Interview by Danny Robertson
We caught up with Dani Nolden, singer for Brazilian heavy power metallers Shadowside, to get a glimpse into the band’s history and talk about the new album “Dare to Dream”.
How did it all get started – who initially formed the group?
We pretty much got started as a garage band that wanted to have fun and register permanently some ideas we had. We were good friends that had never played a real gig, had never recorded a CD, we were very inexperienced, very naive and didn’t have much in mind regarding what we would do with the demo in hands. We would always joke to each other about being rockstars someday *laughs*. But we didn’t really know much about the music industry or what we really wanted to achieve. However, after we released that demo EP, we got so much attention from the press and from people that we saw ourselves in the magazines as a very promising band and our 6th show as a real band was supporting Nightwish in Sao Paulo, Brazil, in front of 7000 people that went just crazy. It was a bit too much for some of our members since we were teenagers… kids, if you wanna put it that way. Some thought making music seriously and professionaly was too much of a responsability and decided to quit. Another one got a bit carried away with all that and thought he was already a rockstar *laughs*. So I’m the only one left from that original lineup. I managed to keep myself together because I surrounded myself with friends and family who would help me keep my feet on the ground. We were just starting out – as we still are, so there’s a lot of work ahead before we can say “we did it!”. I found Fabio shortly after we started so I consider him as being with the band since its birth. Since then we’ve toured with Helloween, co-headlined concerts with bands like Kittie, Divine Heresy, Metalium, so it’s been an awesome ride so far.
Who/what were the group’s main influences back then? Are they all still a source for inspiration?
We never had one or more set influences, we had the bands we listened to more but they haven’t changed much since then. We are all into more or less the same thing – everything *laughs*. We all love from 80’s pop like Duran Duran to Slayer. Some of our favorite bands are Deep Purple, Judas Priest… but at the same time we all dig different stuff. Fabio‘s favorite bands are Tears for Fears and Slayer, mine are Disturbed, Rammstein and Skid Row, just to name a few. Raphael is really into Pantera and Scorpions. We all like all of those bands but we don’t have the same favorite bands and definitely not the same influences. I think what influences us is everything we listen to combined with our own personalities. We just try to make sure we do not sound like other artists so we don’t think of anything in specific that we want to sound like.
What was your local scene like back then? Did it take long for you to get noticed?
No, not at all, we didn’t expect anything that happened to us back then. Let’s put it this way, the scene back then in my hometown was boiling water. We had a large number of great musicians and bands so we thought it’d be harder to get noticed but we packed a 500 seat venue on the first show we played in Santos, that’s how fast things happened for us. That kinda set fire on the scene and even more bands started activities. There’s still a lot of talent alive here. The old venues were all shut down though. We still have places to play because we don’t have to play only Rock venues anymore back home, but young bands that haven’t proven they can draw a crowd don’t get to play at a decent place and rarely get attention. We always try to pick at least one band from Santos to support us whenever we are in town.
How would you say that the new album compares to your older material? Has much changed?
We want to give a new direction to our sound, I mean, we want to keep focusing on our style, but, this time, we also want to make it more experimental. Heavy guitars with modern synths and an alternative, powerful bass. Some has definitely changed as it’s only natural to evolve and modify some things with time but the essence is exactly the same. Energy, intensity, anger, passion – it’s all there. The heavy guitars are there as well as the catchy melodies. We just decided we didn’t want to sound like other bands and go 100% for our own identity. Nowadays we are a more mature band, we aren’t afraid to try and rely on our own personalities anymore, that’s why we’ll dare even more on the next record! We found our thing, we’re a raw Metal band, Hard Rock influenced, that plays music to make you bang your head and go crazy. We don’t really want you to come out of one of our concerts thinking “wow they are great musicians”. We just want you to escape your reality for those 2 hours, scream your problems out and just have fun.
How long did it take to write and record the new album, “Dare to Dream”?
