The superb Brazilian singer was… not in the hotel, when we got there! He was at the Acropolis, admiring the Parthenon. So he got a bit off schedule. Walked fast in, greeted us with a huge smile, apologized for the inconvenience and “assumed position” for our lil’ talk. Although he was out for quite a few hours, he preferred to complete all interviews and then have dinner! Relaxed, honest and frank, he spoke to us about his new album, his new band, his music, the challenges and the “day after” the story with Iron Maiden back then. A sincere thanks to Nikos from V2.
Interview by Costas Koulis
Rockpages.gr : Congratulations for the new album!
Andre Matos : Thank you!
Rockpages.gr : Actually, this album is like a musical garden. Everything is in there. Fast songs, slower songs, powerful riffs, AOR stuff… Very rhythmic, very beaty. Was it your intention to make such a multiplex album?
Andre Matos : Well, first of all, thanks a lot for the comments. That’s exactly what I would like to hear from somebody… That’s the ideal interpretation, in my opinion… Actually, the ideal for the album, as my first solo album, should be a summary of my entire best somehow. All the influences, all the elements, all the experiences. But, on the other hand, I wanted to be very careful, that it would never sound as a copy. I must say that the producers understood perfectly what it was about and they found a very good balance…
I believe we were able to deliver something original with this album and originality has always been a part of my life, in terms of “search”, it’s a quest for me. To be honest with you, nowadays, when I listen to new releases, new bands, sometimes I get disappointed because there’s nothing new coming up, they all look alike… They all use the same formulas. And they believe that, by using these formulas, they are going to be successful and some of them become successful, for a while, but I don’t think that they will ever write their name in history. And I think you can still create original music. Even though metal has been around for more than thirty years… though many people say “There’s nothing more to do in metal, it’s been done before”… I disagree with that cuz other musical styles would have died, if so. If you add some “external” elements to your music and you manage to do it in a clever way, which is important… People think that the mixture of classical music and metal is like putting one thing on top of the other… it is not so… you must work it out. Sometimes it’s really subliminal… you might not hear it but it’s there. It has to do with the structure of the songs. That’s what I learnt during my musical studies, as a composer, that we must respect the form of certain musical styles. That’s why I think that classic music and metal are similar styles. We just need to know how to combine them and do it with honesty.
Rockpages.gr : I’m gonna take what you said a little further and go back to the album and your voice. I have the feeling that you can sing almost anything, even the phone book!
Andre Matos : Even that? (laughs)
Rockpages.gr : You are not just a metal singer, am I correct?
Andre Matos : That’s my goal. At first I was seeing myself as a metal singer only. Then I did some other things, like my side project Virgo. Recently I played the main role in the “Tommy” rock opera, in Brazil, with the orchestra and all… that’s a completely different world. I basically couldn’t use my metal knowledge, it’s a different thing… I started developing my way of singing to this other direction and still kept the old. In my mind it’s not technique that counts, how high you can sing or pitch the notes or how deep or how powerful. That’s not the point. The point is music. Your kind of interpretation and that you should be able to deliver it. According to the music. So, I consider myself as a vocalist, slave to the music. My voice just helps to create an atmosphere. As much as the other instruments or arrangements or the melody. My voice is not the main thing in music that I do, today. It’s just a part of it. I don’t know if I disappoint people by saying that, but the greatest challenge for me is composing, not singing.
Rockpages.gr : (e.n. whispering) That is my next question…
Andre Matos : Oh! Then, go on! (laughs)
Rockpages.gr : In my review I wrote that the band, the musicians, are excellent and “Andre is leading the band”. I also know that you are “fluent” in piano and keyboards…
Andre Matos : I was, I was… long time ago… (laughs)
Rockpages.gr : How do you compose?
Andre Matos : I compose on the piano. That’s my instrument. I don’t play a single note on the guitar. I play some chords, okay, but…
Rockpages.gr : When you have a cool riff coming to your mind… how do you do it? Do you play it on the piano?
Andre Matos : I’ll honestly tell you what I do. Get my cell phone, record it with my voice first. Then I go to the piano. So, nobody, please, steal my cell phone. Never! (big laughs) But to create the actual idea of the song, I sit on the piano… a real piano, not keyboards. I want to feel the vibration.
Rockpages.gr : Most of the members of your band are musicians you played with in the past. Was the chemistry so ideal that you decided to work with these people, again?
