Lotosfmuzik continues to honour the mission statement of being curators of good music around the world, and we are pleased to present Brazilian prog rockers Maestrick.
Their new album “Espresso Della Vita: Solare” is the successor of the acclaimed debut album, “Unpuzzle!”, and the EP “The Trick Side Of Some Songs” which included new versions for classics of Beatles, Yes, Jethro Tull, Pink Floyd, Queen and Rainbow.
“Espresso Della Vita: Solare” is the first part of a conceptual album that makes an observation of the human life by the perspective of a train trip. The album was produced by Adair Daufembach (Tony Macalpine, Hibria, Hangar), who also recorded all the guitars of the album.
In Brazil, “Espresso Della Vita: Solare” will be released on June 28th during a closed event for journalists only at Central Panelaço in São Paulo. Two official release shows, one electric and one acoustic, will also be announced soon as part of the releases schedule. Maestrick is currently formed by Fabio Caldeira (vocal/piano), Heitor Matos (drums), Renato Montanha (bass) and Neemias Teixeira (keyboards).
Our contributor Rodrigo Altaf had the chance to talk to Fabio and Neemias via Skype, and the transcript of the interview can be seen below:
Lotsofmuzik: First of all, tell us a bit about how the band started, and the path you guys went through until the lineup was formed.
Fabio Caldeira: The band was formed in 2006. Myself and Renato Montanha (bass) have played together since we were ten years old, we had another band and were looking for a drummer. A common friend recommended Heitor Matos, and since our first rehearsal, I can say Maestrick was formed – the chemistry was undeniable, and we started to talk about ideas for songs straight away. On that same rehearsal we wrote a song that would be seminal for our sound and concept – it did not make it into our first album, but it gave the idea for the whole concept of our first album, “Unpuzzled”. That song was called Electroshock, and I believe we’re going to use it at some point. It talked about a man observing a painting and empathizing with it, and we ended up creating some characters who would have been in that painting and the whole concept of the Unpuzzled album was born. Musically though, it wasn’t in the same vibe as the other songs we had, so it was a common decision to leave it out of our first album.
Lotsofmuzik: What’s the story behind the name of the band?
F.C.: That’s a funny story, because even if we consider the beginning of Maestrick in 2006, the name came a bit later, when we started to record our first album. We were thinking a lot about it, because the old name we had was Ramses II, and it didn’t exactly match the songs and style we wanted to have. When we recorded our first EP in 2010, we started asking ourselves: “do we REALLY need to use this name?”. We had several meetings to discuss the band name – some VERY long ones, in fact – and one of the names we suggested was Maestry. We also used to talk about our shows being theatrical and with lots of tricks, so another name we had was Trickycal. In one of the meetings to discuss the band name, I had just read Maestry and the next on the list was Trickycal, so we agreed on Maestrick. It clicked instantly, and we wanted a band that represented us as people and artists. I think the name has the pomp and seriousness of a maestro, and the sarcasm and irony of a trick. It’a perfect name for what we do.
Lotsofmuzik: From listening to your new album “Espresso della vita: Solare” I could probably guess, but what are some of the main influences you guys have?
Neemias Teixeira: I have many influences, but the main ones I should mention are Dream Theater, Haken, Leprous which I’ve been listening to a lot recently. I also listen to many other things that don’t necessarily have to do with our sound, such as Porcupine Tree, Steven Wilson, Opeth etc.
F.C.: My favourite band is Queen, and I really like post-Peter Gabriel Genesis – not the pop phase, but the proggy side of them: Wind and Wuthering, A Trick of the Tail etc. I also like Gentle Giant, a band that I started to research and discover this year. I also like a lot of more recent European prog bands; Haken, Circus Maximus, Seventh Wonder. When it comes to Brazilian music, I like Novos Baianos, Tropicalia, Mutantes. Also Danny Elfman and Camille Saint-Saëns, soundtracks etc.
Lotsofmuzik: And I think that your preference for soundtracks is reflected in the new album right? Explain us the name of the album and the concept behind it.
