INTERVIEW: Fernanda Lira – Nervosa

Ahead of the release of their new record Agony, and the announcement of their upcoming European tour, Distorted Sound spoke to Fernanda Lira, lead vocalist and bassist of Brazil’s meanest power female trio NERVOSA.

Good afternoon Fernanda how are you?

Fernanda: I’m fine, thank you and you?

Yeah I’m grand thanks.

Fernanda: Before we start, let me just tell you something like. I just want to say I’m sorry for the setbacks we’ve been having with this interview because we’ve been in Colombia and there were setbacks there too. We had to fly all the time and then it was just a complete mess so that’s why I’m saying I’m sorry right now that it took so long to finally manage to do the interview.

Not a problem, thank you very much for agreeing to the interview, especially in your line of business, there are setbacks and you get stuck in airports it happens, it’s Rock ‘n’ Roll after all. You’re just after playing three dates in Columbia how were the shows received there, did you get a good crowd?

Fernanda: Oh yeah, you know every time we get to play Colombia it’s incredible, actually the first time we played there was two years ago and it was our first show ever outside of our country. So we didn’t know what to expect and it was just awesome and ever since Colombia has been a very special place for the band because people are so great, good energy and everything. Then after two years we’ve been trying to get back there again but never succeeded and now we have three dates there and it was just super fun. The same way it was like, the last time we played two cities we hadn’t the other time and all those gigs were packed and everyone was so full of great energy, crazy mosh-pits so there’s no way you can’t love Columbia it’s awesome to be playing there.

That’s great, did you have a chance to try out some of your new material from your upcoming album?

Fernanda: No, not yet because the album is going to be released in June, so we want to keep it as a surprise a little bit because we will release two singles soon, we will release a lyric video for Intolerance Means War and a video clip of one of the songs. So we will start playing the songs at least after we release those materials so probably near June. At the end of May, we have some gigs in Argentina and Peru to do so maybe there we’ll be playing something, like one or two songs. When we start our tour in Europe which is going to start on the same day the album is released (3rd June) then we’ll play the full album like we’ll be playing as many songs as we can.

That sounds fantastic, now I’ve had a listen to your new record Agony and I think it does your first album justice, if not it surpasses it could you perhaps elaborate on some of the influences for the album, as there is defiantly an old school thrash feel to it.

Fernanda: Well, I think if take this album and compare it to the other one I think it’s more aggressive and it’s totally because of the stuff we’ve been listening to while writing the songs for this new album. I usually say that we write the music we like to listen to so we’ve been listening to a lot of death metal since we released Victim Of Yourself, we’ve been totally into death metal like VADER, BEHEMOTH and bands like that and of course SEPULTURA and other bands from Brazil. I think VADER and SEPULTURA were the main influences on this album. We were listening to this a lot, especially VADER, and we would go; ‘Oh did you listen to this song? Oh did you listen to that song? oh we should do a riff like that’. Of course, we mixed their influence with our way of writing and our old school thrash metal and that’s the result and I’m pretty happy actually because I can really hear a little VADER and a little CANNIBAL CORPSE and a little SEPULTURA in all the songs and I actually like that. I don’t feel like oh I’m just copying my idols, no because they influenced us a lot and they write great songs so it’s a kind of cool.

I see you recorded the album in The US, you started off in Oregon to record the drums and then to California everything else. How was that experience different than recording in Brazil, did it have a positive effect on the recording process?

Fernanda: Yeah, for sure because for a long time we’ve been waiting to, not only play the US but I don’t know, to record an album there as most of the band I personally like and that influence me the most. For example NUCLEAR ASSAULT, all the thrash metal bands from the Bay Area and all the death metal bands from Florida. They are my favourite bands and they are very important to my way of writing and everything so to record in the same country they recorded their classical albums that I love I think it’s been a treat for us. But it’s not easy because you know we come from Brazil it’s so hard to be leaving here like in a financial sense and everything, but there was this tour opportunity and then thought well why not? We’re going there, we already had the plane tickets, let’s take this opportunity and I can tell you it’s influenced 200% on the sound and on the whole vibe because we were really really happy and fulfilled and feeling really accomplished so this whole confident vibe really influenced us.
We would wake up every day at like 7am without crying because I hate waking up early so we would wake up at 7am, just super excited to be there and we would stay until like 6pm recording and super super happy and with a lot of energy. Some of our favourite bands recorded in the US and everything and you know the quality of recording there is on another level compared to Brazil so the whole experience was really joyful for us I would say.

You guys have been around for a few years now, you’ve toured extensively. You have established yourself as a real force in metal, especially in South America, so I’m wondering have you ever had people dismiss NERVOSA because you’re a female band, have you every experienced any form of sexism in the industry or at your shows?

