Loch Ness may be forever linked to a (mythical?) monster but this June sees the two day Rockness festival giving the people something else to be excited about. Amongst the many acts clamouring for attention, the live return of El Presidente can easily claim to be one of the most anticipated. RoomThirteen caught up with Laura Marks (keyboard and vocals) from the band to discuss the festival, the second album and what part of Slash ended up in her mouth one night.

R13:Hey Laura, El Presidente are about to hit the comeback trail, is it good to be back?
LM: Extremely good to be back, its been a long time, we haven't played a tour since November and we've been in the studio doing new material and trying to find a new sound for the second album.
R13: Are you a fan of The Mighty Boosh? Was the episode where Spider and Rudi went looking for a new sound an influence?
LM: Definitely, haha. Its been a challenge with all of us bringing it together. Obviously the first album was about Dante's songs but that's different this time. You do get artistic differences but apart from that, its going well.

R13: So apart from writing songs to get your points up, how did you spend your time off?
LM: I've been doing my own stuff, I've been writing for other people, trying to get something for the masses.
R13: The Masses. Is that a new band or just the people in general?
LM: No no, for the people in general, lets get a sell-out album out there. Music for the masses. Haha, well, I've been painting a lot as well recently. Hmm, its Laura Marks enterprise isn't it? I've got my degree in musical theatre so that's pretty open and I want to do everything. I did 'Rebus' (a TV show) a few weeks ago and I have a new one called 'Legit' to do this week and that's got some comedy in it.
R13: Are you capable of being funny?
LM: (Deadpan) Yes. (After a few seconds pause, Laura then burst into a fit of laughter.) The part I play in 'Legit' does get the piss ripped out of them so its not as if I'm the main comedic role but yeah, I can do funny! Cheek!

R13: Short term plans, all set for Rockness?
LM: All set for Rockness! El Pres are going to rock it! Its our main focus so its going to be good. The stuff I said before, that's me and my long term but El Pres is my baby and theres so much that we have to do I want to take things as far as they can...until they can't go any further. Hmm, that could be a good album title one day, remember that!

R13: Do you have a set-list or any surprises sorted out yet?
LM:No but we will be playing some new tracks. Theres one called 'Late Night Binging' which is the first single in Japan, we're taking the album there first but that song should get played. Dante and I share the vocals on that one, we have a talkback thing going on, its like a conversation. I think we're on for half an hour so there will be some old classics, all the singles and a couple of the new ones are quite long so that's looking good for a set-list. As for surprises, who knows, maybe some fancy tights.
R13: All the band or just you?
LM:It might be fun to see Dante in tights so yeah, maybe all the band. We'll see. It's the El Pres comeback gig and after that its Glastonbury and then off to Japan so it's a big show. Unfortunately, we won't be doing a warm-up show. We were hoping to do one on the Friday night before but we can't, so it's a case of BAMM, here we are!

R13: What were the highlights of the first album and the promotional tours around it?
LM:Number one in Japan. That's the biggest achievement but there has been so many. We played the main stage at T in the Park last year and that was awesome. I went as a kid to see bands and to end up playing the main stage, its not what you expect. Not in a bad way but it seems smaller when you're on-stage but what an experience that was. I mean what else, the Japan tour, the French tour, we got a Great Scot award last year, so many highlights. The thing is though, a big highlight is people coming up to me and saying they enjoyed the gig or they love the album or your voice was amazing. When you do stuff in a band it can be easy to be selfish but affecting people is a really great thing.
R13: So it would be quicker to tell us the points you didn't enjoy?
LM: Exactly and theres not many. Being in a stinky tour bus with three smelly guys and one girl who sleeps in all the time can have its moments but apart from that...

R13: Is there a release date for the second album yet?
LM: Release date in Japan will be August. Its still in production at the moment with a guy called Cut Father. He did Jamelia's 'Superstar' and loads of stuff. He's based in Copenhagen so Dante has been out there a lot working on it. The fact that he is on board is great, it costs a bit of money for that type of person but we're excited. As far as the UK goes, I can't say any date at the moment.

