Sao Paulo, Brazil thrash brigade, Nervosa had their debut album, Victim of Yourself hit the streets very recently, although the buzz in the patch-jacketed ‘n’ bullet-belted underground has been swirling around this trio for a couple years. Being a trio of staunch and avowed all-tits-no-dicks thrash heads hailing from a faraway, sun-kissed land will always be a selling point to people who spend most of their time debating who sold out when and consider Austin, TX a mysterious and exotic locale. But when that trio can blast out with traditionally spiced, raw thrash inspired by the hallowed Teutonic “Big Three” and mid-80s Huntington Beach, well, that should turn more than a few heads as well. With the help of the internet and some form of translation program, we caught up with bassist/vocalist, Fernanda Lira and guitarist Prika Amaral via email for an all-things-Nervosa primer.
Could you give us a bit of personal history about how you came to be thrash/metal fans and some band history explaining how Nervosa came to be?
Fernanda: Well, I’ve always been into metal, since I was a kid, but I started with the ‘lighter’ stuff like Iron Maiden, Kiss, Black Sabbath. My first memory on loving thrash metal was when I started listening to early Metallica and Megadeth! It was completely different from all I had listened to before, and the first thing that drew my attention to thrash metal, was the energy the genre carries. Still nowadays I can’t describe what I feel when I listen to the traditional thrash metal beat; it’s something that really touches me inside, it’s a mix of aggressiveness with energy, it makes you feel alive inside. Right after I got into these bands, I moved on to Slayer and got crazy with old school American and German thrash! Actually Prika started the band; I came a little later! I had been just kicked out of my previous band because they said I was ‘too thrash’ for them [laughs]! Then, after some time being away from playing metal, I decided to get back to pursuing my dream of having a band. I started looking for girls to gather up in an all-female thrash metal band. It was really, really hard to find available and committed girls, especially [who wanted] to play extreme metal. Nowadays, there are plenty of girls playing metal around, but three years ago, it was a little bit different. So when I was just about to quit my quest, Prika got in touch with me saying she had a thrash metal project and it perfectly fit with what I wanted to do! After some chats, we saw we had the same ideals and goals and also we got along really well – which is pretty important. We decided to start making Nervosa an active band, so we did!
Prika: I was born listening to rock. My mother listened to bands like Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple, Yes, etc. So, to listen to rock always was natural. I don’t remember the first metal band I heard; I think it was either Slayer, Sepultura or Metallica. I played in a death metal band in 2010 and we needed a drummer. A friend showed me a female drummer and we began the idea for an all-female band. I searched for one year for female bassists and vocalists. [There were] many girls, but nobody was ideal. In July of 2011, I found Fernanda as a bassist. She is perfect for us because she had the same ideas. She suggested [trying out on] vocals, and when I listened I liked very much! The band had four songs before Fernanda. After she joined the band, the first show happened, we recorded our first demo, and the band began to [move].
When you were faced with having to replace members over the years, how determined were you to keeping Nervosa an all-female line-up? Did you ever entertain the idea of having a dude play with you? How difficult is it to find female thrash musicians in your part of Brazil?
Fernanda: I have always been determined to only play with girls! And when we had to face line-up changes, even with all difficulties, I never gave up on finding girls to play with us and the result is this all female line-up we have nowadays. After our first drummer left the band, I felt bad for a while, but then I started looking for other ones right away. We found many, but not all of them played extreme metal, and some of them couldn’t compromise with a band professionally the way we needed. So, the quest was REALLY hard! But I was always looking for girls; contacting them, talking to them, some even from other countries. I have no idea how we would handle a girl from abroad in the band, but I contacted them anyway. You can see my determination [laughs]! Before I remembered about and contacted Pitchu Ferraz, who’s with us nowadays, Prika suggested having a man behind the drums, but I told her I would only accept that if ALL the options were REALLY discarded. Fortunately, they were not. We knew Pitchu, but she was never in a thrash metal band before, so we didn’t know if she would fit in. But I told Prika that she had the guts and energy to play thrash and also she seemed to be a very [hard-working] person. Even if she didn’t know how to play it, she would learn how. To our surprise, when she started playing our songs, she did it perfectly, exactly the way we wanted and a lot better than we were expecting! She’s the one who kept us moving ahead as an all-female thrash metal band and she’s my precious. She’s a very hard-working girl and deserves everything that comes our way. That would be a gift from the universe for the awesome soul and professional musician she is!
Prika: I’ve always played with men and when I began Nervosa it was very difficult to meet professional girls. It is easy meet girls that play well, but it is very hard to meet girls that would abandon all to be on the road. Here in Brazil. I think that it is easy to meet a female musician because here there are female bands and in the Brazilian scene. Women are very present, [but finding] girls as engaged as men are is very, very hard and meeting girls that are easy to hang out with is even harder. Nervosa was my project, so I didn’t [feel I had to rush] and I never gave up.
