By Adam Lovinus
By Lilledeshan Bose
By Gabriel San Roman
By Rachel Mattice
By Stephanie Zacharek
By Daniel Kohn
By Nate Jackson
By Mike Seeley
CSS blew up in 2006 with a fresh, addictive take on new rave, replete with chintzy keyboards and anthemic choruses about alcohol and making love while listening to Death From Above 1979. The São Paulo, Brazil, combo churned out songs—such as "Alala" and "Music Is My Hot Sex"—that were basically summer parties in song form. They boasted ridiculous, broken-English-but-witty lyrics such as those in "Art Bitch": "I am an art bitch, I sell my paintings to the men I eat/I have no portfolio, and I only show where there's free alcohol."
Those early tunes; their accompanying album, Cansei de Ser Sexy (what CSS stands for, which translates to "Got Tired of Being Sexy"); and their crazy live shows, at which lead singer Lovefoxxx (real name Luísa Hanae Matsushita) whips her hair back and forth while dressed in tie-dyed spandex, earned CSS a global following and landed them on a stage at Coachella. But by the time of their 2008 Sub Pop/Warner follow-up, Donkey, CSS sounded like a different band—heavier, a little road-weathered and more serious. Compare first-album lyrics such as "I think I'm off the hook, baby" with those from second-album revenge single "Rat Is Dead (Rage)": "Up the stairs, by the bed, there was a dead man waiting."
"I think we didn't have much time to think about Donkey when we did it," says guitarist Luiza Sá. "I guess we were having kind of a serious life at the time."
After taking some time off to do non-CSS things, the group spent about a year writing and recording their next, as-yet-untitled record, which Sá says will be released in August. The band had more material from which to choose, she says, and aimed for a "teenage powerful fun vibe." There's even a song in Spanish, which raises the number of languages the band sings in (including English and Portuguese) to three.
"We had been touring for I don't know how long," Sá says. "We needed to have a normal life for a second to get inspired and happy to go on with things. We are very excited to go back on tour with new material."
Of their current tour—which takes the band through South America, the U.S. and Canada—she says to expect the same wild energy from their previous shows. "We really want people to enjoy it, and we try to make the best show possible for the people," she says. "We aren't super-rich yet, otherwise [you] could expect crazier things. But the energy will be there for sure."
Sá says the band love playing the States and have played here much more than in their native Brazil. Their strongest fan bases are in the U.S. and Europe. "I think everywhere is different, but there's also a universal thing that happens in our shows because they are very energetic," she says. "No matter where we are—Brazil or the U.S.—it's way fun, and we seem to attract people with the same sense of humor."
They are also fans of SoCal—after all, they wrote a song called "Meeting Paris Hilton" before they actually came here and met her. "We love LA: You don't even have to go far to see things or actors and have a great time," she says. "Somehow, every time we go to LA, something crazy and fun happens to us, always kind of surreal. And we love to get Mexican food and go to In-N-Out."
And while "Meeting Paris Hilton" was tongue-in-cheek, Sá admits they enjoy the surreal experience of meeting celebrities, especially as outsiders to American culture. Next on their celeb wish list?
"We love John Waters; we mentioned him on the song 'Jager Yoga,'" Sá says. "He is someone the whole band is crazy about and would love to meet and work with. We kind of adore RuPaul also. It's always great to meet the people you admire, but we always tend to act very dorky around them."
CSS on RuPaul's Drag Race? We can only hope.
This story appeared in print as "Recharged and Ready to Rock: Brazil's CSS return to Southern California seeking 'something crazy'— and Double-Doubles."