One big remark I have about my time in Madrid is the way the influence of American and British culture has been molded to create one uniquely Spanish. After forty years under fascist dictator Franco, Spain began opening itself back up to the world again in 1975. But it wasn’t really until 1978 that punk rock began to take its hold in Spain, and music that was no doubt directly influenced by Franco and the politics of the age began to emerge.
Going out to bars and cafes around Madrid I’ve heard my fair deal of Rihanna and Carley Rae Jepsen, as well as their Spanish equivalents. However, digging deeper into the “alternative” neighborhoods of Malasaña and Chueca I found bars like Freeway, Wurlitzer Ballroom and Tupperware that opened my ears up to the subculture of Spanish punk that has largely gone untapped in the US. At Wurlitzer I found myself listening first to Nancy Sinatra, but then The Vapors, The Sex Pistols, The Ramones, and suddenly something that sounds like The Stooges, but hey this is in Spanish? The DJ looks like a cross between a Brooklyn hipster and a metalhead and keeps playing songs I can’t understand but that more people need to know about.
The first independently released Spanish punk album by the group Almen T.N.T. came out in 1979, and the punk scene continued to flourish well into the 80’s. A majority of the most well known early Spanish punk bands came from Madrid and Barcelona. Which makes sense not only because they are major cities but also because: Madrid had been the center of Franco’s government, and in Barcelona the traditional Catalan language and culture had long been suppressed by Franco that youth culture was suffering. It only took a few short years before these urban areas exploded with an alternative scene of their own.
Now, time to listen for yourself! Here are five of what i’ve found to be among the most interesting early Spanish punk bands.
1. Almen T.N.T
3. Vulpes (This song is a cover of “I Wanna Be Your Dog”)
4. Toreros After Olé
5. Siniestro Total