Interview with André Matos
by Menno von Brucken Fock
on 29nd February 2008 (Germany)
& 7th March 2008 (Brazil)
André Matos is a well respected and popular musician from Brazil, later also in the whole of South America, Japan and finally Europe. He was only thirteen years old when he joined VIPER and became their lead vocalist. After he left Viper, he co-founded ANGRA in 1991, one of the top hard rock acts from Brazil but also famous for the classical influences, orchestrations and thus ‘progressive’ influences. For about seven years Matos was lead vocalist and one of the major contributors to the sound and songwriting of ANGRA. Then he decided it was time to move on and left ANGRA together with Riccardo Confessori (drums) and Luis Mariutti (bass). The three of them then founded SHAMAN with the addition of Luis’ brother Hugo (guitar) and Fabio Ribeiro (keys). At the end of 2006 it came to a split and André, Luis, Hugo (& Fabio) left Shaman. Now, together with the very talented young drummer Eloy Casagrande and Hugo’s guitar teacher André Hernandez they are the ANDRÉ MATOS BAND ...
Hello Menno, you are talking to me from Holland right? Which part are you from?
I live in Almelo near the German border.
Is that close to Dortmund? Because I watched a footballgame once in the very southern part of Holland. Let me think, it’s not Rotterdam, nor Ajax or PSV, because they are in Eindhoven right? Could it be a club called RODA?
Yes, there is. In Kerkrade there’s a club called Roda JC. Obviously you are a football fan?
Oh sure (laughs) I’m a Brazilian so…..
Yeah right, so you like football and maybe the Carnaval too?
No, no, no, not so much the carnival…that’s why I play rock music! Besides, the whole thing is far too commercialised for my taste.
I couldn’t agree more! You must be very busy: new album out, you’ve just been to Japan and now head over heels a promotional tour through Europe….
Yes, that’s true but I’m quite all right! We’ve been to four different countries in Europe so far, just in and out, but it has been very nice. We did lots of interviews and some acoustic gigs. These were really enjoyable to do.
Who did accompany you then?
My guitar-player André Hernandez is a very well trained acoustic guitarist and we did some very special arrangements for the songs: some of tracks from the new album but also some classic songs from earlier in my career. We played in France, Greece, Italy and Germany and all the people gave us great response. I must admit it’s tiring because the travelling combined with a very tight schedule takes its toll, but so far it has been well worth the efforts: extremely rewarding and we really feel Europe is opening up for us.
Are any of these acoustic performances taped?
I think more or less any of them and you will probably find them on YouTube, because they do it right away, it’s amazing! You play and the next hour it’s there! (Laughing) It’s the best thing for a musician you know, you can’t afford making mistakes, coz’ everyone will notice!
Will there be any of those recordings added as bonustracks or on DVD?
Some of the performances have been taped officially, so yes I think there will be acoustic songs as bonustracks later on or maybe a bonus DVD from all the places we’ve been to. It’s not only very interesting but I feel it’s good to document those events because it’s part of our history.
That’s an interesting remark André. I know quite a few artists who really want to forget about (parts of) their history!
I know exactly what you mean and I think those people must have some mental problems. Isn’t it ridiculous to deny things you’ve done? Unless you did them without having been honest, so not for the right reasons!
Before we talk a bit about your new album and the band I’d like to backtrack a little, is that okay with you? It’s so cool to have an interview with you by the way because most of the progressive magazines or webzines haven’t been paying that much attention to either ANGRA, SHAMAN or ANDRÉ MATOS in the past!
We are very happy about the changes in that respect. These last weeks I have done a lot of interviews with progressive media and I really liked to do them because I like listening to progressive music myself and somehow most of the interviewers are better trained to appreciate the little details we deliberately put into our music and therefore those chats are the best because they are high level chats!
Well, I’ll try to live up to your expectations then! You started to play the piano when you were ten years old. Eventually you finished your musical education (specialising in composition and orchestral conducting) in 1994. What kind of education was this?
In Brazil it’s called Music University, so I believe it’s comparable to your university. I’ve got a degree in composition and orchestral conducting and that is also my profession: “musician”. Ever since I decided to become a musician, I wanted to go deep: learn about the theory, the technical aspects but also the musical history, especially from classical music. It is my belief that classical music is the mother and the father of all genres of music. Basically you can find everything you need in classical music!
