MUSIC INTERVIEW: The Warning
Spearheading the next generation of arena rock with ass-booting, meaty riffs, thundering drums and more charisma than Elton John on steroids, The Warning are a band who are definitely keeping it in the family. We caught up with two thirds of Mexican rock band backstage at Download, as drummer Paulina ‘Pau’ and bassist Alejandra ‘Ale’ Villareal sat down with us to chew the fat, spill the tea and reflect on a bone-rattling mega set which opened the Opus Stage on Friday at the festival.
The pair make up the band with their oldest sibling Daniela ‘Dany’ Villarreal and as ‘Pau’ explains, the formation of the band was more of a natural evolution or even a brilliant accident rather than plan to form a hard rocking family band.
“I wish I could say it was one of us three girls which started music first, but it honestly all started at the same time,” she says. “We all played piano from a young age, but when we started playing instruments Dani played guitar at eight, I started the drums at around six and my Ale then on the bass at 6 or 7 too. We started playing together but it wasn’t the plan to be honest to start a band specifically, but we were all playing and the instruments we were playing made up a band. So we just decided to try it and we loved it, and have been playing together ever since for 10 years.”
Despite having three accomplished daughters now storming onto the Download Festival bill on the other side of the planet from their Latin American home, Pau and Ale reveal that they don’t come from a musical family, at least in terms of playing, with neither parent involved in the industry at all. But they are now. Both Mom and Dad are part of The Warning’s road crew, ensuring the three sisters enjoy a home from home and are never far from the traditions, food and love of their family.
“People assume our parents were either musicians or worked in the business but they didn’t,” Ale goes on. “They were just people who loved music and they have been so supportive of us and our passions. They are part of our crew and are here with us.”
“Yes,” picks up Pau. “Our Dad is part of our management team and our mum is always taking care of us on the road too. It’s a very family-oriented thing and it is a lovely touring environment. I think what you miss most when you are touring is your family, but ours are right here with us. Culturally too, we have been away from Mexico for almost two months now, but we have a Mexican team, we all speak the language, try to cook the food so it is nice to have this family environment.”
The Warning have a big sound, a wall of energy and a rising wave of old school-style rock n’ roll, but despite the early shoots of promise and the undeniable buzz surrounding them, Pau admits they were unsure how many people would turn out early in the morning to see them. They needn’t have worried. There is grass on the slope in front of the Opus Stage, but you’d never know it because the people are crushed shoulder-to-shoulder together and packed tighter than an anaconda’s embrace.
“It was amazing, because we were playing so early in the morning and with it also being our first festival in the UK we didn’t expect so many people to be watching,” says a thrilled Pau. “It was shocking and we felt so humbled and the crowd reacted so nicely. We try to put all our energetic songs in short sets and it is our job to entertain, and I hope we did what we tried to do.”
The Warning rocketed to the forefront, and playlists, of European fans after they wowed a former Download headliner in Muse during an opening slot in their home country of Mexico. Since then, they have earned the chance to open for another legendary band and Download headliner in the great Guns N’ Roses.
“The only reason we even came to Europe was we opened for Muse in Mexico and they invited us here to the UK,” says Pau happily. “Our first show ever in the UK was in a Plymouth Stadium, so we were very lucky and happy to be part of it. Muse were a band we grew up listening to along with other bands like AC/DC and Pink Floyd, so it was crazy to think of these bands who really inspire us we have either met or opened for.
“It is a big deal for us and up-and-coming Mexican bands to be halfway round the world, and to be able to represent our country and Mexican women internationally is such an honour, to show people in Mexico and Latin America we do have a place and can play a role in the industry. Mexican people love rock and when a band goes to Mexico people go insane. The crowd is so passionate and energetic.”
At the moment the superb sisters are working hard on recording new music and promoting their latest single, but they also have the small matter of another opening slot on the horizon.
“Guns n’ Roses,” beams Pau. “We are touring, touring, touring just now and we will be opening for GNR in America having already opened for them in Monterey which was amazing. We will be touring for quite a while and I hope we can come to the UK again soon.”
Sadly our chat time is winding to a close, as a line of writers hover behind us eager for their chance to talk to the Villareal sisters, but Pau is still talking and vibing on the high of their Download set, which will have shocked those who don’t know and made festival gaffer Andy Copping sit up and take notice.
“We don’t process the information until we are there and sometimes we don’t believe things are happening when they are,” Pau concludes. “This whole year is just pinch me moments and ‘wow, this is our lives.’ It is very gratifying and we are working hard but it’s so special.”
Interview by: Eric Mackinnon