Before we crack on with this, here’s an author’s note/disclaimer: I’ve never done a sit down, face to face interview for a website before, so putting it bluntly, I was shitting myself all day. From waking up until the moment I sat down opposite Fernanda my nerves were shot to hell. Luckily I managed to get through it with relative ease and listening back to the recording of it, I think it went alright. Anyway, with that out of the way, let’s get on to the main article!
Like I said at the start of the review of the Nervosa show in Liverpool on Sunday 16th August 2015, these girls were up until the past 2 years or so, relatively unknown outside of their native Brazil but now, after their debut EP and music videos attracted the attention of Napalm Records and a whole host of Thrash and Death Metal legends paid massive compliments to them (and rightly so!), Nervosa are becoming a well known name in Thrash and in the wider scope of all things Metal. Having released their debut album, “Victim Of Yourself” last year, Fernanda, Prika and Pitchu have had a whirlwind of success and excitement which has brought them to Europe for the very first time and significantly increased their fan base and exposure.
Taking some time out of what has been a crazy few weeks, Fernanda Lira, bassist and vocalist for the thrash trio answered my questions which ranged from the band, the album, the tour so far, future plans, music and general things.
[Introductions made, pleasantries exchanged and a quick rundown of the interview here]
AN: You’ve (Nervosa) been a band now for five years, yourself being the bassist and vocalist for four of those. Did you and the others ever think that you would rise this quick?
Fernanda: No, no, we didn’t. I know we still have a long road ahead, but we are so surprisingly happy with everything because, of course we’ve always tried to treat the band as something professional and we have always worked hard to try and make this happen, but we didn’t expect it to be this fast. I don’t know if it is a factor of “Oh it’s three girls playing thrash metal” because you don’t see a lot of that, but maybe that has had a little hand in it, but it has gone way faster than we thought. We keep on getting surprised by everything – the feedback of the tour, the feedback on the album, everything has been surprising and awesome.
AN: You’ve had some big endorsements from the thrash metal elite: Max Cavalera, Bobby Blitz and Andreas Kisser to name a few. How does it feel to be so highly thought of by your peers?
Fernanda: I use the phrase ‘It’s like a dream come true’ a lot, but that’s what it is, it’s a dream come true! I’ve been a metalhead since I was a kid and these guys you mentioned were really influential to me from day one, especially since I have a thrash metal band.. And then when Napalm said “We’re going to try some codes with these guys” we were like ‘okay…’, we were not expecting much, but when we saw Max, and Alex Webster (Cannibal Corpse, Hate Eternal), one of my main influences on bass… And Bobby Blitz, Andreas, Schmier… All these guys are so influential to us! When you listen to our music you can hear bits of their bands.
AN: Now that you mention it, when I first heard you, Destruction were the first band which sprang to mind with your vocals and the sound.
Fernanda: Yeah, Schmier is very influential to me… So when I heard these guys saying such good things about our band, it made me feel thankful because it means a lot. For other bands it might not be as much of a big deal, but to us it makes the world. It’s like when you were a kid, headbanging in your room, listening to Destruction, you would never imagine that one day you will have a band and one of your idols is gonna listen to your band and say real cool things about it! I know all of these guys can be pretty honest too with what they say, and that is why I am so happy because they said they were cool with what they heard and I really do believe they enjoyed it… It means the world to us!
AN: The name of the band, ‘Nervosa’ is the Portuguese verb for angry. Would you say that this is an accurate description for your sound?
Fernanda: Exactly. When we were looking for the name for the band we were looking for something short. Something easily remembered and something which can easily be associated, like ‘Nervous… Nervosa’. It’s easy to remember and we wanted something in Portuguese because it is our mother language.. Also we wanted something which was aggressive and female because ‘Nervosa’ is the female form of the word in Portuguese – it means like ‘Angry Girl!’, and I think it fits because we’re all girls, and it’s also an aggressive name and thrash metal is an aggressive style of music so it is like the perfect name. We’re not really angry girls though, just when we are on stage!
AN: Before, we briefly touched on Destruction and the Teutonic thrash scene and its influence on you, so how much of an influence would you say that the “Big 4” and the 80’s American Thrash Scene had on your sound?
