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Almah

Almah
I Want To Sing In A Natural Way

22.08.2012

Архив интервью | Русская версия

Brazil and Russia, as you might know from newspaper articles on economy, belong to the same group of countries that have a high potential, develop very fast, but still encounter a lot of roadblocks and perils on their way. It’s no wonder that our countries have a lot in common, but because we are so far away from each other, we don’t know much about the things that we share. Even with today’s communication means it is pretty tough to get in touch with someone from Brazil. In the case of Edu Falaschi, Skype was the only reasonable option, but even this was quite rough, as Edu called me from some Internet café, with crowds of loud Brazilian children around screaming and laughing, and the sound volume going up and down at irregular intervals. To make things even worse, Edu could not hear me at all, so I had to type my questions and he would say the answers aloud. Nevertheless, we spent a good hour online with Edu providing a lot of insights on the latest album of his band Almah, his voice problems, his interests and the state of Brazilian metal industry. Unfortunately, just two weeks after this interview Edu left Brazilian power metal veterans Angra after spending more than 10 years with the band, which makes Angra-related parts of the interview a little outdated. But at the same time, they might give you some insights on why it happened…

First of all, congratulations on your new album “Motion”, I really like this record! Why did you decide to go in a heavier direction with it? Have your musical tastes changed? Are you tired of power metal?

When I decided to talk to the guys about a new album, I had an idea in my mind. In my opinion, it was an important thing. The band at that time was almost five years old, and we needed to for this third album something really different, because it makes no sense to make another band that would sound exactly like Angra. I really love the sound of Angra and I really love to sing that way, but I decided to find a new identity for Almah. We are now six years old, we have three albums, we made some tours in Brazil, we had a chance to go to Paraguay, and last year I took the band to Japan to promote the album – thus, the band is growing. I knew the band had those chances to grow, and when I decided to make “Motion”, I had in my mind the idea to make something different from Angra, something different from other bands, with our own identity and language. That’s why we made the album in this direction – a little bit modern. Of course, it has all the influences I have had in my whole life – power metal, heavy metal and thrash metal, but I decided to have a different concept this time – mixing thrash metal stuff and death metal stuff with power metal elements and some folk elements. This way we managed to make something different and something fresh. I really wanted to make this kind of stuff since the very beginning.

You took the picture on the album cover yourself, but how did you decide that this is going to be your artwork?

The thing is that I was really tired of artworks of other metal bands. Especially in power metal, artworks are always looking the same – sometimes there are dragons, sometimes there are angels, and the colors are always blue, red and yellow, sometimes there is a beautiful sky or something burning. I was really tired of seeing these artworks, because all the bands are looking the same. For this album, especially because we are changing our direction, I wanted to show the people something different and fresh. I decided to use my own picture, because that’s a different way of working. We always try to work with some web designers, and they cost a lot of money, and they make the same things for everybody. What I did was taking a picture with my camera and composing some kind of effects for the picture, and I had a very nice result that for me looks very modern and very different. This was our chance to visualize our sound with the artwork, because the cover shows some kind of velocity and modern idea, and that reflects the sound we have on this album. That’s why I decided to use this picture. But basically it was a coincidence. I started having fun with my camera, then I put some effects, and then I saw this image and thought, “This is a great chance to make even the artwork in a different way”. It’s important for us to change a little bit to find our new identity that we have nowadays. But we’re not losing our heavy metal roots and atmosphere, that’s the most important thing.

There are three guest singers on the album – Edu Cominato, Victor Cutrale, and Thiago Bianchi. Can you say a few words about them?

Let’s start with Victor. He sings in the song called “Zombies Dictator”. I needed for this song a kind of more aggressive voice, in the death metal style. For me it’s very difficult to sing like that, I really can’t do it, because my voice is more melodic, more suitable for high-pitched notes. So I invited him, he’s a friend of ours, and he fits very well into this kind of music. His band is called Furia Inc., and his band is really nice. I decided to call Brazilian people to help us, to show their work to people all over the world.

Then Thiago Bianchi, the singer of Shaman, they continue without Andre Matos nowadays. He sings very well as well, and he uses some kind of aggressive voice at times. I think he’s different compared to other singers. When we make a song that is too aggressive, I need someone to add some melodies, and that is what I hear from Thiago Bianchi in “Daydream Lucidity”. For me it was very nice, because we’re friends, I’ve known him since I was a teenager. It was very nice to have friends singing with me. And his voice really fits perfectly to the song.

