ANGRA - Carrying on

Interview with the band by Thiago Martins and Rodrigo Carvalho Leme.

Written by Thiago Martins

There might be a curse against Brazilian bands. It’s weird the way they split up when they are ready to become an international success. The first band to suffer from this evil course was Viper. Well, they were far from being a huge success, but the band was starting to get some recognition in Europe and Japan when André Matos split up with them.

The most tragic one seems to have occurred with Sepultura. The band was already a great success, one of the biggest heavy metal bands around the world, when manager Gloria Cavalera was fired and her husband and Sepultura frontman Max Cavalera decided to leave the band with her.

Angra was the third one to suffer. After beginning as “Andre Matos’ new band”, the band showed to the whole world their potential, releasing one of the masterpieces of the melodic power metal, HOLY LAND. Last year the band split up. The departure of lead singer Andre Matos, bassist Luis Mariutti, and drummer Ricardo Confessori is yet to be explained, but now they have a new band called Shaman.

 

The New Angra Line Up

Angra hasn’t finished. Both guitarists Kiko Loureiro and Rafael Bittencourt decided to carry on. Lots of rumors were told about who would be the new members. After almost one year of silence, in the first months of this new century the band announced that the new drummer would be Aquiles Priester, drummer born in South Africa and was playing in a Brazilian band called Hangar, but has also played on Paul Di’Anno’s album NOMAD, as well as on the tour.

The new bassist would be from a Brazilian band Karma called Felipe Andreoli, who played with Aquiles in the Di’Anno work.

For the vocals, the band recruited a legendary Brazilian singer, Eduardo Falaschi, who has been singing on some Brazilian bands during the last 10 years, like Mitrium and, recently, Symbols.

During a hot holiday morning, Metal-Rules had a chat with four members of this new Angra line up (only drummer Aquiles Priester was missing). During this conversation, Rafael Bittencourt explained how he and Kiko Loureiro have chosen the new members:

 

Rafael Bittencourt: “We had been choosing one at a time, and then we would announce them all at once. Kiko and I have focused in phases. First of all, we had already done some songs, so we needed to find a drummer with whom we would be able to work the basis in the recordings, and that would be a test for the new drummer. As we had the songs pre-formatted, we could test a new singer who filled in this new conception… well, not a new conception, but the new songs. So, first we choose the drummer, then the singer, and at last the bassist.”

 

One of the most important characteristics in Angra has always been André Matos singing. For replacing him, the band decided not to choose someone identical, but a new one with personality. Rafael explains better the reasons why they chosen Eduardo Fallaschi:

Rafael Bittencourt: “ Eduardo has been a friend of the band for a long time. We sympathize his style and his professionalism since a long time ago. The indecision we had was about looking for a singer that follows Andre Matos’ style or taking one with his own identity. We made the decision after researching with our fans as well as thinking about what we wanted. We put those things in a balance and decided that it would be better off a singer who had his own style, who had something different to show, who had personality, who didn’t refer to Andre’s style, otherwise we would be always related to him, the comparisons would never end. So we picked Eduardo.”

 

Eduardo is not an unknown Brazilian singer. He sung in a Brazilian traditional heavy metal band called Mitrium, who had a related recognition here in the beginning of the 90’s. During that time, a Brazilian rock radio has sent a tape to the Iron Maiden management on that famous contest for Bruce Dickinson replacement. Eduardo Falaschi, as well as Andre Matos, was one of the finalists. So they have at least one thing in common, but Eduardo is not afraid of the comparisons to the former Angra frontman:

Eduardo Falaschi: “I know that this is gonna happen during some time, until I get some recognition outside Brazil, since Andre Matos has a strong name there. So the people will be comparing, yet my style is completely different from his. Anyway, some people will say ‘oh, he sings a bit like Andre Matos’. I’m not afraid. I know I have the responsibility to carry on, to not worry about the criticism, I know it’s gonna happen but I believe in my potential, the band is supporting me and that’s important. They are saying “Nevermind, do your job, go on!’ People will notice that this new Angra sound is not so different, this won’t be a surprise that makes the people say ‘Jesus, Angra isn’t the same band anymore’.”

