Angra is a power metal band from São Paulo, Brazil, known for its symphonic interludes, highly technical instrumental playing and Brazilian regional elements. The band’s story starts in 1991. The debut album (released in 1993) “Angels Cry” was a great success in Brazil as well as in Japan where it sold over 100,000 copies. That year Angra dominated the polls of the Brazilian magazine Rock Brigade obtaining awards for Best New Band, Best Album, Best Singer, Best Album Cover and Best Keyboard Player.
After six successful albums, followed by some disagreements with a ex-drummer, and problems with the former management, Angra, in 1998, stopped for a year, focusing for the various personal projects … only to come back and stand up together on stage, stronger than ever, completed with the same passion to share deep and endless emotions with the public … The Goddess of Fire, Angra, had awakened …
Although I normally listen to more heavy stuff … even though my heart is beating with the rhythms of metal/hardcore I’m deeply fascinated in front of “Aqua”. I admit that previously I knew quite little of their music, but in these past days I’ve got a nice and very pleasant full-immersion, while listening to this new album (and of course the older releases)
…relaxed and led by some Shakespeare action, smoothly running before my eyes …
… The phone rings, making me come back to reality, it’s 4 pm, and the friendly voice of Rafael (Bittencourt), Angra’s guitarist, greets me from Brazil. We had set the interview for that evening at 8 o’clock, but he wanted to ask me if we could do it earlier… like now? Believe me, I didn’t have anything against it …
Hi Tarja! The word “Angra” appears in many different ancient civilizations, always related to a weird and mysterious meaning. Actually, the original word is “Angora”. In old Egypt it meant a sort of evil entity. In our Brazilian natives language, Tupi-guarani, it is the name of a goddess of fire, so we have combined Angora with Anger and Angry to form a strong and nice sounding word… Angra.
2 – From which bands are coming your main influences? And what is the secret of your inspiration?
If I have to name one, I´d say Queen, but of course, Iron Maiden, Deep Purple, Rush, Pink Floyd, Black Sabbath are all there.
3 – What is your message to the pubblic while playing on stage?
I want them to forget about their personal problems and dive with us into our music. Music has the ability to make people forget about their personal crap. And it is something to be shared. It should not be seen as something that we bring to the audience. But as something that it is just there. What we do is, we capture that, to make our common moment a bit more joyful.
4 – Between your last album “The Course of Nature” and “Aqua” there are 4 years. What have you done in the meanwhile?
Well, lots of stuff. Right after the release, in 2006, the band has toured for over an year. In 2008 we enjoyed some forced vacation because of problems with the manager and the previous drummer. During that period everyone worked on side projects and solo careers. In 2009 we got back together for a tour together with Sepultura in Brazil, Latin America and other countries. At the end of 2009 we started to write the songs for our new release, Aqua… And now, I´m here talking to you! hahaha
5 – Your new album Aqua will be released here in Europe on 27 september (editor’s note: today), What do you expect from it?
I expect a good promotion so that people are aware that the record exists. This is the only thing I expect, because I´m pretty confident that if people listen to it, they will probably love it. It is not just another metal record, but it’s a really good record, specially for those who are into lots of combinations of style. It really represents and expresses what we´re now, in a very elegant and sophisticated way.
6 – Aqua is your 7th album, since 1993, how has your music changed in these years?
The passion and the love for doing music are the same. But today we are more mature, better musicians and things seem to move smoother now, and I think we can´t avoid the fact that it reflects in our music, as well. We can write songs in a faster and easier way now, trying always to carry out the same amount of emotions as before.
7 – Can you tell us why your ex-drummer Aquiles Priester left the band?
Aquiles has preferred to dedicate himself 100% to his own band. During the troubled times with the previous manager he had an attitude of not caring about helping us out, he turned his back to us. That wasn´t cool. So when things started to soften, there was a common decision between him and us that he should spend his energy only to the band he truly believes. And that was not Angra.
I don´t have any contact with them. But I heard that Luis Mariutti isn´t involved with music anymore. As for Andre, he´s doing OK with his solo stuff. A side project with one of them is something very improbable, I just don´t see a reason for it. But a get-together for a celebration concert of Angra is a bit more probable.
9 – What are your future plans? maybe a live album or a new DVD or something else?
Plans… we have tons of them!!! I just don´t know which ones we’ll be able to realize. Next year will be our 20th anniversary. I´d like to have a concert with orchestra, another one unplugged, and an electric concert with many guests that represent our history. We will tour in Japan, US, Europe, South America etc. . I just hope we can do all we dream of…
10 – As you have a hudge repertoire today, will your new tour give more space to songs from the past or mainly to new ones?
As you get going in your career, it starts to get more and more difficult to present new songs in concerts, ’cause you have a lot of old tunes that people will always want to listen…
We´re playing a nice set list of the main hymns of Angra combined with a few new tunes that people are seeming to like a lot.
11- Aqua is one of the main elements of life, and you’ve chosen it as the title of your new album. Can you tell us why, and what is your rapport with this element?
The lyrics were all inspired on the last play written by Shakespeare, The Tempest, and water is shown there as the element of transformation. It represents the coming of maturity to the main character, Prospero. We have used it to symbolize our own feeling of maturity etc, as the experience of today has a greater burden on our shoulders.
12 – After listened Aqua for several times, in these couple of days, I can see the album is telling about a “lifetime”, rising up from the water and finish in the ashes… can you tell us the history while preparing and choosing the album tracks?
The story is about a King, Prospero, that is fooled and overthrown by his brother and others that he believed were his friends. He is exiled in an island along with his daughter, Miranda. Twelve years have passed while he is planning his revenge… and when, finally, he´s got the chance of paying back, all his perspectives and points of view have changed and he decided to forgive these people. Every track of the album is about a scene or a theme, or concept or even a character of that play.
Yes… mainly on their education, on how polite they are or not. Some social differences are obvious, sometimes, when you compare a Japanese guy to a South American one. But the passion and emotional involvement with this style are some of the things that link them all together.
14 – Before the concerts, do you have any rites o traditions to get yourselves in the right mood on stage?
I like to stay in a calm environment, focusing and relaxing myself … but obviously that is not possible in most of the situations… Dressing rooms are always a very messy place… But hey, Perhaps, hahaha, one day I will have a blonde masseuse just for my needs, before and after the concerts …
16 – Angra was formed in 1991, and you have made a long and successful way up to our days. Can you tell us some unforgettable moments of your carreer, up till now?
Playing at “Le Zenith” in Paris for over 6000 people and having Bruce Dickinson jamming a few Maiden tunes with us, was certainly one of the most special moments.
17. Besides Angra, what do you do normally, when you’re not playing? Any hobbies?
I like to wacth to movies, go out surfing in the beaches, be with my daughter and allow her to fend me funny hairs and makeup….Just as an usual guy, haha.
18. I know that one year ago you were in Italy to play in Milan. Any chance we will see you soon again?
I hope so… I just can´t remember if I was in Milan last year… Was I? Anyway… We are planning an European tour and I hope to make it work.
19- What are your greetings to your italian fans?
Thanks to all our Italian fans for all the support throughout the years. We will be glad to have you visiting us at our official website at http://www.angra.net, as well as in all the social medias that we are in…See you soon on our AQUA tour!!!
Thank-you Rafael, it was a real pleasure to interview you!
Tchau, até breve!