Nervosa – Beware the DownfallFriday, 1st June 2018
When it comes to one of the hardest working bands of recent memory, especially in the thrash genre, there’s no one quite like Nervosa for today’s younger generation to emulate. Their tenacity to tour the globe and win over audiences small and large, no matter what the size of the stage or venue, is something to be studied and admired. They’ve even survived difficult circumstances when planning a North American/European tour in support of their last album Agony, as their former drummer left without warning, almost jeopardizing months of planning and trust throughout the metal community. Yet the show went on – and now with Luana Dametto firmly in the drum seat, they’ve recorded their third full-length Downfall of Mankind.
The latest record pours more of their extreme influences and harder side into an already savage, brutal thrash style. It’s as if they’ve channeled even more of their aggression and anger into a tight cyclone of riffs and songs, inspiring their legions of followers to channel their frustrations into a more satisfying listening experience- time after time. As the release hits the streets, we reached out to bassist/vocalist Fernanda Lira once again to catch up on all activities surrounding the new drummer, the new record, the more potent production values, and also found out a little bit more about her love of mysticism/ spirituality during her down time.
Dead Rhetoric: How are things within Nervosa now that you’ve secured latest drummer Luana Dametto – and can you discuss the challenges of completing those previous tours losing Pitchu Ferraz on such short notice?
Fernanda Lira: It was definitely a tough time, once when Pitchu decided to leave the band we already had around 60 shows confirmed on the following months. Also, she left the band and came home on the last show of our European tour, and a week later we would have our North America tour starting, so it was not only hard financially, once we lost the money we had invested on her flights and visas, but also because we’d have like 6 days to find someone to replace her. Thankfully enough, Tony Forest from Municipal Waste recommended Samantha Landa to us, a Canadian drummer who learned 10 songs in 5 days and helped on the following tours. Then after we were finally home, we started auditioning girls and found Luana, who’s the best thing that happened to the band over the last few years, in my opinion. I love her as a person, she’s very easygoing, which is important when a band is on the road all the time. And also she is a very talented drummer, who also brought a lot to the band musically.
Dead Rhetoric: Downfall of Mankind is the third Nervosa album – and overall seems to embrace more of the band’s extreme nuances than ever before, while still performing in the thrash platform. Do these changes happen naturally as the band gains more seasoning and experiencing performing globally and taking all this in at a whirlwind pace?
Lira: I think it definitely has a lot to do with playing a lot and naturally evolving as a musician while touring, but also because Luana came from this death metal thing. Once we knew her band was a death metal one, we knew she would bring more aggressiveness, speed and technique to the band. We naturally felt like writing riffs that would adapt to her drumming, and by this, we think we finally found the way we wanna sound, what our musical identity is.
Dead Rhetoric: Your lyrics convey many of the feelings the common person has regarding social injustice and the political/government upheaval currently taking place in many parts of the world. Do you hope that these discussions in these songs spark ‘call to action’ type responses from the listeners, so that we can start righting a lot of the wrongs that still take place in society?
Lira: DEFINITELY! I’ve always said that my lyrics are my greatest tool of expressing myself. I see so many wrong things going on in the world that I feel that I have to spit out all the rage I feel about them through music. But I also always say that society has been too passive about everything that’s going on, we’ve been only accepting all the wrong things as if they were normal and most of that is because we lack (the) debating (skills) about stuff. Debate is the way to change, so if through my music I can make people think about stuff and maybe debate about them, then I’ll feel that I did a little something to change what I believe is wrong.
Dead Rhetoric: How did you decide upon the three specific guests for certain tracks on this record? What do you think each member brought to the table to make those songs even more special and unique?
Lira: João Gordo from Ratos de Porão is a good friend of mine and also an idol – to me he’s the poet of crossover (laughs). No one writes and sings like he does, and when he told me he would like to write lyrics and vocal melodies to one of the song for our new album, I almost died! (laughs) And the result was more than amazing, it was a big pleasure as a friend to work with him and an honor as a fan! As for Michael Gilbert from Flotsam and Rodrigo Oliveira from Brazilian band Korzus, we thought of making a special bonus track, by playing a different metal genre and having special guests on it. Because it is a heavy metal track, we thought of having people from thrash bands who have a lot of influence from heavy metal so they could understand what the track demanded, and they nailed it!
Dead Rhetoric: The production from Martin Furia has this raw, abrasive, in your face quality that comes across closer to what we expect when hearing Nervosa live than ever before. How important is it to capture the right tone and atmosphere when playing an extreme form of thrash/death, while still being as clear as possible for fans to understand what you are going for song to song?
Lira: You are 100% right regarding Martin’s way of producing and that’s what we loved the most to have him working with us, apart from him being one of the nicest dudes ever, he’s so patient and easygoing, and it helps a lot when in the studio. One of our main characteristics is our raw live energy, so when he said he wanted to bring all our brutality live to the studio album, we couldn’t agree more, and he is simply masterful at doing this! An album has to sound good, the quality of sound turns the listening experience into a pleasant moment, so that’s essential, but also reproducing some raw live energy helps the listener understand what he or she can expect live and this is also very important.
