Spain are a Los Angeles-based alternative rock band founded in 1993 by Josh Haden (son of jazz bass legend Charlie Haden). A founding band of the 1990s “slowcore” movement, the original line-up included Haden on bass and vocals, Ken Boudakian on lead guitar, Merlo Podlewski on rhythm guitar, and Evan Hartzell on drums.
After recording a well-received demo and 7” single, and playing frequently at legendary Silver Lake venue Spaceland (née Pan, currently called The Satellite), Spain signed with Restless Records in 1994. The band travelled to San Francisco in early 1995 and spent a month recording their debut album at the now extant Brilliant Studios, with Norm Kerner (American Music Club) at the producing helm. The debut 1995 album, The Blue Moods Of Spain, garnered the band a devoted cult following and enabled them to tour the U.S., Europe, and Australia. The album was included on many music magazine “best of” lists for the year. In 1996, Spain performed on the landmark French television talk show Nulle Part Ailleurs. During this time they also toured as the opening band for Cocteau Twins during the legendary UK band’s final U.S. tour.
In the mid-late 1990s, several songs from Blue Moods were featured in different films and TV shows (Phoenix, In God’s Hands, Winterschläfer, Garage Days, Popular). A huge Blue Moods poster appeared in an episode of
Beverly Hills, 90210. The Red Hot Chili Peppers covered their song “Spiritual” in concert. In addition, “Spiritual” was recorded by Johnny Cash on his Grammy-winning, Rick Rubin-produced Unchained, and by Charlie Haden and Pat Metheny on their Grammy-winning Beyond The Missouri Sky. In 1997, film director Wim Wenders commissioned Spain to write and perform a song for his film End Of Violence. The result, “Every Time I Try”, is an audience favorite.
In 1999, Spain travelled to the Swedish island of Vaxholm to record their sophomore CD, She Haunts My Dreams. Participating in the recording were the late Swedish jazz pianist Esbjörn Svensson (who contributed keyboard and piano performances along with string arrangements), former Soundtrack of our Lives guitarist Björn Olsson, and sometime R.E.M. and Beck drummer Joey Waronker. With new guitarist/keyboardist Shon “Goldenboy” Sullivan (replacing Ken Boudakian), drummer Will Hughes (Evan Hartzell had parted ways with the band in 1996), acoustic guitarist Podlewski, and new lead guitarist Olsson in tow, Spain toured extensively for the album, headlining large venues across Europe. A song from the album, “Our Love Is Gonna Live Forever”, was featured prominently in an episode of the HBO series Six Feet Under.
In 2000, the band, minus Olsson, stayed in Los Angeles to record their third album, I Believe. Shortly before the album was released, Sullivan left the group to concentrate on his solo work, and Podlewski accepted an invitation to play bass for surfing superstar Jack Johnson’s fledgling acoustic rock band. Rather than immediately put together a new group from scratch, Haden took an extended break from the band, recording a solo CD for Dreamworks Records (later released on his own Diamond Soul Recordings). A Spain best of compilation, Spirituals: The Best Of Spain, was released in 2003.
Haden restarted Spain in 2007 with all-new members. The band, now comprised of, in addition to Haden, lead guitarist Daniel Brummel (from the band Ozma), guitarist/keyboardist Randy Kirk, and drummer Matt Mayhall, recently completed work on their first full-length album of new material in over ten years, “The Soul Of Spain”, which was released in May 2012. Since reforming, festival appearances have included Tanned Tin 2007 in Spain, and Filter Magazine’s Culture Collide 2011 in Los Angeles, and since the European release of their new album on Glitterhouse Records, they’ve appeared at festivals and prestigious venues across Europe, including Les Nuits 2012, and Orange Blossom Special 16. Future European appearances include a stop at Festival BBmix 2012 in Paris as part of a month-long Winter tour. Spain have also started playing shows which include Josh’s musical sisters, Rachel, Petra, and Tanya Haden on vocals, violin, and cello, respectively.
In August, 2012, L.A.-based Omnivore Records reissued the first three Spain albums on 180-gram, colored vinyl.
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