About Me

Interview with Gaerea

In late April / early May, Season of Mist and Gaerea invited the national and international press to an exclusive event on May 17th, which included the audition of the new album. Of course, Metal Imperium accepted the invitation and had the pleasure of listening to “Mirage” first hand and getting to know the elements of this successful band from Porto.
This extensive interview happened in two separate moments: the first was at the event and the second was a few days before the album's release. Read it here...

M.I. - In this listening session there is almost no Portuguese press! Why?

Because people weren't interested!

M.I. – Maybe because it's a weekday event?!

Maybe! This is a good time to meet people! We've worked together for sure or you’ve already written about us! Of course, the more Portuguese press, the better!

M.I. – Whose idea was this listening session and what was your objective in doing it?

The idea was mine and one or two other people from the production. This place is quite recent and they were super open to working with bands, with more indie scenes, so why not try to put Black Metal on the map? We tried to make a partnership with them here. They wanted an event, a concert. But we don't want to give a concert in Portugal just yet. And we're going to release an album, so we thought why don't we do a super cool event and invite people from the press to help us do the event, not totally premium, but with friends and with the right people to listen to the album and talk with them?!

M.I. – And does this Cathartic Black Metal work for Gaerea, especially for you, since you are responsible for most of the lyrics? Is it your “expert help” for mental health?

I don't consider myself a person who needs to catalyze the lyrics or the music to help me live, but it's like a social experience in which we create this world and in each album we add a little thing and imagination leads us to answers. It is still a fantastic world created by us based on experiences that we have. There are songs about concrete people that we meet or see on the street. As I always said, this is not a self-help band that helps us to live or survive moments of depression, because we are not people like that, but there is no harm in having people who come to us saying “Your music helped me a lot, because, during the pandemic, I had a friend who committed suicide!”. It's the good part of art. If I can read a verse and it “speaks” to me about something I'm experiencing, it's poetic... the beauty of art is that, whether in a painting, in a film, or in music. It's the part where we can experience music based on our experiences!

M.I. – But did the pandemic affect you in that aspect, mentally?

No, no! We handled the situation quite well and tried to compensate for the absence of concerts with content on the internet. Other than that it didn't affect us at all!

M.I. – Were you doing face-to-face or online rehearsals?

Fortunately, we were doing them in person. We rehearsed twice a week and that helped us to not have those moments of rupture, so it was good. Even though we're not the best of friends and people who go out at night together, the times when we're together help us to be better people in a band. It makes us not feel so alone artistically. It ended up helping us a little, because during the pandemic we couldn't go on tour! It sucks but we decided that we weren't going to stop and we were going back to making video clips, taking pictures...

M.I. – In this case, the pandemic almost promoted creativity, right?

Yeah, kinda! The inspiration for “Mirage” came and it wasn't even supposed to have come yet.

M.I. – Yes, because “Limbo” came out in 2021 and Gaerea weren’t supposed to release a new album in 2022!

Exactly, but we took advantage of it... we weren't going to say, it's not the time! It happened, it was so fast!

M.I. – But what inspired you?

I don't know... I think inspiration is like that! For lyrics there are still things I could tell you “Look,this inspired us”. For music...

M.I. – But you write the lyrics and everyone contributes with music or you already have an idea?!

No, the music is already all written. The basis of the lyrics, the concept itself already exists before the instrumental. I think “I wish this album was about that”, and it helps to unlock the music but there's no lyrics per se. There is a concept in text, then comes the music and then come the lyrics. It is a “work in progress”. In “Limbo”, there are things that have been written and I'm still thinking about them and there are other things that I'm only discovering now that we're able to do tours, because people say “Ah, that scene you wrote...” and it make us reflect on that. The album doesn't end once it's closed on a CD, that's how it is with us! It grows up, because you keep thinking about it! There is something that we put in and there is a kind of distorted imagination of society, it does not end there. It is something that you experience and that help us to understand some of the ideas that were already written. Even the way we create the setlist, the way we tell the story in the setlist, it ends up living in those things too.

M.I. – Speaking of the setlist. You recently asked fans what their dream setlist was. Does it match yours?

