Headlines, Latin America & the Caribbean

MUSIC-ARGENTINA: Three Boys Ride the Web to Overnight Rock Fame

Marcela Valente

BUENOS AIRES, Oct 27 2006 (IPS) - Three brothers in the north of Argentina who are into heavy metal decided to upload on the Internet some music videos filmed in their bedroom – never imagining that only 15 days later their music would be in demand by millions of people, and they would be showered with proposals.

“They never studied music,” Miriam Fernández, mother of Emilio, 15, Agustín, 11, and Martín, 10, who live in the northwestern province of Salta, told IPS.

They “learned to play on a Spanish guitar, which they finally broke in pieces because they would drop it, and they’d use it to hit each other when they were fighting,” the woman said, stunned by the reception of the videos.

Now they have a drum set their father obtained in exchange for a computer, a second-hand electric guitar and a bass guitar lent to them by a friend. With these instruments, and a passion for music no doubt nurtured by their parents, the lads hopped on to the Internet and caused a sensation.

Their instant success was made possible thanks to the portal YouTube, the largest video distributor over the worldwide web, bought up by Google this month for 1.6 billion dollars.

YouTube allows anybody, all over the world, to broadcast their animation, music, and sports videos for free, or films of political discussions or groups of friends, and it also registers the number of visits and publishes the comments received.

In just two weeks, one of the videos of the band playing a song by the Brazilian group Sepultura (Burial) was watched by more than 1.4 million people, and on Oct. 24 it was the most downloaded video of any category.

Another of their videos came in third place on the net, a third came in fourth place, and others took eighth, twelfth, fourteenth and sixteenth places. Total visits added up to four million.

“YouTube, in the United States, called us up to post more videos on the Internet, because they’re a success,” Víctor Jorge, the father of the young heavy metal rock stars, told IPS.

Jorge is a municipal employee in the provincial capital, also called Salta, 1,600 kilometres northwest of Buenos Aires, and his wife is a homemaker.

“I wasn’t expecting this,” Emilio told IPS, referring to the reception of their videos. “I’m self-taught, I learned to play by watching and listening, I can’t read music,” he said almost apologetically. But the video images seem to belie this self-deprecation: he plays a tremendous guitar solo, beats the drums like a master of percussion, and sings.

Agustín is also an outstanding drummer, and Martín plays the bass guitar and sings numbers by the British band Iron Maiden and Sepultura. “I used to like tango, then heavy metal, then cumbia, and now heavy metal again,” Martín told IPS, as if he’d spent a long life in the world of music.

The children’s mother recalled that when she was carrying her firstborn, her husband bought an organ and used to play it all day long. Emilio was born into a family with a passion for the most diverse musical genres.

“He was two years old, and when he listened to the 1812 (Overture) by (the Russian composer Pyotr Ilych) Tchaikovsky, his eyes would fill with tears,” his mother said.

When he was four years old, he was playing with an Internet programme that simulated a drum set. He was the one who persuaded his brothers to form a band. “My husband likes rock, tango, national folklore, classical music. There has always been music in my house,” Miriam Fernández said. Their father would take the children to concerts as often as he could, she added.

Now Andreas Kisser, the lead guitarist of Sepultura, says he wants to come to Argentina to play with the boys from Salta, whose band doesn’t even have a name. This week Jorge tried to register it as “Gauchos Salta”, which is how it was identified on Internet, but someone had got there before him and he was unable to do so.

The videos are neither funny nor childish. They convey musical power. The faded walls of the children’s bedroom are a sombre background to the band’s stage, squashed between the headboard of a bed and a dresser holding a television set.

“I like cars – new cars, racing cars and old cars,” Agustín said when asked about his hobbies. Music is just one more thing in his life. They play for only a short while every day, when they have time after school.

Their parents are still astounded. Fernández told IPS that the videos were filmed with the intent of sending them to a television show hosted for the past decade and a half by Marcelo Tinelli. But the number of children’s bands that were to be included was cut, and the family decided that something had to be done with the videos. So they posted them on YouTube.

“Broadcast Yourself” is the site’s slogan on the Internet, and that is what they did. Six thousand comments are already published below the videos of the young heavy metal band, a service that requires prior registration at the English-speaking portal.

The boys are receiving thousands of e-mails a day in every imaginable language, and they have already been asked for permission by the European chapter of the U.S. music video channel MTV to broadcast the videos on Swedish television.

They are being interviewed, photographed, and offered commercial propositions that they cannot even process. “Bands from Salta are coming to see me to find out what I can do for them, as if I were a musical producer,” says the father of the three boys, who divides his time between his civil service job, and some extra hours fixing computers.

“They want them on television here, but also in Washington and Los Angeles. We have to be very careful,” their father said.

“They have to go to school. This was a hobby and now I don’t know what’s to become of it all. Maybe they’ll just decide ‘I don’t want to play any more,’ and that’ll be the end of it,” he said.

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