Sometimes things happen of causality. It turns out that Laura and I are both fans of GROG, the great and brutal Portuguese band. Well, it turns out that almost casual manner, via Facebook, met Pedro Pedra, alias Aion, vocalista of the group. It turns out that Pedro is a guy with all the good vibes, friendly and intelligent. Question is, answer comes, we finalized an interview. And the interview, as expected, went very, very good. Sure, a guy like Peter answered everything becomes much easier.
Extra tip: Although you did not hear Grog? Do not waste time. You're missing perhaps the best Portuguese extreme band of all time. Ah! And have been playing since 1991, kicking ass to right and left.
PR: Hi Pedro. How's it going out there? Thank you very much for agreeing to the interview
Pedro: Hey Manel, how are you?
Pedro: Hey Manel, how are you?
Thanks for the invitation and let’s make this an enjoyable moment for everyone.
PR: Tell us, what were doing with Grog in 2012? Presenting " Scooping The Cranial Insides "? Composing new songs?
P: Well, 2012 was a consolidating year for our last Scooping cd because we released it again this time in vinyl with 2 unreleased songs and the hidden cd track. Besides that we also did several live shows in Portugal and Europe to promote this new edition. We also defined which way we wanted to go after writing the Scooping the Cranial Insides and yes we started to write some new stuff.
PR: Certainly, we want to congratulate them for done in " Scooping The Cranial Insides ". At least for whom we do the blog, it is the better thing that has done Grog in his 21 years of career: a really devastating album! I suppose that you are more than satisfied with the obtained results. That so well it received the fans and the press?
P: Sure we are! We also feel that we released our strongest musical effort so far and that was very important for us mainly because we had a long hiatus between this cd and our latest full length Odes to the Carnivorous. So it was a serious challenge for us to make songs that would fill this musical gap and at the same time show that musically we had grown up as musicians.
We got very good reviews either by the press and fans. No one was expecting that crushing punch at that time and it felt good. None the less we are above that simply because you do the music mainly to satisfy ourselves and not the other way around. When we write we aim the quality of the ideas towards our needs and expectations therefore we are our main critics and reviewers before anyone else. Of course it’s good to know that your work is recognized but we also receive bad reviews just to remind us that everything in life has at least two sides.
PR: From 1991 till dates, Grog have grown very much. Record to record you have evolved in all the aspects: in the compositions, as instrumentalists, the sound. Quite, to summarize. But you, from within the group, which you think are the factors on which the band has grown throughout its history? What do you think are the factors that have helped the growth of the group?
P: Well, first up we are getting older and wiser, if it’s possible to say. Then we have a couple of aspects that contribute for this evolution.
The first one is the fact that each one of us loves what he does in the band I mean we aren’t instrumental experts but we use our capacities to take the most advantage of our instruments. We are always trying to experiment new stuff and learn from our musical ability.
Secondly, and maybe the most important issue, beneath this evolution is the fact that this line-up is together for more than 10 years already. So we know ourselves pretty well and this gives us the clarity to go deeper in what we think is GROG musical goal.
PR: Fortunately, we had the opportunity to hear all the works of Grog: full length, EP, split, demos. There is something we love, and that is that after nearly 22 years of career, Grog never lost its essence. I mean, they sound increasingly extreme, more brutal and sicker. How do you manage? There is a formula to make the band sound more and more powerful and twisted?
P: You are absolutely right Manel. Our musical DNA is recognized by all members in the band. It has always been this way. Like I said, when you play so much time with the same guys this bounding increases and the formula, like you said, gets stronger and stronger. Although I think we aren’t a mechanical band in the way that we repeat ourselves over and over I have to admit that there are elements that are into our brutal death and grind cells that distinguish GROG from other bands.
PR: How is the creative process in the band? Has anyone that brings more ideas than others?
P: Well, we play fast but we are very doomish is the creating process. Why? It’s just the way we are. We don’t feel the pressure to make 3000 songs per year. We don’t have extra pressure from the labels to release records and we don’t live our lives from the music, so as we all work hard we use only our spare time to rehearse.
Mostly when we rehearse it’s Ivo (guitar) that brings the ideas. Never the less, all members share their views and help on the musical process. For instance Alex (bass) made the last song on the Scooping cd, the 10 Cummandments.
We can make 3 songs in 3 rehearsals and we can make 1 song in 3 rehearsals, it’s not predictable it’s a question of inspiration and having the right mood to have good musical ideas.
PR: Pedro, do you continue together with Nethermancy? I was listening Waking Divinity, Black Metal's good record! Which are your favorite bands of Black Metal?
P: Well, Nethermancy still exists and we have just recorded our second cd last year. Right now we are trying to find a label to release it so if you know someone interested just let me know.
