Pato Fu let go of being cute

On their sixth album, Ruído Rosa, the band tries for a rougher sound, recorded in home studios and mixed in London

Silvio Essinger
It's not a secret: ruído rosa (pink noise) is that kind of continuing noise, almost annoying, like static. And it has everything to do with the concept that Pato Fu intended to imprint on their sixth album in almost ten years of activity. "Even the more radio-friendly things in it are noisy", says guitarist John. Ruído Rosa 30'' excerpts is the follow-up to Isopor 30'' excerpts , from 1999 - their most successful album so far. The first single of Isopor, Depois, featured vocalist
Fernanda Takai in one of her cutest moments and was aired nonstop, attracting new fans who had no idea that the band had already put out four albums.

"Then, they started looking for the next Depois through the album. But there wasn't one", John recalls. That was it: Made In Japan (a bubble gum rock in Japanese) escalated the charts, followed by the sad tune Perdendo Dentes. Ruído Rosa comes out now with nothing that sounds like any of those. Some of the new songs are already on their set list. According to the guitarist, the new tour should kick off in Rio, next month. "We don't have the gift of doing the same thing over and over", John admits. It is a natural posture for Pato Fu, who do not favor immediate hits, but a long lasting career. "We are never going to sell a million copies, anyway...", he dismisses.

Ruído Rosa is the first Pato Fu disc that is totally computer-made. "On Isopor, we even used our home studio, but only to make the demos", he explains. A few vocals and drums had to be recorded in São Paulo, at Dudu Marote's studio (he had produced Isopor and Televisão de Cachorro 30'' excerpts ). As a result, the Brazilian part of the album cost less, making it possible to mix it at the Strongroom studio in London. "The budget was the same as Isopor's", the guitarist says. "We don't want more cake than we can eat."

The time spent with sound technician Clive Goddard was worth it. "The technicians do not know more about compressors or noise gates than the Brazilian ones", John claims. "The difference is that the Brits have heard other types of music and they understand the references that we bring." One of these, by the way, was the Welsh band Super Furry Animals, whom Pato Fu ran into, while in England.

Studio instead of a car
Now that he's learned to use all sorts of music software, John has found his place. "The new album is filled with vintage sounds, only, they were made electronically. A Hammond weighs 500 k and you get the exact same sound from a computer!" Pato Fu have been friends with electronica since their debut album, Rotomusic de Liquidificapum ouvir 30s , from 1993. "Only, electronica turned expensive", the guitarrist acknowledges. "Still, it is cheaper to build an analogue studio. Today, a home (computer) studio costs as much as a car." Summing up: "Instead of buying a car, we bought the studio and now we make the albums at home."

Ruído Rosa, as other Pato Fu discs, is rich in musical references which reveal the band's preferences. Besides Super Furry Animals, jovem guarda, Beck and other '60s rock sounds rule their music. On the new album, once again they record a song out of Graforréia Xilarmônica's reperoire (Eu, originally from Chapinhas de Ouro 30'' excerpts ), supposed to be the first single (they had recorded Nunca Diga on Televisão). "It is hard not to record their music", John says. "It's a shame that only a few people know them. Roberto Carlos should record them!"

On the track Day After Day, Pato Fu managed to gather in the same studio one of the most cult duos of the pop made in São Paulo in the '80s: Os Mulheres Negras, who split up in the early '90s. André Abujamra (who produced Pato's third album, Tem Mas Acabou 30'' excerpts ) and Maurício Pereira met in the studio and partied for real. "We used to look up to them, when we started the band. With a little technology, they used to put up a concert that was fun even though nobody new the songs", says John. Ira! - another important '80s band from São Paulo - is also present on Ruído Rosa, with a cover of Tolices, from Ira!'s debut LP, Mudança de Comportamento 30'' excerpts .

Annoying comparison
The most curious cover on the album, though, is Ando Meio Desligado (Mutantes), made by appointment to the greatest TV network in Brazil (Rede Globo), to be included in the soundtrack of a soap-opera. Early in their career, Pato Fu vehemently avoided being compared to Rita, Sérgio and Arnaldo. "There are a few points in common, like, we are two guys and one girl [before drummer Xande joining in, there were only John, bassist Ricardo Koctus and vocalist/guitarist Fernanda Takai], but the Mutantes are not our main influence", the guitarist says, adding that the comparisons used to get on his nerves.

"Today", he continues, "we are friends with Rita Lee, and Arnaldo Baptista sent us a bunch of the T-shirts he likes to paint." John and Fernanda, by the way, wrote the track O Amor em Pedaços, included on Rita Lee's latest album, 3001 30'' excerpts . Ana Carolina and Zélia Duncan have also recorded songs written by John on their recent albums. "I would like to write more songs, but I'm not compulsive enough", he sighs.