From the underground to the masses, the rivalry with Gustavo Cerati and a musical legacy that is still in force: Indio Solari turns 73

Indio Solari turns 73 today (Photo: NA)

No one imagined that what began as a kind of traveling fair, a conjunction of music, theater, circus, drugs and rock and roll, would become what it finally was: the greatest myth in the history of the national scene. That they would fill stadiums across the country, that their songs would be T-shirts, that their faces and their phrases would become tattoos in perpetuity, and that they would have a legion of followers so loyal that they would do the unthinkable to see them play and that they would even tacitly design a dress code and a lifestyle of their own that would commune them forever.

Carlos Alberto Solari turns 73 today. The brain behind Patricio Rey and his Ricotta Rounds, the current leader of The Air Conditioning Fundamentalists, the Indio, the legend. The man who, with the highest possible low profile, the one who for years did not give interviews and only showed himself in public at his shows, the one who secluded himself in his home in Parque Leloir behind a wall, knew how to reap the love and recognition of fans worldwide. From its beginnings in the underground to the masses, passing through its loves and enmities, an x-ray of the living myth that broke the mold and revolutionized the music scene.

The beginnings of Los Redonditos de Ricota
The beginnings of Los Redonditos de Ricota

was born on January 17, 1949 in Paraná, Entre Ríos, but he can be considered one more person from La Plata since he lived from a very young age in the city of the diagonals. Upon finishing high school, he entered the Institute of Fine Arts, where he passed some subjects but was expelled a year later. Three decades later, he would answer in an interview for the rock magazine The Garcia: “At that time, the most important thing was rebellion”.

The story of how the myth was built is well known. The year was 1976 and Argentina was suffering from a civic-military dictatorship, but young people were hungry for freedom and the city of La Plata was abuzz. While some students were outlining political strategies to recover democracy, three young people met in the basement of the Pasaje Rodrigo gallery and came together due to their interest in music, art and cinema. In that space, Indio Solari -singer and composer-, Sky Beilinson -guitarist and composer-, and the black Poli -manager-, formed the fundamental trio, the small table of that unstoppable machine: Patricio Rey and his Ricotta Rounds.

Indio Solari liked to say, in reference to the tense relationship between the political youth and the rockers: “We didn’t want to take power; we wanted to change life.”

With The Rounds edited the records Gulp! (1985), October (1986), A bayonet for the idiot eye (1988), Bang! Bang!… You are finished (1989), The fly and the soup (1991), Wolf on the Loose / Lamb Tied (1993), Luzbelito (1996), Last bondi to Finisterre (1998) and Momo Sampler (2000).

After the separation and overwhelmed by so much exposure -something he always denied- he decided to continue doing what he likes the most: music. And that’s how he put together a new band, The Air Conditioning Fundamentalists. Together with them, he released four studio albums: The Treasure of the Innocents (2004), rex pig (2007), The perfume of the storm (2010) and Little birds, brave little boys (2013).

On a personal level, confirmed in 2016 that he suffers from Parkinson’s disease but, despite everything, he continues to create music in the studio he set up in his own home, so every now and then he surprises from his networks with the launch of a new song. “This that I have is very annoying, very painful”, emphasized the musician who in March 2016 told his audience that Parkinson’s was “on his heels”. “The other day I was thinking about what it must be like for the guy who has the same thing as me, who doesn’t have the money to buy medicine. That he doesn’t have kinesiology. It must be (wanting to) throw you on the train tracks. Is unbearable. It cuts you off from life.” he told the journalist Marcelo Figueras in the middle of the pandemic, when he also confirmed that it is “unlikely” that he will ever get on stage again.

with its own niche

Patricio Rey and his Ricotta Rounds
Patricio Rey and his Ricotta Rounds

Although in the 70s the band played for a few, it was in the following decade that it found its true place. With the output of Gulp! in 1985, many young people found an alternative. They were times of Virus, from The grandparents of nothing and of Soda Stereo, musicians who played for a “cheto” audience and had little message for the working class, for “the neighborhoods”, who did not feel heard or represented.

Soon they adopted The Rounds as their main band and although their lyrics are complex and enigmatic, they took them as their own. the bands-as the followers were called- would give it that fundamental touch, that mystique that few groups managed to achieve. That human tide that has resisted all kinds of sociological analysis. The culture of shake bottom up would be his hallmark. And it was all or nothing.

