It is well known that we on this blog are always delighted with well-played and passionately performed epic doom metal. Therefore, it is obvious that we are very much looking forward to the second album by the Portuguese On the Loose, who totally convinced us last year with their self-titled debut. We talked to band founder Marco Marouco, a real enthusiast, about the new record and all kinds of other topics.
André: Marco, thank you very much for taking the time for us. How are you?
Marco: Hi André, thank you so much for having On The Loose on the Epic Metal Blog. I’m just starting to promote Dark Emotions and it seems that winter is over here in the Algarve, so there’s lots of beer to cool down the heat.
André: Yes, Marco, go ahead and make me jealous – it’s freezing cold here in Germany, haha. But well, back to the topic…How would you actually classify yourselves stylistically? The Metallum says epic doom metal – do you think that fits?
Marco: Well, for me it’s just a label, for the first album the PR suggested that label, slow tempo music, epic vocals, lyrics about depression and despair, you guys shared the song “Midnight“ so much that I thought ok, this might be epic doom metal…. yet it’s just a label because so many nwobhm bands have the same sound and they are considered heavy metal…. I don’t know, it’s up to you guys from the press to label bands to make your job easier hahaha.
André: We are incredibly lazy guys, you know that, haha. Which bands have influenced you the most?
Marco: The bands that influenced me the most are Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, While Heaven Wept, Warning and now 40 Watt Sun – Patrick Walker is a master … but still I won’t forget Black Sabbath and Candlemass.
André: In January 2022 you released your self-titled debut album, which I really enjoy. What was the general feedback like?
Marco: I’m glad you enjoy it, the feedback has been amazing and unexpected. I got great support from you guys and the metal community in general, without you guys I wouldn’t have been able to even come close to selling out the record… I only have about 20 CDs from that edition. For a new band that doesn’t play live, that’s a great achievement.
André: On 26/02 your second studio album Dark Emotions was released. Please tell us something about this record. What distinguishes it stylistically and musically from its predecessor?
Marco: Well, on 26/02 I released the album on the internet due to some publishing issues, but the real release date is 7 April, the physical stuff is the most important thing for me, I can tell you that what you can find on most streaming sites on the internet is not the final mix, it’s a demo. You can only find the final mix in good quality on Bandcamp. Dark Emotions is a more up tempo than the first album, I would say it’s a bit more hard rock with dark ballads. When I had about 16 songs on the demo, me, João Ventura, the drummer, and Paulão, the producer, had to decide which ones we wanted to include in the album – yes, this album has a producer, hahaha While listening to the songs, we chose the stronger ones, regardless of the genre and always with the goal that the rhythm section should sound like the old DIO and the rest whatever the devil wanted. We tried to create a more organic sound, the snare from 72, the rest of the drums from 74, a good quality studio with Beatles era microphones…. and a good engineer to make it real. The bass sounds like a bass on this record, very tight and with many meticulous details.
André: With Pedro Fialho Jesus you have a new singer on board who, like his predecessor, delivers an outstanding performance. Is Pedro someone you’ve known for a long time?
Marco: OK, so the new singer hum, fuck yeah, I’m still amazed that I didn’t know Pedro longer…. In November 2022 Lino was still on tour with Airforce and I had to finish the record, he could not do it, so João Ventura, who plays in bars, knew a lot of people and suggested Pedro to me. Without listening to his voice. Well, I listened to a 92 demo from a previous band that he had, called Please Remember. I couldn’t get an idea of his voice. I gave him the first song “Hearth of Dead Ashes“ and the voice was perfect for the song. I was really happy, even if it sounds more like rock, it sounds great. I want good songs and not instrumental masturbation. So, after that he recorded “Frozen Lassitude“ and “Occlusion of Equilibrium“, the vocal lines all sounded too much the same and I asked him if he liked Warrel Dane from Sanctuary, he said he did but didn’t know if I liked it, so the next songs were more with that vibe. I’ve only known Pedro since November last year and I’m happy that João Ventura suggested him to me as the new singer of On The Loose. Pedro plays in bars all over the Algarve, has a great musical background and in theory is just a master of harmonies and melodies; there is one song with 15 vocal tracks.
André: Is there a song on Dark Emotions that is particularly close to your heart?