R13: Are you able to talk us through any of the new songs?
LM: Yeah. 'Late Night Binges' which I spoke about earlier is a shared vocal track, very upbeat dance song, for some reason it makes me think of Dee-Lite and 'Groove Is In The Heart.' (For the sake of the interview it should be noted that Laura sang this song as opposed to just mentioning it!) It has a catchy and busy feel. Theres a song called 'Reach Out' which is very funky. You know, the second album is going to be very funky, it's a step-up and sonically it's a step-up, which you have to do. That song is hopefully going to be an epic summertime song. We've another song called 'Contraband' which reminds me of Outkasts 'Hey Ya.' It has a great acoustic feel to it, so its away from our electronic stuff, keeping the drums simple but throwing in tambourines so yeah, that's cool. It's a nice track, driving in your car, roof off.
R13: Made for Glasgow?
LM:Haha, okay. A lot of our music is Americanised, its our influences and thats what makes us happy. Theres a song called 'Lawyers Letters', which is about Dantes sisters divorce and its going to be a slower paced track on the album.
We've also got 'The Hardest Part' which is a bit Kate Bush and 'Cloudbursting' if you know that song and we have one called 'And So We Go On.' It's the ballad, El Pres never did a ballad before so heres the first one! Its sad, its about mums and dads passing away and just about how life moves on, and how the band is moving on as well. Its more personal to us as opposed to being for other people. It's a selfish song but I think other people will like it but its for us. And that's all I'm going to give away for now!

R13: Okay, we'll throw in a few general questions to round off with. Whats the biggest party the band has been at?
LM: The UK Music Hall of Fame. I got Slash's hair in my mouth! We hung out with Brian May, Ozzy Osbourne, Black Sabbath, The Kinks, The Who, Alanis Morissette, Eurythmics. A lot of my idols and that was unbelievable. We actually got chucked out of the party.
R13: You were partying with Slash and Ozzy and you were the ones asked to leave. Should we ask why?
LM:Yeah, the guys were peeing in the foyer. I don't know if that's the full story but obviously the innocent band members were really annoyed but the thing was, we were travelling to Japan the next day and we should have been leaving anyway as we were so out of it. That was the biggest party. We did the Sony Music Awards and I met Alice Cooper. It wasn't a party atmosphere but hes an idol and it was overwhelming to meet him.
R13: Clearly you've taken Alice Coopers tips on eye make-up?
LM:Definitely! I do look fairly like him better that than the time I was told I had hair like Russell Brand, that's not good.

R13: So you've met some idols. Have you had any fights with other bands or any bands you want to fight with?
LM: The View. Haha, no we're playing a lot of shows this summer, I'll probably end up bumping into them and snogging one of them!
R13: And then beat them up?
LM: Yeah, snog them and then beat them up! No, good on them but I just think the whole guitar band thing at the moment is a bit off. Its been done to death, say no to jangly guitars, get more keyboards in there! Actually, our old tour manager is on the road with The View these days so they're alright. It's a shame they wont get to America because of that criminal record. So no, I don't really care about other bands enough to fight them.

R13: So we've agreed that you don't really want to fight anyone, is there anyone you would like to see this summer?
LM: Daft Punk and they're playing at Rockness so I'm up for that! I'd like to check out Mark Ronson.
R13: I'd like to see someone punch Mark Ronson.
LM: Okay, that won't be me! Similarly, I love Amy Winehouse's stuff so I'd love to see her. Shes a bit of a trollop but her stuff sounds wicked so that's alright. I'm a big Green Day fan so if they're playing anywhere but if I have to say one, its Daft Punk. Anything electronic is good, I'm liking what I've heard of The Feint.

R13: Okay Laura, thanks for your time, what would be your hopes for the year ahead?
LM: Just to have fun, to get the album out and for it to be great. Lets get another number one Japan, France, UK, I don't care, I just want people to like it!

With the countdown now firmly on for the bands comeback, El Presidente fans should be getting fairly excited about the next few months. Everyone else can take the opportunity at Rockness and Glastonbury to see what the fuss is all about.