Spotlight – Charly Lopez

Spotlight – Charly Lopez

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Watching Charly Lopez sing tunes like “Achy Breaky Heart” and “Proud Mary” at Zi Lounge in Coco on a Saturday night, I wouldn’t have guessed he’s a heavy metal singer whose favorite band is Iron Maiden. Born in Montevideo, he’s been declared “the Voice of Uruguayan Heavy Metal,” and he was long the front man for an Iron Maiden tribute band called Up the Irons. I sat down with Lopez, 53, after the show to talk about rock ‘n’ roll, day jobs and Megadeth.

What brought you to Costa Rica?

I lived in Montreal for 13 years — meaning 13 winters — and by winter 11 I started to feel like, man, I mean the winters are so long and so cold. And summer is short and half of it is rainy. So I was thinking I would like to go and live where the summer is longer.

By year 13, a friend showed up in Montreal and I said, “Where you been?” He says, “I’ve been in Costa Rica the last 15 years. I have a restaurant on the beach. You should come and play with your guitar.” And I thought I’d never do that because I played heavy metal in Montreal.

So later I thought, OK, I’ll try it, I’ll go and I’ll see what it’s like. So I came to Guanacaste, and I started playing every night, seven nights a week. And I stayed here for four months. And there was never rain, it was always warm, and I thought, I found the place! This is it!

What’s your favorite band?

Iron Maiden is my favorite band, in the heavy metal style. In the thrash style, it’s Megadeth. In country rock and blues, it’s Creedence. And in all the rest, it’s the Beatles. The Beatles were a big influence on me. I learned guitar when I was 9. For two years I didn’t like it, I put the guitar in the closet, and when I discovered the Beatles, I grabbed my guitar again, and I started playing it and I never stopped since.

Do you write any of your own music?

I do. I already recorded four albums in South America with my band Alvacast, and I recorded one with Tears for the Dead Gods in Canada, a heavy metal band. And then when I came here, I recorded one solo album in 2011, called “Un Vaso de Vino.”

Do you have a day job?

Not anymore, for the last 12 years.

Anything else you want to tell me?

When I came here and started doing this in Costa Rica, I was a little bit ashamed, after being a heavy metal singer, playing in a restaurant with a guitar. So I never told anybody for the first three years until Facebook came about, and then everybody knew what I was doing. I learned that as long as people are happy, dancing and singing and having a good time, it doesn’t matter what I play or what I sing.