Abaddon magazine

Music magazine

Tuesday, September 28, 2021

Interview: Rage In My Eyes

If you ask me which band I have discovered in the last decade deserves an international career, with no doubt I would say: Rage In My Eyes! Francis Cassol and Jonathas Pozo were kind enough to be involved in this epic interview and introduce you to their work.

Hi! Welcome to Abaddon Magazine! Almost a year now we are all together in this Corona madness. How did you adapt on it and how do you spend your days?
Francis Cassol: It hasn’t been easy. Especially in the first days, when nobody really knew what was going on and how to deal with it. And now there are some mutations of the virus, so it seems we’re back to square one. The situation in Brazil right now looks bad, mostly due to terrible leadership. In the band, we are doing what we can. In 2020 we put out several quarantine videos, and for 2021 we are planning on recording new songs for an EP.

We are here to present Rage In My Eyes to a wider audience, and that means we have to dig deeper to the past. For all those who never heard about the band, you were formed as Scelerata in 2002 and after sixteen years you changed the band name. Why?
Francis Cassol: That was a hard decision to make, because we worked really hard under the name Scelerata for over a decade. But, since I moved to the US in 2017, I noticed that people were having a hard time pronouncing, reading and, of course, remembering the name. We always aimed at the international market, so it made sense to change it to a name people wouldn’t struggle with. And I’m sure we made the right decision, especially because a lot of great things happened since the change. In addition, we are keeping Scelerata’s history alive, because Rage In My Eyes is not a new band, it’s a continuation of what Scelerata started.

What does the name Scelerata mean? There are a few translations and definitions.
Francis Cassol: In Latin, Scelerata means bad person, bad seed, criminal, something like that. But there is also a Roman legend behind the name. According to this legend, Scelerata was a name of a portal, and whoever crossed this portal would have its fate doomed. It’s a pretty badass Heavy Metal name haha! But we learned about all that stuff after we had already picked it. To be honest, we chose this name because, in Portuguese, the word Scelerata phonetically sounds like the word accelerated. Since we were into playing fast Heavy Metal, we thought at the time that it would be a good fit for us.

What would you say is the main difference between Scelerata and Rage In My Eyes?
Francis Cassol: Scelerata’s music is pretty much based on traditional Power Metal, even though there are some clear proggish touches to it. In Rage In My Eyes we make a more modern version of Power/Prog Metal, including more Thrash elements, drop tuning on some songs. We also take the Milonga thing a few steps further in Rage In My Eyes, bringing the accordion to the spotlight.

As Scelerata, you released three albums, the first one was more progressive, the second more power, and the third more heavy. And I can hear a bit of trash elements. How would you describe your music?
Francis Cassol: I think your words are pretty accurate! But it’s hard to put a label on our music, especially because we mix a bunch of different elements. In the band, we all are fans of those genres you mentioned. We love Slayer, Sepultura, Metallica, Malmsteen, Iron Maiden, Helloween, Dream Theater, Pantera, Symphony X, Manowar, Angra, Blind Guardian, Guns N’ Roses, Bon Jovi, and so on so on. So, it’s natural that we have a bit of all those bands in our music, putting our twist into it, making it sound fresh and unique, especially with the addition of the accordion on some songs.

So far, the most significant changes go in the direction of vocalists. Are you still in contact with all guys and do you know where are they now?
Francis Cassol: Yes, for sure. I lost touch with Carl Casagrande for years, because he moved to London in 2008, but about 4 years ago, we got back in touch and been pretty close ever since. We often talk about the old days, all the tours, shows and albums we did in the past. I’m also good friends with Fabio Juan, who is one of the most good-hearted people in the world. We are still in touch, mainly through social media. And I must say that I miss that bastard a lot hahaha!

Your first album ″Darkness and Light″ was mixed and mastered by Dennis Ward and it included some guest appearances: Renato Borghetti (Accordeon), Edu Falaschi (Angra) and Thiago Bianchi (Shaman). Big names on your first album. How was working with them?
Francis Cassol: Thiago was also the sound engineer for that album. It was fully recorded at the studio he had at the time, called Via Musique Studio, in São Paulo, Brazil, except for Borghetti’s session, which took place in our hometown of Porto Alegre, Brazil. It was great working with all these amazing artists and musicians, and we are very thankful to them for being part of our history.

