Cuarzo | Interview
Cuarzo is a Peruvian heavy psych trio. After their fuzzy debut from 2017, their second album is going to be released on vinyl via Nasoni Records (April 19, 2021). Cuarzo have refined their sound over the last three years without losing any of their power.
Nasoni Records will release a limited edition of 300 pieces on 180 gram coloured double high quality vinyl. Gatefold cover including download card and 4 bonus tracks.
“Fuzzy, heavy, psychedelic doom”
Would you like to talk a bit about your background? Who are Cuarzo?
Yes, of course. Cuarzo is a power trio band from Lima, Peru, formed by Ademir Agurto (bass), Edson Gutiérrez (guitar) and Renato Salmon (drums). We’ve been friends for a long time, we have known each other for about 12 years and the first bond that united us was skateboarding, but a short time later we found something more than that and it was the music.
At the end of 2010 we decided to form a Black Sabbath cover band. Little by little we were leaving skateboarding aside and getting more into music. At that time, we were between 4 and 5 members (voice, first guitar, second guitar, bass and drums), but as the time went by, we were only 4. At the end of 2012 and beginning of 2013 we decided that it was time to compose our own music and have a name of our own. At that time, we didn’t have an established name and it took us a lot to find it, because we wanted something that would identify the band 100%. One night while we were having a couple of drinks listening to Pink Floyd and Black Sabbath, we were talking about the positive energy that we would like the band to have and that bad vibes can’t affect us (and all those crazy stuff that you talk about when you’re drunk, haha). One of us mentioned that there was a stone that absorbed all the bad vibration and that was the Cuarzo (Quartz in English). When we heard that word, we repeated it over and over again and thought: “Why the hell don’t we call ourselves that?”, because apart from being a solid and dense rock, it has the capacity to channel good and bad energy, transmitting something positive to whoever carries it. And basically, our music and the band fit that idea, so we kept that name. The connection we had allowed us to quickly compose several songs and at the beginning of 2015 we started this great journey of playing our own music, recording it and spreading it.
“A stone that absorbed all the bad vibration”
In May 2017, together with Crack Records and Jamon Records, we released our first self-titled album ‘Cuarzo’. In mid-2018, our former guitarist, Koko, left the band and Edson Gutierrez went on to replace him. It is necessary to emphasize that Edson never left Cuarzo, he had to leave for travel reasons in 2017. Over the years we progressed as a band and decided to record our second album, but with a higher musical quality perspective: good sound in a great studio and with the support of a good music producer. So, between 2018 and 2019 we started working on ‘Vol. II’, hand in hand with producer Rafael Otero. And on June 21 of this year we launched it, with a lot of work, effort and dedication.
Since we started with Cuarzo we have learned a lot, not only musically, but also as a group, to communicate and work as a team. And we know that Cuarzo will have a long time, so we will keep learning much more along the way.
And to finish the question, Cuarzo is much more than a band or a musical project, we are a group of brothers who get together to make music to express everything we feel through our instruments, doing something that we are passionate about among friends and brothers that we are.
“The evolution of our sound is related to the feeling we radiate when we play.”
How would you describe your sound?
Our sound has been evolving as we have had more experience in concerts, festivals, rehearsals, etc. The evolution of our sound is related to the feeling we radiate when we play. Technically, Cuarzo has a heavy, atmospheric, acidic and psychedelic sound. The guitar transmits an atmospheric and psychedelic river, the solos have high frequencies that take you to an acidic and schizophrenic state of mind; on the other hand, there are low frequencies accompanied by heavy riffs with a lot of fuzz and overdrive.
The bass is the structure of our sound, as it emits lower frequencies than the guitar, giving shape, groove and meaning to the songs with a combination of fuzz and gain from the amplifier. And the drums are the rhythmic, groovy and technical element, with solid and exact hits that result in a combination of power and potency to the strong parts. In addition, it is dynamic for the soft and psychedelic parts, giving them an atmospheric and enveloping feel.
Nasoni Records will be releasing ‘Vol II” on vinyl. Are you excited about it?
Hell yeah!!! The news that Nasoni Records wants to work with us a few days before our launch was a big surprise for all of us. At that time, we were focused on digital distribution and when they contacted us, they were offering to launch the vinyl edition in a short time and all that was very exciting. On one hand, we were super excited about the digital release we had done, and on the other hand we already had the super news that Nasoni Records wanted to work with us.
To give you an idea, we released the album on digital platforms on June 21st and Nasoni contacted us the next day (June 22nd), that’s why we were so fucking surprised! We didn’t expect that and much less one day after the release, haha.
Can you share some further details how your latest album was recorded?
‘Vol. II’ was recorded at Dragón Verde (studio in Lima, Peru) with our producer Rafael Otero, who was in charge of doing all the work (pre-production, post-production, mixing and mastering), along with Eddie Plenge, who is a sound engineer and owner of the studio. Working with them on this album was one of the most incredible experiences we have had, not only because of the great work done, but also because they connected with our music and understood what we wanted to convey. Besides, it was the first time we recorded our music in a professional studio.
