Álvaro Urquijo (Los Secretos): “I don’t see someone saying in 30 years: do you remember that song from 2018? And I sing you reggaeton”

Leader of The Secrets. ‘Recovering emotions’ is the title of the tour with which the historic group will land in Palma on Monday, December 5, at the Auditorium. «It will be a very precious concert, very careful, very measured, with a lot of songs. Let’s see who plays 28 songs in a show?», asks the interpreter of immortal songs like ‘Pero a tu lado’ or ‘Déjame’, sticking out his chest.

What do you think of the documentary ‘Sentiendolo mucho’ starring Sabina?

I haven’t seen it yet but I will. I admire Sabina a lot and I’m sure I’ll love the documentary. With Sabina we have a close relationship. We shared a rehearsal room wall to wall. It was the year 84, more or less. When we rehearsed we shut up to listen to him. My brother Enrique used to say: “damn, what a bastard, what lyrics does he do”. That’s where we started to empathize. I have always admired the faculty that my brother Enrique had to write lyrics and the one that Joaquín has, and that makes me raise my hat and bend my knee in front of geniuses, and there is no doubt that Sabina is not only one of the best lyricists, those that I have known closely and with whom I have worked, but also a number 1, whom I love and appreciate. If there were more ‘sabinas’ and artists of that nature, with their personality, with their defects and with everything you want, we would be a richer country. The wealth of a country is not given by oil or gold, but by culture. We are in a consumer society that is consuming itself from wanting money so much.

He has recently been in Mexico with Pancho Varona. Do you understand her breakup with Sabina?

I have been friends with Pancho since 1984. He is someone very noble, who has done great songs with Sabina. But I am guilty of one thing, and that is that the private life of others, if they don’t want to tell me about it, I don’t ask about it. I had no idea how the relationship with Joaquín was, but I sensed… because I know Joaquín and I know that he, well, also stylistically needs to rest his lyrics on a musician who might contribute new things to him. And just as he did with Enrique and me, and with Calamaro at the time, or with Pedro Guerra, or now with Leiva, a great musician, well I understand it. Any artist has the right to take his turns and place his trust in different artistic directions.

They don’t stop giving concerts, 2022 has been a brutal year in terms of performances, and in most cases they sell out. Can we speak of Los Secretos as a true phenomenon?

As such, no. What does happen is that in the last decade, above all, either the groups have drifted towards a more commercial sense, or the social networks have had a great influence and the artists have moved away from the songs, so to speak, to get into fashion. or styles that promote many views. More than a phenomenon is that we don’t have much competition of our level, that is, from people who have been there for many years, with a great repertoire based on hard work, and who are in shape, who try to make the shows better. There aren’t that many groups of those either. I was a big fan of people like Los Rodríguez, Radio Futura, Golpes Bajos… but all those bands gradually broke up. Of our time there are few who have endured.

What have you prepared for the Palma Auditorium, where I understand that you arrive with a new voice?

At the beginning of 2020 we prepared a pretty cool tour, with projections, more careful lighting and with one more member who joined as a result of the latest studio album, My paradise (2019), and that we adopted it to improve the vocal theme, Txetxu Altube. He is a great musician, solo and also with Madison. He was loose at that time from his things and I asked him if he wanted to come and do the choirs for our album. From there we began to work together on the presentation of the album. But the pandemic came, and we considered that improving the vocals in vocal harmonies was very important to us, so it came to stay. When normality resumed, after the pandemic, we have recovered that show, with the name of Recovering emotions, with the projections and the same repertoire. It’s a kind of thanks to the public, we’ll play for two hours and ten minutes, approximately, and there will be all the classics, what people can expect from Los Secretos. Some songs from the new album are also included, others not so new, from the last two decades, others that we have rescued and that did not come to anything at the time, in short, there is room for everything… It will be a very precious concert, very careful , very measured, with a lot of songs, up to 28. Let’s see who plays 28 songs in a show? I have seen repertoires of bands that do not exceed 16 songs. I think that our secret is to have played for many years, a long time and in each concert to improve a little. There is no concert in which I learn something. Thanks to our repertoire we have traveled through fashions and generations. We have never touched the sky in terms of figures, however, songs like ‘Pero a tu lado’, 27 years old, are our number 1 now with millions of listeners on Spotify. Our music has traveled horizontally and transversally, through word of mouth, radios and djs, and we are lucky to fill and that our music is liked, the prize for a decent and respectful job with the public.

Los Secretos has been a career with many lights and some shadows. How do you get over the bad times?

