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Topic ClosedAstrid Pröll's Agustín Criollo interviewed 6-6-07

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chamberry View Drop Down
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Direct Link To This Post Topic: Astrid Pröll's Agustín Criollo interviewed 6-6-07
    Posted: June 07 2007 at 21:54
Agustín Criollo is the bassist and leading man behind the Puertorican band called Astrid Pröll, an eclectic prog band with influences from King Crimson to Post-Rock, Krautrock and Stoner Rock and more. Here's the Progarchives biography for more information about them:

Taking their name from a member of the Baader-Meinhof Gang in 1970s Gemany, ASTRID PRÖLL were formed in the summer of 2004 by 4 veterans of the Puerto Rican music scene. With a varied range of influences, such as Jazz, Punk, Canterbury Scene, Post Rock, Krautrock and other progressive rock genres, the band play exceptional music of an experimental nature, that sends you on a journey of highs and lows, both dark and light. With 15 years of experience as musicians, the guys have had plenty of time to develop a unique sound and this is exactly what Agustín "Chito" Criollo (bass, synths & vocals), Georgie Castro-Ramirez (guitars & tenor sax), Andrés Lugo (synths, prepared guitars & percussion) and Fernando Rosado (drums & percussion) have achieved. One of the bands they sound a lot like at times is KING CRIMSON, but not in a sense of a clone-band, but just in style on particular tracks. They also have a strong similarity to SOFT MACHINE in places as well. However, the majority of their sound is taken from the post-rock, krautrock and avant-prog scene and in particular, the Finnish band CIRCLE.

They are a very promising band for the future and have already impressed with their debut album "Astrid Pröll" as well an EP. They already plan on releasing another album in the near future, so exciting times are ahead for not only the progressive rock world, but for the Puerto Rican music scene.

A thoroughly recommended band and a must listen for fans of Post-rock (Explosions in the Sky, Tarentel, Do Say Make Think, Godspeed You! Black Emperor, Mogwai, Sigur Rós and Radiohead), RIO/Avant-prog (Circle, Univers Zero, Present), Krautrock, Canterbury Scene (Soft Machine) and Art Rock (King Crimson).


: : : James R. Yeowell (Geck0) : : :


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The interview has been divided in two parts: My questions (Ruben D. Rivera Arroyo) and Geck0's questions ( James R. Yeowell).

Here's the interview with Astrid Pröll's Agustín Criollo:





Ruben D. Rivera Arroyo questions:

1. The name Astrid Pröll seems to have a lot of controversy surrounding it. Why did you choose this particular name for the band?

Well, we wanted to give the band a personality of its own so we though a proper name will do the job; then we wanted to express something concrete with that name that would reflect our admiration for the counterculture but at the same time pays homage to our Kosmische (Krautrock) musical influences. Astrid Pröll seemed to be the perfect name much more for her sort of accidental role on the Baader-Meinhof Gang history that she had rather than being a main character or a bone fide liberation soldier.
Her story is much more accidental to the times that surround her, just like us.


2. How did the band come about? (Whose idea was it? How did the members met? etc.)


I was living in Chicago by the late 90’s and early 2000’s  and then I moved back to PR in 2003 and decided to conclude the experiments I started with my former nineties band “La Iglesia Atómica” and later on with my solo CDRs.
The band started in 2004 when I reunited with old time friend and drummer Fernando Rosado and we started talking about getting a band together again. By the time I was very much into Krautrock and Post Rock so I was hanging out with a different crowd. That’s when I met anti-musician Andres Lugo and worked with him in his former multimedia project Matotumba in a series of performances.
We got together with guitarist Martin Serra and formed the band but later on he was replaced by old time buddy and extraordinaire musician Georgie Castro-Ramirez and he brought on board Raul Gaud from the local electronica project Crissalida in late 2006.


3. Puerto Rico seems a like a desolate place for prog rock bands or even rock bands. Tell us the history behind you and the band looking for a record deal.

