Published on October 7th, 2015 | by Gareth Allen0
Nervosa Interview at Glasgow Audio
The Sonic Bandwagon radio show recently played Nervosa’s thrash anthem ‘Into Moshpit’, and reviewed on the Sonic Bandwagon website, their sensational Glasgow Audio gig. They are with doubt an emerging metal force, and one to be reckoned with. Prior to the Glasgow show, we had the privilege of talking with the band’s bassist and vocalist Fernanda Lira, and learning more about what drives and inspires the music of this wonderful band. The conversation covered metal influences, the social and political influences on their writing, inspiring other women to become involved in metal, and the metal scene in Brazil, making for an in depth and engaging interview.
Sonic Bandwagon: You are on a massive European Tour of 51 shows in 16 countries. It must be exhausting. What have been the best moments so far?
Fernanda: We thought it would be more exhausting, but we are still here alive and healthy. We decided to come here and stay for two months because it took so long to come here, and we said to our agents we want to go there and play as much as we can. Touring here is completely different from touring Brazil and South America. Everything is new for us. That’s why we are not that tired, because we are so enjoying every day. Every day is like a new day for us, and really special. We are having more fun than working, I would say.
The highlight so far would be the festivals we have played. Of course all shows are special in their own way, but the festivals were the highlights, as we weren’t expecting them to be so cool. We knew we had a fan base here, but we didn’t know quite how people would react. In some of them we played midday, and thought that no one would be there. Then we climbed the stage and it was like packed! The vibe with the huge mosh pits and wall of death was so cool. Playing to so many people, the festivals were remarkable.
Sonic Bandwagon: You said about playing the UK, ‘that metal was born in the U.K’. Which bands were you thinking about when you said that?
Fernanda: There is Black Sabbath of course, and Iron Maiden, but there are tons of other bands that influenced me a lot that came from the UK. For example, like Venom. I got some special t-shirts for this UK tour. I brought Venom, Girls School, and Napalm Death. These bands were all influential to me. But so is the new wave of British heavy metal, and as I mentioned before my Dad influenced me a lot, and since I was a kid I used to listen to the new wave of British heavy metal bands, and at the same time from other countries too. For example, bands like Angel Witch and these kinds of bands, were the ones I was thinking of, and Girl’s School were also really influential for me, as was Cronos from Venom in terms of stage presence, which you will see tonight. There are many other bands too but when you say this to me I think like Black Sabbath…like all the magic started here in the UK, it’s so cool!
Sonic Bandwagon: ‘Into Moshpit’ we think is a fabulous song. It’s really intense and full on, but also has some great instrumental flourishes involving all the instruments. Do you creatively want to take thrash to new musical places, where other musical influence can come in?
Fernanda: What I usually say, is what we write is a mix of music that all of us in the band listen to, and we don’t all only listen to thrash metal. I listen to everything metal, and the girls and I besides thrash, like death metal a lot. A good example of this mix of styles of writing can be seen in ‘into Moshpit’. There are some blast-beats, typically death metal, and we will always have in our songs a little bit of death metal, maybe in the lyrics, maybe in the blast-beats. For the new album we are writing, there is going to be a little bit more of that, so it’s going to be more thrash/death than thrash, but I don’t think about taking it to another place, maybe it just naturally happens. We just write what comes into our heads, but thrash will always be the essence of are our music. We have even thought of putting some blues into some of the songs. If we are thinking of mixing thrash metal with some other stuff, and it’s something new, then we will be happy with that. This is just going to happen naturally over time, it’s just a mix of all our influences coming together.
Sonic Bandwagon: You have described your lyrics as a form of protest. What are the social and political issues that really matter to the band?
Fernanda: You know when you live in a country like Brazil…I don’t know the idea everyone gets about Brazil in the UK and in Europe, but when you live there it can be pretty hard. I love my country and I love my people…I think we’re a beautiful country, with a lot of potential, but we have a cancer in Brazil called politicians, they can really ruin everything there, and they really do. By robbing money, which should be going to the basic needs of a modern society, such as education, health and infrastructure.
