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Interview:: Armagedom
by Rafael Karasu (rafael@karasukiller.com)

Photos: Marcelo Shina

originally published in EL ZINE (Japan) First Conspiracy Vol.4


1 - Introduce the current Armagedom line-up to the Japanese.
Dude, for me, it is a pleasure doing this interview since I love Japanese bands. Well, today, Armagedom is Claudinei on bass, Javier on guitars, Ricardo on drums and Trexy on vocals. Trexy is our new vocalist, he brought new blood to keep this project going, which is to drink lots of beer and keep on playing our music to the kids.

2 - Tell us a bit about the first days of Armagedom. How did everything happen up to the release of the first album?
Fuck, we started out with the help of a huge band in the punk scene, we didn’t know how to play anything but we had the rock’n’roll of Stiff Little Fingers in our blood and the masters from Discharge with Cal (laughs). About our first record, it was funny because it was released by a metal label. At first we were a little worried about that, but fuck it, it was the second LP released by a punk band in Brazil. In the eighties there was a lot of prejudice against punks and metalheads, and a lot of metalheads came to our shows. We really liked that, specially because at the time we loved bands like Venom and Motörhead, so we wanted to have something from these four bands on our record. We didn’t get to this result musically, but that was the idea. Here in Brazil, to this day, bands ask us how we did that, I don’t get it! Fuck, after 20 years the want to do that. (laughs)

3 - What does punk/hardcore mean in your lives? Can Armagedom be considered a punk/hardcore band in sonority as much as in attitude?
Dude, we are a punk band, people listen to us and end up labeling us as hardcore or metal, but when anyone asks me I answer we are a punk band, what do you think? As a band we try to do what we like, we don’t worry about style, I think from our first to our last record we have never left our roots, the music is still in our blood. We have never thought about quitting, when we play, a lot of younger punks show up. There was a funny situation once, we were at the venue where we were going to play and then some kids were right next to us and one of them said “Do you think these guys are really going to show up?”, so I looked at Edu and said “Dude, they are talking about us!” and Edu answered “They probably think we are some kid’s parents” (laughs). We went onstage and tried to send our message and the show was fucking awesome...
By the way, Edu is our former vocalist, he had to leave the band for personal reasons but he is still our friend.

4 - What are the themes in the lyrics? How’s the writing process?
On our first record we took this much more seriously, there had to be some specific content in the lyrics, we ruled out a lot of good songs because they didn’t talk about a specific theme or because it didn’t send the same message. Nowadays we talk about our everyday life, we are tired of harping on the same subject, living here is very complicated, when we did our first tour we saw that Europe is a wonderful continent, everything works and the young people are always fighting for something. If they lived here, they would be fucked. On our shows we try to send our message and I think many of them listen to us, but in reality it is still the same. For every dumbass that dies, 200 are born.

5 - What drives you guys to keep on playing for over two decades?
The music, the will to play, the places we want to visit, there is no explanation, we have been through a lot together and we don’t want to stop. When we go out on tour we talk a lot about that, we always hear stories about fights between friends in bands that have broken up and the reasons are always trite, maybe their egos, I don’t understand, all I know is that we really enjoy this and I don’t see the band stopping anytime soon, there are still many girls to kiss and many places to know, and there is still a lot of people to listen to the message we convey through our music.

6 - What are your biggest influences?
Today we play our own blend of rock’n’roll, but we have the motherfucking English as our biggest influence, which in my opinion, are the guys who invented all this.

7 - Do all members of Armagedom have other projects apart from the band?
No, as much as it seems hard to believe, we wouldn’t have a problem if anyone in the band had another project, but we really like to be together all the time, doing everything. We go out to drink and eat together, have some laughs, many times when we are playing somewhere, there is always someone who wants to talk to a member of the band, take pictures and such. Fuck, we take the pictures and right after that we are together again, laughing about everything. Sometimes I worry a little about what they think of us, but this feeling goes away soon because we are simple people and we really like to hang out. We go out because we want to have fun, if people want to, they can join us and if they want to pay for a couple beers, even better.

