To explain why he isn't afraid of naming his second album “ 13 ,” Spanish rocker Javier García brings up something Stevie Wonder used to say, “When you believe in things that you don't understand and you suffer, that's not the way, superstition ain't the way.” García firmly believes that the feared number can bring him good luck, “Sometimes those things that people fear are quite interesting to me.”
Javier García has been lately seeing the number 13 almost anywhere, and in many different situations. All these are signs that he doesn't want to overlook. Specially considering that his frenzied friendship with the late singer Rodrigo, a popular Argentinean cuarteto (danceable folk songs) artist, still continues, somehow, and has left a scare in his soul. Javier simply talks about “repeated coincidences” after the car accident that took his friend's life in 2000, and says that ever since the number 13 rolled over and over in front of his eyes.
Even the final number of songs in his brand new “ 13 ” wasn't supposed what it is now, but the list ended up totaling 13 songs after a heartfelt revision of the 14 that he worked on for the last five years. For the first time in his life he didn't pay attention to his always-doubtful Gemini personality, and felt totally convinced. He had to take out song number 14 because it didn't feel right. And he was certainly not afraid of having 13 songs in his album just because almost everybody else avoids it. In fact, Javier Garcia laughs at yet another coincidence: besides releasing “ 13” , he'll be 31 soon.
The new songs sound undoubtedly informed by the years of learning, and by that process that began as the opposite of many stories. In 1997, Javier García got many gold records in Latin America upon the release of “Tranquila”, his very first song. But part of the process, too, was to go from the success of his self-titled release to the silence of some years later, where he appeared to be condemned by the insecurities of a trembling music market that could never handle fusion quite well.
As every good salsa needs to marinate, illustrates García, he needed the audience to absorb the “Buena Vista Social Club factor” in order to be able to deliver his new songs, where he perfected the particular fusion of Afro Cuban and American funk rock that was also featured in his debut album. Released many months before Buena Vista Social Club's album, Javier García's sounded out of its time. Dating his comeback as of today makes him feel finally channeling the globalization that has taken over the world.
He after all, is the perfect example of a global education. Born in Madrid to an Irish mother and a Cuban father, the youngest of six brothers, Javier García was always in contact with lots of information. He fall in love with music ever since he learnt to play guitar at age 10, thanks to classes he took with an instrument an older brother didn't know was being stolen and quickly returned, over and over. The three years he spent as a full-time student of an Irish college, between ages 12 and 15, basically allowed him to perfect his guitar licks.
But all of the sudden the gray Irish sky, the school walls, and the dark rock that was fashionable between 1986 and 1989, faded. Red-carded out of the college after a string of behavior problems, Garcia completely changed his atmosphere by flying to Miami to live with his dad. Fluffy clouds and an open blue sky welcomed him into the realms of humidity. The Caribbean mysteries and sounds immediately got his compulsive record- collector attention. In his own historical revision of Cuba 's musical roots he completely forgot about alt-rock once Nirvana and Pearl Jam disappeared of the public eye, in the mid-90s.
Flavored by the time it takes to realize that to be successful mean to always stay on top of the wave, and that to do that you need a record label with a structure, the capacity, and the intentions to support that success, the bunch of songs Javier García created in the last five years ended up adopting their own identities. Sung in a language that now seems to be universal, his new songs sound way easier to catch today than eight years ago.
In the steamy collection of 13 Caribbean-tinged songs that complete Garcia's Surco/Universal debut, the Afro-Cuban connection is in full-force, but always as a reflection of a rocker's personality. As if somewhere along the line the unconditional love for guitar solos of his early days as an Anglo rock fan got completely infected, revised, and stripped down to pieces, to reveal a more complex personality with a simple principle: only rhythm is important.
“ 13 ” feels like classical Cuban son, but because it was born in this era, it is a hybrid. Naturally, it moves in a territory where everything has its place and nothing sounds forced, be it boogaloo, rumba, son, hip hop, reggae, ska, Haitian compass, bossa nova, boleros, flamenco guitars or pure American funk.
“Dream of dreams,” calls Javier García the experience of working with guest stars, in a luxury studio, and teaming with the award-winning producer Gustavo Santaolalla. “I wanted to work with him so badly, that he was the only one producer I showed my original songs to, and I was delighted that he wanted to work with me,” he says about the producer behind such alt-rock luminaries as Juanes, Molotov, and Café Tacuba.
s in the first album, Garcia had his friend, the renowned Cuban trumpeter Arturo Sandoval on board. Also, the guest star list includes Paul Mc Cartney's drummer, Abe Laboriel Jr., and Cuban percussion maestro Francisco Aguabella. “With them I've created the blueprint,” says García. He believes that those wearing the fancy shoes on stage from now on will have to face the challenge of playing exactly what Sandoval, Laboriel, and Aguabella played in the studio. “I have high expectations,” he says with a big smile, “and I'm ready!” Be aware, Changó is coming.