Hanna Tsepesh: Hello Pedro and Marcos! Firstly I want to thank to you guys for having accepted the invitation for this interview! I would like to tell us a little about Fantasy Opus and make an introduction about yourselves and the other members! From what I read the band went through difficult times to find a singer... For you Pedro, can you tell to us how happen the invitation to sing at Fantasy opus?
Pedro: Hello Hanna, first of all thanks for the interview and the interest shown by my work and the work of Fantasy Opus.
Marcos: Hi There!
Hanna Tsepesh: You are very welcome!
Pedro: About Fantasy Opus I am not best the person to speak only because I'm in the band since2007. The invitation came through a mutual friend who told me about Fantasy Opus and their need to find a vocalist to be able to complete the album. When I spoke with Marcos and Nilson they gave me a CD with the songs of the album. I must say that I was impressed with what I heard, and then we arranged an audition and was considered fit to sing in the band (laughs).
I Immediately felt a great empathy with the entire band, it seemed that we knew each other for a long time, they are all very nice people, from the rigorous guitarist Marcos Carvalho,to the "Friend" and the bassist Nilson Santagueda, the Hyper fun drummer Paulo Santos (Pajo) and finally the super organized and guitarist Cláudio Santos (Shiver).
Marcos: The two founding fathers of the band are me and Paulo Santos, the drummer. After that, Nilson Santagueda joined in 2001, and Pedro Arroja and Claudio Shiver Joined in 2007. The various members that have passed by Fantasy Opus only contributed to slow down the progress of the band, creating more problems than benefits to the group, so they are all irrelevant at this point to us. From the early stages of this band, we’ve had a lot of problems finding a lead vocals. The truth is that there are not a lot of good classic metal vocalists in Portugal. We’ve tried a few, but none has ever fitted the band like Pedro. Not only his vocal skills, but also his posture regarding music in general, and his qualities as a person, just fitted the band like a glove. It was an immediate click. With Claudio it was exactly the same thing, and allowed the band to pursue a more guitar-oriented cacophony-like aesthetic, which I personally love.In a sense, although people only recently have got to know us, we have been here a long time, since 99, basically, so 8 years to finally get a good solid line up, what in Germany or Sweden would have take 1 month or less.
Hanna Tsepesh: You are very welcome! What are the inspirations to create the lyrics for Fantasy Opus? What is the predominant theme in your songs?
Pedro: The basic inspiration is the world of medieval fantasy with a very strong component. Basically the album tells the story of a warrior and the various steps to achieve freedom to his people. We have a ballad 'Higher State of Mind' is an introspective reflection about the warrior and adds a level of lyrical diversity that is not very common in the Power Metal bands.
Marcos: I wrote almost 100% of the lyrics, and it sort of evolved from a traditional “dragon’s and warrior’s” kind of lyrics, to a more nuanced, almost progressive rock kind of lyrics, here and there. However, the predominant theme is medieval.
Hanna Tsepesh: Let's talk a little about your musical journey for our readers know a little about you guys! First let’s talk about Pedro: I make a little search about you (laughs) and I was surprised with your journey! Currently you are on this band (FANTASY OPUS) and DRAKKAR, but you already sung in bands such as: DARK FATE, and MELODIC PATROL and CRYSTAL DRAGON. And also, you made two special parts on: SACRED SIN and FALLINGDUSK. I cannot say that you are a beginner in this! You could tell to us a little about your journey and if it helped you in your training as a musician and finally, if you could tell us how are things in DRAKKAR, you are still in active, right?
Pedro: Right(laughs), I am singer since I started Dark Fate with colleagues from school when I was there about 17 years old, Melodic Patrol and Drakkar a year later, with my brother and friends from childhood, which remains today (Drakkar band), to Fantasy Opus in 2007. I did some very good parts in projects such as Crystal Dragon with guitarist Pedro Miguel where I had my first serious experience in the studio and with the recent album of “Falling Dusk” with André Prista, and now I am completely involved in the next album of this band.
Of course I learned a lot from all these gentlemen and the diversity of styles that I had to do in each of the projects, I send a big thank to all those friends who had the opportunity to work and wish a lot of success for their projects.
Yes, Drakkar are still active. Things are going well despite the frequent changes in the line-up during our long existence; we now have a stable group of people consisting of friends working peacefully.
Hanna Tsepesh: When you start to sing? Any singer inspired you? You had or have any singing lessons? I ask this because you have a great power voice that reminded me of great vocalists like the FREEDOM CALL singer, I do not know if you know this band...
