CSS: How it ended up being just the girls from Brazil
The all-girl quartet have been through turbulent times but, they tell Chris Jones, they've done a bit of growing up now as well
Back in 2006, CSS had the indie world at their feet. Crowned by the NME as the queens (and king) of the short-lived 'nu-rave' genre, the Brazilian band blended infectious pop songs, an energetic live show and the colourful charisma of frontwoman Lovefoxxx.
Since then, the Sao Paulo band have had a turbulent few years, as their 'flavour-of-the-month' status waned, subsequent albums failed to live up to the promise of their debut and guitarist, producer and songwriter Adriano Cintra quit the band in acrimonious circumstances.
But CSS have battled through, and their fourth album Planta – recorded with producer David Sitek (TV On The Radio, Yeah Yeah Yeahs) – is evidence of their growing maturity, not to mention their indefatigability.
"Adriano produced the first three albums and he was the main writer, so with his departure everything changed from black to white," says Lovefoxxx down the line from Salt Lake City, where CSS are preparing for a support slot with The Flaming Lips.
"And it was very fun. Adriano would write with a producer's mind – mainly for the final result – so there wasn't enough room for musical changes.
"This time, we were living together in the same house from March to October, and we were jamming. We'd never jammed before. It was super-prolific and we were all very involved."
The subtext there is clear – the only man in the band, Cintra, was also a dominant force.
In an explosive and long-winded blog post last year, he detailed his reasons for leaving, citing everything from disputes with management to personality clashes to Lovefoxxx's voice and the other members' musical ability.
Understandably, the once-close relationship between Cintra and Lovefoxxx has broken down altogether.
She says they haven't spoken since he left, and she hasn't read the diatribe on his blog. "It wasn't a surprise at all that he left," she says. "He wasn't with us for a long time. His departure was a relief, because he didn't want to do it any more.
"You know how it is in any relationship – if there's someone lingering and they don't want to be there, it's not a pleasant experience.
"I've known him for so many years, and he's pretty aggressive. I don't want to know anything that's come out of it. I know it's very negative."
Despite all of that turmoil, things seem to be going well in camp CSS. The band has just completed a five-week tour of the USA, and the new material has been going down well.
"It was a different experience because it felt like people knew the new album better than the other times we've played a new album," says Lovefoxxx."That was pretty cool for us."
Next is their return to the UK and Ireland, countries which took the band to their hearts from the very beginning.
"People there love the freshest, newest thing. [In 2006] we were a new band from Brazil, so we were very exotic, very contemporary and fresh, and we were just crazy. No notion of anything, just going for it and super-wild.
"I think the UK loves this kind of thing, so that's why we were so embraced by the British press."
Seven years, four albums and several line-ups later, much has changed, but CSS have come through some dark times, and Lovefoxxx is able to look back with a measure of perspective.
"In this time of life, from your 20s to your 30s, you change a lot," she says. "I think we are all less anxious, more mature and relaxed, and I think that's the main difference.
"Musically, we've been doing this for 10 years now, so we have more confidence in what we do, and we know better where we shine and where we don't. It's just easier, I think."
CSS play the Limelight, Belfast, tonight at 9pm. For details, visit www.limelightbelfast.com