Today it was a bit different and I´ve talked not with one, but two musicians – Mizuho and Sergio – from Brazilian rising star – Semblant. Band that never properly tour but still got millions of views on Youtube. Other than that, we´ve talked about how are they planning to make 20 shows in 21 days and/or about what positive does COVID bring to music scene and it´s all in upcoming lines.
Let´s get straight to the questions, shall we?! You are releasing new album called Vermilion Eclipse. Can you tell us something about what has changed since the latest Obscura album and give us some description of what album sounds like?
Mizuho: I think it is whole new experience for us because we compose all the album on the pandemic so we didn´t see each other, we didn´t rehearse the music. So it just ... we really met each other again on the official recording so it was really different for us, you know. But I think it really works and, to be honest, it´s my the most favourite album so far.
Sergio: If I can say – something positive about the pandemic – if it´s possible – the immersion we had during the song writing on the isolation was unique because we all spent a lot of months without working on our physical spaces, without seeing each other, without doing our routine like going at the gym, rehearsing, going to the movies, …
Mizuho: Working …
Sergio: Oh, yes. Especially working in our day jobs and this scenario made a huge immersion on our song writing period so the lyrics and the songs found connection between each other and it´s not intentional. The songs just flow connected with each other on the album and this is the very first time it really happened. We´ve never wrote the conceptual album but for the first time we all feel big connection between all the tracks.
Can we get a bit more to details that describe how does Vermilion Eclipse actually sound?
Mizuho: I think it´s a bit heavier … well, a lot heavier than Obscura because we had Lunar Manifesto album that we released in 2014 and it was a huge success – thank God – but on Obscura, we went thru really hard times. Therefore all the composition process was really hard for us but the sound of the album – we wanted it to be something like a bit lighter because the lyrics are so intense, you know. In this new album, Vermilion Eclipse, we wanted to go back to our natural sound so it´s a bit heavier, darker and obscure. I think you guys would like it.
Sergio: Yeah! Lunar Manifesto is the album that show our real essence to the world but Obscura reflects our darker period as a band and it sounds a bit different with a lot of saturation. It´s extremely organic. But Vermilion Eclipse as Mizuho well said is a return to our essence.
Mizuho: With Obscura, we wanted to sound a bit raw so Obscura is way more detailed.
Sergio: It´s an album with extreme parts, you have some extreme songs on Vermilion Eclipse. Of course, Lunar Manifesto have maybe 2-3 songs featuring this extreme essence but Vermilion Eclipse show heavier side of us, it´s much darker and heavier album. We can consider it this way.
So from what you said, it´s much more natural for you to have this heavier sound, right?
Sergio: Yeah! It´s much more natural for us to write songs with this kind of characteristics. All the album flows extremely natural on the melodic parts, on the heavier parts, on the obscure and atmospheric parts. I think Vermilion Eclipse show us in at most.
Mizuho: And we are the most positive right now so we wanted to do things that really worked. We wanted to tour, to make big video clips and we are way more positive than before.
Sergio: Yes, our effort as a band is far more positive compared to when we recorded Obscura album. It´s an amazing observation. (Laugh)
Mentioning the bigger videos, you already released two singles with music videos that get really good response. What does it mean to you and how does it affected what are you planning in upcoming future?
Mizuho: We are really really happy with all the feedback we are having on our singles that we released last month has already hit 400 thousand views on Youtube and our latest single Enrage that we released a week and a half back has already 300 ….
Sergio: 320 thousand views. (nodding)
Mizuho: Really?! I didn´t know that! OK, so 320 thousand views. It´s really impressive but I think we have a really big audience online. We are not a band that have many tours. Actually, this tour we are gonna have in Europe in July would be our first tour ever! In the history of the band. That´s gonna be really different, but we are super happy we are getting feedback we are getting right now.
Sergio: I mean, of course we have played some concerts one after each other – two or three concerts in a row before…
Mizuho: Not with me! It was with the old line-up!
Sergio: But in the current line-up during the past 12 years, we never had a whole tour experience as Brazil is country with continental proportions. It´s extremely hard to tour with some quality and guarantees of all working well here. So we´ve been waiting since our Lunar Manifesto album that had two tours in US cancelled because our old record label. It was not a good experience, I can say that our experience with David Ellefson of Megadeth or his old record label in US was not a good experience. We´ve all found a different way after our signing with Frontier records from Italy because they gave us great support since the beginning and all this things of booking agencies and tour negotiations started to run pretty well and now we finally are before this experience of 20 concerts in a row.