It's more or less similar. In “Limbo” there are two songs that are not only great, but too special for us to want to play them every night: “To Ain” and “Mare”, especially “Mare”. They're too special and there are too many things that can go wrong, and make us hate these songs, and we don't want that! Maybe that's why we try to keep some things to ourselves, because there are many more songs but we have to think about the conditions that we're going to have on tour, the sound, the light and we have to be very comfortable mentally to get to that moment and be able to take a song that is big, it's an odyssey, that has many layers... we can't do this every night on stage on a tour that doesn't give us the conditions we need.

M.I. – But do you decide on the day of the concert whether to include them or not?

Oh no! We do it far in advance!

M.I. – But how do you know if in the show X, Y, Z will offer Gaerea the conditions to play them? And now, in these tours, are you focusing on “Limbo” or are you already playing themes from the new album?

We already know when we are going to play new songs, we already have this “schedule”. For now we are not playing anything from the new album because it is all “secret”.

M.I. – And how do you know if you will have the conditions to play these themes?

It's not just a matter of conditions! “Mare” is too intimate for us to be replicating it with all our energy, during a tour, always in the same way. There are songs that are too unique. “Dormant” is a great theme, but we will never play it live, because it is like “Mare”, it is a song that we want to put on a “podium” and consider it a special theme and if it is a special theme, we don't have to play it all the time. These are themes that are too unique to be played all the time, but at important moments for the band they will be there.

M.I. – And you are now 4 and sometimes 5. I already know you take the 5th’s place when he's not around. How do you deal with it? Is it easy being a guitarist and vocalist at the same time?

It's like it always was! I started this band all by myself and, with all credit to the people who are with me, this band was the brainchild of one person. And there was no problem, at any time, when we were only 4. Officially we are not 4, we are 5. This year will be a transition year in which we will understand how we are going to reshape this band. There are times, like on the big tours, when we will be 5.

M.I. – Do you already know who the fifth element is then?

Yes! Anyway, there was no problem in taking control, because in the UK there were moments when we came to realize “fuck the guitar”! For this project, the presence of the frontman with nothing in his arms is very necessary, you have to be able to focus on theatricality. The band depends a lot of the presence of this frontman live! It's not that we think the concerts went wrong, but we know they would have gone better without the guitar there! It's simply something that we'll notice as the band progresses. The fact that we are 4 or 5 cannot even be considered positive or negative, it is a moment of transition and challenge. There is no drama here, it's more like “let's make this happen and move forward”.

M.I. – I already asked you this once and the answer was negative, but why don't you want to reveal your identities? In this heat, it must be uncomfortable to be on stage wearing masks! (laughts)

(laughts) It's because of that exactly! We can't do the show we do if we're highly comfortable! It’s simple as that! You get to that mental state and you don't feel anything anymore, you don't see the audience with the mask you can only see enough to be able to play! That's why we rehearse twice a week, so we can play well enough in times when you can't see anything to get a good performance. From the second or third song onwards, it seems that you go into survival mode because you don't breathe, because of the mask, you don't see anything, but it also makes it whole a bit more primitive.

M.I. – Well, nobody was expecting you to be able to surpass “Limbo” and, today, the general opinion is that “Mirage” is superior. Jessica (the band’s promoteur) told me that she doesn't know how Season of Mist is going to deal with it because you've raised the bar!

Oh, she better know! (laughts)

M.I. - You have raised the bar and the third album is ususally extremely important!

I don't think the part of comparing albums with the previous ones is necessary, each one has its own identity! We are confident about the reception of this album, I think we worked for it! From the first one until we got here, everything grew.

M.I. – In a short time, you’ve reached a status that many bands hope to achieve and can’t. This sudden stardom, this fame... how does it affect you and your life? Did you expect to get where you are so quickly?

We worked for it! I think if you work with that mindset, you can get things done! It's like that with everything! We want one thing, a lot of the time we work for that and we work for this band every day, more than half of my day is for this. We dedicate a lot of our time to the band and our lives have been shaped to make this possible. We’ve “sacrified” our girlfriends and our lives. Our ages range from 24 and 28, and at this age people already want to have a more stable life, steady work, they don't want to give up so many things, spend so many days on the road, but we feel that we want that more and more... we're getting to a point where it's all or nothing now, you know?

