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CSS - Noble Steeds

Author: Steve Tauschke
Monday, August 18, 2008

Sub pop’s most colourful act, CSS, are back – new line-up and fresh sound in their shape of new LP Donkey in tow. 3D’s Steve Tauschke discusses the band’s past year with guitarist Anna Rezende.

The birth of Brazilian pop band CSS’ second album, the bizarrely titled Donkey, was a straining time for the group.

Just prior to its release, the band realised they were being swindled by their manager, Eduardo. Somewhat unbelievably, then bassist Iracema Trevisan claimed to not realise that her boyfriend – who lived a luxurious lifestyle – was squiring away funds that the band had earned.

Suffice to say, he’s no longer their manager, and Ira is no longer in the band.

It lead directly to the tune Left Behind – at the band’s lowest point, the group decided to move forward and not carry their baggage around with them.

“Everything about this album was natural,” claims Ana Rezende, one of two guitar players for the sextet.

The band themselves might be keeping their expectations low, but that’s certainly not true of the public at large – after the incredible breakthrough success of the international version of CSS, released a year after its Brazilian debut and with a slightly amended and expanded tracklist, CSS’ second album was one of the most anticipated releases of 2008.

“The sound of it is much more like how we are when we play live – we’re really happy with the result,” Rezende asserts. “The goal now is to go through the year doing all the tours that we need to. Everything that has happened [for the band] has been so fast and so unpredictable that we try to keep our expectations low and not really exceed anything.”

The sound of it is a more electro-rock feel than its predecessor, which to a far greater extent showcased the band’s Brazilian roots. It’s no real surprise – given that the band have toured the globe, and many members have now made London their central base when they’re not on tour, an expansion in their sound was always due to occur.

“When we started touring we had to adapt all those songs,” Rezende says of how they represented the songs from CSS in the live context. “It became much more rock. All the songs from the first album sound more like the second album when we play them live, so for us it was very natural to have the change of sound and do something more ‘rock’, because that’s how we are as a live band. It was a natural change of moods for us.”

Nevertheless, the band returned to Brazil to record it, operating quite quickly and turning it around in a relatively short amount of time.

“We wanted to release it before the [northern hemisphere] summer,” she explains. “We wanted it out in April or May, but the label said July if we got it to them by April. So there was no pressure on us – all the pressure came from us.”

Returning to Brazil, the studio that they used was open to them all the time to use as they saw fit – there was no luxury of time, but there was easy access. Having multi-instrumentalist Adriano Cintra produce it was also a logical fit; Rezende describes him as pragmatic and practical, and able to record in a quick time frame.

“It felt quite like time off for us,” she says of the recording experience. “It was the first time we went back [to Brazil] to our own place and our families and stayed there for more than a month.”

Cintra’s ability to work quickly also helped in that he was both playing drums, bass, and working in the studio behind the desk as the official producer of Donkey. “It was a big thing for him