Puta Madre Brothers
Renato, one third of local one-man band triumvirate Puta Madre Brothers, has just returned from a trip to Mexico, participating in a travelling literary arts performance festival cum exhibition titled 'The Great Wall of Books'. Renato's journey was fruitful - along with the usual tourist encounters, Renato has returned to Australia with a taste for a Mexican alcoholic concoction known as a 'michelada'. It's a relatively simple brew: Mexican beer, tomato juice, salt, Worcestershire sauce poured into a glass already lined around the lip with lime juice and thin line of chilli powder (for that added fiery effect). It's the idea brew for a hot and lazy Sunday afternoon.
It's actually a brisk Monday evening at fellow Puta Madre Brothers' member Anto's house in Northcote when we try the much-vaunted michelada - to everyone's satisfaction. Given Puta Madre Brothers' notional Mexican influence, it's not surprising that Renato endeavoured to introduce the band's music to a Mexican influence - notwithstanding the profane nature of the band's name. "They didn't really know what to make of it," Renato says. "I showed the clip we'd done to one guy and he said that 'cojones' (from the title of the Puta Madre Brothers record Queso y Cojones - balls and cheese) wasn't a Mexican word, it was Spanish - for 'balls' they actually say huevos, which means eggs. 'Balls' is actually pelotas. One guy actually asked me if I indeed had any balls, when I wouldn't buy a pair of sunglasses he'd obviously stolen," he laughs.
Thankfully the Mexican reaction to the band's name didn't create the ire subject of a recent missive to Anto, sent by a Spanish-speaking Melbourne resident. "Yeah, we got a bit of hate mail," Anto laughs. "He told us we should get some Spanish lessons, signed 'one hell of an irate Spanish Australian'. I wrote back to him and apologised, and said that we thought the name meant something completely different. He wrote back, and said that it wasn't a sufficient reply, but it was quick, signed 'your friend'," Anto grins. "He said it was a speedy, but inadequate reply," Renato adds.
"It was kind of exciting, getting that hate mail - and our serial pest turned up to our gig at MONA FOMA in Hobart," Anto adds. "He's our Hobart serial pest - he just sticks his finger up at all three us."
"It's good to have people who love to hate you," Renato figures. "At our previous gig in Hobart he said we were just doing blackface - but Anto went away and talked to him for a bit and he seemed fine. But he came back this time and gave us the finger," Renato adds. "Maybe he thought he were a completely different band," Anto laughs.
Save for the band's performance at The Falls, where "900 teenagers were throwing cushions at us", the Hobart and Melbourne hate mail appear to the only instances of negative reaction that has come Puta Madre Brothers' way. If anything, critical and popular reaction to the Puta Madre Brothers' whitebread Mexican one-man band shtick has been beyond positive, with the band recently selling out The East Brunswick Club just before Renato's departure overseas, and offers streaming in via the band's internet presence for international dates.
It's not a bad result for a band that's been doing it alone without substantive label or booking support. "That's been a great surprise - maybe we're at the forefront of changing the Melbourne music scene," Anto jokes. "We also played our first shows in Sydney recently, to a lot of orange beefcake blonde-haired people, who didn't really understand us," he adds.
"There was one person who got us - he laughed at all our jokes," Pickle - the third member of the troupe - recalls.
Shortly after Puta Madre Brothers' forthcoming gig at the Corner Hotel, the band head to Europe for their first overseas tour. "We're starting off in France, playing in this country-wide festival," Anto explains. "There are about ten bands that travel all the country as part of this government-sponsored festival called 'The Night of the Alligator'."
From there Puta Madre Brothers will take in Austria, Switzerland, Belgium and Holland - "39 shows in 44 days, including eleven shows in a row straight after we arrive," Anto explains. "But they really look after you over there - there's this rich history of musicians being respected as a very important part of society." The band have also been fortunate enough to score a distribution deal with Rookie Records in Germany. "It's like a hardcore label - hopefully the record is out now all over Europe," Anto nods.
One country that's not on the itinerary for the upcoming tour is Spain - but not necessarily because of any latent concerns with the Puta Madre Brothers moniker. "We had a few offers, and we really want to, but our promoter said it wasn't the best time to tour," Anto says. "Do you reckon he was concerned about irate Spanish-Australian tourists?" Renato inquires with a grin. "Maybe, yeah," Anto laughs. "Actually, it's more because of where the record is being released - we might go back there later in the year," Renato explains. "I reckon playing Spain will be like a bunch of Germans coming over here and playing American hillbilly music - Australians would find it really funny, but Americans wouldn't," he laughs.
Then there's the prospect of playing in the United States - especially in the Latino-rich areas of California, Texas and New Mexico. "Maybe we'd have to play behind chicken wire fence," Anto laughs. "Or in a bank - so we could hide behind the screens that pop-up," Renato offers.
In between their overseas touring activities, Puta Madre Brothers hope to return to the studio in around April to record their second album. "We're working on it - it's coming together," Anto says. "There'll be a few hit singles for Triple J," he laughs.
There's a possible album title being bandied around (which, unfortunately, my pissweak Spanish language skills render me unable to decipher from the interview recording - but suffice to say, it walks the line between and ignorance and offence). "Maybe we'll just do alternative versions of the same songs we did on the first album," Anto says. "Or maybe we'll record it in Russian, and call it Portugese," Renato laughs.
PUTA MADRE BROTHERS cap off a huge twelve months and plan to ride their triple-one-man-band-donkeys into an even bigger year ahead. With 39 shows in 43 days all over the European continent kicking off mid-February followed by a tour of the USA, and they're throwing a huge party. The formidable mariachi threesome play their only Melbourne club show for six months at The Corner Hotel this Friday February 4, complete with Trompetas Tontopollas, a 14-piece trumpet entourage backing band! They're joined by The Town Bikes, Ross De Chene Hurricanes, B.J Morriszonkle and The Suitcase Royale for this one-night only show. They will set your ass on fire if not their own. Tickets from the Corner Box Office, 9427 9198 and cornerhotel.com. Their album Queso Y Cojones is out now.