Rodrigo Sanchez

Philosophical Resonance
Rodrigo Sanchez
Rodrigo Sanchez: Hannah Levitt.

The latest from Rodrigo y Gabriela, In Between Thoughts…A New World, shows the acoustic duo in top form with passion, grace, and consciousness-raising. Electric guitars, nylon-string acoustics, and electronica flourishes uplift philosophical themes regarding reality and existence – but it’s a particular Fender electric guitar that occupies Rodrigo Sanchez’ waking moments.

In Between Thoughts… is quite a ride.
It’s a story based on a fictitious character that goes on a spiritual journey and finds non-dual meaning – basically that we are what’s happening. There are many ways to express it. It questions the reality we perceive based on cultural, social, or whatever we perceive in this world. It questions whether this is the final product or the ultimate reality. Apparently, it’s a process we don’t see but are aware of all the time. It’s a fascinating topic, even if you aren’t into the actual philosophy [of non-duality].

Do you and Gabriela discuss philosophy when you’re composing together?
All the time (laughs). People around us are f***ing sick of our conversations (laughs). We agree on many things, but on many other things, we totally disagree. I think it’s great that we disagree, and agree eventually.

Is this album the one you agree on?
I hope so (laughs).

Why the decision to augment your acoustic guitars with electronica?
We worked on this album during the lockdown and weren’t thinking it would become our next album. We were just creating music, fascinated by this non-dual approach. We didn’t know what was going to happen – nobody did in 2021. We were just writing music without thinking, and experimenting, which is probably why we started to add elements that we normally wouldn’t. As the recordings were coming together, it was a good way to write because we’d write the song and record, write the song and record. We didn’t change the order because it was a story for us. When we finished the ninth song, that was the album.
We love the new sounds. It’s very natural, and if this is the end of our careers, then c’est la vie (laughs). We had a good ride.

Why electric guitar?
We added it on Mettavolution, especially on the live shows. I played electric on a few tracks on that album with my Fender Jag. For this new album, we felt it was better for the tunes. There are a couple of lines I do with the acoustic, but 85 percent of the album is the Jag. Gab focuses on the acoustic. I remember trying lines with both and deciding to go with the electric because it sounded better and more coherent with what we wanted to say. These days we’re trying to play less notes. We’re going through that stage where we try to see more beauty and fewer notes.

Why a Jaguar?
When we were doing Mettavolution, we recorded at David Sardy’s studio in L.A. For a couple of parts, I needed a funky guitar sound, David had the ’67 Jaguar used on the Red Hot Chili Peppers’ One Hot Minute album, when Dave Navarro was in the band. I had never played a Jag, and I really got into it. I love the feel. In my studio I have SGs, Les Pauls, and all that, but I really got into the Jag.

You play slide on the album.
The lap steel is the one I really love. I played lap steel on the C.U.B.A Area 52 album that came out in 2012, and I’m pulling it out again for this tour. I’ll have moments with regular slide, but I’m going to focus on lap steel for a couple of songs. I love it.

What’s your number one acoustic guitar?
Our custom Yamaha NX signature models. We’ve been working with Yamaha for 15 years now and the ones they built for us years ago are still up and running; the electronics get upgraded every two to three years. They’ve been great, and we have tons of those guitars for the tour and the studio. They’re lovely.

What’s next for you and Gabriela?
We’ve been working on the sequel. The story continues and we can extend it as much as we want. On tour, we’re going to play the full album and then play three newer tunes that aren’t on the album but are part of the same project. It’s a breakdown section that’s all-acoustic. Gab and I are excited to play them, and we think people will be pleased. It takes us back to our original sound people know us for, and we get to tell people what the new album is all about.

This article originally appeared in VG’s July 2023 issue. All copyrights are by the author and Vintage Guitar magazine. Unauthorized replication or use is strictly prohibited.

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