Itoiz was the name of a Basque music band from the coastal towns of Mutriku and Ondarroa, started off in 1978 and disbanded in 1988. Born in turmoil times for the Basque Country (Spain), Itoiz stems from a dancing music band (i.e. playing other groups' songs) called Indar Trabes (1974), which performed mainly in evening festivities of towns. Throughout their existence spanning ten years, Itoiz dealt with several styles ranging from folk to progressive rock to pop.
In 1978, the members of the band Indar Trabes prepare to release an LP for Durango's Basque book and music fair, including songs composed largely by frontman and central figure Juan Carlos Perez. They decide to rebrand the group on the grounds that the previous name was associated to evening dancing performances. They chose Itoiz, because it is brief, not because of the famous valley of the same name in Navarre. This first album features intimate and whimsical lyrics, difficult to understand, wrapped up in progressive rock music.
During the next three years they went through various reshuffles in the line-up, and the music grew more complex and elaborated, but the symphonic sound remained till their 3rd album Alkolea. In 1983 they launched the successful album Musikaz blai, which gave up previous progressive and jazzy music patterns, switching to pop-rock along the lines of prevailing music trends. Juan Carlos Perez explains, "We used a progressive rock rhythmic pattern to fashion songs, while guitar player Jean Marie Ecay brought in a new one, the one we called "Fleetwood Mac rhythm", a binary rhythmic pattern we didn't know before. He brought along the song concept too, of a three minute duration and a chorus. Up to that point, we made small conceptual pieces, songs with a long development." (translation)
Album Espaloian was released next in 1985 to critical and public acclaim, featuring such hits as "Clash eta Pistols", "Espaloian" and "Hegal egiten". Unexpectedly for frontman Perez, this more natural album earned them numerous concerts and record turnouts. Despite the band's high in popularity, they came in for bitter criticism and had to put up with hostile attitudes on the part of other bands on the rise in the Basque Country in the middle 80s as well as their public. These bands stood for the punk and rebellious music movement gaining momentum at the time (Kortatu, Hertzainak, etc.) with which they often had to share the bill. "For the bands of the RRV Basque rebellious rock, we represented the establishment's demands, commercialism, we were politically correct. The situation was really uneasy. We had to face up to the people's attacks." (translation)
Another powerful LP followed, Ambulance (1987), but by that year Jean Marie Ecay had quitt the group (1984) onto another bigger Spanish band, J.C. Perez is all alone in charge of the whole artistic production and atmosphere within the band is not good, Perez is tired, so he finally decides to break up elegantly the band with a last live album.
The original line-up inherited from the band Indar Trabes went through various changes, and parentheses took place too, like when the band was all but broken up prior to the release of Ezekiel, members joined the band and old members quit. Accordingly, the band's music expertise and exigence in performance improved gradually. Some members worth highlighting:
Juan Carlos Perez: Guitar and voice,
Foisis (Jose Garate): Bass guitar,
Jose A. Fernandez: Piano and keyboards (till 1985),
Estanis Osinalde: Drums (till 1979),
Joseba Erkiaga: Flute (till 1982),
German Ors: Guitar (1981-1983),
Jimmi Arrabit: Drums (as of 1982),
Jean-Marie Ecay: Guitar (1983-1985),
Xabi Pery: Guitar (1987-1988)