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GRAU ZERO - In Portugal No Body Cares About This Kind of Music

Updated: Jun 27, 2021

Grau Zero are a group of friends, from Vialonga, Lisbon, Portugal that started playing together in 1993. After Luís Matos death in 1997, the band took a psychological shake that ended up and all dreams and a project buried. But this year, 2020, they raised their heads and intend to pursue that dream, more mature, and with another experience, and start again what they left so long ago.

We were in a lovely conversation, exclusively for MGMEIA, with Pedro and Nuno for two hours, between image stops, sound cuts, that new technologies provide us, we had the honour and privilege to live together and even enter the privacy of Pedro who kindly opened the doors of his house. Thanks in advance for your trust!

Grau Zero - Portugal

[MGMEIA] - How does the name Grau Zero come about? [Pedro] – Back to 1990, through the influence by Trash sounds we had from Slayer, Carnivore, Sepultura, and Biohazard, and other more punks who are my influences, we still caught that end of the cold war that was talked about a lot in nuclear, atomic bombs and when thinking of several names, and with this phase going on in the world. When we saw images of the explosion of the first atomic bomb in which the Japanese had to start everything from scratch, and we were doing the same so we put the name "Grau Zero" (Ground Zero)

[MGMEIA] - From 1993 to 1997, in which everything was expected to be a project to follow after four years of work, a tragic news appears for the band Luís Matos, your bass player has a motorcycle accident and ends up dying. How was it to deal with this? [Pedro] - (five seconds of emotional silence from Pedro and Nuno) Although Luís was not from the beginning of the band but the three of us had grown up together here in Vialonga, a person we had a great esteem for us was another brother we had... [Nuno] He gave a great charisma — Nuno reinforces. [Pedro] - Hence the 26, 25 HC (Hard Core) Vialonga in the symbol of the Band being a tribute to Luís. That was the reason why in 1998 the band disbanded until today (2020). Since the event, they're started to be different ideas, and each one has been pushing aside. And we are divided into new projects. Nuno and I followed together and even collaborated on several projects with old members, recall Nuno, but it was all different, it wasn't that essence that we had designed for “Grau Zero”.

[MGMEIA] - Support, do you feel that there has been support there in Portugal for the promotion of new bands? [Pedro] - No! There is no disclosure in Portugal. In Portugal there is no one interested in promoting this type of music. There are endless bands in Portugal of very good quality, but nobody wants to take them, they want easy money and they don't like to work. Bands like the Moonspell only achieved fame outside Portugal. It seems that we have stagnated like in 1970. It just remains to appear to Bimotor again to go running around looking for the news, especially the national ones.

[MGMEIA] - You now have VOA in Portugal, This year's poster among ten bands there is only one Portuguese. Why? [Nuno] - Well, we don't understand this either, they could put one or two Portuguese bands more, but that’s not the easy money we talked about.

Meanwhile, Pedro's cell phone battery shows signs that he needs a charge, we talk about banalities as we head to his home studio.

[Pedro] - Welcome to my mini studio with new technologies, Nuno and I can stay here late at night to compose.

[MGMEIA] - I see you have a music collection out there, what was the last album or CD you bought?

(Between laughter)

[Nuno] - Mine was in England in “Poundland” (more laughter), “No Doubt”, I bought it for £1, I like it and I'm a huge SKA music fan.

