Santiago Shoegaze: an Interview With Maff
by Bret Miller
Santiago, Chile doesn’t scream hotbed of shoegaze music but along with northern neighbors Seatemples, from Coquimbo, Chile might just be the new place to look for bands that grew up listening to the likes of The Jesus and Mary Chain, The Pixies, Ride, Sonic Youth, and My Bloody Valentine. Maff presents a varied five songs on Melanina, from the elegiac opening instrumental “Act 2”, to the heart-felt Spanish vocals and soulful guitars of “Desfile” to the languid grunge of “Hawaii” there is much to enjoy in the quartet’s new EP. On their self-titled debut some of the standouts are the punky “Planet Wave” and the epic “Walking On Fire”. There’s just something invigorating and sincere about Maff that led me to send singer and guitarist Ricardo Gomez some questions about the band and their home city.
Tell us about the members and what they bring to the band with their personality and with their musical ability.
The band is Nicolás Colombres (drums), Valentina Cárdenas (bass), Martín Colombres (guitar) and myself (vocals, guitar). We all have different personalities and taste in music, but our ears speak the same language.
Do you remember the first band or song that made you want to become a musician?
I went to a lot of local punk rock concerts when I was a kid, and from there on music has been always present in my life.
How long have you been playing? What was your first instrument?
Got my first bass at age 14. Played bass for 15 years and now, these last two years, I´ve been playing guitar.
How do you think Maff stands out from other bands that are playing the kind of music you like?
I don´t feel that no one ever stands out. I believe that every band has something different to say or to transmit. And everyone is worth hearing, or better, seen live.
How has Maff improved since releasing your first album?
The members have changed quite a lot. I changed from bass to guitar and Valentina joined the band to play bass. It was all new from there and I feel we have got to know ourselves pretty well.
We also went into the studio quite a lot, that was quite an interesting process too.
What is a favorite song or part of a song and what is it about that song or part that stands out to you?
I have always had a thing for the second verse of “Linger Around”, when the bass drops out and then appears with one firm and steady punch.
You’re from Santiago, Chile, a place that seems exotic to someone like me. How is your sound affected by your environment?
Never really thought of that. Now that you mention it, Santiago is big city that vibrates surrounded by walls of mountains.
What is a favorite place to eat and what is your favorite dish?
Any local small sangucheria (sandwich shop or deli) and ask for a chacarero + schop (steak sandwich and beer), it´s perfect.
Where do you go to see or play live shows? What was one of your favorite shows you’ve seen or played?
We´ve been playing a lot at Onaciu, some shows there have been memorable.
What is something a tourist might NOT know about Santiago, like an historic date or place?
Santiago has beautiful surroundings. From Santiago, it´s just a 60-minute drive and you can be at the Cordillera de los Andes surrounded by snow or you can be at the Pacific Coast, with beautiful valleys in between.
Are there record stores there? Where do you go to get your music?
I like to get vinyl when I travel or when I go to concerts.
How have fans responded to your band? Are there more passionate fans in Chile or abroad? Some bands are very popular in one country more than another. Where is your biggest audience?
Our music is heard more in other countries than locally, however here in Chile we´ve played around quite bit, and there is an interesting scene.
What is the future for Maff? Touring the States, other countries? Festivals?
We are going to play songs from this new EP live for a couple of months, no tours planned for now. We are also writing songs for what would be our first LP. Shauna McLarnon at Shameless Promotion PR is also promoting our music internationally and this has led to many new opportunities, including a new feature in Noisey, among many others. We’ll see where this road takes us.
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