Throughout almost four decades, Los Auténticos Decadentes have been able to get the party going with joyful and irreverent classics such as “Entregá el Marrón,” “La Guitarra” and “El Murguero.”
Starting today (Sept. 14), fans of the Argentine ska and alternative rock band will be able to see them play in five U.S. cities, kicking off at the Palladium Times Square in New York and ending at the iconic Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles, where they will close, along with Los Fabulosos Cadillacs, the KCRW Festival on Sept. 24. They will also perform in Washington, D.C., as well as Napa and San Diego in California (more details here).
“We invite everyone,” Jorge Serrano, who has been part of Los Decadentes since its inception, tells Billboard Español. “Those who know us know they’re going to have a good time. Those who don’t know us will be surprised,” he adds with a smile.
The show they will be performing was presented last month at a sold-out concert in Buenos Aires in front of more than 15,000 people, according to a statement, which was also streamed in North and South America on the Star+ platform.
In the last three years, Los Auténticos Decadentes released A D N (2021, 2022, 2023, respectively), a trilogy of albums with covers of well-known Spanish-language songs, mostly recorded with guests such as Natalia Lafourcade, Panteón Rococó, Andrés Calamaro, Beto Cuevas and Diego Verdaguer. The most recent installment, N, was released last July, with eight songs — including versions of “Golpes En El Corazón” by Los Tigres del Norte, “Oro” by Bronco, “Costumbres Argentinas” by Calamaro and “La Ladrona” by Verdaguer.
“We’ve known those songs for a long time,” Serrano tells Billboard, explaining how they are part of the band’s DNA. “Many of them we play at our family parties, like Los Tigres’, or Bronco’s.”
Comprised of 12 musicians, of which 10 are still founding members, Los Auténticos Decadentes was formed in 1986 and became known with the hit “Vení Raquel,” which set the tone for the irreverence and ironic humor of their future songs. While they have not entered the Billboard charts in the States, they have placed six songs from their A D N trilogy on the Billboard Argentina Hot 100, including “Golpes En El Corazón” featuring Natalia Lafourcade (November 2021), “La Ladrona” (August 2022) and, most recently, “Costumbres Argentinas” (May 2023).
Below, Serrano talks with Billboard Español about the group’s recent covers project, and how they’ve managed to stay relevant across the decades.
When you hear Auténticos Decadentes, you think of ska, rock, irreverence, joy. But then you see that in your DNA there are songs like “Costumbres Argentinas” by Andrés Calamaro or “La Ladrona” by Diego Verdaguer. How did this project come about and why do you consider that these songs are part of your DNA?
The album began as a whim when we said, “How nice it would be to make an album with songs by people we admire, that we like … not our songs, but songs by other people.” And we had started to do it in Mexico in a Sony studio where we had some few hours left, so we took advantage of it, so we took advantage of it and said, “Well, this is the moment.”
Then the pandemic caught us — so we continued it, each one of us in our own home studios, sending vocals and different things; the [plans] were more or less already laid. It was something that kept us active and connected and songs and songs and songs and songs followed one after the other until it ended up being a triple [album]. Because when you make your own album you somehow have the limit of the songs you have done so far — but when you do a tribute album, a covers album, you can never finish, because there are millions of songs.
And well, our DNA… you say “La Ladrona,” for example — or songs that are somehow more popular than rock or ska, which is where we really came from — were always part of our style, because somehow one of the things that Los Decadentes did and contributed was to make a kind of crossover with what is popular music that at that time was not well received. As if rock was one thing and popular music was the music of adults or other people, but not of rockers. With affection, with love and because we liked it and enjoyed it, we incorporated it into our music. We have known those songs for a long time: Many of them we played in our family parties, like Los Tigres, or Bronco. And well, that’s how it was done.
And did all 12 of you have a say in the selection of songs for the three albums?
Always. The 12 of us always have a say in everything we do. We are a cooperative, we are a horizontal group. When we make albums, we vote on the songs we choose. In this case, we didn’t vote on them, because we mostly suggested a song and in general we knew it and liked it and it was more like a “yes.” We didn’t have to vote a lot to decide whether to do it or not. We would say, “Yeah come on, let’s go!”
With Diego Verdaguer, who died last year — did you record together?
Yes, although not the vocal part, because we did the version of the song ourselves. But we did go to the house, he invited us to a barbecue, and there we did a little bit of the images that you see in the video.
After so many years, you have managed to stay relevant as a band. To what do you attribute your longevity and multi-generational success?
It’s usually a mystery, isn’t it, why people choose you and not the one next to you? But I think that continuity has a lot to do with it. We have been playing for 37 years, we are already very much part of people’s memories, of many people’s lives. We have transcended generations and we have never separated, we have always been present.
We were fortunate that we always had a song that was being listened to at the time, that people accepted us, even though we were getting older. We kept renewing our audience. We keep going to places where we are surprised that people from 15 to 25 years old know us and listen to us. We are grateful. It is beautiful and we do our best to respond to that. When we go to play, we do our best to make sure they have a good time at the show. I think all those things add up to that [longevity].
It’s interesting, because the music industry and people’s taste have changed so much, especially in the last decade. What would you say has been the key to navigating these changes?
We somehow continue to do the same thing. What survives is a style of music, what survives are the memories, the affection that people have for this type of songs. And what we contribute in some way – I don’t know if we’ve been getting better and better or rather we are a testimony to our analog era of songs and this type of music, that if we are unplugged we can continue playing. We don’t depend on computers or things like that, although we use them.
It is also striking that after so many years, 10 out of 12 are still founding members. What is the dynamic among you? I imagine you are a family.
Yes, our children are also friends with each other, we have always had that multigenerational family spirit. On the other hand, we are a horizontal group, because we vote on the decisions, the songs we choose. We are a cooperative. All these things help us to live together. And also, being a group of friends before being musicians, we stayed true to ourselves — knowing how to value that somehow for all of us, who were like a herd of losers, the group got us out of where we were and the group is so much more than the sum of us. We value it and we know it. We take care of it.
A D N has had you doing covers for the last three years. Are you planning to release original music soon?
That’s what we’re focused on. We’re going to do it very quietly, without the pressures that albums usually [generate]. This one we want to do at our own pace, but I guess it will be for the next year or so.
In another three years the group will be 40. Do you already know how you want to celebrate?
We haven’t thought about it. At one point we celebrated our 10 years, then we celebrated 15, 20, 25. I don’t know if we celebrated 30, but we said, “Let’s stop a little bit to celebrate more [like] every now and then.” [Laughs.] But 40 is going to be unmissable!