Would you describe this as a more or less theoretical course or did you have to play any musical instruments too?
At first, I applied for a three year course on piano, to become a professional classical piano player. I had to do some tests and that’s how I got admitted. But, in the middle of my third year of this course, I felt this wouldn’t be enough for me. I wanted to learn more and I wanted to go deeper into the musical studies. So I basically switched from the classical piano course to the “Conducting & Composing” course. Fortunately I was allowed to use all the credits I’ve earned from the piano-course, so that helped me a lot! After these six years of study I got my degree: bachelor in orchestral conducting & classical composing.
Does that mean you are able to read all the notes from the different instruments in an orchestra?
Look, nowadays I can’t promise you I’m able to handle a full score for an orchestra but at the end of the course, the conducting of an orchestra, in my case a chamber orchestra, was obligatory to get the degree. The orchestra played some baroque music, Bach for instance with a piano concerto and I had to compose as well. I wrote some stuff for chamber orchestra and also for choir. It has never been released up till now, so maybe I will be able to use it in the future and maybe rearrange it a bit. Being a rock-musician there was no need any longer for me to use these skills, so I’ve got a little rusty there. If I was given time, I should be able to do it however.
Do you actually use this acquired knowledge when you compose your own music?
Absolutely! It’s just so important! I wouldn’t have this general vision about music and the musical forms. I always say that classical music and heavy metal have similar structures; they deal with the same elements. Sometimes the music is very melodic, sometimes very deep and then also very dynamic and strong. Both styles are complementary in a way and I feel they go very well together and that’s the reason why I try to combine classical & metal since the beginning of my career. My quest nowadays is to refine my music and compositions even more. I’m aiming to use the classical elements in a somewhat nicer way, maybe even subliminal, but yet more impressive because I think the ultimate result for the listener could be obtained if one succeeds in basically connecting the two musical styles.
We are well able to hear lots of orchestral arrangements throughout your career. Did you really write all those scores yourself?
All basic and rough ideas are mine and I think I could do all the writing if I’d have to, but on the other hand this would take forever! Fortunately I have a partner who writes those scores with me and is far more capable to do so. He’s an amazing guy and feels exactly what I would like to achieve: Miro (Rodenberg, from the Gate Studio in Wolfsburg- MvBF). He is the best and I wouldn’t work with anyone else. We make such a good team together: I come up with some ideas and he is well able to develop them perfectly. He manages to find the right nuances and sounds on every occasion; he really is the ultimate specialist in that area!
You did your studies in the same period as you were playing, recording and composing with ANGRA?
Yes, ANGRA was founded in 1991, when I all ready left VIPER. VIPER is a more straight forward rock-band, although I tried to implement some classical music (piano and violin solo) of my own on the Theatre of Fate album. With ANGRA I wanted to develop that idea further and it was very challenging to use the things I was learning at the time for the music we were playing with the band and I think we actually achieved some of the goals I’ve set for myself. Although acts like Deep Purple, Rainbow and Yngwie Malmsteen were mixing rock and classical music before we did, all of them used a different approach in my opinion. Back then, I think in heavy metal music, we were the only band playing that kind of metal. I’m not talking about progressive music, that’s a different universe!
It is said that with VIPER you became the lead singer because “you had the least bad vocal in the band”?
(Laughs) Yes that’s true, but also because I resembled Bruce Dickinson at the time. I had the same haircut and I was a huge fan! I was actually forced to sing because they wouldn’t allow me to be just the keyboard-player. I really suffered in those days because I had a very limited voice when I was thirteen and I joined that band. So at first it has been some natural development but when I joined ANGRA and things were getting more serious I searched for help and I went from teacher to teacher because no one of them understood what I was trying to achieve. Most of the teachers are into lyrical singing and opera stuff and they don’t have a feel for the needs of a vocalist in metal music. Finally I found a baritone opera singer who was all ready working with some pop & rock singers and who turned out to be very open minded. He taught me pretty much everything I needed to know and after some five years he came up to me and said: “This is it, you don’t have to come back anymore, because if we’d go any further it would ruin your voice and you would become a tenor for the opera and I don’t think that’s what you had in mind? You have to go your own way now!” And so I was forced to develop and maintain my singing by myself. In fact this is a very personal and subjective thing: each one of us has a unique voice and it’s a hardest instrument to teach or to learn because you can’t see it. With every singer there is a big part of self-development of her or his voice. I don’t think the most important thing about singing is how high a note you can reach or even your technique, but rather your “stamp”, your personal timbre, the fact that people recognise your voice as soon as you open your mouth.
