- The Uruguayan group returns to Venezuela to perform at the Cúsica Fest. This year they released their album plate eleven | Main photo: Jerónimo López
The conversation with Roberto Musso is delayed for a few minutes. It was at 2:00 pm, via Zoom, but the singer of El Cuarteto de Nos asked for a little more time. Uruguay is about to be eliminated from the Qatar 2022 World Cup despite having beaten the Ghana team 2-0.
Once the German referee Daniel Siebert whistled the end of the game, Celeste’s aspirations to advance in the competition, in which Uruguay had a dream participation in 2010, faded.
“I walk with mixed emotions. It was a match in which Uruguay played well, but we were eliminated due to the mistakes of the previous matches. But yeah. Here you live very intensely. It’s just football, no more. When you take stock, Uruguay did not deserve to qualify, especially because of how poorly they played against South Korea and Portugal”, says the musician, who at the time was supporting Argentina or Brazil, beyond regional rivalries.
He says that they were very happy when they had the opportunity to return to Venezuela. “We remember the first times we went there between 2009 and 2010. They were our first forays into the north of the continent. We always saw Venezuela as a place where we had a lot of fans who knew the songs on the album in a barbarous way Rare Y Bipolar, at that time. I remember the concert at the Sambil Amphitheatre, with a lot of people who knew all the songs as if they had known us for a long time. Then our visits were cut short. It’s been more than 10 years that we haven’t been going. I hope that this reunion serves to go more frequently”, indicates the vocalist of El Cuarteto de Nos, a group that will perform on Saturday, December 17 at the Simón Bolívar University, where the second edition of the Cúsica Festwho arrives with a newly released album: plate eleven.
For this new album they made a podcast called The sheet that is notin which each chapter is an interview with a character related to the subject that is sung on the album.
—A year ago, he not only told me how in that concert, from the first chords, people sang his songs, but also how the Venezuelans in Montevideo came up and remembered that concert.
—The number of Venezuelans, especially in Montevideo, is a lot. I can’t stop meeting people in any circumstance, when I go to eat something out there. They tell me that they saw us in Caracas, Barquisimeto or Valencia. There are many memories of those shows. One values and measures the number of people who were at the time. When you look at it from a statistical point of view, it is very difficult to find someone who was there at that time and now you can find them on any street in Montevideo.
—What do you consider to be the strength of the concerts of El Cuarteto de Nos?
-Look! I think that the energetic part of a concert of ours that in 1 hour and 45 minutes more or less never decays. As much as the rock songs are, the most hip hop, ballads, pop or fusion with various genres, the energy does not drop at any time. People, like in that show in Caracas, live it intensely from the first chord. Throughout the Latin American tour, people live the experience intensely from the first chord, chanting all the songs, especially the young people who have connected with the lyrics of the new songs. I think we talked about it in the other round, the number of young people who go to the shows. More than 80% are under 20 years of age. Is awesome.
—As they say here, they come with a new album under their arms, an introspective and quite reflective album. From the first song, there are statements about how everything is discussed and nothing is argued, the magnet in the compass, writing in capital letters, the fragile empire. There is a process of observing these times
-Yes Yes. They are songs composed during the pandemic. There are issues that had already been dealt with by the Quartet before, but that everything about the pandemic made it explode in our faces as a society and humanity. We were very interested in trying to portray from the lyric in this type of songs. In songs like the one you say, “Flan”, “Scapegoat” or “Fiesta en lo del Dr. Hermes” the theme of the eternal struggle for power continues. They talk about universal issues and I think that’s where the connection lies. In addition, they are surrounded by very powerful music. A few months ago we played them for the Latin American tour and they have an almost classic place.
—They have escaped, as they say in “Maldito show” from that instant glory. The Quartet of Nos has endured. What elements have allowed them to continue in force?
—There are several parameters that influence the equation. None of us like to live on memories. For this reason, it is essential to refresh the set list live, have songs that are seen as fresh. Being very in touch with the musical genres that are coming out. Not to be tied to fundamentalist themes, but to use rock to promote that fusion. That makes the music very interesting. Young people have lost the taboo, that of classifying themselves in a ghetto of a certain genre. That has helped to have a very open-minded public. Young people realize that we are a band of flesh and blood, not a grouping of streaming and social networks, but we live playing not only in big venues, but also in small cities, with smaller capacity. That is highly valued.
—In plate eleven there is an important link with Venezuela. They worked with Héctor Castillo on the production, and on some songs also with Andy Daze.
-Of course! There is a super close professional and personal relationship with Héctor since we worked with him on some songs from Thursday. He is a person who knows a lot, especially how to get the most out of rock arrangements. He has a lot of wood. There is an interesting dialogue. He knows how to get that indie rock sound that we love. In the recording that was last year, during all this issue of the pandemic and the problems to travel, he defied swabs and other restrictions to travel to Uruguay. We were here 15 days.
—It is the shortest album of his career. It’s almost 33 minutes
—I had not measured the minutes, but it is short. It is very dense too. It’s 33 minutes that fly by. There is a question that has happened to us: we always try to make very even records. We have never liked putting filler songs. We’ve also always had the experience that even though we make albums with more than 10 songs, we end up playing about 6 or 8. Given such a long repertoire, there’s not room for all the songs we might like. In the Show live you have to strike a balance between people who go for the first time and those who want to hear the above.
—Have you had the opportunity to listen to some of the groups that will be at the Cúsica Fest?
—I haven’t seen how the grid is yet. I’m going to start doing some research these days.
—I imagine that behind the scenes there will be a chance to shake some hands
-Always. At festivals that is great because you can find yourself in the behind the scenes with a lot of people you admire and with whom you would like to have a chat, or with those you didn’t even think you knew or even imagined liked El Cuarteto de Nos.
—What happened to the character in “I don’t know what to do with myself anymore? Are you still searching?
—Keep looking, just as the one who goes to Damian’s house keeps looking for Damian’s house. Not much has changed. (laughs). Poor people, you heard! They’re still the same, luckily. They continue with goals in life. The worst that can happen to them is that their goals fall and they stop enjoying the road.
—There is a phrase from the new album that seems very beautiful to me: happiness does not leave a scar. Why?
—In the song “Flan” he says that there is no scale or rule that measures pain and he concludes that only the pig knows how much the ham is worth. One always has in mind the scars of what he had to live, both physically and emotionally. The metaphor has to do with it.
—Where do you see the witness in the future of rock in Spanish?
—If we consider ourselves as ambassadors, let’s say, of Uruguayan and Latin American rock, I find the essence and attitude of the instrumentation attractive. When we started playing as teenagers, our mirrors were the Rolling Stones, the Beatles, Deep Purple, Led Zeppelin, all those emblematic groups. However, we never wanted to pigeonhole ourselves in fundamentalism that doesn’t accept other genres, as I said before. I much prefer an attitude or a lithic with a certain rock attitude than a guitar with distortion that perhaps doesn’t say anything more than a parody of a genre. We take care of that. when in our shows people are dancing on these amazing pogo sticks, that speaks volumes about the rock attitude of the band.
—Since the conversation began, the painting behind him has caught my attention…
—It is part of the album artwork zombie apocalypse. It was a file for each song. So, for a press presentation of the album, I think that, in Buenos Aires, we did some gigantographies. Then, instead of throwing them away, we keep those sheets and distribute them to each other.
—What is music?
-That’s life. (laughs). A way to enjoy life. Being on stage is a magical adrenaline rush that is indescribable to be able to transfer to other people.
El Cuarteto de Nos, the band that moves away from the parody of rock