RoK Gi Yeon @ the Studio w/Adictos Al Bidet | Peruvian Indie Rock
Welcome to the first edition of RoK Gi Yeon at the Studio!
Before leaving Peru, we took stock of all of the talent we had seen in and around Barranco, the music center of Lima. The more you travel the globe, the more you realize when you leave somewhere, sometimes that's your last chance to see it. So, we took this opportunity to sit down with as many of the bands as we could before we left to help share the music, laughter and passion of Lima's indie scene.
First up, we bring you ska-punk rockstars, Adictos Al Bidet (yes, "addicted to bidets")! Before diving in, here's what you need to know about Adictos: When I first saw them at Fuga downtown (see Gig Week s1e2), I was immediately struck by their energy and the, well, addictiveness of their songs. Ernesto, aka Mono, drums with such fire and joy, it might explain why they call him Monkey. Hernando, Nando, plays lightning-quick riffs with a smile, showing pure love of the music. At the center, Alvaro, "the tall one", captures the crowd with powerful vocals and a slap-happy bass. That's Adictos in a nutshell. We had the pleasure of sitting in on a practice session at their studio and then, after the best private concert I've ever been to, we chatted with them for close to an hour about all their music, the Lima scene, South American music, their friendship and more. Enjoy getting to know Adictos Al Bidet, as we did, and then, you can check out the highlights in video at the end!
If you have a little knowledge of Spanish, you will learn that Adictos Al Bidet is a 3-piece ska-punk band out of the Surco district in Lima, Peru. They are, in fact, addicted to bidets and would love to be wedding singers or even play bat mitzvahs. This was inspired by their upcoming single, "#TBT," which has a tropical wedding feel and was even played at a wedding Alvaro attended. You may also see that Mono plays drums, "does memes," and, as Nando told us, "...He studies something, but who knows. [He does] memes and drums." Nando, now guitar and backing vocals, has always wanted to be a bassist, but alas, it is not yet meant to be. Mono and Nando have known each other since childhood, although they re-met in university, and Mono met Alvaro at their high school prom, where they immediately connected. Though they were friends for a long time, the progression into their current band went through a few bands and genre shifts from punk to emo to reggae to ska until the final form we know today took shape in 2006.
When it comes to guilty pleasures, Mono is a fan of a surprising amount of pop and emo music, and you may be surprised at some of the artists he mentions. One of Alvaro's first CDs was a famous girl group of the 90's. For Nando though, it's all about binging on an interesting combination of vices over and over again for hours every day. And perhaps the most surprising bit of info we've picked up is that two of the band member are related in an unlikely way ;). Check out the video at the end to get the all the details!
The market in Peru for indie bands is incredibly challenging. In fact, rock fans only make up 5% of the country's population, and within that, ska-punk like Adictos is but a small niche market. Not only that, but there is very little organization in the Lima scene, which we noticed as we struggled to find concerts worth going to through the usual channels of social media and posters at the clubs. Despite the lack of infrastructure and money, the guys clearly enjoy making music and playing gigs, so much so that they push through all of the hardships and maintain other jobs to make a living. The reality of indie music is not much different here in Peru, if you're doing well, maybe you'll make a couple hundred bucks for playing a gig, but that is the payment for months of practice, creation, artistry and more, and really, what can you do with that? They call it one night's work, but that isn't the truth. The truth is, it's a lifetime of work that culminates on a Saturday night and amounts to enough for maybe a trip to the grocery store. Music is work. Remarkably underpaid work.
That being said, Mono let us know that there are ways to be successful in the scene, but it requires wearing many hats, from band member to producer to manager, to make a living. And, change is coming, as now there are new roles growing throughout the scene. One example of this surrounds the massively growing Mundaka (who we also met with). Their manager, Maka Penny, is helping Mundaka "[show] the way" to PR success with their team of roadies, photographers, marketers and more. So it seems that in the coming years, being in an indie rock band in Peru may become an avenue to financial freedom aside from just being fun.
Their songwriting is a collaboration in all the senses. Each member adds their thoughts together when they dig into songwriting, and for their latest album (coming out after the World Cup is finished), they brought in a friend and more or less fourth member to help with songwriting. They also have a producer helping to put together this latest album, which promises to be an amazing piece of art that you should be sure to grab the moment it's released.
By now, you are hopefully wondering what you should listen to from these guys. The bands personal recommendation is that you start with these two: #TBT and Ni Que Fueras Mi Mama. #TBT is not at all their general style, but it is a wonderfully approachable song that has opened up their fan base enormously and is sure to be globally popular once the album is released. The second recommended starter track, Ni Que Fueras Mi Mama, is well-known, not just because it's an excellent track, but also because the YouTube video features a trio of women acting as the band and had all the "assholes" hoping to see more of these women, though the band says they were likely disappointed after coming to their first Adictos show and seeing three guys on stage 😝
Close to our heart, this conversation led us to ideas on equality and society and I was very struck by Nando's thoughts on the irony and sarcasm of the band, as he explained that the band doesn't judge; on genders or anything else. They emphasized how they just play music. The style doesn't matter; they just enjoy the shit out of music. This was our beautiful takeaway.
Enjoy the video below (with subtitles), and check out all of their music on Bandcamp, and if you find out they're playing near you, go...cancel your plans, don't debate, just go! And as Mono says, "Don't expect anything. It's a jackpot." And no matter what you experience, you, and the band, will leave happy.