Alberto Martins Fernandes talks about the Subalternos, Brazil and Rebellion.
How would you describe The Subalternos music to anyone who has not heard you play yet?
I would say that our band plays punk rock. Simple and straightforward. And we have a lot of influence from punk 77 and street punk. With our influences and living in Brazil, we developed a sound a little different from other bands. A peculiar sound.
Punk bands nearly always carry a message to their audience in their songs, whether this is politics, humour, protest or in some cases insults. Do you think it’s important to carry a message in your lyrics or is it just about a good song no matter what you sing about?
I always think it is very important that you try to pass a message to people. In the case of punk, we have several bands around the world that use humor, politics or even love to communicate with their audience. The Subalternos talks a lot about social issues and political messages in our music, after all we live in a country where corruption is something that must be tackled.
How did the band come together, have you all had experiences in other bands previously and what does each member bring to the Subalternos that brings it all together?
The project already existed with the bass and drummer. It had a different name. The band had another guitarist as well. I heard a demo that they had recorded and, since a vocalist was missing, I decided to offer to sing. We recorded our first album called “Never Stop Fighting” and our guitarist (Head) was asked to leave the band. I invited a friend (Coelho) and this is the band’s new line up since December.
Yes, I played a cover band for The Clash, called “We are The Clash.” In addition, he had previously been the lead singer of a traditional São Paulo band called “365”. César (drummer) and Juliano (bass) played together for years and it was they who founded the Subalternos. And Coelho (guitar) played in a Ska band, called “220 Ska Bar”. I believe that we all have a vein in punk rock, each with its influences and this is enough. I’ve always liked Ska and have another member in the band to boost that sound also very interesting. We have a punk/ska on the first album and we plan to record another one soon.
When you were first considering getting a band together which bands/ songs inspired you at that time, what music stayed in your memory and reminds you of that time?
I believe that our songs have always been our greatest inspiration. The first time I heard the demo, which they had recorded, I already knew the band was cool. It had a very original sound and it’s the kind of music I like. Then came ideas to play some covers of UK Subs, Buzzcocks, Stiff Little Fingers, The Boys, Cock Sparrer…
For those who don’t already know who are the main bands in to check out from Brazil and who are the up and coming ones you think a worth a listen? Is there a good level of young Brazilian Punk bands coming through?
There are many bands in Brazil that are worth stopping to listen to. The oldest and most traditional ones are: Cólera, Inocentes, Plebe Rude, Ratos de Porão, Flicts, Skamoondongos, and Garotos Podres. Today, I’m a guitarist for Garotos Podres. A 1982 band with more than 100,000 fans on Facebook. Of the new generation, I highlight the bands: Fibonattis, Faca Preta, Marginal Attack, Não Há Mais Volta and many others. Of course, this list is based on the bands I listen to. We have many bands in Brazil that are worth listening to.
Describe what the Punk scene is like in Brazil/San Paulo for any UK bands who are considering an appearance, is there a strong community spirit there or is it a struggle to get an audience or venues regularly?
The scene in São Paulo was better and bigger. There are very organised producers who have done good shows and events. We always have great English bands in Brazil. This year we already had Toy Dolls and we will have: Varukers and GBH. Not to mention the other bands that played here. Brazil is a very respected country when it comes to punk rock.
Considering UK bands find it difficult to put together a countrywide tour, how difficult is this to do with Brazil being 35 times larger than the UK? How do you manage such a large expanse on a tight budget?
Budget is a very complicated subject when we talk about a tour. For you to have an idea the reality is five times smaller than the Pound. We had a hard time going to England this year and if we are invited to play in Rebellion 2019, we will have difficulties again. This is not the case for the bands that come from the UK to Brazil, because here the English and American bands are very valued … The tickets are always exhausted when an international band arrives to touch the country and many take years to come to touch on here.
Describe your Rebellion experience for us as a new band playing; what is so special about this festival that makes it the best on the planet year in year out?
It was fantastic! It was the best thing I’ve done in my entire life. I always had the urge to go to Rebellion. See the bands that both love and know this famous festival. Having the experience of playing was surreal. We at Subalternos were very happy to be invited and to play in the Introductory Stage. In spite of singing songs in Portuguese, the public welcomed us very well and it is possible to see in the videos many of them singing and dancing during our songs. We will never forget the day 03 of August of 2018.
When arriving in Blackpool it seems that the air is already different. People on the streets with colorful Mohicans, visual punk, traditional skinheads … it’s really cool! The organisation of the rebellion is sensational! No wonder the festival is so respected. The people who work in production deserve to be highlighted. Darren, Jonny and so many others. And the bands? Where can you join so many important bands in a single festival? Rebellion!
It is a difficult achievement to get on the Rebellion bill for UK Bands, what was it like for the Subalternos from Brazil. Talk us through the process from deciding you wanted to apply, till you left for Blackpool’s Winter Gardens?
It was very difficult. I registered for the band, but I was not sure we would be invited, after all there are 350 bands from all over the world. And many new bands, all excellent! After sending the Subalternos material I was waiting for an answer and it came in the month of November 2017. It was very cool to have been remembered. A great achievement for a Brazilian band of only 2 years. From there, we started to organise with the trip and the anxiety only increased each month.
What are your own personal favourite bands of all time and do you listen to music outside of Punk as well?
I really like The Clash, Cock Sparrer, Stiff Little Fingers, Buzzcocks, Adicts, UK Subs, Cockney Rejects, Angelic Upstarts, Bad Religion, Gimp Fist, Bishops Green, Drongos For Europe and many others. In Brazil, the ones I like the most are: Innocentes e Garotos Podres. Yeah, I like rhythms and bands out of punk. Like I said, I love Ska so I always try to listen to bands that have that sound.
You are invited on stage to help perform a band’s final song after a long tour, which band and song would you like this to be above all others?
What else have The Subalternos got planned for the rest of the year and beyond? Another Rebellion appearance or UK tour at some point maybe?
We have several projects in progress. One of them is to release a music video and a new song at the end of 2018. The clip will have several pictures of our trip to England. So we’re going to the studio to produce new songs and release 2 EPs in 2019. One of them with an English band (it’s a secret now).
And we would love to be able to return to the Rebellion in 2019. But we leave it to fate to decide if we deserve it.