Interview with Virghon of Introspection
Start off by discussing the current state of the metal underground in Brazil and your hometown. What are some of the independent print zines and webzines that are currently active these days? How about bands and venues?
Brazil is an extremely large continental country; therefore underground metal here has different characteristics. For example, we are from Maceió-Alagoas in northeastern Brazil. Here the city has very few shows in the year; when it happens it is a promoter bringing bands from other cities, generally in the south and southeast. But the northeast is very large and has several cities. Here we have many Black Metal shows. Death and Heavy Metal in general is oriented toward the northeast as a whole. Fortaleza-Ceara in the Northeast has a strong attraction with various bands. Recife-Pernambuco (the neighboring state to Maceio, our city) has a regional scene but made inside to speak of underground metal. But it still has several international attractions. But as in all of Brazil there is hyper appreciation for the bands of the south of the country and even foreign bands. Already southern Brazil has many more underground shows with little public because the public only appreciates foreign, European or American bands. What is being built is a great fragmentation in the Brazilian underground. And, in a way, it is even good. But on the other hand, our country is a melting pot; we are very mixed. Thus, there is an internal and external culturalization that collides ideologically. It's funny and at the same time confusing to see bands with their culture transcending ideologies. Brazil has many independent zines in various cities. The most famous metal webzine of the country is Whiplash.net. But the number of zines is so large that it is difficult to list them here. Therefore it would be an unfair choice. But in fact, there are many dedicated warriors in every Brazilian state; I would say we have serious and valiant zines from the national scene in every state. But printed zines and webzines are too small. Here in the city there are two Black Metal bands, but it seems that no material has been released yet. It has some old bands that persist in the struggle. In terms of Death Metal there are three great ancient bands in our city: Lammashta, Goreslave and Nós. We came from seeing these bands and going to their concerts. Thinking about it, time passes very fast; we will complete ten years of the band in 2015. We have three independent demos and we are launching our first official CD recorded in Peru in Latin America. We have a tape to be released by a record company in Costa Rica, and a representative and digital distributor of our work in the United States. And also, we have some splits and participation in various zines and national, European and North American collections. We need to take a living doing what we love, and we want to play our Death Metal to death. That is the law. Despite living in Maceió, northeast Alagoas, it's been three years that I have lived from season to season in São Paulo in the city of Guarulhos, the second largest city in the state of São Paulo. In São Paulo the scene is stronger, and the constant attractions are greater. I'm in the city studies completing my Masters in Philosophy. If the doctorate is approved I will have to put up with this for four years, and then we will inevitably be playing live, writing and participating in the local scene.
Describe Whiplash Zine and indicate how well known it has become in Brazil? Name some of the bands that Whiplash has featured of late? How long have Roadie Crew and Rock Brigade been active in Brazil and how many readers know of it?
Whiplash.net is a site about rock and metal in all its sub-styles. The philosophy of the site is to invest in the community that exists around these styles; more than being the largest source of information on bands and artists, we want the site to be the largest meeting point for users interested in this subject. Whiplash.net today is most likely the most important vehicle of communication about Rock and Heavy Metal in Brazil. Although many people think Whiplash.net is a site just about heavy metal or heavy music in general, the site also covers classic rock bands and pop rock. The misconception comes from the early days of the site in 1996, when we used skulls in the background. Users of the old school site still complain that it was good at the time. Damn skulls in the background. Accusations that the site is selling out and starting to publish material about pop bands to have more hits date back to 1996, when in the fourth or fifth field site we published something about Nirvana. The site was opened in June of 1996. In 1994 Whiplash existed as a zine on paper and then circulated as a distributed messaging in the areas of BBS (the "prototype" of the Internet) text. Various known and unknown bands have access to the site. All bands in the scene are always disclosed by the magazine. Besides Whiplash we have two great heavy metal magazines in Brazil, Roadie Crew and Rock Brigade. I think they have been around more than ten years; I don’t know exactly.
