Hanna Tsepesh: Hello Ricardo and Rui! Thank you so much for accepting this interview and welcome to THE GATES OF METAL!
First of all: how are you and how are the things doing with the concerts?
First of all: how are you and how are the things doing with the concerts?
Hey, Hannah. Thanks a lot for this opportunity for us to spread our project! We’re good, life’s been just as good as it has been chaotic for the last couple of months, with the album’s release and our personal lives (work, studies, etc) being blended at the same time... but it’s been awesome. Life should always be like this: busy yet fulfilling!
The gigs have been great, we’ve been playing every weekend, sometimes on consecutive days. It might seem like a small feat, but you remind to keep in mind that we’re still on the Portuguese underground. We’re not complaining, we like to rise from below... We met lots of new and interesting people and places, made friends... still, we want more!
Hi Hanna. Thank you very much for the invitation, it’s really great to have the
opportunity to talk about our project in your blog after so many great bands have
done it, we feel honored.
It has been quite a stimulating month, with plenty of hard work but loads of fun as
well. We’ve been playing every weekend and it’s been great. As with most bands what
we want to do is play live and fortunately enough that’s been happening regularly. It’s
been a positive month for Terror Empire.
Hanna Tsepesh: you guys are very welcome, thank you for accepting my invitation! For those who do not know the band, could tell us a little bit about how it all started
and the present line up? You and Ricardo Started in Against (band) and the band played new metal? Is this true?
Let me “grab the bull by the horns”... you mean nu-metal, right? The answer is yes, I suppose. When you’re 19, and the only drummer available is a friend of yours who is basically more of a rock drummer than your typical thrash-metal drummer, you have to know how to play with the hand you’re given. Ricardo was screaming his lungs out while me and Puga (our bassist, who was also in the band) we’re pushing riffs after riffs with a Dropped-C tuning... If anything, we belonged to the early Slipknot/SOAD type of metal, the more aggressive one. It was 2001, on the peak of nu-metal, so it’s easy to be mixed or confused with that type of sound. The live shows were awesome, too! I had really long hair (so had Ricardo) and I headbanged from start to finish! I didn’t care, for I was playing and creating music with my friends, and I had a blast! It was an honest effort and the only thing I feel bad about it is the fact that we didn’t record any of it.
But it could always be worse. I could tell you I had Katy Perry on my iPod... which I do! Hahaha!
Who cares? I mean, I hate it when people take themselves too serious. Anyway, we disbanded in 2002, and by the time we reunited in 2007, the sound was way more Machine Head-like.
Again, it’s a pity we didn’t get to record any of it. Sometimes I still find myself humming some of it...
(laugh) those were the days, we had nothing to worry about. Yes, we started as
Against, four friends who played nu-metal. I just wanted to scream my lungs off, bang
my head and be able to share those moments with my friends. That’s what life is all
about! Then there was a hiatus, but we got together again later and started to play heavier
stuff, as Rui said, a more Machine Head-oriented kind of sound. Pity we didn’t end up
recording any of it.
In 2009, Rui, Puga (bass player that was also in Against) and me invited Gonçalo
Marques (drums) and Sérgio Alves (lead guitar), formed Terror Empire and started to
play the sound we’re really into, the sound that makes us want to keep going.
Hanna Tsepesh: the name of the band has an interesting reason. Can you tell our readers what the
inspirations for the TERROR EMPIRE name? and why the band decided to put this name…
The name has its origin in the way we see the world today. The way the leaders of the
world and the major nations enslave all the other ones. The way people are led to live
in a permanent state of fear… of terror. For instance, there’s still too much to explain
about 9/11, there are lots of things about that tragic event that doesn’t seem logic. All
politicians do since that event is to instill fear in people, whether it is fear of war, fear
of terrorism, fear of the economic state of things… FEAR. People are subdued by this
ubiquitous terror, thus becoming easier to tame by the obscure interests that rule the
Hanna Tsepesh: What are your favorite bands? Do you have any musician that you admire?
Easy one! The bands I kept collecting as “favorites” since I was a teen are still my fave nowadays:
Sepultura, Pantera, Metallica, Megadeth, Death, Machine Head, Exodus. I also dig Slayer, despite their terrible solos... haha. There’s lots of stuff I dig nowadays, too, but these are my classic choices... As for musicians, Dave Mustaine, Chuck Schuldiner, James Hetfield, Gary Holt and Dimebag Darrel. Outside of the metal spectrum, I love The Beatles, Bob Marley and, as weird as it might sound, I used to love Michael Jackson when I was 8 or 9. That’s my most brutal choice... as a musician, of course! Still, among other things, the man knew how to write and perform excellent music.