Fernanda: Totally! The sound of the classic thrash bands from the Bay Area, the Big 4 and the Teutonic 4 are hugely influential. There are also other bands who are influential on us, but it’s the old school trash bands who have the biggest influence on us. There are other styles and bands which have an influence too. If you listen to our music you can hear a little bit of death metal and there are some blastbeats in some of our songs but it is mostly the old school thrash bands. There are some big crossover influences too, bands like D.R.I and Nuclear Assault… Nuclear Assault were the band who made me want to have a Thrash Metal band, so they are hugely influential to me.
(At this point, mentioning I finally got to catch Nuclear Assault live, Fernanda goes on to tell me how lucky I am and how she’s gutted she hasn’t managed to tour with them yet but if they (Nervosa) got to play with them, she would ‘die’ on stage probably!)
AN: Moving onto the album. Talk us through it – how did the recording process go? Any unexpected results which worked out well or any major problems?
Fernanda: (Nods) Yeah, the recording process was really… Intense.. Yeah, that’s the word. It was really intense I’d say. Before we entered the studio, our former drummer had just left the band, and it was like we were writing songs without a drummer whilst looking for a drummer and remembering that we had a deadline to record the album. Some of the songs we wrote in like two rehearsals as we had a serious deadline to meet.
Fernanda: There were other problems too, Prika, our guitarist, she had tendonitis in her arm and she needed to put a cast on it so the recording process was tough.. Then she broke it! So she ended up recording the album in a lot of pain… Then the studio had some problems so we had to stop, meanwhile the deadline was getting closer and time was running out.. In the end we did the best we could with the time we had.
AN: It sounded fantastic when I heard it for the first time.
Fernanda: Thank You!!! Yeah, no one really imagined how it would turn out given everything that had happened. There was some other stuff what happened but these were especially tough for us. Some of the lyrics we were finishing in the studio, like the last vocal lines and stuff. It was crazy, but we liked that because it was a really cool experience for us because we saw that we could work well under pressure and stuff. Some other bands might have gone crazy with it, but we kept focused and we are really happy with the result given what we went through. I really love the bass on it and how my vocals sound, so we’re really happy with how the album came out especially with the stress around the recording time, it was tough.
AN: So if you had to pick one song from the record to show what Nervosa is all about, what would it be?
Fernanda: (groans) This kind of question is always so difficult because it’s like you have ten children and you have to choose your favourite one, it’s hard. If I had to choose one, it would probably be “Justice Be Done” I guess, because it has those catchy choruses you have in Thrash metal, there’s some blastbeats, it has a little bit of everything that we use on this album in it… But I love them the same, all of them, but this one summarizes what the band is. That is what I think anyway, I couldn’t say what the other girls think, but to me, it would be “Justice Be Done”.
AN: The first track I heard was “Death” and that got my attention. Originally I had only heard the audio of it, I hadn’t seen the video so when I found out that it was a female thrash trio performing it, I was blown away
Fernanda: Thank you! Yeah, that’s the reaction some people have had to us. Because at first they didn’t know how to take us, but now more people are getting used to used to us now but we still see it at some of our shows, like for the first song or two they’re a little held back at first, just quiet and watching and then they go like “YEAH!!!”, that is the general reaction. I do love the fact now more and more girls are getting involved in Thrash and Death metal
AN: So how is working with a major international label like Napalm? Do you feel this has opened a lot more doors for you?
Fernanda: Without a doubt! This is why we are really thankful for everything what has happened because of them, it was surprising and everything has happened so fast! We have worked really hard to try and find a major label and the way this all happened, we never expected it. When we released our first video clip, Schmier shared it and after that Napalm came and talked to us. It took us all by surprise! It has helped a lot. In Brazil, we take care of ourselves, I worked with the press in Brazil, I was a metal journalist some time ago so I knew how to get the word around about the band and how to get us to some places, but on a worldwide scale, we didn’t have a clue. This is where Napalm helped us a lot. I mean, they have a good distribution, offices in the US and Europe and stuff, the people too. The people who work there we have found really like the bands, they are really organized and to me it feels like they really care about the bands. It’s like they are happy when the band are happy – getting cool reviews, magazine exposure, they really help their bands out a lot.
