Interview by Carlos Garcia
The brazilian band TUATHA DE DANANN appeared in Varginha, Minas Gerais, in 1994, still under the name Pendragon, changing to the present name, because they looked for something that better fit to the inspirations of the group in Celtic music and cultures. Tuatha de Danann was the people of the goddess Danu, race of enchanted beings of mythical Ireland. The band was forging a very strong and original musical identity, mixing Heavy Metal with Celtic, folk and medieval nuances, as well as other ingredients. The truth is that in the Tuatha of Danann creative freedom is the watchword.
With six studio works released, not counting the re-recording of the first EP in 2016, Tuatha de Danann has always been among the most original and original bands in the Brazilian scene, including winning many fans and good results in several European countries. Presented at Wacken in 2005, during the release of “Trova di Danu” (2004), album released by a great label, and that raised the band to a higher level, including providing the recording of the acoustic DVD “Acoustic Live” (2009) But delays and lack of deadlines for the label, internal issues and other factors, led to the dissolution of the band in 2010.
But in 2013 the band returns willing to make up for lost time, and they launch in 2015 the praised “Dawn of a New Sun”. Now in 2019 Tuatha of Danann presents their most diverse album, “The Tribes of Witching Souls”, bringing the remarkable characteristics of its sonority, such as Celtic and medieval melodies, songs with festive, triping and exciting climates, but also with more serious and current themes, and even historical facts of the state of Minas Gerais.
We have talked with founder, vocalist and multi-instrumentalist Bruno Maia to know more about the new album, the partnership with Martin Walkyer (Ex-Skyclad), the band’s firm stance against injustice, greed, racism, and fascism, toxic elements that has grown worryingly. Check out!
To begin with, I’d like you to talk about the current phase of the band, since returning with “Dawn of a New Sun” after a hiatus, and now with this new work, “The Tribes of Witching Souls.” I would like you to talk about what that hiatus and the changes in the line-up represented for the band.
Bruno Maia: There was a 3 year hiatus without a band. That was from December 2010 until mid 2013. We came back in 2013 for some sporadic shows and then we released “Dawn of a New Sun” in 2015. “Dawn” was a record that I enjoyed doing and releasing, because personally my last 2 releases until the “Dawn” had been very complex, very progressive, which were the disc of Braia (Bruno’s solo album) and Kernunna (project with Tuatha’s former members), and “Dawn” came more direct, without so much “triping sounds”, as it needed. I love this record and the sound of it. After that, in 2016 we released a new version of our first album, from which the guitarist left in 2017, and in 2018, well at the beginning of the year, it was the turn of Rodrigo, the drummer; both left on their own and we never thought about stopping.
You followed then only with 3 official members.
Bruno: Today, of founding members, Giovani and I are in the line-up, Edgard has been with us officially for only 15 years and our relationship is very cool, positive and without cracks. We have all the atmosphere and friendship necessary to continue with the Tuatha for a long time still and for me, sincerely, the band lives a great moment full of lightness, will and positivity. Things do not happen by chance, it had to happen so the band was still here, and the fact that we launched a new album with so much relevance is now proof of that.
You’ve been saying that this new album would be the most diversified of the band. Something I noticed was a more “serious” atmosphere, let’s say, with less fantastic and “festive” themes. What elements do you believe are the most different and amazing that the listener will find?
Bruno: The album is very diversified, you can say that the songs have nothing to do with each other, but they all carry Tuatha’s elements. We have a very strong identity load that has been shaped over the years, a compositional brand that we possess that only the Tuatha has, or at most something of Braia or Kernunna. The most festive and high-spirited elements you will find only in the title track (maybe even too much, since this song is one of the most positive and up-to-date I’ve heard), while the others have diverse elements that come from varied sources of inspiration.
Tuatha is one of those bands that have their own sonority, something difficult, especially in current times, and also, I believe, provides a broad musical freedom, allowing for daring, and in this album this freedom was demonstrated even more, and the sensation of that the band can go even further. I’d like you to comment on that.