But the way you sing, you obviously must be aware of the dangers of pushing things too far and you have to avoid misuse of your vocal chords?
Oh yes, that’s a big difficulty and I went through some serious problems with my voice while in ANGRA. The first European tour with the band was quite exhaustive and I wasn’t used to go on the road for such a long period of time, especially not in a different climate with cold and wet weather. At that point my voice was completely ruined and we were to record an album right after that tour. I entered the studio and I found myself in a situation that I lost control over my voice, no grip at all. That was here in Germany and I went to a doctor and he didn’t know what was wrong so I really started to panic. Back in Brazil I went to my own doctor and then some tests were performed and the diagnosis was total fatigue of the vocal chords: the muscles weren’t responding properly. A footballplayer with that kind of problem looses the control over his leg so it’s basically the same kind of injury; usually strict rest resolves that kind of problem. I was sent to a phono-audiologist and he took care of me during a whole month and I did something very impressive: I didn’t speak for a whole week. I was walking around with pen & paper and making gestures, but I didn’t open my mouth and that was absolutely necessary! Since that time, with the help of professionals, I have learned to take proper care of my voice because I don’t want to go through a period like that EVER again. Luckily, once you have learned how to do it, it’s like riding a bike…
That’s good to know, because especially on the new album we can hear a good deal of high notes….
Just enough! (laughs) Just like in the movie Amadeus, when Mozart presents an opera and he is confronted with the critic “there are too many notes”, he replies: tell me which are the ones that are too many and I will start cutting”. Of course this is just a joke but what I mean to say is: I don’t try to overdose on the high pitch vocals but when I feel the songs need a particular interpretation, you should be able to deliver: the high pitch, rough, sweet or even aggressive.
Is it true that you, Riccardo and Luis left ANGRA because of problems with the management or also because of musical or personal differences between you and Kiko (Loureiro) and Rafael (Bittencourt)?
Pretty much so, but the divergences or disagreements about the management turned into more personal issues. As long as the remaining members were on the side of the management, while several bad moves had been made, you find yourself in a difficult situation because we also wanted the band to succeed but if you are not in agreement about an important issue as the management, it means a rupture in the band and you are no longer capable of working well together. The other guys started to point their finger at us and publically stated that we were the ones loosing our minds and so on. Basically each party lost confidence in the other. With SHAMAN it’s the same story and I like to clear up some things. People tend to think I must be an extremely difficult person to work with or some kind of a dictator which I’m not. You can ask my current band-mates (which are pretty much the same as before). I’m not trying to defend myself but I want to ascertain I’m not a kind of guy who likes being rude to people. What I’m known for is that I am a certain kind of perfectionist. As long as people I work with also want to achieve the best possible result, we are always in agreement. The major issue with both ANGRA and SHAMAN was, that problems arise when not each and every one is pushing equally hard. It kind of cuts all communication which causes a disastrous effect on the creative side as well as on stage there’s not the same chemistry as before. Some artists can compose music as if they were flying a plane on automatic pilot, but for me music is all about emotions and I just can’t create anything with the wrong state of mind.
On the ANGRA website there’s a statement the band is put on hold because of in depth difficulties with management and the administrative structure. What’s your comment on this statement?
Yes, I’ve heard about and I think it’s really sad, but sometimes drastic measures are in order to cut the evil at its roots. If you don’t do that, the situation deteriorates and the whole thing might explode in your face. The decision to split or leave a band is not one you take lightly: you’d better think twice or thrice about it because you are going to frustrate many people including yourself. You see the dreams you had together going down the drain but on the other hand, if want to keep developing, move forward and keep up your motivation, the only way to do so is choosing your own path whatever the consequences.
