After living in London and Manchester, hanging out with the members of Joy Division, Italian-born Luca Prodan accepted an invitation to visit a farm in the Traslasierra zone of Córdoba province to kick his heroin habit and relax (he was devastated by the death of Ian Curtis). Arriving in 1981, he started composing and recording songs in a homemade studio. After some time, tired of the quiet life in the countryside, he took off to Buenos Aires (specifically to Hurlingham), looking forward to join its underground music scene.Argentina was under a repressive military dictatorship, and many music and performing-arts acts kept a low profile to avoid problems with police (Cafe Einstein in the Balvanera district was a favorite venue for such acts, as were some pubs in Olivos). Luca soon found musicians willing to join his reggae-rock vision.Sumo's initial formation was: Prodan on vocals and guitar, Germán Daffunchio on guitar, Alejandro Sokol on bass, and Stephanie Nuttal (an English friend of Luca's and former member of the band Manicured Noise) on drums.The first incarnation of Sumo played mostly around Prodan's neighborhood of Hurlingham, Buenos Aires province, and in Cafe Einstein. Nuttal returned to England when the Falklands War (Spanish: Guerra de las Malvinas/Guerra del Atlántico Sur
) started, so Sokol took on the drums, and Diego Arnedo joined on bass. Sax player (and later media star) Roberto Pettinato was a frequent guest; he later joined the band in full.Because they sang mostly in English, Sumo did not enjoy the extensive airplay given to Argentine bands in the wake of the war. Nevertheless, it became a pillar of the underground scene together with Patricio Rey y sus Redonditos de Ricota and Los Violadores.Sumo's music had different sides: hard-edged rock with an experimental touch, influenced by the sound of British post-punk acts (such as Joy Division or The Fall), funky post-punk guitars and strong dub-like bass lines (close to those of A Certain Ratio and Gang of Four), and a typically British brand of reggae and ska. After a halt due to Prodan's spending some time in Europe, the band committed fully to rock in 1984, and spun off the Hurlingham Reggae Band. Ricardo Mollo was added on guitar, and Alberto Superman
Troglio replaced Sokol on drums.Sumo started achieving popularity in the mid-1980s, as Luca's in-your-face style was popular with teenagers—but he could also display a mellower streak. He would shout "fuck you" randomly, or sing a scathing song about dumb blondes, and immediately swoon about his appreciation for common men drinking ginebra
at a bar.In the later releases, some Spanish language lyrics were added to the band's repertoire. Many of Luca's lyrics featured irony, wordplay, and references to drugs, dance parties, sex, and other aspects of young people's lives, while remaining aloof of the political and economic changes of the 1980s.Sumo's history was linked to impresario Omar Chabán, who was the owner of Café Einstein and then of Cemento, where Sumo played many times.Due to his drinking and a very fast rock-and-roll lifestyle, Prodan's health deteriorated. He died of a heart attack on December 22, 1987, two days after their last show. After Luca's death, the band dissolved, but its legacy was carried on by two bands, Divididos (led by Mollo and Arnedo) and Las Pelotas (Sokol and Daffunchio). Some of Sumo's outtakes, as well as their initial effort (Corpiños en la madrugada
, originally sold in cassette format only) were released commercially, as well as two solo efforts by Prodan, recorded mostly between 1981 and 1983, were released after his death in 1987: "Time, Fate, Love" and "Beautiful Losers".Tributes to Sumo include a 1995 double disk, appropriately titled "Fuck You", in which Argentine musicians covered Sumo's songs.On April 12 of 2007 surviving original band members reunited and played three songs - Crua Chan, Divididos por la Felicidad (Divided by Joy) and DeBeDe (Disco Baby Disco) - during Quilmes Rock Festival
in River Plate Stadium: Alejandro Sokol (vocals), Ricardo Mollo (guitar), Germán Daffunchio (guitar), Diego Arnedo (bass), Alberto Superman
Troglio (drums), Roberto Pettinato (sax) and Marcelo Rodríguez "Gillespi" as guest (trumpet).