M.I. – But this is also a unique experience, right? Who can say they played live in China or toured the world?! Almost no one!

But there are times when we are in the right place and respond at the right time to an invitation! But if there's one thing this band never had, it's luck. To be able to walk this new path, to sign to this label, it was f@cked! (laughts)

M.I. – And you are now working with them! Does that make your work easier or do you feel more pressure?

It's a lot more work because there are many more people you're working with on a daily basis. I receive a lot of emails daily. This is all things we used to do at our own pace, but now we have more people wanting to work with us.

M.I. – But this knowledge and contacts are also an advantage!

Of course they are an advantage! An incredible advantage! We worked to get there! They helped us a lot to bring people here today. We didn't have these contacts! We told the label that we already had two music videos ready, the sculptures, we made this whole amazing package, because sometimes the promoters say “Let's play the album in a bar and go!”. But that we already did at the Bunker Store with the other album! We decided we were going to have a super event, the best thing we can get within the budget we've agreed with Season of MIst. On our part, we also invested a lot to make the masks, we called people, we looked for a hotel, we looked for the right place to try to do the best we can! In other words, it's a lot more work now, because we're at a level and we don't want to go below that, because we want to please these people, because Metal Imperium came, Frank from Metal Injection couldn't come, Metal Hammer came, this cool crowd comes here and they want to be welcomed and they want to see cool stuff and they'll be really happy if they see two video clips. It's so much better than playing the album and saying "Guys, listen to this!".

(4 months later!)

M.I. - So, what’s going on with Gaerea? How was this summer?

We were away from home for a whole month and life was on hold for a little while and now we have to catch up with our personal life and prepare for what we have at the end of this month. It's going to be a bit of a chaotic end of the year, but it's what we want to do, so we're happy with what we have for now.

M.I. - Did you play live the three singles that are already released?

No! The theme “Mirage” came out two days after the last festival and we haven't played it yet but we have played “Mantle” and “Salve” at these festivals.

M.I. – And how did people react?

Great! The reaction to this album is far superior to what I thought it could be and even far superior to the reaction we had on “Limbo”, two years ago. But, yes, it is noticeable that people know the themes, they are aware of what we are doing, but there are many people who are taken by surprise, because we still are spreading our name and, especially in these big festivals, there are a lot of people who don't know us. Those who follow our work, those who are following the album's promotion, they recognize the songs and there is an increase in spirits when we play these songs. We played them at specific points on the set so we can also notice if the concert grows with these themes and the truth is that it has happened. So it's been important to play these songs now, we didn't need to play them now but we also wanted to test the audience's reaction and it's been very positive.

M.I. - What was it like to play using your masks on days of intense heat? How did you manage to survive?

Well, maybe the worst festival in terms of weather conditions we've done this year, maybe it was VOA! The VOA stage was faced west and that was a little tricky, but other than that, playing big stages during the day is usually not the problem! The problem is playing on small stages in closed environments, in low light, it gets more complicated, but when we're outdoors, it's not usually a big problem!

M.I. - You released the video for “Mantle” at the end of July and, at the beginning of August, a Portuguese band accused you of having copied the concept they created in 2021 for one of their songs. Are you aware of this situation?

We are and we don't comment!

M.I. - OK! Do you feel that there is some envy because of your effort, your work and your success, for being such young boys and having already achieved so much? Do you think that the mentality of some Portuguese people is preventing them from realizing that you are really good?