Fernanda: Oh yeah, unfortunately, girls who want to play metal have to deal with this kind of thing, when we started here in Brazil and because Brazil can be a really sexist country sometimes especially in metal too. I would have never expected that because I don’t know, metalheads are like you know open-minded and everything but here there’s a lot of sexism which sucks but because it’s kind of a part of the country’s culture in a general way. Not everyone is but still lots of people are so, in the beginning, it was kind of hard yeah because there aren’t many girls around so it’s something new and everything that’s new happens for either the bad or the good.
In our case it was for the good like lots of people felt inspired, lots of girls felt inspired by seeing us you know trying to live our dreams but yeah there was like this other side yeah for sure because some people would say, believe it or not, at the beginning of the band some people would say that; ‘Oh these girls only get shows because they get laid with promoters’ or ‘I heard they get shows because they send naked pictures to promoters’ and all this all this kind of stupid things. We even heard we were top models and then at live shows other people played our songs for us, you know this kind of really silly things. So to deal with that and of course, there was like some other serious things like people really cursing us, saying bad things about us and insulting us and insulting our family but it always came from a tiny tiny percentage of the metalheads. You know because I would say like 95% of the people would support us a lot, but the 5% would say the kind of stupid thing because it was just a few people, the way we found to deal with that was just ignoring it, you know we never really actually care about this kind of thing, it’s just people getting our their rage, getting out their sexism. If it was a serious critique, like; ‘Oh I think the band should be better at this’, these type of critiques we can really take and we are happy to take and we do that all the time in order to be a better band. But when it’s just insulting us, we never care and that was the key, we just kept on doing what we wanted to do, focussing on the people who really supported us and that’s how we overcame all this prejudice because nowadays it’s just like a hand full of people who keep on saying those sort of things.

The majority of people, even though they don’t like the band, they respect us because they saw we’re just metalheads that love what we do, that love what we play just like any other metalhead. Being male or female we just love metal we love to play metal and we’ve been touring a lot, working so hard, so I think with that we earned respect and I think that’s the way the other girl bands should be like, just don’t give a fuck actually and just keep focusing on your work and what you love and that’s how we overcame everything. Nowadays it’s a piece of cake really, their reactions are the complete opposite when we played in Europe, USA and still when we play here in South America people just get overwhelmed like ‘WHAT? WHAT ARE THESE GIRLS DOING?’ We can play thrash metal and act like maniacs on stage, it’s actually a positive surprise for them.

At the moment it seems that the Brazilian metal scene and the thrash metal scene, in particular, is exploding, a lot of European thrash bands have been touring South America and have had great success, more so than what they have had in Europe. What do you attribute the Brazilian metal scene to at this moment in time, why is Heavy Metal so big in Brazil at the moment?

Fernanda: I think at the moment, not only thrash, but death metal too. I think because in a general way in South America people will have their favourite genre, so people love thrash metal and love death metal and I don’t know, I can’t say exactly why but one of the reasons is for sure that lyrics from thrash metal they’re about protest, they talk about politics and corruption and all this kind of shit. We have all of this in South America, more so than in Europe and I think that the metalheads here can identify with the lyrics and with the energy of thrash and death metal, it sounds very aggressive and sometimes we have a lot of bad stuff and shit in our daily routine, so when they’re listening to thrash metal and death metal we kind of find a way of releasing all the energy the energy we get inside, the bad energy we get, you know. In the hard reality that we have to live here like it’s hard to make a living, a lot of corruption, lot of shit going on so we get pissed off and then when we listen to metal it’s a way of relieving the whole thing. That’s the main reason at least in my opinion but yeah South America loves thrash metal and also we don’t have the opportunity for lots of bands playing here all the time, the same way there is in Europe like bands play every year in the same country we don’t have that here. So when we have a change we go super happy and we go and we make the show a sell-out and that’s who we are.

Okay Fernanda, Just one more quick question before we go, you’ve just announced you’re playing Out & Loud Festival, you’ve announced a US & Canada tour, can we expect a UK & European tour from Nervosa in the near future?

Fernanda: Yeah, we’re actually about to announce it this week, we’re going to do a crazy Europe tour again, just the same way we did last year. In Europe, we’re going to start on June 3rd and we’re going to finish on July 26th.
There’s a lot of gigs being booked but we also have a lot of gigs confirmed including in the UK we’re going to be announcing this week but it’s going to be a super cool tour again. Always with a new album, it’s going to be super aggressive, a lot of energy on stage, it’s going to be awesome we actually can’t wait for that!

Thank you very much for your time, this has been very insightful and you must be very busy at the moment so I really appreciate it.

NERVOSA’s highly anticipated second album Agony will be available everywhere June 3rd via Napalm Records. 

Nervosa Agony

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