Well-respected all-female super hard-working thrash act NERVOSA have fought their corner, touring and staring down audiences for ten years, and as if 2020 wasn’t already a complete pain in the arse, in April the Brazilian three piece lost two members in two hours, leaving just founding guitarist Prika Amaral. Surely that was the end, you all thought? Well, it looks like fans have a win/win on their hands here – Fernanda and Luana soon sorted out a band, but Prika has gone on to form a NERVOSA that are now international and already productive, with three new members drawn to that burning flame and ready for war – Italian bassist Mia Wallace ( formerly of Triumph of Death and Abbath ), Greek drummer Eleni Nota, and Spanish vocalist Diva Satanica, formerly of Bloodhunter. And together they’ve recorded an album that might just blow a lot of the back catalogue away. ‘Fair play’, as we say in Birmingham! New track Guided by Evil is surely something special – stripped back and revolving around a tight compass of chords, it is quite a masterpiece the more you listen to it, capturing the feel of the early 90s – Entombed, Carcass and so on, the rhythmic grooves of the 00s – Slipknot, Vader, bits of old Pantera maybe, and wrapped up in what I would describe as contemporary Satyricon-esque songwriting, with dark, urgent, crushing string tones, exceptionally musical yet brutal drumming, a ferocious palette of hard-won vocal timbres, and very skilled movement of texture in the production. We have the pleasure of talking with new singer Diva to find out what drives her, how hard she worked to get her voice to where it is, what it has been like recording the new album, opinion on how much ( or whether or not ) gender matters in music, and Prika’s new job as skateboarding coach….
Hi Diva, how is it where you are living right now? What’s a typical day like for you, in this crazy time?
DS: Hi! Hope you all are doing well. I live in Spain, in a small village 40 km far from Madrid. Here it’s much better than in town because we live like in the countryside. I didn’t lose the feeling of having a routine because I work as a nurse and I still have to go to work everyday. So I get up, I go to work, I come back home and go for a walk with my dog and then I try to do some housekeeping, some interviews, I work on my dissertation to get my PhD degree… As you can see, everything is quite normal here.
I don’t think anybody expected Nervosa to come back with such a strong and experienced lineup, so quickly…! I guess like many Nervosa fans you were sad at the split, but you were also pleased to be chosen as vocalist. The new track surely proves that you are a good fit. But did it work out well for you earlier in the year…were people supportive?
DS: Thank you so much! In my life there were a lot of people that liked me and others that not at all haha I can live with that. If you don’t like something it’s ok, one of the most important things for me it’s to be respectful. I didn’t want to read any comment in relation to the announcement of this new line up because sometimes people can be very rude and I didn’t know what I could find… but amazingly, the reaction was overwhelming and the good news is that instead of the split of a great band, fans can enjoy two different projects now.
When did you start singing? Did you find it easy to sing like that, or did it take a lot of practice?
DS: It took blood, sweat and tears haha I couldn’t find a teacher that could show me the basic stuff or any musician that could help me with technique so I just decided that I needed to study on my own and practice a lot. I watched tons of tutorials about screaming and growling techniques, I used to attend a lot of metal shows where I remember myself standing in the front row trying to understand what happened with the body gesture, the jaw, the mouth, the breathing… and finally I went back to the melodic vocal lessons. I get frustrated many times because I wanted to have an amazing performance in a short time, and that’s impossible…
Were you influenced by anybody?
DS: Sure! At that time I started to go to some festivals like Hellfest, Vagos, Masters of Rock… and there I could see some of my fave bands playing live. At that time, Angela Gossow from Arch Enemy was one of the girls on the top and Sabina Classen form Holy Moses was like one of the first women in the scene, so I really fell in love with her instantly. Obviously, nowadays there are a lot of references in the extreme metal scene as Tatiana Schmailyuk from Jinjer or even Fernanda Lira has been a big influence for me and surely for any girl in the scene.