That’s what we write about, not only about Brazil of course, but I would personally say that I use my lyrics as my dearest way of expressing myself. This is important, because day by day you look around and see so many terrible things going on, not only in Brazil, but also in society and mankind in general. People can be really horrible sometimes and do some really wrong things. I see this, and the way I see not to be depressed about it all, is to write about it, to pour out all my rage in my music. So that’s why we will always have this human aspect in our songs, we will always be writing about human feelings, especially the bad ones like envy and that kind of stuff. Writing about all the wrong we see in society, because when you come from Brazil, society can be really unequal and unfair. There we don’t even have basic effective education, health, and infrastructure, because the politicians just rob us all the time, and don’t care about us.
So as you can guess this gives us a lot of reasons to write about violence, inequality, corruption, war, crimes and all of these things. To share our rage about what happens around us. It’s are way to protest about it. I usually say that my intention with my lyrics is of course, firstly to express myself but also to make people think about some things, because in Brazil especially, people kind of just accept everything that’s going on. They don’t think about protesting, so if with my lyrics I can cause one person to at least stop and think about that, then my job is done. I don’t need them to agree with me, just to stop and think about it. But also if they want to disagree with me, that would be even cooler, because I like arguments, and this kind of thing makes people think about stuff, and not just stand there accepting everything wrong that is going on. So that’s my role with my lyrics.
Sonic Bandwagon: Your style of bass playing is not to use a pick and to do much more than just hold down the rhythm. Which musicians have influenced your playing?
Fernanda: You won’t be surprised to hear that most of them are from the UK too. The one and only to me will always be Steve Harris, I love him. I’ve been listening to Iron Maiden for so long, they have to be my favorite band, since I was seven years old. My Dad is a bass player too, and he always told me to pay attention to his bass playing, and that’s why I started to love Stevie Harris. My Dad also loves him, and our drummer too. But yeah Stevie Harris was always very influential to me because he can really write songs in a different way, he can make his bass sing out, and it’s difficult in metal because you see there are many bands out there that don’t even know the bass is there, because it’s like being the backdrop for a song. Stevie Harris is not like that, he is really creative and he is the man in my opinion. But I am also really influenced by Geezer Butler because he is another bassist who is really creative and you can really listen to his bass in the music. I do have some other ones like Steve DiGiorgio from Death, I love him, and he’s just really fast and creative too. Geddy Lee from Rush, another monster to me, and of course he has those crazy bass lines and vocal lines which are completely different to anyone else, he’s just awesome, I love him.
All of these influences are all similar in a way because they really don’t just stand there being a bass player, they really don’t. I don’t do that much in Nervosa because it’s really hard to sing and play thrash metal, especially when we begun. It was something new to me, maybe on the next album’s I will try something more like this, but I like to be head banging all the time on stage too, so it’s just to much to you know. But with my previous bands, I did a lot because I was only a bassist. That’s why they all influence me a lot and from extreme metal I would say Alex Webster, really influenced me, because he is so creative, in death metal. You have to be really good to make your bass stand out, and he can do that, and he really influenced me on getting the right timbre for the bass for our last album. I just love the way his bass sounds. I could list many more, but they are the top ones.
Sonic Bandwagon: What attracts you to playing thrash metal, what’s the feeling you get when you play it?
Fernanda: Thrash is my favorite metal genre, of course. I like death metal and really just everything metal, but you know what I like about thrash metal is exactly that energetic vibe you get when playing it. I just simply love what I do, I love to listen to thrash, I love to write it and I love to play it, so when I get on stage and when I get to play our songs, it’s just the dearest moment of my life. In thrash metal I feel it’s the best way to release all this energy and it’s a good energy, it’s not like rage and stuff, I really like doing that. I feel just awesome playing thrash metal. A couple of weeks ago when we were playing, I was really sick but once we started playing, I was a completely different person because it is so refreshing….the adrenalin and stuff, I didn’t feel sick anymore. Well until I got back to the hotel, then I was dead again!…. I think having a thrash metal band, should be recommended by doctors for very stressed people, because it is the best medicine ever!
