Part I: Incubus
- Hello, Moyses! Incubus was created in 1986, long time ago. Could you please remember how did you come up with that idea? What bands did influence you to play Metal Music?
- Hi, first of all thank you for having Opprobrium here on Tough Riffs, we really appreciate it! But back to your question, that's correct, the band was founded in 1986, February 1986, we used to be called Incubus (now Opprobrium), but I had the idea to first start a Death Metal band after I heard the speed and aggressiveness of bands like Metallica, Motorhead, Hallow's Eve, Slayer, to name a few, and of course we listened to a lot of Heavy Metal bands like Judas Priest, Black Sabbath, Iron Maiden, Van Halen, Rush, AC/DC and so on. Francis (Guitars) and I (Drums) started to write a few Death/Thrash songs in 1986 and Scot (Bass) took the vocal duties. Scot had been playing with us on previous Heavy Metal bands before Incubus, we had a singer and we used to play cover songs, but we also had some original material. As we progressed to write and play our own Death Metal material, the songs became faster and faster, then I was doing the blast beats for most of the songs, some months later we've written 10 songs and decided to record the "Supernatural Death" demo in 1987.
- In 1987 you released your Demo "Supernatural Death", tell us a bit about the recording process. Where did you record it? How long did it take you? You were also in charge of of the cover...
- "Supernatural Death" was recorded in Kenner, it was a small studio, but it got the job done. It was a pretty fast production due to our budget, I think we finished recording and mixing in 2 or 3 days. The demo was originally released with 10 songs, we used to sale 'em at our shows and by mail order, then later after the release of "Serpent Temptation" it was sold with only the 4 songs that went on our debut album "Serpent Temptation" in 1988 ("Voices From The Grave", "Sadistic Sinner", "Incubus" [now called "Opprobrium"] and "Serpent Temptation") as we had plans to record the other 6 songs to be included on the second album, but the 10 songs version spread in the underground among tape traders so it leaked worldwide. Yes I tried to draw something cool for the cover, but I was never good at drawing ha, ha, ha. After the demo, my middle brother Reginaldo was in charge of all the artwork for the band, starting with the "Serpent Temptation" album cover art, then on our t-shirts and concert flyers, my brother Reginaldo can draw some awesome stuff.
- How was this material accepted by local metalheads? How did you distribute it? What labels got interested in your music first? And what is the story about Brutal Records?
- The demo had excellent reviews on local, national and international fanzines. The fans loved the demo, we didn't have any distribution back then, the only way to get a copy was at our shows or by mail order. We got offers from some labels, but we didn't like their offers or they had limited distribution, then we got the offer from Brutal Records and released "Serpent Temptation" in 1988. About a year after the release of "Serpent", Brutal went out of business. MetalWorks U.K. took care of the European/worldwide promotion and distribution of "Serpent Temptation".
- And already in 1988 you released your debut full-length, "Serpent Temptation". How did the recording sessions go? Personally, what are your favourite tracks and why?
- We were really prepared when we entered the studio to record it, we rehearsed a lot as soon as we knew that we were going to record the first album, so we were flying by the time that we started to record the tracks. The recording sessions were great, the basic tracks were done in Metairie (New Orleans), then we flew to another studio in Los Angeles to mix the album. We were very happy with the final result. As for my favorite tracks? Well, I love the whole album, so it's hard for me to pick a track or tracks from "Serpent Temptation", each track have their own identity, their own power, I like the whole album.
- What was your first concert after the release? What were the bands from the local underground that you shared the stage with?
- Our first concert after the release of "Serpent Temptation" (1988) was in New Orleans and we shared the stage with many, many bands from the local underground and also from other areas back then.
- How did it happen that Nuclear Blast got interested in you? Did you receive any other contract deals?
