The strange world of Rogério Skylab

Singer and songwriter includes fright, provocation and morbidity on his first live album

Silvio Essinger
One story that Rogério Skylab does not buy is the one about the new MPB. "Some of the artists are interesting, but they do not indicate new paths, they’re all linked to tradition", he says. In the ‘80s, he was a member of the punk band Setembro Negro, and one question has stuck to his mind ever since: how to overcome the previous generation, music-wise?

"Picture what Gal Costa represented by the time of the concert Fatal, singing Jards Macalé and Waly Salomão songs with those yummy legs that she used to have. That was a happening!" Skylab’s solution was to get spaced out, as noticed on his third release, Skylab II, now hitting the main indie stores in Brazil. Fright, provocation and morbidity form this first and visceral live album by the singer and songwriter who debuted on disc in 1992, with the independent LP Fora da Grei.

The new album features 10 new songs plus eight re-recordings taken from a live performance last year in Rio de Janeiro, with no overdubs ("If I am singing off key, that’s too bad", he swears) and packaged in a hideous cover made by artist Solange Venturini – two dead chicken heads biting one another (their guts also appear on the booklet). According to Rogério, Skylab II is the compensation for his previous CD, Skylab, which had been produced by guitarist Robertinho do Recife. "There were too many keyboards in that album, I didn’t like the result, it came out sort of artificial." This time around, he accompanied every step of the production, which came out at his expense. "This is 100% Skylab. The other was 80% Robertinho", he says.

Skylab II is Rogério in his wildest mode. Classics like Urubu, Derrame, Música Suave and Funérea are present. And he is not afraid to approach themes like cannibalism, on songs like Carne Humana ("some people eat office boys/others eat cows/ some people eat vultures and basement rats/ and they think it’s ok"). Motosserra ("Chainsaw") brings macabre memories for those who saw the movie Boxing Helena.

Heavy serenade
Skylab’s specialty, however, is to place tranquility and barbarism side by side, on songs like Naquela Noite, Matadouro de Almas (or "Soul Slaughterhouse") and the outstanding Matador de Passarinho (or "Bird Killer"). With an unpredictable arrangement that mixes late heavy metal with serenading guitars, Rogério even wrote a song named Jesus. But his intention was not to use a holy name in vain. "It was more like when the Portuguese say ‘Jesus’, for admiration and fright", he explains.

Rogério knows that his music won’t be heard on the radio and that he won’t sign up to a major. "In the beginning, I thought I would get to a major label, but it was fiction." A few months ago, he appeared on Jô Soares’ TV show (a type of local David Letterman) – the interview was so successful that it was rerun, praised by the host: "I promise that you are going to get a label, now". Skylab thought it was nice, but claims to be satisfied with the scheme arranged for selling his independent album on the Internet, on the site

Skylab says that the next album should bring songs by the Rio de Janeiro-based band Zumbi do Mato - whose vocalist, Löis Lancaster, appears on the song Samba, on Skylab II - and by Daminhão Experiênça: "I wanna talk about my reality. What do I have to do with Gil, Caetano or Marcelo D2? I should record music made by people who are part of my world."

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