 ”Darkness and Light″ entered the Top 3 albums in Brazil′s Roadie Crew Magazine. You were right behind Sepultura and Angra. How important was it for Scelerata as a young band?
Francis Cassol: It was amazing and totally unexpected! Being newbies in the scene and having our first album voted right behind huge Brazilian artists like Sepultura and Angra was something. It was really important because it gave us the confidence to keep moving forward.

″Eminence″ was the song you chose to film the video. When shooting a video, which approach do you think is most effective?
Francis Cassol: That’s hard to say because it depends on what the artist has in mind. We put out five official music videos so far. Some with actors plus the band, others with just the band performing. Both approaches can turn out to be really great. But I think it is paramount to work with a professional filming crew, including directors, producers, editors, find cool locations, etc. In Scelerata and Rage In My Eyes, we always work to deliver the highest quality material possible that fits our budget.

The next album ″Skeletons Domination″ was mixed and mastered by Charlie Bauerfeind who had been working with Helloween, Blind Guardian, Rage, Saxon, HammerFall, Motorhead… What is most important to you when working on the final details?
Francis Cassol: The mix is a VERY important process of production. You can have the best performance ever, record with the best instruments, get the best possible sound in the recording room, and all. But if the mix is poorly done, you’ll end up having a terrible final result. After having a “not so good sounding” first album, we wanted to take some risks and get a much better sound for our second album. Skeletons Domination was the first album that guitarist Renato Osorio participated in. He had previous experiences as a producer, and he had an important role here, especially producing the vocals. I recorded the drums in São Paulo again, this time at Mr. Som Studio, owned by the band Korzus, where I had a great experience. Overall, things were more professionally done, I would say, so we needed an experienced producer to mix the album to get the best possible out of the songs. Carl contacted Charlie Bauerfeind and set the whole thing up. We were definitely stepping up our game on the second album. Charlie, being great as he is, did a fantastic job and delivered a very good-sounding album.

The album delivered a video for ″Enemy Within″, one of my favorite songs besides ″Death Sleepers″ from the last album. How do you choose which song will you record the video for?
Francis Cassol: That’s cool, I really love those two songs too! Usually, that’s a very democratic decision, and it almost always ends up being a unanimous one. Back then, we all agreed that Enemy Within is a song with powerful riffs, a great chorus, great guitar solos, and that, in a way, summarizes the album as a whole.

Fabio Juan joined the band as a vocalist on ″The Sniper″. For me, maybe the most interesting is the fact that the third album was partially recorded, mixed and mastered in Germany in the Twilight Studios. Can you tell me something more about that experience?
Francis Cassol: Recording in Germany, under Charlie’s supervision and in Blind Guardian’s Twilight Hall Studios was a fantastic experience for me. When we first started planning the new album, I wrote Charlie asking if he was available to mix and master it. He replied back asking me to call him because he had an idea. Turns out, he wanted to be part of the production, not only to mix and master the album. He wanted to listen to the demos, be a part of the whole writing process and produce the whole thing. He invited the band over to record in Germany, which we thought was great. Unfortunately, we couldn’t fly the whole band over, so we tracked only the drums in Germany. Renato and I flew to Germany, where we stayed for 10 days, to work with Charlie and start recording what would become the album The Sniper. Everything else was recorded in Porto Alegre, under Renato’s production.

The album also features Andi Deris and Paul Di′Anno as special guests. They were not only singing but composing and co-writing also?
Francis Cassol: Exactly. Andi wrote the song “Must Be Dreaming” and Paul helped out on some lyric parts. During the 2011 tour we did with Paul, we invited him to record a track. Paul accepted right away, which was very cool of him. We then took him to the studio where, in a few minutes, he recorded his parts on the track “In My Blood” and a small participation on the track “Rising Sun”.

You have a long experience working with Paul Di′Anno but I believe it would be interesting to our readers to hear how that partnership started?
Francis Cassol: It started back in late 2008. Paul put an ad up on his MySpace page saying he was looking for a backing band. The ad said he wanted a band that already existed, with two guitars, bass and drums. We sent our material over, he liked it and asked us to record some of his songs live in the studio, which we did. He and his manager loved the band, so we started working on putting the first tour together, which happened in mid-2009.

