Argentine punk had a troubled upbringing. Though inspired by the notoriety of the Sex Pistols, Argentina’s pioneers couldn’t afford to play the same kind of media-baiting games. The year that brought us punk rock brought Argentina a vicious military dictatorship, and all evidence suggests dictators don’t like punk.
One of the most important scene-setting bands was Los Violadores (1981-) – the violators, or law-breakers – who despite the heavy-handed censorship established an underground movement of dissent and released an album a year. One way they survived their dangerous early period was by adopting the name Los Voladores – the flying ones – whenever things looked especially dicey. They’re still going strong, chastising slightly younger upstarts 2 Minutos (1987-) for writing unpunk songs about beer and football.
Just as Argentine punk was escaping its oppressed childhood and coming of age, the Falklands War made eveything associated with the UK, well, let’s just say uncool. Sumo (1981-1987), one of the most influential scene-setters, never wanted to be a punk band in the first place, and peppered its sound with everything from reggae to tango. Luca Prodan, Sumo’s frontman, was born in Rome but grew up in Scotland, where he went to Gordonstoun – the famously cold and character-building boarding school that counts both the Queen’s husband and eldest son among its alumni. But unlike our heir to the throne, Prodan then befriended Joy Division’s Ian Curtis in Manchester, suffered from heroin addiction, and moved to a friend’s farm in Argentina’s backwoods to kick the habit. There he recorded a few songs in a small studio, eventually moved to the big city, and ended up fronting one of the biggest bands in Argentina. As heritage stories go, Sumo’s beats the usual Peter-meets-Jane-at-art-school.
But let’s end with the fine example of Fun People (1989-2000), a converse-wearing, pogo-jumping punk band in the same bouncy vein as Bad Brains. Originally called Anesthesia after a famous Metallica song, they eventually wisely promoted their music as antifascist gay hardcore to distance themselves from the moshing boneheads they were attracting.