28 December 2015

INTERVIEW with INCUBUS/OPPROBRIUM


OPPROBRIUM formerly known as INCUBUS, are active since 1986.  The band is responsible for releasing two classic Death Metal albums in their early days, “Beyond the Unknown” from 1990 was reissued this year to celebrate its 25th anniversary, and INCUBUS debut full-length “Serpent Temptation” from 1988 will be reissued on January 2016. Reason enough to talk with drummer Moyses M. Howard, co-founder [alongside his brother Francis - guitar/vocals] about the band´s current activities and [as always in CTODP] about the glorious past…  



Please tell us when and how was Incubus created? Do you remember how old where you when you moved from Brazil to EEUU? Did you get into metal when you lived in Brazil?
The band was formed in February 1986, but before then we used to have a heavy metal band that played covers, but we also had some very heavy original songs. I was 15 years old and Francis was 13 years old when we first moved from Brazil to the United States with our parents, our Grandfather (r.i.p) was a natural born US citizen and he wanted us to come live close to him in the U.S., then we all moved. I remember we used to listen to lots of heavy rock back then, bands like Queen, Bachman–Turner Overdrive, Dire Straits, etc., but then when we moved to the US we got into heavy metal bands like Black Sabbath, Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, Ozzy, Motorhead, etc.
What bands influenced you to play Death Metal?
Motorhead, Metallica, D.R.I, Agnostic Front, etc.. Even before Incubus/Opprobrium we had some very fast songs that we wrote for the Heavy Metal band that we had before (Rattle Rage), it was me on drums, Francis on guitar, Scot os bass and a singer, nothing like what we do now, but pretty fast and aggressive, so it was a natural progression, then when we got into hardcore punk, it inspired us to play much faster, so I started to do what they call nowdays the 'Blast Beats'. As far as I can remember, Francis always came up with some very  different brutal riffs that even back then people didn't know how to label it, LOL. Before Incubus/Opprobrium we "tried" to play Heavy Metal, but most of our riffs came out really more brutal and extreme most of the time then the traditinal Heavy Metal.
In 1987 you released your Demo "Supernatural Death", Looking back, what do you think of the demo, and the potential that the band had?
It was a very brutal and intense demo, very dark, I think that the brutal sound of "Supenatural Death" (1987) made it even more agressive. That's what real Death Metal is all about. I still love the demo. After it spread in the underground we had many, many fans telling us that they liked the demo a lot, plus we had great reviews in the local and international underground Metal fanzines, so we were very happy that people liked our work. Before the release of our debut album "Serpent Temptation" (1988) the demo used to have 10 songs in it, then after the release of "S.T." it was sold with only the 4 songs that went on "S.T.".
If I'm not wrong, you were also in charge of  the cover artwork...where did you get inspiration for the drawing?
I don't know, LOL, I just tried to come out with something cool and I think it came out pretty good, I used to draw a lot when I was a kid but I was never that good, my middle brother Reginaldo can draw pretty good, he painted the "Serpent Temptation" (1988) album cover.
Did you followed the brazilian scene or had contact with Brazilian bands?
News and information was very limited back in the '80's about Brazil, we couldn't find no Brazilian magazines or anything from Brazil. Then in late '89 we discovered Sepultura and others.
In 1988 you released your debut full-length, "Serpent Temptation" through Brutal records, how did they get in touch with you. What are your memories from the recording sessions?
They got in contact with us through management. It was very exciting to enter a big studio to record our first record in New Orleans, also we had a chance to mix the album at the famous Track Record Studio in Los Angeles. We were very prepared to record the album, and we all had a lot of fun during the recording sessions. All the production process was great.
Who did the cover artwork? Tell about the concept of the cover and lyrics.
As I've mentioned, my middle brother Reginaldo did the cover artwork for "Serpent Temptation" (1988), I think he did a fantastic job, we all were very happy how the cover came out. The concept of the cover was based on the title track of the album "Serpent Temptation" which is based on the Book of Genesis.
When did exactly Scot left the band and why?
It was in late '89.