I can just imagine how privileged you are working with Paul Di′Anno. What have you learned from him?
Francis Cassol: For sure, it was a dream come true to us. We grew up on Iron Maiden, and to have the privilege of playing those songs that we grew up listening to, with the guy who was a part of it and that actually wrote some of them, was beyond exciting. We couldn’t believe it when things started happening, we were just so stoked! We ended up doing five tours as his backing and opening band (yes, Scelerata opened every single show!), playing 53 shows with this absolute legend. There are a bunch of videos up on YouTube, you can search for Paul Di’Anno and Scelerata, and dozens of videos will pop up. Some in decent quality.

How did Andi Deris end up on your album?
Francis Cassol: Charlie Bauerfeind told us that Andi Deris from Helloween had listened to our demos, really liked the new singer, Fábio Juan, and would like to offer a song for us to record on the new album. Of course, we accepted this very flattering offer. So, we recorded the track “Must Be Dreaming” to be part of the album, which Andi also contributed with his voice on.

″Rising Sun″ is the next video you filmed. As I mentioned, some thrash elements are incorporated here. Maybe now is the time to ask you about the main influences and your favorite bands.
Francis Cassol: We shot the video for “Rising Sun” in a fantastic location in a town called Canela, up in the mountain area of our home state. It was made in the ruins of what was supposed to be a casino, back in the 50’s. They started building it, but then the laws of the country changed, prohibiting casinos. So, the construction was abandoned, but the ruins are still there. It’s a weirdly beautiful and fantastic place to visit. Regarding the song, I agree with you. It is a heavier power-metallish song. The lyrics are a tribute to the people of Fukushima, in Japan, that suffered a lot from the 2011 nuclear disaster. About my favorite bands, I would narrow them down to Metallica, Rush and Dream Theater. Those are probably my three favorite bands of all time. But there are MANY MANY more that I listen to and adore. As a drummer, my main influences are, of course, Lars Ulrich, Neil Peart and Mike Portnoy, but I am also heavily influenced by Ingo Schwichtenberg, Clive Burr, Aquiles Priester, Ricardo Confessori, Thomen Stauch, Vinnie Paul, Ricardo Confessori and the list goes on and on.

Scelerata also recorded ″Twilight of the Gods″, Helloween cover. What is the most important thing for you when you are working on covers?
Jonathas Pozo: We always aim for a balance between respecting and referencing the original work, but putting our signature to it, which happens in a supernatural way when we play music by artists we like.

Scelerata has 3 videos out, one from each album. Also Rage In My Eyes has, if I am not wrong, two official videos (”Death Sleepers″ and ″Hole in the Shell”), so can you share any anecdotes from the video shootings?
Jonathas Pozo: While making the video for “Death Sleepers”, we had some makeup on, to make us look like “post-apocalyptic” gaucho, figures from the southern Brazilian culture. The looks we got from the regular customers at a local restaurant, when we took a lunch break at noon, were so funny. Dark costumes and painted faces haunting lunchtime hahaha!

Now, as Rage In My Eyes, the sound has changed a bit. ″Ice Cell″ delivers specific sound, you are adding accordion. Why?
Jonathas Pozo: Actually, despite the name change, the accordion element represents in a way a rescue of Scelerata’s roots, as there were already songs with the accordion in the first two albums. It is an instrument very present in the South-Brazilian culture in genres such as Milonga (a type of music common between parts of Argentina, Uruguay and Brazil), which has a reflective and even melancholic sound, dialoguing very well with Heavy Metal. This cultural root ends up influencing us in a very natural way, and also more faithfully represents our identity in this “sub-tropical” Brazil in which we grew up in.

We will not forget the last vocalist who joined the band, Jonathas Pozo. What is the story behind this line-up change?
Jonathas Pozo: The curious thing is that I was developing a career parallel to Scelerata, in the early 2000’s, by covering Iron Maiden and playing other genres besides Metal and Rock. All of us only got to meet in 2013, (the year that Fabio had to leave the band), through a mutual friend who had played with me precisely in an Iron Maiden tribute band.
Francis Cassol: This mutual friend is Rod Velasco, who was actually part of Scelerata’s early days from 2001-2005, and who actually named the band. We were so lucky to meet Pozo! My only regret here is that we haven’t met him earlier! When we felt Fabio was leaning towards leaving the band, Velasco told us about this guy who was a phenomenal singer that he had met playing some Iron Maiden covers with. Velasco showed us some videos he had up on YouTube, covering Angra and Iron Maiden, so we knew he was more than capable of singing our stuff. But we didn’t know if he would be down to joining the band and committing. Anyways, I got his number and called him one day. He showed up for a rehearsal, nailed the songs, and the rest is history. A few months later we played a Rock Cruise and that was his debut playing live with the band. I’m so thankful to him, because when he joined, we were going through some bad times within the band, due to some lineup changes. But he stuck it out and have been our frontman ever since, through all those ups and downs. Not to mention he’s an all-around fantastic human, a great guy to be around and an absolute phenomenal creative musician (amazing singer, great guitar and piano player).