Sonic Bandwagon: Women are becoming an increasing presence in metal, and in particular in the extreme metal scene, and creating some great music. Do you hope to inspire other women to become involved in metal through your music?
Fernanda: Of course, you know I’ve always liked to see women playing in metal and outside of metal. Some of my favorite singers, due to my liking for blues and soul, are women. Some of my favorite Idols are women, like Aretha Franklin, Nina Simone, Amy Winehouse and stuff like that. I just love to see women involved in music and I’ve always thought in metal Girl’s School were rock goddesses, and for instance Tarja from Nightwish, I fucking love her, I don’t care what people say, I love her. I’ve always supported women in metal because these women they all influenced me a lot. To be who I am today and to be a part of the metal world. When I saw those girls, I always felt like, they do have the guts, because it’s not easy, it’s a male dominated scene, not that I don’t love all the male bands too. But I always felt inspired by those girls, and if now with my band, I can inspire other women to play, I’ll be happy. I’ll be in heaven, because if I can cause the feeling that went through me due to my female idols, then I think my job on Earth is accomplished. We can really feel that, because in our shows there are always some women, especially in Brazil.
There are a lot of women at our shows because in Brazil there are a lot of alpha male bands, especially in thrash and death metal. But everywhere we play there is always at least one girl that comes and says “I love to see you girls on stage, It’s really influenced me to have a band” and “I don’t play instruments but now I’m thinking of learning one”. It happens and it’s so cool and so accomplishing. It makes you feel like you are really trying to do something here. This is really cool because we really do need more women in metal. I think in a few years time it will be more natural, but we still have some hurdles to get over, like sexism, especially in Brazil and South America, where it’s really difficult. But in a few years it will be something more natural. But if we can with our band do something to make this process faster, we are happy about that. It’s not that we just have the band to influence other girls, but if it’s happening then we’ll be fine with that.
Sonic Bandwagon: Can you tell us what the metal scene is like in Brazil?
Fernanda: It’s always a pleasure to talk about what the Brazilian metal scene is like, because I think it is fantastic! Brazil is a continental country, wherever you go it doesn’t matter, if it’s North or South or East or West, you will always find a very solid local metal scene. All of these scenes with supportive fans, real crazy metal heads, lots of press trying to report on it, and most of all awesome bands! Brazil has some really awesome bands, I don’t know if it’s because of the rage about our political system that makes us so energetic. But we really do have a lot of creative and quality bands. I just feel that we just don’t get as much opportunity, because we really don’t have money and opportunities.
We in Nervosa were very surprised when Napalm Records came to talk to us, because it’s not something usual, it’s not something easy to get in Brazil. When you have a Brazilian band, it’s really hard to be heard outside of Brazil. We just don’t have the money to invest in quality recordings; we don’t have a lot of ways of getting our music to a wider audience. But if the Brazilian metal scene had more money and more opportunities, our scene would be very big; there is a lot of potential there! I’m not just saying this, Brazilian bands really are something, I could list you so many awesome bands.
For this tour I’ve been wearing t-shirts of bands from the country I’m in. In Germany I was wearing Destruction and Sodom, and in the UK Venom, but minus that I only brought Brazilian band t-shirts for the tour which is normally just what I do. I normally just travel with Brazilian band t-shirts, because I want to show the world all of these amazing bands we have, and how much potential we have. I just want everyone to know that, and to all of you metal heads out there I really recommend you do go, and discover all of these amazing bands! But yes Brazil has a very solid local metal scene, it’s crazy!
Interview by Gareth Allen and Lewis Allen
Photograph by Lewis Allen