We try our best not to focus, in our band environment, on these kinds of issues, because I think it's something that deteriorates our working method! The less time we spend commenting on what others think, what people say, the better because whenever negative things are said, a strange environment is created, it is never productive. This is something we all agreed we wouldn't do and we keep our opinions to ourselves or when we're not in a band environment. But yes, on the one hand it's sad, on the other it's normal, I think that happens with all the bands that get a little something for their work, or luck, there's always a group of people who don't like it because they can't understand how that person got to that level or that goal. Our normal reaction as humans is always to try to undermine that person's goal. I think here happens the same! We notice it a little bit because we're from here, but the truth is that every other band from other countries also notices it in their countries. In highly developed countries like Germany or the Netherlands there are cases like this. I think it's all part of the growth that we're having, and I'm as honest as possible and I also consider myself a little modest when I say: everything we have, we've worked hard to have it, nothing fell into our laps, we never discovered the goose that laid the golden eggs with this band or we still haven't discovered it, so everything we have is the result of our work! If there are people who don't like it, if they think we did it this way or that we copied it... that's up to them.. and I, personally, don't have the time or patience for this kind of comments or discussions, because I think it really is a waste of time and, in the end, nobody gains anything from this! It doesn't bring any productivity, it's not even a debate, it's just an attack, and I think we already have so much of that in the world, that if we had to take it to the arts now, it would be a disaster. Anyway, this is what I think.

M.I. - “Unsettling Whispers”, your first album, is 41 minutes and 45 seconds long and “Limbo” is 51 minutes and 44 seconds long. It's the same numbers! Is it a coincidence or is there some meaning behind it?

No, I think it's the first time I'm hearing that! Fantastic! Not even on purpose! No, it has no meaning, it just happened. We care a lot about our numerology in the band, the dates we do things, we always remember everything, but no, I don't think we’d go that far!

M.I. - So what is the importance of the release date of “Mirage”?

It's not that this specific date has an emotional nature, it will from now on. It's the album release date because of all the logistics of releasing a record. It could be the 23rd or the 15th, the truth is that we wanted to release the album in September, because we're going on the road a week later. It was the ideal time for us to be able to test the singles during the summer, which is what we did and it was also the ideal time to enter these three or four months in which we will hardly be at home. In other words, we're going to have an album, we're going to have all the tours that follow right after the album, we're going to be on the road with it, we're going to have everything in our hands so we can do everything that we couldn't do with “Limbo”, or that we couldn't do at the time of “Unsettling”, because we were at a very small level. Finally, I think the planets aligned to find a time of year when we were able to do a series of interesting things starting in May, with our listening session, and from there it was always a staircase of important events with the releases of the songs, play on the stages that we've been on this summer, with these tours that we're going to do in Latin America and the biggest European tour we've ever done, and that's going to happen at the end of this month. 23 for now has no special meaning, but it will from now on. Imagine how last year we did the “Fifth Supper” event on November 12, it has to do with the release date of the first EP on November 12 or November 11, 2016. If we get to close the 10th anniversary of “Mirage ” or something like that, I will always keep in mind that time of September, because we care about that, but for now, it’s just another date that will be marked in our career and that, from now on, will create that emotional connection with the date.

M.I. - You mentioned the “Fifth Supper”, it was presented now in Bergen. Were you there?

No, I was about to go, but we were on the road already, we had to do rehearsals for PartySan. It was going to be quite complicated logistics for just one afternoon... an afternoon that turned out to be quite productive. The publisher was there taking care of things for us. But, if it were today, and if I had known that it was going to go so well, as we had very interesting people covering the event and even some musicians that I really respect were kind enough to attend the presentation of the documentary, maybe I would have made this crazy trip!

M.I. – You mentioned Latin America and you will debut there by touring 8 countries. They are reputed to be very crazy fans. What is your expectation?

That's exactly it! We're looking forward to having the most intense concerts we've ever had on a tour. Everyone knows that Latin America lives and breathes this style of music. Unlike us in Europe, we have everything happening from September onwards, almost every day we have something happening. In those countries it's not every day that a band from the other side of the world goes there to play. There are bands of our style that spend a lot of time there, because people live that style even though it's not their culture. It's very similar to what we saw in China, two or three years ago, that love, that mysticism and they can't fully understand it because it's not theirs, but even so they embrace the culture, the love they have for the style! Here in Europe, we don't value the tours and bands that come here, because we know they will come back someday. If they don't come back now, they’ll come next year, and that's something that doesn't happen in Latin America! Concerts there are very complicated to organize because they are complicated countries, culturally and financially, they are not easy to navigate. We are hoping to have filled clubs, lots of people who know us. We know we have a good fan base in all these countries, which is fantastic! We are looking forward to having great concerts there, perhaps the best that we are going to have this year, because they are quite intense and powerful and they don't take things lightly as they want to live in the moment in the best possible way, they are right there for that.