Like when you have a band, us for example… Our objective was to get our name out there to the greatest number of people possible and for our music to be heard by the greatest number of people possible, and this helped us with the press exposure. They got our music out there and the reviews, it meant people would buy it because it was good. You wouldn’t buy it otherwise, and in this way, Napalm helped us a lot and for this we are so thankful. They are getting bigger and bigger and they deserve it because of how they treat their bands. Some artists seem to have a love/hate relationship with their label, but us, we have a love/love one. They’re really cool people!
AN: So how have you found being on the road in Europe so far? Any plans to return?
Fernanda: Yeah! I know this sounds boring to keep saying ‘Yeah it’s a dream come true”… But we have worked so hard to make this happen and we told our agents that “We wanna play as much as we can!” This is why we’ve got 2-3 months on the road. We’ve been out here for like a month already and we still have 20 or more shows to go at least! People keep asking us “Aren’t you tired being on the road all the time” but we’re not because for us to be here, it’s like we’re touring a completely different planet here. It is so different to what we are used to when playing in South America and Brazil and we’re loving every minute of this.
Metal for me was born in the UK and now we’re playing here, it’s just crazy! Each day is such a new experience for us and we’re loving every minute of it. Our tour managers are like “You girls seem to be having fun all the time, don’t you ever get tired?” and we’re like “This is a vacation!”. This is our dream and it’s been so cool so far. We do have plans to come back here too. Right now we’re writing a new album and planning on releasing it round May next year, and then come summer we hope to be back here in Europe and the UK, let’s hope it happens. If it was down to us, we’d be back here every year definitely!
AN: Let’s move this more towards yourself now that we’ve talked about the band and the album. Who are your personal biggest influences on your playing style?
Fernanda: So for bass, I guess Steve Harris is the man to me. Since I was a kid, Iron Maiden is like a favourite band and I have lots of bands that I love, but Iron Maiden has been with me since the beginning so they are kinda special. Steve Harris was the guy who showed me that you can play bass and be creative and make your instrument be heard. In metal a lot of the time we see the bassist being used just as the basis for the song. I don’t like that, I like to hear the bass, to hear the magic of that. Another huge influence to me is Geezer Butler, he really can make the bass stand out… Like Geddy lee from Rush, another huge influence to me.
Of course you can’t hear much of that in my music in Nervosa because it can be too much for me sometimes, with the playing and singing and being on stage and headbanging, it’s not easy… So I don’t play everything I would like too – other notes, different scales and stuff, but they taught me how to play you know… I say they taught me because I never taken classes and stuff, my learning was listening to like Iron Maiden, “Aces High” and trying to play along, listening to the melody… Everything they taught me I heard on their records.
As for Vocals, I would say that the style I sing in, Schmier is a great influence on me… Also Chuck Schuldiner of Death, especially the albums Scream Bloody Gore and The Sound Of Perseverance. John Tardy of Obituary too, is another huge influence on me, the way he sings and stuff.
AN: Speaking of Obituary, I actually fractured my ribs when I saw them live earlier this year. It was painful but well worth it
Fernanda: No way! You fractured your ribs at a gig and stayed there til the end? You’re crazy, like a warrior! We got to play with them at Obscene Extreme, they were on some time after us and watching them play was fantastic, standing at the side of the stage I was like “AHHH!”. John was a pleasure to meet too.
AN: If you had to pick one band who have had a massive influence on you overall, who would it be?
Fernanda: Nuclear Assault. I mean, for example, I love Slayer (points to tattoo on her hand), D.R.I, Iron Maiden, KISS, Sepultura.. I mean when I first heard them (Nuclear Assault) it was like when I listened to them I was like “Fuck Thrash Metal is so cool, I wanna have a band!” and Nuclear Assault, especially with those catchy choruses and the shouts… They, they are the reason why I am playing here in the UK now and talking to you, because they really made me want to have a thrash metal band.
AN: Well that answers what would have been my follow up question and you did touch on this earlier – who would be the dream band to share the stage with.
Fernanda: Obviously it would be Nuclear Assault but there are so many. Off the top of my head though… Slayer, that would be cool. We were happy enough to be playing in Brazil with like Destruction and Exodus… Another dream is to play with Sepultura. We’re from Brazil and believe it or not, we have never played with Sepultura! I could choose like 100 bands, but I think Nuclear Assault and Slayer would be so awesome!
