Bandleader/mastermind/drummer Heleno Vale – Soulspell
Interviewed by: Anders Sandvall
Thanks to Emil Westerdahl at Inner Wound Recordings
Thanks to Inner Wound Recordings for the promo pictures of the band
I had the opportunity to talk with bandleader/mastermind/drummer Heleno Vale from the Brazilian heavy metal project Soulspell. Soulspell released their third album last year called HOLLOW’S GATHERING that ought to appeal to fans of heavy & power metal music. Featured guests on the album are Tim Owens, Blaze Bayley, Michael Vescera and Amanda Sommerville. Read more about the essence of Soulspell below.
I thought we should talk about the new Soulspell album HOLLOW’S GATHERING that came late last year. How long did it take to write and record the album?
It took me 6 months to write it and another 6 months to record it. I know it is a little different from other common bands for sure but I try not to work under pressure so I can write always good songs, story and lyrics for all Soulspell’s albums – for my musical taste at least
Could you tell the readers the background of the metal opera? What is the opera about?
It is a new fairytale, very different from the common fairytales and sometimes even difficult to understand due to it big amount of characters and places etc. It is told mainly on Earth but also on other multiverse dimensions with many interesting and new characters which aims to give good advice to people in general, mainly the youngest ones. I must trust the youngest ones to change this planet. The lyrics are told always with double meaning in a way “humans” (we) can learn something from the character’s relationship, choices, wars, feelings, passion etc.
Do the three albums belong together, or can you listen to them separately and still understand the history?
I always take much care of this matter. I want both. I want the albums to work independently but it must work as a sequential story. The 9 albums belong together. You are supposed to listen to all of them to understand the story and even if you do it, maybe you’ll take a long time to get it right. The story is very complex, deep and beautiful. It certainly worth your time
Was it meant that the opera was going to be a trilogy from the start?
This opera never meant to be a trilogy. Ok, maybe at the beginnings when the story was not finished but now the story is finished and it is so beautiful that I dream to create three trilogies which should become books and movies too
You have some new well known guests on the third album like Amanda Somerville, Blaze Bayley and Tim Ripper Owens, was it hard to get them to join Soulspell?
It is not easy when you start because you don’t have a background to convince people you will do a serious work. But it is becoming easier to count on them because we have already three good albums as a solid foundation. Now things are happening in a natural way and I know it should improve even more in the future if we continue to work hard. The fourth album which we are recording right now should count on an even more impressive list of special guests.
Was there anyone that you had liked to feature on this album that did not make it for any reason?
Yes, there are still many artists I want to work with but we couldn’t schedule them or contact them yet. Some of them are very busy but I’m sure things will fall into place someday. I can’t tell their names right now, I’m sorry, but we are very close to having an impressive list of guests in the fourth album.
Do you have any favorite artist that you’d like to feature on a Soulspell album?
Yes, as I said before there are still many artists I want to work with but I prefer not to tell their names now to keep it as a surprise for Soulspell’s fans.
Markus Grosskopf and Rollie Feldman are playing on the disc; how did they end up on Soulspell?
I met Rolie through my friend Zak Stevens in a Circle II Circle concert. He is a great guitarist. Regarding Markus, I used my Internet contacts to schedule to meet them before a Helloween concert and he was really a gentleman to drink a couple beers with us and talk about Soulspell. He became a good friend too. He is an amazing bass player and an incredible human being.
Who did the cover art-work and what do you think of it? Do you feel that it reflects the opera well?
Yes. Certainly it is a beautiful cover art and it reflects the emotions of Hollow’s Gathering very well. Felipe Machado is an amazing artist and Soulspell’s cover arts will always count on special artists you can be sure.
Why did you name the album HOLLOW’S GATHERING? Does the title have any special meaning to you?
Yes, of course. Everything in Soulspell has a deeply meaning, mainly for me. In our fairytale Hollow refers to the name of the dragon (who actually is not just a medieval dragon but something really worse) guardian of the Labyrinth of Truths. There is something really evil going on in here and it seems we just can’t wake up and change our manners to deal with people and with our own minds and beliefs.
