quinta-feira, 10 de setembro de 2015

Interview: Angra - Maturity and Tranquility

Since its founding in 1991, Angra did not live a stage as good and significant since the announcement of the then new line-up, in 2001,  and releasing "Rebirth" album. Over the years, the band was having difficult to maintain a peaceful atmosphere in internal and external ways, resulting in the departure of vocalist Edu Falaschi. Now, in a "third age", with Fabio Lione on vocals and Bruno Valverde on drums, Angra is acquiring credits and results not only by the change of formation, but by new musical direction on their latest album, "Secret Garden" .

The bassist Felipe Andreoli, amid the new album promo tour, took time to talk with our staff, speaking on the current state of the band and the latest release, which has received positive praises, and, in the opinion of fans and critics, already is the best album since "Temple Of Shadows" (2004).

After everything that happened between 2010 and 2011, the band got a year stop trying to put its house in order (with many doubts about the continuity of the band), starting with line-up changes, first recruiting Fabio Lione as new singer. And from 2013 until the end of 2014, we have seen a new chemistry between the band and a totally different climate that has long time Angra not lived, which became explicit in the DVD "AngelsCry - 20th Anniversary Tour" and during the celebration of tour drive until you reach the long-awaited unreleased album, the already popular "Secret Garden". Check out the following interview!

RtM: This new time can we say is like to start from zero again? We could say that is an entirely “new spirit” in Angra?

Felipe: We can consider this as the third major phase of Angra, with the consolidation of the line-up with Fabio and Bruno. It is difficult to talk about starting from zero in a band with so much history, but in fact there is a climate now that the band has ever lived. The maturity brought a much greater tranquility, today things are resolved in a much more peaceful way, there is more dialogue and, musically, there was a pent-up desire to release an album we proud as we was with "Temple Of Shadows" (2004) . I believe that the presence of Bruno and Fabio helped us to search inspiration to make this record.

RtM: In "Secret Garden", Angra does not bring only two new members (Fabio on vocals and Bruno Valverde on drums) but a new musical direction, very different from what we are used to seeing during these 23 years that the band is on the road. And in this new job you adhere to a more current footprint and exploring new elements, unlike previous albums, while the Brazilianness side. In a simply way to say, the album is completely modern. It was a risk that you wanted to take on this record, even imagining positive or negative feedback from fans?

Felipe: It's always a risk to introduce new elements. There is a large portion of the fans of any band that does not deal well with changes. For us, however, this renewal is very healthy and necessary. 

There's no way a musician in constantly evolving to make a same record that he did 20 years ago, no matter how many fans like the idea. It was interesting to see people's reactions and also realize that this change was welcomed by most, and it helped to upgrade the sound of Angra. Of course, there are a number of attributes that can not miss, and they are there. But rather decided to buy some fights and working with elements that were new to us, at least in Angra environment.

RtM: What about the time to write "Secret Garden" in addition to other commitments of each members, there was the second part of "Angels Cry - 20th Anniversary Tour", but much of 2014 was devoted to the album’s writing process. Observing the videos that were posted on the Youtube channel, everything was done very carefully, and see that different from what there was when the time of "Aqua" (2010), an album composed  running out of time. And the question of composing together, because Lione and Kiko living in other countries?

Felipe: The issue of distance just a little complicated, but in the end the band has adapted and created a working model that does not require that everyone is always together. We work a lot in twos and threes, according to the availability of each, which ended up working very well. Then, with the full band, the more global aspects of the arrangements were being finalized, and the songs were gradually gaining the guy who has the disk. The writing process was not very different from what we did in Aqua, the main difference is perhaps in the level of inspiration of the compositions.

RtM: What about the concept (which talks about spirituality and religion) of "Secret Garden", could comment for us your whole vision that involves the album, and its major changes to previous work?

Felipe: The story we create served as a vehicle to expose the different views we have within the band. Each internal conflict of the character can be translated as a point of view of divergence of each of us. I believe that this issue is a bit more realistic than last album that combines more with Angra, which has always had this philosophical/existential vein.

RtM: When you disclosed that recording be made in Europe (Sweden), with Jens Bogren production, immediately believed to be one of the most promising Angra’s work. And it could decipher very well what you wanted, completing with the knowledge that he has. Bogren was the right choice to assist the whole sound of the album? How did you decide to work with him?

