There´s a lot of good bands in Brazil right now and Questions is one of the best hardcorebands around right now…november 2014
Please tell me a little bit history of the group?
-Hey Peter, thanks for having us. We grew up in the same area, in the suburbs of São Paulo, the biggest city in Brazil and the fourth in the world. Huge city, huge problems, but a lot of culture and underground culture. We became friends as teenagers in the early 90's, listening to rock, then metal, punk and hardcore. We all were into skate and music, and we realized soon we didn't have to be the best players to start our own band. Thanks to the D.I.Y. punk ethic, we just started doing things our way. We had bands in that time, but couldn't keep it going cause everyone was finding a way to make a living somehow. A few years later, in 2000, we started Questions with a more determined mentality: "we wanna do records and put them out, we wanna tour Europe, we wanna go to Russia... we wanna be heard". That's what we did since then, pretty much.
Please tell me a little about every member in the group right now, age, family, work, interests and something bad about everyone? Have you been in any other bands before?
-Shit! Some tricky questions right there! I'll keep it short: we're all around 40 (some more, some less, I'll let you guess, haha). Duzinho is a drum teacher, Helio is a journalist, Edu's working on a merch/label called Seven Eight Life (they put our records out) and I'm an editor/video guy. Our common interests are related to the underground culture in general, hardcore of course, but also many others styles of music, art and street art specially, skate, football, comics, movies and so on. As we get older we try to keep an open mind to embrace new things, we don't wanna be the old bastards claiming that the best times were gone. I won't tell something bad about my guys, hah... We have our arguments and differences for sure, but we manage to keep it inside the family. We all have ups and downs like everyone else, sometimes one of us needs some encouragement, or some help and the others keep it together. That's what friends are for, right? We've been in bands when we were kids, but Questions is where all of our time and dedication goes to.
Influences goes back I the time I understand I hear old sxe bands? Am I right there?
-Yeah sure. Minor Threat, Youth of Today, Judge, all the youth crew era have a huge influence in what we're doing. Not only the sound I'd say, but the energy and the intensity they had. That's something inspiring.
The paintings of your mums? Why?
-Our singer Edu came with the idea. We wanted to talk about the struggle to live our lives the way we wanted, to keep alive a hardcore band in a place that doesn't offer many opportunities. You know, musicians, in general, don't get the respect they deserve in Brazil. For an underground hardcore band, it's even worse. So we choose this title "Life is a Fight". What better image to represent it than our mums? Since none of us decided to have a solid career as an engineer, lawyer or something like that.. They're the fighters, and we try to learn it from them.
What´s the best thing with playing live?
-The best thing is when the crowd gets involved and do the show with us. It really doesn't matter if it's 5 or 500 people, as long as they're into it. This feeling brought us to hardcore, this equality and commitment between the band and people. Playing live is about interaction, basically. Otherwise is just a rehearsal with people watching.
And where is best to play?
-We've played some memorable shows in many places. Of course in our hometown São Paulo and some other cities in Brazil, like Jundiaí (close to SP), down south to Joinville or Porto Alegre, or up north in Natal and João Pessoa, our country have passionate people. In Europe we always got a great reception all over, especially in the eastern countries, such as Romania, Hungary.. I have to say that we had one of our best’s times in Russia and Ukraine as well, there's something about these places, an unique energy, that we didn't experience anywhere else!
How is it to play this sort of music in Brazil?
-It is, and have always been, a very underground thing. Rock in general is not so popular, hardcore and other extreme styles of music won't get much attention in the big media, or no attention at all. But it survives through the effort of many passionate people, that's the cool thing about it. The main reason for us and others to keep doing it is the will to do something that we love. That goes also to people who have clubs or places that book hardcore bands, bloggers and zine makers (yeah, they're still around!), labels and so on. To do it in Brazil... you're crazy, or very passionate, probably both!
How would you describe your music in three words?
-Raw, loud, true.
What does punk mean to you, is it only a word or is it a lifestyle?
-The words and the language evolves and the meaning of things sometimes transform in something completely different. That said, our interpretation of punk is: "if you want something to happen in your life, go ahead and do it. Don't wait for others do it for you". It's the basic D.I.Y. idea. It's more of an attitude than a certain style of music.
How do you see on downloading, mp3 and that stuff?
-In a good way, sure. Music is meant to be heard. At least, our music is! So the tools for sharing it are welcome. Again, hardcore doesn't pay our bills, if we did for the money, we wouldn't last six months. So we don't feel sorry for the collapse of the record industry and all the big corporations that lost their profit. The artists never got what they deserved, in the first place. The D.I.Y. labels are still there, the cult of vinyl and k7 is back, all good.
How is it to live in the Brazil now? Politically? Or do you don´t give a damn?
