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Bright Gloom
Special Edition CD Digipak, Black LP+CD, Digital album

Armand Valeta
(Vocals & Rhythm Guitar)
Andy Cobo
Dani Martin
(Bass & Backing Vocals)
LG Valeta
(Lead Guitar & Backing Vocals)

By Chris Dick

Rock will never die! Not as long as ‘77 have a say in the matter. Formed in Barcelona, Spain in 2006 by brothers LG Valeta and Armand Valeta as a tribute to the release and subsequent longevity and relevance of AC/DC’s Let There Be Rock, ‘77 refers directly to the year 1977. While the name was originally suggested in jest it has now stuck with the Catalans through five albums, the latest of which is the new album, Bright Gloom. Obviously, the name joke is now serious and permanent. So, too are ‘77’s plans to expand upon and move outward from the early AC/DC-isms of 2010’s 21st Century Rock and 2011’s High Decibels.

“Well, the new album and Nothing’s Gonna Stop Us are actually poles apart,” compares ‘77 guitarist/backing vocalist LG Valeta. “In general, Nothing’s had a more bright, happy feeling to it. Bright Gloom is darker and with a kinda sad, angry or melancholic feeling. But they both have something in common: they are honest albums, made from the very deep of our souls. They both have an insane amount of work behind them and dedication to make the best possible record given the circumstances. And they both show what ‘77 are: a hardworking band that loves to make and play rock ‘n’ roll.”

It’s plainly evident ‘77 are into rock ‘n’ roll—from the 1970s, of course—because they love it. An early fascination with AC/DC has evolved into an adoration for The Who, Black Sabbath, The Stooges, MC5, Thin Lizzy, Chuck Berry, Sonic’s Rendezvous Band, Radio Birdman, Slade, and a host of others who made their stamp on rock ‘n’ roll and what splinter genres came after. The diverse array of artists and sounds relates directly to Bright Gloom, in fact. From the rip-roaring ‘Make Up Your Mind’ and ‘Hands Up’ to the rainy-day rockers ‘Be Crucified’ and ‘Where Have They Gone,’ ‘77 have naturally dialed in to the right sounds and styles. That they are authentic is also important.

“We actually love almost everything from that era,” LG levels. “Especially the clothes—leather jackets, big collar shirts, flare pants, Cuban-heeled boots, the whole package—cars, and music, of course. The thing is that in the same decade there are pretty different aesthetics both in music and fashion in general. We like all the faces of it. We think it was a crazy decade, lots of stuff changed in only 10 years, also in technology for studio recordings. The early ‘70s sound was always a bit rawer and with that live vibe in it also a bit darker than in the late ‘70s when many records had a super hi-fidelity, ultra-clean and super-produced sound. It looks like it was an awesome period in history to experience, at least for us.”

Bright Gloom is the first album with original bassist Dani Martin, who replaced previous four-stringer Guillem Martinez in 2017. Whereas previous bassists were guitar players, LG says ‘77 grooves better with a legit bass player in the rhythm section. That he’s “an authentic music freak, gear fan, and ‘70s lover” makes his homecoming on Bright Gloom even more perfect.

“We’ve known Dani for a long time now,” says LG. “He’s actually a big fan of the band. He even has ‘77 inked on his arm. He came to record a video of our show in Barcelona when we presented our Maximum Rock'n'Roll album. He was also working in the same profession, so we met often. When Guillem quit Dani’s named popped up pretty quickly. He’s a very easygoing guy, who fits pretty well in the ‘77 family. He was playing in stoner/doom bands and stuff like that, but now he is super-excited to be on board!” The songwriting for Bright Gloom officially commenced in spring 2017 in LG’s living room. The guitarist had written heaps of riffs, melodies, and other song-based pieces before assembling the songs out of what he considered the “best stuff.” From there, the songs came easy. From full-on jams like ‘Bread & Circus’ and ‘Who's Fighting Who’ to mid-tempo cruisers ‘It’s Near’ and ‘Fooled by Love,’ Bright Gloom was a treat to compose. As for the lyrics—now much darker than before—they’re another story entirely.

“What always takes a bit long—for both me and Armand—is writing all the goddamn lyrics,” LG asserts. “I don’t like lyric writing that much because for me it’s the most demanding part of making an album. Composing music, for me, is pretty easy, but lyrics are a pain in the ass. So, yes, lyrics are the darkest I’ve ever written. It’s not that I’m depressed, but maybe it’s just part of getting older and more mature and realizing that, the older I get, the less I understand the world I live in and the human race itself. I just don’t understand why we, as such advanced civilization, are going backwards in terms of humanity, fraternity, and stuff. We are sentencing ourselves to death and we don’t even realize it.”

Recorded with producer Raül Refree, engineered by Javier Ortiz, and mixed by the Valeta brothers at Brazil Recording Studio in Madrid, Spain between November and December 2017, Bright Gloom is arguably ‘77’s best sounding record to date. The warm fuzzies are everywhere, the hum of sound as it was meant to be captured inviting and energized. The sheer amount of vintage gear ‘77 and team used to record Bright Gloom was astounding. To complete the 1970s-inflected gyration, ‘77 then brought on mastering ace Alex Psaroudakis at Alex Psaroudakis Mastering in New York City. The entire experience—all two months of it—was, according to LG, “easy-going and fun.”

“We recorded the album live in the studio, as always, and onto tape,” says LG. “But, the difference with the other albums—and I think with almost any album in 2018—is that we mixed it from the 24-track tape onto a 2track tape with analogue gear such as compressors, EQs, tape delays, and spring and plate reverbs. The analogue orgy really goes all the way, as the mastering was made from a 1/4-inch tape onto a 1/2-inch tape. Pretty cool. Pity that 90 percent will not really care about it. As gear freaks we are totally satisfied though.” ‘77 are no slouches to perfection. Ensuring that the album cover also mirrored the music, the group hired designer Pol Abran Cantador and Branca Studios, a graphic design firm bridging music, film, art, and culture using 1970’s aesthetics. Actually, ‘77 had previous run-ins with Cantador. The Barcelona-based artist had crafted killer posters and t-shirts for ‘77 for Nothing’s Gonna Stop Us, so it made sense to re-hire Branca Studios for Bright Gloom.

“Pol came up with the nun idea,” LG says. “We actually were not sure in the beginning, but we showed it around and everybody liked his idea more than the other one we suggested (that is actually the lighthouse you can find inside the gatefold in the LP and the booklet in the CD). And so, we just had to take the nun and I think it really is more shocking visually and catchier at first sight.”

Indeed, rock will never die! Even as the gravitational shift is, in general, away from rock ‘n’ roll, its spirit has and will continue to endure. As Eric Clapton famously uttered, “Lord, I got the boogie-woogie right down in my very soul.” ‘77 and new album Bright Gloom are right there with you, my friend.

‘77 are: Armand Valeta (vocals/guitar), LG Valeta (guitar/vocals), Dani Martin (bass/vocals), and Andy Cobo (drums). Join ‘77 and celebrate rock ‘n’ roll ‘til the end of time!