After you, Luis and Riccardo left ANGRA, you formed SHAMAN. Is there a relation between the band-name and the song “The Shaman” on the “Holy Land” album?
Yes there was. It was a name chosen on purpose because we wanted it to be a continuation of the work done on the “Holy Land” album but it should also point out a new direction. And that’s what happened: we developed a musical style, slightly different from ANGRA and that was very important for us, because we didn’t want to live under the shade of that band.
How come Riccardo (Confessori, ex-ANGRA) became the owner of that band-name?
I ask that same question. It doesn’t make any sense because that band-name should belong to each and every one of us. I guess it’s something for the lawyers to find out. At the moment however it doesn’t bother me: I’m so enthusiastic about what I’m doing right now, the new record and my band that I don’t have the time nor need to let things like that bother me. Everything is going as it should go, in the right direction from my point of view and I couldn’t care less about a detail like this.
With ANGRA and SHAMAN many songs were composed with the whole band: how did it work with the new album?
Collectively. That’s why I would never call it a solo project but more a “solo band”. I think teamwork is the best thing you can have and cooperation is always good. I don’t want to impose anything on the other band-members nor do I need to play the role of being the boss. The songs become richer when all individual ideas can be implemented and I think it’s very important that it’s the same guys composing the songs, recording the album and perform live together. It creates a unity. I tend to compare it to an artist like Ozzy Osbourne, who had a pretty steady band around him and he revealed several great talents to the world. He was always very proud of his musicians. The other advantage of this idea of a solo band is, that it gave me the opportunity to compose in partnership with people outside the band as well. The song “How Long” for instance is co-written by our producer Roy Z and he even played guitar on that track which was great and an honour for us too. Another song was done in cooperation with Viper-bassist Yves Passarell, whom I consider to be one of the best composers in all of Brazil and the track “Face The End” was co-written by a Spanish guitar-player with the band Avalanch, Alberto Rionda, also a very talented composer. These partnerships within and outside of the band is what I really like about the current situation.
“Time To Be Free” was recorded in Brazil, USA and Germany, which part where?
The first part, composing, making the demos and some of the recordings took place in a common studio in Sao Paulo. For a period we all went to the studio as if it was a regular day-job and we worked on ideas, rehearsed and recorded. Then Roy Z came to work on the arrangements and made some very precious contributions. It was quite an experience for us because Roy Z has his way of doing things and his methods were completely new for us. He manages to create a ‘live’ situation in the studio instead of a very isolated clinical environment. Because everyone senses this ‘freedom’, Roy is able to get the best possible individual performance. It doesn’t mean however that you keep on playing until there’s not a single error: in contrast to other producers, Roy Z’s opinion is a band should sound natural and not ‘totally perfect’. We were listening to artists like Freddie Mercury for instance and we could appreciate, his performances weren’t perfect either but maybe people liked him so much because of the fact he sounded human and not like a mechanical robot. At the end, Sascha Paeth must be credited for his finishing touch. He’s got this European oriented producing mind and he was able to put everything together in a very nice way. The album has got a lot of power and also atmospheric elements and Sascha made sure the atmospheric elements weren’t killed by the power and vice versa, so there really is a nice balance. In conclusion I would say the major part of the recordings were done in Sao Paulo, a little part in the US and most of the arrangements, the mix and mastering were done in Wolfsburg, Germany.
The big exception in the current line up with all those familiar names is the extremely young drummer Eloy Casagrande. How did you contact him?
Because of his age and skills, Eloy was all ready well known in the music scene in Brazil. He did some TV-shows at a very young age as a curiosity but then, at the age of fourteen, he won this big modern drummer contest in the USA (2005) pronouncing him “best drummer in the Americas”. We all ready had a drummer (Rafael Rosa) but he left the band early in 2007, so we had to find a replacement. Several fine drummers showed up for an audition but with Eloy I knew after the first hit he was the one. The funny thing was that in spite of his age he was all ready a big fan of our music. He made it through the tests although he was a bit nervous. Naturally I’ve asked myself the question if it would be wise to have such a young member in the band. What would touring and being a rock-musician do to his state of mind? What kind of relationship can you build considering the age difference? I really don’t worry to be honest. First of all, I was all ready touring and recording at an even younger age myself. Perhaps that was another time, but even so. Eloy is a very nice guy with a cool, down to earth mind. He’s always thinking of drums and he went to Japan with us and did his job wonderfully. In fact, he will prove to be quite an attraction during all the shows to come!
