Interview: Rodrigo y Gabriela

Rodrigo-Y-Gabriela-001Rodrigo Sanchez chats to Aoife Valentine about busing beginnings, making it and playing for the Obamas

Rodrigo y Gabriela are not your run-of-the-mill folk guitarist duo. Immersed in Mexico’s metal era throughout their youth, the Latin influences and the heavy metal edge in their music are apparent a mile away.

Having embraced those metal connections in the past, are they fading now? “No, it’s growing actually” says Rodrigo Sanchez. “You go to our shows and you see a lot of metal heads. It was great to have the recognition from the kings, from Metallica themselves, to be in touch with them and having the opportunity to jam with Robert [Trujillo] pretty often.” He continued: “It’s great because that opened the door for a lot of metal heads to understand that we come from there, It’s clear for the people that we love metal.”

Jamming with Metallica is not the peak of their stardom, however. This summer they played a state dinner for the Obamas, Entertaining the President is quite a leap from hanging with the princes of anti-establishment. “It was great, it was very strange. When we got to meet him, the first thing he said was ‘I have your music on my iPod.’ It was pretty cool.”

Playing the White House is a far cry from busking on Grafton Street, but Sanchez insists they were his favourite experiences in Ireland. “They were amazing moments in our lives and it’s something that won’t happen again, even if we wanted it to. We met a lot of people and we learnt a lot, as musicians and as human beings. It was an amazing experience.”

Perhaps at this point it would be easy to relax, content in their success this far, but he rejects this notion entirely. “We have achieved financial freedom or whatever you want to call it but from saying that to saying ‘I made it.’ is a big gap. When I get enlightened, then I probably would say I’d made it.”

And have they been attempting to reach this enlightenment? Certainly their latest album contrasts with previous work considerably. “Production-wise it’s different. The recording and the approach is different. It has a concept in a way, and it’s worked out because through that concept, paying tribute to musicians, we have met a lot of them and we’ve had the chance to jam with a lot of them. We have learned a lot from them. They are pretty much our heroes.”

A unique duo, openhearted, willing to learn and experiment, nothing looks set to stop them. With a hectic tour schedule in America and Europe to keep them busy, Rodrigo y Gabriela are definitely not sitting back basking in their own glory. “We’re excited to do this tour that’s about to start. It’s quite big and we’re very happy right now.”

Catch Rodrigo y Gabriela when they play the Grand Canal Theatre on November 12th and 13th.

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