Are there any plans on shooting a video to any of the songs?
Yes, actually the video is recorded and finishing its edition process right now. Soon you will have it. It is not a common band video clip. It is a fantastic video with many interesting places and characters.
Have you read any reviews of the new album? What have the critics had to say about it and do you care about what media and press thinks of your work?
Well I read some stuff and it seems the album was well accepted by media in general but I do prefer to invest my time in creating good albums, good music, good lyrics, a good story, something with a solid foundation which can enters Brazilian Heavy Metal history someday.
What have fans had to say about the new album?
The fans who supported us since the first release liked this album very much. They understand it. We invested so many time and love into it that I think it is impossible for the fans not to feel it.
What separates this disc from the earlier two?
I don’t like to compare albums because they complement each other and not compete with each other. But the moment of the story certainly separates the albums. This album is more balanced between furious and calm moments. This album is a kind of foreword for what will come in the next 6 ones. Its end part is “calm before the storm” and it is clear something will change from the fourth album on.
How would you describe the kind of music the opera is built around?
Soulspell is influenced by many music styles because there are a lot of different artists involved. I chose one producer who has the same musical taste as mine to uniform things here Our favorite bands are Iron Maiden and Tears For Fears so we can count on beautiful ballads or alternate a lot between fast and slow parts inside the songs. Summarizing, the most important thing for Soulspell is “emotion”. I also like a lot melodic Heavy Metal bands like Sonata Arctica, power metal bands like Blind Guardian and thrash metal bands like Slayer so we are honest when we use these bands as main influences in our albums.
Production and studio
You have once again worked with producer/musician Tito Falaschi what’s his strongest feature as producer?
Tito Falaschi is the most impressive musician and most impressive creative mind I know. He doesn’t just press the record button. He helps me with every note of all instruments and vocals because he is an incredible multi-instrumentalist / singer.
Where was the album recorded?
As far as I remember it was recorded during 2011.
Where did all the guests record their parts?
I can’t point you an exact date because it depends on the artist’s schedules.
Matt Smith did the mixing in Theocracized Studio where is the studio located?
Matt Smith is an amazing artist and producer and his studio is located in USA, Athens, Georgia.
Besides drums do you play any other instrument?
I can’t play even the drums very well, but I play very badly keyboards and guitars too. I use it to help me when I’m composing the songs. You don’t want me to play guitars on your band
Do you play in any bands or projects besides Soulspell?
Yes, but just for fun. We play cover songs and create unique potpourris / versions etc.
Who inspired you to learn to play the drums in the first place?
Nicko McBrain in first place. Neil Peart and John Bonham come in second and third places.
When was the idea for Soulspell born?
I think it was in 2004 / 2005.
Soulspell may have some similarities with Avantasia and Ayeron, do you agree with that?
Yes, in some manner I have to agree with it. They are our influences as big projects they are. But I disagree Soulspell is “just another” metal opera. We have very different goals and our music style is different from theirs. Unfortunately there are a lot of imprudent people in media nowadays.
Are you writing all of the material on your own? Where do you find inspiration to the material?
Yes, I’m writing the fourth album and actually we are already recording it. My inspiration comes from everywhere, from every feeling but almost from the Soulspell’s story itself.
What’s the climate for hardrock and metal in Brazil? Are there many clubs and venues that hosts concerts?
We do not have many festivals as bands have in Europe and the biggest clubs don’t host Brazilian Heavy Metal bands but we always manage to play in theaters and other clubs. Now we stopped the concerts and want to manage a tour abroad.
Have you done any touring with the opera so far? I know you did 4 gigs in Brazil last year how was that?
Yes, we did some concerts here in Brazil and it went really well. Now we are dreaming and working hard to have the opportunity to play abroad.
Every year you have done a few shows in Brazil are there any reasons why you only have played in Brazil?
It is needed too much people and equipment to make a Soulspell concert the way we want. In other words, things become very expensive for us. We already talk to our label to manage that and make this dream come true but it was not possible yet. We hope we can tour many countries soon, maybe after the fourth album with many special guests.
