Tapas Interview | Albert Pla: “I like cooks to be crazy, otherwise I have no use for them”

Albert Pla always does what comes out of his nose. He is a singer and life has led him to be, also, an actor. His role in "La mesías", by Los Javis, has made him a candidate for best actor in a series at the Forqué awards.

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Of all the creative personalities that have emerged in Spain throughout its centenary history, there is none that is both as brilliant and elusive as Albert Pla (Sabadell, 1966). Brilliant, because of the solidity of his musical work, despite not being part of the masses, and elusive, because of his personality, which reluctantly admits the need to share his time with journalists when the occasion forces him to do so, but which is far from being a simple task. It was said among the profession that interviewing Albert Pla was “the final exam of the journalism career”; it is that difficult to get phrases and opinions out of him. Now it is no longer said: it is taken for granted that it is the journalist who is going to speak and, at most, Pla will nod or not, or laugh, thus filling in the gaps.

In fact, in the only biography published about him, Albert Pla: todo es mentira, written by the Tarragona journalist Pep Blay and published in 2016 by Satélite K, the “biographer” wrote the prologue, and in it you could read, at the very beginning: “When Pep Blay said he was going to write a book about my life and miracles, I replied that it was none of my business. As long as he didn’t ask me anything, or ask me for anything and, much less, make me work…. […] Then he asked me some questions, assuring me that that was the only thing he would ask me. I answered with that nonsense I usually say when I don’t know what to say or when I’m not interested in the subject”. That’s right. So get ready, then, to read an “F” on my final exam as a journalist?


The bulk of Albert Pla’s professional career has been developed in the world of song and music: there are already twelve albums he has published since his debut album in 1989 with Ho sento molt, until the last one for the moment, Miedo, appeared five years ago, in 2018. However, his interventions as an actor are already more numerous, a task in which he debuted in 1997 with Airbag, the hilarious film by Juanma Bajo Ulloa, and which has led him to participate in films such as A los que aman (1998), by Isabel Coixet; Honor de cavalleria, by Albert Serra; Murieron por encima de sus posibilidades (2014), by Isaki Lacuesta; Rey gitano (2015), again under the orders of Juanma Bajo Ulloa, or La vampira de Barcelona (2020), by Lluís Danés, to name just a few.

Foto: Arden.

Now he is on the verge of reaching the top of the slippery cinematic wedge, as he is a candidate for Best Male Performance in a Series at the twenty-ninth edition of the Forqué Awards – to be presented on December 16 at IFEMA, competing in his category against Javier Cámara, Raúl Cimas and Roger Casamajor – for his performance as Pep Puig Pelfort, an unhinged Catholic fundamentalist in La mesías, Javier Callahan’s series La mesías, competing in his category against Javier Cámara, Raúl Cimas and Roger Casamajor – for his interpretation of Pep Puig Pelfort, an unhinged Catholic fundamentalist, in La mesías, the series by Javier Calvo and Javier Ambrossi, Los Javis, premiered last October on Movistar Plus. To play that role in The Messiah, they didn’t give him anything for free because he was the type of psychopath: he had to pass a casting. “They called me, but they made me pass a test. I saw that I could do it, that I felt comfortable and that the Javis seemed like good guys, that they were going to make it easy because they were very willing”.

His character is really scary, but Pla had no references in his memory to approach a Catholic fundamentalist. I have never lived religion,” he explains. I didn’t go to a priest’s school, nor did I ever have religion classes, nor did my parents go to mass…. I mean that God was never talked about at home, neither for nor against. He was a being that did not exist. Then I did find him around, through mythology and urban legends, or through things that friends told you and that were a little scary. It was like there was a guy named Franco. And I said to myself: ‘Wow, I’m so lucky I don’t live in that Spanish world of the Castilians.

Albert Pla has three other roles in the chamber, waiting for the release dates to be finalized: “One is with Rodrigo Cortés, in a film called Escape, and I’m also going to appear in El hoyo 2. But at the same time he is immersed in the beginning of a musical tour with The Surprise Band, a band formed by the three singers members of La Prenda Roja -Ana Brenes, Cristina López and Sara Sambola-, joined by the flamenco guitar of his longtime collaborator, Diego Cortés, and the electronic contributions of another old friend, Judit Farrés.

However, if you ask him if he can now be considered more actor than musician or if he is still more musician than actor, he simply answers: “I do what I can” and “Nominations are fine”. His is not sullenness, shyness, apathy or antipathy. It is, if I may use alliteration, pure anarchy or pure philosophy. Specifically, that of Socrates’ disciples, the cynical philosophers of the sect of the dog, who in the fourth century B.C. were already hostile to social conventions and claimed the autonomy of the individual against the family, the city and the morality of compromise, using corrosive humor and satire to exercise their criticism and reinterpret the Socratic doctrine considering that civilization was evil and that happiness was achieved with a simple life and in accordance with nature. In his case, this translates into living for thirty years in the countryside, in a house in the interior of the Catalan region of Selva.

Foto: Arden.

Everything is atypical in Pla, a character not easy to categorize. If you think of him as a singer-songwriter, he is one, but don’t think about how boring the term was… Well, Labordeta, Ovidi Montllor, Hilario Camacho, Ramón Muntaner or Raimon were boring; Aute, Serrat, Llach or Sabina are not boring at all? Let’s say that, each one with his own style, Pla’s is much closer to the corrosive humor, always on the verge of the legally punishable, of Javier Krahe. What is true is that his success is more… discreet: despite more than thirty-five years of career, he is still unknown to the general public, but he is famous among the best of the profession, who ask for his collaboration or lend themselves unselfishly to contribute a grain of sand to his controversial songs.

