Andre/Hugo - April 2002'



Thursday, April 25th, 2002.

On Thursday, April 25th, 2002, Andre and us met again. This time he was with Hugo, in a comfortable Parisian hotel. Two days before Shamanís first post-studio gig Ė in Spain, we talked about the very recent record that you all must have heard now: Ritual... However, in that time, it was so recent that Hugo had to listen to it during the interview, on our own portable CD player!
Interview by the French Ritual Team.

Listen the intro of the interview



You left Germany one month ago, and we just wanted to know how was the end of your stay in the Gate Studio ?

Andre: Very... stressing... I had so many things to do in the last moment. Last week was like a nightmare... to finish everything and to be able to go back home, if not I would have stayed in Europe. Because we went to Japan, in the end of last week. We had to go to Japan but... maybe we could have stayed in Europe and gone from Europe to Japan but it was not really possible because we had to be back there to rehearse, cos we are flying to Spain tomorrow and we have this gig in a Spanish festival and the band didnít rehearse for a long time, and the keyboard player doesnít know the new songs. So we went for 13 days to Brazil and then to Japan and then we are going to Spain. So I would stay in Germany more and do the things with Miro, but it was ok.

Excuse me but, where is your home ? (smile)

Brazil! Sometimes I spend big time in Germany, but my home is in Brazil. And I hope itís still gonna be like this, always .

Listen the recording


You said you were in Japan, you had a promo tour. So, how did it happened? Was it good?

Oh! Lots of things. 4 days. It was not too many days, but very busy. And the nicest was when we had a fan meeting. In this kind of event, they invite 200 fans, selected fans because the people had to send a letter and there was a contest. And then these fans go there and they ask a question. Itís like a press conference but not for press, for the fans. Itís even boring sometimes to stay in a press conference for the press. But they asked really nice questions. And later we played an acoustic set with 3 songs.

Which ones ?

Hugo: "For tomorrow", "Fairy Tale", and "Carry on".
Andre: We played them live. The fans loved it. Afterwards we were talking, listening to the songs.
Hugo: 4 songs.
Andre: And then they came in the end to shake hands and they were really great. I mean they really enjoyed the music and they were saying very good things about the album .

Listen the recording


Hugo, you met your first fans. What are your feelings about them?

Hugo: It was good...very good! A new experience, you know? And I like it ... very much!

Listen the recording


I also heard you were a little late for the mixing of Ritual. How come?

Andre: Yeah, there are things you never can tell in advance. If itís gonna really work in time or not, for instance. The main reason is because we wanted to have always more and more different instruments. I was working on the keyboards, Sascha was trying out different equipments for the mix and in the end it came out a very nice set So all those things delayed the mix a little bit but we are still in time for the release, donít worry! Itís gonna be released on July 2nd. The only problem was that we havenít a promo album yet for the people to listen to, but you know that having to do everything in order to keep the schedule in time has a little compromise.

Listen the recording


In 2 days you are going to play in Spain. I think you are very happy to be on stage once again...

Definitely! Thatís a very special occasion. We are there as special guests for the festival. Thatís the biggest festival in Spain, we are gonna play besides the biggest local bands like Tierra Santa and Bajon Rojo. Thatís a big responsibility for us, in a territory where Angra was never very big, so now we want to make it with Shaman.

Listen the recording


Will you play some new songs?

We will play a lot of new songs, and some old songs from mine, of the Angra time.

In the future, will you play Viper songs?

Yeah!! But not that one. Have you been at the NTS festival?

Yes...

We played one Viper song. We donít know if weíll play the same song or other Viper stuff, but... yeah yeah, we would like it a lot.
Hugo: 3 or 4 (smile)
Andre: Heís a big fan!

Listen the recording


So, you remember we had a long interview together 1 month ago. Since then I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to listen to Ritual a dozen times. I think now we can make a little track by track analysis, if you want...

Yeah, we can do that. But I would like to listen to the final thing before, because there are some things that I donít know if it went on the record or not. Sascha is mixing the stuff and I let him choose, but we can do it roughly, in general line we can talk about it.

Listen the recording




The first track is "Ancient Winds", itís a very very long intro, something rather tribal with many orchestrations and I want to know why you wanted such a long intro to your album ?

Because for me it was very important to be able to bring the people down to the right atmosphere before listening to the rest of the album. So you canít do this if you use only a 20 seconds long intro. And thatís why this intro is quite long, but for me not itís still not long enough. I would do something even longer. Because it reminds you of a movie music and itís very atmospheric, so you need some time to switch off from the real world and dive into an atmosphere. Diving into this magic world... Thatís what the intro is supposed to do, because itís made of very beautiful arrangements, orchestration, all the different instruments, including ethnic instruments, and the idea for the instruments is like a trip around the world, a trip around all the ages. And thereís a mystic and atmospheric feeling. So I think that after listening to that, you are really ready to start diving inside the Ritual concept.


