Gerard Quintana Rodeja (Catalan pronunciation: ʒəˈɾart kinˈtanə) (born 27 November 1964, in Girona, Catalonia, Spain) is a Catalan singer, songwriter, poet, writer, actor, and radio and TV personality. He first came to prominence in 1986-2001 as the lead singer of the Spanish rock/pop group Sopa de Cabra. Since the dissolution of the band in 2001, he has pursued a very successful solo career. As a singer/songwriter independent of his extensive input into the original musical repertoire of Sopa de Cabra, he has completed 5 well-received albums between 2003 and 2010, together with 3 in collaboration with Jordi Batiste, and a recent album (2014) with Xarim Aresté. His solo work from 2003-10 reveals a personal and intimate style which is not easily classified, but may, perhaps, be characterised as poetry and music about the human condition. He also writes and publishes poetry and has written regularly as a music journalist for online Catalan newspapers and journals. He has appeared as an actor in films and on television, and as a presenter on Catalan TV and radio.
During the temporary reunion of Sopa de Cabra in 2011 to celebrate 25 years since the band's formation and ten since its final appearances, Quintana reverted to his original rock-star style of singing and performance, and his most recent work (2013-4), in collaboration with Xarim Aresté and a new supporting line-up, continues that approach.
Sopa de Cabra, 1986-2001 and 2011:
In the mid-1980s, Quintana was a member of a group of young musicians, writers and artists based on a squat in Girona. His role was initially more as a writer, both of poetry and in the journalistic sphere of producing fanzines, than as a singer and performer. Indeed, in a magazine interview published in 2010, Quintana revealed that in spite of his lifelong deep love of music, his initial youthful ambition was to be a writer, because as a child he was far too shy to contemplate performing in public. He was involved with the bands Hasta los huevos de Mili and Ninyin's Mine Workers' Union band before the formation of Sopa de Cabra in the summer of 1986, when he became the new group's lead singer, as well as the most prolific writer of lyrics for its original repertoire. The influences on Sopa de Cabra's style included classic rock (the band's name was in homage to the Rolling Stones' 1973 album Goat's Head Soup), reggae, and blues, but the combination of the Catalan language and the creative originality of Quintana and his colleagues (Josep Thió, Joan 'Ninyín' Cardona, Francesc 'Cuco' Lisicic, and Pep Bosch) ensured that the band's sound was unique: authentic rock music and yet distinctively Catalan.
The years from 1989 to 2001 saw the release of 14 singles and 11 albums as well as regular concert tours. In 1991 Sopa de Cabra, along with three other leading Catalan bands, Sau, Els Pets and Sangtraït, took part in a major concert before an audience of 20,000 at the Palau Sant Jordi in Barcelona. This event is still regarded as a seminal moment in the popular music and culture of Catalonia.
For two or three years after the release of the album Mundo infierno in 1993, Sopa de Cabra lost some popularity, chiefly as a result of the controversy surrounding that album, which was recorded in Spanish rather than Catalan. The sensitivities concerning language in Catalonia are such that the use of Spanish angered and alienated many Catalan fans, without gaining Spanish-speaking ones.
By the late 1990s and with a change of record-label, the band was again at a peak of popularity, but other circumstances, notably the grave illness of Joan Cardona, led to the decision that the group would retire at the end of 2001. Cardona was able to make a brief appearance on stage in the final concert that was held in Barcelona in November 2001, but he died of cancer in the following January, aged only 42. The concert was recorded and released on the 2002 CD/DVD Bona nit, malparits. The title (roughly, 'good night, bastards!') had long been Quintana's opening catch-phrase in live performances.
In March 2011, the surviving members of Sopa de Cabra announced a single anniversary reunion concert on September 9, 2011 to celebrate 25 years since the founding of the band, and ten years since its dissolution and final performances; the huge demand for tickets eventually resulted in the planning of a full tour consisting of seven concerts, three in Barcelona, one each in Palma and Tarragona, and culminating with two, on September 30 and October 1, in the band's home town of Girona. The tour sold out in all seven venues, and was a resounding success. Quintana demonstrated that he had lost none of his rock-star charisma during the years performing in a more quiet and intimate style. The songs were all taken from the existing, classic repertoire of Sopa de Cabra, and the line-up was almost the same as that of the late 1990s, namely Josep Thió, Cuco Lisicic, Pep Bosch, Jaume Soler and Eduard Font. There was one addition; the guitarist, singer and songwriter Xarim Aresté, leader of the band Very Pomelo and representative of a younger generation of Catalan rock music, joined Sopa de Cabra.
