Welcome to BRUTALISM, Álvaro. How are you doing? Are you ready to answer all our questions?
Hello! In this moment everything’s going well, a bit busy with some projects of diverse nature (musical projects, as well as academic ones…). Apart from this, thanks for the invitation to expose this brief interview, and be sure that I will reply gladly to everything.
Tell us how were your beginnings in the extreme music’s world. What catched your attention to dedicate yourself to it? Did you study music in an academic or professional way, or are you self-taught?
My first starts with the world of Metal in general can be traced when I was either 12 or 13 years old, more or less, listening to some random bands without paying too much attention to them. However, I would say that when I was approximately 15 I started being interested in other type of sounds, from the classic Thrash Metal to the typical, “iconic” Scandinavian Black Metal bands (Mayhem, Burzum or Darkthrone, just to mention some of them). As the time passed, obviously, your interests become more configured or solid as you discover new bands, different perspectives or ways to understand this world, which to me exceeds the merely musical structures, transcending it in order to try to reach higher purposes – at least this is how I perceive this all.
Perhaps, what took my attention the most by those days was the aggressiveness and the sharpness at the time of transmitting certain messages, which were also out of the “generally accepted” into the actual Western society, among other reasons.
I am self-taught, with the exception of having studied a more theoretical knowledge on music (on drums more specifically) during a couple of years. On the other hand I am helped from very time to time by some local musicians (mainly drummers) when I need so and to whom I am thankful for their advices and availability. There’s always something new to learn.
All the videos recorded and uploaded by you revolve around Black Metal. What made you drive yourself towards it during your beginnings? Is there any other type of music or genre that catches your attention in such a strong way, or did you decide to dedicate yourself to this particular genre exclusively?
As I said in the previous question, my attention was called by both external reasons (in matters of sound, for example), as well as other matters of an “inner” characteristic: rejection towards millionaire productions and towards such childish attitudes like those about being a “Rockstar”, its link to a small amount of people, the seriousness with which certain individuals take this all, but also other reasons more related to “spiritual” matters, which I won’t develop along this interview too much. This is the genre, or subgenre, or however you want to call it, to which I dedicate more time of my life, but I can say, to summarize, that every artistic manifestation (either musical or pictorial, for example) whose contents search higher goals, more intangibles than material or mundane, and that I find of my interest, is accepted by me, from classical music to Neofolk or Ambient projects, just to mention some instances. On the other hand, I can perfectly respect and support other types of extreme music, such as Death Metal – even if that’s not my main interest and something I am not focused on, there are a lot of bands worth being admired.
Do you believe now that those days in which Black Metal appeared so frequently on TV and newspapers in Northern Europe people have another or a different conception of what is and what represents this genre?
According to my age I can’t speak too much about how those events were lived in at the time they took place, but there’s something certain in this all: every fact has its causes and its consequences. In this sense, and because of what happened by those days (between the end of the 80’s and the beginnings of the 90’s), my perception is that Black Metal stopped being something marginal (unfortunately) to be literally in the mouth of everybody or of a lot of people, most of them would be surely intruders who spoke with no knowledge at all – this keeps happening nowadays and it’s very visible in many forms: stupid and nonsense pages on the internet, teenagers wearing with pride their trendy Mjöllners while they claim to be linked to the Scandinavian folks (even if a really high percentage of those children know nothing about History or they are curiously and ironically atheistic), individuals in black robes and with badly made corpse paint to try to adopt an image of seriousness and fake Satanism (with the last goal of, surely, take one photo to upload it later to the most used social site of the moment under so original pseudonyms such as “Lilith”, “Bathory” or “Vikernes”), the proliferation of the trend of the “occult” and the “esoteric” between people of suspicious and questionable knowledge, and a longer etcetera. With these words I don’t pretend to consider myself as an “authority” in the subject, because that’s not the case, and what’s more, I am someone who doesn’t want to listen to all the bands out there in these days all around this planet – actually, the opposite: I prefer listening to very few bands and well selected of my interest and with which I feel a real connection than paying attention to a large number of projects in which I have neither patience nor interest.
Which other drummers do you have as a reference or which drummers have influenced you? Do you think that although we always have in mind names of drummers from abroad, maybe we have in Spain level enough to not feel envy of foreigner musicians, or do you think that there’s a long way to walk yet?