Well, the first that come to mind are Sepultura, Pantera and Slayer… and also Machine
Head. But that’s really hard to answer, as there are so many bands that I’m really fond
of. I can name Sepultura as a really, really strong influence, they really got me with
their music. I also have to mention RAMP, as well. I remember the first song I listened
to was ‘Last Child’… I got really into it and then I ended up watching them live when I
was 12. My first gig ever! The musicians that influenced me are many and from different genres, from Kurt Cobain to Max Cavalera, Phil Anselmo and Tom Waits.
Hanna Tsepesh: I would like to know if did you had or have any guttural technique lessons? I really liked a lot your work in this album! We can feel in the album your emotions…like some people say: “you sing with the soul” and I will finish that with the…” and anger” (laughs)
(laugh) Thanks for the compliment. It’s my way of screaming – with blood, sweat and
tears. All that! Haha. It is quite therapeutic, I recommend it to all. Haha!
I think I got to that point due to all the guys in the band, really. We work hard and give
everything we have. Over the years, we pushed ourselves in a way as to make the best
of each one come out.
But I never took singing lessons nor trained screaming techniques. I used to try and
sing the songs I liked when I was a kid without getting my throat sore, that’s basically
how I started and got to the point I am today.
Hanna Tsepesh: you play guitar. why you decide to pick this instrument? Which brand do you like the most and why?
When my cousin Claudio, who used to live in Lisbon came to spend the summer with me (this must
have been 1992 or 1993, when I was twelve, living in the peripheral Lousã, central Portugal, where
I still live), he brought two things that blew my mind away, and that would change my life forever:
an “Arise” tape, from Sepultura, and his guitar. He also had long hair, which I copied right away! Friggin’ hair always takes too long to grow, when you’re a kid and want to be a poseur! I immediately bought the Chaos AD compact disc thinking it was Arise. It changed my whole life. However, I only grabbed the guitar when I was 16, because Puga, our bassist said he was gonna learn the instrument. I felt envious, and decided that I wouldn’t be out-poseured! I spent the whole summer learning the guitar with Claudio, who eventually moved to “rural” Lousã. We played Metallica side by side with acoustic guitars.
I still think it’s the best way to start learning the 6 strings...
As for the brand, since I’m a huge Megadeth fan, I felt in love with Mustaine’s Jacksons. The Jackson King V was something I wanted so damn much... I even had dreams about it. My father soon realized the less-than-stellar Ibanez I had wasn’t gonna cut it, so he eventually gave in. But it wasn’t easy to get my hands on one! This is was in the pre-widely-spread-internet era, 1999, and we didn’t know what would be on stock or not. We went to Oporto, northern Portugal, and zit. No Jacksons on sight. There was a Gibson Flying V lying around, but I said no. My dad said he would give me the Gibson I wanted, for it was the brand he knew the best, since his teenage years, from listening to BB King. We eventually drove to Lisbon, and bought my faithful King V 1, Dave Mustaine signature model (fuck yeah!!) in December 1999. I remember as if it happened yesterday. As soon as I arrived to the store, that was a Korina-finished (wood like, no color) King V on the wall, and I remember thinking it wasn’t the coolest color ever, but what the hell. I wasn’t gonna risk a change of my dad’s mood! I asked if he was sure he wanted to give me the guitar, and he said yes. Don’t think I’m spoiled, it was the only guitar I used for 12 years, it was a great investment. I have its serial number tattooed on my right shoulder. I still use it every once in a while, but I don’t want it to get damaged, so I recently bought a Jackson RR24. It’s black and red, it’s metal, and I love it! It also has a Floyd Rose, which the King V has not, so I’m always making divebombs!
Total satisfaction. Jackson is the ultimate guitar for thrash-metal!
Hanna Tsepesh: Let’s talk more about the “face the terror” album. What people can find in this album? This album reminds me a lot of the old thrash metal… liked a lot! Congratulations to the entire band…long time I had’t listened to such a great album.
Thanks, Hanna. It’s really great to get that kind of feedback regarding our work. I hope
that people see in ‘Face the Terror’ a powerful and dynamic thrash metal album, full of
energy with some strokes of a more modern-based sound.
Thanks for the compliments! It’s very fulfilling to get positive feedback. People can expect a thrash
album with a modern flavor to it. It’s got speed, lots of riffs and solos, aggressive solos and furious
drumming. We added some groove, breakdowns and odd-time signatures to make it sound modern and not like it’s an album that has been done before by thousands of bands. We use these elements with moderation, though. We want to sound like a thrash-metal band at its core, and I think we’ve managed to pull that out, if you say so in your question!
Hanna Tsepesh: At the recording studio, did you guys face any difficulties? If yes, tell us which and how did it affect the whole process? How was it to work with Miguel Seco? Did you guys learned something from him?
Miguel Seco was the perfect addition to our sound. He made the album sound exactly like we wanted to, and made us feel safe in a way that the only thing we had to do was getting there and play the songs. The hard task of producing was on Rui’s back. (laugh)
But really, Miguel is a sound genius. He has worked with major figures in music, in many different genres. The least positive thing about the recording process was the fact that he isn’t always in Portugal, as he works between his homeland and England –half a month in one country, half a month in the other.