What were you looking to achieve with your first full-length? In what ways was the recording of the album different than your previous EP?
Fernanda: This time we knew the album would be much more mature because we have naturally evolved as musicians and as people. Besides that, we knew it would be a lot more [about] what Nervosa represents today and will represent from now on. When I joined the band, some songs were already written and I just gave some adjustments to them and worked on lyrics and vocal melodies. This time, all the songs have ideas from both me and Prika and the albums lyrics’ are perfectly shared by me and her. So this album is the perfect mix of mine and Prika’s ideas, who are the main composers in the band.
Prika: It was natural. The demo/EP was composed in majority by me because Fernanda joined the band after those four songs were already done. Therefore, this album is different because there’s more of everyone’s opinion and this makes the music grow. Each opinion adds to it for the better. Recording the album was special because this is Nervosa’s first full album; we were very careful with each detail and it was very special for me because I recorded the whole album [while suffering] with tendinitis and my arm in a plaster cast. I was in a lot of pain, but the final result was worth it.
How do you feel the songs and sound of Victim of Yourself turned out compared to what you envisioned in your mind going into the recording?
Fernanda: When we headed into the recording sessions, we knew exactly what we wanted to do, so everything came out pretty similar to what we had in mind. The only things that were my responsibility and that came out better than I thought, were the vocals and the bass tone. I was really well rehearsed when we recorded the vocals, so I could explore my voice in many ways I hadn’t imagined and in the end I thought they were REALLY cool and added a whole different aspect to the songs. As for the bass, I took a long time looking for inspirations to help me find the perfect timbre for my bass on the final mix. Alex Webster from Cannibal corpse was VERY influential to me. In the end, I simply LOVED my bass timbre. It was a lot better than I expected and much closer to what I wished to!!
Prika: As a whole, I really think it’s very good. But for the next album, I am sure that it will be better for me, because I won’t be [dealing] with tendinitis and now I have a custom guitar and custom pedal [made] for me by Ed’s Mod Shop. Now, I have a perfect sound!
What does the title of the album refer to? Is there a specific story or significance about why you called the album Victim of Yourself?
Fernanda: Prika came up with the initial idea for the cover which can be real related to the album’s theme. When I was writing the song “Victim of Yourself,” I was inspired by something that happened to us that made me reach the conclusion that everything you do will have a consequence. If you do bad things, bad things will come your way and if you can’t take responsibility for your own decisions, you become a victim of yourself. When I told Prika that I had a song in mind with this title and the meaning behind that, we agreed that it had to do with everything she had in mind for the cover and that this would be the name of the album.
Prika: Some people tried to harm us because of pure envy and they were burned by their own attitudes. The idea is that you are responsible for your attitudes and that all you do will come [back] to [haunt] you. My idea for the art cover is a skull killing another skull, but both are the same person.
How did you come to the attention of Napalm Records? Are you hoping that the label can do the work for you in Europe and America that you can’t? And just how popular are you in Brazil, anyway?
Fernanda: Right after we released our video clip, people shared it and it ended up being watched by many people overseas, but when Napalm got in touch with us, it was really a surprise. We know we’re a very hardworking band and everything that comes our way is a result of all the effort we make to keep the band going on, but I was shocked because we didn’t even have an album released. What I liked about them is that, since the beginning, they seemed to believe in us and our music as much as we do and this is the best thing you can expect from a label. They’re already doing many things we’d never be able to do. Without them we would [have taken] a lot longer to record our debut and be acknowledged outside of Brazil. A label can be very helpful to a band if both sides are looking the same way and fortunately that happens with Napalm! I am sure they will do many, many more things for us and we hope we can ‘repay’ them for what they do for us. In Brazil, many head bangers know us; we’re very popular and many of our Brazilian idols [know] our material and most of them support us, which makes me really, really happy!
Prika: Our video clip, “Masked Betrayer” had 16,000 views in 24 hours. This was a great surprise for us because this number is very large for a band that wasn’t known. Schmier from Destruction shared our clip on Facebook and Napalm viewed it and sent us an email. We are very happy with Napalm; they are great partners and we have [the freedom] to be what we are. We are popular in Brazil. We have already played with Exodus, Destruction, Raven, Kreator, Artillery, Exumer, Exciter, Legion of the Damned, etc. The distribution of our album around the world will be very important and Napalm has the structure for this.
What’s the plan now that you have a growing profile, an international label, a manager and album with an Andrei Bouzikov-painted cover?
Fernanda: We have many plans in mind and we’ll work really hard to make them come true. After releasing the new video and album, we plan to play a lot, wherever we can. We’re a band that loves being on the road, so we plan to discover many new places in and outside Brazil and play as much as we can.
Prika: The plan is to play around the world, [as many] places [as] possible. We want to continue working and displaying our work. We want to record many albums and to play much!
Here’s the old video, “Masked Betrayer”
And the new one, “Death”