8 - How was the punk/hardcore scene in Brazil during the 80s? What was Armagedom’s role in all that?
In the eighties it was wonderful, we were always interested in bands from other countries, looking for new international bands. You would always walk around with new music in cassettes, LPs were really expensive here and if it was from an international band it was even harder to get. There were a few places that played new music, but it was always from cassettes, and there weren’t many shows, it was very hard, most bands didn’t even have instruments to play with. Bands would get together to organize a show and it would end up being a festival with terrible instruments and even worse equipment, but on the other hand the show would be crowded. The bands had real content in their lyrics and in their attitudes. We played in many large festivals for a crowd that was really in need of a show, but because of that there were many fights, punks hitting other punks because they came from different neighborhoods and thought one was better than the other, not to mention the police, who thought the punk look was a crime itself, they thought everyone was a criminal or something like that. But even with all that, we are still here to this day, sending out our message.

9 - And about the current state of Brazilian underground, what’s good and what’s bad? Is there support?
No, there is no support of any kind, I bought my drum set with the money from my day job, not the band. It is still very hard to release a CD or LP here, the LP factory is now closed. I see the movement like a department store, everyone is part of a different section, there’s the raw punk, the anarchist, the straight edge kid. We are one of the few bands that gets along with everybody, but in my opinion this is a bad thing, because it further helps to segregate the movement, which is already small around here. It could be much bigger if it weren’t for the rivalry.

10 - Since 2003 there’s a new wave of punk/hardcore bands coming around in Brazil. How do you see this revitalization? Which bands/artists do you consider prominent?
By talking about these bands I will definitely end up being unfair to someone, I have many friends who play in bands and many that don’t. There are a lot of people out there with good ideas, there are several punks who have seen the way bands from other countries do things and want to put the same techniques into practice, things they have seen while overseas. I think this is great, but it is still very hard, bands have to pay for everything with their own money, be it the expenses of touring or producing an album. It is hard around here because no one can live off of music, they do it because they love it. Most of the time I end up liking a band when I see it playing live, because they either don’t have a record or their record has terrible quality, so when I go to the show I really hear what the band is like and I am always surprised. Today things are easier, with the internet and things like that. When we started out, no one had access to these things, we had to work much harder, it was hard to learn the songs by ear, I have ripped through many many sofas with my drumsticks (laughs), nowadays there is the internet and lessons etc. But there are many good bands, sometimes I think they worry too much about being really good at their instruments and waste their energy with elaborate riffs. Many people here see the Japanese as gods, with their mohawks and their looks, but the reality here is much different, everything is hard. We have wanted to visit Japan for a long time, but it is hard being Brazilian. There is the visa, the ticket price, and the uncertainty, “I wonder if we are going to be allowed in the country”... We receive many messages from Japanese fans asking about shows in Japan, what is new with the band and other things like that. I know there are other bands from Brazil that would like to play in Japan but someone needs to help, otherwise it is too difficult.

11 - What would you guys be doing if it wasn’t for punk/hardcore in your lives?
We would have a band no matter what. We would still be criticizing the government and we would be sending our message to whoever wanted to listen to it, fuck! What would it be like, drinking beer and not being able to play some rock’n’roll? How would we spend the fortune our band has made over the last 20 years, and what about the lovely models who go to our shows? The only thing I know for sure is that my music would not have reached other continents, I would not have all the friends I made, I would not have known all the places I have gone to with my band. Music knows no boundaries like race or language, and punk is alive, it was never a fashion statement, maybe for some people, but this is a lifestyle, even when you live in a country where all you do is listen to SAMBA and admire women’s ASSES.

