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Daniel Person and JR (Hellish War)

Interview with Daniel Person and JR from Hellish War
by Grigoris Chronis at 18 February 2009, 10:24 PM

Daniel Person (drums) and JR (bass) from Brazilian Heavy/Power Metal warriors HELLISH WAR surely have a point when speaking 'bout the glorious 80s Metal bands, again thinking of it. It's classic Metal, after all! So is the notable second album by HELLISH WAR, named Heroes Of Tomorrow, seven(!) whole years after their 2001 debut. Of course many things happened in between and both Daniel and JR are here to explain.

Interview with: Daniel Person and JR from HELLISH WAR

Guys, hello from Metal Temple magazine!

JR: Hello from HELLISH WAR!!! We're very happy to be here conceding this interview today!

First of all, thanks a lot for your new album, Heroes Of Tomorrow. We just got a promo copy for review, but I had the chance to read you did release it in the beginning of 2008, right?

JR: Yes, that's right. Heroes Of Tomorrow went out in March 2008 as a private release and that's the reason why it took so long to reach your and many metalfans' ears.

What's the story regarding the new album? When did you start writing the songs for what became Heroes Of Tomorrow and how long did you record?

JR: Well, the album begun to be written in 2002. Our intention was to release it in the first semester of 2003. But our plans went down the flush as we knew that our old label Megahard Records was broken. They got no budget to release Heroes Of Tomorrow. But on the other hand they didn't want to set us free from our 5-year contract which was signed in 2001. So we've been struggling throughout the past years to be free from the label. The recordings of the album started in January 2007 and took us more than a month to record it.

Heroes Of Tomorrow is considered to be a private release. Are you on the hunt for a record deal now? Did you have any interest from labels the last years?

JR: Well, at this very moment we're under negotiation with a very important German label. Unfortunately I can't say much more than this. As for the past years, yes, we had many offerings from the labels. But their contracts were no good for us because we recorded the whole album by ourselves and in most of the offers we'd  be losing lots of money and as we put all our budget on this album we couldn't do that. So we waited, and this waiting has proved to be excellent for the band. Very soon you all will know why.  

Your previous album, the first one, was released in 2001 through the Megahard label. I can recall enough releases by this Brazilian label. Are they out of business now?

JR: Yes, they're out of business as long as it concerns to me. As I told you before, they were already broke in 2003.

How would you describe the music in Heroes Of Tomorrow for someone not familiar with the band? I can see enough guitar-oriented classic Heavy/Power Metal in this album, with nice vocals and interesting compositions.

JR: Well, I don't know ha ha ha. I would say just that we sound like a true Heavy Metal band…but that's not enough huh? hahahah…well, let's try like this…you put all these ingredients right…JUDAS PRIEST, IRON MAIDEN, HELLOWEEN, MANOWAR, RUNNING WILD…mix them all together…say some magic words…and you will have HELLISH WAR…hahaha! We don't sound like a copy of any of these bands. We have elements from their music, but we have our own identity.

How do you work when writing songs? Who's in charge and who takes care of the lyrics?

Daniel Person: While composing Heroes Of Tomorrow, we've experimented different ways of working. Some songs have been composed with the entire band together, during jams. That was the case for Metal Forever or Straight From Hell. For some other songs, however, it worked differently. My Freedom, for example, has been entirely composed by Vulcano and he showed this one to the band when even the vocal melodies were already written. Therefore, I think that both ways can work very well. On the new album, the entire band has contributed with the lyrics as well.

Really, what are the usual lyrics themes in HELLISH WAR? Do you think lyrics are still important for a Metal song? Do you feel most fans read or not the lyrics while listening to a song?

Daniel Person: Our lyrics are usually inspired by epic and medieval tales, but in certain way we also talk about pulling through and getting rid of the problems and difficulties that appears during our lives. But since HELLISH WAR consists on five musician Metal freaks and not book authors, it is certainly easier for us to compose a song than writing a lyric, hahaha. Most of the lyrics from Heroes Of Tomorrow album were written about 4 or 5 years ago and I personally think that we have been getting better on this matter during the years, and for our third album we may have lyrics related to different subjects - as long as it combines with our 80's classic Heavy Metal style. I really appreciate the art of writing and the lyrics are surely relevant on a Metal song, however, on the overall headbangers opinions, I think that the music itself is more important.