You said it – you´ve never had a proper tour before – how are you planning to make 20 shows in 21 days?
Mizuho: We don´t know. (Laugh)
Sergio: Well, there is a lot of rehearsing, a lot of workouts at a gym but – honestly – we have no idea. We are just working really hard to make it happen and we are really putting our faith (Mizuho laughs) on this mission to accomplish it well. (Both laughing)
Mizuho: But I think it´s gonna be fun. We are gonna play with many other bands on this tour. We are gonna play with Secret Rule from Italy, Structural, Dying Phoenix, Strykers, …
Sergio: As I May from Finland, False Memories – our label mates and great friends who admire Semblant a lot and one band for the first version of the tour two years ago have no dates available to be support act for this row so False Memories will be supporting. It will be fun.
It´s re-re-rescheduled tour as far as I remember, what should we expect from this tour in terms of show?
Mizuho: I think it would be great fun to meet our audience for the very first time in person cause we just talked with people only online. It´s gonna be fun to finally meet them in person.
Sergio: Our experience with European audience until now is only virtual so it would be huge – alive for the first time. We are really excited to do that. We are, of course, a bit concerned to make all work very well physically, mentally and with nice merch to be sold during the tour so we are just waiting…
Mizuho: It´s gonna be surprise.
That might be kind of rude question, but why should people come to your show even if they are somebody who doesn´t really heard about the band, but there is big thirst for live shows right now so everybody is watching chances to go on show. Why should they choose your show to go to?
Mizuho: Because we are cool. (Both laughing) We are cool, we are Brazilian …
Sergio: We used to do amazing concerts with our own feelings live. We are really true on what we do and we always deliver this truth alive. A lot of festivals we played through out the years for isolated concerts – we always delivered a huge shows and that is opinion we are collecting over the years not only by the audience but also concert producers used to say the same thing, musicians too – from some bands we´ve been sharing the stage with – even the bands on much higher level like Moonspell, Alissa White-Gluz when she used to sing in The Agonist, our mates Angra and Shaman, Sabaton, ReVamp, Evergrey. We have a lot of friends who speaks to us that we have to make tour in Europe or US, that our show must be seen so I think …
Mizuho: Especially Moonspell!
Sergio: Yes, especially Moonspell! Fernando is a great partner and he always speak about us when Brazil is the subject and I think we will prove it live to the audience. We definitely can deliver a great show and I can say that always on concert, we would love to watch alive and that´s the way to deliver the best of us.
It doesn´t seem right to ask you about tour habits as this is the very first tour you are gonna do but what are the concert habits you have?
Mizuho: I think we have different habits – each one of us in the band and I have particular one … (Mizuho starts laughing)
Sergio: Oh, dammit…
Mizuho: (Still laughing) I always have to listen to Britney Spears before the show – always. Really I mean it.
Sergio: Oh, f*ck. Really – dancing, singing – her warm-up.
Mizuho: Yeah, always, but only backstage! It relax me!
Sergio: To me, the concert or a crowd is a common thing as I run metal club for the last 20 years here and now in our hometown – 12 years on current one but I have another one before and I have bands three times each week over the last 12 years – maybe 7 to 9 bands a week – bands from Brazil, bands from abroad, even big artists. I am working on this scene over 22 years so for me, the warm up is just with water – beer and booze are only for after the show …
Mizuho: Hold on, you have this thing that the every show you are going to do, you have to exercise and do push ups …
Sergio: Yes, because I need to enter the stage wet.
Mizuho: And with bigger arms. (Laugh)
Sergio: Come on, the guy from Behemoth does the same and it´s amazing. But the workout before the show and starting the concert sweaty makes everything easier – to start singing on high tunes or with the harsh vocals, with the activity on the extreme. My warming up is always necessary.
You will have exactly one free day during the European tour – how does the ideal free day, that doesn´t really happen this tour, look like?
Mizuho: My ideal free day if I would be a real tourist – to visit the city and all the places but our free day we will be travelling so … (Laugh)
Sergio: It´s hard to say when you have just work to do. I´ve been in Europe before and all my experience from summer festivals or concerts or the common tourism was always amazing. Especially speaking about Slovakia!
Hold on, you´ve been here?
Sergio: Yeah! I´ve been in Bratislava. We would love to spend some free time visiting the places, the hills – Carpathians and your most historical places, but well … maybe another time.
Mizuho: All we are gonna see right now is just venue and a tour bus.
Sergio: Venue, tour bus and nice people and the most quantity of sleep we can possibly have.
There are some tough years marked with pandemics that hopefully already passed – how does those affected music industry from your point of view?