Did you try with other singers or did Francis take the decision to do all the vocals when Scot left?
No we did not tried other singers. Sometimes before reheasals with the band Francis used to play around singing covers and we noticed his strong vocal tones, so we decided that Francis take on the vocals duties. He practiced his vocals for some time and it turned out great.
How did Nuclear Blast got interested in you?
When we were living in Tampa, Florida, in 1990 we heard about this new label from Germany that were looking for Metal bands, so we got in contact with them, they already were fans of our debut "Serpent Temptation" (1988) and they knew about us, they were great fans of the band so they decided to sign us immedia
In 1990, you released, "Beyond the Unknown" again tell in your own words about the cover artwork, the lyrical concept...
The cover for "Beyond The Unknown" was done by the British artist Steve Crisp, the artwork combined very well with the theme of "B.T.U.", we loved the concept. "B.T.U" pretty much tells about the spiritual world or other dimensions.
How would you describe the sound and production, compared to the debut album?
It's hard to compare them both, they both sounds great in my opinion, it's just that different recording and mixing techniques were used on both the debut and the second album. But we were very happy with the production of "Serpent Temptation" and "Beyond The Unknown", we produced the "Beyond The Unknown" album with Tom Morris at Morrisound Studio in Tampa, I think he did help us to bring the full power of our songs for the album, Tom did an excellent job on "B.T.U."
Why did you decide to re-recorded "Serpent Temptation" in 1996 with Francis' voice? Who came up with that idea? Why did you release it with a new cover artwork?
We did not had the new material written for the third record for Nuclear Blast, so we had this idea to remake the first record, they liked "S.T." very much so we decided to re-do the vocals so the fans can hear Francis sing that album. Since it was a remake of the original "Serpent Temptation" we had to use a different cover artwork, so Nuclear Blast based the cover artwork on the concept of the original.
What do you think about the result? What kind of feedbacks did you receive from the fans?
The vocals, mixing, etc., was done at the same studio where we did the original in '88 with the same engineer, so we tried a different aproach to make it different from the original, that particular mixing combined very much with the atmosphere of Francis' vocals and that's what we were looking for that final mixing. We were very happy with the result, of course you can't compare the remake with the more darker and more eerier version of the original.
Did you ever meet the other death metal band incubus from Georgia? What do you think about them and their demo?
You mean the one from Florida? [Yeah, I think the band was founded in Georgia and then moved to Florida, but I´m not sure right now- Chris]. We met one of the members the drummer Mike [Browning - Nocturnus].
Why did you have to change your name from Incubus to Opprobrium. Tell us how did it happen and why did you chose Opprobium?
Because the major label Incubus from California trademarked the name and had videos on MTV and radio airplay worldwide, so most of the people only knew about the Incubus from Cali, and since they already took over the name and we were trying to avoid people mix the two bands, we decided to change to a new band name, so Francis came up with the name Opprobrium, we thought it was different, original and brutal so we decided to use it. In a way we are very happy with the name Opprobrium, I think it now fit us better then Incubus, because back then lots of fans and people used to think that we were a Satanic Metal band, which we never were LOL, so we got that out of the way now LOL, we are now Opprobrium since the year 1999/2000.
What did you think of the early 90s Black metal scene? Did you like any band from that eriod?
It's has been so long that I can't remember right now.
First album under the as Opprobrium was "Discerning Forces", how do you look back at the album nowadays? What can you say about it now?
Looking back now after almost 16 years, I feel "Discerning Forces" stood the test of time, it is a very unique Opprobrium record, it was the first record when we started write the heavy slow songs with no Skank or Blast Beats. It showed that we are a band that can play heavy as well. I love all the songs on that album and the production by Harris Johns was excellent. The cover artwork is awesome, and we kept that caracter from the "B.T.U." cover artwok for the cover of "D.F." The songs in "D.F." still very powerful and brutal when we listen to it, everything went very well on our third record "Discerning Forces".
How did the fans receive the new songs in your shows?  Did you expect that the change of the band´s name affected the band somehow?
We have not played any shows yet, but it's has been 16 years now since we changed the name and pretty much everybody knows that we are Opprobrium now, I'm sure people will jam when we play the new songs in our shows, we still the same band, but now with a different name. The name Incubus is history, we are Opprobrium now, the fans will come to our shows for our music and that's what is important, not a name, your name won't mean nothing if you don't put out great material for the fans.
Why did you left Nuclear blast and how how did it happen that you signed to Metal Mind Productions?
After 'Discerning Forces' in 2000, we released our fourth studio record 'Mandatory Evac' eight years later (2008), so we opt for for Metal Mind just to change a bit, the deal was only for one album, but before that they were re-releasing all our our back catalog licensed from Nuclear Blas, so it was a great idea to release 'M.E.' under the same label, they (Metal Mind) reissued our earlier albums under the name Opprobrium, so that was really cool.
Your last and current full-length, "Mandatory Evac" was released in 2008. Tell us about the concept of this album? How do you describe the sound and style on this album?
It's a very intense, extreme and brutal album, Francis decided to write some short songs for that album, but it was a very direct album, we kinda went the same raw and brutal style from the demo 'Supernatural Death'. We decided to take a loose approach on that album, there were no rules, it's a very original album. Francis wrote all the lyrics this time but he came out with some very cool topics that deals with the human struggle and dillemas of life and death, the title track is about hurricane Katrina that destroyed our home state south Louisisna and the city of New Orleans, we lost everything, but thank God we and our families evacuated in time, so that's why the record is called 'Mandatory Evac'. We used every type of tempos on that album, from the Skank beats, hammer blast beats and even we went back to our traditional Blast beats that we used to do on "Serpent Temptation'.