Bruno: How cool of you to catch that! It is gratifying that someone outside the creative core realizes this and points. But I believe that this is the reason and why we continue to make music: to be relevant to ourselves and our music to be able to challenge and still enchant us. It would not make sense to make the same sound forever. And the cool thing is that we have achieved this without abandoning our own characteristic elements. I believe we are clothed with ourselves and not afraid to move on.
Yes, exactly, if the musician does not seek to challenge himself, dare, I believe that both he and the public will lose interest! Well, you’ve already quoted the title track, which was also the first single, and it brought the elements already familiar to the band’s fans, a typical Tuatha song. Have you already chosen the main song just for this? I would also like you to talk a little more about it.
Bruno: Exactly, the “Tribes …” was first released until the guys who accompanied us realized that the band was still strong. This sound is a 100% Tuatha Danann train. . . it has the typical lead of our disco openings, the mood up, cool guitar muffles, a Beatles melody and Celtic themes running through the song. Not to mention the participation of the elves and everything.
Already the second single, “Your Wall Shall Fall”, brings different elements, treating a very current and strong theme, leaving the most fanciful themes. And there is a very special guest, Martin Walkyier, former Skyclad, and great influence for Tuatha. I would like you to say a little more about this song and, of course, about Martin’s participation.
Bruno: Man, this song we had done in 2017, the last time he was here in Brazil, but he was never satisfied with the lyrics, always changing it, which was also one of the reasons for this release delay. . . BUT, it’s a very strong song, very heavy and direct compared to other Tuatha de Danann songs, and Martin’s lyrics are as fabulous as ever. We became very close friends over the years and the participation was very natural. Nowadays it sounds natural, but for 15 years this (being Martin’s partner) would be a dream. A dream come true!
Taking advantage of the theme, congratulations to you and the band for touching on more delicate issues, and for important positioning in a complicated moment, both of humanity in general and in our country. And I would like to know your opinion about the role of musicians, even if they are criticized by some people, in showing a clear and firm position against injustices and social inequalities.
Bruno: The whole world is experiencing a kind of right turn and violence (whether at the discursive or physical level). It’s not just here in Brazil, unfortunately. We live in a time that, in theory, is the one that most has access to information, content, entire works, scientific works of universities around the world and yet, sinisterly, there are many people who report on the phone through videos or any memes produced by who knows who, who knows for what reasons and who knows who financed by whom.
Here in Brazil the thing got so old that there are many followers of astrologers, of frustrated believing musicians, there are people who think that torture is something stupid, which is a little thing. Lots of people relativizing inhumanity, cruelty and tenderness. As for the role of the musician, I do not think anyone is obliged to make activist or political music, but I think from a sick contradiction such a conservative headbanger.
Continuing with the album’s themes, “Conjura” is one of my favorites, and it brings a historical theme, about “Inconfidência Mineira” (conspiracy of a separatist nature that occurred in the then captaincy of Minas Gerais, in 1789). I would like you to comment more about this song and the idea of talking about it.
Bruno: Well, it may sound like a great and fabulous chimera, a Brazilian band that sings in English, has a Celtic name, influences of traditional Irish music dealing with such a Brazilian subject in a song (laughs!). But that’s it! I am a scholar of the history of Minas Gerais, its colonial period, its settlement and formation on various aspects. We are from Minas Gerais and we have a very peculiar history here in the state thanks to the findings of gold and diamonds. The so-called Gold Fever made Minas carry out the greatest migration of people from Europe here, everyone behind the rapid enrichment of gold and precious stones.
