Thursday, February 21, 2019

Interview with Guilhermino Martins of SERRABULHO by Dave Wolff

Interview with Guilhermino Martins of SERRABULHO

What is “party death grind” and how does the title fit you as a grindcore band?
I honestly don't use tags to describe our sound. I know for a fact that people tend to be happy and lunatic during our shows, so maybe that's what this is all about. We play extreme music for sure; we have a sense of humor and we use a lot of innuendo in our lyrics - oh, and we are influenced by traditional music.

I just saw the “party death grind” tag on your Facebook community page and thought it was something you came up with. Do you refrain from labeling bands because labels limit a band’s potential?
I am answering from a personal point of view. I honestly don't like labeling art. I don't think labels limit a band’s potential (that doesn't change), but they could influence the listener’s perspective.

If listeners are influenced by a band labeling their music or a label given a band from a reviewer or PR company, do they miss something they otherwise would have liked?
That could happen, of course. There's nothing better than you own judgment.

How do you mix traditional and extreme music? Provide examples and explain how your style stands out from that of other grindcore bands.
We incorporate bandolim, rabel, bagpipe, accordion and a lot of Portuguese traditional percussion in our songs, so that pretty much creates our identity, musically speaking. We live in a rural area of the country so we're used to listen to a lot of traditional music since kids. We don't block that influence while composing. In fact, we gladly use it as part of our "world".

Do many grindcore bands incorporate native or traditional instruments into their music, or would you say Serrabulho is one of the first?
We don't claim to be the first to include that ethno world in our songs, but I'm pretty sure we do it convincingly as we use music from our own region (Trás-os-Montes e Alto Douro and Miranda do Douro).

How knowledgeable would you say you are about the Trás-os-Montes e Alto Douro and Miranda do Douro regions? Is it important to bring some of that knowledge to your listeners?
I'm an aficionado of all things concerning my region. There are so many historic facts, myths, rituals and stories that it's impossible to stop digging more and more information. And we decided to share some of that knowledge to the audience, yes. In a funny way, that's a fact but it's there on some songs!

Black and death metal bands from many different countries have recorded with traditional instruments since the 1990s.
I would say that mix started in the 1980's; look at Skyclad for instance. I can recall Nightfall [Greece] or the first Orphaned Land [Israel] albums as good examples of the crossover between metal and traditional music.

I’m not familiar with Skyclad and Nightfall but I got a chance to listen to Orphaned Land recently. Their approach to crossing metal over with traditional music sounded like a lot of work went into it and it sounded deeply personal to them. Is the band or the other two inspirational to you?
They’re not a direct inspiration, as my traditional crossover influences come from Portuguese acts like Banda do Casaco, Fadomorse, Dazkarieh and Uxu Kalhus. But I like the first Orphaned Land album "El Norra Alila" and "Athenian Echoes", a great CD from Nightfall.

Tell the readers why you would recommend the bands you cite as influences, and where their releases can be found.
They are not grindcore or metal bands at all. They are underrated bands from Portugal that crossover traditional music and rock, funk or jazz. If anyone is interested in checking them out, just look for them on Spotify.

Does funk or jazz influence come into play when the band is writing and composing?
I believe everything in life (music, movies, books, life experiences, etc) influence the composition, so yes I would say funk and jazz are also in our mixing pot, as well as a lot of other music styles.

What is the meaning and inspiration of the name Serrabulho?
Serrabulho is a traditional dish in Portugal, made from pig's blood. I wasn’t in the band since the beginning but I think the name fits us quite well. Serrabulho is all about tradition and the rural world so it's perfect.

In Portugal where the band is based, is there a sizable scene for grindcore and goregrind bands? How well is grindcore and other styles of extreme music known outside your home country?
There's a scene in Portugal. The country is small but there are a lot of people going to shows, supporting the bands (national and international) and there are events every weekend in the main cities.

Do the events you mention include yearly festivals? Do fests in Portugal draw large crowds and receive zine and webzine coverage? At which have you attended or performed?
There are a lot of festivals all over the year - and every year - with large crowds (considering the country dimension) and magazine coverage. By now we've performed in almost every festival in Portugal - from SWR Barroselas Metalfest, XXXapada na Tromba, Vagos Metal Fest, Butchery at Xmas Time, Sublime Torture, Santa Maria Summer Fest, Oeste Underground or Milhões de Festa, I mean... there are so many! And indeed we almost get press coverage by Portuguese magazine, fanzines and webzines.

