One of the fun things about music journalism is the research work; digging around to find new sounds to talk about. So, here I am introducing you a new band from Chile: This Co.
The line-up of This Co. began to coalesce in Santiago in 2006 when guitar player and singer Jorge Christie began to write the start of what was to eventually become the band’s debut album. Whilst studying architecture he met Nicolas Rebolledo (guitar player, keyboard player and singer), and together they formed a band named “Macanudo” (an oldish word meaning ‘great guy’, but having so many other meanings as to warrant it’s own story) and began to play live around the bars in Santiago. In 2007 they were joined by Carlos Vergara (bass), a medic who had previously played in the bands Crack and Federacion de Boxeo. With the addition of Vergara they became This Co., and continued to fit playing gigs in Santiago around regular work commitments. They released their eponymous album this year, they filmed their first video, and they are receiving increased coverage in the Chilean and the Latin American press; they are conquering their space from the bottom of the world.
Listen to Crack’s track “Chika” [audio:Crack_Chika.mp3]
Then, the band were these three guys… aha.. aren’t we missing the drummer? Well, this is the thing about how I crashed on This Co., their bass is cool and their concept is cool, too. I was saying, the bass is cool, of course, but as much as the fake drums coming from keyboards can get some respect, the way to sustain this on live performances – what they have been doing for the past two years – is with a strong bass, a very loud one, without too much ego to break the songs but to keep them where they all want to be. The guitars are fun, and the songs are sang in an uneasy-to-identify English accent; sometimes not even clear enough to understand what are they saying, actually (as English speaker friends told me). Jorge’s voice is sweet and at times has a drowned quality, like he is fighting for air.
Recently, a drummer was added to the band; they are changing. So when I asked Carlos if the initially non-existent drummer was a creative concept or a situation created by a lack of drummers, he said it was a creative concept: “as a matter of fact I think we are a techno band, like Depeche Mode, but playing live is different; when we perform live we know that we have to be heavier, stronger, partier and more complete, so we decided to include a drummer now”. Yes, from now on they will develop their music with a drummer. The interesting thing about this is that it seems the evolution of This Co. comes from the darker corners of the rock going to the lighter in a very particular way: through the bass sounds. We’ll have to wait until later to see the result of adding a drummer.
Listen to Federacion de Boxeo’s track “TNT” [audio:FederaciondeBoxeo_TNT.mp3]
The band has an English-influenced dark rock sound, somewhere between Joy Division and The Cure. Their music style might be characterised as something like dance punk (isn’t that new wave?), but classifications in music are risky, of course. We all know it, and Carlos Vergara thinks instead of classifications we should talk about influences. He prefers to think of music as connected by a series of ‘similar to’ links, such as you might find tagged to albums on allmusic.com.
When talking about the relationship between Latin Rock and western rock from the U.S.A. and Europe, Carlos explained: “I think that Latin rock is shit. I just can hardly dance (to) a Latin rock song. I can count with the fingers of one hand the Latin songs I like. Don’t forget that we are talking about Latin rock, because there are a lot of South American bands that make really great music. Being from South America has nothing to do with making Latin rock. Now, to answer specifically your question; I think that the USA and England are still the most influential countries and because we are always a step behind it will be very difficult to create a new identity. But we are always trying to show our point of view and innovate. Perhaps now it’s going to be easier, because we listen to non-US or British music more than ever, just think about Datarock or Cut Copy.”
Listen to This Co.’s remix of “Drying” by Garbo” [audio:ThisCo_Drying_GARBOremix.mp3]
The eight songs on the album come from a band that could be from many different places in the world; but they are from Chile, and once you know that it doesn’t make them any more Latin than before (you have to believe me on this one). The album was released digitally on their website, you can download it here. The sound of This Co. is catchy even when it goes down, (that was funny to write), the rhythm is on all over the eight tracks, you want to play the raw-sounding riffs with them from the very first minute, and if you don’t know you even may ask who’s that drummer? The fourth track, “Drying”, has Joy Division’s ghost meeting The Cure: the saturation is rough and soft, Nico’s keyboards are rough breakin’ on the ground and the rhythm is still alive underground (these sentences! Really!? I am really surprised on how lightly they come out when talking heavy music is the thing). The fifth track is called “Bass”: need I mention anything beside the name? … I didn’t think so. The album is complete. The girl on the cover of the album with dark blood flowing from her ear embodies the pain of hearing music, the overuse of the ears until they bleed like eyes failing after hours of reading. Exploiting female ears in sepia. I like when music meets graphic art.
The creative process is happening guided in This Co, the songs in English, the evolution from no drummer and two guitars plus bass, to a classically equipped well formed rock band. The press and people of Chile are analyzing them and learning how to judge their ‘shameless’ move of singing in English; yes, they have been asked (and criticized) about it more than once. This Co. point to the fact that many European rock bands sing in English: ‘what’s the big deal?’, they ask. There is no clear answer yet (the masses don’t usually respond by e-mail), but while the masses decide, they keep on going on with the music.
On being indie in South America, Carlos says: “What you have to do to survive as a Chilean indie rock band, is making good songs, good friends and not listening to people that think that you are not going to make it. Everybody can make it. Express yourself, call your friends to paint, write or make videos. Making a “scene” is just making a good memory of your life.” Being indie anywhere is a rocky path, that is the sound of the indie bands, and the chance to make it is as dependent on their ability to court success as it is on the evolution of their music. This Co. have done very well during the first stages, but now they are going for more, and from Chile they are beginning to head North. Now, let’s see what we think about it.