Interview with Pedro Garcia
Inhuman is almost celebrating two decades of existence, although you’re still unfamiliar to a number of people. Tell me a bit about the band’s origins and your outlook about its trajectory.
The band started in December of 1992 by playing some shows here in our home region (Algarve), and in 1995 we recorded our first studio work (the Pure Redemption demo). In that same year, we refused a contract with Adipocere Records (to release the demo on CD) because we wanted to release a full-length instead. The demo was considered the best Metal demo in Portugal and soon we had the attention of record labels, fanzines, radio shows and invitations for more live events. We considered all the offers for record deals but, in the end, we decided to go with a small record company called Art Music (that existed at the time). Afterwards, we returned to the same studio where we recorded the demo (Rec ‘N’ Roll) and recorded our debut, the Strange Desire album. At the time, it really captured the attention of the underground scene and we got excellent reviews from all over the world so, eventually, our popularity increased and more shows started to follow.
Meanwhile, we started to try to get a better record deal, as the one we had before was only for one album; actually, we wanted it that way because we really needed a better company to work with and someone who could give us better conditions. Consequently, we received a call from União Lisboa that, basically, gave us all we were seeking for. Then, in the summer of 1997, we recorded the Foreshadow album with Simon Efemey (as producer) and Russ Russell (as engineer), at the famous Square Centre Studios in Nottingham, England. Afterwards, we mastered it at Battery Studios (in England), so that it could get released in May of 1998. However, we started to have some disagreements with União Lisboa right after this process. We also managed to record our first (and only) video for the song Divinity, which received quite a bit of airplay on national TV and even on some shows abroad.
After some personal disappointments with the music industry, and the way the band was at the time, I decided to quit in July of 1998, although the band continued working with a new vocalist (but only for a while, since they later had some problems with him). As a consequence, they tried a new one with whom they recorded some new songs, but the results didn’t match the expectations, so the band came to an end in 2002. Then, a couple of years ago, me, Rogério (bass) and João Pedro (guitars) tried to reform the band with the original line-up, although the previous drummer and keyboardist didn’t agree with our views for the future so, in early 2008, we got two new members and made our comeback. We played a couple of reunion shows and now we are preparing ourselves to record four new songs to send over to some labels.
How do you still feel about the demo and the debut and, should you have the chance, would you change something in the music or production? Lyrically, what were your inspirations at the time?
Personally, Strange Desire is not my favourite Inhuman work but, in general, our fans – I think I can call the people who like our music that way – seem to think so. I would change a lot of things, things that I learnt later when we worked with a real producer, but that would rebuff the feeling of those recordings and I think that purity is very relevant in this case. I could give you examples of bands that re-recorded earlier works with a modern production – and obviously better sound – but that have lost the magic and innocence of the original works. Nonetheless, I think it would be better for us to focus on the present for the time being.
Lyrically, the demo talked about society, feelings that developed to love, death, dreams and nightmares – themes that were later reflected in Strange Desire. Foreshadow had a very hard work put into it and, to this day, I’m very proud of it; I don’t even think I’m still able to write like that again. At the time, I was reading a lot of English books from the 19th century in order to understand the romantic period and its writing, so it turned out to be a pretty good result. The lyrics talked about immortality, love and death (again), religion and politics (in a subtle way).
You were supposed to work with Music for Nations (a high-profiled label at the time), but things didn’t happen as expected. What went wrong and how was it to work with Dream Catcher instead, who also assured your worldwide distribution?
What happened was that Music for Nations wanted to license our album worldwide, but they knew that we had a contract with União Lisboa for another record and, if they wanted to sign us, they would have to pay them, so they decided to license Foreshadow instead and see how things would develop from there. Meanwhile, they approached our label and offered them a deal but, since they didn’t agree with the terms, they refused to go with it and that was it. As a result, I ended up leaving the band and that was when Dream Catcher appeared. The owner used to work at Music for Nations, so everybody thought it was a good deal but, analysing it from afar…
How would you compare the working methods between Rec ‘n’ Roll’s and Square Centre’s with Luís Barros and Simon Efemey? How did you end up working with the latter?
We can’t draw a comparison here because both situations are very, very different. At Rec ‘N’ Roll, the songs were almost recorded in one take because there wasn’t enough time for more. I remember we recorded and mixed Strange Desire& in four days and Luís did miracles in that short time – and, even if he wanted, he couldn’t really do more than that.
Square Centre Studios was bigger, in every way, and we spent ten days there, recording; the mixing and mastering were done in our absence because there wasn’t enough money to support our stay, but we managed to get the required travels, an excellent hotel and even a permanent cook at the studio.
