Interview: ANGRA
Title: Successful matured

Experience the dewy sounding ideas and all the situational dynamics on the new and eighth studio album, so it is rather hard to believe that there is indeed the Power Metal band since 1991.

But for „Secret Garden“ the constant Brazilian were sheer ridden by an progressive composition-devil!

Tamed is the artistic will of Angra not yet long as they show up to date with unbridled imagination and constantly erupting enthusiasm. The album's predecessor „Aqua“ was released in the summer of 2010. The fans had to wait so long time for new compositions.

As guitarist and founding member Rafael Bittencourt explains, said break was primarily about the change of the vocals. For Eduardo ,Edu‘ Falaschi unlatched in mid-2012. On the new album „Secret Garden“ now sings Fabio Leone, primarily known by the two bands Rhapsody Of Fire and Vision Divine .

The eighth album … did you ever expect to get the band alive for over more than two decades?

„Well, yes. We have always expected to make it last long, to make it last forever or to make it last whenever we can, whenever we are alive. But it is always a surprise when we come with the success. Having a band alive is not so hard. Having a band successful is hard. And we had a lot of ups and downs but certainly I am very proud of the two decades of our history.“

What still counts most for you in making music with Angra?

„We always have to find a compromise in between of what the fans expect and what we are up to or what we are feeling like doing at that moment. And I think that it has to count that you find a nice percentage of what you feel cool doing and what expect from you. Because of course if you went up always repeating your own formulas you will probably get tired of it and so do the fans. But when you repeat a little bit of the formulas but also find some room for experimentation and for some new stuff, I think that the people, the fans get the impression that the band is solid but still creative.“

„Aqua“ came out in summer 2010. Please tell about the main reason(s) for such a long album pause!

„The fact that Edu left the band bothered us a little bit on the plannings and right after Fabio was available and we started doing concerts together, we could find some motivation again but still we needed two more years to know each other better and to find a good strategie for the band and also to write songs. That always takes a long time. Hopefuilly we will not get any lineup change for the next ten years I hope because we feel very nice working together.“

The new material is definitely your proven style, these time even more proggy, but sounds fresh and on it's own.

Please tell a bit about the work at the main songwriting in general. Any changes to name?

„Every time you get new people involved you will find also new pads for your creativity. I think Fabio has contributed a few melodies and also with his concepts of how the bandsin Europe think, how the bands in Europe act was a good input for us having a European guy now inside the band because we live far here in Brazil kind of in a different vibe in a different atmosphere from everyone else in Europe. The songwriting process is always the same but also every time different because we write our own ideas individually and then at a certain point we get together to improve those individual ideas to connect individual ideas together and also to write together some new ideas. And every time we spend a while doing our own stuff doing individual stuff we experiment, we experience new stuff individually. And when we come together to find this common ??? to add to each other we always find surprising result of a new thing coming. And we know the formulas the people like for speed songs, we know the formulas the people, what they expect from Angra like the classic stuff, the ethnical stuff, we know that they expect it but it is a very wide range of possibilities that you can do when you combine classic music with ethnic stuff. It is an infinite range of possibilities when you combine all the sorts of styles of Rock music into Metal, when you turn a cover song into an Angra song when you do your own version. All the experimentations bring up a new style even for us.“

How long took the complete songwriting for the new album and who are the main composers of the new stuff?

„Me and Kiko are usually the main composers but Felipe has helped a lot especially with the proggy thing. I think Bruno also has brought a lot of this progginess into the band and also Fabio with his voice with his reputations. Every one of us has contributed in his own way to this masterpiece we have done with no modesty.“

Is it allowed to ask about nowadays special musical and lyrical influences?

„It is funny but I have always the same sort of musical and lyrical influences and of course I started to like stuff that I did not like before like I have been enjoying Coldplay, Linkin Park and when these bands were out I would never imagine myself liking it but nowadays I like Korn, Seal and many other pop artists – even Robbie Williams I like. I guess that maybe in an unconscious way they all influenced my music and my lyric.“

Please describe the main musical character of the upcoming album release „Secret Garden“! What main content could be named the 'soul' of the album?

„The main content would be synchronicity. We could synchronize our differences into one main goal and we could connect our difference with the love and passion for doing music. This seems very paradoxical. It seems like opposite ends but when it comes to love and music and doing it with passion any difference could be connected. I think that is the main thing like Felipe is an atheist, I have have the Brazilian religion Umbanda which is spiritism. Bruno is a very religious Christian guy. When it comes to philosophical or religious conversations we have our differences but we all love music the most. Like in first or second place in life. And the album represents this. It represents differences in thinking in a common direction.“

Do you guys felt as in your own secret garden in a grey world sometimes while the songs were created?

„Well yes, maybe. I think I wanted to represent that the secret garden is like our creative source, our unconsciousness. The place where for some reason we connect together to bring these ideas into live, into music, into our actual work, into actual media, a CD or whatever. I think “Newborn Me” could also be the fact that the band is being reborn again like in terms of rebirth. Now we have a new singer so again the band is reborn but I wanted the people to know that there is the secret garden which is our creative mind with an endless source of ideas. That is what “Secret Garden” represents for me.“

Please report about the main content in general of the newest lyrics!

