24/7 VALENCIA: What inspired you to open ‘16 Toneladas’?

PEPE OF ’16 TONELADAS’: I really wanted to own a concert hall since I was 16 when I went to a small venue in Valencia called ‘Gasolinera.’.  What happened there drove me crazy. It was a very, very dodgy place!  I decided then I wanted to have a concert venue that was safe and enjoyable with great bands. That was the 1980s and now things are not the same, but I think ‘16 Toneladas’ has a little bit of that spirit still… with the bands, the people and the atmosphere.

Who was the first band to play at the club? The inauguration was performed by a band who were my friends who I met through my job at the time. Before opening the club, I worked as a sound technician for a theatre company and they had an instrumental surf group called the Surfonics.  That was the first band who played here. I remember they were really good!

What is the best band that has played here? There are too many, I couldn’t choose one! We have had so many incredible bands play here – big and small. Nick Long from Dark Waves, Marky Ramone, Los Rebeldes, The Chamelons – the list is endless. 

If you could book any band – who would it be? That’s a hard question! Billy Branch I have always loved – he is a harmonica player from Chicago. ‘Lux Interior’ would be incredible, but now that’s sadly not possible because Erick Lee Purkhiser is dead. ‘Los Lobos’ I love – I guess any of the bands I grew up with because of how they made me feel when I listened to them as a teenager. 

When you are not working, how do you kick back? I never relax and I find it impossible to relax! Today is a Tuesday and have just had 23 consecutive nights of concerts. So, from the moment I open my eyes until I close them… I am working! I don’t get time to sleep or relax! I might have 2 spare hours and I have to decide – do I sleep or eat? Sometimes I sleep and don’t have time to eat! I hope to slow down a little soon and let someone do part of my work because I cannot always work like this.

Why is the club called ‘16 Toneladas?’ It comes from a song composed by Merle Travis in America in the 1940s. It was re-recorded in the 1950s by Ernie Ford and became famous and spent 8 weeks at number 1. It was a song about a miner who has bad luck in life and always tries to please his boss and tries to earn more money. He dies a poor man after making his boss richer. It could be a class song and it’s a very trade unionist song, which I found funny. During the time of Franco’s dictatorship in Spain, it was sung by a man named José Guardiola in Spanish. It was very literal and there was a censorship that controlled a lot of the politics and political songs at the time, but they didn’t even realize that this was a trade union song, and I really liked it. 

So the 10th Anniversary party – some pretty exciting bands playing…We have had three incredible bands playing – the one excited me the most was ‘The Undertones’. They are a band I never imagined could play here and the fact they did is an accumulation of coincidences. They were going to play at the Benidorm Festival that a friend of mine was doing and the festival was cancelled. He had signed the contract with ‘The Undertones’, so I told him why don’t you tell the Spanish promoter that they can do it here and I will pay them the same amount that you were going to pay at the festival. Initially, they didn’t want to as we are a small venue, but I told them that they do not need to play a big stage to have an amazing night and they agreed to come!  It’s going to be the best night. Yes, yes, I’m sure; it’s going to be a very nice experience for us all! The second group is one that I admire a lot from Castellón called ‘The Heatwaves’ – they are like a cool band from the 60s with a really rock sound. The final band are part of the 16 Toneladas family and my friends – ‘The Deaf Devils’. They guys have so much energy and are just punk!

And, finally, pineapple on pizza. Yes or no? Well, it looks good on pizza – but I only eat one kind! I eat pizza with ham and mushrooms.  So, I cannot say! But yes, it does look good. Maybe, one day, I will try it and then decide what my opinion is about pineapple on pizza!


Interview by Melissa Pine 

Article copyright ‘24/7 Valencia’

Photos copyright Rhyan Paul / 24/7 Valencia

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Instagram:   @rhyanpaul



C/ Ricardo Micó, 3




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