The new album will be untitled Born Of Fire and it’s songs are more epic and played at mid passed tempo. Personally I like this one better than Waking Divinity. (You can hear an advance track here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yUUNW4J0UDs)
Black metal has always been present in my musical tastes, my favorite BM bands it’s Bathory, but I love the new wave of Norwegian black metal a lot. So the first albums by Dark Throne, Gehenna, Satyricon, Gorgoroth, Hades, Enslaved, Mayhem and many more bands are within may fave.
PR: I recently read the lyrics while listening Odes To The Carnivorous, and thought "shit, this is really violent." I mean, the music and lyrics form an indivisible block. Is that the idea, that the parts conform a homogeneous and destructive block?
P: Sure is, I mean you can’t play brutal and talk about the birds and the bees, at least I can’t conceive it that way. Death Metal, whether it’s brutal or not, and Grindcore have strong messages. A part from the gory and violent side an important message is passed. In our case we explore the dark side of the human mind and try to sensitize that the human kind has a lot of unconscious matters to deal with that contribute for the external cruelty that we see in our daily life. To recognize it is to learn from it so try to understand your inner self in order to prevent misconducts that can afflict yourself or the others around you.
PR: Speaking of the lyrics, Euronymous once said the bad that had the Death Metal (or Grindcore, no matter for this case) was that the musicians were not living what recounted in his lyrics. Personally, I think a pretty stupid statement. But I would like to know your opinion about what Euronymous said
P: Well, to be honest I don’t agree with it also. Let’s face it you don’t have to kill someone, burn churches or to cut yourself to be connected to Black Metal music right? In case of Death Metal and Grindcore, the lyrics deal with death and social aspects mainly and it fits those musical styles pretty well. Everyone is entitled to have its opinion as long as their actions don’t get in the way of my / your liberty, life or security. We aren’t serial killers, torturers, rapists or homicides, just because we play brutal music and talk about dark matters but we can approach those subjects and alert that it’s important to understand our darkest perceptions in order to achieve balance in life. At least it’s what I do for myself!
PR: Pedro, how was the extreme scene in Portugal when you started? How much the scene has changed from 1991 to today?
P: 20 years after the Portuguese underground has grown a lot in quality and I am talking not only about bands, but also about labels, promoters, fests and places to play. Today we have very good bands playing and showing that Portugal has a healthy metal scene, we also have some festivals that already have a long tradition and are respected in the metal world. I only wish that the major labels looked more carefully for some of our bands because I am sure that we could offer much good music to the world metal fans.
PR: Speaking about the past, there was some group and some record especially in your youth, which has marked you to fire? Some group or record that this has made you think " is what I want to do in my life "?
P: There a lot of bands and albums that fulfill my metal bones, it’s hard to say one, but it’s easier to point out some bands that made me smile and my head bang like a maniac. For instance, Bathory, Autopsy, Broken Hope, Napalm Death, Dark Angel, Kreator and others.
PR:At the beginning of 2012 we did an interview with Fausto Cancian (Undead Creep / Eternal Sex & War, and, at that time, Grimness 69). In the interview we talk about the need for multinational corporations to control everything that happens on the Internet. And Fausto said something very interesting: this is not about the Internet, nor is it the free downloads: this is our freedom.”. Now, what opinion do you have about the laws that would impose powerful to control what happens on the web?
P: I can answer this one very easily I don’t give a fuck about what those “persons” can do in the internet or other place else simply because one thing is sure they can’t take or tax your creativity or your freedom. They can make you think they can, but all in all it’s an illusion based upon fear and manipulation and you should not fall out for it. We have the option to decide what’s best for us and you shouldn’t lose your soul for that. We aren’t the minority in the relationships balance in the world on the contrary the working class dominates de rich class by far. So we shouldn’t knee ourselves before them and their policies or laws. One has to be aware, respect thyself and be conscious about the planet you live I say, with that you will always have choices that will lead you above any laws!
PR: Well, Pedro, the last question: what's next, from now on, in the way of Grog?
P: Right now we are planning some tour dates around Europe and waiting to confirm them. Besides that we are going to continue the (de)composition process for our next album and hopefully have it completed during this year.
PR: Ok, Pedro. Many, but thank you very much for your time. We anxiously await the next Grog´s cd! And hope to see you in South America!
P: To play in South America would be great and a dream come true, let’s see what happens in the future. Thanks so much for your support and all of you that want to get in touch with the band should feel free to do it at our facebook page (www.facebook.com/grogpt) or at our e-mail address (email@example.com). We still have available merchandise to sell so come on and grind your head with us. All the best to Puro Ruido!