Dead Rhetoric: In a previous interview I did with Michael Spencer of Flotsam & Jetsam, he mentioned the scary incident on the Destruction, Enforcer tour you did with them at the Belgian gas station that turned into very racial/political tension. What do you remember regarding this incident, and have you ever had other scary situations on tour where people have been that angry at you even if you’ve done nothing inherently wrong?
Lira: That was scary and weird as fuck! (laughs) It was one of our worst nights ever on tour, not only because of this tension, but also because it was so fuckin’ cold and we were so tired, once it was right by the end of the tour, so dealing with that whole thing under these conditions was pretty stressful. But in the end, it worked out fine, these guys usually talk a lot and do nothing. That was probably the most aggressive approach we ever had, but some other things have happened for sure. Like sometimes on borders I get asked a lot just because I look different from the average European, and because I’m Latina, sometimes we feel judged by the way we look or dress. Also I feel that the elusive way we communicate sometimes scares people (laughs). And of course, there’s still some sexism around, which brings a bunch of other weird reactions towards us. But all of this happens in a very subtle way, not as aggressive as the experience mentioned above.
Dead Rhetoric: Considering the eight-year development of the band, are you happy with where you are status-wise in the metal scene? Do you believe you are making large strides to securing headline status beyond South America into Europe, North America, and the Far East – and where else would you like to play on tour to support this new record if possible?
Lira: Actually, it’s been seven years of hard work, the first year of activity the band was a project and not actually active, so yes, I feel so happy about how things have been going. We work a lot, we left so many things aside to make the band happen, so we naturally expect many things in return, but we still get so surprised with how fast things have been working for the band and we hope we keep on going great – we’ll do our best for that! We think we’re doing good work on promoting our music on the continents you mentioned, by playing a lot, but there’s still so much to do! Our next plans tour-wise consist of moving forward to play these countries we’ve played before, but mainly exploring new territories, such as Asia and Oceania!
Dead Rhetoric: Where do you see the major differences between the underground metal scene today and the bands that started this movement from the 80’s and early 90’s that you can use as reference points to how Nervosa approaches music?
Lira: I think not only Nervosa but every band nowadays, has the ease and speed of the internet. Of course, there’s the aspect of it that made record sales drop, but because of the internet, today it’s way easier to spread your music all around the globe, get in touch with promoters from everywhere much easier, and also invest in different merchandise items that simply didn’t exist when record selling was the main deal! I think the internet contributes a lot if you know how to use it and that’s the main difference from how bands worked in the past!
Dead Rhetoric: What are some of the biggest difficulties that the average metal fan maybe doesn’t understand regarding the lifestyle of a touring/recording musician today? What have been some of your best fan encounter stories?
Lira: Well, everyone thinks touring is glamorous and everything, and it has for sure some of that (aspect) sometimes, but it’s definitely not glamorous at all. It’s pretty much fucked up actually! (laughs) You don’t eat well, you don’t sleep well, there’s no room for proper privacy and individuality. You barely get money for it, you often get sick, sometimes you need to stink and wear dirty clothes cause there’s no shower or washing machines, so it’s a lot of bad things altogether (laughs), but the fans and the passion for music make it all worthwhile, we swear! Some of the best moments with fans were when they have something special to show you, like tattoos of the band and study or say something special, like that we inspired them to start a band, or to hold on through a difficult time. I often cry when meeting fans (laughs). I can’t help it, they’re so special!
Dead Rhetoric: If you had unlimited financial resources to push Nervosa to the ultimate level, what types of promotion and production values would you like to develop either on the recording front or the live stage performance for the band?
Lira: Wow, many things would change! First of all, I’d make it my biggest wish to tour with every band I love (laughs). Then I’d record at some of the studios I love overseas and that were important in the past, or where my favorite bands have recorded. Also, our stage would be a show itself (laughs): explosions, banners, lights, it would be a real spectacle. (laughs)
Dead Rhetoric: What would surprise some of the listeners to learn about the members of Nervosa in their downtime away from music? Do you believe that the personal chemistry and friendships are very important to advancing the efforts of Nervosa?
Lira: (laughs) I will say for myself, because I don’t want say anything that might embarrass the girls or whatever, but when at home, I love cooking, on the road and mainly at home. I listen to a lot of Beyoncé, Lana del Rey, Amy Winehouse, Aretha Franklin, hip hop and everything else that pleases me or teaches me new techniques on singing or in a different language. I’m also a very spiritual and mystical person when at home. I’m always lighting different types of candles for different purposes. I do some therapy with crystals and meditation, I watch spiritual lectures and everything. And the girls also have their hobbies and rituals. I think diversity is amazing not only in a band, but in every relationship and in every way!
Dead Rhetoric: What’s on the agenda for Nervosa over the rest of 2018 into 2019 – as I’d imagine you have mapped out another global touring assault for the masses?
Lira: YES! Nervosa is not Nervosa if we’re not touring all around all the time (laughs). We’re taking it a little easier this year, so we can rest for a bit, so we’ll not tour extensively, just some small tours here and there. But next year, it’s definitely gonna be a crazy one again, with touring in Europe, the US, Latin America and those new territories I mentioned before! So, see you all on the road!