Caramelos de Cianuro at Grand Central July 15
Longevity is far more often the antithesis of punk rock than an adjective used to describe it. But Venezuelan crew Caramelos de Cianuro doesn't subscribe to the usual rules. This band has been doing its thing for a very long time, and it's been doing it well.
The group first garnered attention 20 years ago in its hometown of Caracas when debut single "Nadando a Través de la Galaxia" ("Swimming Through the Galaxy") earned serious airplay on the Cultural Emissary of Caracas. And a lot has transpired during that time, including personnel changes, a major-label record deal, and international recognition. But one thing that never changed is the band's attitude and approach to songwriting: Caramelos de Cianuro remains irreverent and provocative with a defiant sense of humor and a mischievous streak.
According to vocalist and founding member Asier Cazalis, though, his crew's decades-long career also can be attributed to self-discipline and hard work. "It's important to be honest with yourself," he says, "and know how far you can push yourself. I think everyone has to choose their own path. I think it's important to keep it smart — intellectually, psychologically, and physically.
"It's a beautiful profession that brings a lot of good things. It also takes a lot of sacrifice," he adds, warning would-be musicians. "There is a lot of temptation, a lot of pressure. You have to have a certain type of personality to be able to maintain."
And certainly, Cazalis and his bandmates would know. They've enjoyed more than a modest amount of success in their native Venezuela since the follow-up single to "Nadando," titled "Tu Mamá Te Va a Pegar" ("Your Mom Is Going to Hit You"), rocketed them from a fledgling local act to one of Caracas's hottest bands.
Their debut EP, Las Paticas de la Abuela (Grandma's Little Feet), released on CNR Records in 1992 and featuring the two aforementioned tracks along with two others, made them a household name in their home country. Four years later, Cazalis and company dropped their first major-label release, Harakiri City, on Polygram. Then 2000 saw the release of Miss Mujerzuela, arguably the group's most popular record, eventually going double platinum.
Last year, with eight records already under the band's belt, Caramelos de Cianuro released its ninth album, a self-titled production featuring the unexpectedly laid-back lead-off single "La Casa." "It's a song people don't normally expect from us," Cazalis says. "It's a bit more down-tempo. We all have losses and things we miss, people mostly, and thinking about where they are waiting for us. Each person has their own interpretation. But at least for me, when I wrote it, it was about those people who are gone forever."
As for the album overall, Cazalis considers it the band's best. "I think it is the album we are proudest of," he says, "the one closest to the ideal we held when we started to work on the project. The stars aligned and the circumstances favored us."
And the success has continued. Caramelos de Cianuro is touring in support of the record, crisscrossing Venezuela while also stopping in Mexico, the Dominican Republic, Panama, Argentina, Chile, and, of course, Miami.
"It's work that's very enjoyable and very satisfying," Cazalis says of life on the road. "And it's very motivating. Performing in public produces a lot of adrenaline, and you hope that people will keep supporting you and want to hear what you have to say. And we'll keep doing what we can."
Meanwhile, he promises a good time for Miami's audience, noting the city's large Venezuelan population, including his father and sister, who reside in the 305.
"[Expect] a lot of energy," Cazalis says, "a bit more animated than what people expect when they hear the songs on the radio or on the album. It's a bit stronger when it's live."
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