F.C.: The concept of this album came when I was having coffe with my mother. We were talking and sharing sroties, and both my grandfathers worked in a rail company in the night shift in the beginning of the 20th century. I always heard stories from both of them, about ghosts but also good stories as well. At some point my mother said “life is like a train ride. When you’re born you hop on the train, then you meet other people on the same train whom you like but they need to get off before you at some point, while others you don’t like who follow you until the end of your journey, and so on. We started to develop this idea, but wanted to write the record in a way where we could express all kinds of emotions in the journey. We decided to make this album as a train journey lasting one day. “Espresso della vita: Solare” represents the first half of this journey, from 6am to 5pm. I was reading a lot about Dante Alighieri when we wrote this album, and his Divine Comedy is also a metaphor for life. The name of the album is in Italian as a homage to his work. We split the album in three parts: heaven, purgatory and hell. Our next album will be a follow up called Lunare, and will start in hell, go through purgatory and end in heaven, making both albums together a 24 hour clock.
Lotsofmuzik: Wow, that’s an ambitious concept for sure! So you’re already thinking of the next album?
F.C.: Yeah, we’ll start the pre-production as soon as we come back from Europe in October.
Lotsofmuzik: So what are the touring plans for now?
NT.: We’ll have a release party in late June, and in October we have a tour scheduled in Europe including a festival in Russia. We’ll also play in the Czech Republic, Estonia, Letonia, Lithuania, Switzerland, Germany and Italy.
Lotsofmuzik: Are you planning to play the new album in full on tour?
NT.: At the release party concert we will play the full album. We haven’t fully decided the setlist, but we’ll probably not play it in the same sequence – it will be a diverse setlist, with songs from our first album as well. In the European shows there will be more focus on the new album, but the shows will be shorter because we’re playing with other bands in festivals, so we’ll have around 40 minutes to play every night. The whole new album has over an hour, so we’ll have to think about that.
Lotsofmuzik: What is the connection between the name of the album and the cover art, and who Drew the cover?
F.C.: The artist who drew this cover has won international awards, and her name is Juh Leidl. She was responsible for the “Woman In Art Exhibition 2013” at the Ward Nasse Gallery in New York, and also sings in a band called Threesome. We sent her the concept and developed it through time. Not just the cover, but the booklet as well, is a great representation of the story we tell on the album.
Lotsofmuzik: Can we do a quick track by track of the album? By the way, I love the fact that you start certain songs in one place and end up moving in a completely different direction.
F.C.: Origami is an overture, which is influenced by soundtracks. The idea was not to do a complicated instrumental, but to have an opening track that sounded like a Broadway music score. “I a.m. Living” is the sequence, and it’s influenced by funk, which is a rhythm our bass player is influenced by, and it is quite cinematic. “Rooster Race” has a “Hot for Teacher” vibe, and also what we call “country metal” [laughs]. It has animal sounds recorded and local rhythms like catira and vaneirão. “Daily View” is our “Pet Sounds of the Opera”, with tinges of Sgt. Pepper [laughs], and with acid lyrics but sonically it has a great feeling. “Water Birds” is also “country metal”, with influences of the music of the state of Minas Gerais. It’s a song where we used an actual orchestra, as opposed to other songs where we used keyboards.
NT.: “Water Birds” has a lot of mood changes – it starts in a joyful mood, but transitions into a dark vibe.
F.C.: Next up is “Keep Trying”, which is rooted in the 80’s, with a lot of synths and an AOR vibe, with influences of Toto and Journey. “The Seed” is an odyssey, probably the most complex one we did, with Asian vibes and a chorus of more than 32 voices, and it’s essencially symphonic prog metal. “Far West” is influenced by Ennio Morricone, who wrote soundtracks for many Westerns. It talks about being nostalgic about things we never experienced, and it also hints at Mr. Big. “Across the River” is a country song influenced by old gospel songs. “Penitencia” has lyrics in Portuguese and mixes influences of Chico Science – and the female voice in the middle of the song is from my grandmother! “Hijos de la Tierra” came from my perception that we are very isolated from the other countries in South America due to the language barrier. I felt impressed with the perception the Chileans have of themselves and how they are aware of political issues and so on, and after playing a festival there, and we spoke with one of the bands in the same bill called Crisalida. We invited their singer to participate in this song, which is influenced by Andean music. She was up for it, and in this song she interprets a shaman in this song who speaks for mother nature. “Trainsition” is a play on words between train and transition, and the lyrics talk about a friend of our drummer Heitor, who wanted to be a flight attendant, but suffered a car accident. This song starts with this person talking to the paramedic, and tells about her recovery, and the times when she dreamed she was flying. Towards the end we talk about her road to recovery. It means also transition because in the full story, we are transitioning from day into night.
Lotsofmuzik – And what would you say has been the highest point in the band’s career so far?
