Paulo Barros, interview, guitarist

Paulo Barros, known perhaps more as guitarist of Portuguese power metal band Tarantula, has a successful solo career as well, in 1998 he released his debut” Vintage”, in 2003 he released “Gemini” and, five years after “K:arma 6”.
Along with his brother (Luis Barros) he started in 1982 Tarantula, after a few gigs, some of them in Germany and 2 demos the band recorded their debut in 1987 which was the first heavy metal record produced and published in Portugal by a national outfit, and, along with his brother founded the Rec 'N' Roll Studio and Rec 'N' Roll School where hundreds of new talented Portuguese artists learned and recorded their demos and albums.
This’s in short the brilliant career of this incredible musician.
Paulo Barros is back with a brand new album entitled “More Humanity Please” and, as I wrote in my review, I think it’s one of the best albums of this 2018, pure and genuine adrenaline in a healthy rock.

Hi Paulo and welcome on board on Rockers And Other Animals. First of all let me tell you how I like “More Humanity Please”, it’s just pure rock, as every album of this genre should be.
What characterized the birth of this album?

 

Hi Valeria. As you probably know, I have a long career with Tarantula. In my solo work, I always try to  do something different, but always within rock music, which is what I love and feel the most. Tarantula have released 8 original albums, mostly 3 to 5 years apart from each other, so I have lots of time to release my solo albums. And when I’m not teaching guitar lessons, I’m always composing. 2 of my 5 albums are instrumental and in Vintage I combined  instrumental and rock songs.
My 2003 album also included vocals and was more similar to More Humanity Please… therefore, I released these 2 albums as Barros and the instrumental albums as Paulo Barros.
 

Your albums as soloist are varied and influenced by various styles. What is the peculiarity that characterizes you in finding yourself at ease in any musical element?

 

Yes… you know, I love music, good music, and I listen to a lot of music from different genres, I’m very open-minded when it comes to all kinds of art. However… I can´t do everything right, as you can imagine,  and I’ve worked in several things which became a disaster! But I have a lot of respect for music, even for music I don’t like as much… Sometimes you want to take a risk, put everything you know in the composition of an album and just ruin it… That happened to me several times, but it’s also a matter of maturity, I guess. For me, making good records is still a great challenge and it’s not easy at all. In this record, I tried to write all songs within the same style, to be as coherent as possible. 

Paulo Barros

“My Everything” remind me some echoes from The Cult, especially in the refrain. I really love this piece, easy, fresh and catchy. How this piece is born?

 

Yes. Funny enough, it was one of the last 2 songs I wrote, which sometimes are the hardest, and I didn’t have a more traditional Hard-Rock rhythm and balance in the other songs, so I started working on a more 80’s L.A. style riff in the beginning of the song, then complicated the bridge a bit and finished with a simpler, more direct chorus. Yes, as a kid in the 70’s, I started listening to Deep Purple and Van Halen, among others, but I became a professional musician in the 80’s and was, therefore, influenced by the 80’s… In my opinion, the 80’s made the leap between the rawest 70’s rock and the super-production of the super-groups, in which everything was filtered, arranged and composed with much more detail and glamour.  

The album consists in very melodic structures, so eighties in their sounds. Is it a period that you feel yours in a particular way?

Both things you mention, no doubt… I came up with the title after analysing myself firstly. And I thought I’m lucky I can still do what I love, but while I’m still alive and have the opportunity to expose my ideas and what I feel towards the world, I will do so. Of course it is a direct warning, like the songs, but I think I’m not a negative person, and although I believe we’re living in a spiral of degradation, I think Humanity still can turn things around.

“More Humanity Please”, a perfect title for everything is happens, in our chaotic period. A warning or a hope?

In spite of all the chaos in this lovey and scary new world, I’d like to make people feel total relax… I’m older… and when you’re this age (or even younger), you realize that life is really short. I’d like to raise awareness, but more importantly, I’d like for people to have fun without hurting anyone. I think you can listen to this kind of music at a party or while driving a car.

Is there a particular song that you feel can be particularly intense?
   
Yes, I think When it Rains It Pours is a very intense and technically complex song, with a very strong social message.

Brros, interview, more humanity please, album

The artwork is fascinating as well (made by Brazilian artist Gustavo Sazes), is there any concept behind it?

Yes, me and Gustavo Sales talked about the artwork a bit and he told me he would like to listen to the songs, because he likes to create his artwork while listening to the artist’s music. This is the description in his own words:

"More Humanity Please is a powerful statement about hope and awareness, and I thought we had a challenge here. We discussed about the possible tie-ins with the old Barros albums in some level and also
about bringing something totally fresh to the table. The tittle also means to bring more life to something, that's why we have the roses growing over that dead scene. I wanted to make
something lifeless at first sight but with a small twist. I went full on into this classic oriented visual with also a few nods to some sculptures from the North of Portugal.
There is also the Gemini reference (Paulo Barros zodiac sign) with lots of dual shapes plus his yet fully unveiled new Barros symbol.”

Can I ask you an opinion of the underground scene? How is the situation in Portugal? Knowing the Italian one, I can hope that in other countries it will be better than ours.

The Portuguese Underground includes hundreds of bands from all music genres, mostly in more extreme Heavy Metal genres, of course. We also have several interesting small festivals and also some clubs where bands can play.  We are a small country, of course, but more professional bands can sometimes go to Spain, our neighbour country.  Things become easier in bigger countries, obviously…

Socials, radio stations, labels, a confused period in the Internet age, we all know the pros, a lot of musical diffusion, but what is lost in choosing a record or discovering a group?

Yes, everything was much better in the 60’s, 70’s, 80’s and part of the 90’s, the figures were different. Nothing will be the same after the internet era, obviously. Music is now divided in small market niches, where collectors and some people from my generation still enjoy CD, Vinyl, etc… but on the other hand, we also have digital platforms that allow a larger broadcast of the artists. In my opinion, it’s somewhat more positive now - for example, someone who usually doesn’t enjoy rock may bump into a good song and become a fan of a rock band, which was impossible in the past because people were more selective and radical. Now, I still think that in spite of everyone blending more together and of everything being available on the internet (both good and bad products), people will start being able to identify quality or what pleases them most for whatever reason.

The music business has changed, so many bands have to self-produce an own album and then have access to a label. Have you personally encountered this situation?

I think it wouldn’t be very different from the past, except for the fact that there were many more record labels because, like I said earlier, the sales figures in the industry were very different. It’s more demanding now because there are many more bands and less record companies, so artists must worry about many more details - production, artwork, photos, lyrics, sound quality, the songs… summing it up, you must present a good product because you have minimal margin of error… it’s not easy, of course. For example, Tarantula have my brother, Luís Barros, who is an excellent producer and was responsible for 80% of the records of the few Portuguese bands who achieved internationalisation. But that’s not enough today, because you may sound good and have great songs, but then your photos are terrible or the musicians aren’t well dressed and you fail to get that contract… Or simply because everything is well done, but the timing for that song you made isn´t perfect or that trend is over… very complicated!

Regarding your new work, upcoming programs for its promotion? Can we have an anticipation about where we can see you play? Will you also come to Italy?

Promotion is going great, ROCKSHOTS’ staff works very well and I’m very happy with them. I’m scheduling concerts and we’ll keep on working. Of course, playing in Italy would be a dream come true.

Paulo, I thank you very much for this chat, is there something I did not ask you and would you like to say?

 

I’d like to thank you for all your support to rock music and to wish a long life to ROCKERS AND OTHERS ANIMALS!!!

 



Valeria Campagnale