"Madeira wine is also famous as when the American declaration of Independence act was signed, the signers celebrated by drinking Madeira wine"
Genre: Melodic Gothic Metal
Label: Unsigned / Independent
It's been a year since Portugal's Sinmattic first released their debut self-titled EP, recently the Melodic Gothic Metal outfit has been upping their game in order to expand outside of their native Portugal through a number of endeavors, including the possibility of linking up with a Gothic Metal band from The Netherlands. GMA found some time to sit down with Ivo Durães and Pedro Antunes from Sinmattic and discuss what they have done and what they plan to do, furthermore a discussion about the Portuguese Metal scene, it's economic situation and other related questions circulating Portugal and Sinmattic.
So guys coming from Portugal, what is the metal scene like and what problems have there been?
Pedro: Unfortunately, Metal is not very marketable in Portugal, this is a very small country which makes the Metal scene even smaller and very underground. Metal songs very seldom reach the top here, unlike other types of music. This makes it even harder for us to live out of our music, and we have to try our best to reach other countries and make our music more known outside our country.
Ivo: It's so underground that I still have dirt in my mouth since the last gig! No seriously… the Metal scene here is small, it's easy to know almost everyone from every other band! But I tell you this, it may be small but there is a lot, and I mean a LOT of quality around here! There are great bands achieving great things! The main problems we face are to do with the lack of support from radios and other Media sources, and the practical inexistence of a circuit for Metal bands to play around the country… most of the clubs hire cover bands! This may be good for them but for bands that play only original material its complicated.
Now since the onset of Portugal switching from the Escudo to the Euro, how has this impacted on the band in general and your daily lives? Is equipment cheaper or more expensive?
Pedro: Like most of Europe, we've been going through an enormous economical crisis, so it ends up affecting our lives because there's less funding and support for whatever you want to do, not just music.
Ivo: Our band is relatively new so I can't say much about that. I had my real first electric guitar offered to me by my mom and brother around the end of 2007, a brand new Ibanez and because of that it was a tad more costly than a second hand instrument… but that’s the thing, no matter the currency, instruments can be bought for fair prices if you know where to find them.
How did the band name come about and where there any other potential names for the band?
Pedro: I remember a lot of names for the band before “Sinmattic” showed up on our minds, but let's not go there :P
Ivo: I’m going ahead and saying that we had some really silly names before we settled with Sinmattic! But like Pedro, I won't reveal them… for now. But we wanted something unique, something that you don’t find in like 500 results when you Google it! We had a pretty big brainstorm, thinking about art on all of its forms… came up with “cinema” and after some more brainstorming… “SINMATTIC”! And yeah, we are still very happy with the name.
Individually how did you get into metal music, playing Gothic Metal and who do you take your influences from?
Pedro: Personally I discovered Metal in my adolescent years, and exploring that led me to bands like Nightwish, Epica, and other Symphonic Metal bands. It was because of them that I decided to learn the piano and start writing my own songs. So I went to music schools, learned and started working on my own ideas. Sinmattic came after other projects that didn't work that well. Nowadays I take influences from various styles of music, not just Metal, because you should listen to many artists and inspire yourself with as many genres as you can to keep it versatile and interesting enough in your own band. The rest of the inspiration will come from the events that surround you, and your own personal experiences.
Ivo: I have to blame my brother for listening to Metallica, AC/DC, Sepultura, Manowar, etc. when I was just a little kid! At that time I never really liked it, I was more concerned about playing football with my friends… but then something happened! My parents offered me an acoustic guitar (which I still have and still sounds cool) and I started learning by myself, watching Metallica live shows, DVDs and such! But I had help from my father, he was a guitarist too… he introduced me to other great bands like Deep Purple, Dire Straits, Ten Years After, Led Zeppelin, etc! All the legends of the electric guitar and that was the real trigger for me! After a while, like some natural law, I found myself listening, enjoying and playing Metal. But I was always more into Thrash metal, the Gothic taste came when I started playing with these guys.