- Me and Francis relocated to Tampa, Florida at the end of '89, the "Beyond The Unknown" album was all written and we were ready to record it, then after Brutal Records went out of business, we started to look for a new home-label so we can release our second album, yes we did got contacted by other labels, but we did not liked their offers, so a short time later, we found this new label in Germany at that time called Nuclear Blast that was looking to sign Metal bands, we got in touch with them and they wanted to sign us immediately. The Nuclear Blast staff already knew us from our debut album "Serpent Temptation". We signed with them in early 1990, and released "Beyond The Unknown" in the Fall of that same year. After that we went on an extensive European tour the following year (1991) to support "B.T.U."
- In 1990, you released your classic album, "Beyond the Unknown". First of all, why did Scot Latour had to leave the band? And how did Francis take the decision to do all the vocals?
- That's correct, we released "Beyond The Unknown" in 1990 with Nuclear Blast Records. Francis took on the vocal duties in late '89 after Scot (Bass, Vocals) left the band.
- As I understand, this album was written and recorded by only 2 of you. Who was the main music writer? Composing the music for this album, did you change anyhow the songwriting approach? Did you try to bring anything new to your music?
- Yes, me and Francis recorded the album with no extra musicians. The main writer is a combination of both me and my brother Francis when we start to put a song together. Yes, we tried to bring some new elements during the writing of "B.T.U.", on the first album "S.T." we used mostly blast beats for the fast parts and on "B.T.U." we used the Skank beat for all the fast parts.
- In 1996 you re-recorded "Serpent Temptation", with Francis' voice. Who came up with that idea? Who was the artist of the updated cover for this edition? How do you like the result?
- We and Nuclear Blast started to talk about the third album in '96, but me and Francis didn't have the new material ready for the new record, so there was this idea to release a reboot of "S.T." with Francis vocals for the fans. I can't remember who was the artist for the cover of the "S.T." remake version. I think the final result was pretty good, but me and Francis still prefers the original 1988 "Serpent Temptation" debut, it's a lot more dark and eerie then the 1996 remake.
Part II: Opprobrium
- So, you had to change your name from Incubus to Opprobrium. Tell us how did it happen and why didn't you want to fight for your original name?
- We recorded our third album "Discerning Forces" in 1999, but right before we release it, we found out about this other band called Incubus from Calabasas, California, who were on a major label with music videos on MTV, national radio airplay, etc., so when people talked about Incubus, they (the Incubus from California) was the only band that the majority of people knew as Incubus because of their major marketing, we tried to save the name but the other Incubus had already trademarked the name. Then Francis found the new name Opprobrium right before we release the third album "Discerning Forces" in the year 2000 then we changed the band name to Opprobrium. We think the Opprobrium moniker fit our band much better then Incubus, because a lot of people in the past used to think that we were a Satanic Metal band, which we never were. So we are very happy with the name Opprobrium, plus we are already using the name Opprobrium for a much longer time now then Incubus, we are still the same band but with a different name.
- First album under the new title was "Discerning Forces", still written and recorded by you and Francis. This is still one of a badass albums! What can you say about it now?
- First of all thank you for your compliments for the album "Discerning Forces", we really appreciate it! "D.F." It took us some time to write, once again you can hear a different approach that we tried to take on "D.F." we wanted to play some songs heavy and slow comparing to the other stuff that we do, songs like "Drowning" and "Blood Conflict" are good examples of that, I think it contains lots of variety from track to track, it kinda broke the ice for this band to compose the heavy and slow songs, it also shows that Opprobrium can play heavy but still sounds brutal on the heavy songs. We also mixed the heavy/slow songs with the fast tracks that we always do on "D.F.", so that album is very diverse.
- You worked with famous Harris Johns, who produced and recorded such bands as Celtic Frost, Pestilence, Kreator, Immolation and many others. How did you decide to cooperate with him and how did it go? What was his impact on the final version of the album?
- We heard Harris' great work from even back in the '80's, me and Francis always wanted to work with him on a new record, so that opportunity finally came when we decided to record "Discerning Forces". We decided to record the album in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, the place where me and my brother Francis were born before our parents brought us to the United States. It was great to work on a tropical place that we are familiar with. We all flew down there to start production for the album and we had a great experience to record overseas. Harris was a great producer during the recording, and we all worked really well together. He then went on to mix the album at his studio in Berlin, Germany, as me and Francis returned to the US, so he used to send us CD's with some of the stuff that he mixed for approval. We were very happy with the final version of the album, the production went great.
