Caramelos de Cianuro on 20 Years in Punk, "La Casa," and Killing It Live
Longevity is far more often the antithesis of punk rock than an adjective used to describe it. But Venezuelan rockers Caramelos de Cianuro don't subscribe to the usual rules. This band has been doing its thing for a very long time now, and it's been doing it well.
The group first garnered attention 20 years ago in its hometown of Caracas with debut single "Nadando a Traves de la Galaxia" ("Swimming Through the Galaxy"), which 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 remain 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 can also 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," he says. But he also warns would-be musicians, "It also takes a lot of sacrifice. 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 just a modest amount of success in their native Venezuela since the follow-up single to "Nadando," titled "Tu Mama 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 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. In '96, they dropped their first major label release, Harakiri City, on Polygram. And then 2000 saw the release of Miss Mujerzuela, arguably the band's most popular record to date, 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," says Cazalis. "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 on the whole, Cazalis considers it to be 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 successes have continued. Currently, Caramelos de Cianuro is touring in support of the record, crisscrossing Venezuela while also making stops in Mexico, the Dominican Republic, Panama, Argentina, Chile, and of course, Miami.
"It's work that's very enjoyable and very satisfying," says Cazalis 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 both 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."
Caramelos de Cianuro with Origen and Mr. Pauer. Friday, July 15. Grand Central, 697 N. Miami Ave., Miami. The show starts at 10 p.m. and tickets cost $20 via fla.vor.us. Call 305-377-2277 or visit grandcentralmiami.com.
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