Saturday, December 12, 2015

QUESTIONS interview

by marcs77
photos taken from Questions fb diary

Going on 15 years now São Paulo, Brazil's QUESTIONS has come really a long way, especially for a tight bunch of friends hailing from a troubled country, Pablo (guitar) still consider it himself to be a third-world nation (that's really not what media tell us here in Europe, right?...), rehearsing, playing local shows, recording their own material and making their dream to fly out to Europe and tour it more than once come true. All this and much more has been made possible by their endless love for music, the punk hardcore music itself as a means and outlet to express themselves and reach out to other like-minded kids all around the world and some solid DIY ethics that have been the real drive for the four-piece (the band line up is completed by Edu -vocals, Helio -bass and Daz -drums) since day one.

2015 saw the band putting out their forth full-length album titled “Pushed Out...of Society”, in Europe on Toanol records and in Brazil last September via Seven Eight Life Recordings.
We did plan to do this interview so that it was going to be up before the guys were in Europe but I've managed to email Pablo my questions just a few days before the quartet were to embark on the Euro tour.

Read on about the tour Questions successfully completed, the new album, the daily struggles they go through to keep their band going, pushing boundaries to further emerge out off a over-crowed, and constantly changing, hardcore scene and addressing topics they feel close to and load more.

Ah, I didn't want to influence you in any ways but I'd like to mention Questions got two long time, well renowned, supporters in the persons of Cavalera's brothers.

QUESTIONS is really a rock solid passionate hardcore oufit to look out for. Enjoy!

gan: Hey guys how's all in life? Have you finished with the Euro tour or are you still on the road?

Hey, what's up? All good. We just got home after 35 days on the road.

gan: How's the tour? Any good memory, tour related stories you wanna share with us?

We played 30+ shows all over Europe, it was the best tour we did so far! A trip like this is full of intense emotions, ahah... Ups and downs come and go pretty fast, and you don't really have time to think too much about it while you're still playing. Now that we are back home we can sit and talk about all the experiences we went through. Like when our van broke down and we had to put our stuff in a small car and drive 5 hours to not miss a show... It was fucking bad when it happened, but now we can laugh about it. The highlights of the tour were the festivals, of course: Hardcore Help Foundation, Fluff and Ieper. And the shows we played with Ratos de Porão, First Blood and Madball. We have a lot of respect for these bands, and to earn their respect is something really special.

gan: If my mind doesn't play tricks this is not your first Euro tour. How is it like touring Europe for a band coming from Brazil? How the crowd reception differs, if it happens, from back home?

Yeah, it's our fifth tour, we've been all over the continent. From Portugal to Russia, from Greece to the Netherlands, going through almost all of the Western and Eastern countries. To tour Europe was a dream that we had since we were kids, it was one of the main goals when we started the band. But it was, and still is, very hard for us to do it. Everybody has to plan vacations from work at the same time, we got to arrange our lives to be away from home and from our families for a month or so, besides the money for the plane tickets. But it's something that we love to do and the memories we get from each tour are worth it.
In many places that we've been, people are surprised and excited with the fact that we came from so far away. We got good receptions all over, in general. Had some crazy crowds in many places, specially in the Eastern countries, Ukraine and Russia. We felt a strong connection with the people there, maybe because they have to deal with the same kind of problems that we do back home. The Brazilian crowd can be very crazy too, but we are more used to the ambient, we speak the language, etc... It's hard to describe how it's different, every show has an unique energy. But the fact that you got people moving and appreciating your music, thousands of kilometers from home, is something that means a lot us!

gan: Did you have to chance to meet and share the stage with good bands worth mentioning?

As we said, RDP, First Blood and Madball were incredible, but we shared the stage with some other great bands, to name a few:
Iron to Gold, A Traitor Like Judas, Spit it Out, United and Strong, Out for Change, Omerta, Burning Fight, My Turn and others...

gan: Your new album “Pushed out...society” is finally out in Europe on Toanol records and will be out in Brazil this September via Seven Eight Life Recordings. Wanna talk about this latest effort? What does this represent for Questions and how you guys would compare it to the previous recordings?

