Andre Matos, vocalist of Brazilian melodic-power-speed metal band Angra, speaks about their latest release (Holy Land), the music scene in Brazil, and his aspirations and goals.
I understand that Angra means "Goddess of Fire". Is there any particular reason you chose this name?
We just chose the name because it was a Brazilian name and there's a town here called Angra, which is a beautiful town. It was a name that we thought would sound good in every language, but, on the other hand, would also mean nothing. We tried to run away from a meaningful name. We discovered the meaning of the word later on, but I think it fits the band's sound well.
Could you elaborate a bit about the conception and recording of Holy Land? Particularly the mixing of Brazilian and Classical music with Heavy Metal?
The album took more than one year to produce. From the point we started composing the music to the point when we developed the master was about one year. The album took a lot of effort; it was more difficult and more complicated than we expected. The Latin music parts and the Classical arrangements were the difficult parts. The arrangements were much more difficult. We were under a big time constraint from the record labels on one hand, but we found a way to make it happen with more time. We had enough time for developing and improving the songs.
When we recorded we wanted to bring about some originality. Some bands copy other bands and that's something we don't like to do. We are classical musicians, we are Brazilian people, and on the other hand we like heavy metal. Nothing is more natural than mixing all those together.
What exactly is the songwriting process in the band?
It varies a lot. Sometimes we write together, and all the members give input. We record everything and later we listen to the material and mix the best parts; other times the members write their own songs. On this record even though the songs were composed differently all the arrangements were done together. The whole band was living on a farm out in the the countryside and we had to leave with the album ready to record. It was a lot of fun.
How would you compare Holy Land with your previous album, Angels Cry?
Holy Land is very different from Angels Cry. It's a deeper way of thinking. It's a kind of a concept album and so it sounds a lot more unique than Angels Cry. On the other hand the songs in Angels Cry are good individually. I think that's the main difference. While Holy Land is good as a whole, Angels Cry is good on an individual song level.
Could you elaborate on the concept behind Holy Land?
The concept was born from the song Holy Land. I wrote that song by myself and presented it to the band. The whole band was into the same mood, talking about things from Brazil, mixing of culture, race and religion, etc. From this song the whole concept was born. The album is about Brazil, about our homeland, not about the country itself but about the culture and the mix of races in the culture.
Being a Brazilian metal band to achieve international acclaim, you're often compared to Sepultura. What are your views on this comparison?
Sepultura is the first big Brazilian band to break out internationally. They went out and showed to the world what Brazilian bands can do. I respect them a lot. What they did is very important. People say Angra has imitated Sepultura somehow. Sepultura were a band that was breaking out of Brazil and we thought if they can could do it we could too, but musical and concept-wise I think we have little to do with each other. There was a trend that was going on at the same time and a lot of people were doing the same thing. I like their attitude and music however. We're proud of having a band like Sepultura come out from Brazil.
I've heard that you'll be on an upcoming Judas Priest tribute? What song will you be covering?
It's already out in Europe and Brazil. That was a very nice project. It was an invitation by the German press We were invited to perform the Painkiller song. It was a hard song to record, but not entirely bad since we used to play it live as a cover song. The result is very very cool. My voice is very different. I tried to sing it much more aggressively. I think you will like it if you're a Angra fan.
Do you plan to tour or record with a real classical orchestra any time soon?
That's a question of money. It is something for the future that we intend to do. We plan to record with a philharmonic orchestra in the future also.
Will you be touring the U.S. at all in support of this album release?
Right now things are being negotiated and the options are remote. We'd love to tour the US and I'm looking forward to going there. I hope we can make it pretty soon because we're anxious to play over there.
We have difficulties in the U.S. to release the album or getting there to play. In Europe or Japan there's no problem; they have a tradition and a culture of heavy metal. We've been told to forget the U.S. markets, that they are very trendy, that they go for things played by MTV. It's a pity that we don't really have the opportunity to work there. It's a pity that people who like the music don't have the opportunity to see a band they like.
What are the band's influences in general, and what music do you like best?
We have many influences, like Iron Maiden, Sabbath, and Judas Priest. Deep Purple is very important. Queen was a big influence for the band. As for me, Eric Adams from Manowar has been a big influence. I enjoy his voice. I also like Bruce Dickinson.
What're your views on bootlegs?
I don't think it's a big problem. We have many bootlegs out. Each day we discover a new one. I think it's a good sign. My sincere opinion is that people who want to listen to the music will buy the record. Everyone who buys the bootleg will have a record. That's a problem for the record labels but it's a big advertisement for the band. We're not looking for money, but we're looking for an opportunity to make our work grow and give it exposure.
Could you shed some light on the Brazilian Heavy Metal scene?
A couple of years ago there was a big thrash metal wave. But right now, there's lots and lots of melodic bands in Brazil. It's a style that's growing strongly. One month ago we had the Masters of Rock with only melodic bands like Iron Maiden and Helloween. It was pretty cool. We may play in the next one.
How do you think you've influenced the scene in Brazil?
We have had the opportunity to talk to a lot of kids. Most of our fans who are musicians say that we're a big influence and it's very nice to hear that. It means our work is being recognised.
Where do you see Angra in the future?
Our plans are to grow as much as possible, and improve much more as musicians, getting to a higher professional level. It's difficult to turn into a professional band in Brazil. It's a country that hasn't got the right possibilities. On the other hand, we spent a lot of time outside, in Europe especially. It's important for the band that we have these external markets. We wish to work with different markets and different countries and go on doing the music we like. That's our biggest dream. That we don't have to turn heads down and just do what the record labels want us to do. We don't want to become repetitive and boring just in order to make more money.