Norman Rieder with his mum on graduation day
Norman Rieder with his mum on graduation day
10 December 2010

For Paraguayan rockstar Norman Rieder, arriving at the Gatton campus as an international student was a bit of a culture shock.

Mr Rieder, who will graduate today at 11am with a Master of Agribusiness, is lead singer and guitarist with Area 69.

Mr Rieder said Area 69 was the first Paraguayan band to sign a recording contract with Universal Music.

"Living in Gatton wasn't what I expected, but Gatton is an excellent campus - it has excellent courses and good teachers who were very helpful," Mr Rieder said.

"I also met some other people from South America - there were students from Paraguay, Chile and Uruguay living at Gatton as well."

The band's third album was recorded in Argentina and sold across South America, the US and Europe.

Formed in 2000, Area 69 was also the first band from Paraguay to have a music video broadcast on MTV.

"Compared to the US and Europe, Paraguay is a different reality- you have to work harder to get less," he said.

"It wasn't like we were flying first-class around the world.

"In Paraguay though we travelled a lot, and in that region the band was fairly important."

Mr Rieder's mum flew in from Paraguay to watch him graduate at the Gatton graduation ceremony on Saturday, December 11.

He will then spend a few weeks travelling around Australia before heading home for a few months on December 20.

Visa permitting, he will back in Australia in 2011, looking for work in the agricultural or cattle breeding industry.

Mr Rieder said all five members of Area 69 were happy to take a break, but hoped to reform in 2012.

Media: Norman Rieder (0422 638 436, or Penny Robinson at UQ Communications (07 3365 9723,