This man is a true musical genius. Due to his professionalism and open-minded thoughts on the style of heavy metal bands rise to the top but drop down the drain after he quits them for personal and musical differences. Not long ago he once again started a new band, Shaman, which took the world by surprise with the debut album and follow-up live CD and DVD. We won’t go into heavy details about how many efforts it took us to organize this interview. Just one simple thing – when Andre Matos calls you out of the blue in the middle of the summer night you cannot miss the opportunity… Andre Matos: Hello! This is Andre from Brazil.
MetalKings.com: Great! Nice talking to you!
Andre Matos: Thank you!
MetalKings.com: Andre, we are actually supposed to talk about Shaman but let’s start from the early days of your career. You first steps were with Viper as far as I know. I heard the band existed several years before that.
Andre Matos: Not really, the band was around a year before I joined. I knew the bass player, Pete Passarell, and he invited me to join the band. I was about 16 years old by that time and was studying music in the university. Pete was the main songwriter in the band and I really loved his writing style but never cared too much about his vocals.
MetalKings.com: I saw a vinyl bootleg on eBay from the Soldiers Of Sunrise tour.
Andre Matos: Oh, I’ve heard of this recording. It must have been our show in Sao Paulo in 1987. We didn’t really tour after the first album; we just played some shows around.
MetalKings.com: A song on the "Soldiers Of Sunrise" album is called "H.R."? It means ‘heavy rock’, right?
Andre Matos: Yeah, that’s right.
MetalKings.com: Lyrics of that song say ‘They try to close places where we rule with our sound’. Is it true?
Andre Matos: Absolutely. It was very hard for us to get gigs with this type of music back then. Nobody cared about this power metal thing so owners of clubs and venues didn’t want us to perform where we wanted to.
MetalKings.com: Most of the people consider that classical influences in power metal first surfaced on Helloween’s album "Keeper Of The Seven Keys (Part I)". You did the same thing actually. How did it happen?
Andre Matos: I would like to point out that up until the day we got the recording contract in Japan, which was with our second album "Theatre Of Fate", we didn’t know anything about Helloween. We were more influenced by Iron Maiden and Judas Priest and all that British metal scene. Also I was studying classical music at the time so I wanted to combine what I learned with that traditional heavy metal, that’s the only reason.
MetalKings.com: By the time the band was ready to tour for "Theatre Of Fate" you already left.
Andre Matos: Yes, I left the band soon after this second album was released. Actually the band wanted to follow a heavier direction and sound more like Metallica, Anthrax or Megadeth, which I never wanted. Still I like the songwriting of Pete but I think they did a big mistake by allowing him to become a singer. He wasn’t qualified to do it and didn’t have the needed vocal range. They recorded some more albums but each next became worse and was not accepted by the audience the way the band expected. People just didn’t understand the change and couldn’t accept Pete as the singer. Finally Viper recorded an album in Portuguese and after it failed the band split up.
MetalKings.com: I saw some Viper bootlegs from 2000.
Andre Matos: It was an attempt for the reunion. After I left Angra Pete contacted me and proposed to sing several Viper reunion shows. I agreed because the chemistry was there and it was great, just like the old days.
MetalKings.com: Is it possible that Viper will come back with the new album?
Andre Matos: It’s very hard for me to comment on it. We’re all very busy. I’m doing things with Shaman and former Viper guitar player and Pete’s brother, Yves Passarell, is very busy as well. He is now playing guitar in a pop band, which is extremely popular here in Brazil. They are always touring so there is no chance for all of us to get together to record a new album. However, I think if we find time we will certainly do it.
MetalKings.com: OK, tell me how Angra was formed.
Andre Matos: After I left Viper I didn’t really want to play heavy metal anymore. I thought of becoming a classical musician. So I went on to study music in the university. That’s where I met with Rafael Bittencourt and Andre… Together we finally decided to start our own band and that’s how Angra was born. Soon Andre left the band so we took Kiko Loureiro, found Louis Mariutti and Ricardo Confessori was the last to join us. We contacted the same label in Japan that released those two Viper albums, "Victor Entertainment", and send them a demo tape. They liked what they heard and we go the contract. Then we signed with "Rising Sun" in Germany. The first album "Angels Cry" was a major success especially in Japan where we got the gold disc for it.
