Los Saicos — “El Entierro De Los Gatos”/“The Burial of Cats”: Brace for the Obscure (60s rock)! — February 26, 2023


746) Los Saicos — “El Entierro De Los Gatos/“The Burial of Cats”

Raucous ‘65 B-side by Peru’s Los Saicos — yes, pronounced “psychos” — who very well may have been the world’s first punk band!Martin Schneider say that today’s song “is a terse ode to the act of killing and burying cats. These guys do not mess around.” (https://dangerousminds.net/comments/if_perus_los_saicos_arent_the_first_punk_band_theyre_pretty_close)

As Jonathan Watts and Dan Collins write:

It’s a question that has long been the subject of intense and often bitter debate: where exactly did punk rock begin? . . . Few would imagine the genre that revolutionised music was actually born at a cinema matinee in the Peruvian capital of Lima. . . . Los Saicos (the Psychos) were screaming, speeding and drinking their way to local notoriety. . . . Their signature tune, Demolición (Demolition) has been revived as an anthem for political protesters and, reportedly, for drug barons. In the Lima district of Lince, a marble plaque has been erected with the provocative claim etched in marble: “The global punk movement was born here. Demolish!!!”

Los Saicos burned brightly and briefly in the mid-60s, performing together for a few years and recording no more than a dozen songs. They were inspired by Elvis and the Beatles to play rock’n’roll but thanks to a frenetic effort to make up for a lack of training and equipment . . . with energy and attitude they ended up with a sound that was 10 years ahead of its time. . . . “There was no name for that at the time, but the riffs are definitely punk,” said José Beramendi, the producer of . . . a documentary about the band. “You expect this sound from North America or Europe, but it’s not something you expect to hear in the 1960s in Latin America.” . . .

Los Saicos were raised on a musical diet of Harry Belafonte, Peruvian criolla and classical waltzes in the conservative and hierarchical society . . . . Elvis and the Beatles changed their lives. Their early shows were at cinema matinees, where bands were hired as an extra draw for the screenings. Most groups performed covers of syrupy pop songs, but Los Saicos revved up the energy by mixing original love ballads with hoarse, souped-up tracks about prison breaks, funerals and destruction. “Compared to other bands of the time, we had a bad-boy image. They turned up with their aunts, we had girls on each arm,” recalla the drummer Pancho Guevara. They were detained several times by the police, mostly for speeding but also for taking a sledgehammer, axe and fake TNT to the railway station for a record cover photo shoot.

Guevara said the label was unimportant. “I don’t know what ‘punk’ is,” he said. “We wanted to play rock’n’_roll but this is the sound that came out. I don’t know where it came from. It was just something that emerged when we started playing.”


Martin Schneider adds:

They were together only from 1964 to 1966 in their initial run—they released only six singles and never put out an album, but their “Demolición” was the biggest hit in Peru in 1965, and they had their own national TV show while they were still active. They had a raw, garage-y sound, apparently achieved without ever hearing any authentic garage rock from America—they did, however, know about all the big British Invasion bands. Plenty of people have claimed that they really invented punk—I’m not so sure about that . . . . A huge part of the Los Saicos . . . aesthetic derives from the balls-to-the-wall shouting of frontman Erwin Flores. Without that, they’re not all that much different from other garage-y bands—except for their nihilistic lyrics, of course. According to Flores, their first show in front of a posh audience was initially met with stunned silence—and then, after a pause, rapturous applause.

In 1966 they broke up. . . . After two years or so of close proximity, the four members had gotten sick of each other, and after breaking up they weren’t in contact with each other for decades. (It appears that there was no great conflict, in truth—just fatigue and a desire to move on to other matters.) Their great shouter Erwin Flores ended up moving to the Washington, DC, area, where he got a job at NASA . . . .


Here is a documentary on the band:

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