At home and out of work this past spring due to the pandemic, three musicians who are roommates in Barcelona had a few beers and started making up songs “to enjoy this confination.”
Calling themselves the Stay Homas, they posted videos of their impromptu performances, playing household utensils along with instruments, often to a bossa nova or reggae beat, and riffing endearingly silly lyrics — in English, Spanish, Catalan or Portuguese, that were variations on the same theme: “Please stay homa, please stay home, don’t want the corona, please stay home, it’s ok to be alone.”
The feel-good videos of the trio crammed together collegially on their apartment’s terrace, sometimes joined by “special guests” via iOhone, went viral.
International press coverage was followed by offers from several record labels.
Stay Homas now has a contract with Sony Music Spain, which has just released an EP (Desconfination) of songs that became known on YouTube. A 24-date tour, will, the state of the world permitting, will take them to South America and around Europe in addition to all over Spain, starting in April 2021. The first two dates in Barcelona sold out in under two hours.
During an interview with Billboard from their apartment, the Stay Homas sounded euphoric, if a bit stunned, by the success of the music they made to pass the time. “We’re still trying to make sense of what’s happened,” says guitarist and bass player Rai Benet.
“I think that the reason we became so popular was simply that people really liked the songs and adopted them as their own,” says Klaus Stroink, who, like his roommates, is in his twenties. As a trumpet player, before the coronavirus he made a living playing with various Barcelona bands, including the popular Catalan indie group Búhos. He and Benet were about to start a tour with singer/songwriter Nil Moliner when all of Spain was put under strict lockdown in March.
“In these times of super-processed, perfectly produced music, the idea of three guys sitting on a terrace, screwing around and laughing together feels like something new,” adds Stroink.
The group’s next step is to take their homemade songs to the studio to record a full-length album, to be released by the end of the year.
The three musicians created 29 songs since they started calling themselves the Stay Homas (the name plays on the quarantine but also the word “homes” in Catalan, which means “men”). The band members say that “14 or 15” of the song are about things other than coronavirus or confinement.
“Our intention is that [Stay Homas] will transcend,” Says Guillem Boltó. A conservatory-trained trombonist familiar to Barcelona audiences as a member of the group Dr. Prats, Boltó has become known to world viewers as the guy with a man-bun beating an overturned plastic bucket with drum sticks and singing “if you live in Barcelona there’s no toilet paper” in a Caribbean island accent.
“The context and situation in which it started was very specific but we’re putting all of our desire to keep making music into it.” he says. “On one hand, we like working with the limitations imposed by the terrace and the instruments that we had on hand in the house. But we’d also like to break with that…make a more elaborate production with good sound. But we still don’t want to abandon our spontaneity.”