MetalKings.com: Going a little back you recorded the demo tape "Reaching Horizons" that later was released by a fan club or something. Was it anyhow officially authorized by the band?
Andre Matos: No, never. Some guy released it without informing us.
MetalKings.com: The demo tape had two more tracks and one of them was "Don’t Despair".
Andre Matos: Oh, that’s the demo track for "Holy Land". It had nothing to do with the "Angels Cry" album or the demo tape.
MetalKings.com: Another track was the speedy version of Kate Bush track "Wurthering Heights". It’s a great version. Why it was never officially released?
Andre Matos: I like this version too, I think we should have released it as a bonus track or something. Basically the speedy version was the original one. We did it just for fun but I liked it a lot.
MetalKings.com: Why choosing the song of Kate Bush?
Andre Matos: To tell you the truth, I’m a big fan of Kate. I have all of her albums and really enjoy her music. The song choice came from our bass player Louis.
MetalKings.com: I’ve heard the double-CD bootleg called "Eyes Of Christ (Demos From Holy Land)". Why songs were so different and some were never released?
Andre Matos: It was basically the choice of our producers. We wrote songs and then made lots of changes to them with our producers and engineers. As far as I know Angra now released a couple of tracks from those demos but in almost totally different versions.
MetalKings.com: Speaking about your live activities, why Angra released only the live EP "Holy Live"? There are lots of excellent double-CD live bootlegs around.
Andre Matos: It all was the decision of our management and our record company. I didn’t like it at all, I also wanted the double live album. But those people told us it was impossible to release the full-scale live album. Finally we managed to do it now with Shaman.
MetalKings.com: On that live EP you speak French. You know it so good? What other languages do you know?
Andre Matos: Well, I know Portuguese, this is my native language. (laughs) I can also speak good Spanish since they are related. I know German very well since for almost two years I’ve been living in Germany doing all the recordings. I also can speak French, yes, not good enough but anyway. And I also can speak Italian. Oh, and English, of course! (laughs) I guess most of those European languages have similar roots in the Latin language that is why it’s not really a big problem to learn them all. And you know, I like learning languages a lot, I have a passion for it. But although we played a lot in Greece and Japan I cannot make head or tail of those languages. Maybe some day…
MetalKings.com: Andre, you may have been asked this question at least a thousand times but I will do it again – why you left Angra?
Andre Matos: It is a very long story. BUT the main problem was our management. I always had disagreements with our manager, I didn’t like the way he dealt with us, it was a pure nightmare. I found out that our albums were released in pirate versions in some countries where we played and our manager knew about it and did nothing to stop it. Moreover, just before we started the recording of the "Fireworks" album we got an offer from "Sanctuary Records". We could be the 3rd important band on "Sanctuary Records" after Iron Maiden and Helloween. But the manager screwed everything up. I was ready to leave the band but had to stay due to contractual obligations. That’s why I think the "Fireworks" album was not as good as the first two. We were very separated, we were no longer a band but five individual people working together because we had to. After the album got released and the tour ended I made it clear that I’m leaving Angra. Louis and Ricardo stood by my side but when I talked to Rafael and Kiko I found out they knew about those awful things our manager did and were not against of them. So the three of us left Angra and continued on with Shaman.
MetalKings.com: Do you think the lyrics of the song "Gentle Change" from the "Fireworks" album reflected such a bad situation in Angra?
Andre Matos: (sings) "Lighting up another cigarette, playing cool while breaking up inside…" I think you’re right. I didn’t write the song but I suppose it perfectly said what happened at the time.
MetalKings.com: OK, Andre. Let’s talk about the most surprising album you ever did. I mean Virgo. How did you come up with the idea for it?
Andre Matos: Basically the idea of Virgo emerged in my mind about 12 years ago. We were in Germany recording our debut album "Angels Cry" and when I got to know Sascha Paeth we understood that we had the same visions for music and life. And you know, we really missed the music of Queen. Since Freddie Mercury was dead there was no such music around. I don’t mean that we wanted to copy the music of Queen but we wanted to use piano and all that stuff and mix a wide variety of styles altogether without sticking to heavy metal at all. The only problem was that we never had the time to do it. But finally when I left Angra Sasha was more or less free so we competed some songs we wrote over the years, wrote new stuff and recorded that album.
