Os Mutantes on the NSA: "At Least Ask, 'I'm a Voyeur, Can I Please Take a Peek?'"

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Photo by Denise Truscello
Os Mutantes' Sérgio Dias Baptista.

In 1966, brothers Sérgio Dias Baptista and Arnaldo Baptista formed Os Mutantes, a Brazilian rock band that played the role of confident court jester within the folk-rock Tropicália movement. While the group's forerunners and mentors, like Caetano Veloso and Gilberto Gil, preferred sentimentality and left-leaning ideals, the Mutants zeroed in on the playful, flirtatious psychedelia of early Pink Floyd and Sgt. Pepper's-era Beatles.

Through the rest of the '60s and into the '70s, Os Mutantes continued to innovate and dazzle with its ingenious signature fusion of Brazilian rhythm and trippy Anglo guitar music. However, the band was also plagued by label disagreements, drug abuse, and internal tension. When the band finally dissolved in 1978, Sérgio had become the lone original member.

See also: Review & Photos: Gilberto Gil at Rhythm Foundation's 25th Season Celebration: "It's Simply Me and My Guitar"

After 40 years of bubbling cult appreciation, though, the Baptista brothers briefly reunited to great acclaim in 2006. And though Arnaldo ultimately decided to leave Os Mutantes again, the year-long reunion sparked an entirely new era of the band, led by Sérgio's songwriting and vision.

The latest Os Mutantes album, Fool Metal Jack, is the boldest statement of the band's second career. The outfit is also touring the world. So we here at Crossfade caught up with Dias Baptista to discuss Mutant music, as well as the myriad injustices afflicting the global community, in particular U.S. intervention in the Middle East.

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Photo by Clarissa Lambert

New Times: The title of your new album is Fool Metal Jack. There's more going on there than the pun, correct?
Sérgio Dias: It's based on the lyrics to the second song on the album. It's about a young marine that is boarding a plane and he has no idea where the hell he is going to be. And believing that war is something that could be anything but what it really is. We're in the 21st century and we're still killing each other. I'm not a stupid silly pacifist. But I can't see people waste their lives on causes that are not real or concrete.


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