|Interview by Burt Wolf with Bruno, founder & singer of THE FIRSTBORN.
Interview done January 23rd, 2006.
THE FIRSTBORN HAVE BEEN AROUND SINCE 1995. CAN YOU PLEASE GIVE SOME OF THE
BANDS HISTORY UP TO NOW? HOW DID YOU GUYS GET TOGETHER? ANY PREVIOUS BANDS
MEMBERS WERE IN PRIOR TO THE FIRSTBORN?
I came up with this project (back then still named FIRSTBORN EVIL) back in '94 or '95 & after some months
of scouting for musicians, we started jamming & eventually found a stable line up, from which three people still
remain...myself, together with Paulo & Gustavo. We've been the hard core of this band for 10 years & only
recently did we find people who we can actually work with, on all levels. I guess the only significant bands
anyone in THE FIRSTBORN has played in are our drummer Rolando Barros' other bands: SACRED SIN,
GROG, NEOPLASMAH, FILLI NIGRANTIUM INFERNALIUM & NEPHTYS (where our lead guitarist
Nuno Gervasio also plays). He's a busy guy, as you may imagine.
WHO OR WHAT HAVE HAD SOME INFLUENCE OR IMPACT ON YOUR LIFE & MUSIC?
Music drives my life forward, without it I probably would have gone mad sometime in the past...& life influences
my music. So it's a pretty symbiotic thing, actually...as for external factors that influence any of them...I can't
think of any. I pretty much live for music (although it isn't my only activity), so that's about it.
WHY WAS THE NAME THE FIRSTBORN CHOSEN AS THE BAND NAME?
Originally, still as FIRSTBORN EVIL, we were trying to hint at the intrinsically "evil" nature of Man, being that
only through external concepts such as morality & sin/virtue did this nature end up subdued...
WHY DID YOU DROP THE "EVIL" FROM THE END OF THE BANDS ORIGINAL NAME?
Eventually, I changed my perspective in Man's nature & the band name started making little sense...also, it linked
us almost directly with the clichés of Black Metal, of which we were striving to distance ourselves. So it was
quite a natural change for us & one I don't regret.
HOW WOULD YOU BEST DESCRIBE THE STYLE & SOUND OF THE FIRSTBORN TO SOMEONE
WHO HAS YET TO HEAR YOU GUYS?
That's tricly...I guess we play an extreme kind of Metal, with a lot of "old school" influences, mixed up with
some more Prog/Avantgarde/whatever-you-want-to-call-it twists, all based on Far Eastern music & culture. I
said it was tricky.
YOUR LATEST ALBUM IS "THE UNCLENCHING OF FISTS", (THE ONLY ONE I HAVE), WHICH
WAS RELEASED EARLY IN 2005. HOW WELL HAS THIS ALBUM DONE FOR YOU GUYS THUS
FAR? WHAT HAS THE RESPONSE BEEN LIKE?
Oh, the reactions have been overwhelming...a huge percentage of the reviews are very positive, some actually
too positive & almost everyone who got the album from us got back saying they were really impressed & into it.
I actually didn't expect such a response, given that this is a difficult album to "digest", multi-layered & full of
subtleties. Fortunately people have spent some time paying the due attention to it, which is very rewarding. It
was voted by the staff of LOUD! MAGAZINE (Portugal's biggest professional Metal magazine) as the bets
Portuguese album of 2005, which was quite surprising for us.
THIS ALBUM IS A CONCEPTUAL
ALBUM DEALING WITH TANTRIC
BUDDHISM, BASED ON THE BARDO
THODOL (THE TIBETAN "BOOK OF
THE DEAD"). WHY DID YOU DECIDE
TO DO A CONCEPTUAL ALBUM &
WHY DID YOU CHOOSE THIS THEME?
