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

Photo: Marcelo Shina

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


Introduce the current Lobotomia line-up to the Japanese.
Nowadays, Lobotomia is Grego (the only one left from the original line-up) on drums, me, Markon (in the band since 1988) on vocals, Fralda (formerly of Ratos de Porão) on bass and André Criança (who plays in Presto?) on guitar.

Tell us a little about the band’s history, the discography, the first shows. And also, what’s the meaning of the band’s name?
The band started out at around 1984. The first shows were really precarious, the equipment had no quality and there was no money coming in but it was what we had available at the time, and it was a lot back then. The first recording was a song released in the compilation “Ataque Sonoro” (1984), and then came the record “Lobotomia – Só os Mortos não Reclamam” (1986), another compilation, called “Independência ou Morte” (1988) and the album “Nada É Como Parece” (1989). In 1991 the band broke up. Different paths among the members lead the band to dissolve. In 2004 with the CD release of our first album in Japan, Grego decided to bring the band back. At first, the only one from the previous line-up was me. In 2008 we called in Paulão and Billy Argel on the guitars and recorded the latest record, “Extinção”. During the year of 2009 we performed many times in Brazil and in July we had our first European tour. The year came to an end with a memorable show in Brasília opening for The Exploited and there were also a few shows here in São Paulo. Lobotomia (Lobotomy) is a surgical procedure that was used in mental institutions, performed in agitated patients so they would remain in a vegetative state.

What drives you guys to keep on playing for over two decades?
The love for a heavy and dark sound and the lack of bands playing this kind of music, 80s old school. And also with the globalization we want to know other places and bring our work to different countries.

What does punk/hardcore mean in your lives? Can Lobotomia be considered a punk/hardcore band in sonority as much as in attitude?
Well, punk/hardcore/thrash/crossover in our lives means: the medium through which we can express our views of the world and that makes us be recognized in many parts of the planet. We want to take our work to any place where there is people who like this kind of music.

What’s the difference between hardcore when you guys started and what it is nowadays?
Today hardcore has many branches, before it was just one thing. It was either punk or metal or hardcore. I usually say that Lobotomia is “radicori” (the Brazilian pronunciation of ‘hardcore’, original, close to its roots, no bullshit).

What’s the band’s opinion on the punk/hardcore scene in São Paulo and Brazil in general?
I see the scene has split in several branches and particularly, I don’t think this is cool, specially when I see a hardcore faction believing they are better than the other one simply because they have different points of view. I try to respect the expressions and views of every faction. An individual must not think he is superior because he uses drugs or because he eats meat and vice-versa, an individual must not think he is superior because he doesn’t use drugs or because he doesn’t eat meat. What we have to do is unite, respect each other and not generalize, because there is good people and bad people everywhere in the planet. So the moral of the story is: “If you isolate yourself from others, everyone is going to lose”. So let us be more humble and more brotherly as human beings.

What are the themes in the lyrics? How’s the writing process?
It’s about the reality that hides behind the facts, behind the events. We are all immersed in this modern technological reality and each day we are further away from our own nature. We need to wake up from this private dream. Sometimes I write lyrics and apply them to a song, but it is better when I take a song thati is ready and then I add the vocal arrangements and the lyrics, the sound brings inspiration and that’s where the lyrics come from.

What are your biggest influences?
The bands that started mixing punk and dirty metal. Discharge, English Dogs, Varukers, G.B.H., Circle Jerks, Bad Brains, D.R.I., Agnostic Front, Rattus, Motörhead, Exodus (Bonded by Blood), Onslaught, Suicidal Tendencies and many other punk/hardcore/thrash/crossover bands...

The band’s album, “Lobotomia”, was 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?
Yes, we would definitely love to have all our albums released in Japan. I would really like to play in Japan.

And the current state of Brazilian underground, what’s good and what’s bad? Is there support?
The good thing is that there are new bands, several bands with a strong, aggressive and very original sound. The bad thing is the disdain from a certain group of people that have the means to support the bands that are truly underground, and instead they support and release material from bands that make questionable music and are completely disposable.

Do all members of Lobotomia have jobs outside the band?
Yes, we all have our activities and jobs beside playing in the band. If that didn’t happen we wouldn’t have any way of supporting ourselves.

