Mexican rock band Zoé may have formed 10 years ago, but they’re finally giving the U.S. market a shot with their new album, Reptilectric (EMI), a dreamy collection of songs that reawaken new-wave nostalgias while moving listeners closer to outer space. I caught up with guitarist Sergio Acosta:
When did you guys decide it was time to cross over?
We’re doing rock but we’re singing in Spanish. We want to attract audiences that aren’t necessarily Latin. We’re not interested in the mainstream, but I want to get into this indie alternative world. ... Of course, you always want this from day one, but it takes time to get the band to mature. You also need a group of people that believe in you.
What’s different about this CD, musically speaking?
Zoé always tries to make music that creates emotion. We try to make full albums, not singles. In each album we’re closer to what we want to do with our sonic identity. We’re almost there. This album is simpler, more organic than the others. It has rock, psychedelia, melancholy. We love to experiment with songs.
How do the five bandmates split up the work?
The lyrics are written by the singer, León, but we create music together. We work on the arrangement, the structure; some songs come out of our jamming sessions.
How did you meet British producer Phil Vinall, who has worked with Radiohead and Elastica?
When we started back in '99, we had a deal with EMI, but nothing happened for a year. Then we were dropped. It was an eye-opening moment. We decided to make an album ... but then we thought, “Who’s going to mix this?” I started writing to producers I liked, and Phil wrote back and he had just done the “Pure Morning” single for Placebo. We told him, “We have no money, but we want you to mix it.” He said, “Come to London and I’ll do it.”
What kind of music and bands influenced the group?
I grew up listening to Dylan, Donavan, the Beatles. Later on, when you start to look for your own choices: Talking Heads, Pink Floyd, the Cure. We were very much into the Manchester scene, the Charletons. Then Blur and Oasis. It’s not only rock ’n’ roll; I love old Jamaican music from the ’60s and bossa nova. Now we love Devendra Banhart. I’m always looking for new music.