Just a quick sidestep: how did you get involved in the rock opera “Tommy”?
Well (grins), that’s probably the most exciting experience I’ve ever had. I really fell in love with this rock-opera because it gave me the opportunity to perform with a symphony-orchestra and choir and such incredible music too, I wish I had written it! I played the main role, Tommy, and it was also the first time for me to act on stage, because I never did that before. Special coaching and training were required and in the end we performed the rock-opera in a big theatre in Sao Paulo, the Latin America Memorial, for three nights in a row: sold out! Unfortunately it was never repeated, but given the opportunity either in Brazil or anywhere else I would love do it again.
Were any of these shows recorded?
Only for documentary purposes, not the kind of recording one could use to make a DVD I regret to say. It would be so cool to record this opera officially and make it a big event and maybe someday in the future it will happen.
The second half of the interview was a week later when André was back in Brazil and called me later in the evening. It turned out he caught a nasty flu because he was in Hannover right at the time this Emma-hurricane went through some parts of Europe including Germany and Holland. It was cold and wet, while in Brazil it was hot and dry. In spite of his sore throat he was willing to answer more questions…
André, your musical influences, where or should I say from whom did they come from?
It depends on what age you are talking about. At the age of ten I started to learn classical piano, so basically all my influences then were the famous classical composers. Between the age of 11 and 12 my father once took me to a record store, gave me some money and told me I could buy whatever I liked. I was getting interested in rock music so I approached and of the guys in that store and asked him what he would recommend. He suggested me the album “Fair Warning” by VAN HALEN and assured me I would never regret it. I don’t know who he was but really, that guy changed my mind and in fact my life! From then on I got interested in other hard rock bands like AC/DC, Deep Purple, Black Sabbath & Ozzy, Iron Maiden, Judas Priest and so on. A little while later I also got hooked on Queen, which proved to be a major influence as well and not to forget Kate Bush. Her particular way of singing and playing the piano fascinated me a lot. At the same time I started listening to other musical genres as well. But, besides the classical music, the heavier stuff still is what I enjoy listening to today.
You once said you’d like to perform with a philharmonic orchestra. Do you still have that dream?
Sure! I’ve had the privilege to perform with an orchestra with the rock-opera Tommy, but I would like to perform my own stuff. I have plans to transcribe my compositions into a symphonic language and seeing it performed by an orchestra: it would indeed be a dream coming true.
Do you want to translate your music into classical music and have it performed by an orchestra or are you aiming at playing with the band in collaboration with an orchestra, because there are many symphonic elements all ready there in your songs?
Either way would suit me juts fine. I could compose something especially for such an occasion, or I could rearrange existing material and play as a band together with the orchestra, that would be even nicer, I agree! That would be a pretty bombastic and impressive experience.
You have worked with Sascha Paeth for many years, due to the events of 9/11 your joint project VIRGO (2001) didn’t get much attention. What relationship do the two of you have and are you planning to do a project like VIRGO again in the future?
Sascha is one of my best friends and I must state that in capitals. Not only musically he has been a true partner for many years, also on the personal side. We respect each other a lot and together we’re able to develop some high quality stuff. Although the VIRGO album wasn’t a huge success as a bestseller, it became a sort of a “post-album” for many fans of both metal and rock music. Somehow there is a huge demand for a second VIRGO album and every time Sascha and I meet, we talk about it and in fact we all ready have some things prepared. Sascha is running a tight schedule constantly; he’s very busy with the studio and has projects outside of that studio and I just have a new album out so at the moment I don’t think it will happen. You know, composing and recording songs is not the biggest challenge here: we’d have to make sure there’s the right structure to do things properly: the album should be well marketed and distributed to make things happen. Provided we would find the time to record a second album, it would be a real pleasure to work with him in such a way again.
