Random Fun

Want to hear three Brazilian 20-somethings shouting in Portuguese? Meet Bonde do Rolè

The joke is to be as stupid and cheesy as you can be," MC and producer Pedro D'eyrot has said of his goofy-cool Brazilian trio, Bonde do Rolè, "and people will buy it."

D'eyrot told that to Rolling Stone earlier this year, describing the take-no-prisoners approach to dance music practiced by his band, three twenty-somethings from the Brazilian city Curitiba.

With DJ and producer Rodrigo Gorky behind the boards, the group starts out with the infectious rhythms of funk carioca (also called baile funk), which sounds a lot like Miami bass and is the hot club music of Brazil. Into this, Bonde do Rolè folds in outrageous samples from Alice in Chains, Tone Loc, AC/DC, brass bands, calypso, kazoos, old-school video games, nursery rhymes and the soundtrack from Grease.

In songs that range from two to three minutes in length, they take on the 007 theme in "James Bonde" (in which Bond is envisioned as gay) and Metallica-style riffs in "Bondallica," which disses metal acts such as Slipknot and Manowar, as well as Iron Maiden frontman Bruce Dickinson.

It's a rambunctious and entertaining mix, seeming to be as bratty and genre-defying as were the Beastie Boys when they emerged in the 1980s.

Over the top of this musical madness, D'eyrot and MC Marina Vello rap, chant, shout and carry on about all manner of silly shit, from graphic sex and out-of-bounds partying to secret agents, with shout-outs to Afrika Bambaataa and Coca-Cola thrown in.

But you won't understand most of it, unless you know Portuguese. Even then, maybe not, since much of Bonde do Rolè's lyrics are delivered in what has been called an indecipherable gay Brazilian slang.

So you'll have to take D'eyrot's word for it when he tells Rolling Stone that "Melo do Caldinho" includes a stanza about oral-to-anal sex. "That's the shit we're doing, man," D'eyrot says. "Nasty stuff. Sex with food, general perversion."

Bonde do Rolè (which is pronounced, more or less, "bonge de her-lay") will visit Tucson to promote its recently released debut album, With Lasers, with a gig Tuesday, Oct. 2, at Plush.

Unfortunately, after a week of e-mails and phone calls with Bonde do Rolè's publicist and tour manager, it was determined that the group was too busy to talk with the Tucson Weekly. But they have been more than vocal in conversations with other publications, some of which provided the quotations in this article.

Bonde do Rolè have been together for about two years, according to the Web site of their record label, Domino. They formed while hanging out in the funk carioca scene, which was born in the impoverished favelas of Rio, but they immediately set out to bring a new palette of sounds to the party.

"We just started making music out of fun--we didn't have any intentions to work professionally with music," Gorky has said.

Another motivating force behind Bonde do Rolè is irreverence, Vello said in the band's bio. Her band is "the ultimate, stupid party."

Bonde do Rolè's Brazilian origin confuses some listeners. Usually, a couple of people show up at each gig expecting a traditional Brazilian-music band or at least something to do with world beat, Gorky told the online magazine Format.

"We always have one or two people in the crowd expecting a proper Brazilian act going onstage, believe it or not. And when they see just a bunch of kids, without no instruments and a lot of screaming, they just leave the room annoyed, waiting for the next time Gilberto Gil plays in their area."

It soon became clear that Bonde do Rolè would truly find their audience in Europe, and now the group lives in either London or Berlin, according to different reports. The trio is all the rage on the continent, but before the current jaunt had only toured in the United States once before, briefly earlier this year.

Early tours were challenging wherever they went, Vello said in the band bio. "It's difficult to tour with a Brazilian passport," she said. "People think you're an immigrant and (that) you want to sell kebabs."

Worldwide domination, strangely, feels inevitable for Bonde do Rolè. The band's music has been marketed through various media, naturally including its MySpace page and numerous YouTube clips. The song "Solta o Frango" has been heard in an international ad campaign for Nokia, was played in a British commercial for Ugly Betty and will be featured on the soundtrack of the Electronic Arts video game FIFA 2008. GQ magazine also used the Bonde do Rolè song "Office Boy" for the behind-the-scenes video of a recent photo shoot of actress Jessica Alba.

As for ambition ... well, Bonde do Rolè never expected to get this far.

"It was never an issue, because we never meant to be a band. It was a joke that became an album, that got signed to Diplo's label," D'eyrot told the BBC's Web site.

"We never stop to think about what we're going to do; we just do it. Bonde do Rolè is very random. For us, it's all about the fun, and if it's not fun, it's not worth doing. People can think whatever they like about us, but I'd like them to listen to Bonde do Rolè in 10, 15 years' time and laugh their asses off. Like they do with Bon Jovi."