Like the start...

Overture

...of a concept album, it presents all the songs.

A "preface". Like a book, thereís always a preface, so you read that first and then you start the book.

For me itís like a movie, when I heard it, it was like a movie, as if you wanted to introduce a story.

Itís as if you would like to introduce the whole album in 3 minutes and then you have this extended version of the other songs, I think.

Listen the recording


If one day a movie producer calls you to make a soundtrack, will you be ok ?

Itís my biggest dream ! I really hope I will do that one day...

What kind of movie ?

Everything but Sylvester Stallone (laughs)

Listen the recording


It seems that the next 2 songs are defining what the music of Shaman will be... I mean, heavy sound, orchestrations everywhere and an aggressive voice. Is it the new metal according to Shaman?

Thatís part of it but we have other elements in other songs as well. There are some soft parts with more clear voice too. Itís not only due to orchestrations... of course the symphonic element plays the good role in the album but also the ethnic part is very important. So, as soon as the 2nd song, "Distant Thunder", thereís a few like this, those flutes go on, thatís a song about northern American Indians .

When I hear it I can imagine canyons and that kind of stuff in my head...

Yeah!! That was it! You got it! Thatís the idea. I donít know if you know this film composer, old guy, Enio Morricone. Do you know this guy?

Yeah...

He did the most famous western movies soundtracks. This atmosphere on the beginning of the song is really based on the Morricone feeling, the style. And the lyrics are talking about Indians, and storms, and all these nature things. Itís quite a very atmospheric song too, and that already introduces the ethnical elements that you have there - all the atmospheres. "Here I am" is the fastest song, itís what, we could say, reminds the most of the older style that we developed in Angra. Itís like a follow-up to the Angra style. Itís rather very symphonic and heavy too, but with some beautiful parts of female and lyrical voice, and some piano concerto parts - grand piano - and then thereís another sweet part in the middle of the song before the last chorus. So itís rather a more melodic thing, because we keep some elements from the past, but we also try to do something completely new on the other hand.

Listen the recording


Hugo, we can speak about your first guitar solo. We were waiting for it and, as Andre told us one month ago, it seems that you have a very good feeling without showing off too much technique.

He has the technique, because when he plays the old Angra songs from mine live, he plays the solos the same, but he prefers not to not show it often. Itís just too boring for him to play like he was doing exercises .
Hugo: I donít like this. For me, the solo is the important part of a song when the vocals stop... (Hugo explains to Andre in Portuguese what he wants to say)
Andre: It takes over the work of the vocal part. What I think is when he plays the solo - or rather the solos - that we can sing together, we can sing along. For me as a singer and as a listener too, I always prefer this kind of solos, thatís why I like so much the solos from Iron Maiden or from Judas Priest, and Queensrˇche... Those bands donít have super-virtuoso guitar player but itís just perfect.

And John Petrucciís solos, you donít like them? (smile) (We have already asked Andre about Petrucci the month before, so this time the question is for Hugo)

Mmmh, itís too fast for me. (laughs)
Hugo: You can make fast solos, but it makes things...
Andre: Actually John Petrucci is a master of this, because heís playing very speedily too, but heís clever, he doesnít do it like a big show of things. Heís doing rather melodic too. So, I can really sing along his solos. For me, the thing is: if I can sing the solo, then itís good.
Hugo: For me too.
Andre: But there are some speed solo from Hugo in the record too.
Hugo: The first song...

I love the solo of "Pride".

Itís fast too.

A bit short but fast, and I love it.

Listen the recording


Letís talk about your voice, I was very surprised...


Andre: Me too!! (laughs)

I think itís a mixture of all your sounds in Angra, all your sounds in Virgo and something more metal, a bit like Bruce Dickinson, or Rob Halford and I want to know what led or inspired your choices for the voice ?

Some people even say that I sound today more like I used to sound when I was in Viper and I keep that now. And the reason to that is that the voice should fit to the music. And the music from the band, except for the old extra arrangements, but the band itself, sounds heavier. So my voice should be something that fits to that. That was not something I wanted to compose, I was just trying many different things and thatís what I got. I think now itís quite natural for me, to sing like this, as I develop as a singer, itís a kind of evolution. When I listened to it the first time, I was also a little bit shocked with the result. I said : "My god, itís too much! People wonít recognise me !"

But we recognise you!

I think so... And I think I didnít do it all over the record, there are part that I sing like before. But in the general guideline I think itís ok. And Sascha told me: "Donít worry, I promise, the fans will love it." And then I trusted him, weíll see!

Listen the recording


It seems that your vocal range is now wider, much higher sometimes, much lower some other times.

