The day is black and white. After a summer Sunday of 35 degrees, it is Thursday and it seems autumn, but it is spring. “This is Malaga”, says a waiter, who warns the clientele that no matter how much the predictions indicate, “don’t worry, it’s not going to rain”. Antonio Luque agrees, who draws the same conclusion after looking at the sea and the clouds over the Sierra de Mijas. This is what this Sevillian has learned after 15 years living next to the beach in the neighborhood of El Palo. He is late for the interview due to confusion — or so he says — but in return he gives away a conversation that takes longer than expected and only stops when hunger strikes.
“Since I was a kid, I have thought that you eat at home and drink outside,” he excuses himself. Order the first beer and some olives. The first arrives quickly and with scab on the label. The second, never. The waves break on the wall that separates the Mediterranean from the El Balneario restaurant and he begins to doubt the chosen site. “But it is amazing. It’s like being on a boat ”, says the musician. “I force myself to come here from time to time. If not, this is only for posh and councilors, “he shoots.
Antonio Luque is Mr. Chinarro. His is one of the longest and most prolific careers in the world. indie Spanish since he recorded his first LP (Mr. Chinarro, 1994). In their songs there are choirs by Annie B. Sweet, Zahara or Linda Mirada and guests such as Enrique and Soleá Morente. He channeled the career of La Bien Querida. He has played for zero people, at a bachelorette party and as a surprise for a guy coming out of jail. Promotion partner of Los Planetas or Australian Blonde, bands like Love of Lesbian and Niños Mutantes were the opening act for his concerts. “They have been going up, I am happy because they are good people and I had to touch someone, and I have been lagging behind. But it’s normal, what I do is weird, a bit crazy. As I always talk with Jota (from Los Planetas), it is too much to have already come this far ”, he says.
Waiting for those born in 1970 to be vaccinated, like him, “Janssen probably”, he goes for a jog on the boardwalk in the afternoons, and in the mornings he rehearses three times a week on a polygon. He has recovered for his musical cause José Tejada and Damián Fernández, half of that Malaga band that never caught on, Los boquerones en vinagre. He has now joined Sandra Rubio on keyboards, as he did on the third and fourth albums. September is on the horizon, the month scheduled to record the new album. It will be number 18 on the trajectory chinarra. “If we went into the studio tomorrow we would be more prepared than in most previous albums, but I’m not in a hurry,” says the musician as his chair breaks. “I’m not having luck today,” he says. “We should have gone to Kali, in Pedregalejo, which has cheaper beer.”
Luque says that his new songs have gained intimacy. His records are diaries with cryptic lyrics that are barely translated by a handful of empowered fans. “I count my moves, but catch it if you can,” he explains, referring unexpectedly to C. Tangana. “A friend asked me if I like it, but I am ashamed of it. I am ashamed to listen to C. Tangana, I would never sing that. Not because it is wrong, the boy has succeeded and I am very happy, it is because I do not dare to tell such clear things about personal relationships, “he clarifies.
He says that now he has left poetics behind (“beauty is touching my balls,” he says) and dispenses with metaphors and comparisons to be more direct when explaining his reality – even his love affairs -, although his modesty continues to gain. He will not speak of the confinement, although he wrote something at the time. It was later, last January, when he gathered sketches and ideas that he had accumulated to compose almost the entire new album, still unnamed. “I came to be close to my son. I live alone, in a small place, where nobody bothers me. Artists need solitude ”, he assures. Who does bother him is the Treasury, which does not allow him to take a tax deduction or rent a van for his concerts: “They will want to raise money to rescue the Plus Ultra airline,” he drops.
The new keyboard sound will allow him to bring back old songs live that his fans ask for and he rarely gives, like Palmist (The reason for my hairstyles, 1997). Remembering songs is the only exception to playing your own records. “I listen to them and I only see mistakes. They have to spend at least 10 years to put them on, but with the new music there is, what for ”. Neither does Spanish music sound in their headphones, although lately there has been an exception with Reinaldo and Clara. “Spanish records, and with this I am in conflict with all the sound technicians in Spain, they sound like Spanish. Not that one, perhaps because he is Catalan. They did not convince me with the yellow ties and maybe they will do it out there, “says Mr. Chinarro, who does listen to Phoebe Bridgers and trusts the weekly discoveries of Spotify.
He also found good music in the playlist of H&M without knowing that very close to home there is a Mercadona indie where Izal, Vetusta Morla or Niños Mutantes plays and Elphomega does the shopping. On his shelf, open, is the book Loneliness, which Caterina Albert wrote in 1904 under the pseudonym of Víctor Catalán; Ramon Vila Caracremada, the last Catalan maqui, by Josep Clara, and Gold, by Frenchman Blaise Cendrar. “Maybe soon we will have to flee this country, so knowing the route of the maquis and knowing French will be important,” he says. “I do not blame the Catalans for wanting to put Castilian dandruff aside,” he warns.