AN: Have there been any albums which have came out this year which have caught your attention or stood out to you?
Fernanda: I’ve been listening to lots of stuff, like the past two years have just merged into one given how everything has happened so fast. I’ve been listening to a lot of last year and the year before’s releases like Cannibal Corpse’s last one and Surgical Steel by Carcass, but there have been too many things released to keep up with!
AN: Exodus released a new one this year if that helps?
Fernanda: OH! I listened to some songs off of that and what I heard was cool.
AN: I know that feeling, I’m up to at least 80 new releases this year, it is a struggle to keep up with at times and there is plenty more to come!
Fernanda: Yeah, there is just so much to keep up with and like you said with the 80 or so albums you have listened to, it’s so hectic. What about you… Which albums this year would you say have been your favourite so far?
AN: Err, this year there have been a few real stand out ones which I have covered, “Revolution” by Jupiter Falls got a 10 out of 10 from me. They are a band who have that modern hard rock sound with that Appetite For Destruction era Guns and Roses edge to it… But for me, the album of the year so far is the latest Armored Saint one “Win Hands Down”, I love John Bush’s vocal work on it and it’s just an all round great album.
Fernanda: I’ll have to listen to that one!
AN: Anyway, back to you now… With playing the festivals like Obscene Extreme and being on the road in Europe, have any bands you have toured with or caught at these festivals and shows really stood out for you or been a new musical discovery?
Fernanda: When we have played the festivals, we didn’t have a lot of spare time as such. It was like we got there and had to play then leave a bit after our set so we haven’t caught much of other bands at festivals. On tour we’ve played with some great bands like Hirax, Obituary, Pig Destroyer and Terrorizer! At Brutal Assault we had to leave after the set to take our stuff back to the hotel so we missed some bands… Oh, we played with Doctor Living Dead, that was cool… At Brutal Assault we got to see Kreator and Annihilator… I would have loved to see so many of the cool bands on the line ups.
OH! We were touring with two very cool bands recently, Desolator from the UK and also Crisix from Spain. Those guys (Crisix) are fucking awesome. They sound great in the studio, but live… Wow! They have huge stage performance, lots of energy, they’re a really great band! I seriously recommend you check them out!
AN: What about cover songs. Are there any songs you would like to cover to become part of your live set or maybe additional content on your albums?
Fernanda: We are always saying “Oh, we should cover this” but we never seem to do it. In the beginning of the band we covered “Black Magic” by Slayer and “War Inside My Head” by Suicidal… It’s not really our type of music but we just like Suicidal a lot. We also covered “You Suffer” from Napalm Death, the one second song!
I personally, I can’t speak for the others, but I have an idea for a cover. I really would like to make this happen one day – I would like to make a thrash version of “Killers” by Iron Maiden! (Fernanda proceeds to use her thighs as drums and sound the riffs out to me) That would be cool. I keep on dreaming about doing that.
AN: You should slip it in during soundchecks, subliminally do it part by part until you have the girls playing the whole song!
Fernanda: Yeah, that would be cool! I love Paul Di’Anno and his vocals, and my thrash vocals doing his, it would be like “Yeooww!!” (Fernanda mimes a bit more of the song again, getting really into it), It would be cool. I mean there are 100 other songs I would love to cover, like “Escape From The Void” by Sepultura… This one though, the “Killers” version, it’s my personal dream. One day you’ll see it happen hahaha!
AN: Moving things a bit more towards yourself now. What would you have done if you were not a professional musician?
Fernanda: It’s hard to say because music is everything in my life and when I say everything I mean everything. All the friends I have, the boyfriend I have, the side job I have… Everything I have is because of music so it is difficult to say. I guess I would probably be involved with music, like producing videos, something I did like a little of in the past or maybe doing music journalism. I really like it when I have to interview people, I would probably do that, it would be pretty cool.
AN: How do you find life in Brazil? Would you ever consider living somewhere else?
Fernanda: I dunno, I mean I love my country very much. I really love Brazil and I love the people there so much, but living there can be difficult because we have a cancer there called politicians, they just keep on fucking us. It’s hard because we really lack basic stuff because they keep on robbing all the money.
AN: Sounds like life here.