Explain how Introspection got together as a death metal band, how you chose the band name and started to spread word among the local and national underground scenes etc.
Introspection was founded in the summer of 2006 by Virghon, who was in the corridors of Philosophy course at the Federal University of Alagoas, Brazil. Virghon proposed to revive a subdivision of the Death Metal genre that mainly focused on more traditional death metal without ignoring more classical fusion thrash-death metal or even old school death metal, thus highlighting a thematic and philosophical sense that values a turn towards more technical compositions. As such, Introspection currently performs music that incorporates a perspective based on atypical metal, without losing the traditionalism that characterized underground fusion thrash-death metal from the 80s and 90s. In terms of the issues addressed in the lyrics, Introspection highlights the critical values that conservatives throughout history have used as an instrument to instigate the suicide of humanity. Introspection means “insight” in the narrow sense of the word, suggesting an awareness of internal emotions through observation and reflection on one's own internal workings as the subject itself. Thus, the individual is the subject of knowledge and the object of study in self-observation. From its genesis to the present day, the band has released three independent demos; "Suicidal Psychology" (2007), "The Beast With Return The Past” (2008) and “Domination Of Death” (2009/2010) and has participated in many underground Brazilian compilations and zines. Presently Virghon, the main proponent of the ideas driving the music, is in the process of composing his latest artifact in order to support members invited to achieve the next album from Introspection. The latest release, "Human Emancipation”, was released in late 2013/early 2014.
How long had you been studying philosophy at the Federal University of Alagoas before starting Introspection? How does he channel his education into the band’s lyrics? What critical values of conservatives does the band write about?
I began graduate studies in philosophy in 2005. Before even finishing the first half of 2005 I met the band Death. I've liked Death Metal produced in the city of Tampa since 2000. The idea of creating Introspection was hatched in the halls of this university course in philosophy. In fact the building was in law school. The course of philosophy is one of the ancient woes of the state and even today does not have its own building. So the idea of creating a band that could play Death Metal materialized after I met Darlan Lourenço, a student of philosophy studying in the same room as me. He introduced me to his cousins, Paulo Oliveira and Pablo Oliveira. Paulo entered the band and we played together until today. The first lineup was Virghon on bass and vocals, Darlan Lourenço on guitar, Paulo Oliveira on drums and A. Casado on guitar. Pretty soon A. Casado left because he played with me since before when we had a Black Sabbath cover band. A. Casado could not stand the aggressiveness of Death Metal and jumped out. Soon afterwards Pablo Oliveira took over on bass. So in that period I, like the rest of philosophy students in this course, was in love with the ideas of the German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche. Thus, the letters try to engage with the concepts of philosophers. The idea is based on the critique of modernity and at the same time it’s a return to unity between the Greek gods Dionysus and Apollo. It was on the idea of a fierce critique of Christianity and metaphysics, exposed to the announcement of the death of God. If you see the title of our songs you will notice the clear influence. "Eternal Return" and "Death Of God". Today we do not abandon this criticism, but we think it is enough just to criticize the topsy-turvy world. This is the religious world. A topsy-turvy world is an inverted world. You need to put things in their proper place and talk about the real world. Hence the title of the current CD is Human Emancipation; it speaks of man in his world. We continue criticizing the fantasies of religion, but now with not so much emphasis. Therefore, the consequences of this inverted world are produced by the real world. When I wrote this the band was still influenced by the ideas of Nietzsche. He speaks of nihilism, and nihilism divided into active nihilism and reactive nihilism. The active nihilism that is interconnected with will power and the idea that man is master of his own life, so it must create its values from himself, asserting his will to live and surpassing oneself. The reactive nihilism is one that referred to conservative values that deny life. Enslaving the life of man’s alienated will. Christianity is as nihilistic as Nietzsche. But it is a reactive nihilism that denies life. And it is a conservative driving toward suicide of humanity. Not suicide as something biological, but as existential negation, as a kind of spiritual bondage and self-forgetfulness.
