jueves, 2 de abril de 2009

The Ganjas

The Ganjas

The air is stiflingly hot on calle Suecia, the drag in the Santiago, Chile where one finds club after club of obnoxiously generic house music, girls wrapped in tasteless bait-ware, and over-gelled guys in their finest after-office apparel with their noses to the wind like wolves.

Obstinately planted in the epicenter of this mayhem is Mist, a saloon style bar complete with swinging double doors and wood paneling, owned by Aldo Benincasa, drummer of one of the best contemporary bands in Chile, a post-grunge stoner rock combo called The Ganjas.

Since the opening of Mist three years ago, the place has become both a hangout for underground musicians as well as a beacon of the independent Chilean music scene, with the Ganjas headlining shows on a monthly basis to regularly sold-out crowds.

The Ganjas were formed in 2000 by Samuel Maquieira (guitar and vocals), Rafael Astaburuaga (bass), and Benincasa, with a second guitarist (Pablo Giadach) joining two years ago. The four hail from disparate Chilean backgrounds: Maquieira is the son of a famous Chilean poet; Astaburuaga is a mycologist (his mushrooms are known all throughout Chile); Giadach is a sound engineer; Benincasa is a photographer. And yet their ability to work together as musicians has led to an impressive output: the release of an early EP, a split with the now defunct Argentine band The Jacqueline Trash, and 4 highly acclaimed LPs, with another one on the way in mid-April.

During a normal night at Mist, Benincasa can be found relating Ganjas tour anecdotes about buying marijuana for Mike Mills of R.E.M, touring with a never-ending hangover throughout Brazil with Helmet, or barhopping with Juanse of Los Ratones Paranoicos.

Musically, the band wears many different masks, all of them stamped with the distinct Ganja seal: from Mogwai’s shoegazing slowcore to Black Sabbath’s bleak heaviness; from Lee Perry’s jungle of dub to Sunn O)))’s voluminous noise waves.

Within the space of a few bars, a song will change from a heavy, spaced-out reggae groove to an over-the-top Comets on Fire-esque explosion of noise, and it is not atypical for a ten song Ganjas set to last close to two hours. This is a band conscious of their style, which although varied, is always recognizable as singular.

“We’re basically a rock band, that lives like any rock band, because for the music to sound right, to be the kind of rock we want to play, we have to translate what makes us human into music,” comments Maquieira. “It’s what comes out when we plug in. It’s who we are.”

On Saturday they arrive in Argentina for two shows as part of the Cordillera on Fire tour, smoke in tow.



The Ganjas w/ Los Palos Borrachos, Utopians
Saturday, April 4th, Makena – Fitzroy 1519
Midnight – 15 pesos

The Ganjas w/ Humo del Cairo, The Baseball Furies
Sunday, April 5th , Centro Cultural Zaguan del Sur – Moreno 2320
8pm – 15 pesos

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