Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Interview with EXPURGO by Dave Wolff

Interview with EXPURGO

Expurgo started in 1997 as Putrifocinctor, one of the first grindcore bands from Belo Horizonte/Minas Gerais. How long has grindcore been admired in that city, which is also considered the cradle of Brazilian thrash and death metal?
Anderson Oliveria (drums): As you said, Belo Horizonte was a cradle of Brazilian Death and Thrash Metal. However, some bands started to play Punk/Hardcore/Crust during the 80's, like Atack Epilético, and some bands were more aggressive and crazy than others like the Death Metal maniacs from Sextrash. During the 90's some bands like C.V.I. and Hansened started to play a raw Splatter Death Metal style as precursors. Only in 1997, with Putrifocinctor playing, we were really titled as a Grindcore band. But there was no Grind scene in our town, and we did not adapt to the Death / Black Metal scene that existed, we were isolated.
Philipe Belisario (guitars, vocals): Well the truth is, we always loved metal and punk but in that time the scene here had too many people and too many rules for us. We wanted to go against the standard and do things our way: Grindcore. In the beginning we were isolated in a small group. We hate the radicalism in metal but, in our way, we were radicals too. As time was passing we all become more open minded, and Expurgo was slowly introduced in the scene. Today we earn the respect and admiration of many and in my modest opinion we help break some paradigms here. Just as they helped us to break our paradigms.

Were you attracted to the cutting edge musical quality of grindcore, the politically themed lyrics, or the more graphic lyrics of goregrind bands? Who were the bands you were most often listening to at the time?
Anderson: For both themes; music and lyrics. Before a Grindcore band I was involved with Death Metal bands with the typical gore/splatter lyrical theme. Napalm Death and Brutal Truth introduced me to the political theme. Before Putrifocinctor I used to listen to Carcass, Napalm Death, Brutal Truth and Terrorizer. After I met Egon Dias and Phil, they presented many more bands to me, such as Dismembered Fetus, Anal Cunt, Regurgitate, Gore Beyond Necropsy, Warsore and Dead Infection. Those bands are my favorites to this day

In what ways did Putrifocinctor and other grindcore bands that emerged in Belo Horizonte/Minas Gerais expand the horizons of your underground scene?
Philipe: Well, I think the main contribution of those bands was to shock and subvert some minds in a good way.

Tell the people reading this interview about the scene in Belo Horizonte/Minas Gerais. Are there enough bands, zines, and independent labels for the scene to sustain itself?
Anderson: The scene in Belo Horizonte and Minas Gerais has a lot of bands of different styles. I can indicate to you: PRECEPTOR (Death Metal), MATA BORRÃO (Grindcore), STOMACHAL CORROSION (Grindcore), CHRONIC ASHES (Death Metal), PATHOLOGIC NOISE (Splatter), SCALPED (Death Metal), PESTA (Stoner/Doom), NECROBIOTIC (Death Metal), COLT 45 (Death Core), DUNKELL REITER (Thrash Metal), HELLCOME (Thrash Metal), AGAUREZ (Black Metal), MORTIFER RAGE (Death Metal) and many others. However, shows nowadays are empty. Many people do not go to shows or support local bands.

How does the local club circuit help the underground death metal and grindcore scenes in Belo Horizonte/Minas Gerais?
Egon Dias (vocals): The local clubs support bands with some dates for our gigs, and some equipment. But there are too few clubs that open space for underground bands, especially extreme bands. So that´s a real problem for us.

Why are fewer people attending shows and supporting local bands these days? Would this change for the better if there were more clubs booking shows?
Sérgio W. Vilhena (bass): I do not believe that more shows would make people leave their houses. We've seen lots of shows with great bands and people are still sitting in front of their computers looking for shows on Youtube. Perhaps this is more a feature of the new generation. Nowadays, besides all the digital collections available, we have more opportunities to see bands that we would never imagine playing here in Brazil, for example. With the fall in the sale of CDs and media in general, the bands need to take the road to show their "product". This facility also makes people more selective, in addition to the fact that the tickets, most of the time, are not very cheap. On the other hand, we have seen many good bands composed by young boys doing a great job, as well as a renewal in the public that still attends concerts and supports their favorite bands. They are the hope of our scene.

How many people do you generally see at shows when you’re there? Which bands are still attracting clubgoers?
Sérgio: Underground shows normally range from 30 to 300 people. More well-known foreign bands, even those who play extreme music, tend to attract a good audience. Festivals with Brazilian bands, when well organized, are beginning to attract a lot of people.

Name some of the biggest metal fests in Brazil and describe how word about them gets around through advertising?
Anderson: There are many festivals in Brazil, the main underground fest here are: More Gore Than Before Fest, MetalPunk Overkill Festival, Black Hole Festival, Roça’N’Roll, Headbanger's Attack Festival, Zombie Ritual Metal Festival and my favorite was Splatter Night Festival (R.I.P.). The divulgation and advertising basically are on the internet.