[Pedro] - I research a lot on the Internet for national bands and I see some projects with great value. The last international I bought was "Biohazard", "No Holds Barred" from 1997, it is a live recorded in Germany. I already had it but one day they stole it on the beach, when my ex-wife left the car doors unlocked (laughs) it happens! Once in Lisbon, passing by a smilar store as BIMOTOR, I didn't even think twice about it, 5€, the other was an EP of three songs from “All Against” they played at the Vialonga Festival last year (2019) , and another was “Hills Have Eyes”, a metal band from Setúbal. A group very sponsored by Vasco Ramos from “More Than a Thousand”, who have played a lot in Spain and Europe. I really like their Metal Core, it's different, it's not that typical sound, but it has a lot of harmony, different choruses a pull by the staff, the interaction with the public, with the message that the public identifies and that helps. [MGMEIA] - You said that you started with lyrics about society. Today, will your lyrics be aimed at society? Where do you get those lyrics do you read and get ideas from a book? Where are you going to get your inspiration? [Pedro] - Almost all the lyrics were written by me, Nuno wrote two (laughs by Nuno) are written by us and we avoid looking for influences, phrases, texts. Yes, I can complement it, but I try very hard to convey my vision of what goes on in everyday life, not wanting to be too political or religious or social terms, to talk about the way we feel and see things. [Nuno] - Although we try to use similar voices or my way of singing can put on a more Max Cavalera voice, we try to do things in our own way, because the lyrics have nothing to do with Sepultura or Max Cavalera or Soulfly... [Pedro] - What we are naturally looking for is to have that sharp tone, which entered people's ears and people with their voices understand the message and transmit it in the same way as we thought it and how we described it. [Nuno] - We often have lyrics that are very Punk but sung with a very Trash voice because that's how we feel, it's in the lyrics and the riffs where we are going to release the "anger.” So we mix our influences, which is what I like in we sing a part to Slayer, another to Sepultura, or even a voice to Biohazard, or even Sex Pistol but the lyrics are the most original of the band, so we try transmitting with these mixes our view of the world. [Pedro] - At the beginning I confess, that when we were pissed off we went to see the lyrics of the bands that we idolized, and that made the idea the heart of the matter, perhaps a “copy paste” of our words. Now with age and experience and evolution it is obvious we already do it in another way, we take our thinking, how we see the world and the social situation today, but we try to put that political discussion away from that religious discussion with that so radical interventionism.

[MGMEIA] - And aside from that and knowing then that you read, who is your favourite author? [Pedro] - Mine personally is Fernando Pessoa. I love him. He was a character that was only recognized after he died, a chronicler, and as you get to know Pessoa, we get a more general idea. Then Saramago, even being more of a leftist, posed some interesting questions and was actually a little more contemporary, more current. Then Luís Sepúlveda, who died recently, at the beginning of COVID. I liked him, for his novelists side, another internalized reflection, I found an interesting author in terms of writing. [MGMEIA] - Ideas for the lyrics go to movies, news, social networks. How much influence do you have? [Nuno] - (laughs) in my view, we are against this crap. We try to alert people to this misleading, powerful advertising that forces people to do so. What we want is to convey that there are things around us that are much more important, and for what is hidden. [Pedro] - Today there is no escaping the information that surrounds you, for example in the track that we have “Straight To the Point”, discuss the facts, always respecting the opinion of others, because in all that information you are manipulated to think that way, and what we want to convey is the opposite is that there is not only that way. Each one thinks in his own way to reach a social conclusion. There is always some truth, but the truth will always be subjective, because it will depend on each one's perspective. This lie is completely true in the world, but the truth is subjective because it depends on each person's vision. This is our message, with each opinion we can get closer to a real idea.