Sergio: I think a lot of different experiments started to figure out live concerts. Of course, you have band like Night Flight Orchestra – you can make live concert in a great way, there are bands like Powerwolf that delivered amazing live concert, same went with Epica, Cradle of Filth but for the huge part of bands that were left on a more common conditions it was challenging. Especially in Brazil. Because they catches scenario by surprise, all people were running behind the structure to deliver something to engage their audience with continuing work but for us specially speaking, when we saw that the tour will not happen again, when the album was released just one week before all stopped and everything started closing, we made a deal between ourselves to start writing the best album of our career until now.
Mizuho: The pandemic started 14 days before we were supposed to go on tour so it was really frustrating. We also needed to take care of our business because each one of us has day job and I have a business, Sergio has his club, so we needed to take care of it.
Sergio: Yes, because of our families, because of our future – we didn´t how long would this period last. We didn´t have time to make some huge concert. For a live featuring, it needs a lot of plans and a lot of structure. Of course we could do that on our city – we have amazing places, amazing conditions but it was all closed. The Lockdown here was really hard. It was extreme. We couldn´t do anything, just stay home. The only thing we could deliver from Obscura, not only speaking about common videos, was a lockdown session of one of our songs “Daydream Tragedy”. We chose to wait a little bit more to deliver our concert live on tour but about the music market, I think it was a shock. One another positive point of view – I think people started to be tired of so many concerts. There were two different concerts on a same day, you could go just to one of them, you were picking between festivals, there were young band you didn´t attended this time, you waited for the next tour or so. Now, we are giving the real value for the concerts, festivals, for physical records – the vynil sales and CD sales reach high numbers. Especially comparing for the last 10 years when the digital thing started to domain whole market. I think we have rebirth of music and one thing that makes me happy is the prediction that Billboard executives made – they started to say things like “Now we live on singles age. Forget albums, just release short singles long like two minutes, whatever, release one minute singles.” A movement that started to release 30 seconds songs – “Oh, this is the future, short songs.” And suddenly, giant called Iron Maiden released album full of long tracks that reach records of sales and a lot of bands started to release amazing albums with amazing editions and long songs. Even us – we released record with 10 minutes song, which is our longest song to this day. So the rebirth of music scene around the world is amazing. We again experience sold out concerts, sold out special editions, bands reaching the highest numbers of decade – like Helloween, Iron Maiden. That´s my view about this whole thing of past two years.
You mentioned live streams or live concerts. I recall three different types of how to do it: first one was for example Sabaton that released past live concerts with live audience, second one was Corey Taylor doing live show on big stage with no audience and the last one with examples of Powerwolf and Behemoth who released some kind of different kind of live shows – it was more like cinematic/concert experience. What is your opinion on those different approaches? Which one do you prefer?
Sergio: It was amazing. I watched each one of those you mentioned. It was all amazing, especially Behemoth concert was huge. Even the Katatonia concert inside the studio room was astonishing. I love the solution that these big bands with structure found to deliver something huge. Specially by their latest works alive or in studio. They compiled a great discography so have a chance to deliver something huge with no audience just to keep the audience that was starving for something nice. It´s amazing they found the way. That was the thing we would like to do, if we had a chance. To deliver something on a closed space to play live and recording something huge but here in Brazil we don’t have this chance because the law here was extremely hard. Especially in our hometown, we couldn´t reunite us on a space …
Mizuho: We couldn´t even left our own home.
Sergio: … if we would did that on our own space, our own house – we would be punished if someone calls the police. Brazil suffered a lot with the lockdown and it was really extreme here. In secret, sometimes we´ve met with each other – 2, maximum 3 people. About all these live shows …
Mizuho: …it would be amazing to do something like that. I watched the live Epica concert and Within Temptation and it was perfect.
This is something that interests me a lot. You are the band that works a long time, you’ve never really toured – that´s something that band somehow just have to do – and you still get pretty big success. What is your recipe for something like that? There are a lot of young bands that struggle and they might use some hints :)
Mizuho: We always work so much on the internet. When we first released our first video What Lies Ahead, somehow it went viral and actually until now, we don´t know why. (Laugh) But after that we get pretty big audience on our social media so a lot of people followed us there and every time we released something new, they are so engaged with us so … we don´t have any recipe to do something. We just try to make our best every time and I think it worked. (Laugh)
Sergio: We believe in our music. We really believe in what we do. So we struggle hard and sometimes even if the record label don’t give us the budget we need to record a nice video, which we always wanted to do, we make some extra investment from the bands account where we are compiling monetization from all the releases we did before.