Did you have a lot of support from your family when you were starting music? Were your parents into music or perhaps metal? Seeing where you have got to today, your families must surely be very proud…
DS: No one in my family loves metal or rock… haha But they started to attend to my other band’s shows just to show some support. My parents are very traditional and they wanted me to have my career (as a nurse) so they helped me economically with that and so I can have a plan B if I just wouldn’t get success in music someday. My father is a music lover and he was working many years ago as a manager for an agency, so when I was a kid he took me and my mum with him and there I started to love all that universe.
Seems like you have achieved quite a lot with your former bands and even some TV appearances? What are you most proud of? You could have just got a job and led a simple life. Where does this determination come from?
DS: Well, I always had a normal job because here in Spain it’s very hard for bands to have success with their careers. The big record labels have some prejudices with Spanish musicians in relation to commitment with the business itself. I always knew that if I could choose, music would be my very first option but I have to pay my rent, food and I couldn’t make it if I hadn’t my normal job. Music has saved my life, I need it since I get up in the morning until I go to bed. It makes me feel complete. So I can’t imagine my life without it. Hopefully, things will change soon when this pandemic situation comes to an end and Nervosa can go on tour again!
Are all-female metal bands a genre in its own right, or shouldn’t it matter? To my ears, somehow it affects the sound, even though metal is traditionally masculine – and I think you are influenced by masculine bands – but it’s still different, somehow, when women write and play it – like you are always ‘outsiders’ – would you agree?
DS: I never thought about my condition because men don’t do it either. They don’t have to, why should we? Historically, men have been there for centuries and there are a lot of women that are not interested in having a band or playing an instrument, but those that love music, do it with the same passion than men. I think that obviously we have different concerns as human beings and that can have an impact on lyrics for example. If you’re listening to some music and you don’t know if they are boys or girls, you’d probably never know, so that’s a big prejudice on women I think. I’m influenced by a lot of masculine bands, but also for amazing women from this industry. I don’t think that Orianthi or Nita Strauss sound “feminine”…because what does it mean?
I see some criticism online that you are trying to ‘play like men’ – what would you say to comments like that?
DS: I had no idea about it but that’s sad. Once again, what’s the meaning of playing like men? Should we look different? Who says that? I play like myself, so simple like that. And I’m a woman, I don’t feel more or less feminine when I growl because anybody can do it independently of being a man or not.
Do you personally get any trouble in Spain with the whole rebellious metal thing? So many countries are very polarised at the moment, what with populism, etc..
DS: Here in Spain metal is not the most appreciated genre in music, there are some people that still have some prejudices in relation to metalheads. Even my father when he started to come to our shows thought that people would be wasted all the time but he realized that he was wrong. When I was younger and I started to go to pubs, I saw how all the riots where started at places where people liked other genres in music. Metalheads just wanted to have a drink with their friends and enjoying some music as if they were in a real show. We don’t have time for fights or other kind of bullshit. When I moved to Madrid (I was born in a small town in the north-west of Spain called A Coruña), I thought that I could dress much different because no one was going to pay attention to me in a big city where there are a lot of different urban tribes, but they did! I think that my biggest success was when somebody at work thought that I was a normal girl with a good life and when they saw me on Tv growling they just got shocked because they didn’t expected that I could be a real metalhead and still being a “good girl”.
You could have been on tour with Amorphis and Entombed this year….that would have been really great. But I wonder if the Covid situation gives you time to work on the studio side of things a bit more…
DS: Well, we just finished the recordings of this new album last August. So probably there won’t be more recording sessions for a while. There’s a lot of work to do like filming videoclips, working on the European webstore, working on the promotion… that gets all our attention now. Let’s see what we can do in the future to come if things get better…
New track Guided By Evil from the upcoming album Perpetual Chaos has a darker, doomier sound – very 90s sounding – it’s probably the best Nervosa track so far, and I think you will get more fans. How did the writing process differ this time around? I guess you are writing some, or all of the lyrics?
