Check out the song: “Unbreakable”

I recently spoke with Hugo Andrade, vocalist for the Portuguese metal band Switchtense, about their new, self-titled release. The band lays down a continuous, blistering attack of guitars and thunderous drums that will have your neck snapping in no time at all. This is a band that’s looking to cement themselves firmly in the metal scene by proving their passion and capabilities for writing serious thrash music. Here’s what Hugo had to say about the band and their newest release.

Many of your songs are so hard and intense that I am sure they translate well into a live setting taking on a whole new life in front of a live audience. How does it make you feel when the emotion and power that you envisioned in the recording studio, come to life while playing in front of a crowd?
Hugo: The stage is our natural habitat. When we write our songs, we always think about how they will be working in a live concert…this music that we play is the music we like to listen to. We want energy and power at our concerts! Moshpits, stage-dives, the crowd screaming the choruses with us…we live for this and we love to play live!

Different groups have unique ways of writing their songs. How do you guys go about writing your music? Is it a collective effort or is it more the efforts of one particular member of the band?
Hugo: We work as a team in everything we do… even when we’re composing material we always work together! It’s normal that one of us come with an idea to the studio, usually the guitars have some cool riff and we use it as a starting point for a new song. Then all the parts come together and it’s easy to fulfill the songs with the ideas of everybody!

Every band has its musical influences. What are some of the other bands and artists that have greatly influenced you guys and your music?
Hugo: Well, I must say that we have lots of idols in music… we love thrash metal bands like Slayer, Testament, Exodus, Dew-scented and Hatesphere! We love death metal bands like Cannibal Corpse and Carcass… Dream Theater or Heaven And Hell. Hardcore bands like Terror, Madball, Hatebreed or Suicidal Tendencies. All of these bands and many more have had some influence or inspiration in our formation while musicians.

If you could jam with any famous musician, dead or alive, from any century, who would it be and why?
Hugo: Dimebag for sure… there’s no doubt about it! I guess he could play some crazy guitar leads on one of our songs. I consider him one of the most creative guitar players of all the time!

The name of the band Switchtense is interesting to say the least and sounds as if there is a story behind it. Where did the name come from and what is the story?
Hugo: From the actual line-up it’s only me and Karia that are left since the beginning of Switchtense in 2002. On that time, we made a list of possible names, and I can say that all of them were ugly… so that I can’t even remember. Switchtense was a name that we liked, most of it because of the sonority… it’s a direct, simple and an energetic name! This fits with the attitude and the music that we would like to do. Last step: search on internet if there was any band with this name, and we didn’t found anything, so, one more reason to use it!

Now that your brand new self-titled CD is complete, how do you feel about it? Are you satisfied with the outcome?
Hugo: We can say that our mission is accomplished. We gave so much from us to write and record this album, going into the smallest details that we could reach and we can say that we are 100% satisfied with the final result. We recorded the album in our own studio, UltraSound Studios Moita. Pardal, one of the guitar players was responsible for the recordings off the album, acting with majesty on our studio work. Then Daniel Cardoso, our producer since the 1st album, signed here one of his best works as a producer, mixing and mastering too! We have the perfect team to work, so we will do things on this way! Two more names are very important for the process: Joao Diogo who signed our artwork once again, and Rastilho Records, our label, the best independent label working in Portugal gave us the chance to do the most professional work that we could achieve. So, we are thankful and grateful for all of this!

Are there any tracks on the disc that are personal favorites or that have good stories behind them?
Hugo: That’s a hard question to answer! We like all the songs off this record… that’s why it has 12 songs. On the first idea, we wanted the album to have only 10 songs, but we had 2 more on our set to record. So we recorded all the songs and later we were able to choose which ones were not so good to appear on the album… In the end it was impossible to choose and we included all the recorded songs. I can recommend “In Front Of Your Eyes” which is a song that talks about all the bad things that are happening to the world and to people and nobody wants to see that they are for real; “Unbreakable” is a song that works like a statement of what this band is; “This Is Only The Beginning” reminding everyone that we are not part of a trend or “I Will Stand Stronger” bringing the idea that we are here to stay no matter how hard we have to fight for this!

The artwork by is quite amazing. How is it tied to the album’s title?
Hugo: We wanted to have that idea of Switchtense written in flesh, like an eternal mark that stays forever. Then João Diogo came up with this creature trying to make a connection with the last album… we love horror movies and all this weird and bloody ambient, so we were delighted with the artwork. It a simple idea to show that we really have our band marked on our flesh, bones and soul.

When you are on the road for a while I am sure you see and experience many different things you might not even have known existed. Are there any stories that stand out in your mind as being exceptionally strange or odd?
Hugo: The road is a place where everything is possible… we have experienced all kinds of things during the time we are playing live a lot. On the first concert of this new album promoting tour, at the end of the night (almost morning as usual) we helped a friend of us with some kind of trouble with his car which was not turning on. So, he took out from his car a rope with a 2 hooks on each side. One side he hooked in our van, and the other one on his own car. We pulled his car, and what happened? Can you imagine? The bumper from his car came out immediately! This was funnier because this entire situation happened in front of a Police Station in Porto, with four Policemen watching this scene.

When you are out on the road anything can happen and often does. Can you think of any disastrous events that happened while out on tour? How did you solve the problem?
Hugo: We are lucky guys, until now we had not experienced any bad situation that we can say that was disastrous for us! Even when we got into trouble, till this day we had been lucky cause there’s always someone available to give us a hand and helps us out with something. As an example, we played in Germany in 2009, and the promoter forgot to book us the hotel. And on that day, there was a popular party in town, so all the hostels were full. So, we were getting ready to pass one night sleeping on the van, but our friends from Dew-Scented and Post Mortem from Germany who were playing with us on that night, solved the situation and we slept in their rooms… the lady on the hostel I guess that until today doesn’t know this.

What kind of touring plans do you have in support of the record?
Hugo: We have been playing in Portugal since the date we released the album. Lots of shows in clubs and in main festivals in Portugal. In May we did 4 presentation concerts from North to South of Portugal, inviting bands that are friends of us like Seven Stitches, Gates of Hell, Revolution Within, Gordo, Seven Thousand, The Spiteful etc. Then we played in Portuguese Metal Fests and with the international bands Vader, Onslaught, Krisiun. Last June we played in an Arena in Lisboa as opening act for Avenged Sevenfold. That was a hell of a show in front of 4 thousand people! Now we are confirmed to support Hatebreed in their concert in Portugal, 31st August. September we will be touring in some European countries, but later we announce everything.

Any closing words?
Hugo: Thanks for the opportunity to talk about Switchtense and about our work and wills! I recommend all of the metal heads check out some Portuguese bands.