Pez is an old hat on the Argentine rock scene; they’ve been there and seen it all before, but they’re still playing almost 20 years later.
The band formed in 1993 when Ariel Minimal, a seasoned player in the Argentine counter-culture scene, joined up with Alejandro Alez and Pablo Barbieri, musicians he had played with at the end of the 80s. It started off as “hard experimental rock”, and in 1994 they began to make themselves known on the Buenos Aires scene. In October of the same year they released their first album, ‘Cabeza’.
Since then the band has used a revolving-door policy – new musicians have come and gone, and the band has fluctuated between the original trio and a five piece, adding instruments and dabbling in different genres.
These days the band is a quartet comprised of Minimal (the only original member left) on vocals and guitar, Gustavo Fósforo Garcia on bass guitar, Franco Salvador on drums and percussion and Leopoldo Pepo Limeres playing keyboard and organ.
As it is constantly changing, it’s rather difficult to put your finger on what the band’s sound is and, well, that seems to be just the way they like it.
From their experimental rock origins, they have tried some tango influences, adopted punk sounds and even given psychedelic rock a whirl; they don’t like to stand still.
“Over this long period of time we’ve shown that Pez is much more than just the sound of one album, our history has been forged over the course of all our albums,” Minimal explained to the music blog Rebvelados.
He goes on to say that, while AC/DC know exactly who they are and what they want to play “we don’t, so we’re always trying out new things.”
One thing you could say however, is that their music is unmistakably Argentine –part of the rock nacional scene – and Minimal’s lead vocals do provide a musical anchor in their eclectic back catalogue.
Minimal cites Frank Zappa and the recently deceased Argentine musician Luis Alberto Spinetta as two major musical influences, while his guitar hero is Queen’s Brian May. His vocals have a strained quality that won’t necessarily appeal to everybody but do fill the songs with the sort of energy and emotion you’d expect from such a music fanatic (he has been playing the guitar since he was nine).
Having released 12 studio albums over the course of 19 years, the band has a prolific work rate and pride themselves on having done it all independently, without the meddling influence of big record companies.
From the very beginning the band set up their own label, Azione Artigianale, which they used to edit and release their own music. Then, due to the popularity of the band, other musicians started recording with them too and Azione Artigianale became a music label with a twist. “It has no president or executives; no art director and no boss. It works as a surreal cooperative where every artist works to keep his own project alive,” the band said of their project. The ethos fits perfectly with a group that has organically evolved over time, embracing each new period in their history as long as they continue to enjoy the music.
“We honestly don’t know what it would have been like if we had worked with a big company, but this is the way we like doing it,” the band told Montevideo Magazine. “It’s always been like that, only working on what we like doing.”
As long as they keep thrilling crowds in Argentina, it looks like they’ll keep doing what they love for a while longer.
Genre: Rock nacional
Dates active: 1993–present
Famous for: Making the Buenos Aires underground rock scene popular across the country
In their own words: “We just like playing music”
Most famous song: ‘Para las Almas Sensibles’
Best lyric: “Our wasted bodies fall in love on the fields of the unconscious”
Best to listen to: When you wake up with long hair and leather trousers and have toast and mate for breakfast.