Then I have Eduardo, another Eduardo, he is my friend from Brazil as well. He sings very well, and his voice goes more to the modern direction, he likes stuff like Linkin Park, and we sometimes need someone to sing in this direction. I wanted to add some modern ideas to old-style songs, this mix of everything makes a difference on this album.

You announced a while ago that you are having problems with your vocal chords and that you will not continue singing as high as you did with Angra. How are your vocal chords doing at the moment? Are you 100% happy with them?

The problem wasn’t with my vocal chords, I had a reflux problem. It’s something that happens in your stomach - when you start eating things that are not so good, like Coca Cola or coffee, your acid starts becoming bigger and bigger and then you feel the acid going up into your vocal chords. Formally I didn’t have any problem with my vocal chords, my vocal chords were OK, but I had a high level of acid so often that I needed a break. I started singing very bad, and I didn’t know why. When I would go to doctors, they would say I was fine, they didn’t see any problem with my vocal chords. It was only a few years later when I found out that the problem was with the acid. Then I started getting treatment, and my voice started to become better and better. Nowadays my voice is OK, and this is very nice.

I can sing Angra songs normally again, as I did in 2001 and 2002. The point is: do I need to sing high notes all the time? (laughs) Do I really need to use this kind of voice to make people happy? My answer was “no”. I can reach people’s hearts with music without screaming so much, we don’t need high-pitched notes all the time. That’s why I decided to sing more in my own style of vocals. My voice, as you can hear, is not so thin and not so high. I sing medium notes and low notes much better, especially when I sing them in an aggressive way, with overdrives and something like that. My voice sounds much better in that area, at least it sounds more metal. After I did the album “Motion” with Almah, people started to understand it better. People realized that I didn’t take so many high notes, but the songs still sound great.

I have taken nearly five months of treatment, I have taken medicines and visited many doctors, and nowadays I can sing normally. But am I going to take high notes again and risk ruining my voice? No. As Ronnie James Dio said once, “You need to find a way that you can sing forever”. He was a very wise man, he didn’t use high notes all the time, what he did was singing in a comfortable way and a metal way. That’s the point for me. I want to go in this kind of direction with my singing – more natural to my kind of voice, within a more comfortable range. That’s why I decided to sing this way most of the time from now on. Of course, I can sing high notes, I can perfectly sing high notes, but it will happen only sometimes, when I need to sing old songs at concerts.

OK, and what is going to happen with Angra?

After the Rock In Rio festival, when I decided to stop my career for a while to take medical treatment, the Angra guys said, “OK, let’s see what we can do”. I gave them a chance to continue with another singer if they want, but Kiko (Loureiro, guitar) said, “No, let’s use this time to rest a little bit. I need time as well, because I’m gonna become a father”. Now I’m coming back with Almah and the new album “Motion”, and I need to sit down with the Angra guys and think about the future, think what needs to be done for the band. I believe everything will be OK in the future, I really love Angra, I love Angra’s history and Angra’s music, but I need to figure out how I can balance two bands – Angra and Almah. The point is that Almah is the band where – and I think it’s easy for everyone to see – I can sing in a more natural way, the vocal lines are not so high, and they fit my voice better. In Almah I can sing like I did in Symbols, my band before Angra, which was heavier and where I used a more aggressive voice.

But with Angra, we do want to come back, but if we’re going to come back, we need to clear out some things, because I need to keep my involvement two bands, and I also need to keep my voice in a healthy way. If I sing too many high notes in old songs from the Andre Matos era, it wouldn’t be so healthy for me. I want to continue my singing career on the same level as I did before, but in a different way.

We haven’t talked about that in Angra yet. Meanwhile, Almah is growing, and we have some offers to release the follow-up to “Motion” soon. Probably I will have to record a new Almah album already this year. Of course it will be a problem if I need to record a new album for Almah and come back with Angra simultaneously. It will be difficult to find the time and make things happen. But I have time for about everything, I just want to make everything clear to everyone – I really love Angra, Angra is a big part of my life, Angra helped me a lot to show my name and my talent to the world, it has been a very positive experience. I just need to find some sort of balance in my life to make everything happen.

It’s not only me - Kiko is recording a new solo guitar album as well, Rafael (Bittencourt, guitar) is doing a lot of stuff, and everybody is taking different steps. When we decide to talk about Angra, we need to see what we are gonna do with the projects that we are doing.

Apart from Angra and Almah, you are working as a producer all the time. How did you become interested in producing other artists? What has been your most enjoyable experience as a producer?

