The relationship inside Angra

Angra is a power metal band from São Paulo, Brazil known for its symphonic interludes, highly technical instrumental playing and Brazilian regional elements. In the beginning of 2010, Angra started to write songs for their upcoming yet unnamed album due out in mid 2010. The album was composed partly at the members' houses and partly at Confessori's ranch, where they rehearsed and improved the arrangements of the new songs. In February, they come into Norcal Studios in São Paulo, to start recordings. In this interview Kiko Louereiro talks about this new release and other things.

Hello Angra. First off congratulations on the new album; it sounds energetic and insightful as always. The fans must be pleased so far?
Yes, the fans are VERY pleased. We released it all over the world recently and everyone is pleased. We like to hear to hear that kind of reception… that we kept up the progressive side and yet still

You guys have been doing this for almost twenty years now. What’s the inspiration that has kept you going?
The previous album we did was in 2006 and we did a tour in 2007- very tiring. We had to stop for a bit in 2008, but got back in gear in 2009, where we were offered to do a tour with Sepultura instead of just rushing back to the studio. It was inspiring to be with these guys who have been around for 25 years. It’s fascinating. It was also a great break because everyone got to do their solo projects.

Do you think that now there is more cohesion and energy between the members of the band and the ideas presented in your music as compared to the past? Or has that energy always been present to fuel Angra’s creativity?
Yeah there’s a lot of energy always involved, but there’s always stuff in between such as family and other projects, etc, tours. But that energy never goes away when we get back together. It is like a ‘couple’ relationship with our band… we don’t just play together and then go away and ignore each other… we talk things out in between, both the good and bad. We started this when we were 20 and we’re 40 years old now… that’s a huge change. But, the most important thing is to keep the fuel and the energy going… like food.

How did you meet in college?
The original singer, Andre, met Rafael, our guitarist at the university and they started from there. Rafael came up with the name. But, I used to play with Rafael before that in a band as teenagers… when we were 17. When the band split, we called Edu (our current singer) because we knew him at the time. We also discovered our bass player after the split too. They were both great people, both in musical skill

Was Angra a serious creation from the start (did you see yourselves working hard in the music business specifically to become well respected rockstars) or was it more for fun that eventually bloomed into something bigger?
Yes it was very serious from that start. The original singer had a band before Angra, but it wasn’t very successful. So, Angra was created for a very serious purpose for being successful. When I joined Angra, I was already used to being serious about music because I was playing as a sidesperson for like a 5,000 person crowd. I was 19 or 20 around then. Everyone in the group all had experience with performing in clubs or venues and musical instruments so they knew how to do their stuff. We got our demo out first and then did our first album in Europe. And it worked! But, we never really planned on being ‘rockstars.’ We didn’t want to imitate bands like Metallica or Nirvana from the grunge scene… THAT was our opinion of rockstars. However, we were really inspired by Dream Theater’s ‘Images And Words.’ They had a real sense of progression and melody and that’s what we wanted to follow.

Since 2001 there’s been a vocalist change. Vocals always seem to be a key factor in music. Why did you choose your current vocalist and what is so unique about his voice that really shapes the other half of Angra’s style as opposed to your former vocalist?
Edu (our current vocalist) we already knew a long time, both as a friend and a performer. He really had something to bring to the band, with his own sound and voice. Plus, he’s a nice guy! It’s always important to have nice guys in your band because it helps with the relationships. Our previous singer, Andre, he was a good singer, he had good charisma… but he just didn’t have the voice for our style. A lot of fans were divided about him so it came to a point when we had

Has Angra always been a progressive/ power metal band? Why choose that style? What do you like about it so much?
We’re not as progressive as some may thing. Mostly our progressive sound comes from our love for music in general. There’s so much from culture that one learns from. American music is influenced by Native American, European, and African styles. Brazil has a very clear percussive style so that’s where we draw from, along with classical composers, along with the European influences and the metal and everything else. We really feel the rhythm of our music, and we like to make people think about our music, whether it’s the piano sections or violins or guitars. But, we’ve really been influenced by the hard rock and metal too.

Speaking of the new album, what brought about the idea of Aqua? Its concept seems very different from Angra’s usually songwriting process.
Everyone participated in ‘Aqua.’ It has a lot of relation to the previous albums though. But, we wanted to progress of course. We have the metal based songs, and also pop ballads, some ethnic influenced songs, really progressive songs… a lot. There’s a large variety of musical influence here. The lyrics are based off The Tempest from Shakespeare and there’s a huge connection there, as far as his writing and music goes. The play is based on betrayals, and then you have the magical side… the island, the angels, the betrayer, the monster, the tempest itself… they are all things you can put in a metal album. And it relates to Angra too. We had an issue with our manager who we felt ‘betrayed’ us, and then he apologized after… just like in the play!