-We do care, sure! We're living in tough times. After 20 years of military dictatorship, we're living in a "democratic" country since 85 and we are allowed to vote since 89. Our president Dilma (first woman ever on the job) just got reelected until 2018. But the election was hard, she won with a small difference of votes. The country is split between the ones who supported her, in theory more left wing oriented, and almost half of the people, who voted against her. It was the first election with millions of people participating more on the debates through the social networks. It's kind of scary, a lot of hate speech going on. An extremist minority, on many sides, trying to transform the election in a war. Some right wings lunatics claiming for a military intervention, which is completely nonsense. Anyway, as a band we don't support any specific political party, but it's very clear for us that the hardcore movement should always stand up against any form of nationalist, nazi shit. And have nothing to do with right wing ideas. We embrace the "no racism, no sexism, no homophobia" mentality. São Paulo, where we live, the richest state of the country, votes on conservative candidates traditionally. We have the same party running the state for 20+ years. It sucks, but they were elected, so we got to respect that. On the other hand, our mayor has a more progressive agenda. He's paying more attention to the public transportation, to the bicycle routes, he's up to interesting ideas.
Is there any good bands from Brazil now? ?
-Yeah a lot of bands, in many styles. It's great to see new blood on the scene. To name a few: Bayside Kings, DPR, Refutare, FARPA, One True Reason, Institution, Chacal.
What do you know about Sweden?
-Less than we should, for sure! We definitively should play there to see it with our own eyes. For us, Sweden and the whole Scandinavia are always referred as the "first world", or "the most developed" or "richest countries" in the world. Besides the education level, I think the main difference is the distance between rich and poor. In Brazil, the rich are scandalous rich and we still got millions of people living in complete miserable conditions. That leads to a lot of problems. I believe you guys live in more equal conditions, and good ones. I think in Sweden people in general have more access to basic needs, like a place to live, a job, and decent hospitals and schools.
Have you heard any good bands from Sweden?
-The bands we know are the classics, Anti Cimex and Wolfbrigade. Also Raised Fist. And of course we like Refused. But there's got to be more good music to check out.
Your lyrics, who does them and what influences you? Why not in Portuguese?
-Most of the lyrics are written by Edu and me. The others comes with suggestions or help with some final touches. We wanna talk about the daily fight to leave our lives the way we want, to resist the social pressure to become this or that, do not embrace the common mentality, where the respect you get is based on how much money you have. We chose to write in English cause the bands we like the most all sing in this language, so it was natural for us to try to sound a little bit like them. We also always consider ourselves as citizens of the world, we thought that more people could relate to the lyrics, even in Brazil, because we write at a very basic level. And we saw Sepultura from the beginning, it had a huge impact on us as well. That doesn't mean we can't sing in Portuguese anytime, why not? If it feels right at some point, we'll do it.
Is there any subject that you never will write anything about?
-Well, we never did a love song, in a "romantic" way, hah. We may talk about love for our family and friends all the time, though. So far we didn't feel the need to do it, but who knows? Never say never, right?
Politic and music, does it goes hand in hand? Which is your most political song?
-Everything you think or do has a political aspect on it, whether you like it or not. The way you face life and the choices you make, the causes you defend and the ones you ignore, it's all politics. To play in a hardcore band in Brazil, and to keep doing it for several years, is in a way, our political statement. We don't get involved in traditional organizations or parties, but that doesn't mean we don't care. Some of our songs have a more direct political view, like 'Consume'. The title track of our latest release, 'Out of Society' is pretty to the point too. It was inspired, among other subjects, by the way the government dealt with Fifa to do the world cup in Brazil, it was such an elite event related to so many problems, evictions, corruption. We had to express the way we felt about it.
Best political band/artist?
-Difficult one! I would go with Jello Biafra. We won't agree with all the things he says, but the ironic/provocative style of his speech is catchy, and the guy definitely makes you think. And he's got this giant knowledge, he sure knows more about Brazilian music and history than the four of us together!
Do you think that music (lyrics and so on) can change anyones life, I mean people who listens to music?
-I believe it can, sure! I like to think that music can be inspiring. It was for us, at least. As you grow up, you try to understand how society works, who you are and what do you want to do with your life. All culture is important, but especially underground culture and hardcore music opened up our minds to a lot of things that weren't thought in school, or weren't shown on the traditional media. It made us want more for ourselves than the ordinary standard: school, maybe college, get a regular job, start a family. A lot of people think this is good enough for them, it's alright, but hardcore made us want to see the world in a different perspective. Music is very powerful.
Questions is your name, wasn’t you afraid that someone have taken the name before you??
-We chose the name mainly because of the meaning, you know, try to keep a critic attitude, question the authority, question the power.. and we wanted a common word, something universal and easy to understand. So it came naturally. We never thought someone would take it before, really.
Is it important for you to get out physical records?
-Oh yeah! It's the real thing!! Something you can touch. Vinyl is even more special, since we grew up listening to all those records, the huge cover, the lyrics sheets... Digital is good, but physical is necessary.
