Hoopla

Guitar duo Rodrigo y Gabriela performs Saturday at Paramount in Cedar Rapids

Gabriela Quintero and Rodrigo Sanchez, who perform as acoustic guitar duo Rodrigo y Gabriela, are coming to the Paramount Theatre in Cedar Rapids on Saturday night (11/23). Their new album, “Mettavolution,” melds metal, jazz and their Hispanic roots into their soundscape. (Jim Mimna photo)
Gabriela Quintero and Rodrigo Sanchez, who perform as acoustic guitar duo Rodrigo y Gabriela, are coming to the Paramount Theatre in Cedar Rapids on Saturday night (11/23). Their new album, “Mettavolution,” melds metal, jazz and their Hispanic roots into their soundscape. (Jim Mimna photo)

A  half-decade gap between albums for a duo typically means that outside projects usurped time. However, that wasn’t so for Rodrigo y Gabriela. The dynamic Mexican acoustic guitar duo couldn’t find their songwriting groove, which was odd since the tandem had been prolific since the act formed in 2000.

“It was frustrating,” Gabriela Quintero said while calling from her studio in Zihuatanejo, Mexico. “We wrote a lot of music and it sounded so much like the material that was on the last album (2014’s “9 Dead Alive”). It sounded like we were duplicating songs we had written. We were impacted by what was going on around us. We were looking at how the music industry was changing. We put a lot of pressure on ourselves.”

Quintero and Rodrigo Sanchez struggled writing new material for two years until they loosened up.

“We just decided to let ourselves be who we are,” Quintero said. “We stuck with what we do best and once we relaxed, ideas and songs just flowed out of us.”

Within a year Quintero and Sanchez wrote and created six new songs and recorded a cover of the Pink Floyd deep cut “Echoes” for its latest album, “Mettavolution,” which dropped in April.

“Mettavolution” is another album consisting of elegant, dramatic and poignant songs influenced by the pair’s love of flamenco and metal. Rodrigo y Gabriela easily veer from songs in which you’re compelled to bang your head to tracks in which you can’t help but move your butt.

“We write in a certain style but the songs are always different and they impact people in different ways,” Quintero said.

Rodrigo y Gabriela, which will perform Saturday at the Paramount Theatre in Cedar Rapids, turn Pink Floyd’s “Echoes” on its ear. It’s fascinating what the duo accomplished with the epic baroque song filling up the entire B side of 1971’s ‘Meddle.’”

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The pair are not strangers to covers. The duo have delivered their own versions of Radiohead, Led Zeppelin and Rage Against the Machine. But the former boyfriend and girlfriend moved it up to anther level with “Echoes.”

“The big question we had was how to approach “Echoes,” Quintero said. “It’s one of those songs that you have to go all out on.”

Rodrigo y Gabriela give the spacey song a full-on workout. Its 19-minute version of the epic cut is trippy.

“We played ‘Echoes’ live on the last tour, but I never thought we would record it,” Quintero said. “It was Rodrigo’s idea. I told him that he was crazy, but it was a great idea ... But once I thought about it, I thought, ‘Why not?’”

Part of the appeal behind Rodrigo y Gabriela’s music has been the fearlessness of Quintero and Sanchez.

“We like to take chances,” Quintero said. “It’s more fun that way.”

But the duo also likes to complement each other. Neither ever shows the other up.

“We know what we do is bigger than the both of us,” Quintero said. “We’re about making the best music possible together. We’re into bands like Megadeth, who have two amazing guitarists. But when it comes to guitar playing, we never looked at each other like we are guitar heroes.”

However, fans of Rodrigo y Gabriela, who are loyal, feel differently. Rodrigo y Gabriela aficionados often geek out and stand transfixed watching the technique. Quintero and Sanchez are aware of their slack-jawed fan’s enthusiasm. They have cameras built onto the headstocks of their guitars, which display video during their performances.

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“People like to see what we’re doing and we’re more than happy to show them exactly what we do,” Quintero said. “People ask how we do things and so it’s easier to show them than to explain with words. Our fans are so excited when we perform. We do all that we can to make them happy.”

Get out

• What: Rodrigo y Gabriela: Mettavolution Tour

• Where: Paramount Theatre, 123 Third Ave. SE, Cedar Rapids

• When: 8 p.m. Saturday (11/23)

• Tickets: $32 to $52; Paramount Ticket Office, (319) 366-8203 or Paramounttheatrecr.com/Events/

• Artists’ website: rodgab.com

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