Mizuho: Actually, on Lunar Manifesto era, it was just band paying for everything and the label didn´t help us with anything.
Sergio: And they own us a lot of money. (Laugh) Speaking about EMP. But we really do our best to deliver great videos, great music, we believe in what we do. It is the real recipe – do your best and don´t treat your band as a hobby or as an adventure. Treat your band as a serious thing, as a company. Same way you treat your own company when you are starting. Usually you have the day job to pay the bills.
Mizuho: And try to save money to work with professionals and producers because this is really different. When you work with the right people.
Sergio: And keep studying – not only the instruments or voice but also the market – how it works, how record label use to work. How the different patterns of deals you must sign affects you.
Mizuho: Sometimes people think that something is a bit low cost – for example our first video that went viral – and actually it was. But we did the best we could at the time. Our main audience see this.
Sergio: (counting Brazilian currency to Euro) How much was it? (Suddenly surprised) It was 200 Euros! (Laugh) We recorded What Lies Ahead with 200 Euros! (Mizuho laughing) It was all we had at the time to make this.
Mizuho: And the thing is that we had to record it two times because the first time we recorded the video, we lost the video. We lost all the material. We needed to re-record the video again, so actually video we released is the second version.
Sergio: And all the costs we had was 200 Euros to record the video. After that – on Dark of the Day, the 7 million views video – we had a bit more. We´ve seen it went good so we´ve put some extra money in it and we had 500 Euros. (Mizuho laughing) For us in Brazil, it was strong. On the current days – What Lies Ahead plus Dark of the Day – 41 millions views. And that costed us 700 Euros. I know the Evergrey guys very well, they are friends and they always release amazing videos with Revolver films with Patric Ullaeus – guy that I really admire and the cost of the video is just extreme for us. It´s just huge. With the video for European band of this proportions, we can buy an apartment here in Brazil. (Both laughing) We are doing the best we had and that is the great recipe – always do your best in each one of the details.
What is your biggest success in music you reached so far?
Mizuho: What Lies Ahead. The first video What Lies Ahead – we have 34 million views. It was our first video. But we have another videos that went really great like Dark of the Days with 7 million views, Incinerate with 4 million views and Mere Shadow with 1,5 million views. Mere Shadow was the first single from Obscura so it´s really recent.
Sergio: Even our very latest singles are doing pretty well and they are going in numbers.
Mizuho: Actually, our latest single Enrage was the most successful video we ever released in its first week.
What is your biggest music dream?
Sergio: That is tricky one.
Mizuho: Make music for the living. I think this is the biggest dream of every musician because as I said before, all of us has day jobs. We want to tour as many times as possible.
Sergio: Specially speaking about Brazil, metal music is huge here, of course, but not the most popular. It´s not massive music here. It´s really more underground than you think. Here we have funk, traditional country and this kind of music here is huge. It´s huge on sides you can not imagine. You can´t imagine the proportions. These musicians starts to buy mansions in 1-2 years and have a huge career. For metal music, here in Brazil, live with just a music is almost impossible. You have Krisiun, Angra, Crypta, Nervosa, Sepultura, our biggest name.
Mizuho: But they needed to go outside of Brazil to have the recognition.
Sergio: I can answer the same then. Make music for living.
You mentioned those few times, but what are those day jobs of the band?
Sergio: Music club is my only day job because when you own a music club, you have to work like a doctor in a hospital – it´s a same thing. A lot of things are happening before, during and after the event. When you work every week at some big companies, you deal with a lot of people on a production but I really have to work 24/7 and that´s the way we kept the club after the pandemic. A lot of clubs have doors closed here in Brazil and I mean hundreds and we struggled hard to keep all things working well and we made it. We are currently going back to routine right now with 300-500 people a day so it´s going well now.
Mizuho: I have a bubble tea shop …
Mizuho: I have it for 6 years now. Our keyboardist is …
Sergio: …he works for last 20 years in a communication company – at one of the biggest mobile phones company here. They have a lot of another separate companies – it´s a huge thing. Juliano (guitarist) works with English classes and translating. He does translating for books and magazines from English to Portugese. Thor, our drummer, is a drum teacher but also works with electric engineering since I remember. He also owns recording studio. Johan, the bassist, is a bass teacher as fulltime job. That´s our normal lives.
That´s it, people. Thank you very much for your time and hope to see you in Bratislava in July!
Mizuho: Thank you so much for giving us space and we are super excited to play there in Bratislava so it´s gonna be fun!