When you and A. Casado were involved in a Black Sabbath tribute band, what songs by Black Sabbath were you covering?
Only a few songs. This band that played covers of Black Sabbath lasted from 2001 to 2004. In 2005 we created Introspection. A. Casado was part of the first band, but did not last long. Following are the Black Sabbath songs that we rehearsed: Iron Man, Paranoid, War Pigs, N.I.B, Black Sabbath, Electric Funeral, Children Of The Grave and National Acrobat.
Does Introspection cover Black Sabbath songs in their live show? Are there other bands whose songs you have covered?
we are rehearsing our version of a Black Sabbath song to play live, Electric Funeral. We are rehearsing a song by Brazil’s Sarcófago to play live and we soon intend to play A Fine Day To Die by Bathory. We are not a cover band, but it's always good to play the classics. We also like Dissection a lot.
Are you Introspection’s main lyricist? How did you begin to channel your education in philosophy into the band’s lyrics? Is Introspection the first band to exclusively explore philosophy in your lyrics, or are there other bands doing the same?
In 2015 I realized it was possible; my intention was to defragment my life. I remember at that time I only studied philosophy and was beginning to create Introspection, so I thought, why not address philosophy of themes in the lyrics of the band? And, by the choice of the title of the band itself, that's what I did. There are many bands that do that. Remember, Death’s The Sounds Of Perseverance places a quote from Nietzsche in the album booklet.
How widely were your three demos distributed in Brazil and other countries? How much interest in the band was generated in the tape trade network? Can you quote reviews your demos received from fanzines?These first three demos had restricted distribution. The truth is they were test drives where he served more for the band to study than to promote. The three previous demos were an internal study, and therefore without wide distribution. These were the learning discs. The opinions were more to support the band because it was the band that was starting its work. In the beginning it was more connected to the lyrical content of that instrumental music, though in particular I always thought they were two important aspects and therefore deserved the same attention.
Name the compilations you have appeared on since the release of your demos. Were they released on physical CD? Which of your songs were included on the compilations you listed? Which of those compilations have gotten you the most exposure?
The collections were launched in physical CD and digitally. Here are a few: Odicellaf Zine Compilation/Bahia-Brazil; Underground Zine Compilation/Bethlehem-Brazil; Undergrondzine Sampler Review-Italy and Extreme World-Poland. The last we participated in was Extreme World Volume 5. The song was Human Emancipation. We have gotten a good response outside Brazil, especially in italy, Poland, Austria, Germany, Peru, Brazil, Russia and Western Turkey.
Were you introduced to the writings of Nietzsche when you were taking philosophy courses? Which of his books were you assigned to read and what first interested you in his philosophy?
I knew the philosophy of Nietzsche more rigorously in the course of Philosophy. Here in Brazil, in particular, newsstands sell various Nietzsche books but the German translation into Portuguese is very bad. The publisher is bad actually. So I already knew a little, but the assumptions of my interpretations were quite different than I really got to know in the course of philosophy. About the books: The Antichrist, Thus Spake Zarathustra, Ecco Homo. These three in particular I have much appreciation for. Certainly the critique of Christianity; the notion of freedom; existentialism in power and the idea of love fate.
What do you most appreciate about Nietzsche’s books The Antichrist, Thus Spake Zarathustra and Ecco Homo?