Marco: “Hearth of Dead Ashes“ was the first song that impressed me with the new vocals, so I will forever remember that smile on my face listening to that chorus, also this song is special to me because I dedicated it to a friend of mine, as you can see in the video, his daughter committed suicide…. a big blow that should never happen to a father or mother…. Shit, wait, it still almost makes me cry, it’s a very strong feeling, I’m a father of two…. [After a cigarette…]
Another song that is very close to my heart is “A stroll along the shoreline“, I have wanted to do a duet for a long time and I have also been looking forward to hearing Diana Silveira sing in one of my songs for a long time, she has the most beautiful voice, Diana was number 2 in the show The Voice in Portugal, she has sung in a doom band called A Tree of Signs and much more, she can sing soul, rock, metal…. As usual Rick Thor asked for a special lyric, death speaking to a traveller saying it’s time to go…. Diana simply asked for the most sexy, sensual Death and she nailed it. Pedro played a very important role in the realisation of this song.
André: How important are the lyrics to you? And how do they usually come about? Is there always the music first – and then the lyrics? Or can it also be the other way round?
Marco: The lyrics are so important for me, that it’s not my job, hahahaha. I always ask Rick Thor to write the lyrics, he is a master at it. First I do all the music, then with the help of João Ventura and Paulão we do the pre-production, structure the songs, think about where the different vocal lines belong, so we give the singer the song and the lyrics and he knows where to sing but not what, he is 100% free to do what he wants, with a little bit of pressure I always get the first instinct, it annoys the singer, but in the end I don’t overproduce anything… like the guitar solos…. for this album they were all recorded on the first shot, some of them with mistakes, had a year to fix it, but I love the guitarists of the 70’s with mistakes in their solos hahahaha.
André: As with your debut, you have chosen a very simple artwork that visually stands out from many other metal albums. What do you particularly like about this style?
Marco: Well, the style of the artwork… For each album I do a photo session, for Dark Emotions I went to the nearby woods that were consumed by a fire a few months earlier and took the photos, and the desolation was perfect for the Dark Emotions theme. I love photography, all the photos are mine and a good friend, Roberto Raposo, helped me with the final artwork. I already have the new photos and I think they will inspire me to write completely different songs that are more positive.
André: Are you planning to perform live in 2023? Are there already fixed dates that we should note in our calendars?
Marco: No plans to perform live, the drummer and the singer are professional guys in music and don’t have time to lose money…it’s very expensive to play live, if the big bands complain, imagine the small ones. Maybe a one-off festival, but I had to talk to the guys and learn the songs.
André: On our blog, the focus is always on underground bands. What can you tell our readers about the underground metal scene in Portugal? Are there many exciting bands and enough opportunities to perform, to name two points?
Marco: When you start in Portugal you almost have to pay to play, there are quite good venues, you can do a small tour of 4 dates in good venues and 5 more in festivals, now we have a lot of festivals, it’s very hard to see a concert of one or two bands. The public is too small for traditional heavy metal, if you have 100 people it’s a big achievement, and I’m talking about bands like Enforcer, Picture…. not about the Portuguese ones. As for the Portuguese underground, or basically all bands apart from Moonspell, we have the newcomers Dolmen Gate, Rage and Fire in the traditional style, then it seems like symphonic metal has taken over the scene, something I really don’t like, we have Dawnrider playing old school doom metal, Toxikull playing heavy metal, a lot of thrash metal bands and a lot of extreme metal, black metal like Corpus Christii, Grog (Death Metal), just to name a few.
André: Which four albums from 2022 did you like the most?
Marco: The best one for me was the album by Adrian Smith and Ritchie Kotzen. Doomocracy – Unorthodox is a very good album, Riot City – Electric Elite, 40 Watt Sun – Perfect Light and Samarithan – Tales of Doom.
André: You’re cheating a bit, my friend, haha. Last question: What is your opinion on streaming? It’s often a very controversial topic here.
Marco: For me it’s just a way to offer your music for free, which is not good, hoping that people will buy the CD, but nowadays there is no other way for people to listen to your music, you have online radios doing the same, streaming music, no tv metal shows and even if they existed, the big labels would manipulate them… So just to let you know: the music from On the Loose on Spotify and YouTube and all the others whose names I don’t even know is a demo of Dark Emotions, low quality mp3 and not the final mix… that’s how much I love the streaming stuff.
André: Marco, thank you for the interview and I wish you and your bandmates all the best for the current year!
Marco: Thanks again for this opportunity to promote On The Loose. WE ARE ALL DEVILS ON THE LOOSE!