It is very ironic that fact mostly because I remember Puerto Rico in the seventies and early eighties had a strong Prog Rock cult following. I tell you more; ELP, Mahavishnu Orchestra and Osibisa were part of the now legendary Mar y Sol Pop Fest in 1972 and ever since neo prog bands like FM and Saga were always coming to gig San Juan.
I truly believe that this country (PR) is a very desolate place for any form of non-mainstream Rock hence the impossibility of any local band to get a serious domestic record deal.
We all started in the nineties to play seriously and ever since we have learned how difficult it is to survive, that is why we don’t let a minor fact like not having a record deal stop us from releasing our work. It is harder that way, though, but certainly not impossible. We are always on the look out for distribution deals and if some serious record label comes our way, we’ll be glad but if it doesn’t it won’t matter at all.
We prefer to have few true fans that appreciate and understand our work rather than being exposed to a huge amount of people that don’t care much about our stuff.


4. Astrid Pröll's debut has a wide variety of ideas and styles crossing genres like stoner rock, krautrock, post-rock, jazz and many more. How did all of this different musical styles ended up in one album?


Well, that’s what you get when you work with musicians from different walks of life. Every single person is a world in its own and, instead of looking it as a burden, I find it quite rewarding because you have all this forces pushing to their own sides and that creates a balance in the center.
The main thing that we all agree is that we love Prog Rock.
For instance: Georgie Castro grew up in the hardcore punk scene but he is crazy about Soft Machine and Magma. Andres Lugo comes from the shoegaze/post rock scene but he loves Camel and King Crimson. Raul Gaud has a more stoner side but he is a free jazz/prog rock fan also; Fernando Rosado is a more mainstream guy but he worships Rush and UK and myself, I grew up listening to the LA hardcore scene but at the same time I fell in love with Yes, ELP, Crimson, Hatfield and The North, Floyd and all of the Krautrock scene from the seventies.
It is quite interesting because at the time of composing all those influences come together and creates something unique.


5. What were the major influences in the recording of this album?

Well... I guess that a lot of RIO, Canterbury, Stoner, Krautrock and Post Rock.


6. How does the band compose its music?

Mostly somebody brings a riff and we start from scratch arranging it. Everybody contributes.

7. Recently in the band's MySpace page there's been some tour dates pointing to New York this summer. Tell us how did you managed to get a gig outside of your home country. Are there plans for touring other countries?

Like all good Puerto Ricans we have friends and relatives in the NY state area. Some buddies of ours contacted us that they wanted us to go to Albany to gig and we accepted. From there we started pulling some strings to get some other gigs in Brooklyn and Manhattan to take full advantage of the trip.
We definitely have plans to go outside Puerto Rico and play as much as we can even though it is very difficult because of the fact we have to finance it all by ourselves and depend on good souls that can give us food, shelter and equipment to play.
We are keeping contact with the guys from the Roadburn Fest in Tilburg, Netherlands and with the guys of NEARfest in Pennsylvania which liked our album very much and we hope they’ll be kind enough to invite us to open up in future editions of those fests. In the meantime we are always on the look for places we can travel and gig.



8. You've mentioned before that the band is working on their next album. How's the process going?

Well, the writing is always difficult but very interesting. The more you work the more in shape things get and that is the best part of being in a band.
Our schedules are very tight so we cannot afford to rehearse every day of the week so we do it once or twice a week. Right now we have like 3 completed songs (which we already play live) and 3 more are in the process. We hope that by late summer we can start recording basic tracks and from then on start with the mix.





James R. Yeowell questions:



9. The next album is going to be a concept album, so I hear, can you tell us anything more about it? (I guess that could be covered in the previous question by Ruben)

We hope to make it a concept album but, again, our process has a mind of its own and sometimes the finished product is not what we intended to do in the first place.
It is going to be called “La Guerra del Fin del Mundo” (The War of The End of The World) and the titled was borrowed from the novel of the same title from Peruvian writer Mario Vargas Llosa although it has nothing to do with the actual book.
I, personally, have a very chaotic view of the world right now and all the things to come so I wanted to make a portrayal of it, denounce the situation if you will. I feel there is to much nonsense going on and that takes our attention away from the things that really matter, those that are destroying our world and those who can save it.



10. Thanks to the Internet (and certain individuals and fans), Astrid Pröll have attained a bigger fanbase than you may have been expecting.  Has this come as a surprise to you and do you embrace the Internet?  Do you see your next album getting even more critical acclaim than the debut?

