Formed after a free punk concert in 1980, an influential accumulation of musicians, creators and film-makers including Pedro Almodavar exploded punk counterculture in Madrid and altered their nation for ever
General Franco had been dead for a while before those he repressed in Spain felt brave enough to celebrate in public. The dictator’s four-decade rule did not neatly expire in 1975, when he died. The country was still being effectively run by soldiers and priests when a rundown lineup of young punks staged a free concert at Madrid Polytechnic on 9 February 1980. Forty years later, that night is recollected as the happening that launched La Movida Madrilena, a countercultural rash in the city during the country’s volatile “transition” to democracy.
The show was put together as a rock’n’roll monumental for Jose Cano, a drummer in the band Tos, who had been killed in a vehicle disintegrate. His bandmates, soon to re-form as Los Secretos, invited friends and peers to play, including Nacha Pop, Mermelada, and Alaska y las Pegamoides- the latter fronted by a 17 -year-old girl. Alaska, AKA Maria Olvido Gara Jova, is increasingly becoming perhaps the biggest icon of La Movida. None of them looked like good Catholics. Their chants resounded presumptuou, anti-romantic, aggressively secular.
” They played poorly, but with fury ,” wrote DJ and music critic Diego Manrique, who added that their sheer loudness, both in volume and colour, contrasted wildly with” the greyness of the Franco regime .” The happening was similar in mythology to the fabled Sex Pistols gig at Manchester’s Lesser Free Trade Hall in 1976: everyone who wasn’t there would later claim they only, and anyone who was there would start a banding. And while Johnny Rotten asserted dubious lyrical licence in rhyming “Queen” with” totalitarian regiman”, to sing about anarchy in the realm of Spain was to risk being taken literally.
Servando Carballar says he was and still is an anarchist. His record label, DRO( Discos Radioactivos Organizados ), founded in 1982, came to represent” about 50%” of the bands is in relation to La Movida, commencing with his own sci-fi synthpop group Aviador Dro and His Specialised Workers.” None of the major names would even look at us ,” says Carballar.” Though we were pretty bad musicians back then .”
Sitting in a Madrid branch of Generation X, his Spanish chain of comic book and board game accumulates, Carballar remembers the concert as having an impact because it was broadcast on TV and radio- a signal that times had changed, in the capital at least. The first rouses, nonetheless, came a few years earlier, he says, in the city’s El Rastro flea market, where adolescents sold their own fanzines and dig out precious acquires on vinyl.
” Some records used to be like trophies. They were so hard to get here it was almost easier to go to London and “re coming back” .” Never Mind the Bollocks, and the DIY-ethos behind it,” was like a renaissance in all of our subconscious .” Taking additional influences from dadaism and futurism, Carballar modelled Aviador Dro in 1979, adopting the stage name Biovac-N and styling the band as techno-mutants behind analog keyboards. They were immediately arrested when they stepped outside for their first photo shoot, wearing aeronautic goggles and homemade hazmat suits.