Wow, it’s very nice to talk about that! I used to produce my own stuff when I was very young. For example, I was the producer of the first two Symbols albums. When I started composing, recording and working in studios, I decided that this kind of thing will become very important for me in the future. I saw how important my work was some years ago when I started to produce other bands. For me it was an honor to work with Age of Artemis, they are a Brazilian band consisting of very young people, but they are very very good. I had an opportunity to work at a very good studio called Norcal here in Brazil, and we made a great album (“Overcoming Limits”, 2011). They released the album in Brazil, and I got for the band a Japanese contract with a label called King Records. This is very significant for me - if a Japanese label wants to release an album that was produced by me, it’s a good sign, it’s a sign that people liked my work.

There was another band that I worked with last year, it is called Still Alive. They are from Rio, so it’s a Brazilian band as well, and we are trying to get an international contract for them. Now I’m working with other bands from Brazil, there’s a band called Perc3ption, there’s a band called Drace XII (pronounced “Drace Juuni” – ed.), it’s a kind of j-rock band, Japanese style. Then there’s a band that I will work with in July, it’s called Eyes Of Gaia. I’m working a lot with this kind of stuff, because I really like to produce, I really like to see the music become something real, something that people can reach. For me to help those bands to make a good album with a good sound is really important, especially because they are Brazilians. I can offer them the best representation for their work in Finland, Germany, Japan, France - I’m trying to show the world that we have very many good bands.

Nowadays it’s my profession and my business in addition to my two bands, but this is a work that I can do forever. If I get older and I realize that I can’t sing anymore, because I’m too old for that, I will still be able to continue working as a producer. I have a studio in Brazil, I’m working on it with my brother, Tito Falaschi, and we’re building a very nice studio where we will start recording in June. I really like working in studios, being in the studio atmosphere, meeting different people, and recording different kinds of music. I hope to get a chance to produce foreign bands, too. I have had invitations from a Mexican band and from an Indonesian band, but we couldn’t make things happen this time. Maybe in the future. I do hope for an opportunity to work with bands from foreign countries… maybe Russia!

I have a very important thing to say: I have been in the music business for 25 years, and I have recorded more than 15 CDs, videos and EPs in my career. Thus, I have a lot of experience in this kind of stuff. I have recorded in many different studios, I have had a chance to work with great producers in Germany, such as Dennis Ward, and I saw how professionals worked. I know I can bring this to new bands and new artists. Of course, I would love to work with famous bands as well, they have experience and I really love to exchange experience.

Wikipedia says that you have contributed music to anime. How did you become involved in that? Are you interested in Japanese culture?

Yeah, I love the Japanese stuff. Actually I love Japan! At a very young age, I started reading Japanese mangas and watching Japanese movies on TV. That’s how I got introduced to manga superheroes, I love this kind of creatures. It’s funny, you might have heard this - I’ve got two Japanese cousins, and they are really Japanese, they live in Japan! My uncle was married to a Japanese lady, and I have always had some kind of connection to the Japanese culture. However, my involvement in anime was a result of coincidence. People from the Brazilian company that had the rights to broadcast “Zodiac Warriors” on TV in Brazil found me to sing the song for the cartoon, and when I sang it, I wasn’t aware of the power of that cartoon. Suddenly it became a huge hit in Brazil, especially among teenagers and children. But it was cool, because I started to become a part of this world. This world is really funny, it is full of different kinds of events where people play different roles, put on superheroes’ clothes, it was really funny to see for the first time, but nowadays it’s OK for me. It’s a whole scene with a lot of big-time events in Brazil. That’s why I am very familiar with the Japanese world. Of course, I went to Japan many times with Angra, I was there with Almah as well, but for me the anime culture became a whole different world. I don’t feel any pressure there, the people are very happy, they just want to scream, to sing the songs, and this is very nice, I really love it.

In late April Brazil was to host Metal Open Air, which was advertized as the biggest metal festival in Brazil, but I hear that it didn’t run as smoothly as planned, and many bands cancelled their participation. Did you play there, and if yes, what was going on?

Well, it was really a disaster, and it is really sad. It was to be the realization of dream, a personal dream, when I heard it – that a metal festival of this size with this line-up would take place in Brazil. It would be really nice to have a kind of Wacken in Brazil. Unfortunately there were wrong people working for that festival, they didn’t know a lot about infrastructure and organization, and they started to experience many problems. Big bands started to cancel their performance, but many bands did play, for example, Megadeth played, Symphony X was there, Destruction was there, Exciter was there… The only day when it was really nice was the first day when we played, it was Friday, and we believed that on Saturday and Sunday things would be even better. But when I woke up on Saturday and heard about the cancellation of the festival and all this disaster, I was very sad.