Initially, we started experimenting with these
more "exotic" influences out of an aesthetic
approach...we just tried to incorporate
something different in our soundscapes. But,
as I listened to more oriental music &
eventually started reading a bit on the subject,
it struck me as shallow & even a bit
offensive to use these influences for merely
decorative purposes. From that to a
conceptual album, it was a short & the "Book
Of The Dead" seemed a very interesting work to base it on, given it's purpose of transforming the experience of
death into an opportunity to attain enlightenment. This apparently was parallel to our musical direction thus far &
so we went for it & got to work.
WHY DID YOU TAKE FOUR YEARS WORKING ON THIS ALBUM?
Well, I must admit that we didn't quite know what we were getting ourselves into...being the perfectionists that
we are, writing a conceptual album meant hard, intense & at times insane work hours. That evolved into days,
then weeks...& then months. We were constantly experimenting, trying new things & that, combined with he
fact that we recorded "THE UNCLENCHING OF FISTS" in this very under-equipped studio our guitarist Paulo
had, led to such a long time preparing the album.
WHICH SONG FROM THIS ALBUM WOULD YOU SAY BEST REPRESENTS THE FIRSTBORN &
WHY? WHICH IS YOUR FAVORITE THE FIRSTBORN SONG?
I suppose the last & title song from "THE UNCLENCHING OF FISTS" sums up that album very well, as it was
intended to...there's even a long, slow section halfway through the song that incorporates the main riffs from
most others songs in the album, which is a detail most people don't notice. Which I take as work well done...it
came out pretty subtle, I suppose. But my favorite song so far has to be "Of Time And It's Absence", because it's
the one which still kicks me in the teeth every time I hear it. I'm not nostalgic, so when we release our next
album this will certainly change.
CAN YOU EXPLAIN THE COVER ARTWORK FOR THIS ALBUM A BIT & WHO DID IT?
The artwork, as well as the website, was handled by our friends from PHOBOS ANOMALY, who did an
outstanding job as per usual. The cover tried to represent the album title, both literally (the open hands, the fists
unclenching) & conceptually (the image of the Illuminated One in the background, representing the non-clinging
that "THE UNCLENCHING OF FISTS" actually refers to.) They worked with us in all the graphic aspects &
even the photo shoot was handled by them.
THIS ALBUM WAS RELEASED BY PROCON MEDIA. HOW DID YOU GET HOOKED UP WITH
THEM? HOW HAS IT BEEN WORKING WITH THEM?
The people behind PROCON are old friends of ours & they've been releasing quality music for quite some time
now, with their main label EQUILIBRIUM MUSIC, devoted to other sonorities. When I heard they were
thinking of releasing Metal, I got in touch with them & then one thing led to the other & we didn't look any
further for record deals. Their work ethics are very close to mine, so it's been an easy going & relaxed
cooperation, in which they have done their part very well & we try to correspond.
IS THERE ANY NEW MATERIAL IN THE WORKS OR ALREADY RELEASED? ARE YOU STILL
WITH PRO CON MEDIA & WILL THEY RELEASE YOUR NEW MATERIAL?
I hope they're interested in releasing our future works, but I suppose it's a matter of the music industry surviving,
meanwhile...these are hard times to release music of any kind & Metal is no exception. Particularly underground
works such as ours, which are obviously not your everyday Gothenburg styled Melodic Death Metal albums &
don't appeal to large numbers of people. Time will tell, I guess... We re already hard at work on new songs for an
upcoming album, with "ASCENSION" being the working title (although it will eventually change) & it seems it'll
be the natural consequence of all the doors we opened with "THE UNCLENCHING OF FISTS", But it's still too
early a stage to really judge that.
CAN YOU GIVE US A LITTLE INFO ON YOUR
PAST RELEASES & THEIR AVAILABILITY?
We released a demo tape back in '96, called "THE
AWAKENING OF EVIL", which has been unavailable
for years...then our first album, "REBIRTH OF EVIL"
(originally intended as a re-release of the demo with
some extra songs & then becoming an entirely new
work) was released in '98 through the Portuguese label
GUARDIANS OF METAL, which also released, in
2000, our second album "FROM THE PAST YET TO
COME" (already as THE FIRSTBORN). Both these
CDs are still available through underground distros
worldwide, I suppose. However, if you have any hopes
of these past release sounding anything like "THE
UNCLENCHING OF FISTS", then don't waste your
time looking for them. We're an ever changing band,
for better or worse.