There’s a great number of drummers that have become along the years a true inspiration for me, both into and outside extreme music. To mention just some of them, in this first group we can speak about Menthor (Nightbringer, Bestia Arcana…), Gionata Potenti (Acherontas, Fides Inversa, Darvaza, Deathrow…) Nils “Dominator” Fjellström (Dark Funeral), Inferno (Behemoth), Frost (1349), Darkside (Mgła), Stormblast (Infernal War), Maelstrom (ex-Thy Darkened Shade, Ravencult…) Yog Sothoth (Pseudogod), Jocke Wallgren (Ondksapt, Valkyrja), Ardraos (Sühnopfer) or Tore Stjerna (ex-Funeral Mist, ex-Ofermod), as well as Mikkey Dee (Motörhead, ex-King Diamond) or Dave Lombardo (ex-Slayer). And in a more general sense: John Bonham, Gavin Harrison, Anika Nilles, Thomas Lang, Jojo Mayer, Steve Smith…; Anyways, there are still more to be mentioned, but I consider this list more tan enough.
About Spain, here we have some certain good drummers, I don’t deny so. But being more concrete and honest, and using your same words, there’s stilla long way to walk if we make a reference to extreme music (Black, Death, etc.). Some of the bands that according to me deserve to be mentioned are Gzekhratüs, Hic Iacet, the enough well-known by everybody Teitanblood and Proclamation, Cyhiriaeth, Sacrificio, Balmog, Insulters, Noitébrega, Plaggha, Graveyard, Decapitated Christ, Opositor or Nekrospell; I must point that there are more bands, of course, but I consider these ones as the most relevant projects in Spain in terms of extreme metal. I have never taken seriously other projects better known even abroad and which some people would include in this short list without even doubt it.
By mid-December we could see you playing in Sala Bahía (Cáceres) during the second gathering of drummers from Extremadura. Which feelings do you have after playing there? Which ones were the comments of people after your performance?
There were just very few participants in an active form during the event; however, the sensation of it all was nice. Each drummer played properly the respective tracks they prepared and it was able to be seen because of the differences of styles and genres played there and because of the passion yet enthusiasm them all unleashed. The feeling of mutual collaboration made it more comfortable and the help given to each other made it work better than expected.
Extremadura, my region, is not a place where extreme music is notorious (not even the standard and typical Heavy Metal), therefore a performance like mine surprises everybody, specially if you see such type of drumming for the first time. According to this, the comments about my performance were positive as I could check by myself. And I am thankful to those who were present there to see all of us playing.
To be honest, I don’t know many extreme bands (Black, Death, Doom, Grindcore…) from your region… and I hardly ever or never see concerts organized in there. How is, in general, the musical scene in Extremadura?
The only extreme music project worth being mentioned of all my entire region is Incorporea (Depressive Black Metal).
Let me be clear and honest: the general “scene” here is bad. It’s very hard to become someone in terms of music if you live here, and the opportunities are minimum to grow, thus you become not depressed but frustrated after seeing what surrounds you. There are good individual musicians, but in terms of bands, this place is a desert. And here we have many problems at the time of finding places to rehearse, for example, or to organize events and concerts. If to this all we add the fact of the lack of seriousness and movement of almost everybody, then the result you can expect is, obviously, even worse.
Speaking about concerts, I have been seeing recently more Black Metal concerts all around Spain. Do you think this is a result of maybe a growing in the number of bands in our country? Or do you think this is anything circumstantial?
Definitely it’s something circumstantial to me. It’s possible there exists a larger number of bands around Spain – it’s something I don’t know because, as I said above, I am someone not interested at all In knowing in every moment what’s happening here or there in musical terms. I just can say that thanks to the movement of a number of people you can count with your hand fingers we can have here some good concerts and events in general, very rarely, but from time to time anyways. I imagine this general environment is very frustrating to them as well, when for instance you want to bring some band or bands here and those so-called “fans” which always complain about the lack of performances then they don’t attend when they should, or having a small label or distro in which not even those also so-called “supporters” don’t even demand your stuff (even if you have good material). In any case, the honor of having something here alive corresponds to these few individuals – I shall add there’s a bit of “movement”, but not a “scene” in Spain; I doubt it exists along our geography with such a negative reality.
A musician from such a humble and distant region that ends up becoming a full-member of a Serbian band and who also records drums for a Greek project… what have you driven to have relations with international bands and musicians?