The CD and DVD El retorn, which is the record of the 2011 tour, was released in December 2011, and the same year saw the release of two other CDs that chronicle the history of Sopa de Cabra, Re/Ebullació, bringing together all the group's singles releases from the 1980s and early 90s, and Els millors cançons, a 'best of' collection. In addition, in April 2012, Quintana published his first book, Més enllà de les estrelles, a vivid personal account of the 2011 tour illustrated with photographs by David Julià. It is a text that includes many autobiographical insights and paints a picture of the complex organisation and hard work behind a rock tour.
In the late 1990s, while Sopa de Cabra was still actively touring and recording, Quintana also worked with Jordi Batiste, a respected Catalan musician of a slightly older generation, on Catalan covers of the work of Bob Dylan, one of Quintana's own major musical inspirations. As 'Miralls de Dylan' ('Mirrors of Dylan'), they released two albums (in 1998 and 2000), and in 2012, the collaboration continued with a series of concerts and a third CD.
Since the planned dissolution of Sopa in 2001-2, Quintana has continued his career as a musician, writer, poet and actor. His first solo album was Senyals de fum ('Smoke signals'), in 2003. This was followed by another four successful albums and by many public performances, all in a personal and poetic style that contrasts in many ways with the traditional pop/rock music of Sopa. He has worked with many significant figures in Catalan music, including Francesc Bertran, Quimi Portet, Albert Pla, Pep Sala, Amadeu Casas, Pascal Comelade and the group Gossos. His 2010 album, De terrat en terrat ('From roof to roof') amounts to a personal musical portrait of the city of Barcelona and its lively, multicultural ambience.
One of Quintana's more high-profile activities in 2013 was the part he took both in organising (as artistic director, with Lluís Danés) and performing in the Concert per la Llibertat (Concert for Freedom) held at the Camp Nou, Barcelona Football Club's ground, on 29 June 2013. Though the keyword was 'freedom' rather than 'independence', the political sub-text was clear. In the first half of the concert, Quintana once again appeared with the old Sopa de Cabra line-up, performing Camins, one of the band's most famous songs. Towards the end of the concert, accompanied by Xarim Aresté and Pascal Comelade, he sang the powerful and dramatic Lluís Llach song I si canto trist ('if my song is sad').
Throughout 2013, Quintana's next project was taking shape. With Xarim Aresté he was composing new songs for an album that would be a return to rock music. During the summer, some of these songs were previewed in a low-key mini-tour called Només és rock'n'roll (It's only rock'n'roll'), and in the autumn, the new album was recorded. It was released, under the title Tothom ho sap ('Everybody knows it') on 4 March 2014. The album consists of 13 new songs, plus two extra tracks available for download via Quintana's website. The songs, like all Quintana's songs, have powerful lyrics, whether they are overtly political (La campana), erotic/romantic (Figues de moro) or surreal (El monstre nu). A concert tour to promote the album began in Barcelona on 21 March and will continue at several venues throughout 2014. Quintana's stage presence remains as confident and energetic as in the old Sopa de Cabra days, and the collaboration with Xarim Aresté and a very talented band consisting of Sergi Carós, Joan Barbé, Ricard Sohn and Ermen Mayol has created a new force in Catalan popular music.
Quintana is a very articulate and charismatic speaker, and has become a well-known figure in Catalan culture quite apart from his musicianship. In recent years he has not hesitated to express his personal political and ideological views, including his support for Catalan independence and for contentious and high-profile causes such as the campaign to ban bullfighting in Catalonia. He used the opportunity provided by the 2011 concert tour to make pro-independence points, comparing the relationship between Spain and Catalonia with an unhappy marriage: the audiences responded with cries of support and much waving of the estelada flag, which symbolises Catalan independence.
Text from this biography licensed under creative commons license