DS: Thank you! That’s really appreciated. We worked very hard to keep find this equilibrium between the essence of the band and some new influences from all the new members and that’s why I think this album is going to be very interesting. All in the band had the chance to work in the new album but obviously Prika had some songs written from the past. We made the arrangements all together in the studio and we even wrote some songs there with our amazing producer Martin Furia. It’s been a very intense process but one of the most amazing in my career!
The drumming is very primal, with good use of the toms. I was always impressed with Luana’s drumming but there is something quite demonic about Eleni Nota!
DS: Eleni is probably one of the most impressive drummers in the world. She has an outstanding technique and she drives passion to any single note. It’s a blast to see her performing, even when we were in the studio or filming the videoclip and she was playing, everybody in the room started to headbang because you can feel such a stronger power coming from her…
Mia and Prika lock those strings together very well. I wonder if Mia’s experience with Tom Warrior helped with the darker sound. Did you know Mia before?
DS: I knew Mia because of her career with Abbath and Triumph of Death. I was following her on social media and I am a big fan of her. Mia is literally a warrior, I really admire her strength. She had to survive in one of the most sexist scenes ever with no other women around to help each other. She’s a very talented artist and I really feel admiration for her.
Sounds like Martin Furia really got the best out of you all. He seems a very easy going guy, but still has high standards…
DS: That’s exactly what I could tell you about Martin! Haha He’s an amazing producer for sure, but he knows how to make people get comfortable to get the best out of them. That’s awesome, he found nuances in my voice that I couldn’t imagine that I had.
I guess you have some plans for next year?
DS: I’m not making many plans just to don’t get frustrated if we finally can’t make them real. But hopefully we can start playing at opened air venues with all the security measures needed. Let’s see..
Quick questions to end:
Do you drive?
DS: Yes, since my 18’s.
I can normally tell if someone can skateboard just by looking at them. I reckon you can at least stay upright on a moving board. Am I right or wrong?
DS: I wish you were right! Haha I bought an skate some years ago because I wanted to learn but for some reason I couldn’t find somebody that could teach me and I’m still waiting to try… I know Prika will teach me
Do you play any other instruments? Can you read music?
DS: I tried to play guitar but I don’t dedicate too much time so I just can learn very simple songs. I can read music thanks to school but I must admit that I’d like to have more time to keep on studying. As far as now, I just went back to my vocal lessons.
Top five metal songs for you at the moment?
DS: That’s hard! Haha “Slaughtered In Soho” by Carcass, “The Triumph of King Freak” by Rob Zombie, “Sleepwalkers” by Draconian, “Mirror Black” by Necrophobic and… “SUPERNØVA” by GHØSTKID (if we are talking about latest releases).
Top five pop songs ever?
DS: That’s even harder…haha “Purple Rain” by Prince, “Bad Romance” by Lady Gaga, “Billie Jean” by Michael Jackson, “Gimme! Gimme! Gimme!” by Abba and… Whitney Houston “I Have Nothing”… SO HARD!
Do you drink – beer, wine, vodka?
DS: I don’t drink beer nor wine, but I like anything else
I hear you are able to eat just about anything? But have you ever been to Britain and tried to eat ‘Marmite‘? So far I have made at least two Germans sick by giving them some for breakfast….
DS: hahahah sounds interesting. I’ve been at London but I never tried that. But be careful, the land where I come from we eat until we die…literally haha
Anything you would have done differently in life? What would you say to yourself when you were starting out? Would the younger you have listened anyway?
DS: Shut up, be patient and never give up. And no, I think it’s good to learn from our mistakes too. I’d rather try something than spend my whole life thinking “and if I…?
Any advice for the youth of today (especially perhaps young women starting out )?
DS: Don’t let anybody let you down and keep on working, no matter what.
Diva, if you could change the world in one sentence, what would you say?
DS: “Great power comes great responsibility”.
Thank you so much, I had lot of fun! 😀
PERPETUAL CHAOS is out 22nd January 2021.