12. Was Punk Born In Peru? #Write52

los saicos 1.jpg

Has life lost its lustre? Feeling at a loose end? Then revel in 2: 53 seconds of glorious anarchism from the 1960s.

Demolición, by Peruvian cult band Los Saicos, is an awesome piece of primal goodness guaranteed to set the pulse racing. Released in May 1965, their raw garage sound was a direct challenge to The Beatles and other bands arriving on the back of the British invasion.

Demolición starts with a slow guitar and drum intro. It then shifts at least two gears as frontman, Erwin Flores, suddenly unleashes his blood-curdling call,

Ta ta ta ta ta ta yayayayayaya
Echemos abajo la estacion del tren
Echemos abajo la estacion del tren
Echemos abajo la estacion del tren
Echemos abajo la estacion del tren
Demoler demoler demoler demoler
Echemos abajo la estacion del tren
Demoler, demoler la estacion del tren
Demoler, demoler la estacion del tren.

This is a nihilistic exhortation to "Demolish the train station"!

The single rapidly became one of the biggest hits on the Peruvian charts. And remains popular.

For English-speaking listeners, there’s the additional frisson supplied by the pronunciation of their name, “The Psychos”.

They burned brightly but briefly, releasing a series of successful singles over a two year period, before breaking up in 1966. They’d effectively run their course. But in that short period, offered their generation a visceral response to a rapidly changing world.

The instrumentation was influenced by the surf rock of Dick Dale. But their sound and lyrical aggressiveness clearly anticipated elements of the punk movement that emerged in the ‘70s on both sides of the Atlantic.

Did they invent punk? No. And the debate about who did is ultimately a sterile one. But their music, emerging around the same time as bands such as The Sonics, was clearly ahead of its time. Los Saicos had grasped the power of simple chords, in-your-face vocals and music played with attitude. There must have been something in the water at the time!   

As Flores said, “Never in my life would it have occurred to me to call our music punk. We were proto-punk, not exactly punk… We were predecessors to punk.”

Once heard, that chorus of ‘Ta ta ta ta ta ta yayayayayaya’ can never be forgotten. What a legacy!