Pedro: Since a kid I always liked singing while I was listening music. Me and friends sometimes roamed in the streets like crazy singing Iron Maiden and Helloween music’s and screaming like Manowar. Also playing acoustic guitar where I sung a few improvised songs. Then came the opportunity to be part of a band in Almada called Dark Fate and since then it never stopped.
My references are: Bruce Dickinson, Michael Kiske, the Eric Adams, Geof Tate and the great Ronnie James Dio. These were also my teachers since it was through imitation that I learned almost everything because I never had singing lessons.
Unfortunately I don’t know Freedom Call but I will try to correct this.
Hanna Tsepesh: What are your favorite bands? Do you have any musical reference in our country (Portugal)?
Pedro: My favorite bands are: Iron Maiden, Manowar, Helloween (with Michael Kiske), Queensryche, Dio, Bathory, Rammstein and Nightwish.
My reference in Portugal are of course Tarantula not only for having a style similar to us but mainly because in my opinion they are the best, they are excellent musicians and Jorge Marques, who already had the opportunity to talk at the end of one of their concerts it is for me the best Metal Portuguese singer.
I also like a lot Sergio and the old The Coven and Gang and current RCA, which also is one of the best of our country and definitely the best on stage.
Finally I cannot leave out the Moonspell who do a great job leading Portugal in other levels.
Hanna Tsepesh: Now for Marcos: When did you start to play guitar and if you had any guitar player that inspired you to start?
Marcos: Hmmmm, I started to play guitar in 93’. Most guitar players tend to have a period in the beginning of their guitar practice where they only play for fun. Not me. At the time I was starting to get deep into knowing heavy metal bands, so my reference at the time was Megadeth and Marty Friedman’s solos… so I was aiming for that level of guitar playing from day one. Then, I knew Satriani’s “Surfing with the Alien”, and then a torrent of solo guitar players, namingly Malmsteen, Vinnie Moore, Vai, Jason Becker and others. Later I found out Allan Holdsworth, John Petrucci, Michael Romeo and Ron Jarzombek, also big influences, but curiously, the first “serious” solo I have ever learned to play was Metallica’s “Fade to Black” first solo.
Hanna Tsepesh: What are your favorite bands?
Marcos: Wow… my Favorite bands… difficult question (laughs), since they’re so many… Megadeth, Dream Theater, Symphony X, Enchant, Foo Fighters, Extreme, Pain of Salvation, Gamma Ray, Diana Krall, Raul Midon, and a million other bands and artists, from the Hilliard Ensemble to Killswitch Engage, Children of Bodom or Into Eternity. I also listen to a lot of classical music, specially Vivaldi, Paganinni, Rachmaninov, and more contemporary stuff like Bella Bartok. Also, all those albums I fervously studied for years and years of Malmsteen, Vinnie Moore, Marty Friedman, Jason Becker, Allan Holdsworth… I must confess that I miss that generation of guitar players…. My musical references in Portugal come from a lot of different backgrounds, once again reflecting the various styles I listen. From guitarrists like Joel Xavier, Gonçalo Pereira, and Pedro Jóia, to Madredeus, Dulce Pontes, etc, but I think the Heavy Metal reference in Portugal are definitely Tarantula. Great friends of ours, and great musicians.Hanna Tsepesh: Someone told me (laughs) that now you have endorsements? Can you tell to us about it?
Marcos: (Laughs); Yeah, well, I have an endorsement from Inferno Guitars, which is a small Australian company that builds custom guitars. The guitar is being worked upon as we speak, and is estimated to be in my possession somewhere in September. It will be a signature model, called “The Grand Opus”, which means “The great Work”, and has a lot of cool features, like 27 frets, ultra-exotic woods, and so on. Trevor, who’s the owner of Inferno guitars traded dozens of mails with me and was very patient until I had exactly all the features I wanted. An endorsement regarding amps is also being negotiated, but I can’t give any details…
Hanna Tsepesh: You also have other project in your hands. Tell to us about your first new solo album? I am very interested about that…
Marcos: This one is definitely a labor of Love, and it’s even more personal than Fantasy Opus songs to me. It will be my first solo album, a dream I had since I started playing guitar in 93. It’s all written guitar wise, It will have 10 tracks, and it will be a conceptual album. It will depict the life of a nameless character from his birth until he or she is about 25 years old, sort of a soundtrack to various episodes (the most meaningful) of his/her life. I have sorted out the bass player, who’s an unknown but very good “Hot club” young musician. The drummer is still being sorted out, I’m still searching... I can, however, lift a little bit of the veil on the album, giving you the track list:
1- Sleep Baby Sleep
2- Across The Skies
3- Late Afternoon at Ericeira
4- Lisbon Nights
6- Discovering Love
7- The Princess
8- Temporary Insanity
10- The Thinker
I took about 18 months in my spare time to write the whole album, but I think it’s definitely a strong instrumental album. Recordings are set to Start in September, and I do not underestimate the challenge it will be to record the song’s I’ve written. Think Spastic Ink meets Cacophony (laughs). I also have a Pre-deal with Gluetone Records, which is a small indie Label that have put out the latest Paulo Barros’ solo album, and is also connected to some fusion, jazz artists. So Stay Tuned! (laughs)
Hanna Tsepesh :(laughs) We will! Let’s talk about your new album "Beyond Eternity". To me the band created a very complete album, because we have fast songs and melodic ballads very well prepared! For those who have not heard the album, can you talk about your debut album?
