The Zephyr Bones are the Barcelona based band making big waves in today’s Modern Psychedelia era. Much like an elegantly rising tide, their career moves at a fluid and abundant pace. They’ve just released a record, Neon Body, that takes the listener through a reflective journey through the band’s lens as they musically express what it means to be human in a digital era. This LP is coming from collectively mature minds at play who have become confident in the imprints they want to leave in the music space. Their sound as uniquely articulate as their vision, is undeniably inviting, constantly leaving one searching for more. SPIN took a pause with the five man band and spoke about their origins, songwriting process, pursuing success, and their most recent LP, Neon Body.
Who are The Zephyr Bones and how did you come to life?
The Zephyr bones are Carlos, Marc, Brian, Joss, and Alises. The band “officially” began in the year 2014 when our first EP was released, Wishes/Fishes, but it spiritually started in the South Pacific, in Chile, where the two singers used to live. Back in 2012, Brian returned to Chile for holidays (he moved to Barcelona in 2010) and met his old friend Joss and started to play again.
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Musical chemistry and connectedness were the main components of their friendship. It’s hard to explain when you have that kind of bond with someone, it’s something similar to telepathy.
Two years after that encounter, Joss was landing in Barcelona willing to bring The Zephyr Bones to life! It took us two years to find our sound, write songs, experiment and, of course, find a good name and people to play with. By that time we had a whole different formation. The two members that have always been there during the band’s history are Bri and Joss.
Tell us about your sound – where does your style originate from and what have been your biggest visual, social, and sonic influences?
Our style is called Beach Wave. We coined that term by ourselves, we wanted to make psychedelic indie but with a wet, dreamy feeling. That is why we came up with the name –– when we started all this surf imagery was very present in our lives as we used to skate a lot too. When you ask about cultural references I would say Stacy Peralta would be one of them. Our name has something to do with him! when we saw the movie, Lords of Dogtown when we were teenagers, it blew our minds. It is not that good of a film, but we connected with the spirit of those first skaters of the 70’s California.
Social references could be Robert Smith, Lenin, Ornette Coleman, Salvador Allende… all of them have got something in common: They challenged the establishment in some way or another. Robert Smith has been very clear about abolishing the monarchy, for instance –– he said he would rather cut his arm, We agree with him!
In this album we expand the Beach Wave sound into a more glow-y, upbeat, and darker sound; we wanted to sound a little bit more to the city than the ocean, a big sonic reference for us would be Captured Tracks’ bands DIIV, Wild Nothing, etc… some classic references would be Pink Floyd, Sonic Youth, or The Flaming Lips. During this album, we were listening to a lot of 80s FM music, Stevie Nicks, Foreigner, Todd Rundgren’s Utopia, The Cars, ABC. Some electronic artists as well like WhoMadeWho or Mall Grab molded our taste and vision during the composition of this album.
How has your songwriting/production process evolved through time?
In the beginning, there was just Brian and Joss writing, producing, and recording the tracks but on this album, we wanted to make a change and evolve into a hive form of creation. The lyrics are still made by Bri and Joss but the music, vibe, and musical concepts of the whole album were made by the four of us.
Recording in a studio like big boys meant a step forward for us, recording a trumpet solo on “Verneda Lights” meant also progress; we always had the dream of a brassy solo on a song. We recorded that in our studio not having too much of an idea of how you should be recording a trumpet but when you put your heart and soul into it, the result is always positive.
What ideas, processes, etc. have you been exploring lately to generate inspiration or new musical concepts?
An idea that we have been exploring lately (and can sound very obvious) is the idea of silence; how a song needs to breathe, how you can find the whole on emptiness. This is probably some sign of maturity, when you start playing, you play as loud as you can and all the time. There’s nothing terrible about that but you get to a point when you realize that if you don’t have anything good to say you better shut up! You are contributing much more to a song when you don’t play and let the others shine. You need to be conscious of what a track needs, not just your ego. Getting that clarity, objectiveness, is hard, only experience can bring it to you.
How do you define and perceive success? What’s your journey been this year in the pursuit towards it?
Success is just an idea, a convention as well as happiness is a social construct. You can’t have a universal definition of success because it changes through time and it can be very subjective. For us, it means putting out music that is meaningful for us, staying true to ourselves, and well, selling some records is also part of what success means, going to another country and having people who want to see you.
You’ve just released your record, Neon Body, which traverses through a rhythmically dreamy, psych-rock universe – What mission were you trying to accomplish with this project, and what emotions does this album capture for you?
One of the main aims in the creation of this album was to move away from that naive imagery of our first record. On this album, we wanted to sound more enigmatic and mysterious, something more mature and progressive. Also in the past, all of the music was written by Joss and Brian – on Neon Body the four of us were into the process of songwriting, trying to chase the concept, the sound we wanted to achieve. The sensations that are captured on Neon Body are the topics of human emotions.
In what ways has this project allowed you to creatively/musically expand?
We recorded this album at Ultramarinos studio with Santi Garcia and Borja Perez and it is the first time we recorded in a professional studio. For that, we had to push ourselves to be effective instrumentalists, you have to be professional and enter into the recording room with no doubts. Also, the fact that the process was collective played a big part. Music is communication, is interaction, and even though there are different modus operandi for artists, we think that interaction with your comrades is essential. We learned that with Neon Body.
On this album we also included more synths and electronic sounds, we played with more sharp rhythms and structures, and had the bravery of combining disco and post-punk on the same package, we learned that different genres can coexist in the same boat.
What track was the most challenging to record? Which one was the most enjoyable? Which had the most to say?
“So High” as we recorded the drums in two parts to create this characteristic “motorik” beat the track builds on top of. Also, it is a different track that stands out from the general line of the album. It was challenging to get the rhythm right and stick to it as we were trying to emulate a drum machine so making the bass and the drums stay tight and precise was fun and tricky.
Psychedelic music and the psychedelia/counter-culture movement can be known as an era of exploring existential curiosities – what are some existential questions you think about? Have any been explored in your music?
The concept that is relevant throughout this album is very existential with dichotomy. Musically, there are two sides to this album, one of them is more electronic, and the other is more organic, more groovy, less geometric.
If something makes us humans it is that we have the skill of inventing concepts, myths, realities, and with the digital revolution at its peak, it seems like we spend half of our lives sleeping, and the awake part is divided between interacting with the real world and the other is being into our phones. Neon Body is a metaphor for that, our lives are getting electric and each day more and more.
If you had to give a title to the current stage you’re at in your career, what would it be?
We are living in a state of mental effervescence. We have a lot of inputs and outputs from all directions, diverse influences, and a thriving cultural scene in Barcelona. We are introspecting, exploring, and getting to know ourselves and where we want to move next. We are in a moment of exploring what we can achieve.
In what ways do you wish to inspire up and coming bands aiming to get their creative work out into the world?
Believe in yourself and the work you do. Not all the effort leads to a reward, but hopefully, you will find happiness if you put all your love and dedication into your craft. Take a breath and don’t worry, everything comes to you at its due time, sooner or later.
What’s next for The Zephyr Bones?
Working on new songs and ideas – you need to be aware that the market is constantly changing and flowing, that is to say, that as you gain new fans you also lose some others.
Take a chance now and manifest something: ______________.
Surround yourself with people who appreciate you.
Any last words for the SPIN-verse?
It has truly been a pleasure to do this! We hope you enjoy the album as much as we enjoyed doing it, and see you soon on stage!
Do yourself a favor and blast the The Zephyr Bones Session below on max volume. For more SPIN Sessions, head over to SPIN TV.