“Extinção” is the latest full length released by the band, released by Red Star in Brazil. How was the production, and were you happy with the results?
It was 100% independently produced, recorded at Norcal Studio in São Paulo. We got the line-up from “Nada É Como Parece” together with the exception of the bass player, so Carlinhos from Presto? recorded the bass. We were really pleased with the results, but I believe we will be writing a new album soon and I feel this one might be one of our best.

Lobotomia’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?
Yes, a lot has changed and always for the worst. Corruption is always happening here in Brazil. This has reached such huge proportions that today even the media has no way of covering all the scandals that involve corrupt politicians. A lot of people are starving, they have no education, no health assistance. Precarious living conditions in a country that is so rich in resources and area. It is very sad to see people dying on the city streets while the authorities are filling their underwear, socks and pockets with money that is supposed to go to the citizens.

More and more we talk about corruption, violence and unemployment in Brazil, what do you see for the country’s future?
The future I see for this country is urban chaos and rural exodus. Maybe something really bad needs to happen so that people take action and things change, to improve the living conditions not only in Brazil, but in the whole world.

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?
Yes, I think since the 1980s a lot of good bands have formed and they are still around. I think the more different it is, the more it interests me. There should be no limits for the use of technology, bands should combine the noisy sound of fast picking from distorted guitars, distinguishing and strong bass, everything very clear with the drums alternating speed and cadence, using sampler effects but with moderation. This creates a sonority that really attracts me, in reality the music needs to have soul, it has to touch the audience, make the person’s blood boil. What attracts me the most is the sound that is simple, well executed and that has a lot of energy. Bands like Presto?, Galinha Preta, D.F.C., Agrotóxico, Ação Direta, D.E.R., Discarga, Leptospirose, Social Chaos, W.C.M., Oitão, Chorume, Forbidden Ideas, Violator, Damian, Possuído pelo Cão, Terror Revolucionário, Maltrapilhos, Claustrofobia among others...

What would you guys be doing if it wasn’t for punk/hardcore in your lives?
(Laughs) We would be what we are. Regular human beings (laughs)... I work with Environmental Protection and also as a personal trainer, this year I will go to college to get a degree in Physical Education. We all have our lives parallel to Lobotomia. Here in Brazil it is almost impossible to survive only by playing in the band, we live in a third or even fourth world reality. Against all odds we go on and survive in these times of decadence.

Many Brazilian bands want to play in Japan, what’s the possibility of Lobotomia coming here for a tour?
There is a strong possibility of us doing a tour in Japan, considering we have started playing again after the first album was released there. Our friends from Mukeka di Rato and if I’m not mistaken, the guys from Violator have been to Japan not long ago. Also, Cherry’s band Hellsakura has played in Japan I think. We only need someone in Japan who can work things out for us. We want someone to release our other albums there, so people in Japan can know more of Lobotomia.

What do you know about Japan? What do you admire about this country?
Starting with the TV series, Ultraman, Ultraseven, Godzilla, cartoons like Phantoma (Ōgon Bat), Sawamu and many others. I know the Kyokushin Kaikan (Oyama) style of karate, I know the local food (miso shiru, Shimeji and Shiitake mushrooms, sushi, sashimi, temaki, tekamaki etc...), the great tattoo artist Horiyoshi III. I have friends who have lived in Japan in different cities and even a friend who has lived in Mount Fuji, I know a little about the art of Aikido, a little Kendo, Miyamoto Musashi’s books, the movie Zatoichi, Akira (the graphic novel that gave origin to the movie), Tomio Kikuchi (who introduced the macrobiotic diet in Brazil). I lived very close to Liberdade, the Japanese district here in São Paulo, I studied with many Japanese descendents during my childhood. I know there are all kinds of people in Japan, punks, Rastafarians, metalheads, goths, techno kids, that has something to do with the globalization.

What do you know about the Japanese hardcore scene? What bands do you like, and what impresses you about them?
I don’t know much, I know there are very good bands, the ones I had the opportunity of knowing personally are Vivisick, Fuck on the Beach and this year we played in the Puntala-Rock Festival in Finland with a band called Crude (this one was very very good).

What message do you have for ELZINE's Japanese readers and Lobotomia fans here in Japan?
That everyone keep believing their dreams and they will come true. Our life is like a dream. More important than making it come true is the awakening of this dream. And that I wish we can soon show our music on a Japanese tour.