We are very proud of it. We tried to push further our own style of hardcore, mixing traditional elements with new beats and grooves. The lyrics have more direct anti-racist, anti-homophobic messages and, at the same time, bring a positive perspective on the problems of living in a third world country. There a few guests on the record: "Cheap Talk" was co-written by Matt Henderson, former Agnostic Front and Madball guitar player. "The Same Blood" have lyrics and guests vocals by Rodrigo Lima of the Brazilian band Dead Fish. Andrew Kline (Strife) and Nick Jett (Terror) co-written and recorded "We're not Alone" and finally, Iggor Cavalera recorded drums on the Sepultura classic "Troops of Doom". The album was recorded at El Rocha studios in São Paulo and was mastered by Paul Miner at Buzzbomb studios in California. Compared to the other records, we feel it's a step further and it also represents 15 years of non stop activities. We joined forces with Toanol Records in 2013, when they released a gatefold vinyl with our records "Rise Up" and "Life is a Fight", they give us the best support a DIY label can give.

gan: You have a new song entitled “Those Days” which is circulating on the net and I got to read some commentary about it I am reporting here «This song is a tribute to our great idols who are still doing their thing today. People who influenced us since our childhood, like the Cavalera brothers, Minor Threat, Agnostic Front, Sick of it All, Ratos de Porão and many others who inspire us to make the things by ourselves and keeping pushing the boundaries of underground music in Brazil and the world, taking our music further away». Some of the youngest kids perhaps don't care too much about this but I think educating yourself about the roots and history of a musical genre is as important, if not more important, as knowing who's the coolest band of the moment. I am sure you agree, right?

Sure. When you're young and are experiencing things for the first time, listening to bands and going to shows, etc... it's pretty normal that the most popular bands at the moment get your attention first. But, as years go by, the kids who get deeper into the history of the underground culture probably will be the ones starting bands, zines, labels and so on. They'll keep it alive. When you feel truly involved with it, you'll be compelled to do something. If you just care just about the latest trend and don't wanna know how things got to this point, you'll be gone soon. In this video we tried to show some of the most important people for us, despite of the kind of music they did, their art touched us somehow.

gan: From the statement above it is clear you guys don't wanna hole yourselves up in your local scene but indeed you wanna reach out to as many people as possible all around the world. For a band hailing from Brazil how hard is this goal to be achieved?

It's very, very hard. To keep this band alive
demands lots of sacrifice from all of us. We all have families, jobs and things to take care in Brazil, so it's never easy to be away. And we have to plan our vacations together to be able to tour, which is always complicated. But it's clear for us that it's something that we really love to do and we are supported by people that keep us motivated, somehow we find a way to keep going. It'd make no sense for us to have a band just to play in our own neighborhood, the idea is always to push it further.

gan: For those who are not much into Brazil scene, do you guys want to suggest any bands worth checking out?

We got many good bands playing different styles of underground music. Some of our favorites right now are: Institution, One True Reason, Bayside Kings, Chcl, Bandanos, Betterman, Machinage, Mais Que Palavras and many more.

gan: How's your local scene like and Brazilian one on a larger extent? And how things changed over the years?

Sao Paulo, where we live, is the biggest city, also the biggest scene. We got a few venues that booked underground/hardcore shows every weekend for many years. The most traditional one, Hangar 110, is around since almost 20 years, this is great. There are tons of Brazilian bands playing and also many bands coming from South America, US and Europe. When we were kids there weren't shows like this. It was very unusual and special when we had the opportunity to see a band live. Little by little, it's getting better all over the country. Hardcore is still an underground movement, it's a small scene compared to the commercial popular music, but we got serious and dedicated people working hard to make it better.

gan: Among the hardcore punk the word “RESPECT” comes up many times be it in lyrics, when singers speak to the crowds, printed on t-shirts and band merch. Among the hardcore punk do we always believe and stick with the true meaning of this word? Sometimes I don't feel we really do...