On the slow song, "Fairy Tale", I start very low, the lowest range I can reach. This song is very interesting because it shows the whole range of the voice. Thereís a very low verse, and the second chorus is very, very high. Itís a very emotional song, a song that I basically wrote alone. There are 2 songs that I basically wrote alone which are "Fairy Tale" and "Here I am". Anyway, the credit for the songs is from the whole band, because we had a very long time composing together, so we prefer to do this way to show that it is really a team work. It doesnít matter if I wrote one or two songs alone, in the end I need them to play my song, and we share everything. This kind of spirit was missing in the last Angra years, there was so much discussions, so this time we wanted to share. But actually this song is a song that I wrote quite some time ago. It was even supposed to be recorded by Angra, of course the song has changed, arrangements, some extra-parts now. But itís a song probably from 1998, we intended to use it, and finally we didnít. Same goes for "Here I am", which is an idea I had in 98 or 99, or even before. Now we are just using the main idea of the choir and the way of singing.

Listen the recording


Letís talk about "Fairy Tale". Itís a very intense song, a bit as "Deep blue" was on Holy Land.

Itís a very, very deep for me actually. Thereís a lot of solo, since the first time that I compose it, I was a little bit disappointed that we couldnít use it for Angra - it was supposed to be on the Fireworks album. But the producer [Chris Tsangarides] didnít like so much the song. Iím happy that we didnít use it, the result now is much better than what the result would have been if we had used it at that time. This song needed also a little time to get more mature. So I really think itís the right time.

Listen the recording


There are numerous piano parts along the song...

You think?

Yeah, all along the album. For example in "Here I am", we also hear a female voice which creates a rather mysterious atmosphere, like the soundtrack of a horror movie.

Thatís true, the melody is really thought of like a thrilling thing.

And I guess all those piano parts were very important to you?

Maybe because itís my trademark singing and playing it. It was very, very important, with Virgo, to use the piano and this time also with Shaman, as if it was my trademark. I think not a lot of singers can handle that and for me itís not just because I sing, itís also because piano is my basic instrument. I started out as musician, playing piano and itís the thing that I like the most. If I tell you that I prefer to play the piano than to sing, please believe me, because thatís really my biggest passion. Classical music and playing piano are really my dream. Once I wanted to be a classical piano player, but it didnít work out because I had the band, and it started to be successful so I had to dedicate only to rock and to the band. Anyway, I still have the dream I can play real piano concerto live and I would have the time to be training again at the piano.

Like Freddie Mercury?

Like Freddie Mercury. Something in common. (smile)

Listen the recording


Then come 3 songs which were in the demo: "Time will come", "Blind Spell", and especially "For Tomorrow". The latter has changed a lot since the demo version. It contains a thrashy guitar riff with harmonics just after the intro...

This is a Peruvian group. The concept of the song is talking about Inca civilisation, the way they appeared, and the way they disappeared.

Listen the recording


Apparently with this thrashy guitar riff we can say that Shaman use very numerous musical influences in the composing sessions...

And the thrash thing is actually more like an inheritance from Hugo. Hugo was formerly a thrash metal guitar player and singer. In his first band, he used to play the guitar and to sing like James Hetfield.

I heard you sing "For whom the Bell tolls"!

Hugo: Oh yeah ! In Sao Paulo.
Andre: And people say heís a really good singer, a really good frontman, for thrash metal heís really perfect. When he plays this rhythmic guitar thing, heís giving this very aggressive and strong touch. This is because of Hugo that we had some quite thrash metal influences inside our music as well. Thatís not the only thing, since he brought many progressive elements too.

"Over your Head" is very progressive, I think.

Progressive, but very ethnical too, because thereís lot of percussion, a violin solo, and there is this solo which was played by Derek Sherinian, a keyboard player [ex-Dream Theater].

In "Time will come" I really love the bagpipes.

Yeah itís beautiful, really cool! Those were real instruments, this was really played!

Listen the recording


Letís talk about "Pride". Here we have another song with another influence, itís like the heavy metal of the 80ís, like Judas Priest.

Yeah, something like Judas Priest or MotŲrhead.

Your voice is even closer to Halfordís, it is a return to the heavy metal origins for you, isnít it?

Definitely. This song is very spontaneous, we composed it in the studio when we were almost recording the album. Sascha came to us and said: "Hey, we need some really fast song, so as to really close the album". And the guys were jamming, playing some MotŲrhead songs before. And then we said: "What if we do something similar to this, really fast and heavy?" Then I remembered Halfordís way of singing and I remembered the time when I did this cover of "Painkiller", and I said: "Now Iíll do the same kind of voice, really up to the limit, the most aggressive I can do". It was a very good thing, and then we even had another singer together with me, doing a special duet. He was supposed to come later to the studio to help me with some backing vocals, but then Sascha and us decided to sing something, so this song now is sung by me and Tobias Sammet, together. Itís a great song because Tobias is a great singer, and a very good friend, so it brings up a very friendly atmosphere to the record. I think people will enjoy it a lot. This is the last song of the record, numbered 10 . Because itís a very strong and fast one, closing up the whole thing.