The New Songs, The New Angra Sound

After choosing the new members, Angra is concentrated in the compositions of the new album. The band has a new proposition for its sound. Not actually new, as explain guitarist Kiko Loureiro:

Kiko Loureiro: “We’re gonna use the elements that Angra has built in our three recordings… well, mainly we would be bringing back the elements in the first two ones [Note: Angels Cry and Holy Land], the things that we passed through, we know how to play, we actually like more. We are going to make this album confirming this.”

Felipe Andreoli tells a bit more about this new Angra sound:

Felipe Andreoli: “I think that the innovations come a lot because the band has three new members, all of them composing with their own style, not about some consciously decided way to follow. It’s something that flows more naturally.”

Rafael Bittencourt gives his idea:

Rafael Bittencourt: “Since we started, we have intended to be an ‘outsider’ in the melodic metal scene. We didn’t want to do what the other bands were doing, we would like to go against the tides. So, Angra has never been a totally ‘mainstream’ in the melodic scene, we are always trying to change a bit.”

Eduardo Falaschi gives his final explanation about the new sound:

Eduardo Falaschi: “Our idea is to keep the integrity in Angra’s sound. We will keep doing that characteristic Angra sound, the guitars, the melodies, the classic music, Brazilian rhythms, those things we might keep using. It’s obvious that there will be some differences. Well, as all Angra’s albums are different one from another, this shall not be a big surprise, but there will be some differences due to the new members. Of course, we are still working on the new songs, pre-production… We will start the recordings in June.”

The new album

Before starting the recordings, the band has chosen a new producer. It will be Dennis Ward, bassist and producer from Pink Cream 69, who has also produced D.C. Cooper solo albums. The band has tried to get in touch with Charlie Bauerfiend, who produced the first two Angra albums, as Kiko Loureiro explains the producer choice:

Kiko Loureiro: “Dennis Ward was indicated for us, we listened to his material, and we liked. He is a accessible guy, it’s easier. We got in touch with other producers, including Charlie, who has worked with us before, but now he’s producing Rob Halford, Blind Guardian, we would have to wait for him, that would be difficult. We talked by mail to Dennis Ward, we liked him and the way he is used to work.”

The recordings of the album will be divided. Some of the things will be recorded in Germany, some other ones in Brazil. Kiko Loureiro gives more details:

Kiko Loureiro: “We’ll start recording the album in Germany, at Dennis Ward head quarter, the studio he is used to work, so we won’t have trouble with the most difficult sounds, like the drums. The things that in theory are easier, related to equipments, like the lead vocals, the solos, we will record in Brazil.”

A problem for the band is about releasing the album in Brazil. About this problem, as well as the contracts for releasing and promoting the new album around the world, Rafael Bittencourt explains:

Rafael Bittencourt: “The band will always want our albums to be promoted the most, but we depend on the contracts that will be done. We haven’t yet made contracts with all the labels, some of those will remain the same, others are in the renovation process, everything will depend on this renegotiation. In Brazil, it’s very difficult. There’s not a biggest label that will give us the promotion and the attention we need. Otherwise, the brazilian heavy metal label are still too small, too young, they will put our cd’s to be sold on the specialized stores, the labels owners are friend of the metal magazines, so they will put ads on it. It’s a small world that works out well, but for Angra it’s a world too small.”

The future gigs

In April, Shaman started doing some gigs to promote the new band. Meanwhile, Angra is still working on the new songs, without doing any concert. The band hasn’t yet thought about their setlist. Felipe Andreoli tells a bit about it:

Felipe Andreoli: “We are 100% focused on the new album. Actually, we know that soon we’ll have to think about our setlist, then we are gonna play the songs that sounds better with the new line up, the obligatory songs, the ones we fell better playing.”

The band hasn’t any idea of what they will play in their future gigs, but Eduardo Falaschi gives a better explanation:

Eduardo Falaschi: “We don’t know quite sure what we are gonna play, but we know that there are some songs that are inevitable, they are Angra hits, we can’t avoid playing, like ‘Carry On’, ‘Nothing to Say’, we’ll have to show what our fans want to hear. We’d rather play the ones that will sound better and, within those songs, the most known ones.”