Fernanda: Yeah, but in Brazil we don’t have the basic stuff, like quality education and basic health systems. It is a very unequal country, we have a few with a lot and a lot with nothing. We are going through an economic crisis now and things are really expensive. It can be hard to survive there, lots of people are unemployed and it’s really hard to survive there. We have a lot of problems due to this inequality.
AN: I do remember the riots surrounding the World Cup and the Confederations Cup being massive news worldwide in the past two years.
Fernanda: Yeah, the riots, they were against the World Cup. Not against the celebration or the football because we love the sport, but against the money being put into it when some of it could have been put to better use – how can you have like world cup going on there if the people who live there cannot go to any matches because it is too expensive? I couldn’t get to any matches because of the cost. The transportation was poor, people just couldn’t get there. The problem in Brazil is like the government are only making themselves richer, nothing gets done, it is so sad. I don’t like to see my country like that because we are good people and it has a lot of potential.
AN: You mentioned the world cup before, outside of music, do you have any other interests or hobbies?
Fernanda: Yeah, I like movies. Movies are my second passion. If we come back to the earlier question about what I would have done if I didn’t have this career, I would probably be involved in movies. It’s my favourite hobby. Apart from that, I really like cooking. When we were in France on tour I bought like 100 cook books! Yeah, they are in French but I’ll find a way to translate it or make it work. I love cooking, when I’m not playing I’m either watching movies or cooking!
AN: What about sports – do you follow football at all?
Fernanda: Yeah, I have my local team – Palmeiras and I’m getting more into football because of my sister. She is a goalkeeper and she has been called up to represent Brazil Juniors national team so because of that, I have got a lot more into it. Sometimes we gather in groups to watch the matches. My boyfriend watches a lot of the European football but I don’t but I know enough about what is going on with the main Brazilian players there. I bought some shirts for my sister whilst we have been over here and sometimes i do try to watch the big matches like the Champions League final, but there are too many teams to keep up with in Europe.
AN: Moving on now to the ‘quick fire’ or ‘first thing what comes to mind’ questions now. Starting it off…. Big 4 or Teutonic 4?
Fernanda: Oh that’s a hard question! It’s so difficult… But I think I’d say for me and my band, it is probably the Teutonic 4. We have a lot more musically in common with them. I mean Megadeth and Slayer are huge to me but our music has more to do with the Teutonic 4 so I would stick with them, but it is a hard one to answer.
AN: Funny you mentioned Megadeth… That’s the next question, Metallica or Megadeth
Fernanda: (Laughs) You’re killing me! I love both bands, but it’s hard. We have like “Kill ‘Em All”, “Ride the Lightening” and stuff, but when I was a teenager, I think I listened to Megadeth a lot more. You know, “Killing Is My Business”, “Peace Sells”, “Rust in Peace”, when I was younger I listened more to Megadeth than Metallica, but let it be clear that I love both bands.
AN: I was more Metallica but now definitely on the Megadeth side of the spectrum. I only saw Metallica the once when they toured Master Of Puppets for its 20th anniversary and after that, I don’t want to see them live again in case they ruin it for me. I’m one of the few who hates the Black Album, usually I just listen to 80’s Metallica. Some of the songs from Load and Reload are good, but after they released St. Anger…
Fernanda: I hate that album! I mean like really really hate that album, the drum sound is terrible. That is the worst snare drum in the universe, it’s just ‘donk! donk! donk! donk!” (Very accurate impression of Lars’ drumming skills right there folks!)
AN: Have you had the misfortune of hearing the thing on YouTube where someone has put ‘that’ snare drum into the entire song of Master Of Puppets?
Fernanda: No!!! Urgh, that would be horrible!
AN: You’re going to find that now when you have a chance and forever hate me for making you listen to it! Anyway, next question. I touched on this earlier and said my preference. Anthrax: Joey Belladonna era or John Bush era?
Fernanda: I really like the Joey Belladonna era. It’s the sound I like the most, the catchy choruses and the thrash I like whereas the John Bush stuff, I’m not into at all. Sorry!
AN: It’s alright!
Fernanda: I like the songs from his era, I love “Fistful Of Metal”, it’s just the thrash I like but I know you prefer John Bush so sorry again, it just is what it is!
AN: I think you probably answered this one earlier, but your all time favourite band? I know you mentioned Slayer, Iron Maiden, Nuclear Assault,… So to change it up a little, what would you say is one of your all time favourite albums?
