In 2011 Brazilian metal band Angra will celebrate 20 years together having released so much fine material. 2006 was the last time we had the pleasure of a new Angra release, well now in 2010 Angra have returned with a wonderful new concept album called Aqua, that is sure to please their many fans. Recently Sea Of Tranquility's Scott Jessup had the opportunity to ask bass player Felipe Andreoli about the band and their latest recording.
SoT: Hi and thanks for taking the time to answer some questions for Sea Of Tranquility. Like previous Angra releases Aqua really is a fantastic CD, at least we know that with Angra you're always guaranteed great music. I read where you had many more songs written than required, how did you choose the ones that would finally appear on Aqua?
Felipe: It is a slow and meticulous process, to pick up the songs we think fit best into the whole concept of the album. The only judge is our ears. We try to choose the best songs in each style, and sometimes we even take parts of different songs and combine them to make a better version.
SoT: Did you ever think of just releasing Aqua as a double album instead?
Felipe: I think it's better to have fewer songs and take them to their maximum, instead of having many songs that are not as great as they could be. Taking a song to its ideal arrangement is a time consuming process, and we decided to have less and better songs. Maybe for the next record we can take some of the ideas that were left and work on them.
SoT: How long has Aqua been in the works?
Felipe: The whole process started with the first ideas coming together around September 2009. We gathered at our homes, programming these ideas on the computer and making the initial selection of what songs would be worked on. In January, after we had chosen nine songs, we went to Ricardo's country house, and stayed there rehearsing with the whole band for about 4 weeks. In middle February we entered Norcal Studios in Sao Paulo, and the CD was ready by the middle of June this year.
SoT: Can you tell our readers about the new CD's theme and why it was chosen?
Felipe: The concept of the album is based on Shakespeare's "The Tempest". We heard of it through a friend of ours that works with comics, and he was planning to do a comic book based on the play. He told us all about it, and we were fascinated by it. "The Tempest" was the last play written by Shakespeare, and some believe that it is cursed, because he died shortly after. There's also a view of this play as the author's final statement, for it is the only play he wrote where the avenger forgives his enemies in the end. Apart from that, the story unfolds in an island, and the water is the means of transformation for all the characters. That's why we chose the title 'Aqua'.
SoT: How has drummer Ricardo Confessori fit back into the band? Was he the first choice to replace Aquiles Priester? Ricardo does sound great on Aqua.
Felipe: He was our first choice, but not the only one. We played with some other drummers too, but in the end we decided that Ricardo could help us bring back that ethnic feel that was so present in "Holy Land". Also, being in the band for 7 years, he knows Angra's style pretty well and has a lot of experience, not only on the music side but also in studios, tours, and everything involved in a musician's life.
SoT: Given that it has been a while since Aurora Consurgens it must feel great to finally release a new album, and let everyone know Angra are still very much around?
Felipe: Definitely! And not only is it great to be back with new material, but we think this is one of our best albums ever. We dedicated all our minds, bodies and souls on this record, and we feel it was all worth it.
SoT: What has Angra's members been up to during the period between Aurora Consurgens and Aqua? Any other projects we should be aware of? I did get to hear Almah which was very good.
Felipe: We had our side projects. Edu and I have Almah, as you mentioned. Rafael has the Bittencourt Project, where I also play in, and Kiko has his last solo album Fullblast, which I recorded bass on, and he also did another record with a fusion trio called Neural Code. Besides playing on these three projects I also have my own instrumental project called Time Out. But the main thing that not everyone realizes is that it took very hard work to bring Angra back together. We were working on this on a daily basis, and even with all the side projects, Angra never ceased to be our priority.
SoT: Any plans for a new live DVD at some stage? It has been a while since the release of Rebirth World Tour – Live in Sao Paulo.
Felipe: In 2011 Angra completes 20 years, and we have many ideas for celebrating. We have plans for not one, but 2 or 3 DVDs.
SoT: Which has been Angra's most successful release so far?
Felipe: The music industry has changed so much that it's hard to tell. Angels Cry went gold in Japan in 1993, selling a hundred thousand copies. In 2001, Rebirth went gold in Brasil, selling fifty thousand copies. But the record sales went down so much that it's almost impossible to measure which album was the most successful.
SoT: Angra went through some significant line-up changes between Fireworks and Rebirth, how was this accepted by the fans? I still read comments about those who prefer the pre-Rebirth albums. I never had a problem at all and enjoy both periods of Angra, as for Rebirth that was a top album to come back with.
Felipe: It was never a big problem for us. We were very lucky actually, because the new line-up came to be an even bigger success than the previous one, and that's a very rare thing to happen when such a radical change takes place. Of course there are people who prefer the old line-up, but I guess the majority of people care about the music more than they care about who's playing it.
SoT: How would you describe Angra's style of music for those who have yet to hear the band?
Felipe: We are a heavy metal band that mixes classical, Brazilian, progressive and ethnic influences. You can hear anything from jazz to African rhythms within our music.
SoT: Lastly what's the best thing about being in Angra?
Felipe: The freedom to innovate and not be restrained by any standards. Being able to do what we love the most, however we want to do it.
SoT: Thanks again for the feedback, and for many great albums so far.
Felipe: Thank you for the interview!
(Click here to read our reviews of Aqua