Andre Matos interview (03/2008)
|With:||Andre Matos, Andre "Zaza" Hernandes|
|Conducted by:||wrathchild (in person)|
André Matos is a well known figure in power metal, especially for being one of the founders of Angra and Shaaman where he was a great frontman. In France and some other countries, he's acquired a certain status, not far from being an icon. I can attest that since I'm a big fan of the singer, the early Angra albums being partly responsible for my love of the metal music.
The multiple split ups wouldn't keep André from writing and touring and that's why he's presenting a new band called "André Matos" and a new album, entitled "Time To Be Free."
The interview took place by 9pm in a hotel in Paris, and although he had quite a dense and tight schedule, André was speaking a lot to every interviewer, that's why we did this one later than expected, and why I couldn't ask everything I had planned to ask since I wouldn't want to add to the delay.
Anyway, before the actual interview took place, we talked a bit about languages, about the Angra and Shaaman shows I attended and about Metal Storm. Then I went on with some of my questions:
First I must ask a question that may be weird, are you upset when interviewers/reviewers mention Angra and Shaaman too much?
André Matos: No, it's our fault! [laughs]
I mean, we created the bands, and... there were some... split ups with those bands so I understand that people are always curious and they want to know what went in such cases. So nothing better than asking the proper person, who took part in it, you know to have the different points of view.
Me: Cause I've got many such questions... (note: due to time passing by so quickly, I had to withdraw those questions off my list)
André Matos: It's no problem, feel free to ask whatever you want.
Ok, so today you're back with a new album, a new band that you decided to call simply "André Matos". Is it to emphasize that it's your solo project, or perhaps because you had troubles with names, like with Shaaman and the double "A"?
André Matos: No it's not a question of having troubles with names. I wouldn't say so. I've taken part in many different bands, important bands and I've been through at least 3 split ups and... split ups are never something good to experience, always something really dramatic or you know... hard and tough but some times they are truly necessary otherwise you don't find any reason to carry on any strength to find the motivation to keep doing what you do. I don't consider myself as a person who'd keep a bad situation just by convenience. Because I do this, that was my very first dream to become a real musician and I still have this ideal in my mind. Ok so after the third split up which was Shaaman about one year and a half ago, hmm... we didn't know exactly what to do but err... I've been always asked, you know, accross my career, if one day I would come up with a solo record and I never though it was the right timing for that. I never felt myself like the wish to do it and after the last split up this thing came back to my mind again and I got some offers and then I thought it would be a lot better to come up with a solo band - never call it a solo project because it is a solo band - instead of a new band with a different name. Because a new band with a different name has 2 bad things about it:
First of all, nobody knows it, so it would take about 5 years for the people to know that me and him and the other are playing in such band.
Second thing, yes, I've already taken part in 3 bands that somehow split up of course, but a new band name wouldn't give a better... credibility, so people would say "ok now he comes up with a new band so when is this band gonna split up again," you know. That would be something to be expected.
On the other hand, with my own name, I cannot split up.
Me: Yeah, of course not.
André Matos: This is a guarantee for the audience, already. And another thing is that, under my own name, there's the whole history behind. So people know what to expect. And also there's some freedom to go through all this history without appearing to be something like opportunistic or commercial or anything like that because it's just part of my history, because I'm the proprietor of those things. Not only me, but this history, coincidently, matches to their history as well, you know for instance André "Zaza" [André points to the other André, to his left] was part of Angra and Luis was part of Angra and Shaaman and Hugo Shaaman, and Fabio Riebeiro was Angra and Shaaman, so the only one who is not is the drummer, cause probably he wasn't born yet [laughing, along with Zaza].
Me: We shall come to him later.
André Matos: But you know those are the main reasons why we actually all agreed about it. And I tell you that at first I didn't want it because it's a lot of responsibility on my back, but if I wouldn't do it now I would have done it never so I took the chance and took the choice and decided to face it.
By luck I think we've found the right team together, all the musicians, the producers and so on.
Time To Be Free
You also called the album "Time To Be Free", is it for the same purpose as having your name as the band name: now you can create what you want to do, nothing holds you to...
André Matos: This is not completely wrong. I think this the very first idea that one can have if you read such a title. Like I told you before, it gives us a lot of freedom to wander through the many aspects of my past career. With this record we were able to embrace and to summarize all of those band experiences and elements. And on the other hand when we play live we're able to play both the new songs as well as the old songs too, the old classics. This is a good liberty, you know, in terms of music.