12 - What’s it like, living in this concrete jungle that is São Paulo?
Living here is very good, you can find everything that is music-related, but we have to work really hard and we don’t make much money. But we don’t complain, we try to be happy. Here in Brazil, at least for now, no one is trying to invade someone else’s “country”, no one is throwing bombs at anyone, we live surrounded by poverty and corruption but I think one day we will save the world. Our Rainforest will be a solution for the ignorant people that are living on this planet... Well, I think it is still ours!

13 - The band’s first album, “Silêncio Fúnebre”, was re-released in Japan through Speed State Records, and is very hard to find today. Would you like to have other records by the band released here?
It would be really good to have other releases in Japan, I am sure Japanese music fans really like Armagedom. It is not up to us, we would really like it if our albums were released in CD or LP formats and we would like to be taken along with them (laughs)... I think after we play in Japan the band could stop touring, what do you think? I think this is unlikely, I think my band will go on from father to son, considering how we are such good friends I don’t think we would let this come to an end. After 20 years things will still be kept alive. “Silêncio Fúnebre” was released about seven different times I think, and every time we go out on tour, people want to hear this record...

14 - Armagedom’s lyrics talk about Brazilian social problems, the greed for power, corruption, poverty and hunger. You wrote about that twenty years ago. In your opinion, did anything change? What’s the real Brazilian situation nowadays?
Every time we play our songs, specially from “Silêncio Fúnebre” I think the kids relate to the music, I even think they start seeing the world differently when they listen to the music or watch the show. But when it comes to a change in behavior, that is a whole other story. Today we live in a much better country, we have a president that came from the people and who wants to change things around here. But if we compare Brazil to other countries in other continents who have been colonized at around the same time, we are still crawling. One day we will laugh about this, but we surely won’t be throwing bombs at people’s houses and we won’t send our kids to war to satisfy the morons that are in charge. We will die next to our families, because of common diseases, problematic health care and hospitals, crazy traffic on the roads and the misery of such a rich country that is Brazil.

15 - More and more we talk about corruption, violence and unemployment in Brazil, what do you see for the country’s future?
I hope things get better, there is a lot happening around here, we have much better living conditions now than we did 8 years ago.

16 - Many Brazilian bands want to play in Japan, what’s the possibility of Armagedom coming here for a tour?
There’s a strong possibility, but it is not up to us, we have talked a lot about this, I know it’s very close to happening, we have many friends in Japan. I know it would be an amazing show if we had the chance, I don’t know why this hasn’t happened yet, I know other Brazilian bands have played in Japan, fuck! When is it going to be our turn? I would really like to know why we haven’t played there yet, I wonder if it can happen in 2010, that would be great! Anyone who is interested, please, help us get to Japan... contact us. I see a lot of DVDs from international bands playing there and I go crazy, and also, being able to share the stage with the incredible bands that you have in Japan. Unfortunately we won’t be able to play with an amazing band that was Disclose.

17 - What do you know about Japan? What do you admire about this country?
Dude, I don’t know much, only what I see in pictures and DVDs, but I know there are a lot of crazy punks and the shows are insane, I think Japanese people have a similar attitude to Brazilian fans in shows, a lot of jumping and screaming, this is amazing for a band when they are playing, and it is something European fans don’t do. Fuck, the Japanese bands that played here in Brazil know what I am talking about.

18 - What do you know about the Japanese hardcore scene? What bands do you like, and what impresses you about them?
Fuck, it is hard to talk about this, I have many friends in bands there and if I forget anyone it is going to look bad! What I can say is that I have many friends who want their bands to sound like Japanese bands, I think you guys have managed to come up with a very unique style and there are a lot of people trying to emulate this, I know that Disclose with its D-Beat style has opened doors to many people in Japan, and here in Brazil everyone went crazy with these motherfuckers...

19 - What message do you have for EL ZINE's Japanese readers and Armagedom fans here in Japan?
One day my band will play there and most definitely it will be an amazing show, not only for Armagedom but for everyone who watches it, and we will surely open doors for other Brazilian bands, bands that play the true rock’n’roll in Brazil, not the ones who have played “ooh la la” songs there already... punk is back!