When we’ve had a big bump, like the death of Canito, Pedro Antonio Díaz or my brother Enrique, something devastating, in all those moments our intention was to stop and leave it. We dejected ourselves in such a way… We saw ourselves without strength. What happened in those moments? Things as strange as going into a place, when you think nobody remembers you, and seeing that they are playing your music and everyone wants to hug you and take your autograph; or go by car through the city, they honk the horn, roll down the window and turn up the volume of one of your songs. Apart from the world of mainstream, from what was played on the radio and what was seen on TV, we followed a trajectory quite covered by the public. After Enrique’s death I had usurper syndrome, I felt very ashamed when I sang my brother’s songs, like frontman, without guests who had a leading role, but the response from the public was amazing. 70 concerts later we were recording a new album with original songs. Many times it is the public that pulls you. Nobody has a career because they are very skilled and know how to avoid misfortunes or because they have a lot of perseverance or are very ambitious, or very pesetero, nobody has a long career if the public does not want it. It is the public that dictates your hits and how long they will last in time. We are lucky to have been touched by the magic wand that our criteria, the one we use when composing, that mix between ranchera, pop rock music, country rock, new wave or whatever you want to call it, was liked and liked.

But by your side’ is the Los Secretos song with the most plays on Spotify: more than 46 million. Do digital platforms behave with you or do you feel robbed?

It’s a paradox, it’s like going back in time and killing your grandfather. On the one hand we feel robbed because they pay so little. Those of the old school have been eating the nose technology, not taking advantage of it but having to adapt with the times and always in a disadvantaged place. But on the other hand, if you go down the street it is very difficult not to find someone who does not have a smartphone, and anyone who has a smartphone and small headphones is listening to music. That is to say, what they take from you on one hand they give to you on the other. There are so many people listening to you, so much diffusion of the devices through which they can listen to you, that it is very easy for someone to have a shared Spotify list that you are on. Many people have discovered us through the platforms. Those of YouTube and Spotify pay me almost nothing but thanks to them I fill my concerts. It’s kind of a love-hate thing.

Tom Petty, Lou Reed, Manolo Tena, Bowie… I asked him a few years ago. Has the replacement on the throne of our ancient heroes already taken place?

Difficult question. I missed Tom Petty, who I couldn’t see in Turin because I sprained my ankle, I’ll see him another time, I said, and soon after he died. The exact same thing happened to me with the Eagles, and Glenn Frey passed away. I don’t know who will take his place. People today do not have that love for music, that devotion that we had, and I have not seen geniuses or talents to say: damn, if I were young now I would admire it. The old ones remain. Even if David Bowie dies, his work remains, his videos, his recordings. I think that we are in a slightly weaker stage of creation and more commercialization, where social networks, as something new, have entered society by force and have somewhat devalued talent in order to have many followers or be very flashy. On the other hand, social networks also make it possible for someone from home with a small computer to have a song that goes viral and becomes number 1 in another way. There are people who have millions of views and don’t have a record company, manager or anything, because they don’t need it. I, who am from the old school, think that the heroes to whom I set my eye and where I took my own style, from which I fed myself, are running out. They will always remain, like the classic Wagner or Beethoven, their music will never die. I don’t know of people who are going to become new benchmarks, and those that do exist are usually revisits, with more modern, more technological rhythms, of rhythm & blues classics, people like Bruno Mars or Dua Lipa, or of Latin American music, to the that I respect a lot but I don’t share, because I’m older and I have the right to be from the seventies and eighties more than from reggaeton. Honestly, I don’t see someone saying: damn, do you remember that song from 2018 in 30 years, and sing you reggaeton. We have gone from the culture of admiration and love of art to the culture of consumption, where young people can barely stand 30 seconds watching a video and then move on to the next, and songs that go viral for 10 seconds on Tik Tok or because they come out in a youth series and that is why they became popular on Spotify. Today it counts more to add followers than to make good songs.

the letters of Dylan have been a source of inspiration for Los Secretos. In his ‘Philosophy of modern song’, the Nobel musician makes a selection of 66 titles, and neither the Beatles nor the Stones appear in it. Do you share his opinion?

The Beatles are the foundations of a culture, a kind of fountain of life from which multiple ramifications will later emerge. I would not put the Beatles or the Stones out of a selection. Maybe it took me two years to make a list of 66 songs. I would put Dylan, but not as an interpreter. I started to like it listening to the Byrds, hearing songs like Mr. Tambourine Man o Chimes of Freedom. what great songs Come on, if it’s Bob Dylan. I didn’t like how he sang but he recognized his ability to write wonderful songs with incredible lyrics. with his record Blonde on Blonde I went from musical innocence to maturity. Be careful with which piece you remove from the palace, from the rock building. There are people who play that make you die, right now I was freaking out with a guy on YouTube, Mateus Asato, the best player I’ve ever seen in my life. He doesn’t have songs that you know of but I haven’t seen anything like it.


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