Did Putrifocinctor or Expurgo get to perform with any of the bands you listed above?
Anderson: We played with other bands that we love, like D.R.I., Voivod, Master, Krisiun, Pulmonary Fibrosis, Stoma, Mutilator, Nervochaos…

How much material did you release as Putrifocinctor? Were physical releases of your releases distributed or were they made available on social media outlets?
Anderson: Putrifocinctor released one demo tape in 1997. It was released independently and distributed by the band. In 2016 I published the demo on YouTube; many people still remember this band.

Explain how Putrifocinctor became Expurgo and the changes the band underwent, musically and lyrically.
Anderson: Expurgo started from the ashes of Putrifocinctor, after the original bass player and drummer left in 1999/2000. I was a bigger fan of this band, and they invited me to be part of that. At first, I played bass, but I ended up playing drums because I knew how to do some blast beats and d-beats. After that, we decided to change the name of the band and use a Portuguese name, Expurgo (Purge). We are still playing some old Putrifocinctor songs because we're basically the same band, but Expurgo is more aggressive and dirty. Egon, Phil and I have been friends and played together for eighteen years. Expurgo changed bass players twice, and Sergio joined the band in 2015. Although he is a guitarist and into Death Metal, he has adapted very well to Grindcore. In fact, Expurgo and Putrifocintor began as a band of friends, and we remain so.

Name some Putrifocinctor songs you still perform as Expurgo. Do those songs still resonate with fans of Expurgo?
Anderson: Sometimes we perform old songs like Grind Dog, Gore Gore Girls, Xorume/Fecume, and My Name Are Scum. Yes, our friends like these songs, because it is basically the same Grindcore that we play today.

What is the meaning of the name Expurgo and how does it conceptually relate to the band?
Egon: We need to purge our anger and fear of this strange world that we live in. Grindcore is a relief, an important way we have to express our frustration, and show others our point of view. The violence in Brazil is huge, and somehow we transfer living in it every day with an extreme, aggressive sound. Expurgo means to purge our filth away and show what violence (in any aspect) represents in our lives.

Are you referring to current events in Brazil or violence in general? Any particular examples in the lyrics?
Egon: Brazil is a violent country, unfortunately. We have many natural resources, with a really good people, but the corruption in politics is the main violence we all suffer, and the corruption is intrinsically linked to all kinds of other violence. So, we suffer this violence all day and refer to that in our lyrics, like Blast Of Truth or Xenon Pieces Swallowed.

Who in the band writes the lyrics? Does the inspiration come from TV, newspapers or real life experiences?
Egon: In the composing process, I write the most of lyrics in Expurgo, but the other guys can do some stuff too. The inspiration came for everything: since a book that we are reading, until real life experiences like live in a third world country, with many chaotic problems, like stupid politics ruling us, send their dog hounds (police) to menace us or use the religion bullshit to control our minds.

How are politics and religion used to control the populace in Brazil? Is it like in the U.S. or are different methods used?
Egon: In history politics and religion have been used to control people minds, and everyone who tried to struggle against it suffers violence in many ways. To be subversive is outrageous, it’s a menace to the system. So the system needs to oppress you and force you to obey. Of course, we all grew up in some cultural aspects, and that´s really good because we need to trade important values. But, somehow, if you start to question the abuse of authority or the social-economic system, it’s not acceptable. So politics and religion are used to suppress your questions, who you are and your nature. You need to do this and that without question. That´s really sad.

How much material does Expurgo have out to date? Are any of your releases available for streaming on social media?
Anderson: Expurgo has a good discography, a lot of splits and two full-length album. About the releases available in the streaming, we finally started using this platform, we already have the albums Burial Ground and Deformed by Law available there (Spotify etc) and last year we participated in a digital split, released only on Bandcamp. We also participated in a collection of grindcore bands from South America in digital format. Streaming nowadays is the format of most people use to have easy access to music, it is important that underground bands participate in this digital world. But of course the physical media is our favorite and we will never stop releasing it, mainly on vinyl.
This is our discography list:
Various releases (Tributes, collections etc)
UNDEAD - TRIBUTE TO DISRUPT – 2LP/CD 2013 (Track recorded: Body Count)
SIEGE OF GRIND - A BRAZILIAN TRIBUTE TO NAPALM DEATH – 2013 (Track recorded: All Links Severed)

Has social media helped the band increase their fan base in other countries since you began streaming?
Anderson: Of course! Nowadays people need and want quick information. So the streaming helps us a lot in the divulgation of the band. On the other hand, the labels and distros are damaged, and they tend to sell less physical materials as they did in the past. It is a change in the thinking of the new generations and we cannot change it. We need to adapt and move on. But the physical materials will always exist, we never stop to have that. The old school never dies!

Quote the lyrical content of Blast Of Truth and Xenon Pieces Swallowed, and indicate what those songs are about?
Egon: Blast Of Truth tells us something I have discussed... we are rats that live in a world of corruption. We need to fight against the status quo every day. Xenon Pieces Swallowed criticizes our need to consume everything every day. The system shows us that we need all things all the time, but what we really need is stop that need to consume and start to think about what we really need and what we really are.

