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Interview: Fantasy Opus

by Ivona Bogner
Fantasy Opus

Fantasy Opus is power/progressive metal band, formed in Lisbon, Portugal, in 1999. Impatiently awaiting upcoming album “The Last Dream” Metal Jacket Magazine brings you an interview with Marcos “Thor” Carvalho, Fantasy Opus founder and lead guitarist.

Hi, Marcus! Thank you for your time for Metal Jacket Magazine. The band′s first name was Black Thunder. How and why did you change it to Fantasy Opus?
We started off very influenced by thrash bands like early Megadeth and early Metallica, but soon after we started to be influenced also by other sub genres of metal that we wanted to include in our sound. We had a strong neoclassical influence and we also like the idea of creating a story, or theater play as the base layer for our music, so we were looking for names that merged these two concepts, so we came up with Fantasy Opus.

What was the main idea when you formed the band?
Well, everyone has a different idea on what they want to give and take from being in a band. I am the only remaining original member, and my personal aim about being in a metal band is to live the rock lifestyle, being able to play live all around the world, having fun with friends and fans around the spectrum of music and ultimately have a very successful band with a great following.  Easier said than done.

The first demo “Fantasy Opus” was released in 2001. You got the best marks in fanzines, webzines, at local radio stations, but it seems it was not enough to sign record deal?
Yes, we were very inexperienced at the time, and we also had a very fragile lineup, because as soon as we recorded the demo, our singer at the time left the band, so we couldn′t play live, and that was very detrimental for the progress of the band at that time.

“Beyond Eternity” (2009) explodes in the Portuguese, Brazillian and Japanese underground, selling thousands of copies world wide without any label support. What is your general opinion about record labels? Is it necessary having a record deal in XXI considering the fact you succeeded without any label?
This depends on what one considers success. We think we could have sold a lot more records if we had label support, promotion on heavy metal magazines, and the ability to tour and promote our work. A label is not 100% necessary, but it is a very important help as they have the vehicles to reach a lot more people in the industry that can show your work to the fans.

By now you have released official video for “Mystic Messenger”. Also your fan Igor Santágueda, made video for “The Warror′s Call”. How do you like that video and did you ever meet him? (Will you give him lifetime beck stage pass for your shows? Ha, ha…)
Ha, ha… He does have a lifetime back stage pass because he is not just a great fan, but he is also the son of our bass player Nilson Santagueda, so he can pop in all concerts, no worries. He also loves cinema, and when he heard “The Warrior’s call” saga he was reminded of the “Lord of the rings”, so he decided to make that montage – we didn′t ask him to do it. In the end the result was awesome!

Fantasy Opus is not the first league of metal at the moment. So tell us something more about your gigs. How many people come to hear you in Portugal and abroad?
We never played abroad, and that is something that we are actively working on to change, especially in Spain, UK, Northern Europe and South America. Regarding the gigs in Portugal, if we are headlining, usually between 100 and 300 people. We have played for more people, but as a support band.

“The Last Dream”, your latest album, comes out in June. What can you tell us about it?
We are very excited about it, and very happy with the final result. The album has 2 parts, the first part is comprised of 5 songs that stand on their own. The second part is comprised of 6 tracks that make up “The Last Dream” epic. This epic tells the story of a dying old man, that goes to sleep one last time and these 6 tracks aim to be the soundtrack of his last dream, his thoughts, fears, loved ones that he missed dearly, reflections about his life path, and a few covert references to the hermetic principles. All 11 tracks have the ocean and nautical elements as a metaphoric background.

What was the inspiration behind it?
The ocean is a great metaphor, it is never still, even when it looks still on the surface. It harbors life and death, it is beautiful and deadly, it is mighty but also vulnerable, it is associated with many legends and myths by people around the world. All of this provides a rich base to build upon. Once we had a basic concept written in prose, then we started to add details and break it up in “chapters”, and this is how the 6 track long epic “The last dream” was conceived. We capitalized further on the rich base the ocean provides and then made 5 more songs around the oceanic theme.

The art cover follows the album concept. Who is the artist that signed it?
The artist was Iron Doom Design, and he did a great work. The main elements and ideas for the booklet, were the inclusion of the band symbol, the idea of a summit rising from the sea, and the nautical elements, the latter being consistent with the lyrics, also very nautical related.

What are some of the main ideas and themes you tried to convey?
This is a very good question, every song will have a different theme and several possible interpretations on the behalf of the listener. The first five tracks on the album speak generically on the power of single and unified action to make things happen, the power of determination, objectivity, rational thinking, sacrifice, realism and pragmatism, the rejection of pipe dreams as a way to move forward in life. Of course, all of this is written in a very romanticized, imagery rich way, using the oceanic and nautical elements. The 6 tracks that make up “The Last Dream” epic, are different, they have the same oceanic and nautical elements as a base, but its more in the realm of the fantasy, the surreal, the ethereal almost and mostly self-discovery and reflection. In this case the objective is for the listener to reflect on the path that his/her life is taking, and what choices led the listener to the present.

You had quite a pause between your last release and this one, what was the reason for that and was it difficult to get back into game after so much time?
This is a very common question we are asked, and there is no simple answer for it. All of us had personal issues which we had to address. The lineup of the band suffered some changes and finding suitable replacements took a lot longer than we thought. Also the writing process and the recording process were very time consuming, because we were very meticulous on every single chord, every single note, every single word in the lyrics, the structure of the album, a lot of aspects, because an album is something eternal. Once it is done, it cannot be done again, so we made all the possible efforts to make it asa good as it can be.

Do you have any concert plans following the release of the album?
Yes, we have performed a few times in Portugal presenting the album’s tracks before the album coming out, after the album we will play in the “Milagre metaleiro” fest on August 25th with bands like ElvenKing, Almanac and Tarantula, and we are working on booking a few tours in other parts of the world.

Who would you say are your main influences in music?
We take a lot of different influences (hundreds), that if named, people will have a hard time making a connection between our sound and those bands, but the core influences will be Megadeth, Symphony X, Gamma Ray and Dream Theater. We also like classical music, film scores, prog rock (vintage and modern), post-rock, all sorts of metal from death and black metal to traditional heavy metal, metalcore, plain rock and 80′s pop bands and artists, so, a very broad spectrum.

Tell us something more about Portuguese metal scene. Any bands you would like to reccomand?
The Scene is slowly becoming better, with more people attending concerts and the average band quality going up every year. There are a lot of bands, but of course we will name the ones that we personally know, check out Hourswill, MindFeeder, Deadly Force, Iberia, Desire, Toxikull, Monolith Moon and Nine Circles.

Once again, thank you for your cooperation. Hope to see you in Croatia or Serbia some day. All the best!
Thank You! \m/

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