Press - Interviews
02nd October 2008
Interview for Ancient Ceremonies

Click for a larger viewWith a career based on constant progression, the fourth album “Zoom Code” sees THANATOSCHIZO maturing and going into a more Rockier and exotic direction. Already compared by some with Opeth, guitarist Guilhermino Martins clears some recurring doubts that surrounds the band, like the meaning of their first album and some that appeared after hearing the new one...

ThanatoSchizO have been around some ten years and you’re still kind of unknown among the Portuguese andinternational listeners. What seems to be the problem?
I guess we’re not the usual consensual band. We have people who truly and avidly follow our work throughout all these years and we can surely call them fans but there’s the other side with people always trying to diminish our work. Honestly, it’s a good position to be in, stirring such extreme feelings amongst the public - the “love or hate it” stuff is something that appeals to me. And it’s always better than simply causing indifference.

I actually get more the “love” opinion than the hateful one. Nevertheless, some people insist on a comparison between you and Opeth. What do you have to say about that?
Well, we only got that comparison in Portugal and that’s not a surprise, so to speak. On the other hand, it was great to be compared to Opeth on our previous album since they had this big hype during ‘04/’05, so our sales increased considerably.

You hardly play outside Portugal and you don’t make magazine covers. Is it like a band’s “policy” or “rabbit” simply “don’t come easy”?
It’s just the way we face our art. We don’t pay to play (in Portugal or abroad). We are paid to play and that will never change. For instance, we were recently asked to play in two of the biggest metal fests in Portugal but we did not agree with the conditions (or lack of them), so we decided not to play. The same goes to gigs outside Portugal. Through the years we received some punctual invitations to play in festivals but, as I’ve stated above, we face this band with a very specific mood and for us it would be really diminishing to gather debts just to play here and there. As for the magazine covers, if we’re not a consensual band, it’s quite logic that’s a hard task to accomplish. Magazines are often more interested in front covers that appeal to a higher range of their public and I can understand that.

I’m not gonna ask you to reveal the names of those metalfests, but something tells me one of them is related to a beer brand. What are exactly the conditions in Portugal? Clarify that and advise other young bands, please.
No, no beer brand there. Well, I think each band has its own way to work these things out. However, for me, it’s kind of sad to see the posters of some festivals and think that each and every Portuguese band there is losing money to play.

Would any of you give up his/her job in order to pursue an international career?
That’s really difficult nowadays. Everyone knows the music business is gone, so I’ll answer “no”. Besides, I can’t see us in a position where we must face some contingencies, in order to sell more albums. We just put out the music we want, no matter what and that’s really comfortable.

Joking with the Cradle !!

I’m a personal fan of TSO’s and I have seen with my own eyes the band’s evolving career. Now, I gotta tell you guysmust be really brave (and have the balls!) to record a debut such as “Schizo level”... I mean, the whole concept (and correct me if I’m wrong) was all about making fun of Cradle of Filth, raw black metal and the back then metal scene!
“Schizo Level” was a big step to begin with. We were so tired of the usual clichés in this genre that we decided to somehow create an album with occasional mockeries on those things. As we initially thought, the album gathered some confusing reviews with people talking about Cradle of Filth as a main influence just because they couldn’t foresee the “big picture”. It was a fun time and we sure did laugh a lot while checking the feedback towards the album.

I do remember reading somewhere that you had a lot in common with Cradle of Filth. Cradle of Filth shirts are easyfor kids to get, but Darkthrone’s are piece of cake, too. Those same kids wear both bands’ shirts and are not even aware of the hate that “bounds” the two bands. Your mockery was equally focused on black metal bands: was “Raw” written bearing in mind Mayhem and/or Darkthrone?
Honestly, no. We just wanted to compose a raw black metal oriented song with incomprehensive lyrics and fuse that with horns and trumpets. I know it sounds quite simple, but that was the true will behind RAW. It was just an artistic way to express our no-boundaries law in terms of composition.

