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World Music Features

Senor Flavio

By Lissette Corsa
Published June 3, 2008

With legendary Argentine rockers Los Fabulosos Cadillacs, Señor Flavio helped define Rock En Español in the ’90s. His new album Supersaund 2012 ripples with the reggae and ska sound that put LFC on the map, but also offers a fresh brew of punk, garage, and psychobilly—a raucous cocktail that’s sure to propel Flavio to the indie forefront once again.

“I don’t believe in set phrases,” Flavio Cianciarulo intones, his voice crackling over the phone from Mar del Plata, Argentina. “But there’s a popular one that says life begins at 40. At least for me, it’s turning out to be true.”

 

Of course, this begs the kneejerk follow-up “never trust anyone over 30”— a sound bite from the ’60s civil rights era that rears up every decade or so as a rallying cry for the latest youth-led alternative trend—but that hasn’t deterred Cianciarulo, a.k.a. Señor Flavio, from setting out to reconquer the underground. Since the disintegration of his high-octane band Los Fabulosos Cadillacs, which over the course of 15 years became one of the most internationally recognized Latin ska-punk fusion outfits to come out of Argentina, Flavio has produced several solo projects, as well as upstart indie acts from Mexico to Chile. Taking a page from kindred punk soul Henry Rollins, he  has also written a series of rock ’n roll fiction narratives, that include a collection of short stories and two novels. For the past two years, he has hosted “Radio Atomika”—a popular underground radio show based in Buenos Aires. Señor Flavio also has a new band, The Flavio Mandinga Project, and their third album Supersaund 2012 has been released stateside by the Latin alt-rock tastemakers at Nacional Records. “I’m more active than ever,” asserts the 43-year-old bass player. “I’ve had to start from the bottom again, and I like that. Starting from zero has brought me many good things. Most of all it’s bought me time to pursue a bunch of different interests.”

 

As a founding member of Los Fabulosos Cadillacs, Señor Flavio penned many of the band’s songs, including the seminal hit single “Matador,” which in 1994 carried LFC out of a slump and thrust them back into the limelight. The song won MTV’s International Viewer’s Choice Award, and was even featured in the platinum-selling soundtrack to the film Grosse Point Blank. Collaborations with Debbie Harry and Fishbone (with whom the Cadillacs covered the ’60s schlock classic “What’s New Pussycat?”) helped make them the most viable crossover act to emerge from the burgeoning Rock En Español movement. They even joined up with the late salsa icon Celia Cruz to record a ballad—a move that solidified them as chameleonic eccentrics at home, and introduced them to an older Latin audience in the U.S.

 

“It occurs to me that precisely around that time, beyond listening to punk rock, ska and reggae, we had started to listen to salsa,” Flavio explains. “Celia had collaborated with David Byrne and—well, that was the link. The salsa sound was definitely very close to ska, so this happened very naturally, without any type of logistical planning. At so