Please tell me a funny thing which have happened during your career and under some gig? I can imagine that it´s wild
-Life on the road is always full of surprises, some good and some... well, we can laugh about them now. On last tour our van broke down in the middle of the road in Kaliningrad. Suddenly a lot of smoke started to come out from the engine. First reaction was to stop it immediately and run away from it, like it was going to explode or something! It wasn't, obviously.. Then our insurance car would take too long to get inside Kaliningrad, due to the visa bureaucracy. So the solution was to be towed until the boarder, then pass through it pushing the van by foot (literally!) to meet the next tow truck in Poland. It was fucked up when it happened, but when we remember the people looking at us at the boarder pushing the van, it's funny, hah!
How does your audience look like? Which people do you miss on your concerts? Is it the same type of people as on your old concerts?
-That depends, but usually there are more kids going to our shows, I'd say the average of teens or early 20's. The cool thing is people seem to understand our concept of a hardcore show where everybody is welcome: sxes, drunks, punks, metal heads and so on. As long as the respect is there, it should be natural that we all can have fun together. Sometimes we play to an older audience, which is cool too, if people are into it. We understand that, as people get older, it's often more difficult to get to the shows. So we miss some old friends that used to come a few years ago. But it's great to see the new faces too, it keeps us alive! It's a great feeling when someone at the half of your age and wasn't there in the beginning, can relate to what you're doing. It proves that we're the kind of band that doesn't stand stuck in the past. Some people from the old says still show up, it's great to have them too!
Please rank your five favorite records, five favorite concerts and five most important things in life?
-Lists are always tricky, but here we go!
Records: Sick of it All - Just Look Around, the record that brought us into hardcore, it'll always by my favorite. Sepultura - Beneath the Remains, so much energy, a fucking bomb! Agnostic Front - Victim in Pain, raw anthems. Ratos de Porão - Brasil, if you don't know this classic Brazilian punk/hardcore band, you should, specially this record. Minor Threat - Complete Discography, needs no comment.
The shows you see when you're young are the ones that have a huge impact I guess, so I'll pick 3 from the old days:
Metallica in 89 - And Justice for All tour, it was very rare to have a big show like that in Brazil, people went crazy. Fugazi in São Paulo, back in 94, in a club for 1000 people. 2 sold out nights, incredible. Agnostic Front first time in São Paulo, in 98, they played in a small club for 200 people, it was intense! And I'll pick 2 from our European tour last year: Madball at Ieper and Sick of it All in Freiburg, the two best live bands today.
The most important thing in life is try to make it better, for you and for the ones you love. The relationships that you built leads to the respect you get. Ah, and don't take yourself too seriously.
Is it boring with interviews? IS it much interviews??
-It can be boring if the person who's doing it have no idea about us or our music and ideas. Fortunately that almost never happened. Usually, the people who wants to talk to us are involved in the scene and have a real interest in what we're doing. Sometimes we got a few on the line and we take more time that we'd like to answer them. But, as long as there's a real interest there, it's all good.
Please ask the questions you never get but you want to have, ask it and answer it?
-Yeah there's two topics I'd like to mention. First question would be something like "what's your relationship with art?" We think it's an important part of the band, it's a powerful tool. The way we visually present our ideas, the records covers, etc. It's all connected, thanks to our singer Edu, who's a self-taught artist. He's developing his style over the years and does all the artwork. Another one is: "what's the history behind your relationship with One Thousand Questions, Hardcore Help Foundation and Arco?" In our 2013 tour, we always expressed our view about the world cup. The preparation for the event were taking place in Brazil and there was a lot of problems going on. Like I mentioned before, the construction of useless millionaires arenas, evictions, corruption, all sorts of shit. A lot of people related to the things Edu said on stage. A few months after the tour we got an email from Irene, who was at our show in Freiburg. She was motivated to do a show to raise some funds to a serious NGO in Brazil. She was already curious about the way things were happening here and was inspired by our speech to do something. It developed to start a NGO called One Thousand Questions. We felt great about it!!! So we reached Arco, a NGO that does an amazing job with children in one of the most needful neighborhoods in São Paulo, Jd. Ângela. The benefit show took place in June this year, and when Hardcore Help Foundation knew about it, they wanted to get involved as well. So we did a Questions collaboration t-shirt with OTQ, HHF and Arco on it, and all the money from the sales was donated to Arco. Sometime later we visited Arco to do a short documentary about their work, it's going to come out soon.
Future plans for the band?
-In 2015, we're celebrating 15 years nonstop. We wanna do a new record, a dvd, a book and another European Tour. We're gonna be busy!
Well, I know we'll keep Questions alive as long as we can. I wanna keep learning and trying to improve my video skills, it's a never ending process. It's about time to think about kids too.
-We put it in our first cd "Resista!", 10 years ago. "If you resist as a matter of habit, you turn resistance into art". A Dutch architect, Rem Koolhaas, said that. I honestly don't know in what context he said it, but it fit perfectly in our concept, not only for the album, but also for the band.
Something to add?
-Thanks for the interview, it was an in-depth one, hah! Hope to meet you in Sweden someday. Keep supporting hardcore bands and your local scene. Always remember, hardcore is no place for racism, sexism and homophobia. Stay positive and keep fighting!