To close the album...

Yes itís like going up, in the end.

You told us that there was choirs with Luis in this song?

Just on the intro of the song. The intro is not there, thereís church organ and choir. Luis is singing in the choir, heís really nice. The first voice is Luisís.

Listen the recording


You used numerous ethnical instruments on the album, which brings a peculiar atmosphere, and presently something magic to Ritual!

Yeah! We think that we have created maybe a new style of heavy metal which we can call "Mystic Metal" and, who knows, maybe someday, everybody come to a record store and look for Mystic Metal range (laughs)! We think we are close to this definition: it's a very mystical album, a concept from behind, talking about rituals, religions, and different ages of civilisation all over the world. We are Brazilian so we are very close to spiritual things too. I think itís the good time to bring some light into the metal scene because everything now is so dark, so repetitive that we have obligation to bring something fresh new, and try to lead people to something more positive.

Listen the recording


How did you meet all this people who appear as guests on Ritual?

Some of them are friends like Tobias, Derek, or Marcus Vania, who is a Brazilian violin player from a progressive band called Sagrado, and he did a great job on the album too. We were looking for people who would be able to play instruments like bagpipes, Peruvian music, Arabian percussion, baroque instruments, and so on. That's why we have a lot of guests in the record and everyone has given a little bit... In the end we have a big picture of everything together. The recordings were split in one part in Germany for the music and the vocals for some of the guests, but some others were recorded in Brazil, and an another part in the United States.

Listen the recording


We can hear a solo by Derek Sherinian. Did he choose to play a solo with you or did you choose him?

Actually HE chose because we met him in Brazil when he was there the last time, and he asked me to join the band and to play on tour with us: he wanted to play live with us! For me, it was a big honour because he is really one of the best of the kind in the world. And I said "Ok! We might do it in the future but I would like to request you maybe first to play first a solo on the album" and he answered "Ok no problem! Send it to me and I will do it". I just send the stuff to him, and he did it!. I was very impressed by the solo.

Did he choose the song or did you choose?

I chose the song because I think itís pretty much his style.

Yes! The most progressive song of the album. Thereís a keyboard solo recorded by Fabio Ribeiro...

Yes! That's on "Blind Spell".

Yes! Itís very good too!

Oh yes ! Very, very good. Fabio is one of the best in Brazil... If not THE best! Heís got many solo records... Itís an amazing keyboard player. Weíd really like to have him live.

Listen the recording




I think you are satisfied with the results?

I didnít listen to the whole album and Hugo is listening to it for the first time now. [The label sent us the rough mixes of Ritual before the interview, and Hugo is listening to them on our portable CD player!]
Hugo: (laughs) Yes, itís the first time for some songs like "Over your Head".
Andre (to Hugo): Do you like it? (general laughter) We are very satisfied although we havenít heard the whole album yet. I think something is really impressing in the style because itís even better than what we expected before the recordings! Iím looking forward to listening to the whole album but Iím pretty sure that itís pretty close to what we imagine now, and I really hope it will impress people as well.


And Iím impressed!

Are you? And youíre a very demanding kind of listener, I guess! So if it impressed you, then Iím happy.

Yes ! I was a big big fan of Holy Land, and Ritual seems to be a...

...follow up ! The evolution of Holy Land! For me too. Thatís the idea...

Listen the recording


Can you tell us more about the cover artwork? Can you explain us its concept?

You know, its concept is very clear. The title is Ritual, so you see something like a representation of a ritual with a fire in the middle, and from the fire comes the face of a shaman. Itís a great piece of work that was made by an artist from Germany and it was really painted with the hand. The original artwork is very big! And we wanted it to be drawn by hand because that makes a big difference nowadays that everybody makes it by computer.

Can you tell us more about the logo ? Why putting the "A" forward? Is it to remember the "A" in Angra?

Because that is not really an "A"! We used it as a "A" but itís rather a magic symbol. We didnít think about the "A" in Angra. In that time we didnít even use the "A" as a symbol. Itís just because this "A" is a magic symbol from an old civilisation. It should face as a symbol itself but not as an "A", just in the middle of the logo... And if we had put the "S", maybe it would be like Sepultura (laughs)!

Listen the recording



Alexis, Hugo, Andre and Arion with a 'Simpsons like' caricature of the band made by Arion


Listen the offering of the gift to the band