Los Saicos

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Los Saicos
Origin Lima, Peru
Genres Garage rock
Proto-punk
Surf Rock
Psychobilly
Years active 1964–1966, 2006–2011
Labels Dis-Perú, El Virrey, Electro Harmonix, Repsycheld Records
Members Erwin Flores (lead vocals, rhythm guitar)
Rolando Carpio (lead guitar)
César "Papi" Castrillón (bass guitar, vocals)
Pancho Guevara (drums)

Los Saicos were a Peruvian garage rock band and one of the first proto-punk bands. They released six singles (but no albums) between 1965 and 1966, all songs being originals by band members Erwin Flores and Rolando Carpio.

Origins[edit]

The band was formed in Lince, Lima in 1964 by four amateur musicians just out of high school. Contrary to some myths, they were not aware of US garage rock or of the other British bands like the Downliners Sect; yet, even though they listened mostly to the best-known British Invasion bands (The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, The Animals), they came up with a wild garage/surf sound that is unlike anything else recorded in Latin America at the time, and perhaps only paralleled by bands like The Sonics and MC5 in North America.

Success[edit]

They were pioneers in writing their own Spanish-language songs, and they were also probably the only garage band anywhere to have been the most successful pop act in their country, as they were in 1965. Their anthem "Demolición" was one of the biggest radio hits of the year in Peru. They also had their own national TV programme during 1965. The band’s initial public exposure was orchestrated by Erwin’s younger brother, Harry, who arranged their introduction into popular radio and television media through his early contacts. It was on his recommendation to his brother, the lead singer, that he adopt his aggressive vocal “screaming” technique, which has become the trademark of the group’s notoriety, and made them the vanguard of punk expression. Harry Flores continues to promote and manage the group.

Los Saicos, who released all but one single through the small DisPerú label, unleashed "Saicomania" and led the way for dozens of bands throughout Peru. They have become legendary and many myths were created around their short existence and mysterious disappearance.

Recently they revealed that, once they perceived their fame to be waning in 1966, they simply decided to stop playing and began to live conventional lives, with two Saicos (singer Erwin Flores and singer/bass player César "Papi" Castrillón) eventually moving to the United States. Flores recorded two solo albums that were later shelved. He then moved to the metropolitan area around Washington, DC and worked for ten years with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), not before moonlighting as a salsa singer for a cover band in Maryland and Virginia. He is currently an executive for a pharmaceutical company. Coincidentally, Castrillón moved near Flores and they both became aware of their proximity only after a few years. Castrillón is semi-retired; he appears to have taught guitar classes in a church as a side activity.

Guitar player Rolando Carpio died in early 2005; he made a point of not telling his children about his musical past until they discovered the fact by themselves (as his son Rolando notes in the documentary about the band, Saicomanía). Drummer Pancho Guevara still lives in Lima.

Psychedelic garage punk band, The Black Lips have acknowledged Los Saicos as a major influence.

Reunion[edit]

In 2006, the surviving Saicos got together in their hometown, Lince, Lima, for some commemorative events. They apparently have not played together in public since 1966 (although local reports from Peru dispute this; there was reportedly a reunion gig in 2009). Erwin Flores made a public reappearance in Peru after 40 years, singing "Demolición" at a small concert with the garage band Manganzoides as a guest, in May 2006. He also performed that song in Madrid at the Joy Eslava Club, fronting Spanish band Wau y Los Arrghs! in 2009. In 2010 Los Saicos played on their first international concert ever at Spain, since the ABC newspaper called them 'the first punk band in the world'.

In 2011, Saicomania, a docummentary about the band's career, was released at the Julieta theatre, Miraflores, Lima, Perú. On the same day, Los Saicos played together, with the presence of the local psychedelic garage band Los Silver Mornings.[1] The documentary was later shown in public in San Francisco, with, among others, Jello Biafra from the Dead Kennedys in attendance.

Also, in 2011, they played another 2 wild reunion shows in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

Music reissues[edit]

Their entire recorded legacy was issued on CD by the Peruvian label Repsychled in 2006, which remastered much of the material from original tape reels. Previously, an unauthorized 10" vinyl by Spain's Electro-Harmonix (1998) had compiled this same material, taking it from the 45 rpm singles rather than master tapes.

Discography[edit]

Albums

  • Wild Teen Punk from Perú 1965 (1999) - Non official edition by Electro Harmonix
  • Saicos (2006) - Official album edited by Repsychled Records
  • ¡Demolición! - The Complete Recordings (2010) - Singles compilation [Box Set] by Munster Records

Singles

  • "Come On" / "Ana" (1965) - Dis Perú
  • "Demolición" / "Lonely Star" (1965) - Dis Perú
  • "Camisa de fuerza" / "Cementerio" (1965) - Dis Perú
  • "Te Amo" / "Fugitivo de Alcatraz" (1965) - Dis Perú
  • "Salvaje" / "El Entierro de Los Gatos" (1965) - Dis Perú
  • "Besando a Otra" / "Intensamente" (1966) - El Virrey

References[edit]

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]