A promotional video was recently made for Xenon Pieces Swallowed. Who directed the video and how much has the band been promoting it since its release?
Anderson: The new video was made by a friend called Igor Arruda from Belo Horizonte, and recently we released another video for Carnivorous Eyes song made by me. We are trying to promoting both videos as much as possible. We have received a good return from the public, the video has reached many visualizations. But nowadays there are thousands of bands with many channels of communication, it is not simple to promote a video among thousands of others.

Explain how the band hooked up with Black Hole Productions and how the label has been treating you up until now.
Anderson: Fernando Camacho (Black Hole Productions) is an old friend of mine. I met him during the late 90s through Black Hole's record catalog, I still keep buying enough material with him until today. I introduced Expurgo to Fernando in 2005, when we recorded our first demo. In 2010 he decided to release our first album, which was really good. Black Hole Productions helps us a lot in the divulgation and high-quality art direction, Fernando is careful and detailed with his work. He’s a great guy, and Black Hole is certainly the most important label of Grindcore and Goregrind in South America.

Were you a reader of Black Hole Magazine around the time you first contacted Fernando? How would you have rated the magazine while it was being published?
Anderson: In fact, I met Fernando because of the bands Lymphatic Phlegm and Flesh Grinder. I made contact with André Luiz of Lymphatic in 2005, and he sent me a catalog of the label, only then I had access to the magazine. But the magazine was very good it brought a lot of information from the Underground. Some years ago, by visiting Fernando's house, we had the opportunity to see the first zines editions of Black Hole, the originals! Zines' from the 80s. That day was incredible. 

Tell the readers about your latest release and how it represents the band’s growth and maturity. Any zine reviews worth mentioning?
Anderson: So, Deformed by Law was our most mature work, both musically, lyric and graphically as well. We train and work hard to reach this level. However, musically the sound of the Expurgo did not change, in fact, I think it became more extreme and cohesive because we are performing the songs better than before. And this is easy to understand, all the reviews, comments and opinions we have received are highly positive, from the most radical fans to the youngest, including people of other styles, not just Grind, Gore and Death. This is very gratifying because our goal is happening - to make Grindcore for the good old noise fan. 

Expurgo recently appeared at a show with Brujeria. How did the band get this spot and how did the show go?
Anderson: So, we were invited to open this great show, and the show was good! We already played with other fantastic Grind names such as Dead Infection, Aborted, Benediction, Master, Extreme Noise Terror, and Napalm Death, but this show was great, stage, equipment, everything. We played songs from all our discography including from Deformed by Law album, and the acceptance was great, people liked the new songs and we were very happy with that. Brujeria exceeded our expectations, they played some old songs that were killer like Desperado from the album Matando Gueros, it was really cool.

The band plans to tour Europe in the near future. Where will this tour be stopping? Do you look forward to this opportunity?
Anderson: Finally, we will do our first tour! It's a fantastic thing for us, always dreaming about this opportunity during these 15 years and only now it will come true. We will be touring Germany, and we will have some shows going through Belgium, Poland and ending in Czech Republic in the classic Obscene Extreme Festival. And this day will be more special because it will be my birthday, we will celebrate on the stage of Obscene Extreme! 

Anything else the band is planning that you want to refer to in this interview?
Anderson: We have good news! We would like to announce that a new split 12" LP with Nuclear Holocaust (Poland), will be released soon by Fatass Records label.

How did you arrange the split with Nuclear Holocaust? Were you in contact with them for some time before the idea came up? How did it come to be that Fatass Records would release it?
Anderson: So, Nuclear Holocaust's drummer Radek invited us in 2016 for this split, but we were very busy with the recording and production sessions of our last album, so we left the split for the end of 2017. We recorded 13 new songs for this split that will be released in a vinyl 12" LP format. Radek had already combined with Pawel from Fatass Records to release this split, so it was very quiet. Now we are waiting to press it. Pawel and Radek are very nice guys, that split will be killer! 

Where is Fatass Records based, and how well known is the label in its home country? Do you expect them to do a good job promoting the split? Will you still be releasing your own CDs on Black Hole?
Anderson: Fatass and Nuclear Holocaust are from Poland. In my opinion, Fatass is one of the most active Grind/Gore label in Europe. I think he will do a good job promoting the split. I've been following Paweł's label since the beginning and I get quite stuff with him. About our CDs, yes we will continue to release the Expurgo's albums by Black Hole Production. Fernando does a good job, being good enough for us.

Is the band planning anything else for the near future?
Anderson: For now, the European tour is our main plan, and we are working hard to do that. After we will keep looking for play alive in Brazil to promote as much as possible the last album and split with Nuclear Holocaust. That is it... Thank you, Dave, for the interview, and greetings to everyone who has supported us….Keep your open mind... and grind on!

-Dave Wolff

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