You would think that rock en espanol stars Fabulosos Cadillacs would be happy to meet with the media during their first North American tour after winning the Grammy for the album "Fabulosos Calavera."
How about a photo next to the American flag, symbolizing the Argentines' success in the United States with their eccentric brand of hard-core rock and jazzy pop, salsa and ska?
"Don't even think about it," says bassist Flavio Cianciarulo.
Maybe a shot over here, at the entrance of the sound stage where the band is taping an appearance for the television show "Vibe"?
"Do we really need to be doing this?" says singer Gabriel Fernandez Capello. As uncompromising in person as they are on record, the two leaders of the eight-member band don't make any effort to hide their impatience with the demands of fame as they near the end of their North American tour.
"It's been some sort of endless purgatory," says Capello, speaking in Spanish during a cigarette break outside the television studio. "There's a lot of hotels all over America that are quite sinister, you know. All you see is a bunch of lifeless, obese people sitting by the pool waiting for something to happen."
The Cadillacs responded to the monotony of the road by writing and rehearsing new songs during the days of bus travel.
This new material is a source of keen interest for anybody who follows the world of rock en espan~ol closely. The pressing question: Will the band be able to top, or at least match, the quality of "Fabulosos Calavera"?
Released in 1997, "Calavera" is one of those rare albums that define a genre just by proving how high its standards can be. The record went on to win the first ever Grammy in the genre of Latin rock and received ecstatic reviews in mainstream U.S. magazines such as Rolling Stone and Spin. Its U.S. sales of nearly 100,000 were impressive for a work from the genre.
Offering a humorous, wry look at death, "Calavera" combined all the elements that the band had explored in its 10-year history into one rich package. If it was the Cadillacs' "Sgt. Pepper," comparisons of the next album to the Beatles' "White Album" will be inevitable--especially since it will be a two-CD set, according to Capello.
But his description of the work--which is expected to be released early next year by BMG Latin--is enigmatic, if intriguing.
"As a band, we're getting further and further away from rock 'n' roll," he explains. "We had this ridiculous idea of having a farm as the backdrop for the tunes. . . . It's really silly . . . very nonsensical. That's why the new songs are loaded with samples of birds and animal calls. A bizarre invention, isn't it?
"[Record company executives] certainly expect us to deliver an album that sounds like the commercial, easy-to-sell Cadillacs. But the thing is, this new music . . . is even more difficult than 'Calavera,' so I don't know how it will all work out. Our new music belongs to no genre."
Fabulosos Cadillacs was dismissed as a second-rate ska outfit in its early days in Buenos Aires, but the band gained an international following with "Matador," an electrifying political protest song with a contagious carnival beat. It was the highlight of their breakthrough album, 1992's "El Leon."
Although the Cadillacs have had a few moderate hits since then, they haven't matched that kind of success--but that isn't their highest priority.
"We could always do a commercial record if we wanted to," says Capello. "I still have the hope that we'll do the record that we want to make and that it will sell well. It was the same with 'Fabulosos Calavera.' Everybody started saying that it was a weird record, and yet it won a Grammy and sold a pretty good amount of copies."