For the future gigs, the band isn’t worried about whose composition is each song. They might play Rafael’s and Kiko’s songs as well as Andre Matos’ ones. Kiko Loureiro talks about this situation:

Kiko Loureiro: “That’s why we just want to play after the release of the new album, so we are going to have some new songs to show. We will play when we have about ten, eleven new songs. And not choose a setlist based on our past. We want to play new songs.”

No competitions with Shaman

Actually, one of the biggest problems that might come to mind right now is how the Angra fans are facing the situation of having two different bands. For some of those fans, there is a competition between the bands: Shaman would be ahead, since the band is doing some gigs, playing at festivals, appearing on the media. On the other hand, Angra don’t face the situation this way. Each one of the band gives his own position:

 

Felipe Andreoli: “Shaman is a new band that will follow their own ways. Our ways has nothing to do with theirs.”

Kiko Loureiro: “ Imagine now that we are narrow-minded, so Shaman is our enemy, so everyone is our concurrent, Blind Guardian, Stratovarius, Delpht[brazilian band]. I think that it would be great if this brazilian heavy metal scene get bigger. Our true concurrent are those fashion music styles, that gets our audience.”

Eduardo Falaschi: “We are working on the album, thinking about the album. Actually, Shaman will appear more on the media, doing gigs, stuff like that. When we release our album, we’ll start touring too, this competition stuff will end, because what will count then will be the songs. No matter how much hype, speculation… If your song isn’t good, you can do millions of gigs and your record won’t sell, the audience won’t like, it’s gone. If our fans don’t like our new songs, ok… if they’ll like Shaman’s new songs, ok… if they’ll like both bands, better for him! It’d be better if both bands are great!”

Rafael Bittencourt: “We are doing a long term project. In five years, one will stare at the past, the work of both bands, no one can say that a band had a better start because it has made gigs three or four months before. If one looks back, we have started together. The band has split up, one has started doing gigs first, the other started by preparing the new album. True, Shaman has started doing gigs before us, but only a few months. Before Christmas, we will be doing our own concerts. What will be stupid is like… If we do a gig today, the next well they do a gig. If we release our album, they release it shortly after. If we do an interview for one website, they do their interview the following week, for the same website. Then we’ll have a stupid competition. The goal is to make a bigger scene, a bigger market for heavy metal. Our concurrent is other trends, other styles that ‘steal’ our audience. For us, having more bands in Brazil, doing gigs, making records, more good bands, more mags, more websites, all of those will make our scene bigger. The more, the better.”

 

Angra’s importance for Brazilian scene

Angra is an important band for the Brazilian heavy metal scene, since it’s one of the bigger and most respected Brazilian bands outside the country. Now, with this problem in the line up, the band is aware of how their importance increases, since they will be showing the world different names, different talents, people that are not know for the world heavy metal scene. Eduardo Falaschi talks a bit about it:

Eduardo Falaschi: “What I’ve been noticed is that some people tend to see it this way: now there are two Brazilian bands to promote our country in the foreign. That’s good. There will be more exposition to our country out there. I think that’s more important than facing this line up changing stuff as a division, a competition”.

 

Rafael Bittencourt gives a more detailed explanation about Angra’s influence in Brazilian scene.

Rafael Bittencourt: “Unconsciously, the Brazilian musicians were influenced by Angra, much more than anyone from other parts of the world. Angra symbolizes a goal for most of them. In other countries, Angra is just one more of the million melodic metal bands. They face Angra the same way they face Stratovarius. There’s no difference. They don’t have an identity with the band as the Brazilians have. The Brazilian crowd have a patriotism feeling about it, a motivation, ‘since Angra is Brazilian too, we have the same qualities, the same influences, we lived in the same reality, we can do that too’. There is something in it that makes our sound different from Stratovarius or other European melodic bands. When our new album reach the stores, people will understand it in other countries. They will see that the Brazilian people have this style. It’s not because it’s Angra, it’s because we are Brazilians.”

 

Now, for Angra, it’s time to move on and show that they can overcome this “Brazilian curse”. Like their song “Gentle Change” (from the Fireworks album) used to say, “the spirits of a new horizon fall into old dreams”.

Final Note: you can hear their new song, “Acid Rain” in their official website www.angra.net and start taking your own conclusions about this new sound.


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Tuesday, June 12, 2001