After sharing a stage with bands such as Queens of the Stone Age, overseas tours to Europe and the United States, and an impressive back catalogue of ten albums in just over ten years, it is no surprise that fans lamented the end of Argentine band Los Natas in February of this year.
Formed in Buenos Aires in 1994, the Los Natas trio consists of Walter Broide on drums and vocals, Sergio Chotsourian on guitar and vocals, and bassist Gonzalo “Crudo” Villagra.
Influenced by bands such as The Doors, the Who, Black Sabbath and Pink Floyd, their musical base undoubtedly lies in sounds from the 60s prog-rock years and the psychedelic music of the 70s. Their many different influences, some as far as Asian sounds, came together in their debut album ‘Delmar’, released in 1996.
And while it is often difficult to classify the band, perhaps the most common term used is “stoner rock”. Seen as a sub-genre of heavy metal, stoner rock features a much more bass-heavy sound.
The genre emerged during the late 90s, principally as a reaction against the mainstream. A number of bands worldwide, all with similar influences and sounds to Los Natas, formed an undercurrent in the music world. Bands would release CDs and vinyl, aiming to go against contemporary global trends and rules. Their ideals caught the attention of the music industry, with a greater emphasis being laid on the overall sound rather than focusing solely on musical composition.
Taking the concept directly to their live shows, the band’s concerts were known to be continually changing and constantly evolving. Los Natas found different and novel ways to play their own music. In an attempt to change the perceptions and expectations, the band focused strongly on the sound, challenging not only the senses of their audience, but also their own. The band has also been known to perform to psychedelic visuals, enhancing the idea of playing with senses. Over time, the visuals have become as celebrated as the band members themselves.
Over 12 years of existence, the band’s sound continued to grow and develop, along with new and different influences. Los Natas’ sound crosses boundaries into several other musical genres, including those as far in contrast as Argentine folk music. As such, their sound began to move away from the stoner rock genre, blurring the boundaries between different areas. In an attempt to define themselves, the band coined the term “free rock”, hinting at a more experimental sound.
After their first album, things really sped up for the band. Almost every year, they released a new album and toured in Latin America, Europe and the US, often headlining festivals closer to home.
Each album release suggested change and a certain new direction. In 2006 for example, with the release of ‘El Hombre Montaña’, the band’s sound became heavier and more energetic than their previous releases, while in 2007 the band released a double album with demos, covers, re-recording and guests, showing their progression between 1994 and 2007.
With different recordings, Los Natas travelled to various countries to record their music. Toba-Trance Volume 1 (a 60-minute album in 3 songs) and 2 were recorded in Finland in 2003-4, for instance, where the band found the reaction to psychedelic rock more open due to similar bands emerging from Germany. ‘El Nuevo Orden de la Libertad’, released in 2009, was recorded in the US, and the band also spent time in Italy and Germany.
Yet after 2009, a series of public disputes and controversies sparked rumours of a split. By 2011, Broide had come forward with a statement that pointed to the end of the group. Finally, Los Natas announced in February of this year that they would no longer be making music together.
In a press statement the band said that they would be, after 18 years, retiring from the world of music, for the “most important reasons: family life, and the mental and physical health of our members, Gonzalo, Walter and Sergio.”
After ten albums, a wealth of legendary live shows, and a series of parties hosted by the group in Buenos Aires, the band may be over but their legacy is not. Los Natas’ experimentation with their own sound has left a mark in Argentine national music; their influences stretching far and wide. The next time you listen to your favourite Argentine national rock band, don’t be surprised if Los Natas turns out to be one of their most important influences.
Genre: Stoner rock
Dates active: 1994-2012
In their own words: “It’s not only what you play, but also how you play it as well as your own interpretation of the sound.”
Most famous song: ‘Bolsero’
Best lyrics: “The darkness close to me today, / Your eyes are the sun, the lunar moon. / In your breathing I live in paradise, / I live in paradise.”
Famous for: Putting Argentine stoner-rock on the music world’s radar
Best to listen to: When you feel like any genre will go