Merry go round on the road
From Hard Rock Magazine, France, No 38, September 1998
By Philippe Lageat
Translation from French to English by Charlie Farrell
The life of groups on tour is far from being a ‘long tranquil river‘. On the contrary, with the groupies, the various diverse excesses, the punctures to the tires of the tour-busses or the rotten halls, themusicians grow up and become mature. That’s what they tell ‘Hard Rock’ in this new column.
Hard Rock: What do you remember of your first concert?
Andre:And how! It was with my first group, Viper. I was 13. We played in a miniscule club in Sao Paulo, 8th April ’85. The playlist was composed of 2 or 3 original numbers and numerous covers of Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, Metallica etc. Venom also! I was on stage for the first time in my life and it is impossible for me to describe how I felt that day. I was dreaming of it for years and it finally became reality. We knew the promoter by reputation and we approached him cheekily in the street. <>. And he simply replied <>. We were all very young – from 13 to 15 years old, and we based the promotion of the concert as follows: <<>>. I remember that, on stage, I was trembling like a leaf, to such an extent that I almost dropped the microphone on my foot because I was incapable of holding it. At the end of the concert, I took a cold shower and I realized then that my life would never be the same again after this experience.
Hard Rock: And what of your first tour with Angra?
Andre: It contained, amongst others, a date in Paraguay. We had just 24 Hours to get ourselves there in the bus, At the time; we hadn’t even recorded our first demo. It was therefore a great opportunity for us. It wasn’t until we had got ourselves there, that we realized that it was a festival of death and black. The P.A. system was even more rotten that the worst of our nightmares. We were playing in the open air and our amplification system was less powerful than the lousiest of transistor radios. In addition, nobody knew of us and the crowd remained immobile and silent throughout the whole of our performance. And I didn’t tell you about the catering! We were happy to get back on the bus and return home. That was our first ever experience on the road with Angra.
Hard Rock: What is the strangest place in which you have played?
Andre: It was with Viper, in a church planted right in the middle of the prison of Sao Paulo, which has seen itself transformed into a bar with the passing of years. Very strange, since the clients of the bar can see you just as some of the prisoners can. We have therefore played in front of typical spectators but with our backs to the prisoners. With Angra we have played in the jungle as well, at Manaos, capital of the Amazon region, in front of the Indians. During our concert, they danced in an aggressive manner, as if they were on the warpath. Very impressive!
Hard Rock: Your favorite concert, up until now?
Andre: That which we gave in Milan in 1996, while opening for Manowar. We had learnt during the day, that contrary to what we’d expected, Manowar (or more likely its management) refused to allow us to use the whole of our P.A. and lights. I am a fan of Manowar and I have nothing against the group but we were ‘put out’ and we gave ourselves 200%. The 12,000 fans that were present, supported us like never before. That remains one of the best moments of my career because it proved to me that, regardless of the conditions, if the music is good and powerful, if you do your thing to the best of your ability you’ll achieve your ends. Another great moment, the day when we opened for AC/DC in Sao Paulo in 1996, in front of 60,000 people. Their management and roadies had been warned about us. So What! When a group is really big, there’s absolutely nothing to be afraid of about anybody.
Hard Rock: Have you destroyed a hotel room?
Andre: (Laughs) Me, no … I am a pacifist. In response to that, I am not at all responsible for the actions of the other members of Angra. (Laughs) That’s to say simply that certain Japanese hotels must remember our passage. (Laughs).
Hard Rock: What’s the strangest thing that a fan has asked you to sign?
Andre: One day, a girl came towards me, practically naked, and asked me to write my signature all over her body. The funniest thing was that her boyfriend was in the vicinity and that she was doing it for fun. Not for bad reasons.
Hard Rock: Some stories of groupies?
Andre: There are those who follow us everywhere. We have called them the <> (Laughs) But we are very respectful, we don’t play <> with them. Rather, we look for lasting, sane relationships. Sorry, but it’s not our thing!
Hard Rock: Which member of Angra has the strangest habits on tour?
Andre: Each of us has our own little odd habits. I’m not a great fan of the tour bus. Therefore habitually I stay awake as long as we are en-route. I like to spend all night talking with the driver. I don’t go to bed except when I can’t stay awake anymore. I also have the habit of taking sleeping tablets to go to sleep when we travel. Once, during the last European tour, I drank at the same time and the mixture with the sleeping tablets was very disconcerting, I began to be delirious. I’m told that I spent 2 hours staring at the microwave on the tour bus, before jumping from couchette to couchette. The following day I didn’t remember anything about it. It’s become a recurrent joke amongst the group members.
Hard Rock: What’s the craziest thing that has happened to you on tour?
Andre: Once our bus containing our equipment and merchandising, which was crossing Croatia and Yugoslavia in order to meet up with us in Greece, fell into the hands of an armed commando, right in the middle of the civil war. The driver called us from God knows where to tell us that he would not be in Greece in time for the gig and it would take a small fortune for him to be able to get the bus back. We had to urgently hire another bus and P.A. A real disaster. To say nothing that we could just as well have found ourselves on the bus surrounded by the fighters, without being able to do anything about it.
Hard Rock: What special riders do you have in your contract?
Andre: I need to drink lots in order not to ruin my voice. Therefore I ask for mineral water and Gatorade. We also require a football. After our last concert at Bordeaux, we played with some fans and some roadies in a square in the town until the early hours of the morning. The passers-by didn’t believe theirs eyes. We are all football fans. On the tour-bus we generally ask for a stock of videocassettes, of which certain are not suitable for viewing by minors. Antonio, our manager, is a big consumer. (Laughs).