As we said, we had a rough year, but I got the impression you have been very active despite the fact a lot of bands just gave up, so let’s talk about that a bit. The first is the song dedicated to Andre Matos. You asked the fans all over the world to send you photos they have so you can make a video. How hard emotionally was working on that song and the video?
Francis Cassol: Andre’s passing hit me hard. He passed so unexpectedly when things were starting to pick up for him again, with Shaman getting back together and packing venues in Brazil. It was such a sad day, nobody believed the news, people were texting back and forth, trying to understand what was going on, if it was fake news or some sort of bad joke. In a matter of minutes, tributes to Andre Matos started popping up all over social media, with people playing covers of his songs. To be honest, that felt weird to me, seemed that people were trying to promote themselves through his passing. After the first days of mourning, I was feeling so down one day that I started writing some words in his honor. When I thought I got something special, I texted Magnus and he replied right away, saying that he was working on a song for Andre that same minute! Turns out we were working together on the same song, in different continents, without even knowing it. That felt so special. We then kept working on the song and arranging it. The idea of having fans on the video came from Pozo. Since we were writing a song from fans to fans, the best thing to do would be to have Andre’s fans in the video. And that’s what we did. It’s a beautiful song, called I Don’t Want To Say Goodbye, and the lyric video turned out to be beautiful as well. We are very thankful to the fans who sent their photos with Andre and proud of the song and video. And I truly believe that Andre would have loved our tribute.

How much Andre influenced you personally and what do you think about his global influence and promotion of Brazilian metal?
Francis Cassol: I am not a singer, but still I am heavily inspired by him. I am a huge fan of his work, and I also relate a lot to his personality, with him being a vegetarian, putting music and art before business and all. I can say without a doubt that Brazilian metal would not have been the same without him, he set the bar way up high. Andre was a prodigy, extremely talented. He recorded his first album at the age of 15 with his first band, Viper. On the second Viper album, called Theatre of Fate, which is fantastic btw, there is a song called Moonlight, which was the first song he ever wrote, based on Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata. This song, in Japan, went up the charts, the Japanese loved it. They wanted Viper in Japan so bad, but by then Andre had already left Viper and was putting Angra together. The Japanese wanted Andre, no matter what. So, Angra was big in Japan even before having an album out. Turns out, when Angra’s first album, Angels Cry, came out, it was a game-changer filled with amazing songs. He didn’t let his Japanese fans down. Andre was so confident of his talent, he was never afraid of restarting. He did that multiple times in his career.

Also, you contributed a tribute to Iron Maiden album ″Somewhere in Brazil″. How did you choose ″Aces High″?
Francis Cassol: We got offered a slot on this compilation, and we wanted to do one of Maiden’s A-sides. Pozo sounds so great singing Maiden, and I believe this was his pick if I remember correctly. This is one of those songs that just runs in our veins, you know? We had such a great time covering it and we think it sounds quite good!

Now it is the perfect moment to mention your concert with Iron Maiden in 2019. How was the feeling sharing the stage with, in my personal opinion, the biggest heavy metal band on this planet?
Jonathas Pozo: Surreal! A truly unique moment, something to someday tell our grandchildren hahaha. For us, in a way, it felt like a “treat” from destiny, as it was acknowledging all those years of hard work we had put into our careers so far, like the hard work was finally paying off. It was like, “OK guys, I know you’ve been working hard all these years, so I kept this gift for you! Now enjoy!”

The concert was held in Arena Do Gremio, 40,000 people in front of you. On a scale from 1 do 10, how nervous, excited and even scared you were?
Jonathas Pozo: I would say 9: 6 nervous + 3 scared, but 11 excited!

″Hole In The Shell″ is the video that immortalizes that moment. What will you remember from that show forever?
Jonathas Pozo: There is a lot to remember from that evening, but the highlight of the show to me was during the song “Enemy Within”, when we could feel the vibe of 40,000 metalheads clapping along with me and pulsing along with the kick drum during this song.