Felipe: Jens was critical to the outcome of the disc, not only on the timbres, but also in the musical part. He helped us to finalize the arrangements and trim some edges that made the best songs. The sound part, I was extremely happy with the result. When we seek the Jens to produce the record, that was exactly what I had in mind, update the sound of the band. I always thought that the combination of our music with powerful sound would quite right.

RtM: Before leaving to Sweden to record the album, you have earned a special bonus in pre-production, inviting the legendary producer and guitarist Roy Z. Viewing comments from bands and people who have had the opportunity to work with him, none complained or even became dissatisfied. The coolest it is that he does not seek to find the best sound, but the main characteristics of the artist and know how to take the best of each. It was in this sense that he collaborated? In the compositions and arrangements his opinion it was essential?

Felipe: Roy was very important in this process because he helped us to understand what we wanted as a band. He knew how to capture our essence and guide us to where we wanted to go. He has a lot of experience and a very different view from ours. He thinks an album as a whole, does not have the attachment to the compositions that we have and has much less afraid to take risks. The compositions are like children to us, and  sometimes is very hard to give up an idea or modify it. The mixture of these two approaches was very beneficial.

RtM: The songs wandering through the darkest and progressive moments, to having pop music  elements. Among my favorites is the "Final Light", which has a spectacular job on the guitar parts. In the chorus of it I noticed that the lyrics fits at the time that the band was going through in the past: "All the answers only led us to the limit/A final light never came and never come/So we fall and get up and walk again/The question still prevails/The final light is the path and not the end/It's not the end. " This analysis is correct? I would like you to comment about.

Felipe: You're right! This thought serves to many situations in our life, and synthesizes something I believe too. “True happiness is in the way, not the destination" In album history, this is a time where the scientist is faced with a dilemma, where he realizes that he may never find answers to some of your questions, but that research is the true meaning of what he does.

RtM: Rafael has never hidden his will to take on some vocals in Angra, and the opportunity came in "Secret Garden", where he takes the lead vocal on "Violet Sky" and the acoustic ballad "Silent Call"; and also makes duets on the track "Storm Of Emotions" and "Crushing Room", which features Doro Pesch. As a singer people knew him by his solo work, "Bittencourt Project". After seven years of this work, how do you assess the role and his evolution as a singer? In the bands I mentioned I would like you to comment the evolution and changes compared to his solo work?

Felipe: Having participated in the Bittencourt Project, I could follow the evolution of Rafael as a singer, and I can tell he surprised me with the quality of what he did in "Secret Garden". I always thought he had a special voice and a unique way of playing, but today he is able to combine all of this with much technique. I liked the result.

RtM: Since we mentioned the participation of Doro, we would like you to comment her participation and also Simone Simons, who sings on the title track, composed and arranged by Kiko's wife, Maria Ilmoniemi. What was the idea of ​​calling both? Not forgetting also the participation of the singers Bruno Sutter (Detonator) and Alirio Neto (Age OfArtemis) making the choirs on the track "Black Hearted Soul".

Felipe: All participation brings new textures and views to the album, making it richer. Doro and Simone help us to tell the story, in the passages where the character is a woman, but more than that, bring variety to their timbres and unique interpretations. Maria, wife of Kiko, introduced us to "Secret Garden" music, which immediately knew it was going to album. It's a different music of all that Angra has done, but at the same time is totally relevant to the album. Alirio and Bruno are great friends (very close) and great singers, it was a pleasure to count with them making the corals of "Black Hearted Soul".

RtM: It is clear that the output of a band’s member are bad for everyone, but on other ways, the arrival of new members brings new ideas, both in the composition of parts, arrangements, concepts and etc. Fabio Lione, which already has extensive experience within the music,  innovating the vocals, bringing a new chemical. Already Bruno, who, although be very young, brought influences from Jazz and Fusion that worked very well in this new album. What else they brought of contribution to theband’s  sound?

