Brazilian singer André Matos isn’t a nobody to the metal community, even if not everybody will be aware of all aspects of his career got widely known for his work with Angra and his participation at the first 2 Avantasia albums. But he started his career in the mid-80’s with Viper, but this is the first album he releases in about 20 years under his own name. Time To Be Free is the name of his solo debut and a good reason to talk to the simpatico.
As he always was part of a band it kinda surprises that he now is going solo… "It took a long time to make this decision. After the split of Shaaman I thought about what to do and figured that it won’t make sense to come back with a new band. In fact it was very important to come back and it seems the right time. All over my career I’ve been asked from fans and labels when I will put out a solo record. I never felt it was the right time, but now after the split up it felt right." André explains. But when you look at the names of the musicians he worked with, there are some familiar names listed. "The band feeling is important to me. People asked why I haven’t asked some known musicians, but for me it always was a real honour to have a real band around me. I face this as a real band, this is to stay. Not a project which won’t last. Teamwork is really important and to share opinions, to discuss things with others. And the music is getting more rich when you work with a band. I don’t really need to see my name on a CD or somewhere else for my own ego. I’m not a dictator. Now I work with some of the best musicians here in Brazil – and with some of my best friends!" he added. Everybody who met André Matos while he was working with Angra or any other time, knows that he is a team player. So it’s no surprise to see that he teamed up again with some friends, but still he’s a professional musician, so the craftsmanship is important too. André explains the advantage "When I compose I know how everybody plays, know where to focus on and that makes it easier." And then André made his point crystal clear… "When for example Volkswagen is opening up in a new spot, then they won’t just send the best man, they send the best team for the task." The album title Time To Be Free suggests that time for him to break free from the past… "Well, it’s the most immediate thing which springs to mind. Like the idea was to express that I’m now released from the ties from the past. But it’s also about the music…. In my past I did some different musical styles and I established my name under a certain style, but there is space within the limitations. And I can still meet people’s expectations without to be forced to repeat a kind of formula. My new and old songs will match live." It’s also no surprise that the album title – and also the songs – carry a message, even if you don’t necessarily have to dive into this, you can just listen and enjoy the music. But there is a kind of message behind Time To Be Free… And André explains "Time To Be Free is sort of a calling. We all live in a globalized world and things change constantly and change fast. Music can interact in ones life. People forgetting the sense of living together and that we all live in a society – and it seems we running out of conscience." And he continues "This is a call to pay attention to human relations and also ecological ones. These are deep issues and we all have to take care. And perhaps it will help to find freedom inside oneself…. Everybody is automated and music has the ability to reunited people. Music has the power to drive people away from every day problems. But Time To Be Free can also mean that you need time to be free in your own issues… from your own problems. The whole concept of the album is a little philosophical. I think one has to start waking up to what’s happening nowadays!" These days there are no excuses anymore, coz with the internet, etc. we are all able to get the information, so that we can’t turn a blind eye. But it’s about the music and most will expect something similar to Angra and Shaaman… And so I wanted to ask, which song(s) represent the album best in his opinion… "The title track, coz it’s a very complete song. The song has a little bit of everything. Letting Go is in my opinion a very typical André Matos song while Looking Back has more ethnical elements. I don’t wanted to exaggerated anything, but still the songs should be catchy. A New Moonlight is special, coz this is the very first song I ever wrote, but in a new version." André started back in the mid-80’s his career with Viper and Moonlight was on their 1989 release Theatre Of Fate. "The song is re-written. I had a long discussion about this with Roy Z, but its very symbolic. It brings back my past and re-tells the story. Even completes the story, coz I added some lyrics, it’s like writing the final chapter on a re-release of a book. Its a nice piece of work. You know, people change, minds change and are still the same." Another track Mr. Matos wrote in the studio with Roy Z. How Long was the last song written for this album and it’s a bit Maiden-ish… And actually hooked me up right away! But it’s only a facet of the album. "We were able to give certain styles a different texture. Its somehow a summary of my whole career and has lots of elements from my past. It’s great that after 40 years of metal it’s still possible to vary. Many things been done within this 40 years and there are elements from the past, but I think I didn’t let these dominate the songs." And its true, somehow the songs sound familiar and at the same time the songs can surprise you. They sound fresh and are typical André Matos songs, but also show new sides of the Brazilian singer.
Angra never made it really big allover the world, even if in certain places they been quite successful. While Shaaman were quite focused on South America. But the first solo album saw the light of the day first in Japan… And was a huge success! André continues "Japan was a good way to test the reaction, but actually I first had a deal in Japan and when the album was out there, some labels offered deals in other places. Part of the success was that I did a lot of personal promotion there and then the album was for a month #2 in the charts – and topped Heaven & Hell and Metallica! With this success we got invited to play Loud Park Festival. Its the biggest Japanese festival and we were invited to play both – Tokyo and Osaka. We were glad to play there." But in Europe it always been a bit different… Angra and also Shaaman did good in some places and not that good in others. "In Europe we first needed to find the right people to work with, that took awhile, but it was worth waiting. Especially in Germany Angra and Shaaman never been big and so the very positive reactions to my solo album been a bit of a surprise" André tells. "We are keen to be more in Europe this time. I think with Shaaman we were too focused on Brazil… Due to the good response in European countries it looks like we can work more in Europe and we will try to play some festivals this summer. But nothings fixed at the moment." When André and his band come to play they can offer a mix of old and new songs, something for everybody… "We are ready to play and we will play some old songs, but I also would like to play the whole new album! We have to get a good set list and hit the stages!"
I hope that they will get the chance to play some festivals and to tour. I always enjoyed seeing Angra with André on vocals and can’t wait to hear the new stuff live. He’s very enthusiastic about the new album – and I can understand that. Hope that the timing is right and that the fans are ready for André Matos’ Time To Be Free.