Samba Punk from Scotland interviewed By James Edmond
James: – Where did you get the name Bloco Vomit?
Rob: – A Bloco is a small Brazilian band, mostly preceded by an equally large dance troupe, lined up in a tight square in order to make their way when they process through the overcrowded carnival streets. Vomit is the punk element!
Ian: – The name has been misspelled in more ways than I could have thought possible. In Ireland we were Bloc O’Vomit.
James: – As we can see Samba punk is doing well for yourselves are there any other bands that have followed in your footsteps?
Ian: – Not as far as I know, but there is a band in Glasgow called Roaring Silence that mixes rock/thrash and Brazilian music. We played a number of gigs together last year which was great fun. Our approaches are quite different though: we take a traditional Brazilian percussion line up and add guitar, vocals and trumpet; they take a rock setup of drum kit, bass and guitar and add Brazilian drums. We might do a split single together, though it’s not been decided. As far as I know, we independently had the idea of mixing the two styles – like us, they were previously playing samba percussion.
James: – Is your album based around some of the bands favourite punk tracks?
Ian: – Yes! X Ray Spex and Alternative TV were mine or Gary’s suggestions. For sure, we wanted to bring alive again some of the unique music that came out of the punk era. Jilted John was suggested by Jasper. Often we jammed something we liked at a rehearsal until a rhythm structure emerged. In a few notorious cases Gary has been known to play a song at a gig that we’ve never done! He played ‘No Fun‘ at the CD launch to the great surprise of the rest of the band. We are working on our own numbers now…it has to be done.
James: – What other classic punk tracks do you play when you’re playing live?
Ian: – We do “California Uber Alles” by the Dead Kennedy’s, and a Wild Thing/Louie Louie medley plus “Something Else” in the Pistols treatment. “Not Fade Away“, the Sonics “Have Love Will Travel” which is more of a garage rock number, and “Sweet Transvestite” from the Rocky Horror Picture Show. Hmm, looks like we’ve branched out a bit…there are plenty of other classic punk songs I want do, such as the Slits, the Cramps (“Surfing Bird“), and the Rezillos.
James: – Your gig in Poco Loco, Brazil how did it go?
Rob: – It was a pretty surreal event, on the day after the Olinda Carnival. We were crammed into this wee pub surrounded with Brazilian percussionists who joined in when they felt like it whereas the PA joined out in a similar way… it couldn’t cope with vocals and guitar at the same time. It was then that we got the decisive push towards our current dressing habits..
Neil: – It was quite a strange gig to do really. We played with a few “guest players” both from Edinburgh and Olinda. The PA was really awful with the vocals having to be put through the bass amp….a typically punk kind of gig I suppose.
James: – What sort of a reaction did you get from the locals?
Rob: – We had met most of the locals the days before when we played with the Edinburgh Samba School. They loved it…but they loved everything that came from Scotland those weeks: they couldn’t stop pointing to the kilts, shouting and laughing ‘Saja, saja’, the bagpiper who joined in with us could only proceed when he played..The people otherwise didn’t make way…they saw us on television or in the paper…it was amazing. We were participating in their event, bringing Scottish things, our Bonecos (huge puppets that are carried with blocos -mostly in front- indicate their origin and help to clear the way for the band and the dancers..) were depicting a whisky drinking Scotsman where the other came from Loch Ness….
James: – We notice from your tour dates history things seem to be taking off for yourselves now, are you planning any sort of tour before the year is out?
Ian: – Well, that’s kind of you to say so. I’m pleased with things since our CD launch; we’ve gone from unknown to acquiring a certain kind of notoriety! Since most of us work, a long tour is tricky but we’re hoping to do some weekend tours…a return visit to London, where we packed out the Samuel Pepys in Hackney on the worst weekend of the year for audiences (Glastonbury, the World Cup, and pissing with rain!), also Newcastle, Belfast, Manchester and Liverpool. Playing more often in Glasgow and central Scotland would be good. Also we want to play more outdoor festivals.
James: – What sort of people come and see yourselves at the gigs?
Ian: – All sorts…our first gig was at the 1996 Edinburgh punk festival and since then both punks and samba aficionados have been at the gigs. We played to Goths in Dundee, hippies in Edinburgh and pretty mixed crowds in London and Glasgow. Last weekend we played in front of 150,000 people in the Edinburgh Festival Cavalcade…the Dead Kennedys resounded throughout Princes St. I don’t think we’ve had an audience that didn’t like the live act yet, though if we do support slots for really popular bands that will probably come! We’ll just do a 55 minute version of Louie Louie like Iggy did.
James: – Have you picked up a travelling support that seem to be at every gig you do?
Ian: – No, though we have got to know a number of bands to play with. Edinburgh is a pig of a place to get venues to play, so we’re happy to help other bands where we can.
James :- We know the music press take yourselves as a joke how does this make you feel and why do you think fanzine seem to come to your selves and give you support? Ian: – I don’t mind at all! The mainstream reviews were so bad they positively drew attention to the band. They seemed rather short on critical comment, it is true. I think the fanzine reviewers are more open to new ideas and take more care in listening to stuff they’re sent. The mainstream critics probably are more concerned about our age, the fact that anything punk is a target for taking the piss, and also that we are sending up the whole music industry. On the other hand they might actually want to do us some good – a mediocre review is far worse than a bad review. Being slagged off in the music press and getting great reviews in the zines are really encouraging to me…..definitely the right way round. We like to have fun, we like to mess around with the musical styles, we don’t take ourselves seriously – and I’m happy with the energy that comes out of our live gigs. We can play for two hours if we’re on good form and people want us to (with a break at the bar!). I think the punters and the fanzines appreciate all these things.
James: – How do your work mates act at yourselves about cross dressing?
Ian: – They thought I was a bit weird even before the cross-dressing! I think they’ve given up on me.
Claire: – I’m just so glad we’ve got such a great manager.
Esther: – And he’s so good looking too.
Thanks for taking the time to do this interview hope to catch up with you all soon.
Taken from Scotland Calling Fanzine (Scottish Music Network)