Me: I felt that the album sounded like... a summary of what you did with all your former bands.
André Matos: But! Without copying it.
Me: Yeah, that's right.
André Matos: That's the most important point. That was a big concern that it should have, keep such elements but it should sound, on the other hand, fresh, and up-to-date and modern. And not sound like a formula, or a sort of imitation of the past. So, it's a... "re-edition" somehow, of something. And regarding the album title I think there is also another reason why this title was chosen, it's more about the concept. We need, we all need you know, a search for freedom. We live in a... sort of weird world nowadays, everybody seems to be searching for freedom somehow but we forget that freedom must be something inside of themselves and everybody's looking outside. You know, "I wanna have a career, I wanna get money, I wanna buy a big car, I wanna... accumulate goods and money, go on vacation, whatever, and some very basic and important values are being forgotten. And those values are about the human being. I think this is the reflect of the velocity that things happen nowadays. I can compare just by the time when I was a child, it was too different from today. Things are rolling too fast and the world is very well connected and globalized but that has a price: people become colder and people become more distant to each other. So I think we're forgetting about very basic things about our lives and this is a pity, and not only a pity, this is dangerous. Cause if the world keeps like this - so individualist, so competitive, so materialist - it's not gonna end in very good terms. And I think the planet has already given a lot of signs to us but we're not really watching it carefully.
It's time to propose yourself a lot of deeper questions, you know. Not only the automation we're living there but you've gotta conquer some kind of conscience and understand what's around it. And I believe that music, music is still a powerful instrument to find you there, to lead you there. And what I would like to propose with this music is this kind of reflection, this kind of discussion, that people would actually ask themselves some deeper questions about existence on this planet and try to find a solution together otherwise it's gonna be too late.
So, about the other band members, we know the Mariutti brothers and Fabio Ribeiro from your other bands. And now there's Zaza. So question to Zaza I think:
Why "Zaza" and not André Hernandes?
André "Zaza" Hernandes: "Zaza" is an old nickname. And two Andrés in a band is too much confusion. And so "Zaza" is, err...
André Matos: Quite practical.
André "Zaza" Hernandes: Yes.
André Matos: When we are all together.
André "Zaza" Hernandes: Yeah, with "Zaza", no problem.
André Matos: And "Zaza" is very international, easy to get in any language. In Japan they were very keen to say "Zaza", [imitating the Japanese accent] "Zaza" all the time. He was popular in Japan.
Actually, you're know in the musical scene, in Sao Paulo, musician friends call you "Zaza".
André "Zaza" Hernandes: Yeah, "Zaza" is the nickname...
André Matos: From the Angra times.
André "Zaza" Hernandes: Yeah!
What did you do after Angra? For all those years, in what bands did you play?
André "Zaza" Hernandes: I've always played the guitar, I've always played with bands but in other genres. I wanted to play all sort of styles, all kind of music, jazz, fusion, heavy metal, etc.
Me: And you decided to get back to metal with André Matos?
André "Zaza" Hernandes: Playing heavy metal is a great pleasure and playing with André Matos, it's a big surprise.
André Matos: After such a long time. And I would say for me too, because after we worked together in Angra and then he moved from Sao Paulo... ok we carried on with Angra, with another lineup but we kept in touch, here and there, you know when we played in some places south of Brazil he always came by and sometimes he jammed with us on stage. But it was funny because I was sometimes remembering together with Luis for example, "would be cool to have Zaza playing with us again" and I always had in mind like "maybe one day." So it's cool that the coincidence, in the end : he moved to Sao Paulo right at the time when we were setting up the band. So it was a good coincidence. The right timing.
The two Andrés in an acoustic show given at the Hard Rock Café Paris
Another good surprise in the lineup is Eloy Casagrande. I heard him play in some drummer website...
André Matos: Oh you watched him on that site?
Me: Yeah, he's quite impressive!
André Matos: Very impressive, he's like a Mike Portnoy miniature. [laughs]
Me: I learnt he took some lessons with the current drummer of Angra, so I guess he's familiar with your past material?
André Matos: Yeah probably, probably.
Me: I guess he was excited to play with you?