                                                                      
Let´s talk about the  reissues of the Incubus albums, First was Beyond the unknow on golden disc, digitally remastered and next January Serpent temptation will follow. Tell about the idea of remastering and give details about “Serpent Temptation” will include the demo as bonus?
Yes, 'Beyond The Unknown' was re-released again this year 2015 by Metal Mind to celebrate it's 25 years anniversary, this reissue of 'B.T.U.' have a sticker mentioning the 25 years anniversary. Next year (2016) Relapse Records will re-release our debut album 'Serpent Temptation' the original from 1988, so we are very excited about this re-release by Relapse. It's has been almost 30 years since 'Serpent Tempation' was out of print, we are very happy that Relapse Records will reissue the album, it was the perfect label to re-release it, so many fans kept asking us for years to re-release 'S.T.' so finally it wil be out on January 15, 2016, the album will have a worldwide release so all the fans will be able to get it. But the fans can pre-order 'Serpent Temptation' now at: http://www.relapse.com/opprobrium/
Which are your fave tracks from the Incubus era and why?
It's a difficult question, LOL, all our records have it's own power, so for me all the tracks from all our albums are my favorite tracks, 'Serpent Tempation' (1988), 'Beyond The Unknown' (1990), 'Discerning Forces' (2000) and 'Mandatory Evac', they all my favorites LOL, all the tracks from all albums are unique.
Name your all time fave Brazilian records
I can't recall right now, but there are many that are my favorites, including Metal and non Metal artists from Brazil.
What do you think about current Sepultura and Cavalera Conspiracy
Great bands.
Are there any bands from the current scene that you respect for their attitude and/or music? Latest records and bands
Yes many bands.
What would you submit as the proudest moment you've had in your career thus far?
I think that everything that we do as a band, from albums to shows, when we find a new Opprobrium fan...we are very happy for all the moments.
What´s the strangest place and the most shocking place you have been?
I would say when we played in east Germany  in 1991 right after the wall came down, it was a very interesting experience for the band, it was fascinating, plus many more places in North and South America that me and Francis went during our personal travels for vacation, too numerous to mention.
Tell us about your next steps, will there be a new Opprobrium album? Do you have new material?
Yes! All the new material is finished, we are just fine tuning the new songs at the current moment. It's going to be a monster album, it will be killer, it took us about 3 years to write it. It will be brutal and technical at the same time. We can't wait to show it to the fans. We will record soon for a 2016 release.
Thanks for your time, anything else you'd like to add to this interview?! Last comments...
Thank you Chris and Cult to our Darkest Past for the inteview, we really appreciate your support for Opprobrium! Also thanks to all our Death Metal Opprobrium fans worldwide for all their support over the years!



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