M.I. – And here in Europe did you notice any differences? The pandemic has cancelled many festivals and concerts. Weren't people thirsty for live music? Did you notice more involvement during the band's concerts?

Yeah! The truth is that many of the festivals that we played are festivals that had huge bills, because they were doing a 3 in 1, this is the case of Hellfest, Wacken, which was quite different this year. All this brings good and bad things, in my opinion. The good thing is that people, with a single ticket, get to see almost all the bands they love and are there at the festival enjoying those three or four days in the best possible way. On the other hand, another problem is created: people, if they go to two or three of these festivals in the summer, have already seen all the bands they were going to see in two or three years, which makes the whole touring cycle a little more unpredictable, at the end of the year. Dimmu Borgir were here in Vagos, if they came back in October, maybe they wouldn't have so many sales, because people have already seen the band in their best posture, which is being the headliners of a festival. And, at this post-pandemic time, when all of Europe is in crisis, we know that people make these kinds of choices! We as artists have to know that this happens, it can't just be an emotional thing of thinking that people will always follow us everywhere. We also have to know how to evaluate the market and what is happening and know that we are going to have very good dates throughout this tour, because people are really thirsty to see concerts. There are also a lot of people who had to make these choices, because the festivals were very expensive because of the huge bills!
Yes, I agree, people were thirsty, every festival we played at was full! Many of them sold out for the first time, Brutal Assault broke records and PartySan too... you can see that people really wanted to relive the summer they've always been used to. We are now going to see how September, October and November in Europe are, without a pandemic, now we are going to see how this circuit is going.

M.I. - Well, now we have another problem you mentioned: the crisis! Whenever you turn on the television, you see news about increases in gas, diesel, and this can have an impact on sales, not only of festivals, but also on album sales. Does that scare you in any way?

No, I think it shouldn't scare us, because it's the reality we live in and we have to adapt. Fortunately, we're having an incredible year, we're selling this album very well, we have our hands full with all the shipments we have to make... we've been here in our office for two or three days packing things... in other words, we are living our best year by far! We also know that if there are dates in the near future with few people, it's because they had to make those choices and we can't take things too seriously and think that people don't like us anymore. It's a little unpredictable nowadays, because the expectations of a tour are in the pre-sales and those are very low! It doesn't mean it's going to go wrong, people just don't buy tickets six months in advance, because they don't know if there will be another Covid variant, they don't know how they'll be after the holidays, these are all things that we understand well and that happens all over the world. So, in this post-pandemic year in which things are really going well, as in 2019, we are going to shape up and realize that maybe there are things that won't go so well and this has to create opportunities to reinvent ourselves in other ways. I think it's simply being able to adapt and also taking things lightly and realizing that the world doesn't revolve around the Arts. After all, there are countries that excel in culture but in other countries, like ours, the arts are a residue of our life. People won't see it, they won't consume it anywhere, so we have to realize that this will happen with some regularity from now on, but we have to adapt.

M.I. - I'm glad you're talking about the Arts, because I wanted to ask you what measures do you think our ministry of culture could take in favor of culture to encourage the Portuguese to consume more art?

I don't know, and quite honestly I have very little basis to form an opinion. Since I left home in April for our first tour this year, I haven't seen any news and I'm completely oblivious to the whole reality of this country. I think our news and everything in this world around us is important, but it was bothering me during the pandemic, so I had to turn off the TV. I don't have an opinion and, maybe, it's better not to, because we never make political comments, or say what we think politicians should do and I don't want to do it now either.

M.I. – You are endorsed by world-renowned brands. How gratifying is it to represent them?

