After a break in Lachryma Christi, we are now back with a very special interview. The project is called Major Rager and it is a very interesting one, that although is not Black Metal (it is actually very different!), it is a one man project of a Black Metal musician. He is Portuguese, but he is now based in UK, Manchester. This musician used to be the bassist of a Portuguese Black Metal band called Teasanna Satanna, and also the bassist of another Portuguese band, a Death Metal band called In Tha Umbra. Now, we can follow him in a very different style of music. Major Rager is the kind of synthesizer thing which will take you in a journey to a 80's science fiction scenario.
Major Rager released a album very recently called Per Aspera Ad Astra. Below the interview you will be able to read a short review to this album, as well as all the information about where to get the same, and also the artwork cover.
What is the meaning of "Major Rager" for you?
I got the name from that Metallica gig at the Stone in 1982, I believe it was Cliff´s second gig when he was being introduced for his bass solo, I think it was Dave Mustaine who said something like “The Major Rager in the four string motherfucker”. Lines like that stuck with for years and years. Cliff Burton was a major influence for me while playing bass in extreme metal bands. I also loved how he came in to the heavy metal scene at the time with his Bach and Blue Oyster Cult loving background, and he brought new twists to metal music, the song “Orion” is like a bible to me. His uniqueness in style and persona are the foundation of this project. I wanted to jump into the synthwave scene and stir things up a bit too.
How does someone swap from Black Metal musician to synthesizers and electronic music? Do you see yourself as a eclectic or was there a change of taste and tendencies in your life?
Well for instance, I remember Phillip Anselmo talking about The Smiths and he said something like “Heavy music comes in various forms”. To me, back in 1998, the album Adore by the Smashing Pumpkins was a very heavy record, in terms that it carries this huge weight of mournfulness and also deals with heavy subjects like the loss of Billy Corgan´s mother. I am not saying that Major Rager is necessarily heavy in some form, but there are some sad subjects and episodes represented on the debut album. Swapping the distorted guitars for synths was something I had in mind for a long long time. I remember being in studio with one of my old bands In Tha Umbra, and there was this array of keyboards about and I messed about with them when I had the chance.
Do you have any intentions of playing live?
No. I get asked this from time to time actually. Although I do applaud the likes of Perturbator, GosT, Dan Terminus, Dance of the Dead etc, with their sort of DJ sets, that is not really my thing…at all. If I was to play live with Major Rager, it would be with live musicians, a proper band. But every time I try to visualize this all I see is one big logistical nightmare. I have seen a lot of gigs over the years from intimate performances in small rooms to huge orchestras, to Black Sabbath playing to what seemed like the whole city of London in Hyde Park. I think I´m wise enough to know what works live and what doesn´t. A Major Rager show would have to be a carefully planned show.
How has the reception to this project been? Are your followers completely new people, or do your old ones still follow you in this new project?
I think most of my followers are new friends. The people I went to school with and such don´t give a toss about what I do, a lot of them are not even aware of this project. I think they sort of know I still make music, but it could be either Major Rager or being part of One Direction, I don´t think they would still know what I was doing, which is cool…(I would never play in One Direction by the way). When it comes to feedback, it´s hard to say when everything revolves around the online world, I am satisfied with the fact that I get daily plays on my Bandcamp page and so far I haven´t had any negative feedback but when that day comes…haters gonna hate, right?
What are the biggest influences in Major Rager?
Well, given the fact that Major Rager is a one man thing, so far, I guess my answer here would be Pink Floyd. But I´ll tell you this, I really like how David Bowie reinvented himself over and over. Every record is different and I embrace change very easily. I love new twists and when artists get out of their comfort zone and take new challenges. And this is only to mention music influences, if we got into films, literature and travels, we would be here for weeks.
Which musician would you like to work with one day?
I have had a few jams with my mate Frenchies, we tried a couple of moody tunes, very soundtrack like, and it might be something we can work on for the future. Another lad from my day job Rob Brander (from the Marsicans) has been joking about writing the “Ballad of Keighley Rick”. Good times…
When are you planning to release another record?
Do you consider that Major Rager would have worked out differently if you were still in Portugal, or Internet allows things to work the same?
This is as tricky as talking about the butterfly effect. A friend of mine gave me a keyboard back in Glasgow, I never owned a keyboard which had a “proper” piano sound up until then. And I always envied people like, for instance, when you are at party, and there is piano, and someone in that room can play a Queen song or two, I couldn´t play shit. Mind you that playing the piano and playing a synthesizer are two different things. It´s like flying a Boeing 747 and flying an X-Wing. So after that I started practicing by myself for a couple of hours, everyday. I also lived in Sheffield for some time and after watching the documentary Synth Britannia I thought that that city could have been an influence of some sort, it´s hard to say. One thing is certain, if I stayed back in Portugal, Major Rager would not have happened, I would probably still have the same job and still play in the same bands. But all those hours playing Richard Wright´s chops from Pompeii when I was teenager paid off big time…
What else can we expect from Major Rager, what is it that you have in store for the next future?
I think I´ve started what you might call the pre-production phase for the next record. I learned a lot with the previous one in terms of mix and mastering because it was the first time I had to do it all myself. I am more aware of what sounds work better and which don´t but I am on the verge of investing in some hardware synths as well so there is a lot going on right now. One thing is for certain, the next album has a more detailed story behind it like a little narrative, unlike the previous one which is more like little stories.
Is there any advice that you would like to give to new musicians and projects who might follow your example?
There are a lot more valuable lessons in failure than success.
Per Aspera Ad Astra (2015)
So, what to say about this album of Major Rager, Per Aspera Ad Astra? Well, it is very different from everything else you have seen featured in this webzine. And no, Lachryma Christi is not turning into a electronic music magazine, but this project is too important in the development of this musician's career, who is also a Black Metal musican, and is also very important as a example of "not giving a shit" about what is it to be more or less "true" in the Black Metal scene.
Major Rager is more than anything a synthwave and electronic music project. It has loads of sounds to explore, especially if you listen to it with your headphones. It becomes a extraordinary journey to something like a 80's spaceship. Per Aspera Ad Astra is at the same time very symphonic, melodic, nostalgic for those who were already around by the 80's. The beats are just perfect. The keyboards go from strings to pipe organs, bringing loads of dimension and entertainment. There are some more obscure sounds that brings to mind some melodies of Teasanna Satanna, especially in the song Mermaid Moon. The influence is clearly there. However, everything matches perfectly and Lachryma Christi hopes the next album will be as good or even better. The best song for LC is The Sirens of Europa. Quite catchy, even beautiful tune.
Clearly, the musician had fun doing the project, only giving us a big lesson about doing what the fuck we feel like and whatever makes us happy. Honestly, give it a go, it is awesome!
You can read more information about Major Rager here:
... Major Rager's debut album "Per Aspera Ad Astra" is available as a digital download at https://major-rager.bandcamp.com and also streaming on Spotify, Apple Music, Souncloud and Youtube.