I guess I see what you mean. When you repeat a word a million times, maybe it's original sense lose a bit of strength. And if you got tons of bands using it, it can happen, sure. Some bands may not pay too much attention to the lyrics and just want to go with the current trend. But even it may be meaningless for some people, at least it's something positive. Better respect than hate, for example! When we started this band we wrote a song called “Union/Respect”, it's a frequent subject on our lyrics, a value that is important to us. And you got to work hard to earn it. We always try to stick to what it meant for us back then. What you give is what you get.

gan: Last year Brazil hosted the FIFA world cup and next year you'll have the Olympic games. Here in Europe, just before the beginning of the world cup, we got news about the rioting and people hitting the street to claim their rights and let the power that be hear their voices but then all fell silent, everything being purposely obscured by media, and we didn't know anything more than what was going on in the football stadiums. I'm sure your country has a lot of problems and issues to solve first before wasting tons of money in this kind of events which come good only to pile up the bank accounts of the few greedy people who benefit from all this. What's your view on this theme?
When Brazil won the right to host the cup, the government, the big corporations and the media told the people it was a great opportunity to improve many things in the country. They told us: "there's going to be many private investments, we'll develop the tourist industry, the public transportation system, hotels, infrastructure in general and so on. And, most important of all, we won't spend public money to build stadiums or other facilities for the cup". That was a big lie, obviously.

It's very sad to say that, but we have to say it because it's true, corruption is part of the Brazilian culture. It's all over the place, from the small to the big business, almost everyone's trying to take advantage on the others.
So, you did resume well the situation. There were protests but they were violently repressed by the state, the big media did everything possible to present the protesters as "vandals". Most of the promised improvements never happened. And millions of public money were wasted in useless stadiums, some of them are built in places that don't even have a professional football league!!! The country lost the opportunity to use the international attention to make a better life for it's people. Some of the FIFA godfathers are in jail today, but it doesn't mean so far that the system has changed. Most of Brazilians, ourselves included, love football. But the way this cup was headed by FIFA, government and big business, was just a shame.
Unfortunately the Olympic games look exactly the same, we don't believe it's going to be any different.

gan: By the end of 2015 you guys are due to release a celebratory DVD for your 15 years as a band. Wanna talk a bit about this project?

Yeah, the idea is to try to tell a bit of our history and how we got where we are. It'll be more focused on this than on a live show. This documentary has been a work in progress for a long time, it'll be good to put something out. Over the years we tried to collect a lot of footage from the shows, the recordings, the tours... It's a giant effort to dig into it. Hope we can come up with something interesting.

gan: What your band means to you? Have you ever crossed with the thought of how it could be like the day you will have to call it a day?

Questions is our platform to express ourselves, it's something made from the heart, we do it because we love to do it, in the first place. It also means the escape from the boring 9-5 routine, the regular job life. A way to avoid the society pressure to dedicate your life to make money, more and more. We are a group of friends that wanna have fun and spread our message together, simple as that. As long as this feeling is true, we'll keep going on. If, for any reason, the band can't be together anymore, I know all of us will be involved in music or arts somehow.

gan: You are completing or just finished the Euro tour, you have a new record out and the DVD on the way. Anything up next?

Yeah, there's a book we're doing with some stories and tons of pictures from all of the different phases of the band. And we are always writing riffs and song parts so we can come up with new songs, it's a never ending process...

gan: That's really it for me. I thank you very much for taking the time to reply my questions, which I hope you found interesting enough. The last words are up to you...

Thank you for the interview, it's always good to have a new channel to talk about what we're doing!!! Keep up the good job!
Support your local scene, support true D.I.Y. bands who are playing for the passion... stay positive!!!

Stream here their new album “Pushed Out...of Society” in its enterity


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