I would say that perhaps the most important reason is this lack of opportunities and of “future” in Spain, so to speak (not to be confused with “fame” and similar terms). If I have relations with some people from abroad it’s because the videos I recorded had some echo and because I try to respect and support the bands I admire as much as I can in many different ways, like attending to some concert but specially getting diverse material directly from them (as far as the economical situation lets me do so, of course), not because of looking for that damaging nepotism which seems to rule not just here but even out of our borders – in other words, not because of the quest for having “contacts” or behave as an asslicker towards certain artists, as a huge number of people do just to camouflage their incompetence.
As far as I know, you play concerts in Spain with 13th Moon and you are also a member of Opfern, or you used to belong to that it, because as I could check both in your bandcamp and Facebook’s page, there’s no movement since 2014. Which is the actual situation of Opfern?
The time top lay live performances with 13th Moon hasn’t come yet, but everything’s being properly prepared for that moment to come.
About Opfern, it was born as a personal project between Spektrkraft and me in 2088 more or less but we’ve had to face several problems to continue the project and what it represents to us. Some of those problems are: distance between the two members of the band to practice, lack of places to rehearse, completely negative situations in economic and even personal terms, etc. These are the main reasons why we have just released one Demo, even if we could have made a larger number of releases with the proper conditions. No compromise exists with the project towards anyone else nor towards anything else – the only compromise that exists is towards ourselves and what Opfern symbolizes in our lives. We will never give a concert under the banner of Opfern and so it will be forever with it. However, we’re about to record a second Demo which fortunately will be born (but it won’t see any kind of light) very soon. What the future has prepared for us is even unknown to ourselves.
Now you play as well in Ophidian Coil, and it’s curious to me that this band just had a session drummer for their previous release and now it seems they recruit a member of a more distant country. How emerged the contact with this Serbian band and how do you get along everything realted to the band itself?
In May 2014 there was celebrated the first gathering of drummers of Extremadura. Fortunately I could participate as an active drummer, and there are a couple of videos not very well recorded but which I uploaded to the internet. Some months later, Inimicvs kept in touch with me and so the conversations between us began – in November 9th my entry as a permament drummer of the band was became official.
There has been a long silence since then, because of different factors like my bandmates play in other Serbian bands such as The Stone, Kozeljnik, Murder or May Result. On the other hand, there exists also laboral reasons. However, we’re back to work again in new material, and although the distance that sepparate us is big, that’s not our main problem. I can record in my hometown the drums, and they can make the rest there in Belgrad. No concerts have been organized yet for Ophidian Coil, but I am sure the future will say the opposite very soon.
It was announced the release of a Split between Ophidian Coil and Septuagint, and the Greeks have announced recently that you will record as well the drums for them. How was born the idea of recording the drums for Septuagint?
They asked me to record the drums because of the difficult and unexpected situation in which they are right now (it isn’t funny to count on a drummer that suddenly can’t make the recordings for an upcoming split). Therefore, and after the good links and relations stablished with the Hellenic comrades, they purposed me the idea of recording in a provisional way the drums for the split. To become a full-member of the band is not clear yet – it’s a possibility, but the future will have the last word about it. In this sense, it’s also possible my entry as a drummer for other national and international projects to be announced from now on some time.
I couldn’t finish this interview without asking which is your actual drumset we all can see in your recorded videos, because it taken my attention…
- Sonor Select Force, Stage S Drive, Piano Black. Maple wood.
- Toms: 10”, 12”, 14”, 16”.
- Bass drum: 22” x 20”.
- Snare drum: 14” x 6’5”.
- Tama Speed Cobra double pedal.
- Meinl Classic Custom Extreme Metal Crash 18”
- Meinl Classic Custom Extreme Metal Crash 16”.
- Meinl Mb20 Rock China 18”.
- Istanbul Mehmet Brilliant Rock Hi-Hat 14”.
- Paiste Alpha Ride Brilliant Rock 22”.
- Paiste Alpha Splash Brilliant Thin 10”.
- Pro-Mark TX2BW drumsticks. Evans drumheads.
Would you like to add anything else to this interview before finishing it? Thanks a lot for sharing with us some of your time and have a very good luck with all your projects.
I would simply like to be thankful to BRUTALISM for the interest shown offering me the possibility to speak in this way, as well as for the time, efforts and dedication shown as well.
γνῶθι σεαυτόν (Know yourself!)