Music » Music Stories & Interviews

Escape from the museum



Os Mutantes
with Deleon
8 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 15
Firestone Live
all ages


It's been more than 40 years since Os Mutantes first made their mark as the catchiest and most overtly psychedelic purveyors of the tropicália sound in Brazil. The group found success in their home country, disbanded in the late '70s and — thanks to reissues official and otherwise — achieved a legendary status among fans of off-kilter and quirky underground rock.

Nonetheless, Sérgio Dias, the 57-year-old guitarist and singer, feels an infectious glee for his music, his band and their reputation among a newfound audience of hipster music fans that's more akin to a starry-eyed teenager in his first garage band.

"In Brazil, we were pretty big, but never outside of Brazil," says Dias. "I wasn't even close to any sort of awareness about what was happening `with Os Mutantes' reputation`. It was a huge surprise, because every place we went to, there were kids singing along; at the Pitchfork festival, there were 19,000 kids and they were singing songs in Portuguese. That was so breathtaking."

The band's appearance at the 2006 Pitchfork Music Festival was part of a U.S. reunion tour that occurred after the band agreed to appear at an exhibition about the tropicália movement at the Barbican Theatre in London. To Dias, the Barbican show was a one-off event, a reflection on the past. However, word quickly came back to Dias that Os Mutantes held much more interest to contemporary music fans than as a historical museum piece.

"I don't think `reviving the band` was really a decision of mine," he laughs. "It was much more something that happened in the world. When we did the Barbican thing, we thought it was going to just be that one show, but one month after we said we would do the Barbican show, we already had our first tour in America booked, and we hadn't even played one note.

"It is an amazing thing to see that `the band's new success is` basically the work of the kids who are excited about what we are doing. I don't think we have too much to do with it. The music is what brought us back."

The "us" is not the Mutantes lineup captured on the band's legendary run of albums from 1968 through 1970 — of the band's original lineup, only Sérgio Dias remains. Dias and the new lineup have recorded an intriguing new album, Haih Or Amortecedor, that finds Dias stretching out the possibilities of contemporary psychedelia.

"Everybody was saying to just play a couple of songs off the new record `on this tour` and then play the rest of, you know … the older stuff, whatever is safer," says Dias. "But we're playing almost the entire new album instead.

"The only thing I was aware of was to be true to the moment and not lean on things that had happened in the past."

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