As when, as a result of a duel of styles, of ways of seeing music, of making it clear “who was more neighborhood and who was more masked”, for years in the shows of the band -and of other national rock bands such as Divididos , Las Pelotas, La Renga, Los Piojos-, you could hear among the people what had become a classic song: “Luca did not die, Luca did not die, let Cerati die, the fucking mother who gave birth to them ”. The enmity between the ricotero referent and the leader of Soda Stereo became a fake news that not even the protagonists themselves could banish.

It was even in an interview in 2011, while Cerati remained in a coma, that Indio wanted to dedicate a few words to him to leave behind the fantasy of the fight: “I feel a lot of pain and shock, more often than people think. Many will think that because of the famous rivalry that never existed in my case, and I suppose that in his case neither. Bullshit that has to do with differences, like Boca-River, which exist to feed that vertigo of consuming things, but generally that doesn’t happen in private,” Solari told La Garganta Poderosa.

“I am very sorry for what is happening to him. I feel the effort of the mother to keep hope alive. He is very fashionable, more frivolous, cooler, and I am more critical, harsher, more acidic, but I think he is one of the best musicians, one of the most neat, one of the hardest working, one of the most meticulous of rock culture. of Argentina. I respect him because I try to do the same with my work”, he clarified about the differences that followers of both groups marked for decades.

let’s go bands

On March 11, 2017, it was Indio's last show and it ended in tragedy.  The balance, two dead: one due to cardiorespiratory arrest and the other due to crushing in an avalanche (Photo: Twitter)
On March 11, 2017, it was Indio’s last show and it ended in tragedy. The balance, two dead: one due to cardiorespiratory arrest and the other due to crushing in an avalanche (Photo: Twitter)

The forcefulness of Los Redondos first and El Indio as a soloist later, has as its fundamental axis the convening figure of Solari, of course, but also two fundamental pillars on which the secret of success is based: antimarketing and its public.

For decades, little or nothing was known about them. His hallmark was mysticism. Not only did they not offer interviews, nor did they allow themselves to be photographed, but they also did not advertise their shows. They simply set a date and place and word of mouth took care of the rest. Simple task today with social networks in favor, but three decades ago it was another world, without so much connection, which consolidated the agreement between the group and its followers. The concerts came to be classified as masses in which everything was worth and soon, they left the underground and went on to the massive.

El Indio only communicated with the media and his fans through letters written in his own handwriting, just as he does now from his social networks. He gave only one press conference in his entire life, to complain about a show that had been canceled and although he now gives some very sporadic interviews, at the height of his career paradoxically his voice was not known if it was not for singing.

That low profile and ostracism also extended to the relationship with record companies, from which both he and his side chose to stay away. The mechanics were always the same: El Indio wrote, Skay set his words to music and the recitals were the financing fund for the records: with the money that was collected, his albums were recorded and distributed. And there were no press strategies there either, interviews explaining the origin of each letter or ostentatious video clips on trendy music channels: that each one interpret what works for them and make the theme their own.

The public that followed them grew exponentially and it was becoming increasingly difficult to find a place to play. Also the violence that mourned each of his presentations, which always ended with injuries, dozens of detainees and complaints. It was thus that the concerts began to be spaced out, wear and tear generated interns and the band split up, opening the way for the singer in his solo role.

the last mass

El Indio in one of his last public appearances
El Indio in one of his last public appearances

His last live performance was on March 11, 2017 in Olavarría, a recital that had the tragic balance of two deaths and dozens of injuries. Since then, the musician has worked in the studio and published books. In April 2021, he surprised everyone when he released a show sold by straeming in which he participated virtually through holographic techniques. There, in an unexpected place for a concert – in the ruins of being Villa Epecuén, a tourist town in the south of the province of Buenos Aires that was left in ruins after the floods of 1985- presented a new theme that, for many, officiates farewell.

He once said that rock had to be understood like this, away from protocols and prolixity. And their followers also understand it in the same way: they travel kilometers to see them even without tickets, they collapse each city they move to, they camp for days in squares when they can’t find accommodation, they improvise barbecues and roasts in the most diverse places and many, even enter to the stadium where the show will take place, but they just want to be part of the ricotta experience.

Full stadiums, unconditional fans, pretentious lyrics and self-management seem to be the guarantee of a unique identity and freedom to create an indestructible brand and succeed despite everything. And of course, and nothing less, the most precious treasure they can hold: the largest pogo stick in the world.


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