MetalKings.com: I guess the lyrics of that album were very unique and emotionally deep like ‘It’s not too late to re-arrange the pieces of your heart that made you go insane’ ("I Want You To Know"). Can you comment on it?
Andre Matos: Yes, I totally agree with you. They also turned out to be very personal. But I don’t really like commenting on lyrics I write. People may relate to what I write when they went through the same stuff in life. I also think everybody has his own way of understanding lyrics of various songs so I let you think of those songs whatever you want.
MetalKings.com: At least tell me what you meant in "Discovery". What kind of discovery?
Andre Matos: This is the discovery of the universe. We all live in the one big universe with lots of people in it. I don’t mean the discovery of space and galaxy. It’s the discovery of every single person around you from the inside and realizing what kind of personality he is, what his way of thinking it and what are his thoughts of life are. We make those discoveries very often.
MetalKings.com: Can we hope for more albums from Virgo in future?
Andre Matos: Definitely! The problem is that Sascha and me need to find the time to do it. But in the end of this year around October we plan to meet in Germany and write new songs for the second Virgo album. Hopefully it will be released next year.
MetalKings.com: Andre, I always thought that your lyrics are always filled with very interesting ideas and thoughts. How do you manage to write about life around and not about dragons and knights like many other power metal bands do?
Andre Matos: Thank you very much for your nice words! I always try to imagine myself in a situation I’m writing about. In many cases I write about what I personally experienced or went through in my personal life. I never wanted to sing about dragons and castles. I like some of those bands but I think those lyrics are too childish. I think life is about something more important.
MetalKings.com: Can you also tell me what mean the following lyrics from "Fairy Tale" on the Shaman album debut, ‘Fairy lady who stands on the walls’?
Andre Matos: That’s the story I thought out by myself. I tried to imagine a beautiful woman from the medieval times, middle-aged Europe. This is the tale of pure innocence. It is a very emotional lyric and I’m very proud of it.
MetalKings.com: Some years earlier a rumor was spread on the Web that you plan to record an album with Derek Sherinian. Is that true?
Andre Matos: Yes, I heard that rumor. The truth is that I didn’t talk to Derek already for about 1,5 years. I liked working with him when we recorded the Shaman album and I think if we also find the time we might record an album together. He’s a very nice person, a very professional and educated musician so it would be a pleasure working with him again.
MetalKings.com: During concerts before the debut album came out you played a song called "Be Free". Why wasn’t it included on the album?
Andre Matos: We didn’t like it much. Also it had lyrics only in the very beginning. Later we played it as an instrumental track in order to give every musician in the band to perform his own solo. That’s why it was skipped.
MetalKings.com: Was your dissatisfaction from the live EP of Angra the main reason for the release of this full-scale live album of Shaman "Ritualive"?
Andre Matos: Yes, exactly. We always wanted to make a full-length live album. We don’t care that the band released only one album. You know, that show where this live album was recorded took place in Sao Paolo and about 8,000 were there. It was the dream come true, we played in our hometown and so many people came to see us. And we decided to record it and release a DVD but our record company said, "OK, we can release the CD version as well". We said, "Great! Let’s do it!"
MetalKings.com: But as far as I know you played Virgo "Crazy Me" and Viper "Living For the night" at that show. Why it was not included in the DVD?
Andre Matos: The reason is simple – there is not enough room on one DVD to put all the stuff we played. The show lasted for about three hours so it was the problem with timing unless we had to released the double-CD, which was not desired at all. Moreover, I do not think those songs are really so important to include them on the DVD since we concentrate mainly on the songs of Shaman.
MetalKings.com: When will the new studio album of Shaman be released?
Andre Matos: I think it will be released in October this year. Right now we are in the middle of recordings and in about 15 days I will fly to Germany to record and mix it. And talking about lyrics, this time I went even deeper into the world of emotions and feelings. You see, that’s one of the reasons why we called the band Shaman. Shaman is a healer, a doctor and maybe our music and lyrics try to heal souls and release thoughts and spirits inside of people.
MetalKings.com: Well, Andre, thanks for the interview! It was great talking to you! Welcome to Russia anytime!
Andre Matos: Thank you! It’s great talking to people who understand your lyrics and take them so close to heart even if they are living so far away! I say it in every interview that we will try to play in your country. I hope it will come true! Take care!