Above everything, he is a great friend!
Even though he could’ve been the producer for the album, for he has the skills for it, he worked more as the sound engineer during the whole process. The pre-production had already been home-made, and the songs were already written and tested as a recorded product, so there were very little changes to make. Miguel is just as patient as he is competent, and I say this in a good way. We felt like we were in very good hands, by working with him at GMP Recording Studios, in Arganil (great studios, by the way).
He’s worked with pop, rock and metal legends, but you wouldn’t know that from his mouth, because he never brags about it - it’s his job, and he’s super-professional about it.
The only downside is that he has to spend half of every month in Birmingham, working at a local studio, and we took ages to complete our recording process - we started in December and only wrapped the record in June, days before its release! If I had to keep a positive take on this downside, I’d say it gave us more time to prepare the release show and the artwork and packaging. Things don’t happen by chance!
Hanna Tsepesh: How has the response been to the album by media?
So far, so good! The lowest review we had was a 7.5 out of 10, and we’ve just scored a perfect 10
by a guy who wrote a pretty solid review (if I’m allowed to review his review... haha), so I felt very proud when I read it. One could say he doesn’t care by reviews, but the thing is: if you’re reading them, you care. Afterwards, you can always put on a high perspective, but very emotional review (so you keep your feet on the ground), or a biased opinion disguised as a review (so you won’t feel frustrated out of someone else’s frustration). Regardless of the score, I care for reviews that respect the artist. But people tend to confuse “critique” with “opinion”, so much... at the end of the day, you should trust your work, when you put it out there for the world to listen to.
Hanna Tsepesh: Which is your favorite song from this album and why?
Just one?! That’s unfair. It’s like asking a father to pick his favorite son! (laugh)
But no, I’ll choose Redemptive Punishment, as a whole, and Last Fire because it’s fun
It’s hard to pick one, out of six songs that apparently sound so alike, but in reality are so different
from each other. Right now, it’s Dirty Bomb. It goes so many places without losing coherence... plus, it features my own solo I like the most. Sorry if I sound like an ass because I like something I wrote, but I’m really proud of it!
Hanna Tsepesh: your entire album is free for download. Why? You guys don’t have any more cd’s or something? Also, can you tell us the link?
Initially, the plan was to go 100% digital. Give the album for free, put our name out there. We knew
the album would eventually be stolen, so why pretend it wouldn’t? At least, we’d get to control the
number of downloads (well, not anymore... even though it’s free, it’s already available at strange Russian blogs and such!). In the meantime, during the build-up for the album release, we had lots of people saying they’d love to have the physical copy of the record, so we thought we’d be fools not to grab the opportunity to gather money to fund our next record, a van or other stuff the band would eventually need! Plus, we decided to help a local association, Louzanimales, that takes care of misfortuned cats and dogs: for every copy we sell (for 7,5€ - send email to firstname.lastname@example.org), fifty cents will be donated to Louzanimales.
Hanna Tsepesh: for the future, what are the band plains? Record label? Are you guys thinking about a 2nd album or something?
Well, our plans are to make ours a more solid project, to grow steadily, to take one step
at a time, in a consistent and solid manner. I don’t see the labels as the Boogeyman,
nothing like that. We’ll try to look for a deal that’s favorable for both parts. We don’t
want be on the wrong end of a deal, but we also don’t want it to happen for the label it has to be a 2-
We are already thinking about our next release, but first, as I said, we have to spread
our word regarding ‘FtT’, to get our music to more people.
I’m already thinking about the direction to take on the second record, but we should milk this one
while people won’t grow tired from it! We need to grow consistently, and this means playing lots of
shows, going everywhere, meeting the right people, etc. I wouldn’t mind a record deal with a label if it was fair for both parts. I think we’re need of professional booking, so we can grab bigger shows and let the heavy metal music industry that the Terror Empire is rising are thirsty for more...
Hanna Tsepesh: Do you want to send any messages to the people who are going to read this interview?
Yeah. Thanks for reading the interview and this website. Support the supporters! Without them,
there would be no scene! As for the rest, download our album (everybody likes free stuff, right?), like
our Facebook page, and tell your friends and enemies about us! Come to our shows if we ever drop by the city you live in!
Of course! Thank you for taking the time to read our interview. I wish all the best to each and every one of you. Download our album, visit our Facebook page, go to our gigs and join our family.
Hanna Tsepesh: Thank you very much for this interview. I wish the entire band big success with this album and maybe an European tour…who knows!
Thank you, Hanna, for the opportunity. I wish all the best and see you soon.
Thanks a lot for this opportunity, Hanna! Hope to see you soon. I’ll buy you a beer or three!
Hanna Tsepesh: you guys are very welcome! Thanks a lot! Rui, I will make you pay that promise…(Laughs). Good luck!!!
By: Hanna Tsepesh
TERROR EMPIRE links:
Download the album: