Oblique Rain | Interview with Guilherme Lapa

[Oblique Rain]

To some of Scratch the Surface’s readership, Oblique Rain’s name may be immediately recognizable as one of the acts we personally pointed out as one of the brightest hopes for 2010. Although things haven’t quite lifted off quite like we predicted, their second full-length work “October Dawn” remains to this day as one of the best exercises in urban melancholia we’ve heard lately.
Below, bass player Guilherme Lapa shares his views on the album’s conception, the reactions it garnered and their third album, which is shaping up as you read this.

Now that you have a certain emotional distance from your second work given it was released a few months ago, how does Oblique Rain see “October Dawn” in terms of sound and song-writing? Would you change some things if you had the chance to rerecord it today?

“Well, after all this time obviously we already have a more distant vision from the product. We still think it’s a good album, with a bulk of good riffs so to say, but perhaps it should have been more mature. And that, for us, is revealed in some songs.
That also happens because we demand a lot from ourselves and from what we release. In terms of sound, I think the whole aesthetic that Daniel chose for the album adjusts in perfectly, given that although it’s a record that dwells in melancholy, the riffs are quite in-your-face. On the other hand, there’s a part of Oblique Rain that’s more subtle, which I think made ‘Isohyet’ so especial and was relegated to second place in ‘October Dawn’.
Overall, we think that it’s an excellent album, with two special participations with extraordinary moments that made the record even stronger. We hope to finally obtain something that makes all the five of us completely satisfied on the next work, which is something extremely difficult.”

The record was extremely well received in Portugal and foreign countries. Were you expecting such great reactions from the worldwide press?

“Sincerely we had some expectations, mostly because the reactions people had to ‘Isohyet’, which also made our responsibility even bigger.
Our idea also was to avoid the sound from stagnating and in this sense evolve in some way, which ended up happening… If it was something people were expecting? I do not know… but it was the most natural way.
We don’t have the habit of seating around, waiting for the reviews to fall in, but clearly we feel very overwhelmed with the reception the album had, and continues to have.
Perhaps the greatest victory of ‘October Dawn’ was the fact it reached a few more niches outside Portugal, because we have the perfect conscience that even though Portugal has quality works, there won’t be enough public for all.”

I don’t know if you had the chance to read some the opinions from critics regarding the album, but there’s a tendency to compare your music with the sound of Katatonia. Do you agree with this reference?

“In the first place, I think that all the reviews that were made for ‘October Dawn’, mentioned those influences only as a way to give readers and possible listeners some guidance on what type of music they’ll find when they listen to Oblique Rain.
We don’t have the notion that those references were made in some way to diminish the value of our work. By the way, if that happened it was only a very few times, and they’re opinions as any others, which we give the importance they deserve.
All in all, this type of comparison doesn’t make any confusion to us neither we see a problem in that. The nature of the melodies we use and types of feelings sometimes cross with each other, therefore it’s normal that there’re some similarities. The way Jonas Renske sings is very distinctive, which means that anyone approaching a similar tone could also come close to being accused of plagiarism. But that’s something that everyone in this business understands perfectly and has to be prepared for. Even though, the proximity with Katatonia makes sense, even for us, to be mentioned, it should rest there. The ambition that we have for Oblique Rain in terms of sound is completely different and even bigger.”

Besides Katatonia, there’s another reference often mentioned which is Opeth, perhaps due to your forays into progressive music. Do you agree?

“It has been usual! It’s a band we all have as a reference and already built their individual traces. So it’s natural that there are elements that remind them. But this happens with all the bands we know. And if those influences aren’t from our time, it is very easy to look at alternative sounds with all the musical knowledge that everyone has access nowadays. By the way, the most recent album of Opeth is loaded with these older references, as Mikael himself said.”

“October Dawn” seems to be a record shrouded with emotional feelings heavily melancholic and somber. Is it a reflex of your thoughts at the time? Was it difficult to transpose those feelings into your music?

“Only the other day we talked with each other about that and in fact it was not an easy period for none of us due to various reasons, work, health… Perhaps that’s why the album turned out so hard and so dark. But these are also characteristics for which we have some affection and therefore Oblique Rain will always walk with a foot in each one of them.”

What have you been up to lately? There isn’t a lot of activity from the band regarding live performances.

“Unfortunately, for professional reasons it has been extremely difficult to conciliate everything as we’d like. Anyway, right now we’re at the stage of writing our third work where we aim to give a breath of fresh air to the band’s sound and above all we want to look at the final result and think that we didn’t leave any small detail to chance. But it has been a process without rushes, besides we cannot work faster than this, and without pressures. We are very satisfied with the work made so far and fortunately, we’re full of ideas. Let’s see what comes out.”

More recently, a new member entered the core of Oblique Rain, namely drummer Marcelo Aires who is now replacing Daniel Cardoso. What did Oblique Rain gained with this new entrance?

“Marcelo breathes music and is an outstanding drummer. With time he’ll become an amazing musician and we’re here to help in whatever way we can. Meanwhile, he’s giving a hand and a foot, helping to create new aesthetics in contrast to what we were used to. He’s youngster full of ideas and for the first time we have the chance to work with a full-time drummer, which allow us to reach new standards in terms of song writing. So far we gained a lot with his presence, considering we lost Daniel, who is an excellent drummer and a great guy, but could only be with us partially, but we gained Marcelo who is fantastic, as friend and as musician, and has more time for us.”

More info at: www.myspace.com/obliquerain

1 comment:

  1. Finally checked this band out after reading your interview… and wow.
    It’s now going on my short list of must-buy albums.