F.C.: I’d say the highest point is the release of this new album, because it has the state of the art of what we could do. In terms of production, arrangements, composition, we are much more mature and aware of what we can do, and being able to translate our confidence and self-awareness into these songs is certainly something to celebrate. We just received the news that Burn Magazine evaluated our new record with an even better score than Angra’s new album.
Lotsofmuzik – I’ve never listened to your first album, “Unpuzzled”, but from what I was told, the new one is clearly a step up in terms of quality and complexity.
F.C.: When we recorded “Unpuzzled”, our drummer was 19 years old and I was 20! It represented well what we were at the time, but we evolved a lot since then, and I think the step up is a consequence of how we developed.
N.C.: I joined the band not too long ago and got to know Maestrick after the release of “Unpuzzled”. When it was released I thought it was really good, but in fact the new album is certainly a step up, particularly in terms of production.
Lotsofmuzik – You also released an EP not too long ago, entitled “The Trick Side Of Some Songs”, with some interesting choices of covers and medleys. Tell us about that release.
F.C.: We tried to avoid having a long hiatus between two albums, and in 2016 we knew we would take two more years until Espresso Della Vita: Solare” was released. So we thought about releasing a covers album. The cover is a homage to Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon and has our “mascot” tricker. The EP was meant for us to clear our heads and meant a vacation period for us. There’s very little editing on that album, and we wanted to get a feel for how it was done when The Beatles, Yes and Pink Floyd recorded their albums in the 60’s and 70’s. We added also the little vignettes that Pink Floyd used in their albums, to give a sense of beginning, middle and end to this EP, and it worked almost like a parody. We didn’t actually put it for sale, but made it available for free in our website. Aside from the Yes medley we already played all those songs live, and as a bonus track we added Rainbow Eyes from Rainbow, which we recorded with an orchestra and paid homage to Dio.
Lotsofmuzik – With only one guitar player, it must be challenging to reproduce your songs live. How do you guys get around that challenge?
F.C.: For the rhythm part, our bass player holds the fort – sometimes I think there could be an additional guitar, but mostly I’d say we handle that pretty well.
N.T.: Yeah, even Dream Theater – hen they record an album, John Petrucci records rhythm guitar underneath, but live John Myung fills that gap quite well, along with Jordan Rudess. We try to do something similar.
Lotsofmuzik – On Saturday Fabio is travelling to Italy to record his vocals for the international project Holy Tide, which he is already the vocalist and Will include other big names of the rock/metal scene – What can you tell us about this project?
F.C.: I was caught by surprise with the invitation. Joey Caputo is the bass player, leader and main composer of this project. He already had a guitar player in mind and was looking for a singer. He’s playing with a band called Sunrunner, and they’re managed by our same agent, Som do Darma. Through that connection we were introduced and that’s how I was invited for it. I’m travelling to Italy this week to record it, and the sessions will last around nine days.
Lotsofmuzik – And Neemias was the winner of a contest launched by Dream Theater’s Jordan Rudess – what kind of contest was that?
N.T.: In 2013, Jordan released an app called EarWizard, which works as a training for musical perception – I think it’s still available at the app stores. At the time I was studying music theory in college, and I went through all the levels of the app. Soon after he put up a contest in which whoever finished all the levels would get a half hour class with him. I had already finished and sent it, and won the contest. The class ended up lasting a lot longer, and he was very considerate. We kept in touch after that, and we met in person in 2014 in one of the Dream Theater concerts in Brazil, and met again at NAMM in 2016.
Lotsofmuzik – And how can the fans follow the most recente updates on Maestrck?
F.C.: Our website is being updated, so the best source right now is our Facebook page. Also our management at Som do Darma.
Lotsofmuzik – Thanks for your time, and I’m hoping you guys book a tour in North America.
F.C.: Our hope is to be there in September next year.
Lotsofmuzik – Fingers crossed. Take care guys!
F.C.: You too, thanks for the interview!!!
Songs / Tracks Listing1. Origami (2:13)
2. aI .m. Living (6:29)
3. Rooster Race (6:10)
4. Daily View (2:31)
5. Water Birds (4:32)
6. Keep Trying (5:02)
7. The Seed (15:34)
8. Far West (4:31)
9. Across the River (5:12)
10. Penitência (4:48)
11. Hijos de la Tierra (7:50)
12. Trainsition (11:07)
Total Time 75:59
Line-up / Musicians– Renato Somera / Bass
– Heitor Matos / Drums
– Fábio Caldeira / Vocals, Keyboards
– Adair Daufembach / Guitars
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