Not long at all, we recorded the whole album in exact 23 days. Maybe a month more writing it. There wasn’t much time to really think hard of what we were doing because all our plans changed pretty much on the last minute. We had plans to write and record in like 6 months, no rush but right as we started the songwriting process, “Theatre of Shadows” was released worldwide. We had no plans for that record anymore as it had been out in Brazil for a while already. So we had to prepare for the first U.S. tour at the same time as we were working on the new album. In the end that was the best thing that could have happened to us because it kept us from overthinking arrangements and changing stuff that didn’t have to be changed and also kept the live feel that we wanted. We just trusted our guts and went along with it.
Are there any main themes or concepts which run through the new album?
There’s no real concept, lyrics are simply based on real life situations that happened either to me or to people close to me. ‘”In the Night” is about a secret relationship when one of the parts isn’t interested in keeping the secret anymore. I took the humorous approach and told the story of a woman, probably in PMS, going absolutely nuts and threatening to tell all *laughs*. Lots of people have seen themselves in that situation or know of someone, sometimes it’s an office relationship that’s not allowed, or dating someone much older or much younger or simply dating someone already committed that’s promising you things. “Baby in the Dark” is about a friend of mine who was desperately trying to fit in. He wanted to be loved by everyone so he would mold his personality according to the group he was currently in. He ended up not knowing who he was anymore and for a while I had lost one of my best friends. Nowadays he’s back to his old self but lots of people just become generic and boring. I don’t mean generic regarding looks, anyone can look and act “normal”, you don’t have to be eccentric to be special, you can if you want to, but you don’t have to. But you always should stick to what you are. “Dare to Dream” is that song to push you, to make you believe you can actually achieve stuff if you try. You might not reach every single thing you wanted but you’ll never achieve anything if you don’t try. And the end result will surely be better than what you had before you started out. Whether the dreams are of a job change, a trip or being a Rock musician, anything is possible.
You recently shot a video for the track “Hideaway” – how did that go? Where and when can we expect to see the video?
That was a lot of fun, we are still to record the second part of the video in the next few days, that will “test” me as an actress, you’ll be able to tell me how I did very soon *laughs*. It will be very intense and dramatic. First part was the band playing and we were asked to make it angry and very energetic. We recorded at an old warehouse and the place was huge, we thought the whole area was abandoned but it turned out there was this building right behind the warehouse. Fabio‘s drums were really loud and people got so mad because of the noise that they called the police on us. We are very proud to have annoyed our neighbors *laughs*. The video should see daylight in early February. I can’t wait to see it finished!
What would you say have been your biggest achievements, or favourite moments as a band thus far?
All the 5 U.S. tours, the 2 Spanish tours, all the big concerts we’ve played as well. Being on the road is always fun and whenever we are all together, I always have a great time. We were recently one of the top 5 best selling Metal bands in Brazil, along with Iron Maiden and Heaven and Hell so that was a huge achievement for me. We also were picked as the best band in Brazil in 2009 by Roadie Crew magazine, which is currently the most important one here.
What are your future goals?
To keep making music, keep touring and take it as far as possible. We’re not nearly done yet! *laughs*
Who are your favourite current acts?
I’d say Disturbed and Rammstein… they’re not exactly new bands but are some of the non-80’s bands that I’m really into.
What’s next for the band? Where can we expect to see you next?
Hopefully you’ll see us touring the U.S. and Europe at some point this year, not only in places we’ve played before but also some new ones as well. We’re also going to play Brazil and who knows where else! After that, we’ll go back to the studio to work on new material. We won’t stop in 2010, whether we are on a stage or in the studio, we’ll be extremely active.
Any last messages for people?
I hope you all started 2010 well and that you go for your dreams, believe in them and try to make them real. Hope you like “Dare to Dream”, it’s a very honest and straight to the point album. If you don’t, just listen to it louder and you will automatically start to bang your head *laughs*. I’ll see you all on the road at some point… when I do, show me your horns! Cheers!