by Paola Piersantelli
Translation by Kevin Vaughn
Main Photo by María Belén Casali
Whenever I’m approached to interview bands that are unbelievably good, that happen to be from the southern province (close to home), I work myself up a little more than usual. And when we set up this interview, by chance the boys from Viva Elasticó ended up being a lot closer to me than what I had imagined. It´s (and this is going to sound insanely sporty or childish) a matter of pride, when you realize what you were looking for was there all along.
Not to mention the bus ride was convenient.
We crashed their studio rehearsal on the edge of Adrogué, almost Turdera, where the boys sometimes rehearse. We were greeted by the drummer, Juan del Ball, who had also arrived early. He explained that the band was working on the pre-production of their second album, choosing tracks for the disc that will follow the successful self-titled debut.
The rest of the band quickly began to arrive, Ale Schuster (lead vocals and guitar), Mateo Zabala (guitar), Santi Pacec (bass) and Juan Manuel Condori (synthesizer), and they quickly showed us what great hosts they were. It comes from this intrinsic quality that they have, being simple kids from the southern suburbs, kids that work and study. That may be why the music that they make passes to the next level.
A beer was quickly opened to get to know each other a little and break the ice before they let us in to hear them record. Ale is the type of guy you instantly like. Kind, constantly smiling, he’s the bands natural leader, organizing the boys during the interview like a teacher quieting the chaos of a group of schoolboys, “Boys, listen please, Paola asked a question.”
From Ale came the name of the band, who wanted to play with the word “viva” [go!]. It carries a completely optimistic tone, which the boys also have. “Go! something,” Schuster said, “and in that same moment I see my mother’s sewing box with some elastic hanging out, ´¡Viva Elástico!´ [Go Elastic!], and it stuck.”
Going to a studio to rehearse is far from normal, the norm being the second story of a rec center in their native Longchamps. “We lock ourselves up there for five, six hours, or more, playing all the songs, jamming, having fun.”
They´ve been playing together since middle school, getting together after class to compose songs, picking up new members along the way. They began perfecting their instruments in order to fill spaces that the band was missing. Now in their mid-twenties, they are living their lives through their music. Their closeness glitters when they play. They naturally vibe off of one another, organically working each song, at rehearsal they spontaneously create a hook between songs without any intention to do so.
We tip-toed around taking photographs, trying hard not to disturb their focus. Working on songs is a difficult science, and so we took great care to act as spies, staying quiet while they tried to get through all their songs in only two hours of studio time.
They want to do better than their first record, and be popular, but not in any absolute or derogatory sense of the word. They want their music to be what a kid throws on to warm up the stereo, or a doctor after a long day of surgery. Transcend the stereotypes, communicate messages that are universal. Love, suffering, hope, excitement, boredom.
The songs have catchy harmonies, the melodic lines of the vocals and the bass fluctuate in the boundary between pop and rock, the same thin line between love and hate.
The drums have a very British sound, the drummer (the first to greet us, looks like a kid from Manchester), plays like a clock, precise, concentrated completely in his instrument. The keyboardist throws in bits of psychodelia, dropping strange noises, he´s the final ingredient to a band whose lyrics might depress you while you struggle to keep from dancing along.
The guitars are pure poetry, and I don´t say that because Zabala studied to teach language and literature, but because what comes out of the telecaster has a unique sensibility, the sensibility of a poet.
It´s a style of music that mixes English pop and “rock en Español” from the 80´s. You want to listen until you´ve learned the lyrics and can sing along with Ale. The lyrics are songs within themselves, they are written to really say something. A throwback to what we learned from rock in Buenos Aires during the 80s, an era full of synthesizers and psychedelics, when rock and pop were mixed in a way that only the fans could draw a line in the sand.
No one could compare those guys with anyone, because they didn´t really resemble anything, they were there to reclaim the scene (maybe beyond their own knowledge) opening the floodgates for new genres on a radio that until then were pretty exclusive. An attitude within the rock scene that has been left empty, until now.
Viva Elasticó will be playing next Friday, the 22nd of April at the legendary Tio Bizarro in Burzaco, Southern province of Buenos Aires. For more info, click here.