my home studio. Drums and bass were recorded in Pty, produced and recorded [in] Studios and Piso 3 Studios respectively. The album was mixed by Evan and also mastered by him. [He is an] amazingly talented guy.
Sleaze Roxx: How would you describe the song “Libertad?”
Massiel Pinzón: “Libertad” is a call to action to free yourself from your self-imposed boundaries. We can be everything we dream of, we just have to believe in ourselves.
Sleaze Roxx: Massiel — you are the drummer and the band’s manager. Do you ever find it difficult to keep up with both responsibilities?
Massiel Pinzón: Yes and no. I’m so passionate about music and all that surrounds it. Also, I was a project manager in my previous job, so I learned that I’m a person who loves method, logistics, spread sheets, writing and all that’s related to management, so in a way, it is something I do naturally. When I’m busy with other things, well, it is of course hard to do it all at the same time, but when you see the results, it’s very pleasant. However, it has come to a point where I do feel I need help and that we definitely need a manager, especially when it looks bad when a band member does certain things like negotiating money or other things. But well, that’s a tough one to find in Panama! Wish us luck!
Sleaze Roxx: Bethy — who’s your favorite guitarist?
Bethy García: That’s a very hard question [laughs] but I think Dimebag Darrell is definitely one of my favorites. He had a unique sound. The first time I listened to Pantera, I was blown away.
Mónica Porras: Before a gig, I try not too talk too much, drink everything room temperature, and do a couple [of] voice warm ups. Occasionally, a good Jagermaister shot before going on stage to get things flowing [laughs]!
Sleaze Roxx: Carolina — how does it feel being the newest member of the band?
Carolina Courville: First of all, I want to thank you for this opportunity. It’s amazing for us to be reaching the USA people. Answering the question, I’m not the newest member at all 9laughs]! This year, I have three years with my bandmates and friends LoLas, but it feels so special because I share my passion with these fantastic musicians, and the time becomes nothing when we play together since the first time.
Sleaze Roxx: Where have you been touring? Where would you like to tour if you could tour anywhere in the world?
Massiel Pinzón: Apart from Panama, we have played in Ecuador and Guatemala. If we could pick anywhere, I would say it would be Los Angeles, Chicago, Mexico, Colombia, Argentina, Brazil, and in Europe — Norway, Sweden and England. High hopes right [laughs]?
Sleaze Roxx: If I understand correctly and please correct me if I am wrong, traditionally, at least in the past, Panama has been more of male-dominated society. As an all female rock band, has this made it more difficult to get noticed and get taken seriously in the music industry? If so, in what ways?
Massiel Pinzón: Not at all. At the beginning, it worked to our advantage because it was something unusual. But anyway, like I said at the beginning of the interview, all of us were already very involved in the rock scene and worked our asses off to gain respect and credibility with our previous bands, so we don’t feel it was ever like “yeah, they are good for being girls.” We were always treated by peers as equal and also, we never took advantage of our femininity to short cut. We took the long path.
Sleaze Roxx: Tell me about your songwriting process. Who writes most of the lyrics? Do you write songs together or separately?
Massiel: Separately, me and Bethy are the main songwriters. When we started writing, I came with some riffs and melodies and Bethy did too, and magically they were very much in the same page, so we decided to continue working like that. Mónica laid down all the lyrics onto my songs on ‘Pantera Territorial’ which gave that album its “tongue in cheek” tone. Bethy writes [the] music and lyrics of her songs. However, for ‘Brio,’ I wrote all the lyrics of my songs, except for “Surreal” which Mónica wrote the lyrics for and they are amazing! I love that song. And of course, all arrangements are made by the four of us.
Sleaze Roxx: For our non-Spanish speaking readers, can you give us your best translation in English for your song titles on both albums and possibly an overview of what each song is about?
Massiel: Of course! This is going to be fun [laughs]! Here we go! From the album ‘Pantera Territorial:’
1. “El Headbanging Vive En Mí” translates into “Headbanging lives in me.” It’s an inside joke. This is an instrumental intro to the album, so we decided to look for some of the most epic one liners Mónica used to say onstage, and we decided that this one was the most appropiate one to start the album.
2. “Lola” is “Lola.” It’s the name of our alter ego. Initially, we conceptualized Lola as being our alter ego and that all the songs would be from her point of view, so basically all songs on ‘Pantera’ was Lola speaking her mind representing us, and this song is describing Lola, how she dresses, what she drinks, what she likes, etc.
3. “No Me Gustas” translates into “I don’t like you.” It’s about a very pathetic guy that doesn’t get Lola is not into him and he keeps stuff that are just not cool.
4. “Me Caes Mal” pretty much translates in “I don’t like you” too [laughs]! But this is more about a guy, who is not hitting on Lola, but it’s just plain disgusting.
5. “Calle” means “Road.” It’s the most “serious” song on the album and talks about personal evolution and instrospection.
6. “Fucking Biker Wannabe” is self-explanatory. Lola met a biker who dumped her for a big titty lady with no brains, so fuck him! You get a song for doing that [laughs]!
7. “La Matadora” means “Lady Killer.” It’s about Lola getting her heart stolen and getting very passionate about a sexy guy at a party. Romantic huh?
8. “La Metal” means “The Metal One.” It’s describing Lola’s lifestyle in terms of music, playing guitar and liking mosh pits.
9. “Noche Loca” translates into “A Wild Night.” It’s about doing something wild once in a while, even if that involves your best male friend. Oh god [laughs]!
10. “Pantera Territorial” means “Territorial Panther.” I came [up] with the title before any lyrics, and initially this song was going to be about how women are protective of their loved ones, but it ended up being about a cougar [laughs]! What can I say?
11. “Sin Remordimientos” translates into “No Regrets.” Another “deep” song about empowering and letting go.
From the album ‘Brio:’
1. “Libertad” means “Freedom.” Bethy answered the meaning in a previous question.
2. “Mala Sangre” translates into “Bad Blood.” It’s about being fed up of being mistreated and getting rebellious on men and relationships in general.
3. “Quiero Mas” means “I want more.” I think this is pretty much self explanatory [laughs].
4. “Te Odio, Te Deseo” translates into “I hate you, I want you.” It’s about a toxic relationship where one uses one another, and then you know this person is no good for you, but you keep sleeping together.
5. “Surreal” is “Surreal.” It’s about getting past a moral hangover and overcoming shady stages in life.
Sleaze Roxx: Do you communicate directly with your fans using social media?
Massiel Pinzón: Yes, we manage all our social media ourselves.
Sleaze Roxx: Is there anything that I haven’t asked you in this interview that you would like our readers to know?
Massiel Pinzón: Mostly, we would like to thank you for this opportunity. It means a lot to us that you took the time to listen to our music despite the language. We love it that in the end there are no boundaries when it comes to music as long as it is made honestly and with no pretention. There are a lot of amazing bands in Latin America and Spain, classic bands, that you need to listen to. Thanks again for this wonderful interview! AND, we wanna go play in the USA!!!
Sleaze Roxx: You are very welcome. Thanks for taking the time to talk to us. Keep up the great work and I’m looking forward to hearing more from you in the future. Where can our readers find out more about LoLas?