Wow!!! Last night I had the pleasure of seeing PUMPA in action… what a legend It’s not just his contagious original songs with their upbeat, feelgood vibe. It’s the man’s presence. He’s what Punk was all about He lives life like we all should… being fearlessly himself. There are some things that should be on everyone’s bucket list… and one of them is to see PUMPA in action! - Malcolm McLaren, February 2010
So where do you start ‘the PUMPA story’? From his very beginnings, which in his own words meant “… being dragged up as North London trash”… “raised by radio” as the Razorlight song says, all black Converse boots and ‘Match of The Day’ on TV? Or from his earliest exposure to the music that started it all for him – first Rod Stewart, T-Rex and Hawkwind and then a mind-blowing mixture of Abba and Punk Rock – (like half the world’s males, he was besotted by Agnetha Fältskog).
Or do you start with his alias…why ‘PUMPA’? Well apparently the man himself has had a fascination for the female form since his formative days… like Botticelli, Goya, Gauguin and many more creative greats before him, this artist too is obsessed with the beauty of women… and ‘PUMPA’ is apparently London slang for the beautiful curves of a woman’s hindquarters.
PUMPA seems to have been around a long time, cropping up regularly across a timeline not even Facebook could keep up with… yet he is a modern man in every aspect. He left the melancholy of his birthplace as a teenager, migrating with his family to the vibrancy of Rio de Janeiro. This served only to enhance his love for the ladies and opened his eyes to the wonders of samba and all things calypso.
But herein lies the truth at the heart of the PUMPA personality – a man torn between his English-ness and the city described by no less than Sir Arthur Conan Doyle as: “… that great cesspool into which all the loungers and idlers of the Empire are irresistibly drained” and the lustful, but equally dangerous Rio, where the glamour of its world famous beaches Copacabana and Ipanema are at odds with a city in which, as Brazilian film director José Padilha wrote: “Every cop has to make a choice. He either turns dirty, keeps his mouth shut, or goes to war.” Both are PUMPA’s kind of towns!
As a young man, he travelled the world touring exotic locations from the Great Pyramids of Egypt to Mexico’s Chichen Itza, Christ the Redeemer on top of Corcovado in Brazil, Peru’s magnificent Machu Picchu, Cambodia’s Angkor Wat and Uluru in Australia. He also hopped regularly between London and Rio, somehow finding time to form his first band along the way, tellingly called CLIMAX. The band’s first release, ‘Unleash the Pussy’, was an underground hit on both sides of the world. PUMPA lived life fast, a true description of the cars he drove, the women he dated and the parties he threw (for which he became famous in both his ‘hometowns’). But music was always his primary driver.
An earlier visit to Australia had imbued him with a passion for our own sunburnt country and Sydney in particular, which must have seemed to the Latin-loving Pommy a logical cross between London and Rio… an English speaking city where the people love to party. He landed in Bondi and soon became a local legend on the club and café scene and beyond. In the early mornings he’d be terrorising stages and dance floors across the city… yet by afternoon he’d be seen dressed impeccably as always, mixing it with the Packers one day, bronzing himself on the beach with Lara Bingle the next (between her times with Michael Clarke and Sam Worthington of course).
It’s said that PUMPA had more to do with Sonny Bill Williams joining the Roosters than Nick Politis after the Kiwi made a point of introducing himself to the music icon at a Bronte fight night. PUMPA’s often spotted being wined and dined by nightclub barons along the Golden Mile at The Cross and in the company of colourful identities on race days at Randwick. He’s considered an ‘honorary member’ of Aussie Pop-Punk band Gyroscope. (Guitarist Zoran Trivic sites PUMPA as “the creator of Disco Punk” and “The King of Dirty Pop… definitely a hero of mine.”) There’s no doubt PUMPA’s found his place in Australia and his music continues to evolve as his legend grows.
PUMPA has become an idol to ‘mature’ men everywhere, proving you can continue to live your youth and chase your dreams well beyond your 20s. Younger people think he’s cool because he is such a larger than life character who delivers to them the promise of a future that’s still fun, despite the inevitable passing of time. And women of all ages simply worship his ‘joie de vivre’.
Welcome to the world of PUMPA, where the man and his music are all about taking a chance and having fun and his personal motto is simply “Live it Large Players”!