Original Portuguese version at SounD(/)ZonE.
“Conquering naughty hearts” (using their own words) for several years now, both as musicians and human beings, EQUALEFT have just released their so awaited debut album “Adapt & Survive”. Talking to singer Miguel “Inglês” we got to know a little bit more of the story behind this work and the people who did it with such commitment.
I believe many still wonder about the origins of your name. How did EQUALEFT come about?
EQUALEFT came about on a night out, in downtown Porto, more exactly at the famous bar Piolho. We had been rehearsing together for while but had no name for the band yet. So that night, spontaneously, we decided to start thinking of names that would sound neutral in terms of music genre. We liked the fusion of “equal” and “left” and so it’s been ever since – simple and practical.
You play groove metal, no doubt about it. In the last couple of years in Portugal it seems it’s become trendy for bands to add the word “groove” in their sound description… What do you think of this trivialisation of the word? Does it undermine bands, like EQUALEFT, who make a proper use of the term?
I don’t think so. Even though we’ve always been associated to groove metal, and maybe to a “more modern” sound because of the 8 strings, we’ve never cared much about that. We know we can’t lose our sound identity which is much more than groove. And the proof is our first album “Adapt & Survive” where we reveal ourselves as true chameleons; the groove is there but it’s not alone.
Through the years you’ve created certain “traditions” that aren’t very usual – giving away húngaro biscuits, wielding the lightsabre on stage during the song “Invigorate”, the presence of the plush mascot Equal… How did that all happen?
Everything was spontaneous. The húngaros came around in 2007 when we played a few shows at Fábrica do Som. As we had to wait for a long time before the soundcheck, we started taking a little box of húngaros to keep us entertained. We also noticed that it broke the ice between us and the bands we’d just met. From that moment on it became a habit and then it spread to the public.
The Star Wars elements in our shows, especially in “Invigorate”, started out also as a joke because that song has a pretty epic chorus that fits perfectly. And Equal, our mascot, was offered by a friend and every time he can, he’s on stage, watching over us.
And in how do those high-spirits influence the empathy between you and the crowd?
When we go on stage, we go with the goal of having fun and making everybody there have fun through our music. The band’s high-spirits end up infecting the crowd; I believe there’s no better feeling than being at a show and watching everybody enjoy themselves. And, of course, listening to someone scream “we want húngarosssssssssssss!”.
Speaking of “Invigorate”, what an evolution that was since its first version, in 2008! Was it because of the live-hymn it has become that you’ve decided to “recycle” it?
When we started recording the album we thought that “Invigorate” fit there, both musical and lyrical wise. And we also knew that “Invigorate” deserved something more than what’s in that demo and so we did it – we re-recorded it and gave it a more straight-forward touch, closer to how it sounds live.
You’ve had some problems with the original producer… How did Pedro Teixeira come in the picture?
We initiated the recordings at Soundvision studios with Paulo Lopes (CRUSHING SUN) and after a year of drawbacks in the process we realized we needed something else for the album’s sound to flow. We liked the songs but there was something missing. That’s when we re-recorded all guitars at Raising Legends studio, with André Matos‘ precious help and patience, and through him came also the chance of working with Pedro Teixeira (whom we’ve already known for working with bands such as BURY TOMORROW and HEART IN HAND). Despite him living in London and us having barely a month to mix and master, we took this crazy risk. ADAPT & SURVIVE!!!
And Raising Legends and Raging Planet, how did the deals come through?
We knew the album would need promotion. And we, as a band, needed some extra help so we could focus better on what we were doing. As we knew both André from Raising Legends and Daniel Makosh from Raging Planet, we agreed that we could achieve something together, something good for all parts.
After the irony (“As The Irony Prevails”) and the truth (“The Truth Unravels”), comes the adapting and consequent survival. Have the titles of your works some special meaning behind them?
I at least try to send out a positive and optimistic message through my lyrics. Everything I go through as a human being, as a musician, whatever has influenced me and the band in the last few years reflects itself in the lyrics of this album and how we learnt to adapt and survive to everything around us.
The artwork itself, the mirror cube, with all its pieces out of line, seems to depict a challenge. Who’s idea was it?
The mirror cube in the cover and the lyric video of “Human” belongs to our guitarist Bernando “Malone”. In one night we did almost the whole artwork, inspired by that little wonder that is the mirror cube. It suits the concept of the album perfectly – we adapt to a challenge and solve it in order to survive.
You’ve mentioned the lyric video of “Human”. Are there any plans for a “real” video?
Yes, we hope to release a video for “Maniac” soon, filmed at the Raising Legends studios with GoPros. And another one that’s still being studied. We’ll hopefully have good news soon.
And if you had the budget for one of those videos that look more like mini-movies, which would be the script?
Tough question… When you have band members with such a wild imagination, it surely would be something insane and unprejudiced.
The album features some guests, just like the EP had. How was it this time?
While we were recording we decided right away to present a challenge to our guests, meaning inviting them to step out of their comfort zone and to enter our world, adapting to the track they would perform. It was a win because Nuno Pereira, Filipe Correia and Paulo Rui are true survivers.
It seems that EQUALEFT was the first band that Metalpoint had with a sold-out pre-sale of tickets! How did you feel about it?
It was amazing, but at the same time the pressure got bigger, we had to give more of ourselves than 100%, It had to be 200%, ha ha! We wanted a full Metalpoint but didn’t believe we’d make it a few days earlier. Thanks to everyone!
And the gig itself, did it meet your expectations?
I think I still don’t have the words to describe that night – not me or the rest of the band. It will stay in our memory forever.
It wasn’t for how many people were there but for how much they gave themselves to it, the attitude of the guest bands, the hard work of the photographers and staff of Metalpoint that provided us a brilliant night. I/we were happy that night, the joy was clear in our faces. Once again I say THANK YOU to everyone who was there. You are heroes!
What about the “creative” photos on Facebook with the tickets?
When I sold ticket number one I told the guy, as a joke, to take an original photo with it and post it online. He did so and it went viral! We had a blast with the public’s interaction.
There were other pictures circulating on the web, demanding your presence at Vagos Open Air, supporting GOJIRA…
Just to be clear: no member of the band made those images nor created the event! But of course we were glad that so many people went along with those collages, even if just for fun. Epic moments of laughter.
We will be in Vagos, but we’ll be watching GOJIRA, not playing. They’re a big influence to us.
In the past you’ve played several concerts without the full line-up. Would you do the same today? Or no matter how big the will to play, the quality of your sound comes first?
We’ve never cancelled shows because we don’t like to fail our commitments. So we’d always find a way of playing – either with one member less or with a guest in his place. Our position is still the same, but we’re clearly more stable now and we always try for the whole band to be there. The album only makes sense with all of us, but time will tell.
Thank you so much and keep up the great work!
Thanks for the excellent interview!