SWITCHTENSE: “We will never quit!”
Internationally praised for revitalising the irksome ‘metalcore’ genre, Portugal’s Switchtense have released their second self-titled album and consequently commenced their mission to promote their unique style of metal across the world.
Lilen Pautasso recently caught up with frontman Hugo Andrade about the new album, their visions for the future and why they’ll never give up their quest to match their international counterparts!
1. Your latest album Switchtense was only released earlier this month and has already been well received by fans and critics. How do you feel about the final product?
First of all, we have to thank you for this opportunity to share our point of view about our work with your readers and to have the chance to promote our band in an Australian Webzine.
We feel proud about the album. It’s one more step forward for us and, as you know, the second album is an important step for all bands. We had the chance to correct some mistakes we did in the past, and this album is what Switchtense are nowadays.
We recorded the album in February/March so it’s too fresh for us [but] we might say that this album is more mature, tighter and faster. We improved our skills during the last 3 years, playing a lot of gigs and that’s the best place where you can learn something – the stage.
2. There is a wonderfully aggressive and heavy vibe on the new album, which can be heard both through the vocals and instruments. What would you say inspired the sonic direction of the album?
Well, first of all we love aggressive and heavy music, and this is the style that all the elements in the band like to listen to and play, so this is the main inspiration.
When we write some material, we have to be five souls in the same direction – if one of us says “I don’t like that riff”, for example, we start searching [for] another one! It must be something that all of us would like! But it’s not that difficult since we all have the same taste in music…it’s an easy job for us.
So, basically we do only the things we like and there’s no doubt about it!
3. Is there a thematic concept behind the new release – either musically or lyrically?
Well, the album has our name, Switchtense. It’s our second record, and we are a tighter unit now than 3 years ago when we recorded the debut album “Confrontation of Souls”. I say this because we feel like we are now more confident on stage, more confident playing our instruments with more experience that we acquired during the last 3 years. We played a lot of concerts and the stage is the best place to improve all of our skills as musicians.
Musically, that’s the main difference between what we are doing today and what we’ve done in the past. This is the time for us to take a step forward!
Lyrically this is a more direct album than the first one. During all the concerts I learned how to make more direct lyrics because we really like to have the crowd screaming the chorus and all the main words with us. So, I had this on my mind…this should sound real, direct and very clear to everybody. The album has a lot of thoughts and statements which are very personal premises for all the elements of Switchtense. I tried to be simply a mouthpiece for everything we wanted to say on this record.
4. Your music is often categorically described as ‘metalcore’ – a subgenre that blends elements of thrash metal with hardcore. Would you say that’s an accurate way to describe your sound?
It may sound like a cliché, but we [perform] the music we love, and we don’t even care about labels. We know it’s always normal to have that kind of typification [sic] of a music style, but we don’t live thinking if we sound more metalcore or more hardcore, or whatever.
We like groove, fast riffs and drums, complex drum-fills, energy and direct choruses! We like a lot of old-school bands, we like new bands too, and we are doing the music which we identify [with] more! This is very honest, no faking trends!!
5. The new album has been commended for its display of creative musicianship. As a band, how important is the professional development of each member?
That’s a very important point to do what we want to do. On stage [we want to have] all the accuracy that we have on the record and to do that is necessary to practice a lot and to have a great dose of rehearsals! We want to make that difference and to give all the people the best show we can.
6. As a Portuguese band, what have been some of the difficulties in cracking the European heavy metal scene?
Portugal is situated exactly in one of the extreme [metal] sides of Europe and we are a little bit far from the centre of the continent, which is the main market for Metal music. Everything is happening in countries like Germany or Sweden, as an example, and we are far away from there.
I truly believe that nowadays the best place where a band can expose all your potential is on stage, and for us [it] is very hard to get a place on a good tour or on a good festival [so it is] through this way [that] we show our music to a wider crowd, to more AR’s from labels and more booking agencies etc.
On the other side, being a band without any international profile (in terms of gigs) makes…things harder for us to get a label outside of Portugal. We have to persist, keep doing our jobs as best as we can, and go into the fight with the weapons we have on our hands at the moment. We will never quit
7. What does Switchtense aspire to achieve in the near future?
We want to play as much as possible to show on stage our will and strength to do this.
The international approach this time has got to be more incisive and with more dates outside of Portugal. We are looking for something valuable that lead Switchtense to the next level, and it’s with that goal on our minds that we work every day more and more.
We hope we can get the attention of some booking agency or some label that would help us to develop that international profile that the band needs to grow!
8. What has been one of the more rewarding experiences of your career so far?
One of the best things, no doubt about it, is the friends we’ve made and the good people we’ve meet during all these times. Apart from playing and giving great shows with bands we really like, to know other people, exchange experiences and visit other places are the most rewarding things that we can have.
For example, some of us never visited Germany before, and we went there to play. Azores is a magic archipelago in Portugal and we visited the place because of one gig.
Lots of bands in Portugal that also become personal friends… as an example Revolution Within, Seven Stitches, Pitch Black, Echidna and The Spiteful.
We met the guys from Dew-Scented – which is a band that all of us liked a lot from years ago – and until today we still have contact with them, and that’s why the vocalist Leif Jensen sings in one song with us on this new album!
Switchtense’s self-titled, sophomore album is out now through Rastilho Records. For more information on the band, visit: www.myspace.com/switchtenseportuga