It’s always nice to hear an artist speak about friendship and respect, because there are so many examples where both entities are missing.
I see what you mean and people like Sascha and Miro are exceptional. They are devoted to their work and they are really doing it for the music and not primarily for the money or the big success and these are rare qualities nowadays, getting even rarer every day! Therefore I cherish these relationships dearly.
The band playing on “Reason” by SHAMAN is not that much different from the one playing on “Time To Be Free”. Where do you think or feel the main differences are?
Although Hugo and Luis Mariutti played with me in Shaman and Fabio Ribeiro played with as on the tours we have a different drummer and a second guitarist (André Hernandez). You can consider it an advantage that several of the band-members know each other musically for quite some time and that is beneficial. The musical style of “Time To Be Free” is a bit different and that was challenging. For my taste the music is more complete and the process of making the album was surely more comfortable, in a much nicer mood.
What are your favourite tracks on the new album and why?
The obvious answer would be: they are all equally important. But of course there are highlights, no, I would rather call it “guidelines” because in a way some of the tracks give directions. For instance “Letting Go” brings back memories of the past but the letting go means I want to go in a slightly different direction and the new elements in that track are a good combination of old and new. “Rio” is a bit more aggressive but has also lots of atmosphere and the lyrical contents are of interest to me because of the subject. The song was based on a Brazilian movie called “City Of God”, which became world-famous and it really moved me, so I had to write about it. Then we have “Looking Back”, a song with a more acoustic feel and lots of percussion going on. It has a certain atmosphere and it flirts with other musical styles a bit, almost a popsong but still it fits quite nicely into the contents of the album. “Face The End” is more like a ballad with a very nice orchestration and I surely should mention the title track, probably the most complete track of them all. Fluently it takes the listener through different musical styles and soundscapes. There are even some Pink Floyd influences there in the mid part of the song.
Do I detect some Queen influences in the track “A New Moonlight” and what about Beethoven?
This song is actually an adaptation of the first song (“Moonlight”) I ever wrote. It belonged to the second VIPER-album “Theatre Of Faith” and was inspired by Beethoven’s Moonlight Serenade. I felt a need to put my first song on my first ‘solo record’ so I was discussing with Roy Z how to change the song to give it a more modern sound. Eventually we got a big piece of inspiration from Queen. The “Bohemian Rhapsody” is an opus in itself and I wanted to create a similar kind of atmosphere. It felt like travelling back in time, back to a book I started writing years ago and finally getting an opportunity to finish the last chapter. For me this was the most interesting piece to work on and although Roy told me he thought that probably very few people would recognize the song from the earlier version, I think it’s the most important one on the album; like a piece of art giving great satisfaction.
What about the folkloristic opening of “Remember Why” or the Indian chanting in “Rescue”?
Apart from classical and metal I also like the bagpipes a lot in Scottish and Irish folk music and one of the bands I truly admire is CLANNAD. As a musician with a diverse interest I feel free to flirt with other genres once in a while. So I took the liberty to add some pipes and Spanish guitar as my aim is to combine not only classical music with heavy metal but also with world music. Furthermore I can’t deny the Indian background from us here in Brazil and each one of us has got some native roots running in their veins. “Rescue” is a rather deep message. It’s about rescuing your own dignity and related subjects.
Do I hear a real recorder or flute in that song or was it sampled by Fabio?
No you hear a real flute, played by Marcus Viana (SAGRADO – MvBF). He is a long time friend and he participated on the album. He played lots of violins and flutes for me. Marcus owns a great deal of original instruments like authentic flutes and string-instruments, shakers and so on, that he keeps in his studio. Actually I think he even used four different flutes on the album.
As always, the Japanese release had a bonustrack; why does Japan always get bonustracks?
For some reason, maybe taxes, I don’t know, but they have a big problem in their market. If the European releases could be sold in Japan, they would be a lot cheaper, so no-one would buy the Japanese releases. To protect their market there two things they can do: make sure an album is available (long) before the release elsewhere and the addition of one or more bonustracks, which make a release more interesting for the consumer. In our case we decided not to change the running order but to add a coversong from Journey (Separate Ways – MvBF). Journey was also very popular in Japan so it turned out to be a good choice.