The fans were very sad, too and they were also very angry. And they were right, because the people who made this festival didn’t think about the fans. They didn’t think about Brazilian bands. From the point of view of nowadays, they only cared about international bands and about money. They thought that they would become rich after this festival, and they didn’t organize anything.

But the fans were there, on Friday we had about 15,000 people at the festival waiting for the bands to play. It was really sad for me to see fans waiting for the bands, and then see the bands starting to cancel. I have a picture here… (shows a picture of himself on stage looking at the crowd with people packing the area all the way to the horizon) It was Friday, and it was still OK. When Almah was playing, all those people were screaming and singing. For us it was cool to be there and to play. We were there, fans were there, the stage was there, and the other bands were there, so why not go ahead?

We will have the Soccer World Cup in Brazil in 2014, and people are afraid it would be the same disaster because of organizational issues. I hope they are wrong. But this Metal Open Air festival can easily be called Fail Open Air, because of the disaster it ended up being.

What is your opinion about the current state of music industry in Brazil?

We are in a period of transition. Many labels have closed their doors, but at the same time, many bands are using the Internet and becoming famous only because of the Internet. They don’t need any contracts or record labels. Many things are changing, and I don’t know what will happen with us in the future. Because of the piracy and mp3, it’s very difficult to make and sell CDs. The situation is not so cool for the metal scene, it was much better seven years ago, but we still have many good bands, and we still have many fans, as you can see on the picture I have shown you – literally thousands of metal fans. We need to find a way for the music industry in Brazil to become professional, as they have it in Europe, Japan and the U.S. And I’m fighting hard just to try to make the people in Brazil understand these notions. We have a lot of good professional and amateur bands, we just need to have contributions from the fans and from the media, and then bands will have a chance to grow, to become more professional, to have more promoters arranging their gigs and so on. If we have that, I’m sure that we will be able to tell the U.S. and the rest of the world, “This is Brazil, we have very good bands and proper infrastructure”. I’m sure that in the future we will have it, and that’s why I’m fighting nowadays to get it. Maybe we will not be able to get it for this generation, but for next generations life will be better. As my father fought for a better life for our family back in the day, now I’m fighting for a better future of the music industry in Brazil. I’m really looking forward to having that.

You are busy performing and recording music all the time. Do you still listen to other people’s music just for fun?

Yeah, for sure. I listen to different styles, not only metal. I like good pop music, like Tears For Fears, Seal, Sting… Of course, I listen to many new metal bands, many Brazilian bands, because I want to know what they are doing – as I said, I like to exchange experience. I like going to concerts, yesterday I saw Roger Hodgson in Sao Paulo, he is a former Supertramp singer, and it was really cool. I’m interested in many things, not only music, but most of the time I need to listen to some music. I am recording, producing and playing live with my bands, music is my life, I love it. Fortunately I can live off music, I can earn my money with this. I’m a very happy person, I’ve made many things in my life, I have achieved a lot of the things that I really wanted when I was young. I became famous, but what makes me happy is not the fame itself, but being able to live off this fame. I just can say thanks to God for everything. For example, if I want to stop for a while, I can stop; if I want to go to the beach and swim in the sea, I can go. I don’t have a job where I need to stay in the office working from morning till night. For me it’s very nice to have this life, I am very happy and very satisfied with all the things I have done in my life.

Do you remember the gig you played in Moscow with Angra back in 2007? How did you like Moscow back then?

Well, it was fantastic. I remember many things from that visit, especially because I got to know a very important person in my life in Moscow. Her name is Irina Ivanova, she’s my right arm, she’s like my guardian angel. She’s been working with me for a long time, and I just can say thanks for everything to her, because she’s really nice to me, and I’m not always the easiest person. I think that’s the most important thing that I remember about Russia. She became a part of my life, she’s always supporting me, especially in difficult times, and that helps me a lot. I can also remember meeting many fans, and I made many friends there too. I’m hoping for the right opportunity to go to Russia again to arise at some point – with Angra or Almah. This time I would like to go with Almah, of course, because we are promoting our new stuff, our new CD, and it will be very nice to have Russian guys singing and having fun with us. I had a very good time in Moscow, and I am hoping to come back very soon.

Almah on the Internet: http://almah.com.br/
Edu Falaschi on the Internet: http://www.edufalaschi.com.br/

Special thanks to Irina Ivanova (webmaster of the Almah official website) for arranging this interview

Roman Patrashov
May 8, 2012
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