Ariel Eduardo Rotenberg Gutkin (Buenos Aires, 1960), popularly known as Ariel Rot, keeps intact the desire to get on stage and play his guitar despite having a long career in music that has taken him to the top. From Tequila and Los Rodríguez, to countless solo works, passing through dozens of collaborations with renowned artists, the Argentine guitarist, singer and composer is on tour with Kiko Veneno with a show based on the television program ‘A country to listen to ‘, in which special guests and emerging bands from each territory they step on take part. “We have managed to create a kind of ceremony, of mystique, during those two hours of concert,” he says during the interview, after reviewing the situation that rock is experiencing as a musical genre and the “crucial moment” that the planet is going through. for the war in Ukraine. This Saturday he will take his music to the Cantabrian lighthouse of Cabo Ajo, a unique enclave within the Luz de Música cycle, while next Friday, September 23, he will be one of the stars of the elDiario.es 10th Anniversary Festival. Any glimpse of beauty, art or culture is appreciated at this time. “Anything of this kind done honestly is a refuge for these very scary times,” he defends.
Jane Goodall, Noam Chomsky and the concert by Kiko Veneno and Ariel Rot, at the elDiario.es 10th Anniversary Festival in Valencia
After more than 40 years of career, is the flame of illusion still burning to get on stage?
You have to try to fan that flame based on new and interesting projects and playing with new people. The project I am working on now has me excited, expectant and eager to come back to play every day.
His career combines groups, solo work and a large number of collaborations. Are the changes and new projects that he mentions due to a constant search for new challenges?
I wouldn’t say it in such a conscious way, but yes, I’m a restless musician and I love to play, I love the stage and I love to travel. So as soon as one thing begins to end, I’m already thinking of another. That comes naturally to me.
Change always entails a risk, that of making mistakes or not reaching the expectations generated. Have you been afraid of it?
If you make a mistake, the biography will always be more interesting [ríe]. In case you make a documentary it will always be more fun. [ríe].
Is the fact that seniority is a degree also fulfilled in the musical career of an artist?
Not necessarily, it is not a general rule. There are veterans with hits and misses, and there are veterans for whom experiences have served them well and there are others for whom the passing of the years has deteriorated them. Right now I find myself at a point of energy and dynamism that I appreciate.
Continuing with the changes, if you look back, how has rock changed from the 70s and 80s to today?
In recent years, rock has been drastically superseded by the new urban music that young people listen to. Rock has pretty much disappeared from the media, but you have to be pretty pleased with what you got. It had a very long reign to have started simply as a musical genre and then become the language and thought of an entire generation. Rock was at the time a revolution and revolutions do not last forever. Rock has been evolving and has been merging. It seemed that it had disappeared and has risen again. I don’t know what will happen in the future, if it will simply remain a redoubt for nostalgic people and for young people who have a certain interest in the most important music of the 20th century.
And don’t you think it would be a shame if it remained as a redoubt for nostalgics?
Ask Miles Davis or a lot of jazz musicians when they were totally unseated by rock and roll, they wouldn’t be too happy either. But this has a certain logic, the new generations are looking for new languages that distance them from previous generations, and it is totally understandable. Our duty is to keep trying to make good music, give good concerts and, if we are lucky enough to be inspired, still write some good songs. With that I think we have fulfilled.
In a recent interview He assured that the objective of the show ‘A country to listen to’ with which he is on tour with Kiko Veneno is to “recover the old ceremony of rock and popular music”. What is missing? What has been lost?
Perhaps it has been automated a bit, there is too much production, it has become very professional. We try to keep the spirit fresher, more spontaneous, more improvisational, more surprising… It’s a bit like the Rolling Thunder Revue. In each concert new things happen, we meet new musicians and friends, we share songs and we make a common repertoire. All this makes this show very special and I hope it has the importance it deserves.
Does the fact that each show is different because they have emerging local artists, serve these bands as a ‘push’ to finish penetrating the public of their land?
The people of the places we go are very grateful to see their groups and artists on stage who do not appear on radio and television. What is created is a lot of magic because the artists come with a lot of desire and a lot of talent. We have managed to create a kind of ceremony, of mystique, during those two hours of concert.
Do we need these episodes of live music with mythical songs loaded with history and memories to escape from a socioeconomic context as complex as the one we are in?
Any glimpse of beauty, art or culture is appreciated at this time. Anything of this kind done honestly is a refuge for these most terrifying times.
You know well what it is to flee your land and exile. What did you think when the war between Russia and Ukraine broke out?
Disbelief because something like this can’t happen again, even though it never really stopped. For I don’t know how many hundreds and hundreds of years there hasn’t been a single day of peace on Earth. Nor should you be so surprised. We are at a very crucial moment, with a very profound change of paradigm and it does not give the impression that we are going… well, that they are going to choose –because we hardly choose anymore– the best of the paths to change, so that it brings us all closer and allow us to live in a certain harmony to the whole planet.
Going back to music, what goes through your mind when you see young people born in the 90s or 2000s singing and dancing to songs by Tequila or Los Rodríguez?
I wouldn’t know how to answer that question. Evidently, satisfaction for the miracle that supposes that a song that you composed with very few years locked up in your room has a transcendence that was the last thing you imagined while you were composing it. Above all, I try not to forget how lucky I am and how grateful I have to be.
Now is it easier or more difficult to make songs that become intergenerational anthems?
That was always difficult [ríe]. These are things that happen through people who have or had that gift. It is like catching a wonderful butterfly and at the same time letting it fly.
Do you ever imagine hanging the guitar or you know that the day will come but you prefer not to think about it?
There will come a day when I will have to play sitting down [ríe]but I will continue playing anyway.
Kiko Veneno and you are going to participate in the tenth anniversary of elDiario.es in a few days, in the Plaza del Ayuntamiento de València. How do you face this challenge?
We are musicians, we like to play and take our music everywhere and to all possible audiences. With Kiko we have a show that in a certain way is a tribute to our popular music and the Plaza del Ayuntamiento de València is a perfect space for this celebration. That is why it seemed ideal to us to accept this great invitation.
His concert is part of a program that brings information, debate and culture to the streets, to talk with people. Do you think that culture needs to be pushed a little to get it out of its usual comfort spaces such as concert halls, specialized media, and make it more part of everyday life?
In the days of confinement we verified the essential place that culture has in our lives, it was a staple food. It is important that we not forget and that we support culture in the streets, in the squares and in the small concert halls, which is where a good music scene is born and nurtured.
What do you think should be the role of artists, specifically musicians, within current news? Do you think that it is better to give an opinion only about culture or that they are also interesting voices to contribute other points of view within the debates that define us as a society?
I am in favor of everyone expressing what they want and believe necessary with total freedom. I am a defender of the power of music and songs, that is my commitment, to which I dedicate my life and the best I can offer. My most valuable ideas are musical.