Latin rhythms mixed with rock attitude can make a wildly potent sonic cocktail. And the music of Brazil's Garotas Suecas infuses the stripped-down structures of '60s soul and garage with a sultry tropical swing straight outta Sao Paolo, intoxicating listeners like a double Caipirinha. Since the MTV Brazil-award winners arrived in New York last year, their fresh sound and madly danceable shows have left American listeners slack-jawed. The six-piece is now on a U.S. tour that hits the Rickshaw Stop tonight (with Lumerians and Greg Ashley). We got guitarist Sergio "Sesa" Sayeg on the phone from the road for a chat about cruising the states and how their name -- which means "Swedish Girls" in Portuguese -- really came about.
What are you driving around in these days?
We have a minivan packed with shit. What's the brand -- Kia. Right now we're listening to Joao Donato.
When you meet someone for the first time, and they ask what your band sounds like, what do you tell them?
We mix American soul and funk with Brazilian Tropicalia and Brazilian freakbeat style. It's crazy.
What has surprised you most about touring the U.S.?
We were very well accepted. No one knew us at all and they were so fucking open and digging it so much. People [here] capture something in our music that maybe was hard to find in Brazil. In Brazil, people were linking us always to '60s music, but here, not so much.
Are there many bands that sound like Garotas Suecas in Brazil?
There are other bands interested in the '60s and stuff, but I don't think we sound like anyone else.
There are six of you in the band, and three of you sing. How do you keep that organized?
There are three main writers, Thomaz, Sal and me. When we are in the studio, things are super open and totally free to take on any sort of direction. Perdido studied music his whole life, so he's really good at knocking shit down. But nothing's very strict. Lately we've been taking a lot of guitars out on the recordings, or [saying] "Shit, there's way too much guitar. Stop playing!"