- Did you have any gigs or tours after the release? If yes, who where your live-musicians?
- No, we didn't tour after the release, but the intention was to bring with us two Brazilian musicians that we met in Brazil; Luiz on rhythm guitar, we was going to add another live guitarist for the first time in an official tour, and Andre on bass. They are the two other guys that you see with me and Francis on the album pic of "Discerning Forces" (Nuclear Blast / Year: 2000).
- How did it happen that you moved from Nuclear Blast to Metal Mind Productions? They also released first two Incubus albums under the name Opprobrium. Whose idea was it?
- We changed the band name on those albums ("Serpent Temptation" 1996 version - remake & "Beyond The Unknown") in order to re-release both albums properly, so we suggested to Metal Mind to release them with the Opprobrium band name, which was great to reissue both albums with the new band name Opprobrium, we wanted to get rid of the Incubus name once for all, so we are very happy that our fans can now get these albums under Opprobrium now. Prior to releasing our latest album "Mandatory Evac" in 2009 they (Metal Mind) acquired the licenses from Nuclear Blast to reissue our earlier records ("B.T.U" 1990, "S.T." 1996 remake and "D.F." 2000), because Nuclear Blast still handling the license to most of our catalog, so it was great to release "M.E." in 2009 along with the other reissues from the Opprobrium catalog under the same label.
- In 2008 you released your last current full-length, "Mandatory Evac". First of all, what does this title mean? What did you want to say with that album?
- "Mandatory Evac' means "Mandatory Evacuation". Francis wrote all the music and lyrics for the album "Mandatory Evac", the title track speaks for itself, this song is about hurricane Katrina which destroyed the city where we lived, New Orleans in 2005. It was a very sad natural disaster. Me and all my family lost everything, but thank God we evacuated in time before it hits. The other songs were pretty much about the human struggle, the music is very brutal, we tried a loose approach on "M.E.", very different to what we did before on the previous albums, as we sometimes like to experiment with tempos and riff progressions that we never did before, we don't have any rules when we write, if a riff or a beat sounds cool we try it, as long as it sounds brutal.
- This album sounds very different from your previous works, how could you comment on it? How did the recording sessions go?
- Francis wrote and arranged all the songs. Even though the songs were short on "M.E,", Francis wrote some very brutal music, with some new elements to the music, I think he did a fantastic job. I only got the pre-production demo about a year later to start to write my drum parts. We took some time rehearsing the songs, then after we felt ready, we started to record the album. We recorded the album in Tampa, we were living there at the time of the recording. The recording sessions went very well. We tried a different direction on the mixing to make it sound more brutal. "Mandatory Evac" is a very dark and brutal album.
- It's been 7 years now since that release, what are you guys up to nowadays? Do you work on the new album? Next year marks the 30th anniversary of Incubus/Opprobrium existence, do you plan to celebrate is anyhow?
- Yes we are currently fine tuning the new material for the new album, it definitely will be the most technical and brutal album that we have ever written, 3 years in the making, it's going to be an epic album, it will be out in 2016, we can't wait to release it! Also Francis will be releasing his first solo record also next year (2016), he's currently putting the final touches on the album right now, it's an instrumental record, it's an all guitar album, no vocals, mostly in the vein of Joe Satriani, Steve Vai, Jeff Beck, etc., nothing fast, not Death Metal, but it has lots of Rock, Blues and some Heavy Metal in it, I heard the final mix and it sounds awesome! I played the drums! Yes, next year marks the 30th anniversary of the band, we will probably do something to celebrate for the fans.
- Thank you for this interview, Moyses. Would you like to add anything in the end?
- Thank you for the interview and thanks for supporting Opprobrium! Also thanks to all the Opprobrium fans worldwide for their support over the years, we can't wait to play in a city near you! To keep up to date on any Opprobrium band news, just visit our Facebook page. Take care friends and stay Metal! Cheers!