The Ganjas

By Matthew Owens

So, we all know that the Wigan garage band, The Verve as a unit are over…or… are…they? Err…well yes they are. But you could be mistaken for thinking that they have been reincarnated… in Chilean form! The Ganjas, hailing from Santiago, are a Chilean band partaking in much shoe-gazing and ‘dropped d’ guitar tuning, belting out delicious sonic assaults from across the oceans. The sound is definitely eclectic but at the core is a driving rhythm that is more than just a little reminiscent of the northern English psychdelic movement of the 1990s. The original line-up included Aldo Benincas (drums), Samuel Maquieira (guitar/vocals), Rafael Astaburuaga (bass/vocals).

They have many influences (see below) outside of northen England and to be fair have their own exciting and unique sound yet, perhaps because they tend to write and perform in English and grew up listening to many English bands, you can almost imagine that they grew up in Manchester rather than Santiago. Not so strange then that Andy Bell (of Oasis and Beady Eye fame) raved about them when he caught them on MTV while touring in South America.  With several releases under their belt The Ganjas are set to roar out of South America with a possible European tour pencilled in for 2012. Watch this space…

So turn the volume up to 11 and enjoy the killer Sonic Redemption from their third album “Day break”, the ever so funky This is the Time, the Chilean ballard Pelusón as well as the melancholic anthem Dark Side. And of course we couldn’t miss out Smoke Chain from the current album Resistance.

We talked to Aldo Benincas about the band, life, influences and the music. You can purchase most of the The Ganjas’ music at Portaldisc at pretty good prices (we have successfully purchased music here). Catch up with The Ganjas on Facebook or myspace and follow them on Twitter. You can comment at the bottom of the page, maybe they will answer a few questions, who knows! Would you go and see them if they come this way? We know we will.

The Ganjas Interview

The Ganjas live.

Chileno: So what have you been up to this month?
Qué han estado haciendo este mes en particular?

Aldo: We have been resting a little and dedicating our time to alternative projects to The Ganjas, there are 4 bands directly related to one or more of The Ganjas’s musicians: Casino, Yajaira, The Verions, Trancemission. Also, we are planning to re-edit our first vinyl album and launch our first single coming in vinyl as well.
Descansando un poco y dedicándonos a proyectos alternos a The Ganjas, hay 4 bandas directamente relacionadas con uno o más músicos de The Ganjas: Casino, Yajaira, The Versions, Trancemission. También planeando reeditar nuestros primeros discos en vinilo y sacar el nuevo single también en vinil.

Chileno: We believe it’s festival season now in Chile, are you going to any?
Creemos que es tiempo de festival veraniego en Chile ahora, han asistido a alguno?

Aldo:
To be honest there is a big one, Lollapalooza, we were there in 2011, so we can’t be there again, we will be holding shows in Santiago and in the country’s regions.
La verdad se hace uno muy grande, Lollapalooza, pero estuvimos en la version 2011, asi que no podemos repetirnos, haremos sí shows en Santiago y regiones del país.

Chileno: Can you tell us a bit about your beginnings, how did you start as a band?
Cuéntanos acerca de sus comienzos, cuando empezaron como una banda?

Aldo: We started at the end of 1999, rehearsing only for ourselves, without any pretentions, we did it for 2 years until somebody “forced us” to play live, we never thought that our music would be liked, let alone that we would play for such a long time, travelling and editing albums.
Partimos a finales de 1999, ensayando sólo para nosotros, sin pretención alguna, lo hicimos durante dos años hasta que alguien “nos obligó” a debutar en vivo, nunca pensamos que nuestra música gustaría ni mucho menos que tocaríamos por tanto tiempo, viajar y editar discos.

Chileno: Your sound is reminiscent of some Northern English bands, like The Verve, The Charlatans etc., has English psychedelia, or ‘shoe-gazing’ been a particular influence? What are your other main influences?
Tu música me recuerda a algunas bandas Inglesas del norte como The Verve, The Charlatans, etc.  Ha sido la música inglesa sicodélica “shoe-gazing” de alguna influencia?  Cuáles han sido tus otras influencias?

Aldo: We are all music lovers, and have been fans since we were very young, we have always collected vinyl, we like all sorts from Fleetwood Mac to Black Sabbath, we love reggae and dub, post punk like Fugazi, power pop like Big star, rock and roll like Johnny Thunders. From England, the list is never ending… we love all type of music, I think that it is noticeable because we do not have a defined style.
Todos somos melomanos, fanáticos de la música desde muy niños, todos coleccionamos vinilos desde siempre, nos gusta desde Fleetwood Mac hasta Black Sabbath, nos encanta el reggae y el dub, el post punk como Fugazi, power pop como Big star, rock and roll tipo Johnny Thunders, de Inglaterra la lista es interminable…nos gusta todo tipo de música, creo que se nota porque no tenemos un estilo definido.

