Bonde Do Role - Here We Go Again
Sunday, 11 May 2008
3D's Cyclone gets the word from Bonde Do Rolê about the second incarnation of the world's biggest Baille funk act.
At the end of 2007 it looked like the party was over for Bonde Do Rolê. In spite of mobilising bloggers, charming hipsters and gatecrashing the pop realm with their flamboyant debut, ...With Lasers, all wasn’t well backstage. Zany lead MC Marina Ribatski quit amid reports of tensions in bonde.
“Her decision was really sudden,” MC/DJ/producer Pedro D’eyrot says. “She was like, ‘I don’t wanna do this anymore’ – and left.”
The remaining Brazilians had no option but to cancel summer’s Australian tour. The first hint of disquiet came when Rodrigo Gorky revealed to Radio 1’s Annie Mac that Bonde were grappling with “internal problems”. Nevertheless, Bonde alluded to no such drama in promoting their Antipodean dates.
To this day, Pedro doesn’t get why Marina abandoned a hot global outfit. “That’s something I cannot understand myself,” he rues. “I could try to figure out why but...
“It’s something I wouldn’t do, something Gorky wouldn’t do, but she did, so... I don’t know. She wasn’t happy and she wanted to be with her boyfriend and everything, so that was the decision that she made – a very unhappy one, but it’s her decision.”
The band’s official statement stressed that they’d stay friends, yet Pedro is unsure if Marina will continue her involvement in music. “She said that she wants to do stuff, but we haven’t heard anything, so I don’t know,” he says.
Now Bonde Do Rolê (pronounced ‘bonge de her-lay’) are finally bound for Australia with not one but two new chicks, Laura Taylor and Ana Bernardino, whom they discovered through a reality TV show.
Sounds cheesy- That was the point. Bonde’s founders seized the opportunity to subvert reality TV – and, says Pedro, MTV Brazil was unusually supportive.
“We were really inspired by trashy TV like the ‘I wanna be a new Pussycat Doll’ kind of thing,” he laughs. He and Gorky enlisted their friends CSS as judges. The applicants were set all manner of random (and bizarre) tasks, like mud wrestling, as part of their audition. But more on that later.
Not since the revolt in Destiny’s Child that led to the exile of two homegirls has a popular group installed new members at such a critical juncture. However, Pedro is delighted with Bonde’s recruits. Laura he describes as “sexy”, while Ana represents a more “aggressive” or “heavy hardcore” side of Bonde.
Confused by Taylor’s Anglo name- Uniquely, she’s a Brazilian Kiwi. Indeed, she was born in South America. She moved to her mother’s native New Zealand at six. But, for the past few years, she’s resided in Brazil. Taylor not only has a strident Kiwi accent, but she’s also direct. Don’t call her a Kiwi. She’s Brazilian.
Already down with an all-female DJ clique, Taylor yearned to perform – and she recognised Bonde as her chance. She was determined to join.
Pedro, a man of many guilty pleasures, loved Bonde’s carnivalesque reality TV adventure, but Taylore still agonises over what was “a very traumatic experience”. Wasn’t it fun-
“It wasn’t fun – it was really stressful!” she responds vehemently. “It was like nothing that I’d ever do, ever, so it’s a good thing that I won, otherwise I’d be fully burnt, hey – ’cause reality TV is just so crap. But you have to do what you gotta do. It all worked out in the end.”
According to Taylor, Gorky and Pedro were “mean boys”, intent on degrading the Bonde aspirants in the spirit of entertainment.
The worst trial- Taylor had to digest a “nasty” takeaway from downtown Sao Paulo. No one knows what kind of meat it was. “It was all so stupid – and they were really mean to do that,” she says of the overall experience with pained humour. “They did that just to take the piss out of reality TV, basically – that’s what their whole idea was, ’cause the band is just one big piss-take. So, to find a new member, of course they had to take the piss once again!”
Mind – Pedro doesn’t reckon that the program casts him as a sadistic villain. Bonde Do Rolê’s story begins in Curitiba in Brazil’s south. Gorky, raised in Rio, hooked up with fellow DJ Pedro in 2004. The flatmates started producing electro-rock with no great ambition. They approached the indie Marina to MC. Marina, dismissive of the pair’s “dodgy” electro, encouraged them to develop their Baile funk. The union was sealed over a vodka session.
Bonde made waves internationally when championed by funk carioca obsessive Diplo, although, being middle-class, they weren’t exactly products of the favela. The DJ signed an EP to his Mad Decent imprint. Bonde then linked with the British Domino Records.
The eccentric Bonde have, like CSS, flipped stereotypes of Brazilian music with a mash-up of Baile funk, electro and metallic punk that has seen them compared to the Beastie Boys. There’s no trace of bossa nova. Today Bonde’s success is motivating a new generation of Brazilian indie acts – that reality show no doubt a factor.
Hiring two females to replace Marina has proven a clever ploy, Bonde emerging as the Baile funk ABBA. At any rate, it’s less likely that either will be held up to Marina – not that Pedro admits to it. “Even when Marina was still with us, we were thinking about getting someone else, anyway, ’cause we wanted to reconfigure the band for this year, so we were thinking about having two people.”
Taylor feels that the flygirls have given Bonde balance.
“Ana and I are complete opposites – and that works really well,” she discloses. “If there had been only one singer, it’d just be too many comparisons – ‘the new Marina’... But now the formation of the band has completely changed so there’s just no way that there should be any comparisons. Really, the only thing that’s the same is the name.
“Eventually everything is gonna be different. We’ve still got the same songs and stuff, because it’s just like new, but eventually it’s gonna become a completely different story – which is really exciting.”
The so-called Bonde Do Rolê 2.0 has lately performed at Coachella, the feisty Taylor “nervous” about how they’d be received. She was “stoked” by the crowd’s fervour. A blissed Taylor even had her photo snapped with Kelly Osbourne.
It isn’t just Taylor who’s starstruck. In fact, the telegenic Pedro now conducts interviews for Brazilian TV and at Coachella he cornered David ‘The Hoff’ Hasselhoff, his dream celebrity. “I got the chance to talk to him about his role in Sponge Bob’s movie,” he gushes.
In Australia Bonde’s Marina Gasolina was licensed for a Bonds TV commercial last year. Media Watch picked up on the risqué Portuguese lyrics, causing minor controversy. Bonde have since modified the song in their shows – not dropping their trademark sauciness, but changing the chorus of Marina’s signature tune.
Taylor’s enthusiasm aside, it could be a spell before fans hear fresh Bonde material.
Pedro doesn’t expect them to ready an album until early 2009, but they’ll air a single this year. Bonde had commenced a second LP at the time of Marina’s departure, Gorky suggesting that they wanted to deliver more urbane music.
Pedro is coy about Bonde’s future direction but confirms Diplo’s participation. One thing is certain. The new Rolers plan to be hands-on. “I will be involved [in the album] because now I’m part of a band,” Taylor says confidently. “I’m not just a singer. I’d fully like to put a bit of me into it.”
WHO: Bonde Do Rolê
WHAT: Play We Love Sounds at Hordern Pavilion and Entertainment Quarter
WHEN: Sunday 8 June