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It's hard to hold an interview with Argentine rock band the Gardis at Finnegan's Pub on Lincoln Road. Each question is interrupted by a bartender, bar crawler, or obsessive Gardis fan patting the boys on the back, kissing them on the cheek, or dropping free beers on the table. What else would you expect for a group that's been performing there every week for the past eight years?
"I see the barmaid more than my own wife," says lead singer and guitarist Gardi País. The boys break out into hysterical giggles for one long moment before the mood shifts to bittersweet. They'll perform just one more show at their home base before most of them move on to the greener pubs of the Evergreen State. They figure Seattle residents will have a finer appreciation of their rocking roots.
"We're ready to apply all the years of training we got in Miami," says bass player Stuka. Training as a bar band, that is. Stuka, a former member of Argentina's legendary punk rock group Los Violadores, says rock rolls in the Gardis' veins. "I mean, the only thing that comes before rock in Argentina is the tango."
About 70 percent of the Gardis' repertoire includes classic covers of bands such as the Rolling Stones and the Beatles, whose music is still fervently worshipped back in B'aires. The other 30 percent comprises original numbers that pay homage to the British Invasion's signature sound. The Gardis aren't ashamed of this or the fact that their English is marked by a strong Southern Cone accent. The precision of their musical interpretation gave them what could be a record-setting run in not-so-rocking Miami.
"While most bands are lucky to find one or two weekly gigs, we performed 300 nights a year, and we always got paid because we knew how to put this together with a lot of flavor," says País.
"Los Rolling also did a lot of interpreting of other artists," notes Stuka, "and just look how the Beatles started out in Hamburg." He pauses, chuckles, and adds, "The thing is, that was only six months of their career. For us it's been nine years."
But there is a flavor, an agreeable aftertaste that has kept them lingering here like a good lager. Alternate bassist Gaston Zukowski says it's their subtle complexities. "Ours is noted by a groovy beat and the simple wood-and-metal sound of guitar, bass, and drums."
The late-afternoon light has faded, and Stuka, País, and drummer Richard R. slip into the darkness, scurrying away to collaborate with other bands. Zukowski lingers behind, now joined by girlfriend Griselda Rehe and their newborn, Abril. Rocking the baby in her stroller, Zukowski says he has to slow the tempo a bit. He figures Abril isn't quite ready for the grungy Northwest, so he'll see where the family is in six months or a year.
"I feel like I'm about to experience a big void. We built ourselves a little home in this bar," he says wistfully.
It's likely there'll be many Finnegan's customers who won't feel quite at home without the Gardis.