Pedro: I remember that when I entered the project the album was already recorded so my opinion is genuine and not taken by emotion. It is a very conceptual album and very well structured and has strong moments, quiet and more or less dramatic and all very well fitted to a very consistent music’. It is a very guitar-based of a high technical level with influences of classical music, a rhythm section with energy and intensity with metal and progressive moments, and the voice of a typical classic Heavy Metal with a little more intensity than the normal Power Metal bands.
For me is a good combination between the rich instrumental of Power Metal and intensity of the voice of the Heavy Metal.
Marcos: That was the premise all along, to create a diverse album. I tend to get bored with some power metal bands that do a complete album with songs at the same speed and register. I wanted us to make something more diverse, which had a little bit of intimacy and feeling amongst all those rumbling double bass drum sections. For that, I must confess That Iuri Conceição, our former Keyboard player, had a relevant role, since he’s a prog rock fan like me, so we wanted to capture that feeling and intimacy that prog rock bands and classic metal bands are so proficient at.
Hanna Tsepesh: Your album was produced and materialized by Luis Barros! How was the experience to work with Luis Barros in "Beyond Eternity"? Pedro, you recorded your voice in ETIC studio. Everything went well at recording studios? The band feels proud with the final result? Did you think that Fantasy Opus have their own style?
Pedro: Well about Luis Barros I had the opportunity to know him and talk to him several times but not while the recording of the album, but the opinion of the rest of the band I believe to be excellent working with him. The end result I think is very good; I hope that people enjoy the album. About the style we can say that somehow we have our own register, because as I said before, do a kind of fusion between Power Metal and 80s Classic Metal which gives us a sound a little out of the ordinary.
The voice recording was made in the ETIC studios - Technical School of Image and Communication (where I work as a Graphic Designer) with my colleague Tiago Marques (sound technician) and was a super quiet process.
Marcos: Working with Luís Barros was great, and contributed in a decisive way to the final product that is the album. We had little experience in the studio, and I tend to be sometimes too ambitious regarding technical execution, so I personally needed the “wise man”, AKA producer to help stop my madness. (laughs) Also, in the middle of the recording sessions, we would talk about the music business, and that was also a learning experience for us. I personally take great memories from those days spent in Valadares and not only Luís, but the Barros brothers will be forever linked with the history of Fantasy Opus. We are definitely proud of the album, but we want to do better next time, or else there will be no reason to put out a second album. We have more studio knowledge now, and a more solid group, and better work methods, so I think the future will be bright. Regarding having our own style, I don’t think any band can say that nowadays, since there are thousands and thousands of musical registers, and chances are that what you are doing has being done in a similar way for some band in some period of time.
Hanna Tsepesh: What Fantasy Opus expects to achieve with this new album? How are the things doing with album reviews?
Pedro: First of all we want people to enjoy our work and then we want to see what happens, all of us work in a very professional way to do our best with the main objective to be heard and appreciated by as many people as possible at national level and international level.
Marcos: We want to reach as high as we can. I see this is album as the start of a journey. We know the music world is very competitive these days, but I think we have currently a strong group of musicians capable of reaching some notoriety internationally. Of course we know that takes a lot of time and persistence, and that’s the path we want to follow. Regarding reviews, I don’t tend to follow a lot those things, but here and there, someone I know sends me a link of a review. The lowest note I’ve seen was a 7/10 and the highest a 8,5/10, so that’s good for a first album, in my opinion.
Hanna Tsepesh: What are your favorite songs on this album and why?
