By Jordan Reisman
Photo courtesy of Hoppie Newton.
Boogarins of Goiania, Brazil have just come back from their first trip outside of their home country. The psych-rock outfit from the 13th largest city in Brazil are currently on an extensive tour, having recently spent 18 days playing around Europe.
As they assert that it’s harder for Brazilian bands to “break out” of their respective towns, Boogarins are balancing this dichotomy of semi-fame with their success in Europe yet still holding down day jobs in Brazil. It’s not quite the case of being proverbially “huge in Japan.” Boogarins are just excited to bring their brand of rock to crowds that don’t necessarily speak Portuguese. This makes for an interesting show given that all of their songs are sung in their native tongue. BTR was able to catch up with Fernando Almeida and Benke Ferraz as they were on a brief break from tour hanging out in North Carolina and eating a proper American breakfast.
As mentioned before, the boys were fresh off an 18-day European tour and their first visit to the mythical continent, so they had little else to talk about. One of the big difference between playing there and playing the states, they claim, is that in Europe, you can drive three hours and be in a completely different country. They describe the difficulties therein as more of a “communication shock” rather than a “culture shock.”
“As we’re getting to know all these places we’re just noticing that it’s not that much different from what we know, from what we do in Brazil. It’s the same thing: you’ll find good people, we’ll find people there in bad days where they won’t be that nice to you but culture shock didn’t happen that much because we only met great people on these 18 days,” Ferraz says.
The band learned that they were partially exempt from being lost in translation because they were merely traveling to shows that they were playing. In between shows, they managed to avoid having to play the part of the “ugly Brazilians.” Ferraz says that there were not going to be “xenophobic guys going to watch a Brazilian band play” but instead they were meeting “the people that would be our friends in Brazil.” They likened the tour to a “vacation” where as Almeida puts it in cathartic, if still broken English, “when you start to get tired or something like this, it’s just… new things again, new things again.”
Boogarins began in 2012 as a recording project for Ferraz and Almeida, making songs in Ferraz’s bedroom. He says that the initial formation “wasn’t supposed to be anything official or a band.” They got together six or seven songs by the end of the year and then started rehearsing with additional members, Hans and Raphael. He says that the songs weren’t even supposed to be released but then they saw that “it was a good fit,” so they just started playing live more and more in 2013.
Ferraz and Almeida know each other from high school, which they only finished last year. They went to a trade high school where Almeida took a “construction” class and Ferraz studied music. Ever since the two met, Almeida says they became the “guys who don’t go to class and play guitar outside.” They weren’t exactly the rebel types but since they took their music so seriously, it seemed to them like everything else, including Ferraz’s classical musical course, was getting in the way.
For a Brazillian band, Boogarins consider themselves more than lucky to have “made it out” as far as they have, because as Ferraz explains, it’s harder to achieve success outside of their home country.
“Brazil is very huge and we don’t have all these small cities with rock venues that we can play the whole way until the capitals of each state as you do in the US You can play in a lot of cities between the capital of one state and the capital of another state. We never had a tour that long, even in Brazil we played a one week, weekend, or two weekend tour,” he tells BTR. “It’s hard going outside Brazil because you have to invest a lot of money in it. We had the opportunity of getting our album released in the US last year, the label helped us and we came to South By. As an example, this year another band from our hometown came to South By Southwest and last year, another band from our hometown also played. It’s difficult but you can do it if you work for it.”
Whenever a band from a local scene starts to see any kind of success, the question invariably comes up whether not “things have changed” for them. This is a slightly more evolved, less overtly class-conscious way of asking if they’ve sold out. Ferraz says that they haven’t been able to “live only doing music,” though they are right now because they’re on tour. They all have day jobs and go to college so he says their “day-by-day didn’t change much.” Almeida says that he hopes “things stay the same without the ‘celebrity thing’.”
The lyrics for Boogarins’ most recent album, As Plantas Que Curam, is, as the title suggests, all in Portuguese. At times with international bands playing abroad, there can be a pressure for them to sing in English to make themselves more marketable, which can stifle their artistic expression and quite possibly change whatever they were writing about. This doesn’t really seem to be an issue with our Brazilian boys as they are content just sticking with the intricacies and nuances of their native tongue.
“For us I think it’s because we like to listen to music in Portuguese and I think it’s the easiest way for us to communicate and put our feelings in the songs. I think that Portuguese is the easiest way. I don’t know if this will change but right now I think we will sing in Portuguese forever!” says Almeida.
The two say that even when the crowds in Europe can’t understand the words they are saying, their music allows the audience to get lost in it. And it’s true, a number of songs on As Plantas Que Curam transcend all contemporary conventions into a universal psych-rock induced dream state.
This was no mistake, as Ferraz explains, “While we were recording we had this sound in our heads; how it should sound. I think that’s the reason they sound cool for a lot of people because we didn’t know how to record. We were just trying to take the sound that was in our heads as we liked it. We didn’t know if what we were recording was right or wrong. It was just like taking the sound as you like to hear in other bands, you wanted to hear in your songs.”
The band is content with the results of pursuing their ever elusive ideal, to which Almeida adds, “It’s like when you try to draw something, you’ll have the thing in your head and you always end up drawing it totally different but you still like it.”
Listen in as Boogarins take the sounds from your heads and puts them on wax by clicking here.
Check out Boogarins’ music and interview on the latest episode of Discovery Corner on BTR.