Apocalypse, one of the top progressive bands from Brazil, celebrates his jubilee with the release of a luxurious box-set containing also the new album “2012 Light Years From Home”. We made some questions to the leader and founder Eloy Fritsch who took us in a long journey through the history of his band. Enjoy!
What was the importance of your band for the rebirth of Prog in Brazil? What was the legacy with old groups like O Terço and Som Nosso De Cada Dia?
Prog rock is not reborn in Brazil. Brazil is the country of samba and soccer. We can see that few people here listen to or care about progressive rock. People don’t know what is progressive rock. I like very much prog rock bands like O Terço and O Som Nosso de Cada Dia but, in my opinion, the most important Brazilian progressive rock band was Sagrado Coração da Terra (Sacred Heart of Earth).
Apocalypse was perhaps the first Brazilian band to sign a contract with an international label; how did you reach this goal?
Since in Brazil is very difficult to play and to release progressive rock albums we tried to send our music to France, a country with tradition in progressive rock that could support our project. The Apocalypse LP was sent to Musea Record Label and they responded with the possibility of a new album. We signed with Musea to release our first CD “Perto do Amanhecer”.
You were the first band in your country to get inspiration from Marillion and British New Prog. How did this passion was born?
But we are influenced by Marillion only in our first songs from the CD “Perto do Amanhecer”. After the first CD, we received other powerful symphonic rock influences of groups like Yes, Kansas, ELP and Jethro Tull.
After 20 years Chico Casara left the group. Can you tell us what happened and what led to this loss? Are you still in touch with him?
As I told, producing a progressive rock project here in Brazil is very difficult and after some years the musicians get tired and do not want to be part anymore of the project because progressive rock does not give opportunities and support they deserve. The singer Chico is still my friend, but we live in different cities and we meet only sometimes.
With the arrival of a new singer and a new bass player the sound of the Apocalypse begins to change: the most obvious aspect concerns the choice of singing in English. Why did you take this decision while, however, the band was already internationally appreciated?
Yes, from 2004 Apocalypse sings in English too, the language most widely known and appreciated in rock music. Now people can choose whether they want to listen to Apocalypse singing in Portuguese or English. Particularly I think that the project is more flexible when using two or more languages.
With the new vocalist you've decided to redo the old songs with lyrics in English. Are you satisfied with the outcome?
Yes, we enjoyed very much to record the first DVD Live in Rio and listen to the songs in their English versions. As already mentioned, we recorded the old songs both in Portuguese and in English. So, we are pleased that people can choose in which language they want to listen to them.
"Refugio" is perhaps your most symphonic and keyboard oriented album; with subsequent productions however your sound began to get heavier, up to your last album. What caused this transformation? Do you think that sooner or later you’ll return to a more symphonic sound?
We didn’t stop doing symphonic rock after the release of the CD “Refuge”. We just added a little more rock in some songs. The albums “Magic Spells”, “Live In Rio” and “The Bridge of Light” are all recorded live. On stage Apocalypse is heavier and more energetic than in studio. In “2012 Light Years from Home” you can listen to symphonic rock as well. Just take the time to listen to songs: “New Sunrise”, “The Angels and Seven Trumpets” and “2012 Light Years from Home”, and you will find many symphonic rock elements. On September 11 we will perform the songs “Refuge”, “Follow the Bridge”, “Last Paradise”, “Ocean Soul”, “Blue Earth” in a big concert with orchestra and choir. So we're still doing very symphonic rock.
The celebration for your 25 years jubilee led to the creation of the beautiful box set that tells the story of the band but which also tracks the future. Inside the box is in fact included a copy of your newest album. It 's quite an original idea to launch a new album this way: how did you decide to do that? Will the album be sold individually as well?
We've noticed lately that people prefer to download songs from the internet than buying CDs. Then we decided to produce a box set with a high-quality graphic material. So, if you like Apocalypse, you will prefer to buy the Box Set than downloading the mp3 files. The project has become very important because it is the first box set released by a South American progressive rock group. The items contained in the box set cannot be bought separately.
How did you come up with the idea of a concept album about the Mayan Prophecy of 2012?
Mysticism has always been one of our favorite subjects. This time we thought of presenting the Apocalypse not only through the biblical context as it is known, but through other cultures and beliefs. In “2012 Light Years from Home”, several songs talk about angels, light, sky, paradise, Earth and it is not directly related only to the Maya prophecy, but it is a confluence of religions that believe in the revelation of the Apocalypse.
Do you believe in the Mayan prophecy? What is your last musical wish?
We believe in our music and energy that radiates to the people. It is always a positive energy because it brings a message of peace and happiness. We call people's attention to global problems like the destruction of nature, war, misery, because we want a better world for everyone and everyone must do his part.
In your solo albums you explored musical directions different than with Apocalypse, such as electronic and new age. How do these experiences find place in the sound of Apocalypse? Are you eager to explore other musical directions as a keyboardist?
I always loved instrumental, orchestral, electronic, ethnic music, so I decided to compose in those directions, inspired by nature and cosmos. It is a project that has no connection with Apocalypse. It is a project that completes me as a keyboardist and composer. I’m always creating music. I released the albums “Mythology”, “Landscapes”, “Atmosphere”, “The Garden of Emotions” and many others. I do not care about money, I only wish to create and record my music to share it with other people who like music. This studio project brought me moments of great spiritual elevation that can express my feelings and emotions through art.
In 2010 drummer Chico Fasoli left the band too. Was it difficult to replace him?
Chico Fasoli was from the beginning with Apocalypse. He is a great guy and a very good drummer. It is always difficult to replace a member who helped to create a project and who was present at all times. Chico continues to be our great friend. My brother Ruy Fritsch invited an another great drummer called Fabio Schneider to enter the Apocalypse team. Fabio Schneider accepted the invitation and replaced Chico Fasoli. He started playing at Porto Alegre and São Paulo’s Apocalypse concerts. Fabio also recorded all the songs on “2012 Light Years from Home” CD. He plays with another technique, a little more jazz fusion style, contributing to the sound of the new album.
Why an ambitious concept as "The Bridge of Light" was published only as a live album? Have you ever thought about a studio version?
Good question. “The Bridge of Light” was a live project that presents new songs. The concert was recorded in audio and video and maybe, someday, we will release it on DVD. Apocalypse is now a new team of musicians with many plans for the future.
The best memory of the past 25 years with Apocalypse to give to our readers ...?
I would like to thank you for the interview and the opportunity to answer some questions about Apocalypse. Thanks to all who listen to our music and that somehow contribute to our musical project. I would like to conclude by saying that there are so many good memories: I like to remember our gigs in Rio de Janeiro and in the USA. Being on stage playing our music to the public with my brother and my friends is very, very, very good! Thanks to all