JR: Heroes Of Tomorrow got a very positive vibe on its lyrics. And I really think that the lyrics are important part of a song, not only in a Metal song. I think music must be complete, not only good instrumental but good lyrics too. Well, I don't know for sure if most of the fans read it while listening to a song, but I'll take myself as an example. I don't listen to a song without checking the lyrics and if the booklet does not bring the lyrics, you can search for it in the Internet.

Was there any time you thought, as a band, to try and play some more 'modern' Metal? Many people often criticize Metal bands that play/sound like 80s Metal bands. Or you are strictly following your hearts?

JR: No, we've never thought that. Music for us is heart and soul and we never felt like doing 'modern' Metal. People always criticize the 80s Heavy Metal but they don't live without it. You can take as an example the European festivals. Every year more and more metalheads come to see bands like SAXON, IRON MAIDEN, JUDAS PRIEST, BLACK SABBATH/HEAVEN AND HELL, DIO and so on. These bands have been around for at least 30 years and with younger bands like us that still happening, in our shows we see lots of young kids with their 14, 15 years old as we see the old school fans with their 45 years old.  

Daniel  Person: HELLISH WAR is and always will be a classic Heavy Metal band. We really love the music we do and I'm sure I am talking for the entire band when I say that. This is the music that comes out from our hearts and we are really satisfied to see that there are many people around the world supporting old school Heavy Metal, just like we do.

Has the band preserved the same lineup all these years or you've suffered from enough changes? How do you keep the balance between the band and your daily normal lives?

Daniel  Person: Even with all the problems we've had with our old label and the huge time stamp between the releases of our two albums, the band shows the same lineup since 2001. That's 8 years! Of course there have been bad times during these years, but nothing sufficient to make any of us give up. Our will to carry on has always been bigger than anything. This is a major proof of how HELLISH WAR is important in our lives. We surely must have parallel activities in order to gain some money and invest on HELLISH WAR, that's life right!

Metal means playing live too, right? What's your experience in this sector? Have you been onstage enough times in Brazil 'till now? I read you'll be playing in Germany's 'Swordbrothers Festival' too in September 2009, right? Have you ever performed on European ground again? Are there any more dates fixed yet?

Daniel Person: Playing live is an essential part of what HELLISH WAR is! We've been doing many shows along these years in Brazil, and we also had the opportunity to play together with great Metal legends around here, such as SAXON and U.D.O.. And you're right, on September 2009 we'll be arriving on European ground! It will be our first European tour and we're really excited about that. Playing at 'Swordbrothers Festival' will certainly be a memorable moment for us. We're preparing a special set list for that gig, I'm sure the European old-school headbangers will like it. Besides, we will be doing about 10 shows in Europe, and dates have already been confirmed in Belgium, other dates in Germany and we have also been confirmed on Back to Rock Festival at Switzerland and Razorblade in Germany. And we're just waiting for an invitation to personally meet the headbangers from Greece as well!

How hard is it to get your band known in our days? You see, there are tons of bands, sounds, styles, labels, CDs, managers…What's the motive for keeping the spirit alive?

Daniel Person: The motive for keeping the hellish spirit alive is that HELLISH WAR is made of five headbangers who share the same dream, which is spreading our Heavy Metal music around the world. That's enough to keep the fire burning. Although the Internet has made things easier in some aspects, sometimes it also makes things harder, as there are so many bands that some of them you'll never know. And on this Internet era, the live shows gains even more importance, because it is the opportunity to check whether that band which we've listened on MySpace in fact is able to play all their cool songs live or not. Technology has evolved so much that there are many bands whose musicians haven't even truly recorded their songs in the studio. Sad but true.

Guys, thanks a lot for your time to do this interview. Really hope we'll be hearing more from HELLISH WAR in the future to come.

Daniel Person: Thank you very much Greg, and we hope to personally meet you during our European tour! Thanks to all European headbangers and may the guardians of the Metal Temple be with you forever!! Metal still burns!


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