Felipe: Each member has a unique way of approaching in your instrument, and the end result is always altered by the change of a member. In both cases, we found a very positive change. Fabio brings a powerful voice with dramatic interpretation, and it worked much better than I imagined, to be honest. He could also explore different nuances of what he normally does and show a side not as well known of his vocal personality. Bruno is, in my opinion, perfect to Angra because join technique and personality with an absurd versatility. It has the best of both worlds from a strictly heavy metal drummer and Fusion drummer, because he has a lot of musicality and knows to apply it in the context of the band, without losing power.

RtM: You joined the band in a time of change and, why not say, "rebirth", since the album "Rebirth" marked a new era for Angra. And now "Secret Garden" also marks a new era. How would you describe these two moments, and how did you felt in recent years, when again the band went through uncertainty?

Felipe: This is a band of great emotions, and can be very unpredictable, even for us. At the time of Rebirth existed that euphoria of being reclaiming a space that no one knew if the band still had, but at the same time personal relationships were in the background, which is obviously long-term bad. Today we have a much greater tranquility, a much more efficient communication. And even in times of uncertainty, we are more mature and objective in decision-making. It's always difficult to go through these times, but with well-established relationships within the band, there is no obstacle that we cannot cross.

RtM: What about the creative process within the band? How do you see your role in this regard?

Felipe: Over the years my interest has always been increasing as I will understand more the band's style and improving as a composer. I've always had a great participation in the arrangements, but from the "Aurora Consurgens" I was presenting more musical ideas. In this last album I brought some ideas and created others in partnership with Rafael, Kiko and Fabio, and I was very proud of the final result.

RtM: Many are of the opinion that the band owed an album worthy of large previous work, and  "Aurora Consurgens" (2006) and "Aqua" (2010) were much lower than expected, especially the second, which also marks a period of uncertainty. What do you think about these statements, whether they are fair, and as you analyze these two albums and the time that the band lived in that period?

Felipe: After making a record like Temple of Shadows is very difficult to make something level, especially with the band going through situations such as the time of Aurora and Aqua. But I believe there are great songs in both works, although I feel that the discs could be better addressed. A favorable climate makes all the difference in the outcome.

RtM: And what has changed on the Felipe that received the news he was a new Angra’s member, and the Felipe from today?

Felipe: It changed everything! Impossible to draw a parallel, I think. Past 14 years has so many things that happen in our life, and they end up shaping our personality. Maturity is something amazing! The closer I get it, the more I like. At the same time, I do not regret having lived that time the way you have lived, because a 21-year-old boy in that situation could easily have done much more bullshit than I did. No doubt the person I am today would not exist without the Felipe from 2001, and however obvious it may seem, makes little sense.

RtM: In this interview very end, we have to speak of Kiko's entry into Megadeth, which generated a great impact on brazilian Heavy Metal. regardless of nationality, the fact is he was chosen by Dave Mustaine for his quality as a musician. You must have been among the first to receive this news, long before the official announcement. What was your reaction and the other band members?

Felipe: Kiko was very correct throughout the process, keeping us informed of every step, from the moment he made telephone contact with Dave Mustaine. We were very happy, and me especially because I am a big fan of Megadeth. If anyone deserves to be there is Kiko, because he was a person who taught me a lot over the years we played together. It has always been, for me, an example of professional, and I believe will make history with Megadeth for his absurd quality as a musician and guitarist.

RtM: This year Angra are having and will have a lot of shows, through Asia, Europe, South America and others. What are the band's plans for the next two years? I knew you would record an acoustic DVD soon...

Felipe: We have the whole year of 2015 dedicated to the dissemination of the Secret Garden. Next year we record the acoustic in mid-March/April.

RtM: In all these years playing alongside numerous musicians of various styles, what's your top tip for bass players who are starting their journey and want to become professionals?

Felipe: The best tip I can give is to try to be better people. Of course, one needs to study and devote a lot, but personal relationships is governing how far you go, more than your technique. And that includes professionalism, respect your colleagues, be an easy person to deal with, punctuality and, finally, all those things that serve to any work situation, but in a band can make the difference between success or failure.

RtM: Thank you for your attention, Felipe! In the name os all Road To Metal crew we wish all the band an excellent tour!

Felipe: Thank you and a big hug to readers of Road To Metal!

Interview by: Gabriel Alvarez/Carlos Garcia/Fernanda Vidotto
Editing/Proofreading/Translation: Carlos Garcia
Photos: Disclosure

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