Puta Madre Brothers
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Puta Madre Brothers

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2011 was a busy period for Puta Madre Brothers, with the band travelling to Europe twice during the year, initially for a five-week tour in February, and a shorter tour in July. “It went really well, people loved it, and they wanted to kiss us,” says Anto Macaroni, the group’s notional leader and principal songwriter.  “And write on them as well – much different to Melbourne!” Pikkle laughs. The band’s follow-up tour was amusing, if not particularly fruitful.

“The second time we went back we played at a festival where 20,000 people could have fitted in, but only about 200 were there to see us,” Macaroni says. “About 20,000 turned out to see this really weird French guy with a pornographic moustache and tight pink pants who danced around,” Pikkle says.

“We got to meet Neneh Cherry, and she’s become a fan. She had a really nice tracksuit on,” Macaroni adds. “A bit later on the tour we played on a fish farm – a trout farm.” Unfortunately, no fish were caught on tour. “But since then Pikkle’s become a professional fisherman,” Anto says.

“I’ve been trying to spear fish in Gippsland. I got one in the head, but it got away,” Pikkle says. “It wasn’t really friendly after that,” he deadpans.

In between European tours, Puta Madre Brothers found time to record the band’s second album, It’s a Long Long Way To Meximotown.  After the popular and critical success of their debut album, Queso Y Cojones, Puta Madre Brothers were forced to confront the so-called ‘difficult second album syndrome’. It wasn’t a psycho-artistic barrier that seemed to present much of a threat. “The songs just came over time – we don’t consciously sit down and say ‘let’s write a new record’,” Macaroni says. “A lot of them came to us while we were on tour. We were recording while we were in the tour van.” 

One of the songs that appeared in the vehicular recording session was a cover of CW Stoneking’s Dodo Blues, linguistically reinterpreted and recast as Blues Dodo on the eve of one of the band’s European dates with the Melbourne blues musician. “That was the day we were playing with him,” Pikkle says. “We thought ‘what would really annoy him’ or ‘what would be really stupid’,” he laughs. Sadly, the band’s efforts at provoking Stoneking were wasted.

“He said he didn’t even hear it,” Macaroni says. “I’m not sure I trust him on that,” Anto laughs. “But he was happy for us to do the recording.”

The album also features a typically twisted gringo cover of Those Darlins’ The Whole Damn Thing. “That came about from when we were on tour with them,” Anto explains.  “I had that song stuck in my head, and it was annoying the shit out of me. So I thought ‘I’m going to fuck this song up so I can get it out of my head,” Macaroni laughs. “So I turned into that, well, whatever it is – I call it a disco song, but it’s more rockabilly. But they like it better than their version, apparently. So now it can get stuck in their head!”

“Yeah, now they’ll have to do a cover of it,” Pikkle counters.

As with their previous album, Puta Madre Brothers recorded, mixed and produced It’s a Long Long Way to Meximotown with negligible external assistance at a secret western suburbs location. “We kind of wanted to get back to recording because it’s really good fun,” Macaroni says. “It’s like a bit of science – we can take off our jackets and go into the laboratory.” With most of the songs already featuring in the band’s live set, it was just a case of getting everything down on tape.

“We just went in and played the songs 36 times,” Pikkle laughs.

In addition to the couple of covers, It’s a Long Long Way to Meximotown includes a selection of amusing tracks, including Macaroni’s ode to his childhood family dog. Mi Perro Es Tan Feo (‘My Dog Is Ugly’). With lyrics consisting of ‘My dog is ugly/Oh why is my dog ugly?/Because he was born backwards/I give him a kiss my dog’ this could well be the most sincere, and beautifully simplistic tribute to the canine species on record. “Whenever one of us would take the family dog to show and tell or walk it down the street, people would just tell us how ugly it was and abuse us,” Macaroni says. “It’s a really beautiful song – and live, people really do cry,” he smiles. 

Puta Madre Brothers’ success – managed entirely by the band itself, with no label or organised industry back – begs the obvious question: how long can Puta Madre Brothers continue to exploit the Meximotown gimmick? It’s a question the members of the band are aware of. “It’s a half, or maybe just a third of a joke,” Macaroni says. 

“It’s like using a joke to be sincere,” Pikkle adds.

“Yeah, it’s using a joke to make sure there’s still good music in the world,” Macaroni says. “And we keep getting these letters saying there’s a fourth brother somewhere in the world, so we need to respond to that,” Macaroni says.

BY PATRICK EMERY