No Te Va Gustar, Uruguay's Leading Rock Band, to Play Central Park

Courtesy Photo
No Te Va Gustar

NTVG frontman talks about the band’s acclaimed album 'El Tiempo Otra Vez Avanza' and making music to please themselves.

The nine-piece Uruguayan indie rock band No Te Va Gustar entered the year fresh off the cover of Rolling Stone Argentina and platinum sales in the Southern cone of their critically celebrated 2014 release El Tiempo Otra Vez Avanza, produced by Joe Blaney.

Known for the strength of their live shows, NTVG is set to play the Latin Alternative Music Conference’s concert at Central Park SummerStage on Saturday (July 11), performing on the same bill as Vicentico, the charismatic Fabulosos Cadillacs frontman who’s emerged as a sort of lat-alt Frank Sinatra, and Mexican introspective pop singer Ximena Sariñana.

NTVG’s appearance in New York City will celebrate the success of the 21-year-old band’s most recent album, which has brought them acclaim as one the best Latin Alternative groups. It will also surely be an emotional tribute to Marcel Curuchet, the group’s keyboardist, who died in a motorcycle accident on his way to the band’s scheduled (and subsequently canceled) gig at the LAMC in 2012. The tragedy has inspired much of NTVG’s music since then.

Billboard spoke to NTVG leader Emiliano Brancciari about El Tiempo Otra Vez Avanza, making music to please themselves, and the strength of their live shows.

El Tiempo Otra Vez Avanza was produced by Joe Blaney, known for his work with The Clash, who is also behind some of the great classic rock en español records. How was the experience different from the band’s other recording sessions?

Recording with Joe Blaney was a pleasure...we were all in accord during the making of the record, which has not always been the case in the past, when there had been a lot of debate among us about the songs. I think Joe had a lot to do with that. We were drawn to his work and his history, primarily with English-language rock artists, and also because he worked with Charly Garcia...At first it was like a dream. We just wrote to him to see what would happen, and he answered us. We met first in Uruguay, we invited him to see our studio and to eat asado; then he saw us play in New York, and we got to work.

After about 20 years playing together, El Tiempo Otra Vez Avanza marked a turning point as far as critical acclaim and sales of the album in Latin America. Was your goal in working with Joe to make a record that would appeal to new audiences?

We don’t know what our public wants, and even less what international audiences want. We wouldn’t know how to figure that out. We have to please ourselves. Obviously, the fact that we worked with Joe gave the album a more international sound, because he brought all of his experience to the recording. But it wasn’t that we wanted to do a more international record.

We like playing music that we like, and our taste is pretty international.  What we are always trying to do with our records is to make music that we identify with and that we like. We make the songs as strong as possible, and go wherever they take us.

Your previous album, El Calor del Pleno Invierno (2012), was shadowed by the death of Marcel Curuchet. What was the mood when you were making El tiempo Otra Vez Avanza?

We’re starting to do things with enthusiasm again...we’ve been able to process his death a little more. The title of the album, El Tiempo Otra Vez Avanza (Time Moves On Again), is very significant, because we are moving forward. It’s a moment in which we are united and everyone’s looking in the same direction. We’re feeling at the top of our game.

Why is it important to you that No Te Va Gustar remains an independent band?

The artistic side is the most important thing. If we feel like releasing a record because we’ve written a lot of new songs, or whatever reason we feel like, that’s the way it’s got to be. We finance our own records. We associate ourselves with different companies, like Pop Art in Argentina, but always maintaining artistic control.

For our second album, in 2002, we signed with Warner Chile. That was supposedly going to open a lot of doors for us, and that didn’t happen, and we lost control. We realized then that our best option was to be independent.

You are known for the excitement of your live shows. What can people expect at LAMC and during your other U.S. tour dates [in Los Angeles and Miami]?

Performing and recording are two different worlds. We like making albums, but ultimately when we’re playing live the songs take on a new dimension, and they get better. Everywhere we go to play, the word spreads that it’s a great show and we get a good turnout. Lately we’ve been able to go all over Latin America and play for diverse audiences. It’s what we’ve been wanting to do all this time that we’ve been a band, and it’s happening now.