Chileno: We notice a lot of blues influences in the music, are you guys particular fans of people like Hendrix for example?
Hemos notado muchas influencias de los “blues” en su música, son Uds. fan de gente como Hendrix por ejemplo?

Aldo: Very much, we all have the complete collection at home.
Muchísimo, todos tenemos la discografía completa en casa.

Chileno: Obviously we have an interest in Chilean music, are there other Chilean bands that you think we should also check out?
Nostros tenemos un interés en la música Chilena, existen algunas otras bandas que Uds crean sería oportuno contactar?

Aldo: As I said earlier, Casino, a great band and sound, Yajaira, which is a bit heavier, The Versions, who are more folky, Chicos de Nazca, Hell Gang, Föllakzoid, Cindy Sisters, Intimate stranger, very good bands.
Como te decía antes: Casino, increíble banda y sonido, Yajaira, que es más pesado, The Versions que somos más folk, Chicos de Nazca, Hell Gang, Föllakzoid, Cindy Sisters, Intimate stranger, muy buena banda.

Chileno: You have said to us earlier that Andy Bell from Oasis and Beady Eye loved your music. What was it like to hear that?
Nos habían mencionado antes que Andy Bell de Oasis y Beady Eye les encantó su música. Como  se sintieron al escuchar eso?

Aldo: I’m not sure really, we took it as always, from the perspective that we are all dedicated musicians and music fans, like us, he also has passion for music… it was beautiful to know that… and that it took nearly 4 years for us to meet each other.
No sé bien, lo tomamos como siempre, como que todos somos músicos dedicados y fanáticos de la música, que como nosotros el también tiene gustos y se apasiona con la música… fue lindo saber eso…y que demoráramos casi 4 años en conocernos.

Chileno: And you played with Beady Eye recently, is that right? Can you tell us how that happened and what the experience was like?
Y Uds. tocaron junto a Beady Eye recientemente, es correcto? Nos podrían decir cómo sucedió y qué tal fue la experiencia?

Aldo: It was something natural, there was a rumour in Chile that Andy knew us and there was this video that was circulating with his reaction a couple of years ago when a journalist gave him our album. We played together, it was great, he came down and gave us a warm welcome when we got to the soundcheck, they watched our whole show and later we got together in his dressing room for hours, until the place was shut and there was nothing left to clear, they thought we were the supporting band for the whole South American tour and they felt really sad when realising that we weren’t. We had lots of things in common, and we listen to the same music. I remember that we exchanged pictures of our children! I’ve got two, same as Gem and Andy, also they are football fans… we talked a lot.
Fue algo natural, en Chile algo sabían de que Andy nos conocía y estaba ese video circulando con su reacción un par de años atrás cuando un periodista le entregó nuestro disco. Tocamos juntos, fue buenísimo, el bajó a recibirnos con un cariñoso “welcome” cuando llegamos al soundcheck, vieron nuestro show completo y después más tarde nos reunimos en su camarín por horas, hasta que cerraron el lugar y no quedaba nada que desmontar, ellos creían que éramos la banda soporte de toda la gira sudamericana y se pusieron tristes al darse cuenta que no era así.Teníamos muchos puntos en común y escuchábamos la misma música, recuerdo que intercambiamos las fotografías de nuestros hijos!, yo tengo dos, al igual que Gem y Andy, también fans del fútbol…hablamos muchísimo.

Chileno: Your latest Album Resistance is awesome. Tell us about it.
Vuestro último album Resistance es fenomenal.  Cuéntanos un poco acerca de éste.

Aldo: Ok, basically Jack Endino [who Produced Nirvana’s platinum-selling Bleach] produced it in Chile, he came over from Seattle because he loved the band and the material, we completed it in 12 days, it was magical, I can’t tell you much more because the record speaks for itself… and the name of Jack Endino as well, that obviously he became a very close friend.
Bueno, básicamente lo produjo Jack Endino en Chile, viajó desde Seattle porque se encantó con la banda y el material, lo hicimos completo en 12 días, fue mágico, no puedo decir mucho más porque el disco habla solo…y el nombre de Jack Endino también, que obviamente se transformó en un  amigo cercano.

Chileno: The title track reminds us a bit of The Smashing Pumpkins, is that fair?
La canción Resistance me recuerda un poco a los Smashing Pumpkins, es correcto?

Aldo: Well, we are all fans of Gish and Siamese Dream… some of these influences emerge without us realising it.
Bueno, somos todos fanáticos del Gish y Siamese Dream..algo de las influencias aparecen sin que nos demos cuenta.