He orders the second beer, this time on tap, and complains that the music is out of order, how the health crisis has been the perfect excuse to eliminate culture: “It hurts to see how your profession is marginalized, how they make fun of it; like when they gave more capacity at the beginning to the masses than to the concerts ”. Despite everything, he feels lucky. He sees the sea from his window daily, he has offered some acoustics and has short-term dates, such as June 19 in Vigo or July 30 in Cartagena. Will continue to present The good side, published in May 2020, in the middle of the de-escalation. “Maybe there are those who find out now that Mr. Chinarro released a record last year.” It starts to rain. “As a meteorologist I am priceless,” he confirms as he turns his chair to admire the views over the bay. The restaurant already smells like sardine skewers (“Malaga is indeed a paradise in that,” he stresses) and he says that haute cuisine is smoke, that in the El Palo market there is a fishmonger who looks like Robert Palmer, but that he is not going to buy because they catch his Sevillian accent and deceive him.
In recent months he has taken time to cover Vendellós I for the tribute album to Triángulo de Amor Bizarro, to launch an unreleased song, What a scar and keep his blog at the FNAC. Who has a blog today? He is already planning his next album, 19, which promises to record alone at home with synthesizers, samples and a drum machine. “You have to attract attention, do something else. It’s like when Messi scores a great goal and no one is surprised anymore. Although I am not the Messi of music ”. He could have been the Gasol of basketball because of his height, but he hates this sport and uses sports radio to sleep because it bores him. In the conversation he makes football comparisons, but he only sees Betis and remembers how badly he went through in the Quique Setién stage, which he dislikes. He is also usually attentive to important matches, although the Villarreal final did not see it because he was confused. Better not know with what.
Next to the restaurant is an old garden with a huge abandoned cage. It is the stage used by his son, Guille, to record a video clip with which he appears in music. In Mushroom Pillow, the label for which Mr. Chinarro records, they already follow him on YouTube. “He is very talented and writes well, but he is very young, he is 15 years old. I have told him that when he is older, at least 18, we will make a record for him. Of course, he has to study, ”says the father, who sets an example for Juan Alberto, leader of Niños Mutantes, because he combines the Granada gang with his work as a lawyer.
Luque wants to soon have in hand what would be his second novel after Exitus (The Aleph), “the difficult one.” You haven’t sat down to write, but you feel like it. It will be starred by an agronomist engineer —like him— who is fond of music and will help him relate his experiences in Malaga —which also appear in the pages of the funny and singular book of conversations. Once upon a time, Mr. Chinarro (Muzikalia) – starting with his arrival on the Costa del Sol as a phytosanitary inspector. “At that time I saw a red spider many meters away. I sent so many roses to burn at customs that they never called me again, ”he recalls. Another day he opened a palm tree to check that there were no red weevil beetles inside. “I cut, took out the palm and took a bite, all that was left was to put mayonnaise on it,” he recalls with a laugh.
The stomach warns, but since you eat at home and drink outside, Luque orders the third beer. He talks about the pique between Malaga and Seville, which according to him comes from Expo 92 and that is why now the city of Malaga aspires to its exhibition in 2027. “And they want to build the Polla building in the port, out of envy of the Pelli tower,” he says when you hear your new chair creak. “Do you need an expo to have a bar where the chairs don’t break?” catheticism of rivalries and nationalisms or that “the only reality, the only non-opinionable thing” is the climate crisis: “You dive and it’s all shit, the beach is full of cigarette butts, plastic, wipes [como él mismo adelantaba en Vacaciones en el mar]. There are still those who deny climate change, vote for Vox and say that the smoke is going to I do not know where. That’s where they should go. “
He adds that if the rich of Madrid want to get to El Corte Inglés by car, let them do so if people vote for them. “What does not make sense is that they vote for them thinking that by voting for them they become them. They wear the flag, they go to Vox and they are already rich even if they don’t even have enough to weigh you down. But they are never going to be admitted to the group! ”, It turns on. “In reality, whoever gets into politics cannot be a good person. And if it is, it comes out fast. Look at Pablo Iglesias. Who can put up with the bad guys? ”He gets wet. “I’m getting too wet,” he warns himself. Also literally: the rain now falls in bulk and the awning is dripping. You have to change the table.
His appetite grows and he refrains from ordering the fourth beer. He wonders whether to go up to the barrel that he says he has at home for the bottle of Port that someone gave him, but he backs down. He says that after the confinement it is in an expansive phase. “Even I missed people,” he says while stressing that he likes to cook, that he does well with black rice, stews, the essentials, tuna round and round. The rain is raging, he pays the bill and leaves without an umbrella. The restaurant is empty. Yes, we should have gone to the Kali.