Were there any guest apperances when you played live?
We played with many special guests already like Zak Stevens, Edu Falaschi etc. But we want now to tour abroad with this kind of big appearances. Let’s see what happens.
Who’s part of the live band when you’re touring?
It is Leandro Caçoilo (vocals), Daisa Munhoz (vocals), Jefferson Albert (vocals), Iuri Sanson (vocals), Marco Lambert (guitars), Rodolfo Pagotto (guitars), Wanner Maurício (bass) and Heleno Vale (drums) + special appearances.
Do you think it’s important to be active on Myspace and twitter and the other social forums that available today?
Of course I think it is important but on the other hand it can deceive the bands as you can think you are bigger than you really is. I think the opportunity to share videos is really important. Videos are the present and future while 3D worlds don’t spread
Who runs the Soulspell website? Is it you?
No, I don’t have time to run it. There is a person to manage that for me.
Is there a big interest for Soulspell in Asia and Europe? Any plans on coming over touring soon?
We plan to tour Europe soon but as I said before this subject is not a bed of roses. Bands spend a lot of money to tour abroad and I don’t have this money at all (lol). I need the help of labels and they need the financial return from the albums and from the tour. So, unfortunately to tour abroad is for bands which have a lot of money or to big Heavy Metal groups from 80’s For now I trust that doing a good job, writing good lyrics and songs and improving our work each album, can lead us there someday.
Are you currently working on material to a 4th Soulspell album?
We are recording it right now. We will try to keep releasing 1 album each 2 years (2008, 2010, 2012…2014 maybe).
How many Soulspell albums do you think you’re going to write and record?
9 if the fans, my friends, my family and God want me to.
Could you give the readers three reasons why they should buy HOLLOW’S GATHERING?
1- It is different from any other Heavy Metal album including both Soulspell’s previous albums. The lyrics are very special and cared, the sound quality is amazing and it has the unique Soulspell’s style. It do worth it;
2- To be a Soulspell’s collector and to have all the 9 albums and books in the future;
3- To help the project to grow. We won’t forget the best fans when things start to happen for us (if they do)
What do you have to say to the ones who haven’t discovered Soulspell yet?
“Soulspell is gonna get you no matter how far”…(I hope you know it).
Label & management
Was it hard to land a record deal in the first place?
For the first album, yes, it was. Now? Yes, it is too (lol). But as we released the first two albums now we are able to talk to many important labels at least. In fact the market is more digital nowadays I guess. Things are changing fast. We are living in the eye of the storm, a transition period. We need to struggle to survive. I’m sure things will get better soon.
Are you happy with the work that Inner Wound Recordings have put into the album and Soulspell?
Yes, I’m very happy. They work very hard; they are extremely honest and keep their feet on the ground. They are perfect for Soulspell.
How come you chose to ink a deal with a label that’s located in my country of Sweden, that’s 1000 miles away from Brazil?
Internet helped of course. Nowadays we live in a world without walls, don’t we?
Is the album released worldwide today?
I let our labels manage that. I don’t know the details to tell you here. But I know you can find the album in almost every country.
Are you co-operating with any management or booking agency at the moment?
Not yet. When Soulspell and its labels come to an agreement we will decide what agency to work with.
Well, that was all for me for now. Thanks a lot for taking the time to make the interview. I wish you the best in the future, do you have any final words of wisdom to share with the readers and fans?
I really liked the questions. Thank you. You really do a beautiful work. I’m very happy with our fans approval regarding the three first albums. I wish the fans could support Soulspell Metal Opera even more and I will study and work even harder to please them in this fourth album. Sincerely, only our true fans opinion matters to me. I want to use this space to thank these fans from the bottom of my heart. Please I ask you to support not only Soulspell but all the bands you feel that could stand many years in the Heavy Metal scene. We need those bands if we want Heavy Metal to survive. Our biggest idols will soon retire and we can’t remain just as widows of them. Thanks a lot my friends and see you on tour.
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