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Nueva Etica: Meet the Band Waving the Hardcore Flag in South America and Beyond

Nueva Etica is a hardcore band from Buenos Aires, Argentina that have been doing their thing, one and off, for over two decades now. The group has built up a strong discography during that time, and will be dropping a new EP with a 4-track collection called La Conquista soon.

The band is currently in the States where they're wrapping a tour that culminated with an appearance on a This Is Hardcore pre-show last night in Philadelphia, so I spoke with guitarist Javier Casas about Nueva Etica's history, musical influences, and why they fly the flag for straight edge hardcore in their country and beyond.

First off, tell me a bit about Nueva Etica’s formation and history together.

Nueva Etica started in 1998. We've been playing together for more than 10 years, working hard and being active in the local scene and Latin American scene for a long time, we did 4 records so far and a bunch of tours around Europe, Japan, and Latin America. After that, we stopped for 10 years to focus on careers, family, studies, kids, and life outside hardcore. We decide dto meet again this year, after a long time of talking about it and planning how to put it together, wondering how it would be like to play again after all those years apart.

We didn't want to do just a reunion show and nothing else, we never made a final show, so officially Nueva Etica never really ended, it made sense to all of us in  to just reactivate our band activities. We wanted a new challenge, something that we have never done before, such as an US tour. Gerardo, one of our two vocalists, is living in NYC for a few years now, so he took the first step in this direction. Also, we didn't just want to play, and that´s why we decided to enter in a studio again, and record 4 new songs in a different language, to bring to the US hardcore scene our message across.

One of those new tracks, "Believer of the Truth," features Karl Buechner from Earth Crisis.

Earth Crisis is clearly one of our favorite bands and biggest influence, so having shared this song with them was something incredible for us.

Outside of Earth Crisis, what other bands would you say influenced what you’re doing from both a music and lyrical perspective?

We grew up influenced by the '90s era: Eearth Crisis, Path of Resistance, Snapcase, Strife, Unbroken, and Point of No Return were some of the many bands that marked us.

Photo: Fabricio Obljubek

Why is straight edge so important to you and the rest of the guys in the band, and do you remember how you were first introduced to it?

We grew up together since we were 15, 16 years old, and we started the straight edge movement in Argentina when almost nothing was known about it. We began making connections and building bonds with the rest of the South American countries around who experienced the same and shared the same ideas. Without much information, we got our first Youth of Today, Minor Threat, and Judge records, we read their lyrics and felt that this message of free intoxication and non-consumption of animals had to reach our scene.

From our beginnings, the straight edge movement was our motor to get many Latin American people to understand a message that could only be heard in English. We did it in Spanish and we took it all over Latin America.

Speaking as someone who grew up with some straight edge kids back in the ‘80s and‘ 90s in NYC, I know how much they had to deal with people asking them dumb questions, and that was in New York fucking City! How has that experience been for you living in Argentina?

People can´t get it. It was hard because a lot of people didn't understand us. We started with a line of letters that were based on respect for our way of living. The Argentine culture is the total opposite of the straight edge's: massive meat eaters, heavy drinking both socially and to get wasted, and it's all part of our local culture, and well accepted in our society. We are a country with a heavy mix and immigrant influence, and Argentina was potentially one of the most powerful countries in the world and is still such a rich fount of natural resources, but with a bad and deficient administration these days.

So, we, back in the day, even though we were just teens, decided to sing/scream against all that wanted to kill us as individuals and tried to force us to be part of. Most people thought it was a passing thing and here we are 20 years later, and still counting.

Photo: Fabricio Obljubek

What else is going on in Argentina right now when it comes to the hardcore scene? Is Buenos Aires the place to be?

As a band and individuals, we've been quite inactive for several years. We don't go to shows that much these days. We have many friends still in the scene, and we see them play sometimes. We still love the common space and this platform as a gathering for different generations, where the new begin to build their own place and voice and experience. Buenos Aires will always be one of the places where you can find an amazing artistic scene and cultural movement. The strong economic crisis means that people cannot go to all the shows, the digital market, over information and other world cultural issues affect this a lot. People choose to see what's going on with international bands instead of supporting local ones because they can't afford to do both.

You're about to come over for a run of US dates, so how much work did that take to put together? What are you looking forward to seeing once you’re here?

It was very hard, money and connections wise. We are super-open and with no expectations about how people will react to our music and where we come from. Maybe it's about taking everything in as it comes and simply enjoy the process. 

Of all the bands playing This Is Hardcore, who would you say you’re most excited to see perform?

Festivals are always a very cool meeting point. Exchanging ideas with other bands, getting inspired, making friends, putting together future shows. It's always good and it will be great to be able to see all the bands we love, and wsurely discover some that we didn't know before. The best thing is that we do this for us. Hardcore will always be a place to make friends and strong connections, most of my life friends come from this scene, even if they're not actively participating anymore. Hardcore marked all of us, and us doing the tour is the following step, and marks the map in a place where we've never been before.

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