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All Around The World: Cheeto's Magazine

Meet the shy and retiring bunch bringing proggage to Catalonia. They are from Barcelona. They know plenty...

Picture the vibrant city of Barcelona, and what comes to mind? The Sagrada Família perhaps, Gaudí’s magnificent, as-yet-unfinished church. Or maybe Las Ramblas, the lively avenue running through the cosmopolitan city centre. You probably didn’t think of a man dressed as a chicken, but then you haven’t met Cheeto’s Magazine yet.

“The live music scene here in Barcelona isn’t as we’d like it to be,” says their keyboardist Esteban Navarro. “Most of the big prog bands come here, but there’s not a big local scene. Lately it does seem to be growing little by little. The audience here seems up for some proggier meat!”

They’d do well to get a taste of the five-piece’s new album. Boiling Fowls is a tableful of musical tapas, kicking off with 25-minute dish Nova America. By turns fun and beautiful, screechy and melodic, it’s a slab of symph-rock that places them in the musical vicinity of their hero. “Everything Neal Morse does is magic to our ears,” says Navarro. “Solo, with Transatlantic or Spock’s Beard. We also love Frost*, Kino, Dirty Loops, C2C. They all informed our sound.”

Navarro formed the band with guitarist Manel Orella a decade ago (one wanted to call it Cheetos; the other, Magazine, so they compromised). They’re building up a grass-roots following, with a set at Barcelona’s Upload Festival this month. The line-up’s completed by Matias Lizana (keys, pads), Didac Garcia (bass) and Eric Rovira (drums). All five sing, and this provides real harmonic flavour to catchy electro-prog pieces The Driver And The Cat, the near-choral Teddy Bears and odd rocker Octopus Soup. It’s clever stuff with an oddball delivery. Spock’s meet Sparks, perhaps.

The response to Boiling Fowls has overwhelmed the band so far. “Every day we’re getting emails from people all over the world,” says Navarro. “We couldn’t be happier. We just wanted to make the music we love, with our own particular style, to make a fresh work and offer something a bit new and funny to the prog world.”

Job done then. Have a listen, and next time you think of Barcelona, you might just picture a grown man in a chicken costume. You’ll be glad, too.

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Grant Moon is the News Editor for Prog and has been a contributor to the magazine since its launch in 2009. A music journalist for over 20 years, Grant writes regularly for titles including Classic Rock and Total Guitar, and his CV also includes stints as a radio producer/presenter and podcast host. His first book, 'Big Big Train - Between The Lines', is out now through Kingmaker Publishing.