WHERE ARE SOME OF THE PLACES YOU'VE PLAYED? WHO ARE SOME OF THE BANDS
YOU'VE SHARED THE STAGE WITH?
We've played a decent number of shows through out the years, mostly in our country...with this album we didn't
book as many shows as we used to, because the intricacies of our music, nowadays, more than ever require a
decent sound to be understandable. And more often than not, we end up playing in places without the minimum
required conditions...so we tried to avoid that, this time around, but we still managed to play some 10 concerts,
or so. Recently, we've played some shows with PRIMORDIAL, DECAPITATED, INCANTATION,
NARGAROTH, CATASTROPHIC, FILLI NIGRANTIUM INFERNALIUM, DECAYED & many more...in
the past, we played with some well known acts such as DARK TRANQUILITY, MARDUK, ANGEL
CORPSE, ENTHRONED, ANCIENT, YATTERING & many more I can't recall right now.
ARE THERE ANY GOOD INTERESTING OR FUNNY BAND STORIES YOU COULD SHARE WITH
Well, there's our near legendary bad luck, we're the living proof of the accuracy of Murphy's Law...if there's
anything that can go wrong, it surely will if we're in any way involved. From several on stage equipment
collapses, to the van breaking down when we're late for a gig, that's all common for us. There have been many
funny episode, but you'd have to be there to laugh at it...describing it would kill all the humour.
WHAT DO THE BAND MEMBERS DO WHEN NOT DOING ANY WORK FOR THE BAND? JOBS,
Everyone has to earn a living, so everyone works (some a bit more than others!)...I'm finishing my degree in
Archaeology as well & Paulo is always recording bands. Our drummer has, as I said earlier, lots of other bands,
so his spare time is mostly spent rehearsing & playing live.
WHAT IS ONE THING PEOPLE WOULD BE SURPRISED TO FIND OUT ABOUT YOU?
About me, in particular...I bar tended for a couple of years in one of Lisbon's finest hotels, The Ritz Four
Seasons. Regarding the band, I think it would be the fact that we hardly ever rehearse before concerts. If the
concert's any good, people will be surprised, i guess. Then again, maybe it isn't that much of a surprise...
WHAT WAS THE FIRST ALBUM YOU REMEMBER BUYING? WHAT WAS THE FIRST CONCERT
YOU EVER WENT TO?
I know the first LP i bought was DIRE STRAITS "BROTHER IN ARMS", back in the day...the first significant
concert was PINK FLOYD in '92, I think. But I had been to some local shows before, it's just that I can't
remember most of them.
WHAT CAN WE EXPECT TO
SEE NEXT FROM THE
A new album, hopefully taking a bit
less time to write, this time...an
album that takes our experiments in
"THE UNCLENCHING OF FISTS"
a couple steps further. I'd really
like it if we could get some more
musicians to work with us on this
one, so that we have to rely less &
less on samples. And we'll try to
have someone else behind the
mixing board this time, so that we
don't forsake what's left of our
WHAT WERE YOU DOING BEFORE THIS INTERVIEW? WHAT WILL YOU BE DOING NOW THAT
I was checking my email until I came across your email...now I'm going to put on some relaxing music & work
on lyrics until sunrise (which gives me a couple of hours) & then, off to work. One more night without sleeping!
THANX FOR TAKING THE TIME TO ANSWER THIS INTERVIEW. IF THERE IS ANYTHING ELSE
YOU'D LIKE TO ADD, FEEL FREE TO DO SO. THANX!
No problem, it was my pleasure...I just hope my answers aren't too long & boring. What can I add? If any of
you reading haven't had a chance to listen to our stuff, drop our site a visit or check out our Myspace page. Our
thanks for your support & dilatation, best wishes! "As trees bear fruit, may these words bear the fruit of good