Underground music restores faith in local rock
For the Herald
Legendary Argentine artist Miguel Cantilo on his comeback and the genre’s fate today
Miguel Cantilo is back. The legendary singer and songwriter was never really away, having done gigs and recorded live concerts in the past few years, but this time he comes with a surprise: Cantilo and none other than Jorge Durietz are bringing Pedro y Pablo back to life with brand new songs to be recorded this year. The album is set to have a very strong Latin American feel, and to sound, in essence, just like the Pedro y Pablo records that made them one of the most well-known bands in Argentine rock. Aside from that, he is also paying homage to Punch, his band from 1979 to 1982, in a series of concerts that will take place throughout October and November. Cantilo took some time to talk to the Herald about his career and this new burst of productivity.
Your upcoming concerts are a tribute of sorts to Punch. Why did you decide to do this now?
The idea of a concert focusing on Punch was brought to me by the Usina del Arte, and I thought it was interesting, especially because two albums recorded by that group were re-released a year ago. The recordings I’m doing with Jorge Durietz from our Pedro y Pablo duo are a completely different thing. They’re more like a musical adventure with our band.
What was it like to be recording in a studio with Durietz after so long?
It’s certainly a challenge to work with new material, since Jorge and I have worked on old material many times. In 2009, we re-produced our first LP, Yo vivo en esta ciudad again to celebrate the original recording’s 40th anniversary, and in 2015 we recreated material from Conesa and Contracrisis. We did all that live, but now it’s time for us to go back to the studio and record new material.
Has Pedro and Pablo’s way of composing and playing music changed over the years?
It’s important to bring about change, although I also think that we have to be faithful to our identity as a band, to our way of making music and singing it. This forces us to have one foot on change and the other on fidelity to our style, which is a very nice challenge. Essentially though, we’ll always be made up of two guitars and two voices that turn to what’s strictly necessary to enrich our duo.
What was it like to create Punch in Spain back in the day, after founding an Argentine rock band?
I was living in Colombia at the time, and I was called by Argentine rock band La Cofradía de la Flor Solar to work as a vocalist. Two years later, part of that group became Punch, and we used our experience in Argentine rock and moved it to Spanish territory. It was during the country’s return to democracy, after 40 years of Francoist dictatorship, which made it a very special experience. They had just started playing rock when we had been doing it for a decade. Spain’s proximity to England allowed us to play new material, a style that was later known as “new wave.”
What changes have you noticed on the Argentine rock scene in the past few years?
When you use the word “scene”, I can’t help but think of what the mass media talk about. In that sense, I think the mainstream music that people listen to is quite poor; it’s a repetition of a repetition. Not to mention the lyrics. However, I do believe that there’s very good underground production. I’m lucky enough to know what many new bands are doing, bands that don’t have and will never have the mass distribution of mainstream music, and I usually come across excellent new musicians. I’m privileged enough to have young people from all over the country approach me with their material and ask for my opinion, and I can assure you that that has made me believe in Argentine rock again. Of course, that cannot be considered part of the “scene”, unfortunately.
Pedro y Pablo is best known for its social protest lyrics. Do you think there are bands that still do that nowadays? Is it still necessary?
If lyrics were just about relationships or couples and their conflicts they would be very boring, which is why they always include something else like protest and personal thoughts. In any case, musicians need to understand that lyrics can’t be an accessory. After having had poets like Luis Alberto Spinetta and LitoNebbia, rock musicians today can’t just drain their songs of content and poetic beauty. I like the lyrics by Arbolito and Las Manos de Filippi, and I find the lyricism of Lisandro Aristimuño and Cecilia Zabala moving.
When and where
October 15 at 9pm at Usina del Arte (Cafarena 1 and Av. Pedro de Mendoza). Tickets are free of charge and can be picked up at the venue two hours before the show. More information on www.usinadelarte.org