Despite “Schizo Level” having some cute tunes, I dare to say TSO only started to write “real” music with “InsomniousNightLift”, carrying a whole lot of progressive, yet deathish, metal elements.
I agree! “InsomniousNightLift” was our first step in a more mature field and I dare to say the first time we decided to create real “songs”. The main objective was to ensemble a really homogenised album with a strong concept and good songs. I think we’ve accomplished that and I’m truly aware of the magic the album drives through the heads of so many of our fans.

Moving along...

What made you sign for a new label, after releasing “Insomnious...”? Did that transition affect you, in any way?
Well, Duncan (the owner of Rage of Achilles) decided to end the label and start all over again with a new one more core-oriented, so we got ourselves in a situation where we had “Turbulence” ready to be released but no label. Fortunately Burning Elf Records showed interest in releasing the album internationally. Of course it affected us. Rage of Achilles was doing an excellent work concerning our promotion and the guy discovered bands like Cult of Luna, Anaal Nathkrah, Axis of Perdition or Omnium Gatherum.

That is tough. For how long did you have to hold “Turbulence” and how did Duncan justify what happened?
We didn’t hold back the album’s release for too long, since we had to release it through our Portuguese label Misdeed Records no matter what. Internationally speaking, the album was only released in 2007, so it was a three year delay. Duncan said to us he needed to have a label with an evolved sonority and started a new one more focused on nowadays trend, which is directed to Neurosis-like bands.

Zooming into a new level

“Zoom Code”‘s out. In your words, what are the adjectives that best define the differences between the previous works and this one?
Personalized, adventurous and definitely mature. It sums the best of all our previous CDs and adds a big focus on details.

Which kind of details, if you could be more specific, please?
Mainly in the composition part. Maturity brought us the urge to write good songs in the sense of very well structured themes where all the parts are there for a reason. And, of course, the main focus on the voices’ work and the little sounds in the background that add a special vibe to the music.

What sort of inspiration drove you to use instruments such as the concertina or the sax on this new album?
Just the will to play, what we want as we want. The concertina is a musical trademark from our region, which influences us of course. As for the sax, we wanted to hear how it fitted our sound and it sounded great! There’s no great plan behind our music, just our desire to achieve musical fulfilment.

Do you plan to use samples for these instruments when playing on stage?
Yes, using the wonders of nowadays technology. The drummer plays with a click track and the sampling is triggered directly through a computer/ CD player.

Did Eduardo compose more riffs than you, like he had done for “Turbulence”?
All the songs in “Zoom Code” resulted from a collective effort. I can point out some songs that started from Eduardo’s riffs, my riffs, Filipe’s keyboard melodies and even some drum patterns from Paulo. For instance, ‘Nothing As it Seems’ started from this rhythm Paulo randomly created in one rehearsal session. TSO were always a band in the true sense of the word.

I believe that this new album’s rockier than I or any fan would expect from you. It’s not hard to point out some songs which could easily be a hit on radio or TV, in a different time, under different circumstances (when rock/metal/punk music was “cool”). Have you ever felt you should move/had been born to/in Scandinavia, where metal is respected?
Not really. All in all, we don’t see ourselves as a “Portuguese scene” band to be absolutely honest with you. As for moving to another country... well I’m sure I would consider it in a personal level some years ago if ThanatoSchizO didn’t exist.

Is this the sound that fans can expect from now on? Rockier/shorter songs, I mean...
I can’t tell you about the future, because we don’t know how we’ll want the new songs to be. However, for now, yes, we were tired of long songs and it was important to develop our composition skills, creating short and well-composed songs.

“Schizo Level”’s deluxe edition is out. Does this edition come with any special features or remastered songs?
The digipack has a different layout and the edition comes with a transparent tray.”

To end you’ve been around for ten years, but not a single video has been recorded yet. I can point out some songs which could turn out great, such as “Of Lunar Water...”, “Sweet Suicidal Serenade” or recent “L”, for instance; is it the lack of money or you don’t give a damn about videos?
The main problem is our demand for excellence. I can point out a video a friend of us created for ‘Freedom Subways’ but we thought it wasn’t the right thing yet. If we put so much effort into our CDs, it’s easy to understand how we want our possible video clips to be, right? Thanks, Simão. Cheers!

Simão Fonseca
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