Some record companies in Europe do the ordinary slipcase release, but in addition a luxury version, usually with one or more bonustracks or a DVD, so comparable to the Japanese releases, and those are more expensive too….
Yes it would be a sensible idea to do that everywhere but the situation in Japan is, once you are committed to do a bonustrack, you are also committed to have that track exclusively available in Japan, so nowhere else!
On your website there’s a poster from Greece stating Fernando Ribeiro (MOONSPELL) as a guest. How did this come to be?
Fernando and I happened to be in Greece at the same time. Because for Europe our record labels are the same, SPV came up with the idea of doing something together. We met briefly once before, during a festival in Italy but there was not enough time to get really acquainted. This time I had the pleasure to spend much more time with him and I am very grateful for this opportunity also because he is a well known face in the metal-community. We even managed to establish a friendship and it was a very special event both in Greece and in Italy where we sang two songs together. One of them was the Sisters of Mercy song “More” which we did on the “Reason” album by SHAMAN, a song that fitted his vocal perfectly. The other one called “Lisbon” was even more special because I composed that song in honour of our ancestors in Portugal. Together with Fernando, being Portuguese, it felt like a tribute to Portugal and especially a touching moment was, when I requested him to recite one of his poems during the song, and suddenly it all made so much more sense! You can probably see some examples of our duets on YouTube.
If you would be asked to state your personal favourites, what songs or albums would you choose?
I’d rather talk about artists than songs or albums. As a singer and frontman my biggest idol would be Freddie Mercury, next to Peter Gabriel and Kate Bush. Another great artist and also a friend is Marcus Viana, truly the best man in Brazil and I’m a big fan of him too. I consider myself lucky to be able to have him play on this album again. In fact we did several things together: I collaborated with him on a Sagrado album and he played on previous albums too. In the metal and rock scene I would name Judas Priest, Van Halen, Iron Maiden, Queensrÿche and the early works by Manowar and of course Deep Purple, but I admire a band like YES too, you know.
Is Fabio Ribeiro a full member of the band now?
Absolutely! For the last years he was always a guest on our tours but I would rather have him as a steady member of the band, because in my opinion he is the best keyboard player in the field. Although he also has his own career, we are good friends and having him in the band, makes it easier for me to split the keyboard duties. Besides, he’s got his own studio, and that’s the place where we rehearse. He is a real specialist in vintage sounds like the Hammond, the Moog or the Würlitzer but he is also extremely into modern synthesizers: as soon as a new synthesizer comes out, Fabio is the man! This way I can focus on the orchestrations and the piano and have Fabio do everything else.
You’ve always written the vast majority of the lyrics and I noticed you speak German too. Where did you learn these languages apart from you native language, being Portuguese?
Basically I was forced to learn English. If you are into rock music, you have to learn it because all the great bands sing in English and you would like to know what they are singing about wouldn’t you? As for the other languages, I think I have a genuine interest in them. I’ve spent quite some time in Germany and at school I’ve been taught German as a foreign language. After some time it was easier to speak German and I like to communicate with people in their own language. Not that I speak all languages fluently, because of all the rules and exceptions I should memorize, but I can understand what people are saying so if I’m in Italy I try to speak Italian, and when I’m in Spain I do my best to speak Spanish. I’m sorry that I don’t have a grip on languages like Dutch, Greek or Russian but if I was forced to stay in those countries for a little longer, I would try hard to speak the language as fast as I could.
I think that’s quite impressive because not many artists will try and speak anything else than their own language and English, except for the Dutch perhaps.
Yes, I admire you Dutch because most of you speak English very well and also German and many speak even French! Perhaps the Scandinavian people have a talent for foreign languages like the Dutch but if you come to France, there are few people who speak any language than French and that´s about the same in Germany. By the way, from the meetings with Fernando Ribeiro, I´ve learned that although the written words are the same, we speak a totally different language! In fact I understand Spanish better than Portuguese, but on the other hand, because in Brazil we speak a little more slowly, the Portuguese are able to understand us better than vice versa.
If you are not performing, composing or rehearsing what do you do?
