INTERVIEW: Os Mutantes | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

Narc. Magazine Online

Reliably informed

Since the late 1960s, Os Mutantes have commanded a dedicated following and are revered by some of contemporary music’s greats, including David Byrne and of Montreal’s Kevin Barnes. Kurt Cobain publicly requested a reunion tour from the trio in 1993, writing a letter to Arnaldo Baptista. The band’s first live performance since 1978 was at London’s Barbican Arts Centre in May 2006 and this performance was followed by shows across the States. However in September 2007, founding members Arnaldo Baptista and Zélia Duncan left the band, each expressing wishes to continue with their respective solo projects.

Sérgio Dias, who remains a constant member of the band, vowed to keep the reformed group alive, not wanting to let “the giant sleep again”. Thank the stars that’s the case, as Os Mutantes bring their wildly inventive Brazilian psychedelic rock to The Cluny on Sunday 20th May.

When asked about what he believes makes their music so enduring, Sérgio told me: “I really believe it was first the pleasure we had in making it, the honesty in making it and the freedom with which we expressed ourselves. Even under a dictatorship and under surveillance and censorship that the militaries imposed on us, when playing live we would still just defy them and sang the lyrics as they supposed to be.”

Even under a dictatorship and under surveillance and censorship that the militaries imposed on us, when playing live we would still just defy them and sang the lyrics as they supposed to be

This reflects a fearless approach that has commanded such a rabid following that, until relatively recently, saw their songs, sang predominantly in Portuguese reach an international audience. In 2013, Os Mutantes began releasing records in English. “When I started [2009 album] Haih Or Amortecedor, we had seven songs of the new album on the setlist in English. English is now the international language as French once was, we always sang in English especially in our youth, and I lived in New York for 10 years in the 80s so it is my second language. I am now based in LA, and there was a need for expressing what we were experiencing in the USA and the world then, and singing in English felt like the best way of doing that.”

For a band that has been making music through turbulent times – both in the 60s and 70s as well as today, it seems the lust for creativity has remained unwavering. “Every record is a new experience, a new challenge, working with this formation is been a blast since 2006, so we got together in Vegas and wrote a bunch of songs and lyrics, and now that Carly Bryant has joined the band she is collaborating with the other band members and writing new material. So, we are in the process of making it still. I am very happy with what we are accomplishing.”

Given that the band have such a large, varied back catalogue, Sérgio muses on how the music they are making currently fits into their canon. “I still don’t know, I still do not have a concrete concept of what are we doing, for it has so many musical aspects. I know that we are being as transparent and honest as ever…but it [the forthcoming studio album] is not ready yet, when a new child is born you have to respect its autonomy and also its personality. After all, we are only tools in the angel’s hands…”

Os Mutantes play The Cluny on Sunday 20th May.

 

 

Like this story? Share it!