Sometimes like this, there is no choice but to start at the end. "That is a painful thought," admits Paco Fernández, head of the legendary Cuervo Store, when asked what type of business he would like to see occupy the premises that for the last 11 years have housed his business in the future. store. Nothing we don't know: in times of gentrification, more and more small neighborhood businesses are doomed to bankruptcy and end up becoming franchises of large gyms or supermarkets. “I will be satisfied if those who come now to take our place, whatever they do, have the same objective that we had from the beginning: to contribute something to this neighborhood”, he adds, without needing to think about anything.
On October 30, Cuervo Store closed for good. A few days later, Paco shared, on the store's Instagram profile, a brief farewell statement where the word "thank you" was repeated up to six times. Also an appeal to all Cuervo's friends: one last event that will take place on the 26th and 27th, in which several bands will play —among them, His Majesty The King, one of the first groups to pass through the store— and the last stocks of clothing and music will be on sale at a reduced price.
For more than a decade, Paco's store was one of the centers of cultural agitation par excellence in Malasaña. Everything has been done at the Cuervo Store: it began as a record store and music agency (under the name of Holy Cuervo), but soon came concerts, recordings in the studio on the ground floor, exhibitions (in In 2011, shortly after its opening, they brought Peter Beste, emblematic metal photographer from Texas, and even a line of rock pants they created themselves and a screen printing studio. Even with the blow of the pandemic, they did not collapse: determined to make an old joke between friends come true, in November 2020 they threw down a partition and set up a kitchen behind the counter. And they started selling pizzas.
The beginning of an adventure
Year 2010. “Things started like this: I was going down Velarde street one Thursday with a colleague, at three or four in the morning, and I saw a For Rent sign out there”, recalls Paco Fernández, pointing to the barred shop window. “I knew the place, because I had been recording in the studio below, and it seemed like an amazing space. So I decided on the fly: I had to call and set something up. And in a week he had already rented it.” At the time they gave him the keys, Fernández, who was 30 years old at the time and worked for the record label Century Media Records, had no idea what to do under those roofs: “The only thing he was sure of was that, one way or another, there would be records”. At first he thought that this would not last more than a year. Not long ago they turned 11.
Spontaneity was the secret of his outburst. “For us, record stores have always been much more than just stores: they are meeting places where people come to listen to music, to find a new member for their band, to talk to the salesperson or to meet other people from the trade with the same roll or the same interests”, explains the owner of Cuervo Store. His words inevitably evoke the magical atmosphere of that shop run by Rob Gordon (John Cusack), an inveterate music lover, in High Fidelity (2000), the film adaptation of Nick Hornby's novel of the same name.
For all this, from the beginning they listened to the proposals of “theirs”, in order to be able to shape their own ecosystem that had more of a community than a business. Thus, live performances would end up becoming one of its main hallmarks: groups such as the Americans The Flaming Groovies, precursors of punk back in the late sixties, the Swedish Arch Enemy, band of death metal, or Napalm Death, British pioneers of grindcore, as well as groups from the Spanish pop rock scene like Amaral or garage pop like Hinds, and soloists as diverse as Luz Casal or Bely Basarte.
“Now I am going to auction the sofa”, says Paco Fernández, “among all those who have sat on it over the years”. Behind this, anchored to the back wall, stands a mountain of amplifiers almost three meters high crowned by the figure of a raven, alert eye. An artistic intervention by Pablo Serret de Ena that talks about the reflection of sound when no one is left to listen to it and that, before becoming the great label of the emblematic Cuervo Store, passed through abandoned and inhospitable places in the Sahara, Denmark or Holland. "I have to talk to the artist to see what we do with it, but I wouldn't mind leaving the work on the premises if the next business that opens here retains a spirit like ours," says Paco generously.
It doesn't seem like a coincidence: in the Cuervo Store window, the vinyl records Aglio e Olio and The Battle Of Los Angeles remain, questioning the passerby, albums by two of the most radical and demanding American rap metal bands of the eighties and 1990s: Bestie Boys and Rage Against The Machine. On the cover of the latter, which was released in 1999, a silhouette in graffiti on a chipped wall held his fist up. And it still resists today.
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