[MGMEIA] - Taking this reality that you present. Do you think that if you were in Spain you would have more possibilities for the market and to be able to live only from music? Is there such a big reality for you between the two countries? [Pedro] - I don't think it's just the market but also the culture itself, which changes from country to country. Although in Portugal there is already greater acceptance, but in other countries they are already more advanced because they have already made more festivals more “propaganda”, the economy is treated in another way. This type of culture accepts more this type of message or this type of sound. Things would be a little more different. Although Portugal already has a very liberal culture and a very open mind, but it is still very limited to this type of music, and in the year 2020 we still continue with this stigma and stereotypes. [MGMEIA] - When seeing Portuguese bands with very different realities, like Xutos & Pontapés who in 2016 went to Rock in Rio in Brazil by the Titãs, and Moonspell toured the same country in 2018 with the album “1755”, we can verify two very different realities in national and international terms. Xutos is highly regarded at Portuguese level but in Brazil without expression, and Moonspell without much expression in Portugal but highly regarded in Brazil, with a full house tour and tickets sold out months before the performance. Now we are going to put a group of Trash Metal from the PALOP country, Angola, in which the Death Metal band “Before Crush” is taking a European tour, and it is not the first, there is a Death Metal band from Mozambique that also managed to do the same. What do Portuguese bands lack? What is going wrong in Portugal? [Pedro] - I think that Portugal took a long time to believe in this type of music so it did not have or is not able to follow or carry out new projects such as promoting new sounds and new bands. And we go back to the situation of Moonspell and Xutos. The Xutos who had to go on a crutch of the Titãs. Here we continue with the waters very stagnant, and in Brasil for exemple they already want another level of sound, more "noise", more distortion, more intensity in the songs. Here in Portugal, despite the death of the legendary Zé Pedro, there is always that legion of fans wherever Xutos play. In Brazil the Xutos are more like another chewing gum rock band as we usually say. I think that Managers here are very afraid to bet. They want to take the right value of what is being sold here in Portugal. Our national music in this style has had more support from outside than internally and that is what we have been checking. [Nuno] - Here in Portugal, unfortunately the Moonspell, do not have the same acceptance as abroad. They sell more albums outside Portugal than inside, in this style of music, national music has not had support or never had it, and that is what we continue to verify. [Nuno] - Here in Portugal, unfortunately Moonspell, do not have the same acceptance as abroad. They sell more albums outside Portugal than inside, in this style of music, national music has not had support or never had it, and that is what we continue to verify. [Pedro] - It is a little lack of vision and a little lack of risk. From time to time, you have to take a little risk and value it. As you said, and well, why don't I take an unknown band from Indonesia and bring England to play. You don't have people doing that.

[MGMEIA] - Has the media, all of them, supported Heavy Metal or is everything still the same, as in the 70s? [Nuno] - In my opinion, everything is stopped, I don't see great promotions, great bands of originals appearing. They prefer to pay 70€ to see Kiss or Megadeth cover bands, than 5€ or 7€ to see a band of originals, a local, a new band, and we “Grau Zero”, we have felt the lack of this support, the promotion on national radio stations. [Pedro] - Here in Portugal on TV nothing happens. Nothing at all, neither Metal nor Punk, nothing. But luckily we have Freitas at Antena3, once a week, because he is a legendary character, which does a fantastic job in developing the bands. You have radios online, but even so, they give more prominence to foreign bands than Portuguese, but it's not bad anyway. [Nuno] - The bands want to leave the garage, but even so there is a gap in the dissemination of Portuguese Metal. [Pedro] - We have a specific case that, for example, here in “Nuestros Hermanos” (Our Brothers, Spain), they give more support to their national bands and ours than ourselves. Our guitarist, Edie, in addition to playing with me in “Cirrose”, a Punk band, he has a project, with a Sepultura tribute band, went to Spain to do the “after's" he found that the Spanish. In a festival with five international renowned headliners, two bands at least are Spanish to open the concert. It is this disrepute that there are in Portugal they do festivals, yes sir, but for example. This year “Nós Alive”, which was suspended and postponed to 2021, the only Portuguese band to play continues to be the “Daweesel”. [Nuno] - What matters is to raise money to sell, be quiet, it is better to be Maria Leal than something better. (Laughs) And that's how we said goodbye to Grau Zero, waiting for their return, and for their new EP. We want to thank Pedro and Nuno for their availability and dedicate this interview to Luís Matos on the part of MGMEIA. Interview made on 30 June 2020 All the right reserved.

(MGMEIA, wants to apology to Grau Zero and Grau Zero fans for the delay to publish the interview. As explained to Grau Zero the issue, we want to thank them for their understanding)

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