For us, recording is one of the most exciting and expected parts after the musical composition, because it is where you have to give your maximum concentration and energy, releasing all your feelings. And the most exciting thing is that we recorded ‘Vol. II’ in two parts, the first part was recorded on July 17, 2018, where we spent 3 days recording and accommodating some details such as microphone techniques on drums, amplifiers, sound configuration, bass reamplification, et cetera. This first part is composed by the songs ‘Magma’, ‘Poetas Muertos’ and ‘Stonia’. The second part of the album was recorded on October 1, 2019, because after the first part of the recording, we were regularly rehearsing the songs with a lot of effort and dedication, so the recording of the second part was much faster and easier. This second part is composed by the songs ‘Titanomaquia’, ‘Hipnosis’ and ‘Mortifago’.
“The essence of our composition lies in our ability to connect as a band.”
How do you usually approach music making?
A large part of the composition is done by the three of us in a dynamic and coordinated way. When we come up with a good idea or a good riff, we record it immediately so as not to lose it, be able to listen to it and start working on it. First, we work on those ideas at home adding more details until we reach a good tempo that fits with any other idea we have or that comes from the moment. The next step is to record those ideas to analyze them and see what details we can add to them, like a good equalization, a good base by the bass or groovy, heavy or psychedelic rhythms by the drums. After those steps, we go to a studio or rehearsal room to assemble the ideas already prepared.
Some of our songs have been created while jamming after practicing the themes of the album. We are improving our sound and performance to give a good presentation, have new ideas and be preparing the next material we have in mind. The essence of our composition lies in our ability to connect as a band.
Your self-titled release is available in digital format. How would you compare to your upcoming release?
The difference between Cuarzo records is the improvement of our sound, which has been evolving in several ways, and that can be clearly heard in ‘Vol. II’. On our first album we were just starting to emerge on the scene, it was a very exciting stage because we knew it was the beginning of our musical career at a very early age. This part was very exciting because we began to familiarize ourselves with more technical aspects, such as the making of the album (production, mixing and mastering). This album was recorded on Jamón Records and Crack Records in an ambient way and produced by our friend Marcos Del Risco.
Album has a strong sound, with a lot of energy, power and good vibes that induce you to have thoughts similar to other parallel dimensions. If you compare ‘Vol. II’ with ‘Cuarzo’, you can notice a great difference in the quality of the sound, because it was recorded in a more professional way, with a good preparation, a musical producer, a sound engineer, better equipment, better instruments, and a good setting for the strings and drums (pedals, cymbals, etc.) We still maintain the same tuning as the first album, we play in DROP A#, a tuning that characterizes us for its warm tones and for the heavy and lysergic sound it gives us.
In conclusion, the band has had professional improvements by each member, with new ideas, craziness, disasters, but always with that union that characterizes us and leads us to the creation of these two albums.
There are some fine psych bands from Peru. What’s the local scene in Lima?
There are very good local bands in Lima and in other provinces of Peru. It is a scene that is growing and the interesting thing is that each of these bands has a different and particular sound. Some bands from Lima are Satánicos Marihuanos, El Jefazo, Rito Verdugo, Culto al Qondor, Reptil, The Dead-End Alley Band, Fuzzter. In Trujillo we have Ancestro, in Chimbote Acidrosis, Mantarraya, Desert Gang and among many others.
This scene is expanding all over Peru and there are many bands that we probably haven’t named, but we are very pleased to know that this movement is growing more and more in our country.
Let’s end this interview with some of your favourite albums. Have you found something new lately you would like to recommend to our readers?
Yeah, sure!! Here we share a series of albums that Cuarzo enjoys very much:
All Them Witches – ‘Nothing As The Ideal’
Tool – ‘Fear Inoculum’
Weedpecker – ‘III’
Yob – ‘The Great Cessation’ & ‘Our Raw Heart’
Elder – ‘The Gold & Silver Sessions’
If These Trees Could Talk – ‘The Bones of a Dying World’
Toner Low – ‘III’
Bongripper – ‘Miserable’
Earth – ‘The Bees Made Honey in the Lion’s Skull’
Dopethrone – ‘III’
Elephant Tree – ‘Theia’
Tides – ‘Resurface’
Cough – ‘Still They Pray’
Monolord – ‘No Comfort’
Weedeater – ‘God Luck and Good Speed’
Sleep – ‘Volume One’, ‘Dopesmoker’ & ‘The Sciences’
Om – ‘Variations On A Theme’
Earthless – ‘From the Ages’
Hobo Magic – ‘The World Today’
Thank you for taking your time. Last word is yours.
Thanks to you for the interview and for offering us a space to be able to talk and make ourselves known a little more. We send a big hug to you and to all the readers. Greetings from Cuarzo to all!
Cuarzo will play a special live session on March 6 at 7 pm (GMT-5). Pre-order your ticket here!