Also, during the quarantine, you released ″Winter Dream″, quarantine video. For how long did you guys not see each other, rehearsed together?
Jonathas Pozo: Yes, fortunately, we managed to keep the band going, by participating in a few “quarantined” festivals, and putting out one original song and some covers. But you’re right, we went almost a year without meeting in person. We recently met a few times, starting to work on new songs. However, especially in Brazil, this, right now, is the worst moment of the pandemic, so we are conducting most of the process virtually, for safety purposes.

There are a lot of metal bands from Brazil. Which band is Brazilian world ambassador of metal in your opinion?
Francis Cassol: There are two internationally huge bands in Brazil: Sepultura and Angra. Sepultura is more popular in the US and Europe, while Angra is more popular in Japan. I believe that is because they were slightly ahead of their time when they came out. Years later, both bands added some Brazilian elements to their music, making them sound unique and stand out in the crowd. Andre Matos, especially, was a true genius, and I believe that whatever he would put himself into, it would have been successful, because he was so great. But I gotta say that it is a true shame that other Brazilian bands didn’t make it as big as Sepultura and Angra, because there are countless amazing bands that work hard and put out great stuff.

Recently, you closed partnership with Basso Straps, the first vegan guitar straps manufacturer. Tell me something more about that.
Francis Cassol: It’s nice that you mentioned that because I am particularly proud of this partnership. I met the guys in Basso Straps in January 2020 at the NAMM Show, in California. I helped them do some good business during NAMM, and we turned out to become great friends. The company is from our home state, it’s a traditional brand in guitar straps, been in business for many years. They were launching the vegan straps at NAMM, and I gotta tell you, the quality on the straps is amazing. I loved being a part of it since I’m a long time vegan.

How many of you in the band are vegans?
Francis Cassol: I am the only vegan, but Pozo and Pedro were vegetarian for a while. I do have a new band, called Blood Karma Foundation, which is a conceptual vegan band, that is formed by all vegan members, and discusses in the lyrics issues like animal rights and protecting the environment. We will be putting out an EP soon, and the songs kick ass, staying in the Black Dahlia Murder, Arch Enemy and Carcass department. Blood Karma Foundation is also endorsed by Basso Vegan Straps.

Playing with Paul Di′Anno, also with Scelerata and Rage In My Eyes, you have been travelling a lot. You have experienced playing in small clubs, but also in a front of 4000 people. Which best suits your character: small venues or stadiums?
Francis Cassol: I love playing at both, but I believe it’s more exciting playing for larger audiences.

How do you see Rage In My Eyes in the future?
Francis Cassol: First and foremost, we hope the Covid situation is long gone history soon. When things go back to normal, I hope to see Rage In My Eyes signed to a label that truly supports us and playing in the big festivals in the upcoming years.

Fans from South America are known to be very passionate. Why do you think metal is so popular there?
Francis Cassol: I think we like to seize the moment. When we’re at a concert, we want to make the best experience out of that moment. Plus, we love music and partying, so…

Football is a big passion in Brazil. You are from Porto Alegre, there is a big rivalry between Grêmio Foot-Ball Porto Alegrense and Sport Club Internacional. Which team do you support?
Francis Cassol: Nice to see you did your research, Ivona! I love this question! And you are right, the rivalry is ridiculously gigantic. I am a Grêmio fan! Jonathas and Pedro are Internacional fans and Magnus is a Corinthians (from São Paulo) fan, which is a true shame hahaha.

Thank you so much for your time for our magazine, I apologize for too many questions, but I think it is the best way to present the band to potential fans. In the end, what causes the rage in your eyes?
Francis Cassol: Please do not apologize! I am impressed with how well you know the band’s history. As I said, you really did your research, which is something we truly appreciate! We are actually all chill dudes, but, of course, there are a bunch of things that piss us off, like corruption, terrible leadership, stupidity, injustice, famine, etc. As a lyricist, I need to be pissed off or experiencing some heavy emotion to write truthful and meaningful lyrics.

I wish you all the best and hope when this madness ends we will see you on some world tour at least, you deserve it! Take care!
Francis Cassol: Thank you, Ivona! I’m so glad to hear you like our music! Thank you for giving us the opportunity of sharing a little bit of the band’s history on Abaddon Magazine, for promoting the band and all! We sure hope to see you all on the road!