The Antichrist is impossible to deny the concept of nihilism, and more, as the thinker characterized Christianity itself, which is, as a negation of life, Christianity as a form of nihilism. Christianity is nihilistic, but it is a negative nihilism, reactive without supplements for human life, on the contrary, it removes the right to life to the detriment to the ideals of worship, abstractions, and transcendent beings. Also in this book, which draws attention is also the concept of happiness. It is what we want to overcome. It is the feeling of passing of victory, that we can overcome an obstacle. This is the way Nietzsche defines happiness, I think of a rare depth. In Thus Spake Zarathustra it is difficult to characterize only one aspect. The whole book is very interesting, in the exhibition and in more detail the content itself. The notion of superman. The notion of man as a bridge. The presence of Dionysus. There are several aspects and wealth of thought in this book, which the author stated as the one most important of his career. On the other hand, in the Ecco Homo, the most interesting is the notion of love-fati destination of life, what cannot be changed. Will not meant as a destination for history preescrita fantastic beings and that we should follow. Here, it seems to me that there is a great contribution to the psychology of Nietzsche. It seems to me that this aspect, love-fati became a disposition to deal with things past. The past is something that once was, the important thing is build our present without worship of idealities. No cults or illusions. These illusions are not necessarily religious core. The individual also has no religion that creates multiple illusions, conditions for their own happiness, and think you can only be happy when you get them. Their lives trapped in an ideal and they cannot be happy here and now. Happiness is power that creates more power.
Explain in greater detail your studies of the Greek gods Apollo and Dinonysus?
Before Nietzsche, gods were present in mythology. It was the polytheistic religion of the ancient Greeks. Apollo is the god of wisdom, moderation, reason etc. Dionysus, on the other hand, is the god of wine, the orgy, happiness etc. Philosophically, in Nietzsche, especially in his first book "The Birth Of Tragedy, Or Hellenism And Pessimism" the German philosopher, who actually was a philologist, created a thesis. The thesis is that before the advent of Socratic philosophy, there was Plato’s philosophy known as the richest moment of philosophical classical Greece. Before that, in the pre-Socratic period, or cosmological, there was a unification of the Apollonian and the Dionysian. And as for Nietzsche that was the richest time of philosophy. It went against the whole philosophical tradition that celebrates Socrates and Plato. For Nietzsche, philosophy decays with Socrates and Plato, it begins to decline, because with these philosophers, also born the art of making concepts, metaphysical philosophy is the philosophical basis later taken by the Catholic Church in the fourth century before Christ to support Christianity on the rise. So, I think the exaltation of unification between Apollonian and Dionysian in Nietzsche is a way to criticize the philosophical metaphysics and also Christianity drinking this metaphysics. As Nietzsche would say, "Christianity is Platonism for the people". And extolling Dionysus in one of its aphorisms: "If I believe in any God, that God would be a dancer", referring to Dionysus. In criticizing metaphysics, you kill metaphysics, the philosopher also want consequently to martyr the Christian God. This is the meaning of the idea "God is dead", that is, metaphysics is dead.
What is your interpretation of ‘will to power’ from what you have studied?
The will to power is a category that exists in every aspect of life, particularly in human life. Actually, this category was inherited from Nietzsche's philosophy of Schopenhauer, especially his magnum opus, i.e. World as Will and Representation. But Nietzsche’s idea of will power is replaced in two fields of philosophy, ethics, and epistemology. That is, what the metaphysical philosophy has always sought, namely, a truth in and for itself, is nothing but a will to power. There is no truth about everything; that there is will power of certain people that drives a truth should be acceptable. Nietzsche criticizes that using this concept. In ethics, it is quite evident that established values are all fruits of the will to power.
Can you cite some Introspection songs and explain what they mean to you personally?
Fetishized Form and Human Emancipation are the two songs with the strongest meaning. In the sense that certain ruling class in the fourteenth century made a revolution in the head and body of society, put down all the values of the medieval world and today says that the possibility of revolution no longer exists. It is understood as alienation, loss of control. And the Human, by their more general character, there is talk of an emancipation, a full human freedom and truth in a universal level. Without favoring classes, castes, intellectual groups, etc.
I understand you are looking for distribution in the United States. How many U.S. labels or distros have you contacted so far? Are you working on any new Introspection material? How soon do you plan to record a second full length and what do you have in mind for it?
In the United States today, our distribution is digital. But we plan to get a physical distributor. We actually have a novelty for our next CD. I'm always working on new songs and new riffs. And in ideological terms we will get into the field of anthropology.