Well, actually we are very, very surprised and grateful because we certainly have not expected such a response and acceptance amongst die hard prog fans. That is very much rewarding and it’s the fuel that keeps us going on.  We have received very good reviews from important sources like Prog Archives, Aural Innovations, Gibraltar Encyclopedia or Prog Rock, Roadburn Fest and many others that have been very kind to showcase our music in their respective media.
 
I personally think (and I believe I am speaking for the whole band) that the Internet is the best thing that has ever happened to musicians and artists alike. It has given us the tools to reach a wider audience without depending on third parties but of ourselves.
We are pro Internet 100% and as a matter of fact most of the songs for this next album have been worked using blue prints in MP3 files that we send to each other and then, when we get to the studio we have a clearer idea of what we are going to do.
I truly believe that without the Internet we would have never gotten the chance to record this album and reach so many people throughout the globe.
As for the next album we hope to fulfill the expectations of all of our peers and we will give our best to do so.
We think the first effort is always the hardest. Your presentation card if you will. After that it’s easier for people to relate to your work because they already know you.


11. Could you explain some of the titles of your debut album to us?  Especially in relation to "Laboratorio Grotowsky" and Jerzy Grotowsky's ideas?

Andres Lugo gave me a book about Jerzy Grotowsky’s ideas on theatre and I found it very interesting. I personally see art (literature, plastic art, music, etc.) as a whole so crossing boundaries is the appropriate thing to do so I presented the idea of producing a track on one take using minimal overdubs and all the tools available to develop music with Grotowsky’s ideas. That’s how Laboratorio (Laboratory) Grotowsky found its way into the album.
As for the other songs they are a bunch of musical moods in which the titles are closely related to the sounds. For instance: the idea of “Torso” was born when I was watching a TV special of this black boy’s torso found in the river Thames by investigators of the Interpol and Scotland Yard. Later they found out it was a human sacrifice made by smugglers from central Africa that operated from London. The track intends to portray the tension of the whole investigation.



12. In relation to the previous question, what is the "poor" theatre concept in terms of Astrid Pröll's music?

As you already know, the poor theatre was an idea that stripped this art form from all gimmicks and used the human body as the only tool to perform.  As a band we are very limited in resources to perform, record and produce our music so we feel we have to depend on our ingenuity and creativity to make the most out of what we got. In that sense we are a very much stripped, straight-to-the-point band, just like the poor theatre is.



13. Expanding on Ruben's question (no. 4), it is obvious from your debut album, that the band members have many different influences (which is a healthy thing to have in my own opinion), whose ideas get across more in the band, or is it always a group effort?  Is there much conflict?

There is some head butting very frequently but it always comes to a happy ending (so far). Bands are like marriages, if you want them to succeed you have to be ready to give as much as take and know that you are working for a greater common good; Astrid Pröll.
For this album I brought a lot of the main riffs and then we worked them all together. This next album has more ideas from everyone so I am sensing it will be a more interesting project. You have to remember that Georgie came to the band when we already had like 5 tracks already done so we made several new arrangements with him and wrote the other 5 to complete the recording.


14. Finally, not a question, but good luck with your studies and thank you for conducting this interview with us both for Prog Archives, it is very much welcomed.  Ruben and I look very much forward to the next album.  Thanks again!


Pleasure is ours and thanks a lot to all you guys at Prog Archives for embracing our humble work with such good faith.
Especially thanks to you, James as well as Ruben for always believing in us.
We’ll see you soon.





Useful links:

http://www.astridproll.com
http://www.myspace.com/astridproll
http://www.progarchives.com/artist.asp?id=2639
Geck0's (James) review: http://www.progarchives.com/Review.asp?id=93690
Chamberry's (Ruben) review: http://www.progarchives.com/Review.asp?id=93708



Edited by chamberry - June 07 2007 at 22:16

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Direct Link To This Post Posted: June 07 2007 at 21:56
Nice interview! ClapThumbs%20UpCool

Some of these questions are excellent too. Wink

Good work Rubén!  You should be proud of yourself.
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: June 07 2007 at 22:06
I am. Approve

Congratulations to you too, James. Half of this interview couldn't been done without you. Wink


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Direct Link To This Post Posted: June 07 2007 at 22:08
Well of course, but the whole interview was conducted by you, I just added some questions in at the end.  Credit where credit is due.

