Costa Rica’s Las Robertas have been rocking the blogosphere for the past several months with their off-kilter brand of four-chord fuzz pop. Perhaps its their lackadaisically punk style or the fact that the group is comprised of all girls, but most of the writers documenting the band have fallen ill to the same knee-jerk comparisons; name dropping all of the latest female fronted garage acts in a way of contextualizing the quartet. But this generalization blurs all the subtly Las Robertas have to offer.
Yes, there are dopey love songs in there but there’s also a sense of dread, of imminent death and complete resignation. Las Robertas are chugging shakers and snare hits, bass lines that would make the Riverdales faint, and vocals that ride up shotgun before crawling to the backseat and trailing off like ghosts. I was able to talk to three of the four girls where they gave me the real skinny on how exactly they are and aren’t Central America’s Best Coast.
First things first: Did Courtney kill Kurt or was it suicide?
Mercedes: Oh my God, we don’t know. We think Kurt lives in the South Pole eating fish cause, you know, they don't have any feelings.
I read somewhere that you are all teenagers. How old are all of you?
Ana María: 19
Is there much of a DIY scene in Costa Rica?
Mercedes: There are no DIY promoters or venues here. In fact, we are starting a project (non-musical) which is a DIY promotion/event company called “Nothing Producciones.” We’ve been working on flyer art and photography for other bands, and we’ve organized a couple of shows including one we played with Japandroids. The DIY audience is starting to grow up a little, but there is still pretty much none. The majority of the music scene here is Latino alternative rock in Spanish or the tons of cover bands.
Out of curiosity, why sing in English?
Mercedes: Just because.
What music have you been listening to the most these days? And more importantly, what music turned you on to music in the first place?
Monse: Lately, I've been listening a lot to Beach House, REM, Built to Spill and a few other bands/artists. I guess I knew I wanted to be in a band when I heard “Obsesión” by Miguel Mateos, I was obsessed…
Mercedes: Lately, I’ve been pretty into Dávila 666, Hanoi Janes and Grupo Aventura. The band that turned me into music was probably The Beach Boys. My dad used to put them on for me when I was a baby while playing his vintage 76’ Strat. First pop song I remember hearing was a-ha’s “Take on me.” I was obsessed with the video.
Ana María: The Flaming Lips. Wayne Coyne is the guy who changed the way I see music.
There are lot of dark reoccurring themes in your lyrics, such as death and ghosts. Do you believe in ghosts? Have you ever seen one? Are you really into horror movies or something?
Monse: I think I saw my late grandpa the day he died. I'm not really sure though, I was kinda sleepy. I don’t like scary movies.
Mercedes: Yes, totally. I’ve seen tons. I used to live in a haunted house when I was little. My favorite horror movies are Attack of the Killer Tomatoes! (1978) and any Japanese or clown themed movies; they’re always the scariest.
Ana María: I believe in spirits, but I’ve never had an encounter with one.
If you could play with any band in the world right now, who would it be?
Monse: Las Robertas, TGW, Interpol, The Kills (I would clean their boots everyday), The Flaming Lips (they're just super happy), and many more!
Mercedes: Dávila 666, Aias, and The Whines. But my dream would be to play with Black Tambourine and to become best friends with Pam Berry.
Your lyrics are bit more abstract than the usual surf pop. Do you have any favorite poets?
Monse: I'm not that into poetry but I like some of Neruda´s writing.
Mercedes: Anything written by Luis Chaves. He’s the master of poetry and he’s Costa Rican as well.
How important is it for bands writing garage-y love songs to have a cute animal mascot? What are the names of your dogs and what are your favorite animals?
Monse: I guess that looking at cute animals makes you write love songs or something.
Mercedes: The dogs’ names are Perrito Caliente (which means “Hot Dog” in Spanish), Paco and Lola. We don’t think it’s important, we all really like dogs a lot and well, they are all Daschunds. So my favorite animals are Daschunds, bunnies, fat cats, and little kids.
Ana María: Dogs, hamsters, and me.
So, you’ve been getting a lot of blog attention in the US. When do you guys think you’ll make it out to the states?
Mercedes: We’d love to be there and we’re working hard on it. If you know anyone in the U.S. government who works in the immigration department, tell he or she to give us a little hand with that and help us out!
Contact your nearest Immigration official, order Las Robertas’s self-released long-player Cry Out Loud, and peep the subtly pedophilic video for their single “Back To The End” below.