It's great! Many of these brands are brands that we always use, the case of ESP, in short, it's perfect! It is still a business partnership. Nobody is giving us anything, that kind of support, as in the “80s”, no longer exists. It's a partnership in which we have to do one part, they have to do another and both parties earn a little bit. It is gratifying to be able to have these brands on our side and getting to know each other... I think the whole relationship of contacts that is created is more importante than the products that come. It's just guitars, drums and, in the end, it matters very little personally, for the listener it doesn't matter at all, it's a little bit of comfort and we feel safer because we're working with people who strive for quality. But, in the end, only a niche of our followers cares a lot, but I personally care little, if you take away the comfort part and the relationship that is created. I think that's mostly it! It's great that we can meet these people at festivals, we can spend time with them, they know who we are because we work with them, we talk about ideas, we exchange impressions. I think that's it. It's more the networking at work than the fact that we're happy to have a discount here or there. But many musicians care about this a lot, but in the end, what matters is what you can do with these instruments and it's not about the instrument you have! It's great but it's also not something that will make us get more fans just because of that. I think it's just a work tool, one that you have the easiest access to and that you have a direct link to the source in case you have problems or if you have ideas... that's it, it's not much more than that!

M.I. – Has the band managed to exceed expectations of what you intended to achieve when you started? Did you ever think to get this far, to achieve so much success in 5/6 years?

No! It’s not really success! We are a band that is asserting itself, we are a band that people are already starting to know, but we are far from commercial success, but I understand what you mean. When I created this, I never imagined we’d do concerts, and then we started doing concerts and a band was created around it! Nowadays we are doing almost 200 concerts a year! All things are changing with our ambition for what we want with the band and with our lives, we are more and more inside this world and we are more and more sure that this is what we want to do. This is no longer a hobby , it's something that we put ahead of many things in our life, even personal matters we leave on pause, because we really want to do this with the band... there are things that we are doing now and I didn't even want to do them a year ago! There are things that we regret, there are things that are a kind of long-term investment... something that we are going to do now, two or three years from now, we will be able to return there better on a larger scale, there are many things that we are doing this year that are like this! I never thought we would play at Wacken, which is such a gigantic and generic festival that I never I thought we would be invited to play there and the same goes for other festivals we've done. But it's good! It means that we are doing a good job, that people value our work and that we are doing something right. Nothing is perfect in this life but the things we are doing well, are being appreciated and people like what we do and value our work and that is why we are having some of these very interesting things this year.

M.I. – And of all the themes on the new album, which one do you like the most?

The stronger themes are the ones that I like the most, but I love “Laude” that we are going to play in the next concert, which is the last official song of the album, it’s a song that is different from the context or concept of this album. It's the song that talks about us as a band, about some of the moments we've had to overcome as a band over these five, six years, and it speaks a little more about the union of work and even emotional union that we have on stage as a band. And that's it... it's a theme I already wanted to do in "Limbo" but I didn't have the ability to think about the band in that aspect and, after the pandemic, with all the difficulties that the pandemic brought, it helped a little bit to unlock this text , the creative process of creating a song that was about us, that was about Gaerea and everything that Gaerea stands for, that is kind of a recap of everything we've done and where we want to go. So, maybe “Laude” is a very emotional theme and, for me and for the rest of the guys, it means just that... this union and sacrifice, the boredom, the discussions... everything that a band that spends one month in a touring van has to face and we're still that kind of band. That's why I thought it was interesting to be able to write something about it, a kind of reflection on the first 5/6 years of the band in a song that is one of the most explosive and intense on the album. We are an intense and very aggressive band live because of the way we perform and the way we feel this song. I think it's the best of many worlds in one theme! If I had to pick one, “Laude” would be it!

M.I. - And now you have the European and Latin American tour. And Portugal? Do you have tour dates for Portugal?

No, we played in Portugal this year. We did the VOA. We don't have anything in mind but we're not going to play in Portugal for sure! Next year, we'll see. For now there is nothing! We would like to do it but for now there is no prospect! We are very focused on what we have to do now, and that's a lot, and when we finish this, if something interesting comes up, we'll do it but for now we don't have anything else planned for Portugal.

Listen to Gaerea, on Spotify

For Portuguese version, click here

Questions by Sónia Fonseca