Andre Matos : It was a difficult decision in the beginning… when I made up my mind about a solo band, there were two ways to follow… one would be calling famous musicians from all over the world. That could be possible… I know many people…
Rockpages.gr : … like your friend Tribuzy…
Andre Matos : Yeah! But then, my second option was to make a band with people I trust, people I know, good musicians, people around me. All those years, in my career, I had problems with bands. Sometimes these problems were personal. And I know how much it affects you, when you don’t get along with the people you work with. People might think, “So, Andre is the “trouble” guy in the band”… No! The reason why I split up with three different bands, each one of them was for a different reason. I don’t think I’m difficult to work with, I’m just perfectionist at what I do. And if someone does not have the same objectives, the same goals as I, then the whole thing is gonna become a lil’ bit difficult. With my band I don’t consider myself as the boss or the “tyrant” or anything, I don’t want to impose anything to anybody. I may have the final word, as the leader of the band…
Rockpages.gr : Are you going to release a single from that album?
Andre Matos : Well, I don’t know about you (e.n. he means Europe), but in Brazil we do like an acoustic version of a song. In order to get airplay on the radio. People are very skeptical towards distorted guitars. In Europe you have an underground circuit for that sort of music, which is pretty solid. You can go and tour, you’ll have press around you, you can make steady movements. In Brazil there are lots of fans of this musical style, but the recourses for creating such possibility of touring… they don’t exist. Brazil is focused into pop music. So, if you want to survive as a metal band, you have to go a little bit pop. If we do a video clip, then we won’t do the acoustic version.
Rockpages.gr : Are you thinking about a video? I was gonna ask that.
Andre Matos : Well… nowadays a video does not seem to be that important any more. There is no MTV in Brazil… Youtube is cool but there is no need for a “huge” production any more…
Rockpages.gr : Roy Z and Sascha Paeth produced the album. How did they work? Cooperated or did half the album each?
Andre Matos : Half the album each. But in a different way. I know Sascha for a long time. He’s been my partner for a lifetime. I trust him, blindfold. I know I can give him anything and he’s gonna deliver. We are very good friends. The whole album was supposed to be produced by Sascha. When I called him, I had made my decision about the recordings a bit late, so Sascha wasn’t able to come to Brazil for the pre-production. He assured me he would be able to finish the record, do the final process, the mixing and mastering… But I would have to find somebody else to do the first part of the job or to do it myself. I wouldn’t like to do it myself. I mean, I could produce somebody else’s work but not mine. Some time ago I met Roy in Brazil, because we played together at the same festival in San Paolo and after the show we were talking. I was telling him how much I admire his work, not only as a producer but also as a musician. To me he’s an amazing guitar player, like Carlos Santana goes metal! I said I would like to do something with him one day and he said it would be an honor for him. So, after Sascha told me I should look for somebody else, Roy came immediately to my mind. I called him, asked him if he could come to Brazil, Roy loves Brazil, he’s half American half Mexican… and he can speak Spanish and Portuguese, cuz his wife is Brazilian. So he was glad to come. We started working together but I still had this question mark in my mind, because I didn’t know what to expect from him. But he surprised me a lot. We became very good friends, we wrote one of the songs of the album together. It was a big course for all of us.
Rockpages.gr : You are doing an acoustic set tonight, right?
Andre Matos : Yes!
Rockpages.gr : What are you gonna play?
Andre Matos : Oh… some songs of the new album, completely re-arranged. We’ve been rehearsing for more than a month. It’s a big challenge. We’re gonna play some old stuff, too.
Rockpages.gr : Apart of the acoustic set, when will we have the pleasure to see the band, full band, perform in here?
Andre Matos : As soon as Europe calls us. We are considering the possibilities of playing at some summer festivals, but for a complete tour… that might happen in September or October. That would be the best time to come.
Rockpages.gr : I saved this question for last. Do you ever think, even for a moment, what life would be like, if you were the one Iron Maiden would have chosen?
Andre Matos : Yes… I have already asked myself this question… and I thank God I wasn’t the “chosen one”… cuz I wouldn’t be here today. I don’t know where I would be. Somewhere else or even nowhere on Earth. It’s very important for me, honestly speaking, that it didn’t happen. I was not psychologically prepared for such a thing… I wouldn’t have the time to “build” myself. I’m thankful that, due to this, I can walk today as a human being and as a musician.
Rockpages.gr : Thank you so much for your time!
Andre Matos : It was my pleasure.