Cuban Rock: Tesis de Menta

By Helson Hernandez

Tesis de Menta

HAVANA TIMES — As Tesis de Menta launches its fourth album, Luz, the group’s leader Roberto Perdomo allows us a closer look at this rock band. As he said, “Pablo Milanés is to me one of the best singers in the world and to share our music with him was great.”

HT: How did your new album Luz come about?

RP: This album — the band’s fourth — we produced independently. We wanted to record it abroad, and later we thought about licensing it here on the island under the Biss Music label. Right now, though, it’s under the protection of PM Records, which has assumed everything involved with putting out the work.

HT: What differences can one note with this album in comparison to previous ones?

RP: There’s an evolution. One can feel that Roberto Perdomo is more mature as an arranger and a composer. I think this is the band’s best album so far. Since this is our fourth CD, perhaps this has allowed us to avoid making the same mistakes of the past. It’s certainly a step forward.

All of the disks by Teisis are different, from “Mi generacion” (recorded with EGREM) to this new one, to “Fragmentos” (recorded under the Colibri label). I have a lot of love for the album “Tesis de Menta en Vivo,” recorded by SGAE. It has a very spontaneous and powerful sound, but this new one is special because it surpasses the others in terms of the performances and composition. It’s definitely our best work.

HT: What is the song “Los nuevos dias (New Days) referring to in this new production?

RP: What we’re experiencing, day by day, is the theme that we talk about in that one. It’s about how I see things from my point of view, which is the same perspective as any other Cuban, starting from here and looking at things in relation to the world. How people behave today has a global language that anyone can understand.

It deals with the existential problem of Cubans in 2012 and intimate matters such as love, but all linked to existential and social problems. It proceeds from a critical viewpoint but without being hurtful. Instead it’s reflective, that’s the concept that drives the various songs on this album Luz.

HT: How did this new project reach Pablo Milanes and all the people of PM Records?

RP: For some time we’ve had a certain connection with Haydee Milanes (his daughter) ever since we all first ran into each other. She has sung with our band and we’ve performed together live. We were fortunate to share in the “Proposiciones” Festival, which was organized by PM and directed by Zuilen Milanes; and there was Pablo, observing all of those young musical talents who participated in that event.

He discovered the group and he let us know about his interest in recording something with us. He even showed up at our performance at the Hotel Florida in Old Havana. So we did some things together until he suggested that we record a song for this record, where we participated in the song “Soltando Amarras,” a stunning duet along with Beatriz Lopez, our lead vocalist.

Tesis de Menta

I still haven’t awoken from my astonishment with the result of this work. Pablo, to me, is one of the best singers in the world and to share our music with him was great.

HT: Tell us about the beginnings of Tesis de Menta?

RP: I was pursuing my solo career, and Beatriz (“Bea”) was my backup singer. She has an awesome voice, so we decided to do a project in which we would both sing. On November 3, 2003 (my birthday) is when we founded the group with musicians of various training. We called it “tesis,” which initially referred to a kind of project, and “menta” because it’s something fresh. We’re a rock and roll band in our timbre, but with a lot of blues and other styles. In less than a year we recorded our first album, and back then we even won a prize on the television program, Cuerda Viva.

HT: And Roberto Perdomo. Where is he from?

RP:I’m from San Antonio de los Baños, just outside of Havana. I’ve always considered myself a singer, and there I made music for movies at the film school in my hometown. I always had the dream of channeling my concerns through my own band, and that’s when I met Beatriz, who is my partner in my emotional life, a person who had the same dreams as me. I’m self-taught though I had many teachers to push me forward up through today. Beatriz is actually a graduate in lyrical singing, which gives her the ability to sing whatever style she pleases.

HT: Tell us about the Dominican Republic?

RP: That was a very interesting experience. We didn’t go with the whole band; it was only Beatriz and me, as artists who were invited to a series of concerts for children with social problems. What we experienced there was all very nice, very moving, and it was in a country that makes you feel that you’ve never left Cuba, given all of the similarities you’ll find with our culture.

HT: How are you situated within the musical movement that exists on the island?

RP: We have received…not rejection…but a lot of misunderstanding. Within the rock and alternative music scene we’re pretty different, which is good but it’s also something that has brought us some difficulties, due to the influences we all drag around.