Are there any tracks that deserve special mention for the readers and fans? Would you care to share such as how they came to be or the meaning behind the lyrics?
The first song, ‘Rising Thunder,’ is our speed metal song that really opens up the album. But, overall, every track is important because it follows the idea of Shakespeare’s play, so I can’t really say that any ONE track is specific. Fans will just have to take it as a whole.

Do you think modern metal has gotten more diverse or is it becoming generic?
Oh it has gotten very diverse. It’s great… especially when you mix new stuff with metal. From Judas Priest which is heavy metal to extreme metal… there’s just too many to mention. It’s a good thing. And Angra has always had a unique side by trying to blend as much new material such as the African percussions with our more heavy metal side.

Is progressive/power metal still defined by what it was in the early 90s, or has it branched out more according to the band and perhaps other fellow artists you know well?
Since the early 90s, we’ve always had some power metal stuff influenced throughout our music. But, it’s not all that we want to do. We’ll mix it up constantly… that’s how we get labeled as more progressive. As far as fellow artists… Helloween, Hamerfall, AC/DC… they’re still going. But, it’s not the same music that they played 10 years ago or every 20. Nobody wants to hear the same album over and over again. So, like us, they perform a mixture of ‘pure power metal.’

What are metal fans looking for in this type of music? Does that help drive you to create what you do or is Angra more for the member’s catharsis rather than the fans?
Angra has so many different fans, and each wants something different. Some want a powerful voice, others double bass drums, better lyrics… But, WE do what we like. And there will always be people who like us for what we do and there are those who don’t. Bands that do what they like are going to be respected more than those who try to please everyone. You can’t please everyone. I think we get a lot more respect because we’ve been playing what we want to. Sure, there may be some people out there who do not like our style, but there’s also a lot out there who do. And, we’d rather be happy doing what we’re doing and make a few people happy than juggle everyone’s wishes and possibly fall apart.

Speaking of fans, with such a long history, Angra must have quite a few. What’s the nicest/ craziest thing a fan has done for you guys?
There’ so much. The girls going wild with the passion for us… fans waiting early for a show. Nowadays, with the Internet, it’s so much easier to have access to the band and fans will write tons of things to us… whether it is creating things- such as creating reviews or blogs base don us- for us or thank yous. But, in the 90s, it was more in person and what really was cool was seeing fans who flew to shows from long distances, stayed out in line for us in the worst of weather, and of course the letters came flying in by the kilometers. There’s the crazy ones too that follow you for years like stalkers. They try to call everyone that I know to get close to me, harassing me, breaking my stuff and apologizing later… It can be a bit scary…  But, the real fans won’t do that. They come from all wakes of life… some walk right up to you and others are really shy, but no matter what they’re great to have and always appreciated… as long as they don’t stalk us!

Touring is usually the other half of a band’s life. Do you enjoy it a lot?
The tour, once it is organized, can be really fun. If it isn’t organized it can be a hassle. You need proper hotels and proper transportation to get where you’re going.

What’s your favorite place to go so far and why?
European tour is always great, as long as they aren’t too long. Japan is also a good place to go- we’re going there next week. But, every place we’ve toured has something special about it. We belong to the world in general, so we feel welcome anywhere, whether it’s the people or food or music… all about the culture.

Are there any big tours coming up or just finished?
Japan is our closest tour, but it will be short. We’re going out with Rammstein and Motorhead. We’re going to America in January, and then there’s a European tour coming up in February 2011 so that should keep us busy. In between shows I plan on doing some guitar solo stuff that may involve some small tours.

If you could have the ultimate tour line up… who would you like to share the stage with and why?
There are just too many bands to mention… but as far as people go I can certainly name a few. Mike Portnoy of Dream Theater/ Avenge Sevenfold, he’s got great drumming. Or Jeff Beck on guitar.

Is Angra something that will continue going for a long time?
You never know. We just do it. I can’t say for how many years we’ll keep touring, but we’ll always be going as long as it’s the present, right thing to do. You can’t really think too far down road towards the future like “Oh God, I’m going to be fifty and will I still be playing the same songs?” But, I really hope

When not writing music or touring, what does the band enjoy to do for downtime or a chance to relax from the pressures of the music world?
For me personally, I keep playing on my ‘off time.’ But, I play piano as well as guitar. I like to empty the mind of all my ‘stuff’ and just let go… play the instrument. And at the same time, compose new stuff.

When do you think metal will conquer the world again?
DID metal conquer the world at one point? I didn’t know it ever did! (laughs). I don’t know if it will ever ‘conquer’ the music scene, but it will always have a place. Sometimes it is good and sometimes it is bad… but it will always be there. Right now it’s not really ‘mainstream’ like pop music or R&B is, but that doesn’t mean it’s going to disappear anytime soon, like disco did. As long as there are fans and listeners, metal will continue to thrive in whatever form it is in.

Again, guys, great to talk with you and thanks for the new album. It will make a lot of prog and power heads very happy!
Thank you very much. I’m sorry I took so long with this interview… hope you enjoyed it :)
Interviewer: devilmetal747
Oct 11, 2010

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