I rest…(laughs out loud), no seriously, than I’m pretty much into nature. We have so many beautiful places around here to go to and when I have a full day off, that’s where I’d like to go. Here in Sao Paulo, you don’t really live in Brazil. You live in a big metropolis so if I have a chance I get in my car and drive away from the city and within the hour I could be in really nice environment. I’d spend my time either on the beach or in the mountains. I have a hobby which is paragliding, my biggest passion next to music.
That’s some kind of hobby! I don’t think you are allowed to fly without a license?
No it takes about 4 to 6 months before you are allowed to fly by yourself. And then it would be rather careless to go out on your own because it’s a dangerous hobby. Most of the time there a group of people I fly with and they are from all sorts of backgrounds: lawyers, doctors, artists, people owning a factory, you name it! There are always people monitoring and keeping an eye on everybody and that way paragliding is rather safe to do. I used to go every weekend but unfortunately these last months have been very demanding, so I wasn’t able to do as much gliding with my friends as I would like to: more like once a month or even once every two months. I should be more disciplined to do it more often because this is also very helpful to get inspiration for composing new music and it helps maintaining a good balance in life. I also enjoy reading books or going to the cinema and I like to visit my family. Here in Brazil, we have this strong family bondage you know.
Do you have any members of your family in the music business as well?
I have a brother, he’s four years younger than me, who plays the bass. He’s living in Spain for several years now after being invited and he plays mostly Brazilian music and jazz. I hope to see him in the fall. He lives in Barcelona but all previous occasions when we made an appointment I was forced to cancel them because of my “too tight timetable”.
Besides your work with the whole band, do you compose at home and do you write the notes down or do you work via recordings or via computer?
I have a little home studio with a keyboard, computer and so on. The piano gives me good vibes when I’m composing but I don’t use it so much to record. Most of the times I tape what I play and rarely I write down all the notes. The first ideas are usually very rough and I tape them on a small tape-recorder, then I listen to those recordings again and start working on them. I used to write notes whenever the ideas were shaping up nicely but nowadays I put everything in the computer.
How about your popularity in your homeland?
Well, I guess we may consider ourselves very fortunate, because just recently one of the leading magazines in Brazil published the results of a poll they did and we won just about every category: best album, best singer, best song, best guitarist and so on, really flattering!
That’s awesome, congratulations! If you go touring again: are you planning a concert series in Europe and if yes, will there be a possibility to see André Matos and his band live in Holland?
I have no doubts about touring Europe. It will happen, but the only question is when. Because the album has been released just recently, we only might get ourselves a last minute entry for the big summer festivals. Probably next year would be better, but to promote the album, my guess is next fall would be perfect and it will probably be a big tour as well and I’m looking forward to it! Holland has always been kind for us starting from the first ANGRA tour so there’s no reason why we shouldn’t play there. If it was up to me, I’d expect to play not just one gig, but two or three shows. Considering the great responses and reviews, we definitely will play several shows in Germany. We all ready did a very successful acoustic gig in Hannover and I feel that for the first time, the German market is opening up for us! The UK is great too and I’ve never been to Sweden, a country where also things are happening, that seem to be beneficial to us!
One final question André: you told me you live in Sao Paulo, I presume you have an apartment?
Yes I do, right in the centre of the city. One of the major reasons to live in an apartment in Sao Paulo is the violence in that area. It’s much safer to live in an apartment and it’s the most practical place as well because everything you need is available at walking distance. We have about 6 millions cars in Sao Paulo and about 20 million inhabitants, so lots of pollution. On the other hand it’s a 24 hour economy; all shops are open 24 hours a day!
I can hardly imagine that’s the place to relax and play the piano and compose new songs?
No that’s true. The title of my new album has been chosen deliberately; it has a meaning you know. If you are looking for freedom always outside, away from home and not for the freedom inside yourself, you cannot be free. If you are able to balance your mind and find your equilibrium in a place like Sao Paulo, then, just like me, you will have found the “Time To Be Free”!
|Angels Cry || 1993
|Holy Land || 1996
|Freedom Call || 1996
|Holy Live || 1997
|Fireworks || 1998
|Ritual || 2002
|Ritualive || 2003
|Reason || 2005
|Time To Be Free || 2007
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