Pedro: “Warrior’s Call” is a great song with several chapters, but that seems to listen to short because of the degree of involvement that music creates with the listeners. It is a song that has time to be born, develop and complete a very balanced way, with moments where the guitar of Marcos causes feelings of true apotheosis. (laughs)
Marcos: Pedro has said it. My favorite song of the album is the Warrior’s Call Saga as well, for its diversity in construction, the different moods and feelings that the different sections convey type of harmony, etc. Maybe one day we will surprise everyone and start a gig with that saga…
Hanna Tsepesh: Pedro, you are also a designer like you told us! It was you that make the cover for Fantasy Opus (if am not mistaken). Speaking on the cover of the album, I give you my congratulations for your work! When we look at the cover we capture what is easily the "Beyond Eternity" album, you agree on this? Can you explain us a little about the process of creating the cover?
Pedro: Yeah, when Fantasy Opus got a new singer, they also got in a package a designer and illustrator (laughs) and since that day I do all image of the band, from the logo and the cover of the album, posters, etc ...
The creation of the cover was a process based on a briefing that was given me by the band. I want to depict the environment of an epic battle, fantasy, and good against evil with a central character as the icon that we will always use in future artwork, it’s is a kind of our "Eddie".
Both the logo and image and colors are primarily intended to take us back to the world of Metal bands of the 80s and try to bring our album that incredible mystique that existed at the time.
Hanna Tsepesh: What is your personal opinion about the metal music in our country? Unfortunately we do not see many bands like Fantasy Opus around here ... you guys think is cultural issue? Did you guys think is hard for some people accept certain styles of metal in our country, especially your? I at least have some difficulty finding Portuguese bands like Fantasy Opus in here. It seems that are hidden (laughs)…
Pedro: The national metal is growing very quickly and with great quality, the Portuguese finally start to believe that we have the same ability as others. For a long time we saw the bands foreign as semi-gods when in fact they are people like us with the same problems and difficulties, also pay bills, eat, also go to the bathroom (laughs) the only difference is that they do not think in a defeatist way like a lots of Portuguese think in several areas.
As for style I think the Power Metal in Portugal is still not very popular for cultural reasons, that we have a little idea that the metal has to be heavy, that metalheads are some bad guys who scare the old ladies and the guys of Power Metal is a kind of Barbies (laughs). It reminds me that "the football is not for girls." But I think that is ridiculous idea is already part of the past and that the style will grow naturally in Portugal.
Marcos: Well, a few years ago, there weren’t a lot of bands. Now I could name at least a half dozen now, all good bands in my opinion. The thing is that they do not have any visibility at all in the media, in the press, etc, so I’d say that the greatest problem here is lack of National identity. For instance, in Spain, they tend to hold sacred what is Spanish in general. That’s partially the reason why there are so many metal bands there, because they are not seen as inferior comparing with foreign bands. That’s the mentality that is lacking. I can bet that anyone that goes to a gig of a good Portuguese Metal band, will get a great metal evening. So it’s kind of a Catch-22. If people do not think in Portuguese bands as being inferior (because they are really not), more people will go to the gigs, and the promoters will be able to pay better to the bands. The bands will have more resources to invest in better productions and better stage props, and provide better albums and concerts. And the circle is perpetuated. That tendency to see Portuguese bands as inferior to foreign bands, is slowly dissipating, but the change is still too slow in my opinion. Having said that, I think the Portuguese metal is progressing in a good way, with a lot of talented bands in various subgenres, all contributing to a stronger metal scene here.
Hanna Tsepesh: You guys want to send any message for our readers and your fans that always support you?
Marcos: If you don’t know us, check us out, and go to our gigs, I promise you that you will have a great time! For the people who already know us and that we have seen a lot of times in our gigs, thank you is not enough, you guys have been awesome, and we will do our best to return all that support, with bigger, better gigs, and great albums in the future.
Pedro: Well, I hope you enjoy our work and go to our concerts and make our concerts your party. Keep supporting Fantasy Opus and all national bands because only with your support that we have the opportunity to prove that the Portuguese are just as capable as any other. Long Life for Portuguese Metal!
Hanna Tsepesh: Thank so much Marcos and Pedro for your answers and time! THE GATES OF METAL wish big success for your new album and for your personal projects! See you guys in live concert...
Pedro: OK, thank you!
Marcos: Thanks for all the support you have demonstrated so far Hanna! I hope you can see us playing live as soon as possible… maybe drop by Lisbon some day.
Hanna Tsepesh: You are very Welcome Fantasy Opus! For sure some day I will see you guys in live show! All the best…
By: Hanna Tsepesh
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