After playing a gig or tour, how do you all take 'chill time', how do you relax?
Pedro: I try to rest as much as I can, get a good night's sleep and keep my energies balanced for the next day.
Ivo: Resting is always a good option, I like watching movies and hanging around with my lady, we do a lot of stuff together. I also enjoy gaming when I can, I must confess I am bit of a geek!
What is the Portuguese metal scene like in terms of what festivals are there, venues, labels, media, etc?
Ivo: There are a few good Metal festivals, some are building their name up outside of Portugal which is good, it makes people come from other countries! Vagos Open Air is a good example. About venues, that’s more complicated… like I said earlier in this interview, most of them prefer to hire cover bands or bands from other styles of music, leaving Metal bands with only a few places to show their work. Labels? I only know two relevant labels that represent some Metal bands… about Media, there are some cool webzines that support the scene and spread the word! And we also have a national metal magazine, but their support for local / national bands is still very weak.
For those who do not know Sinmattic, what song should they check out and why? What is the meaning behind the song?
Ivo: I recommend listening to our EP. It's four songs only but each one very different from the other… that’s SINMATTIC! We can sound melodic and mellow, but at the same time we have that heavy and furious part that in my opinion makes us stand out.
Now Portugal of course is renowned for it's red wine, what else is Portugal popular for (besides football and wine)? What wine would you each recommend?
Pedro: Well, I know Portugal is also famous for its typical food, so I'd suggest coming here and trying some of our good restaurants and meals.
Ivo: Cant tell you much about wine, there are a lot of brands… lets stick with beer! Only two major brands and both good, these are Super Bock and Sagres respectively! Portugal is more than food, wine and football. Our landscape is beautiful, our weather is nice, lots of beautiful monuments, old castles and palaces, rich culture… oh and Port wine is very famous but our red wine its also famous, Madeira wine is also famous as when the American declaration of Independence act was signed, the signers celebrated by drinking Madeira wine. They didn't sign it WITH wine, hahaha.
Are the youth of today encouraged to learn an instrument or is purely voluntary? How do most bands organize local gigs?
Pedro: I think there are still many parents who encourage their children to learn music or play an instrument, but it depends on their own ideas and experiences. There are also many cases where it's voluntary and children ask their parents about playing an instrument, especially in their adolescent years. It also depends, though, since it's not easy to be successful only by playing music.
Ivo: Pedro said it all but I’ll just add that with so many great musicians to get inspiration from I think its easy to encourage the youngsters to learn an instrument and become good at it! About local gigs, the main concern is to get a venue / club. Then it's just a matter of talking to bands, deciding which dates are the best, cash values and such. Of course, this happens on a good day.
Individually, sum up what Sinmattic's live performances are like and who have you played with / looking forward to play with or want to play with?
Pedro: I think we have a lot of energy and great interaction with our audience. We love playing on stage and it shows, because even when we had a bad day our bad energies disappear completely once we set foot on stage and start playing our songs. It's all about the show and enjoying music.
What are the band's plans for the rest of 2013? Any New Years gigs? Partying?
Pedro: Right now we are working on some new songs and trying to achieve the right conditions to record our debut album. The plan is also to keep playing live and taking our music to as many people as possible. If the opportunity comes, we might do a New Year's Concert, who knows?
Finally are there any thank you's and greeting's you wish to express to friends, fans, family, etc?
Pedro: We are very grateful to every person who supports us in any way – a like on Facebook, a share, a supportive comment or even a listen. Also, everyone who shows up at our gigs and supports our shows. Those have been the people who give us energy and will to keep fighting for our music and try to do a better job every day.
Ivo: Every kind of support counts, no matter what people say about us! a simple like on our page may trigger other ones and that may lead to more listeners. I wish to thank every single person who supports and keeps supporting us everyday! And of course, thank you Rhys for your kindness and support!
Sinmattic's debut self-titled EP is out now via the band themselves