Are you considering a trip to North of Spain? We want it to be even easier for you to totally submerge yourself in the experience. Whether you’re flying to Bilbao, Santander or Asturias, we’ve created a playlist with music from this gorgeous area, as a little sample of its musical identity.
To discover even more about the region, we’re talking to Ricardo Lezón, singer with McEnroe, the legendary Spanish indie group with more than five records under their belt. Ricardo released a solo album a year ago, he’s also written poetry books and collaborated with international artists such as The New Raemon, among others.
We asked him for some advice on how to discover the soul of this destination.
When did you start making music and what was it like at the beginning?
I started very young, I was only seventeen alongside my childhood friends. We did a lucky dip and I chose to be a bassist, so I bought myself a bass and tried to learn. We put together various bands that were playing cover versions by our favourite groups: Echo and the Bunnymen, The Cure, Stone Roses, The Smiths, Los Negativos, etc. My friends were improving loads but I was left behind so I tried playing guitar instead and formed my own band with Jaime. Later, Edu and Gonzalo joined, then Pablo. The only condition was that we would write our own songs, no more cover versions.
Describe where you live in ten words or less.
In the north. In the countryside. Near the beach.
How do people in Bilbao/Getxo like to listen to music?
Getxo has lots of musical character, especially with bands. A big number of bands started here that have different styles with lots of personality. There’s a lot of musical activity on the street, folk, jazz and two rock festivals. Really, more action is needed when it comes to venues or bars that put gigs on, but I guess you could say that live music is what matters most here.
What’s your favourite place to eat when you’ve got less than €10 in your pocket?
A difficult question, at home of course. Seriously though, with that amount you could have a pintxo platter at the Puerto Viejo, in La Estación de Neguri you could go to a traditional local pollería where, if you get together with someone, you can get a good chicken meal with beer.
What’s your top recommendation for music lovers who are visiting your area, for things to see/do/eat/drink?
Snack on some pintxos at the Puerto Viejo with a few glasses of wine, go for a dip at the Sopelana or Azkorri beach, visit the La Galea cliffs, take a walk around the wall and then a beer at La Estación de Neguri, go and visit the Fine Arts Museum and then the Guggenheim. Dine at the Coppola if you’re in Bilbao or the Itxas Bide if you’re in Getxo and you’ve got more than 10 euros in your pocket.
Do you think that living in Bilbao/Getxo influences the music you make?
I think it’s a primordial influence. The landscape, the character, the colour, the time, being near the sea. We write songs about what’s around us; all those things are here.
Where would you go on a first date?
To the La Galea cliffs, for sure. We’d go up the Serantes for the second.
What is the best way to enjoy the summer in the Basque Country?
The beaches in this area are fantastic. From Getxo to Gorliz, there are loads of beaches. A bit further away, you’ve got the Urdaibai area with the Laga and Laida beaches, with villages such as Mundaka, etc. There are loads of walks and rides if you like the countryside. Then there’s BBK Live in July, jazz and folk festivals all summer, as well as the town and village festivals. There are thousands of things to do, it’s impossible to get bored.
What’s your biggest local musical influence, past and/or present?
There are a lot of bands and writers in the area that I like, but I don’t really know who has influenced me. I really like Mikel Laboa, for example. There are so many quality bands around right now: Gringo, Belako, We Are Standard, Garbayo, Fakeband and loads more.
Which museums or galleries are totally unmissable?
I’m a big fan of the Bilbao Fine Arts Museum, I wouldn’t miss out on that. The Guggenheim is right next door and I really like the Museum of Artistic Reproductions too. Ah Bilbao!, which is in the Casco Viejo, is neither a museum nor a gallery, but it’s an amazing store where you can buy clothes and gorgeous handmade items.