Chileno: We’re quite fond of Smoke Chain and Swim Back, do you have a favourite to play?
Me gusta Smoke Chain and Swim Back, Uds tienen una favorita para tocar?

Aldo: We play Smoke Chain a lot, not so much Swim Back though, but once in a while it pops up, we have played the album regularly.
Smoke Chain la tocamos bastante, no asi Swimback, pero de vez en cuando aparece, hemos tocado el disco regularmente.

Chileno: The band sings in Spanish but a lot of your lyrics (the entire Resistance Album) are in English. Which do you prefer and what are the advantages and drawbacks of both?
La banda canta en español pero la mayoría de tus canciones (todo el album Resistance) están en inglés.  Cuál idioma prefieren y cuáles son las ventajas y desventajas de ambas?

Aldo:
The English flows easily, it’s the music that we grew up listening to, we don’t see any drawback, it comes out naturally and we don’t think about it much.
El inglés fluye fácilmente, es la música que crecimos escuchando, no vemos desventajas, es lo que sale natural y no lo pensamos mucho.

Chileno: What’s the funniest night you’ve had out with the band?
Cual ha sido la noche mas divertida que han disfrutado como banda?

Aldo: Oh my God! It’s very difficult to think about that… loads of times come into my mind… we have played together for more than 12 years and we surely must be the rock band with the most shows played in Chile… we play everywhere… we are a very happy band in general… I cannot answer this question, an avalanche of memories comes to me…
Dios mío! Es muy dificil pensar en eso…se me vienen demasiados momentos…hemos tocado más de 12 años juntos y seguramente debemos ser la banda de rock con más shows en el cuerpo en Chile… tocamos en todos lados… somos una banda muy alegre en general… no puedo contestar esta pregunta, se me viene una avalancha de recuerdos….

Chileno: What’s the most ‘rock’ thing you’ve done?

At the bar.

 

Cuál ha sido lo acción más rockera que han hecho?

Aldo:
Ha ha, I’m not sure… maybe some airplanes have been witnesses to “rock actions” in Argentina, last year it  was very “rock” when we got to the airport.
Jaja, no lo sé bien…quizás algunos aviones han sido testigos de “acciones rockeras”, en Argentina el año pasado fue muy “rockero” cuando llegamos al aeropuerto.

Chileno: Have you toured around the world and what has been your best experience so far?
Se han ido de tour alrededor del mundo? y cuál ha sido su mejor experiencia hasta el momento?

Aldo: Colombia was incredible and so was Brazil together with The Vaselines and Helment, SXSW in 2010 too, Argentina has always been good, Uruguay beautiful…
Colombia fue increíble, Brasil también, junto a The Vaselines y Helmet, SXSW en 2010 también, Argentina siempre es bueno, Uruguay hermoso….

Chileno: It would be great to see you in England or Europe, are there any plans?
Sería grandioso verlos aqui en Inglaterra o Europa, tienen algunos planes?

Aldo: We would like to go this year 2012 whatever it takes.
Queremos ir este 2012 como sea, sí o sí.

Chileno: What’s the best and worst thing about being in a band?
Qué es lo mejor y lo peor de pertenecer a una banda?

Aldo:
From my point of view, I cannot imagine playing in a band other than The Ganjas or The Versions (which includes The Ganaja’s singer) I have tried and it never feels the same as with The Ganjas, for me it is wonderful, a feeling that nothing else gives me… the worst is that it can be a bit overwhelming when you have a family, like in my case,  but they love the band as well.
Para mi no existe tocar en otra banda que no sea The Ganjas o The Versions(con el vocalista de The Ganjas), lo he intentado y no encuentro lo que me ocurre con The Ganjas, es para mi una maravilla, sentirme como pocas cosas me hacen sentir… lo peor puede ser que choca un poco cuando tienes familia, como es mi caso, pero ellos quieren a la banda igualmente.

Chileno: If you weren’t playing music what would you being doing?
Si no estuvieras tocando música, que estarías hacienda?


Aldo:
Doing photography, producing music, working in the music sector.
Fotografiando, produciendo música, trabajando en música.

Chileno: Finally what are you most excited about at the moment? And what are your plans for 2012 and the future?
Finalmente, en qué están interesados ahora? Y cuáles son sus planes para este año y el futuro?

Aldo: To edit a new single, making a DUB album in Argentina, tour around Europe.
Editar single nuevo, hacer un disco de DUB en Argentina, salir a Europa de gira.

Chileno: Thanks for your time Aldo and keep up the good work!
Muchas gracias por vuestro tiempo y mantengan el buen trabajo!

Aldo: Thank you!!
Muchas gracias a ti!!

Translation by chileno.co.uk




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