„The lyrics are about as I said common thinking, few of us are atheists, others are spiritists and Universalists, Christians. We have different ways of expressing ourselves when it comes to our beliefs and philosophical way of seeing or poetic way of seeing. So I created a story about this scientist. He is an atheist, he does not believe very much beyond his eyes and proven matter. At a certain point he is involved in a car accident. His wife is killed, he is put in a coma for seven months and when he wakes up, his reality is roughly changed, is drastically changed because now he does not have a wife, he feels the guilt of killing her because he was driving the car during the accident. He does not have a job anymore – he used to run a laboratory but not anymore because they had to find another person to run the laboratory and so on. At a certain point he starts a very bad depression. He feels depressed, starts taking pills and everything. At a certain point, spirits, angels start talking to him and he feels like he is going crazy because he does not believe in such a thing. He does not believe in angels, he does not believe in spirits or in God or whatever. The thing he minds is finding a way to deal with a trauma. So the lyrics basically report a discursion about is the spiritual manifestations something that happens in the psychological level just to fulfill the emptiness of our questions – “What are we doing here?”, “Who am I”, “Is there a god?” or whatever – is it in the psychological level or do they really exist – angels, god, other dimensions like heaven, hell, do they really exist or are they just symbols? Just representations of our fears or our minds, projections, creativity or whatever.“

Italian powervoice Fabio Lione as Angra's new singer - how did you guys found together and how's to work with him?

„I met Fabio a long time ago. He came to Brazil, I think it was the Vision Divine Tour, Andre Matos had just left the band and we were looking for a new singer. So I started to speak to him. He was very much involved with Rapsody and Vision Divine. He could not really leave any of this works. So we ended up finding a Brazilian singer which was Edu Falaschi and it was great to find him. When Edu left we started to think of an international singer. Someone with a Latin understanding with some Latin vibe, culture and who also had some international popularity. He was the first name that came up to our mind. And by coincidence we were invited to “70.000 Tons Of Metal” which is a Metal cruise that leaves at Miami to the Bahamas and we did not have a singer. The producers of the boat said “We don’t care. We want Angra even without a singer. Just find a singer and it’s fine. We just want to listen to the songs.” By the way, the producer has recommended Fabio. He said “Fabio Lione is always coming to the boat and I think he would be glad to come with you guys.” So we had one rehearsal and we went to the boat. Many people on the boat did not know about Angra. Some American people or some Death Metal fans and Metal fans from other styles that had never listened to Angra. But they liked Angra at the first listening and the voice of Fabio. That was a very good point for us. First, because we were invited to a boat where the producers said “We want the songs not the singers.” I was very, very glad to hear that. I said okay, I do not need a specific singer, the songs are good. And then, Fabio really blended the soul of the songs really interpreted the power and the magic and the sensibility that we need touching people’s heart. And it was very motivating for us. More than ten years after I met him for the first time we reencountered on the boat and we kept doing concerts in a very relaxing way with no compromise between us and no obligation between us. And we decided to make a record together to see how it works and we are really excited because people seem to enjoy it, seem to love that lineup. I am really hopeful that Fabio feels the same towards us because it has been very special to have him with us. Working with him is just fine. He is a very gentle guy, he is humble, he is always concerned about the human side of everyone, about harmonizing with everyone, about not letting people get angry and all that kind of stuff. He is a very important person now to keep the balance and the peaceful atmosphere.“

Please report about the female guest appearances of Doro in „Crushing Room“ (your duet with her) and the vocals of Simone in the title-track!

„For me it was a great honor to sing along with Doro. She is a Metal diva for me and I have always loved her voice. When I was developing my own voice I have always thought that it sounds a little bit like Doro. I think that we could like blend our voices together in a way that we sometimes do not know exactly who is singing what part. And for me that is an honor because I like that rough Rock’n’Roll voice and I think Doro brings the passion and roughness but still with a delicate female sound and interpretation and I like it a lot. The locals of Simone were just amazing. It was mind-blowing or heart-blowing because she is very technical and very emotional and her timber is just so beautiful that I think that the song was made for her. This was the kind of synchronicity I was speaking about. Tales that were falling into their right position. When we had the answer that she would do it and then she send us the files, it was like things really getting into their own place. It was just a miracle in the end to see how beautiful the whole album sounds especially by the guest appearences of Simone and Doro.“

Why the Police classic „Synchronicity II“ has been chosen for a cover?

„We wanted “Synchronicity” as a tying up subject a subject that would glue everything together. Unfortunately it was not approved by Sony, owner of the royalties and the rights. I am writing a story that I wanted to be like a comic book or a comic novel and there is this point of the car accident where the scientist was listening together with his wife to “Synchronicity II” by The Police on the radio. I wanted that tiny piece of romantiscm to be on the story but unfortunately it was not possible also because we wanted again to state to the crowd that our influences overcross the limits of Metal. That we are always listening to other styles and other bands and we believe that it is very important to create new stuff in Metal and also to get out of the repeated formulas of Metal songs. I would like to thank you Markus. I would like to thank all the fans and I hope you like it. Anytime you need me, I am here. I wish to all the readers that the year of 2015 is great for all of us. Listen to the new “Secret Garden” by Angra. “Tschüss”!“

© Markus Eck, 02.01.2015

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