Heavy Culture is a monthly column from journalist Liz Ramanand, focusing on artists of different cultural backgrounds in heavy music as they offer their perspectives on race, society, and more as it intersects with and affects their music. The latest installment of this column features an interview with founding Nervosa guitarist Prika Amaral.
The year 2020 was a roller-coaster ride for everyone, and that was particularly the case for Nervosa guitarist Prika Amaral. In early 2020, her bandmates quit the thrash group, forcing her to search for a new lineup and record an album during the pandemic.
The new release, Perpetual Chaos, is out January 22nd, and we caught up with Amaral via Skype while she was home in Brazil to chat about the new album, as well as the new lineup, the chaos of 2020, the pandemic, and the culture within the band.
Amaral is from Brazil but her parents are from Italy, Spain and Portugal. Her new bandmates reflect her cultural mix, as vocalist Diva Satanica is from Spain; bassist Mia Wallace is from Italy; and drummer Eleni Nota is from Greece.
The guitarist also discussed the importance of keeping the band all female, while also speaking candidly about the duality of violence and beauty living in Brazil, and the struggle of being a metal musician in a predominantly Catholic country.
Read our interview with Prika Amaral of Nervosa for the latest installment of “Heavy Culture” below, and pick up Nervosa’s new album, Perpetual Chaos, here.
On what the album title Perpetual Chaos means to her, especially during this time
It has a lot to do with 2020, but with humans it doesn’t matter how many years we go through, we commit the same mistakes; the behaviors from leaders from countries — they have shown their real face. We see many mistakes that were committed 50 years ago from dictators, and we are seeing the same kind of language [from current leaders]. All of this inspired me to do this type of album and why it’s called Perpetual Chaos.
On creating a new album with new members during a pandemic
Of course this was a huge challenge for all of us — we changed the whole lineup. But it was not something new for me because the previous Nervosa lineup was working with distance — Brazil is a huge country and all of us lived in different cities when we created the last album. It was not new for me but it’s not something that’s impossible.
We couldn’t meet each other because it was in the middle of the pandemic but when Europe and its borders were open I went immediately and we recorded in the exact perfect time. If it happened one week later it would have no longer been possible. At the end of recording, all the borders started to close again and we had to do the COVID tests to come back to our countries. It was crazy but we are very lucky that we did it.
On where the new members are from and meeting them in person for the first time
I’m from Brazil but I live half of the time in Brazil and the other half in Europe; the vocalist is from Spain; the bassist is from Italy; and the drummer is from Greece. Once you’re in Europe, it’s cheap to travel within the European Union, so it’s not too difficult.
Meeting them was a dream come true for all of us. We didn’t believe it would happen for us. When we met each other, we were so happy and screaming in the airport and we started singing “We are the Champions” [by Queen]. Everyone [in the airport] was like, “What the f**k is going on here?”
On her life in Brazil and her connection with heavy genres of music
I live in a very rich and poor country at the same time. We live with misery, which is very common here in Brazil, and we live with beauty. We have beautiful weather, beaches, and nature here in Brazil. But we have one of the most violent countries in the world, we have a lot of drug trafficking. For me, I had two situations some years ago with a gun in my face and the guy stole my motorcycle; a gun in my back and they stole my wallet — it’s very common unfortunately. All of this makes it feel that it’s necessary to talk about it in our music to show everyone that we have to do something to change the life here.
To be a musician in Brazil, mainly in the rock or metal scene, it’s very hard because our country is very Catholic, and the rock genre, not even just metal, is completely denied. Rock doesn’t appear on television or on radio — we have our own radio station and YouTube channels because of the internet. The metal scene in Brazil is very strong even though the main media denies everything about rock and metal. On the other side, when we do tours in the U.S. and Europe, the money we get there. it means a lot in Brazil, so this makes it possible to make music and this has helped us a lot.
On the importance of keeping the Nervosa lineup all female
I decided to keep Nervosa a female band because since the beginning when I created the band the idea was to be a female band. The name of the band is female – in Portuguese, Nervosa means “angry girl.” There’s very few all-female bands so that’s why it’s necessary, and in the past five years it’s been easy to find other female musicians around the world. Mainly in Latin America, female singers have grown compared to other regions, but everything is very hard here.
For example, when I was looking for members for the new Nervosa lineup, I was looking for Latin female musicians. But because we are in a poor region, many times they have to work, it’s not possible for them to leave everything behind for music to go on the other side of the world and be many miles away. I had many girls from Latin America but in the final decision there were a lot of things I had to consider.
On writing deeper tracks such as “Until the Very End” and “Under Ruins”, and addressing mental health, anxiety, and depression
This pandemic situation didn’t affect me too much because I was very busy with everything, but so many people have problems with depression, and the pandemic made things worse for them. It felt really necessary to talk about this and just to try to help; I put myself in their place to write this. In the end, everything will be fine and I wanted to give some good energy and to be empathetic.
On what she learned from 2020 and her hopes for 2021
I think Brazil and the United States are in the same hole, but I know you guys changed your president so we are hoping it can be better. We’re always hoping that things change. For me, 2020 was the year of the revolution. Coronavirus brought a huge challenge and it was a huge situation to discover how to deal with it because this can be repeated again with another sickness. I think we will be more ready for the next challenge.
We are very excited and anxious to do everything. We can’t wait to play live shows — me and the girls talk about it every day! We have many plans, many wishes for the next year, and I think 2021 will be beautiful year for metal because will see new albums from many bands. When festivals come back, it will be a huge party. I can’t wait!
It’s also a revolution for Nervosa. We were reborn in the middle of a pandemic. I think it was the year I learned the most in my life, about everything.