The Europeans and the locals faced sierra highlands, unknown beasts, ferocious Indians and many other adversities to find their treasures in the bands of here; were fearless and greedy adventurers, often escaped or exiled from Portugal. An absurd number of slaves brought from Africa and all the horrors of slavery, the high religiosity of the Jesuits and the brotherhoods, and the despotismos of self proclaimed owners of the hinterland were added to this idea of rapid wealth. Ready! We have all the ingredients for the bloodiest and oddest story possible. Minas Gerais lived a period that would make American westerners look like Pooh Bear stories. (Laughs! Very good! hahaha)
“Turn” was one of those that I found more news about their previous compositions, and it’s a great song, bringing a softer, melodic atmosphere, Folk/Pop elements, which I also noticed in the Auri project by Tuomas Holopainen and Troy Donockley. The lyrics are also very beautiful. “This life is a black and white canvas, and it’s up to you to fill it with colors you like …”, and the chorus talks about “Building new bridges – off the walls”. Tell us a little more about this song and about the lyrics.
Bruno: I do not know the sound you mentioned, even though you know the guys. “Turn” is a distinct piece within our songbook, it has a very exciting groove, some elements maybe “pop” like you said, but it has its weight as well. The lyrics are more about the omission that we often let ourselves be mastered, you know? When we do not take sides or when we let the bad side win and we prefer not to get involved. Often evil happens because the good has not manifested itself, and other times, because we feel we do not need to be involved in an isolated fact, it can grow in scale and become a situation. I think the lyrics are about it, having to think more, not being thought of by others and not being omission, conformed and permissive.
“Warrior Queen” sounds epic and dramatic, with the flute and mandolin melodies featured, transported me to a scene from the Vikings series! Ha ha! Tell us a little more about this track and the inspirations to compose it.
Bruno: That was the last song to come on the album. A friend wanted a trail for an MMA fighter and wanted something very warlike, medieval, Celtic, Viking, those things. I played with him showing a clutter of cliches and he adored … .there I convinced myself that it could be nice if it worked better this inspiration that came to me kind of joking … .deed what he gave. The lyrics are inspired by great warriors and warrior Celtic queens, such as the Boudicca. It is a lyric that praises the bravery of many women, their dignity and protagonism.
“Outcry”, originally recorded in “Dawn of a New Sun”, won a more folk/medieval version, and from what I could hear, I believe it is, if not 100%, almost totally acoustic. And had remarkable melodies and chorus!
Bruno: We love doing this version of “Outcry”, it was really folk! The lyrics, unfortunately, are a portrait of Brazil from the time of discovery until today with this colonial situation and delivery to the foreign capital that began with Pau Brazil, Sugar Cane, Gold/Diamond, Coffee until arriving today with the foreign capital behind the financial movements and our privatized treasures, we have seen Mariana, Brumadinho and must come more, because the mentality of capitalism is this, the prey: it takes the profit and leaves the misery.
Another that appears in new version is “Tan Pinga Ra Tan” (recorded on the 2001 album “Tingaralatingadun”), with orchestral arrangements got an incredible atmosphere. Did you intend to give this important song a new life?
Bruno: “Tan Pinga Ra Tan” is one of our most chanted and beloved songs. It has a beautiful melody that is strong and seems to be the trail of a dream. We wanted to approach it in a different way and it was really cool.
Finally, tell us what are the expectations for this year and what you want for the band, which has the qualities to reach a wider audience worldwide. Do you believe that you lost a little time with the hiatus until the release of “Dawn of a New Sun”?
Bruno: Sure enough, we stayed for a long time without pitching anything new. In 2004, we launched the “Trova di Danú”. However, silly, given the problems we had with the label that year, the album was released even in 2005. After that, we released the acoustic DVD in 2009, which was very massive even for we are, I believe, the first Brazilian Metal band to release an official acoustic DVD.
We suffered a lot with delays of labels at that time, which ended up discouraging me, especially me, so much that it made me release a solo album in 2007. There was also some internal and personal problems, and the band stopped in 2010 when I left at the end of the year. We came back a short time later, but it was a lot of time lost. About winning more audiences around the world, we hope so. Greedy and full of will we are, never been so cool the mood in the band and this motivates us to move on. . . As long as there are people responding to our music we will have the incentive to continue.
More information at https://www.facebook.com/Tuathadedanannofficial/
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