Have you e-mailed Agustín?

Where's Assaf?


Edited by Geck0 - June 07 2007 at 22:08
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: June 07 2007 at 22:16
I'm on it.

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Direct Link To This Post Posted: June 07 2007 at 22:19
Good man. Thumbs%20Up

By the way, I intend to send some tracks to Dick Heath to play on his radio show in the future.  Infact, Dick said it would be easier if the band sent him a copy of the album.  I've yet to ask Agustín about it, but I am sure he'll be pleased for more publicity.  I can easily e-mail him if need be, because I have Dick's e-mail as well.
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: June 07 2007 at 22:20
I haven't actually read it yet, but it's nice to see.. good work you guys
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: June 07 2007 at 22:21
Then get on and read it, David. Wink

I have a bigger interview in the pipeline... I just have to write the questions!

Thanks for the feedback. Wink


Edited by Geck0 - June 07 2007 at 22:21
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: June 07 2007 at 23:29
Excellent work guys, today`s morning i listened to their album and the more i listen to it, the more i like it!
 
Great questions, congrats!

Follow me on twitter @memowakeman
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: June 07 2007 at 23:33
No problem, Memo.

It is a great album, that's for sure.  Varied too.  88 MHz. is an all-time epic, as far as I am concerned.

Keep on listening to it and try and review if you can. Thumbs%20Up
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: June 07 2007 at 23:50
Originally posted by Geck0 Geck0 wrote:

No problem, Memo.

It is a great album, that's for sure.  Varied too.  88 MHz. is an all-time epic, as far as I am concerned.

Keep on listening to it and try and review if you can. Thumbs%20Up
 
Sure i will, just give me time, i would not do a nice review right now, but when i am prepared i will let you both know Big%20smile

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Direct Link To This Post Posted: June 08 2007 at 00:25
Nice interview.  As a fellow Boricua now living in the West Coast it's good to see music of this caliber being made.  P'arriba Astrid Pröll!
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: June 08 2007 at 08:37
Great interview Ruben and James, and good work promoting this well deserving band. I enjoyed the reading and you already know I love their album.
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: June 08 2007 at 14:32
Thanks for the feedback guys and I'm glad that you guys liked it.Smile

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Direct Link To This Post Posted: June 08 2007 at 14:44
Yes, I fully agree.  It is difficult trying to conduct an interview with a band that few know and few really care about, but it takes dedication to do that and Ruben should be very proud.  If this means Astrid Proll gain more listeners, then he should feel even happier.

I certainly feel it is an accomplishment for me and I hope this will spur me on to conduct other interviews.

Watch this (well, not this) space!
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: June 08 2007 at 16:52
Thanks for the interview, very nicely done. Clap

I really enjoyed the album as well, one of the better prog albums from 2006, no doubt.

To get an idea of what they sound like, the album can be listened to in its entirety here:

http://www.last.fm/music/Astrid+Pr%C3%B6ll/Astrid+Pr%C3%B6ll



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Direct Link To This Post Posted: June 08 2007 at 21:49
Great work guys, very interesting interview. As James said conducitong interviews in not the easiest of tasks, especially when they are a more unknown name. But hopefully because of efforts like these they will get the recognition they diserve. Their self title album would have made in my top ten for last year [this is not just limiting prog]. I'm definately looking forward to the second album.
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: June 09 2007 at 14:04
Great job guys! Thumbs%20Up
 
 Interesting (in a good way Tongue) interview.


Edited by Man With Hat - June 09 2007 at 14:04
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: July 06 2007 at 01:51
I just read your interview guys and was very impressed.I've been listening to their cd all week and plan to review it Friday.By the way these guys make great music! Looking forward to the next record.
"The wind is slowly tearing her apart"

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Direct Link To This Post Posted: July 07 2007 at 11:04
^^^^ I just finished reading your review! Good to see you enjoyed it! Clap

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