Better known by the last name "Explosion," due to his rock group Doctor Explosion, Jorge Mu-oz-Cobo started Estudios Circo Perrotti in 2003 in his hometown of Gijon, located in Spain's northern coastal province of Asturias. The group may have a reputation for madcap lyrics and stage antics, but Jorge Explosion has had a lifelong passion for recording. His studio incorporates the impressive collection of vintage and new recording gear, as well as the instruments he has amassed over the years. Artists from across Europe, plus rock-a-billy legend Sonny Burgess, garage stalwarts The Fleshtones (my band), and Texas psyche-pop rockers The Ripe, have had the opportunity to enjoy Jorge's recording skills, as well as what this unique corner of Spain has to offer: traditional cider, sea urchins, and even a bit of surfing.
When did you first record music?
In 1990 when I recorded the first single of Doctor Explosion in the basement of a bar. It was dedicated to The Fleshtones! That was in Oviedo [the capital of Asturias]. In the middle of the town there was a bar called La Catedral. Before that my brother Juan opened a recording studio in 1985. I was playing drums in a band called Los Rudimentals, and one evening my brother recorded us. I don't know what happened with that recording.
What's the origin of the studio name, Circo Perrotti?
At the time that Doctor Explosion was making tours with the original line up in the late '90s, I remember that our van was broken constantly and everything was going wrong. [Bassist/keyboardist] Félix [Domínguez] was looking at the sky and said, "Oh my god, this is like a Circus Perrotti!"
I don't get the reference...
I didn't either, but then I understood it related to something that happened in my childhood. My eldest brother took me to a circus — I thought it was a very huge American circus called Ringling Bros. — but this one was the Wingling Bros., like a fake version of the Ringling Bros. They were announcing such a big event, with lions, and everything was a disaster. It was so cheap and we were so... como se dice, decepci-nado?
Yes! I thought it was stupid enough to name a studio starting with "circus."
When did you open Circo Perrotti?
Do you know many square meters do you have?
Not really. It's a small studio.
You have a nice control room, a live room...
Actually two live rooms. My brother opened this studio in the mid '80s and did not succeed at all. For years it was a basement storage room for my family, until I decided to open the studio. In the late '90s we started to rehearse in this room. I had a digital recorder, so I started to make some recordings with that to do some demos. I didn't have any real intention, other than doing the demos of Doctor Explosion. But then a band that was playing gypsy/Django Reinhardt music with violin and acoustic guitars asked me, "Could you record us?" And I said, "Oh, yeah!"
Originally you said you were in Oviedo?
That was back in the '90s, when we did our first EP. Oviedo and Gijon are very close towns.
What is the attraction to recording in Gijon, besides your studio?
Gijon is a nice town. First of all it has a nice beach, which is close to the studio.
You can go surfing, right?
Sometimes. Not now, because of the cold water. We used to make nude surfing, which was really good fun.
I bet. Very liberating.
It's a small town; the food is good. The town has grown up in these years, but the center is like a village and everything is at hand. There're pensions [rooming houses] in the center for, like, ten Euros each.
Groups can stay cheaply.
And it's right in front of the beach; two minutes walking.
When is the sea urchin season? You took us to the old town to eat sea urchins.
What? Oh, erizos! I think that's in the fall, close to winter. I remember when I was a child you could buy erizos from a camion [truck]. There was a man with a pala [shovel] and he put them in a sack for 25 pesetas — less than a dollar. Erizos are a hallmark of Perrotti! [laughter]
And you take bands to try a sidrería? [Cider is the traditional drink of Asturias.]
Very much! When The Ripe first arrived from Austin, Texas, they bought some bottles of cider. Nick [Yaklin], the drummer, took off his cowboy boot, put the bottle inside of his boot, and started to knock the boot on the wall, outside in the street. People were passing by, freaking out, thinking, "What's this cowboy doing here smashing this bottle?" It was to get the cork out with the pressure.
Did that work?
Very well. So when The Ripe come for a session, they are drinking cider and making...