How often are those festivals covered in the press and by which publications? Name a handful of them and indicate if any of them are online? Do the bills at those fests usually consist of Portugese bands, or do bands from other countries make appearances?
They are always covered. I can quickly recall Loud!, Ultraje, Loudness, Metal Imperium, Hellheaven, Hintf, Versus, World Of Metal - all of them have Facebook pages. Almost always it's a mixed bill, between national acts and acts from abroad.

How often do international bands get to perform at fests held in Portugal? Which of them have you seen lately?
On a weekly basis. The last ones I saw were Primordial and Sólstafir.

When did you join the band and how well have you worked with the other members since you became a member?
I produced the band's first album, and since they didn’t have a bass player I offered to record the bass lines, as a session member. The collaboration was so good that after a couple of gigs still as a session member, I became a full member. I think our work ethic is perfect, since we're always trying to push the best out of each other. Three albums in five years prove it.

The name Bruno Ferreira regularly appears on your Bandcamp profile as a mixers’ assistant. Are these two friends of the band or studio professionals? How did the band hook up with them?
Bruno Ferreira is my assistant at Blind & Lost Studios [] and I'm a music producer and teacher.

Serrabulho has three full length releases, a split single and a single streaming on Bandcamp. In 2014 the band released their debut single Burglary, a tribute to the Polish goregrind band Dead Infection. Was this tribute recorded before you joined? How well did it do as the band’s debut?
I recorded bass guitar on all of Serrabulho’s releases. The Burglary song is part of a Tribute To Dead Infection - compilation CD with several Spanish and Portuguese acts. I think the compilation CD is sold out. Actually our debut was indeed the first album - Ass Troubles (2013).

The band’s next release was the split single with Shoryuken, also from Portugal. On this release Serrabulho recorded a cover of Guns N Roses’ “Sweet Child O’ Mine,” retitled “Sweet Grind O’ Mine.” How does your cover deviate from the original?
SGO'M has different, hysterical lyrics - and a lot of different arrangements, that include the main guitar melody sampled into an - let's use this word - "strange" keyboard line.

Did the band release Ass Troubles, Star Whores and Porntugal [Portuguese Vagitarian Gastronomy] on CD as well as streaming it on Bandcamp? How many copies were made and can any of them still be purchased from the band?
Ass Troubles was released by Vomit Your Shirts. The other two albums were released by Rotten Roll Rex. I don't know exactly how many copies were made but all released are available for purchase through the band's Bigcartel or Bandcamp. We are 100% happy with both labels work. We are in the right home!

Were all the singles and full lengths by Serrabulho recorded at Blind & Lost Studios by you and Ferreira? How long have you and he worked at this studio? Have you produced albums by other bands there?
They were. Our albums’ recordings take something like four months between the drums' tracking to the final mastering. I've been recording bands since 2000. Concerning the grindcore scene, I already worked with Kadaverficker [DE], Brutal Sphincter [BE], Condylomata Acuminata [AT] and in April I'll have Mutilated Judge [ES] in the studio.

Are those bands you mentioned having produced easy to work with? How well did you and said bands connect with each other?
All the recordings tend to be very smooth and the work environment is really peaceful and calm. Usually, band members create some tension between then and I try to "explore" that tension for the good of the album’s sound.

How often have you had to channel tension between band members into producing their work? In hindsight do they see you did a decent job at that?
Almost every record - it's part of my work. I think I do a very decent work - and maybe that's why bands return to record the following albums.

From where is Mutilated Judge based? How long have you been acquainted with the band? Do you think you’ll be able to work with them in the studio, given the time you listened to their music?
They’re based in Basque Country. We played together in Bilbao (2015) and since then we cross paths a lot of time, as they are always touring too. I can recall performing with then in Austria, Slovakia, Spain and Portugal.

Talk about the lyrics on some of the songs from your three full lengths. What do you think people will appreciate about them?
I can talk about Dingleberry Ice Cream. The song features a bagpipe played by Ricardo Santos and a lot of Portuguese traditional percussion instruments. The lyrics are in Mirandese - our second national language - and tell a fictional story that happens in Miranda do Douro - the region where the aforementioned language is still spoken. All with a lot of humor and an omnipresent melody of the Family Frost ice cream vans.

Are you considering other instruments for future releases?
We are pretty much open to experimentation. There are no limits to the imagination.

How soon do you expect to start working on new material? Is anything being written at present?
Only by the end of next year, since our agenda is really full in terms of live gigs!

-Dave Wolff

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