André Matos: Well, Eloy, he was actually a fan of ours, before. But he was already a very reputed guy in the musical scene. He won this very important prize in the United States, the Modern Drummer drum contest. He was awarded best drummer of the Americas at the age of 14. Now he's 16 and I can't imagine what he's gonna be when he's 18 or 20! That's a good bet for the future. And he came by to replace the first drummer who left the band and then we made a sort of audition, contest - not really contest - we made some tests with possible candidates. All of them were great, great players, but Eloy was really outstanding and when I saw him playing I had no doubt it should be him. But still I was a little bit skeptical and I had a little doubt about how it would work with the age difference. First because I didn't know how would we get along together, you know talk the same things, if we would understand each other or if he would be too shy or whatever. And if his mind would be prepared for such things. It's the same as a football team who's already playing in the first league and they get this young boy, 16 years old, play together with the old guys. You know it's like, it's different.
You've already toured Japan, so I guess it was a good test for Eloy?
André Matos: Yes it was the best test for Eloy, first of all he was traveling very far away home, without his family or anything so we were responsible for him. It was good for him to understand that, you know, he can rely on us, as his tutors. But actually in the end there was absolutely no problem at all. He's a very down-to-earth guy, good minded and good hearted guy [Zaza's nodding in approval] and regarding the age difference... [laughing] maybe we are more silly than him, sometimes we were more stupid than him! We certainly speak more stupid things than he does! It was very good for him, he has this chance now to have this experience together with more experienced musicians, then he can learn a lot, we teach him a lot on what we've been through already. On the other hand he came up with some real fresh blood for the band and that also affected us a little bit. Because if we used to play one song in a certain speed then Eloy was playing double as fast and we had to follow him, so it was a good exercise for everybody. I think it's working up for the group.
On the album, there's a song with Alberto Rionda from the Spanish band Avalanch. How did you get to work with him?
André Matos: I'm friend with Alberto for many years already.
Me: You toured with him?
André Matos: We toured together, two times actually, in Spain. We became big friends and he's a wonderful person, a wonderful musician too, great composer, great guitar player. He was one of the first... when I decided to come up with this solo band, he was one of the first who came to me and was supporting me. And right after that he came to me and said "You know I was thinking about your solo band and I think I have an idea for a song for you." I said "Yes with pleasure, you can send it to me and let's work it together." We did it by sending stuff from Spain to Brazil, thanks to technology, and from that is born a very nice song.
Me: "Face The End."
André Matos: I'm very proud. And he recorded the guitar solo for this song.
[then we were reminded we had only 5 minutes left]
What about touring, in Europe, in festivals?
André Matos: We are looking for festivals now. I know most of them are already scheduled but there's always last minute places in festivals so I'm looking for that. Of course it was all depending on the release. I think it should be possible to play the Wacken in Germany and we're also looking forward for a big tour in Europe. Probably it's gonna be hard to do it before summer but right after that, after the festivals it will be a good season for a real, large European tour.
I'm gonna switch to a different question: what of Virgo?
André Matos: Virgo was a side-project, developed together with Sasha Paeth. It was very successful in a way, you know, among the metal audience because it was something that opened up a new horizon, more mainstream, almost pop music but with metal roots and people highly appreciate it. And it became a sort of... icon, this Virgo thing but we didn't do it again. Sasha and me we have a plan to work on a second Virgo album, it just depends on our schedules - we've been pretty busy so far - but I hope it's gonna be possible to produce it. What I can say is that we already got some songs composed for such a project, still some missing but once we meet I think it's gonna be done pretty fast. I think people can expect a Virgo number 2 I don't know when but someway we must do it.
You mentioned it was a dream to become a musician, do you have any other dream to fulfill?
André Matos: Yes I would say that in the classical field... there's still something to be explored.
Me: I thought, after the split with Shaaman, that you would once again get back to classical music, or Virgo. But I must say I'm quite happy I was wrong.
André Matos: Not only you. [laughs]
Well I'm done with the interview. If you have any words for oour readers, feel free.
André Matos: Ok, well I would like to thank you for the interview as this is like, Estonian right?
Me: Yeah well, international.
André Matos (leaning toward the recorder): So European-wide or international. To every fan, everywhere, we'd like to thank you for the support and for the wait actually. We're back and I hope we can share the experience of this new album with everybody and hopefully, let's do our best and I hope that you guys do your best as well so that we have a chance to present it live to you and share this experience live, in person, because we're looking forward to feel the response from the album together with you. So thank you very much and see you soon, somewhere in time, in Europe.
Thanks a lot to Olivier and Roger from Replica Records and to Jeff for letting me interview André Matos, who I am to thank again for his time and for his music!
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