If we consider him as an actor, his interventions leave their mark in films as hooligan as the aforementioned Airbag, in which he played a peculiar priest who sang in a brothel Manuel Alejandro’s “Soy rebelde”, popularized in the early seventies by the Spanish-British singer Jeanette. But what seemed like a provocative joke is not so much; if we listen to what Emma Suárez -twice winner of the Goya award for best leading actress in 1996 for El perro del hortelero (The Hortel Dog) – has to say about him: in 1996 for El perro del hortelano, by Pilar Miró, and in 2016, for Julieta, by Pedro Almodóvar-, who worked with him in Isaki Lacuesta’s film “Murieron por encima de sus posibilidades”, and who in Todo es mentira, the aforementioned bio- graphy of Albert Pla, recalled, “The first day I said to him, “How about it, Albert, do you know it? “. And he replied: “If I didn’t know it, I wouldn’t be able to work! I was shocked: I didn’t know the text, I was waiting to work on it with him. We sat in the kitchen and while he prepared the food, we went over the text. He knew it perfectly, not one word too many, not one article too few”.

It was not the only compliment she gave him: “He is the most relaxed actor I have ever worked with”, said Suárez before adding: “The whole team was amazed with him […], he has the gift of great actors. I’m not exaggerating at all”, or concluding by saying: “the truth is that Albert beat me in everything, in the end I had the feeling that I was the one who had to learn from him”.


Albert Pla drags the controversy as if it were his shadow: it is always with him and although he does not seek to project it, he can do nothing to avoid it. It is intrinsic to his vision of the world. He has always sung while seated in an armchair, dressed in katiuskas (those old rubber rain boots) and a kind of sayo (that loose and humble garment that artisans and peasants used to wear in the past), while from his mouth come out lyrics that leave his listeners astonished. It would have been easy to classify him as a punk singer, but instead of thundering with the noise of a furious guitar, he lets his simple nihilistic poems fly over really beautiful melodies of very varied registers, ranging from rumba to French chanson.

Her voice, which often uses a childish tone, as if she were telling a story or singing a lullaby, reveals all kinds of horrors: rapes received, told in the first person without avoiding the most lurid details; murders between four-year-old siblings, stories of necrophilia, crimes of passion (as they used to say in the old days) with amputations of limbs, tributes to the death of Antonio – a fictitious neighborhood pimp, an old acquaintance of the police, who was also a drug dealer among the kids -, existential doubts about whether or not to denounce a terrorist girlfriend; a whole double album, bilingual, in Catalan and Spanish, dedicated to drugs (“Cançons d’amor i droga”), or his famous “Carta al rey”, which he had to rename “Carta al rey Melchor” to get published, in which the supposed boyfriend of a princess confesses to the king the love he feels for his daughter, despite not being, by far, the dreamed son-in-law: “I never had money nor am I a count or knight / I don’t even get to be a hidalgo, a private citizen / My lineage is not noble but my nobility / Forces me to tell you the truth / It would be lying to you if I say I have respect for the monarchy / I’ve always shit on dynasties / And on whorish homelands, dirty flags / Shitty kingdoms and blue blood.”

Foto: Arden

Nothing easier than to accuse him of being anti-monarchist… if it were not for the fact that in 2015 he was sentenced in the first instance by María José Juesas, the substitute judge of the investigating court number 4 of Valencia, to a fine of one hundred euros for statements published on September 28, 2014, and republished in countless media in which he encouraged to kill “those of Podemos and citizen platforms, now that they still do not wear bodyguards: it is better to finish now”. The complaint had been filed at the time by the lawyer Ricardo Cano, member and collaborator of various social platforms in Valencia. Subsequently, the Third Section of the Provincial Court of Valencia acquitted him because such statements lacked “seriousness, firmness and determination (or concreteness of evil)”…


Those who know Pla well, however, speak of his kindness and generosity. And also that he is an excellent cook, and someone who applies the “old-fashioned” zero-kilometer cuisine, since in his farmhouse in Selva, halfway between Barcelona and Gerona, he raises his own chickens and grows his own vegetable garden. And he lives with perhaps more luxury than Antisthenes, Diogenes of Sinope or Crates of Thebes, but fully developing the cynical idea of self-sufficiency. He did not learn his culinary skills from his mother, but “from life; and from cook friends: as we cooks and singers have the same holiday, we can meet on Mondays”.

I ask him for his favorite dish, but he doesn’t have one either. “Now it’s autumn and I might fancy… some sweet potato cannelloni with mushrooms, with a little cream of pecorino cheese and some fried sweet potato chips and ratafia reduction, for example”, he admits. But then, with his characteristic corrosive humor, he states that what he most likes to cook is “chefs”: “My dream is to one day eat a little piece of Ferran Adrià or make steaks of the Roca brothers, to see which of the three you get the most tender steak. My money is on Jordi, who has more anabolic steroids injected into him. He adds that he would also like to “cook them badly, so that they get screwed”. Although he lived for a long time, seven or eight years, in Sant Celoni, where the late Santi Santamaría, a combative representative of the most traditional and product-based cuisine, ran his legendary Can Fabes, Pla does not abjure molecular cuisine.

In Sant Celoni a friendly relationship was established between the artist and Santamaría, and he says that “I used to go to his restaurant a lot and he taught me how to do things; we had a good time in the kitchen”. Pla admits that he loves spherifications and nitrogen: “I think all those things are great, I really like that. I like cooks to be crazy, otherwise they’re no good to me.

At the end of the conversation the name of Dabiz Muñoz comes up… and we have to believe him when he says he doesn’t know who he is: “I’m not a mythomaniac at all, nor am I interested in meeting singers, writers or chefs”.