© André Matos
André Matos – January 12th 2010 (interview by phone – Claudia Ehrhardt)
The second album of Andre Matos and his band is called Mentalize and will soon be in stores across Europe. The album was released in Japan in September 2009, so I wanted to know why Europe gets it later.
"Actually it’s a strategical thing. They always want to release the album before the rest of the world, the CD prices are much higher there and so they always ask for priority releases. Beside that SPV was going through some reorganization and I figured out it’s worth waiting for SPV to release. They struggled and some bands left them. Now they have a smaller cast and can concentrate more on their bands now. I wanted to be faithful as they said ‘we wanted to release this album’. In Brazil the album was also released in September. We were basically doing one territory at a time with special releases for Brazil, Japan and Europe. Japan always have bonus tracks. We have a new artwork for Europe, a special package. For the collectors it means something to have different releases. We want to please people in other parts of the world." Andre explains.
But the die-hard fans don’t want to wait and will buy as import, even if it’s more expensive. But sometimes you ask yourself why is this ‘just’ a bonus track…. "When you do bonus tracks, you can take demo tracks. But I chose bonus tracks during the recording. We recorded a cover song for Japan. I never thought about doing a Queen song. I never dared to do a cover of Freddy Mercury. It’s a pity not everybody gets the Queen bonus track (Teo Torriate – Let Us Cling Together – Claudia). But it’s the best way to do it and as Freddy Mercury did it live I sang a line in Japanese."
Some of the songs on Mentalize have something Queen-ish… And Andre told me "I had some experience with this with Sascha at Virgo. There we had lots of orchestration, big choirs, etc. So that’s when I first had contact with this kind of music. I think I got kinda infected on the tour with Avantasia…. I incorporate the vocal arrangements now." And he continues… "Even if the music is fast, if you put some voices on top, it never gets massive… Never boring. It’s the contrast, the light and the darkness. Especially with orchestration, I didn’t always used this possibility, not to have just my voice on top."
At Someone Else you hear Andre’s normal voice in a kind of conversation with his alienated voice, this is catching you attention immediately. "It makes you pay attention on the lyrics. The spoken words are meant to sound mean, sarcastic – and interacting with the clean voice. It’s more theatrical, you can imagine the scene going on where someone is acting all his life, never sawing the truth." The effect of the alienated voice is to bring back attention, something which always been done in different ways. Some might not like it and so it’s a walk on the razor’s edge. Trying something new and risking to disappoint some fans.
Andre’s answer showed that he studied the classic composers… "When Beethoven wrote the symphony #9 he did what was unthinkable before. It was shocking. The day he presented this symphony half of the audience turned away, now it’s a masterpiece."
In my opinion you can hear that Mentalize was more a band effort then Time To Be Free – and it shows real craftsmanship and a band who tries new things. "It’s a basic thing for us musicians, it should be. Even on CD you can fake a lot, use old formulas, but these aren’t the ones who stay.", Andre comments.
And it’s quite true, faking things or trying to copy what’s successful won’t last. "Everything is true, no additional editing! You need time to prepare well, but the basic recordings are done in 2-3 takes, choosing the best take then." Andre explains. "It’s quite old-fashioned. I’m 38 yrs. now, when I was 15 years all I wanted was to sing in a band, to be in a band. Bands from the past like Sabbath, Purple. Scorpions, Queen they were successful, coz they were really, really good – and only these ones made it."
These days it’s easy to do a demo, even with a decent sound and it’s not costing a fortune. Quite true, these bands from the past had the passion, the talent and the skills. And they were putting a lot of effort into it. "I remember my first demo with Viper… We had a friend with a friend who had a studio. That studio was vacant from 10:00-12:00 PM and we took this chance to record 6 songs, a multi-track recording. Only the ones who have been there, won’t waste time. In the end we are doing music or not. We have to be careful with technic, but without the knowledge it won’t work, too. The soul it needs. You must have the technique, but the music have to talk for itself!"
Which is quite true. A great song might suffer from a bad sound quality, but a superb sound doesn’t make a mediocre song a good one. Andre continued "I never liked the Ramones very much, coz it’s so simple. A good friend of mine disagreed and he played me some Ramones stuff, he made me listen – and they have melodies!"
Again we got away from the main topic, but sometimes conversations do that. Back to what fans would like to know… What about playing live? Any shows in planning stage? "Right now I’m awaiting confirmation for festivals in Europe. A real tour I would keep for the 2nd half of 2010. South America is coming, too. And shows here and there. But we already start working on new songs! Last time we were a bit in a hurry. Then there was the Avantasia tour, so we had to work very hard for this album. The best thing is to find a nice headquarter for Europe and work on things in between the festivals – as well as doing some tourists thing which I haven’t done for long."
Sounds like there is a chance to catch them between the festivals… Meanwhile the fans can listen to Mentalize which offers songs which aren’t following a certain scheme, so some songs start with guitar or piano while another kicks off with drums – and I really like this variety. The Brazilian singer explains "They came out in a natural way – sometimes drums, sometimes piano. And that’s what we wanted. The band was more involved, we did a lot of touring, even in Europe – sadly not in Germany. We played about 150-200 concerts and that brings a new involvement. Nobody really played for oneself, somehow that’s the concept of the album…" And the band sounds tighter, more like a union… Thanks to the touring. And due to the variety Mentalize offers, listening to the album will cut short the time til they hit the stage again. Andre confesses: "I listen to my albums a lot, at least 3 times a week and it still surprises me sometimes…" So let Andre Matos surprise you with Mentalize!