Angra - Back With A New Look
Brazilian Rockers Return With A New Line-up and Material

Interviewed by Keith McDonald

Angra, with new members vocalist Edu Falschi, drummer Aquiles Priester, bassist Felipe Andreoli and founding members/guitarists Kiko Loureio and Rafael Bittencourt, are currently recording new material for their forthcoming new studio album that's due in late 2001. The Brazilian power/progressive metal band recently held a listening party in their homeland in front of industry people and fans, performing their trademark powerful guitars, explosive rhythm section and catchy riffs. I had the opportunity to speak with Rafael Bittencourt who filled me in on what the band's been up to.

Angra - new line up

When can we expect a new studio album?
We are working at the moment on the songs, the recordings start in June and we believe it's going to be released in November this year.


Tell me about the new members of the band.
Well, They are very experienced and known here in the Brazilian scene. Eduardo Falaschi, the singer sold thousands of copies with his previous band Symbols, he was the most voted by the members of Angra fan club to join the new Angra and every year you see his name on the best singer charts of the magazines. Aquiles and Felipe are also known as the best metal rhythm section here, they have recorded and toured with Paul D'ianno for the album Nomad, and now a live one with their performances is just ready to be released.


How did Angra start out?
It started in the Music University, when the majority of teachers and students were going for the contemporary experimental field of composition, me and Andre still wanted to combine the traditional elements of classic music to metal, and so we started to compose some material that started to call the attention of many sorts of people.


How did you get signed? How hard was it?
When, we started there were only few bands doing it, it was during the top of the grunge period, everyone in the business were saying metal was dead, and we knew how devoted are the metal fans because we still are fans. So, we truly believed that Metal was in time to be recycled, it was the time to mix different flavors to it and so we did, bringing some exotic influences and trying to sound very sophisticated. Very soon the record labels, starting with JVC Japan, agreed that maybe Metal was going down because of the lack of quality on the releases at the time. The Metal fans are very hard to please they just don't accept anything, so we signed to JVC and later to many other countries, but I can say we were also lucky 'cause it was the right time and the right place for the connections.


Any tour plans?
We are concentrated on the album now, but also very excited to tour as soon as possible with the new songs and team, then the new boys will be able to speak for themselves. I believe in the end of this year we will start touring.


Who are your influences?
The rock music of the eighties had a good atmosphere and quality one of my goals is to try to recreate that, I believe that the study of classic composition helped us on the way we construct the music and ideas, but the naturally born influence is the Brazilian music filling us with rhythm even when we are not paying attention to it and showing us a lot of resources to combine complex elements to popular music.


How is the Brazilian music scene?
I see a lot of quality metal bands coming out of Brazil. The major scene here is for pop afro-Latin stuff, but the scene here is getting bigger for rock music, many good bands are appearing and we started to be route for the international band tours because of the amazing audience.


How would you compare the metal scene in Brazil to the U.S? Europe?
It's quite similar in someway, they're all under the hands of a few, it is usually a small but very organized chain of magazines, record companies, bands, managers and audience. I think maybe we don't represent too much on the mainstream but we all on different levels have a very close relation to what we do and believe, the very technical people don't survive on the business cause Heavy-Metal still lives because of the passion we all put into it, its essence is very emotional but also very rational on the details you have to be "initialized on this order" to understand it but everywhere it is the same language, It is very global.


How has the label support been?
They're doing fine, we are glad that they are helping us during this period of changes, and that they are now agreeing with the potential we have on hands. But only after the record is out I can say if the work was OK.


How has radio support been in U.S? Brazil? Europe?
As I said Heavy survives in a small but very organized chain, the specialized radios are always very supportive even with new bands, but there are not so many, maybe for the near future more radios are showing up to be part of it but still we wait for this day.


What's the future for Angra?
I don't like to predict anything when I can be wrong, but we are very happy inside the band with the fresh atmosphere the new guys brought in, the new songs and the new dreams. I think people will love it, we kept the concept and the new blood brought a lot of life to our music. I can only see great records and awesome concerts ahead, Thanks, of course to our audience who is also being very supportive for our return.

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Sunday, May 27, 2001