The story with Simon started, obviously, by listening to his work with Paradise Lost, as we really loved the sound he captured on those albums. So, when our manager asked me if I had already thought about a producer for the album I, immediately, said “Simon Efemey”. I remember thinking that “well, of course he doesn’t work with an internationally unknown band like us and, of course, our label won’t pay for that”, but we recorded a demo with some songs from Foreshadow, so that our manager would send over to him. After listening to them, Simon said that he really liked them and he was interested in working with us. Then our label agreed in having him as a producer, as he made a special discount, I think, so later he told us that not only did he like our sound but that it would also be a challenge for him to work with a young band like Inhuman. Then he came to our rehearsal room, in Algarve, we did the pre-production for a week (I think) and the rest just happened.
What can you reveal about the new material – both in musical and lyrical terms – and when do you plan to have the new record released?
Since the beginning of 2008 we started to work on new songs, one of which we even played live on our live performances; that song is called The Beast Is Rising, which is a very special song for us. Nowadays, we have four songs ready and we’re recording a demo to be sent to some record labels.
Lyrically, the new material is very diverse from what we did in the past; the themes are darker, more personal and intimate. At this stage there’s isn’t a real concept yet, but we hope to find a link between all this new material later on – during the writing process – although I can assure you that the new songs are darker, heavier and exciting – at least for us.
A new album is our main goal right now, but we want to find a label first. Things have changed a lot in the music industry, but we don’t intend to pay a record by yourselves so that it can be sold by others.
How did the name Inhuman come up?
I think the name came up in 1993 and it was suggested by a friend of mine at university. At that time, I can assure you 99.9% that no one else was using it.
Now you have an American Punk band that is also using it.
Yes, but they were formed in 1995 and they should know that we also use the name. Some people tried to makes us change it, but we like it and it’s the name the band has.
As I was saying, I can’t remember why she chose it, but for us the name Inhuman is a very direct and powerful word that suggests us something different, cruel, dark and gloomy. We always thought that we played too fast to have an emotional or romantic name like other Gothic Metal bands had and also because we aren’t that one-sided. We have several influences, since we grew up listening to other kinds of Metal and musical and, curiously enough, at the time we were starting, Gothic Metal was also giving its first steps, so there shouldn’t be a link here.
What sorts of artists and works have made an impact on you? Apart from Music, are you also involved in other related outlet?
Interesting question. My only, and current, hobby is the band.
Records and books are definitely important to me, like Iron Maiden’s Powerslave, Metallica’s … And Justice for All, Testament’s The Legacy, Entombed’s Clandestine, Pink Floyd’s The Wall, Radiohead’s OK Computer, Paradise Lost’s Gothic and Icon, Morbid Angel’s Altars of Madness and, of course, Bathory’s Hammerheart. As far as books go, I really enjoy Eça de Queiroz’ Os Maias, Camilo Castelo Branco’s A Queda de um Anjo, Mario Puzzo’s The Family and Patrick Suskind’s The Perfume. I would like to say that I don’t consider myself an artist, rather someone who really likes music and writing. I think that for one to be considered an artist one should be able to create something with a great impact on people’s lives and I think that’s not my case.
How would you hold Russell’s thought that says “if we were all given by magic the power to read each other’s thoughts, I suppose the first effect would be to dissolve all our connections”?
We would have to erase all the evil nested in our minds. Some people really develop a character throughout their life and for those I guess it must become very hard to live. Sometimes it would be useful to read other people’s minds, but all the time? I think that would be very boring.
On this new millennium, how do you look upon Religion and the power it keeps instilling in both eastern and western societies? Are you a religious person?
I don’t see religion as a threat. If someone follows defined principles on his/her own life no one has nothing to do with it. I agree that there have been committed too many crimes in the name of religion, but I think that is caused by a personal mental state. In the past it was different, as both Church and State were basically the same, but nowadays they’re separated – at least in the western world.
Personally, I have my own religion – even though I was raised, like the most part of the Portuguese people, as Catholic – but, when you start to think for yourself, you can decide on what to believe. I can perfectly see what Christianity has done, but it is a part of our culture and, in this day and age, we are able to decide what we want from religion or whether we want to be religious or not. In eastern countries it isn’t always like that, but it’s their culture and I think that all cultures should be respected. Neither all Muslims are terrorists nor all Christians as well, and not even all Satanists are wiser than the rest. In its own nature, Mankind has a will to attack what is different and that’s our biggest problem because it’s not always easy to respect difference, although I try to.