A song that everybody should listen to: La Guitarra by Los Autenticos Decadentes. A classic chant proper of argentinian rock, that is more resemblant of a fútbol cheer than a singing choir, tells the chorus of the story of a musician confessing to his father that his calling in life is to play the guitar for the whole world. The caring father then responds by threatening to break the instrument over his son’s head because he continues to drink all the beer without finding a job. The great success that this song was, saw its release in the mid 90s as part of the album Mi Vida Loca and gave the band its place in history.
Since, they haven’t stopped pleasing their fans through the years and have just released their 10th album Y La Banda Sigue on October 28th. In the CD+DVD pack is included Vacaciones Estressantes, a documentary of their history told by the 12 members in the span of a two-and-a-half year tour.
We get the opportunity to ask Nito Montecchia, the band’s guitarist, about how the album was coming along a few months ago, and mosti importaltly if the story of La Guitarra was an actual anecdote or just a well painted picture.
LatinAlt: Hi Nito, How’s everything, lots of interviews?
Nito: Yea, we’re launching our new single of what will be our new album.
L.A: Yes of course. Let’s start there, talk to us about the new album; how is different from the rest, how long have you been recording it, who produced it, all of this.
N: Well, we have the new single "Y La Banda Sigue," which is titled after the upcoming album, and it has the participation of Cacho Cantaña who is very popular here in Argentina.
We always work on our own albums with the help of Gustavo Borner as the engineer. He came down here to Argentina to a studio in San Luis and now he’s taking it back to his studio Igloo Music in Los Angeles. We want to have an album with only 10 songs, very straight to the point. It is a bit of always a challenge and we’re just “rowing the boat” forward so that everything turns out well.
LA: Of course, yes i was listening to the song and watched the video, looks great. So Nito, you guys being pioneers of rock and ska in latin america, and Argentina being a pioneering country in the genre; Tell us how the scene was back then, what bands did you guys listened to, how was the rock and ska scene during that time in its beginning.
Nito: We started in ’86 and the scene from around ’83 to then was what inspired us; bands like Virus, Los Abuelos de la Nada, Zumo, Soda Estereo, Los Enanitos Verdes were the first wave of music of ‘83. We came after in the second wave of Argentinian music with Los Fabulosos Cadillac, Los Pericos, etc. There was a very important ska scene here in Buenos Aires, even with bands that stopped playing like Los Intocables, etc. Anyway, there were many bands and many festivals of ska. Like you were saying, Argentina was one of the first countries to adopt this style and many bands were formed. It was a very beautiful scene, que se yo (what do I know, a popular Argentinian phrase used as a fill-in line like ‘you know’), it was very very fun with very good bands, but the pioneer band to be known and have come out from that genre were Los Fabulosos Cadillac. We started playing ska and other rhythms, but we started to evolve, like it happened it the rest of our country.
Nito: Yea, we started to play a rock that was a bit more Latin, adopting from other genres, not just the rhythms ska or reggae or things like that, and that’s how we developed our musical personality. We used to get asked: “so what do you do? Ska or Rock or what?” but we don’t get that asked anymore. I don’t know if it’s because we are unclassifiable or because people know we are a mixture of everything.
LatinAlt: Yes of course, you guys are a widely known band so the question is almost rhetorical.
Nito: Claro (sure).
LatinAlt: Talk to us about your album Mi Vida Loca, which was what I first heard and it was probably the most known in Colombia, which is where I’m from. Talk to us about that album and what it means now and back then.
Nito: Back then, well, what I remember and what first comes to mind, is the creative process of making it. It was very beautiful and very prosperous because we had a lot songs and there was a clear essence that… (anyway) preparing was something very beautiful. The first song (and most successful) of the album was La Guitarra, and during that time the signal of MTV Latino was the same for all the region, and by that I mean all of South America.
LatinAlt: Yea only one I remember.
Nito: Yea yea, so there weren’t that many bands, there was no YouTube either, none of that, so it was the only channel there to watch music (videos) on the TV and it was very innovative. I think that was what helped us a lot and it pushed us to become more known in outside countries that weren’t the ones of ours (Latin) and so then we started doing tours. Besides the album was super-successful and the label supported us a lot because it happened during a time when records sold, a lot (laughs). But instead of supporting the tour we just spent all the money (laughs), mentiras (I’m kidding) (laughs again) actually it’s true, we spent it on expensive cars (we both laugh some more).
We had the opportunity of that bonanza and to be able to tour, to get to know the world and to be known and important in many countries. But that doesn’t last forever and it was always about work. We kept playing and made many other albums, but what Mi Vida Loca meant for us, was a regional and an American launch (most people don’t really call their continent Latin America as much as just América).
LatinAlt: So tell me Nito, the song La Guitarra, is it a story of the real live (I laugh) or you made it up?
Nito: (Laughs) It’s a made up story but it refers to real life. I remember Jorge (Serrano), who is the author, playing it for me at his studio for the first time when his twin girls had just been born. He was thinking about being a new parent and how he had to deal with his parents in order to follow a career in music, which was very difficult especially during those times. Now there is more respect for what it means to be a musician, but then and more so before then, a career that was artistic or wasn’t traditional was met with resistance from parents. One had to work really hard to become an artist, a musician, an actor, or something other that what you’re parents wanted to impose on you; some parents don’t impose anything, but it’s a general thing. That’s why people really liked the song, because it’s not aimed to a guitarist particularly, but to anybody who wants to do what they do but find resistance against it. It’s more than “I wanna be a guitarist” it’s “I wanna be…whatever I want” It was a cry for freedom or something like that (laughs).
LatinAlt: Yea, to me it seems like it’s an anthem really.
Nito: (cuts in) It is, it is like an anthem, that’s why when we play it people sing it with a lot of emotion and sentiment.
LatinAlt: So you guys recently had a very successful DVD and like you were saying, it was normal for a band to sell a lot more records during the time of Mi Vida Loca. What do you think about the changes in the music industry? Will you continue making DVD’s? how has the process of selling music changed and how will the further be different?
Nito: Well look, (Sorting out my wordy question), we started pressing in vinyl and after cassettes appeared (laughs, because it dates his age, maybe), then the CD came and it was a relaunching of the physical form of music, and now again that format is decaying, and so now you have YouTube, streaming, and other outlets. Things are accommodating like so but you have to adapt to changes, you can’t say “now I can’t sell records,” or que se yo.
They are different epochs that artists and companies have to affront and everybody does it. Don’t think that labels don’t make money; everyone makes money, artists don’t make money with records but they do with shows and other things.
So it’s like that, there were many changes and etc. but what favored us during that transition is that we have a lot of background stuff from the the analog era, if we call it that way. A lot of physical presence and many more things that are hanging on YouTube like videos, clips, etc. People have so much access now that I don’t know if you get the same impact when reaching out to them, before you had only MTV and everybody watched it, but now you have so many things and that’s a huge influence in the whole thing. So we were lucky to be well standing during that change in the business, the scene, the communication, all that.
LatinAlt: Well, thank you for the interview Nito, I think we can finish up. Will you be coming to Estados Unidos to play anytime soon?
Nito: Yea, we were just there last year and hope to go in October or after the album is fully launched.
LatinAlt: That’s great, we await with open arms.
Nito: Great thanks, un abrazo. LA.