Fernanda: (Shakes her head at me) You and your difficult questions! Okay, can I say not one of the all time best, but more important to me?
Fernanda: Ok, one of the most important albums in my life would be “Love Gun” by KISS and I’ll tell you why – This was my first ever rock album. My Uncle gave me it and it just changed my life. When I listened to it I was like “This is what I want from my life, I want rock and roll and metal and stuff!” After that there are like a million other albums, for example “Powerslave”, “Raining Blood”, “Peace Sells”, “Individual Thought Patterns” by Death, “Beneath The Remains” by Sepultura… But probably “Love Gun” is the one which changed my life, because at that moment, when I was a little seven year old girl, that changed everything. It made me be into rock and metal. You?
AN: I have two which are important to me. One of them is “High Voltage” by AC/DC, because I grew up with that, and as a 4 year old, I could sing ‘The Jack’ word for word and not have a clue what it was about at all! It was like the ‘party piece’ at family get togethers.
Fernanda: (bursts out laughing) “She’s got the Jack! Jack! Jack! Jack!”
AN: Yup! The other one is “Americana” by The Offspring who are probably my all time favourite band. This album got me back into rock and metal as a teenager and its one album I can never get tired of.
Fernanda: Yeah, sometimes it’s not necessarily what you think is the best album by a band, but more the ones which have the most importance to you. That is what really matters.
AN: So bringing this to a close now, what next for Nervosa? I know you have said you are working on new material, but are there any tours planned for the end of this year and next year? After you get back to Brazil are you gonna hit the road again or recharge?
Fernanda: When we go back to South America we wanna play some shows in places we haven’t played yet, like Peru and then releasing the album, coming back here to Europe next summer to hopefully play more fests… Try to get a US Tour going and maybe come back to Europe to tour again like in October to do like more venue shows… Just basically hitting the road. Our main plan is to tour.
AN: You should get onto the label and the tour managers to get you on at Bloodstock. I’m saying that because it would be cool for you to play a UK festival and also because I have my ticket for it already!
Fernanda: Everyone has been saying that to us! “Why didn’t you play Bloodstock?”
AN: You’d be playing with Venom, they were announced for next year. Good or bad, I don’t care, I can’t wait to see them.
Fernanda: Venom will be fucking awesome, Venom are always awesome. Cronos is a huge influence to me on stage, you’re gonna see that later haha!
AN: So in closing, is there anything you’d like to say for the website in particular? Any bands you think we should check out?
Fernanda: I have one message which I always say to this type of question. First of all, thank you for the opportunity, the bands need this kind of stuff. Not only thanks for the interviewing, but for the reviewing too, the metal scene really needs that!
I want to say you should definitely check out some Brazilian bands because we have like a ton of great thrash and death metal bands here in Brazil and we often don’t get discovered due to lack of money and opportunities. Also I always say keep supporting metal. This community has been alive for forty years and it will stay alive forever if we keep supporting it. If you don’t like some of the bands, then fair enough, but just support metal so the flame can keep on burning.
AN: So which Brazilian bands do you think stand out the most and are worth looking into?
Fernanda: Torture Squad, Claustrophobia, Lacerated and Carbonized, there are just too many. I could list you like 1000 but these are a good start! You won’t regret it, those guys are really good!
AN: I will do… So that’s it! Thank you for your time Fernanda!
Fernanda: Thank you once again, this has been cool. Enjoy the show later!
So there we have it… What was initially just a 20-25 minute spot turned into near enough an hour full of interesting answers and a lot of back and forth. Ultimately, Nervosa are a band on the rise. Three determined women who just want to make music, play music and have as many people around the world experience it. The love of performing keeps them going and the enthusiasm and love for metal they have is fantastic.
Fernanda herself is someone who clearly enjoys what she does. The long trips on the road away from home and her family are all worth it and the passion she has for doing this is easy to see, whether it be on her face when she smiles as she talks about the whirlwind journey her and the girls have been on so far to laughing and cursing me for some on the spot difficult questions to telling me that she wanted to steal my Obituary hoody because she said it was cool. On and off stage, Fernanda is full of life and was a pleasure to talk with and watch live. Here’s to more from what could be the next big thing in Thrash!
Live Photos with thanks Joe Speak