BARBARIAN PROPHECIES. Julio G. Valladares: "I think Barbarian Prophecies has found its own personality and its own style"

They're about to release new album, "XIII", come from Lugo (Spain) and if you were over here for your holidays, you might have caught them on stage last summer. BARBARIAN PROPHECIES are one of the Spanish bands to keep an eye on. That's why I contacted them to know some more details of the album and their opinion about some aspects of the current music scene. JULIO G. VALLADARES, drummer of the band, answered my questions kindly and with good humour.  

- The band was formed in Lugo in 2000, and now you release your second album, "XIII", in 2013, in your 13th anniversary, including 13 songs. I suppose you're not superstitious. Could you tell us about the making and recording process for "XIII", and if someone broke a mirror or crossed paths with a black cat along that time?

The process that finishes now started approximately two years ago. The making of this album has been quite different from our previous work, "Remember The Fallen", since we were robbed twice in short time and we lost practically all of our gear and -logically-our rehearsal room, so we can't say we've been free from back luck (laughs). To this we have to add the fact that by then we could meet more often to rehearse and give shape to the ideas; but nowadays, due to work issues, we can barely meet once or, if lucky, twice a week -that's why most of the songwriting has fallen on Óscar and Arnt, who can meet on weekdays and start the outlines for the songs.

- You've worked again with Carlos Santos and Mika Jussila in the technical part, being both famous and well-reputated producers who have worked with bands such as Children of Bodom, Toundra, Hamlet, Amorphis or Wintersun, among many others, and who were as well part of  "Remember The Fallen". What do you like about working with them?

We like Carlos because he's a real professional, he takes things very seriously, he's very  precise because he wants everything to be perfect. This is vital for us, since he has an absolutely well-trained ear, he notices all the mistakes and tells you where you're wrong, which is the best for a musician because we learn from our mistakes and learn which is the road to not make them again.

As for Mika, what can I tell you, he has mastered more records than he can remember! When we send him our work, we are sure that the result will be perfect. There is nothing you can tell him to make him do it better. Honestly, I don't think we could get a better result with anyone else.

- Being these two persons so present in the music scene and with so many albums of theirs in the market, there may be people who think everything sounds quite similar because all comes with, let's say, their signature. What do you have to say to this?

Honestly, I don't think anyone can say we sound like this or that band a lot, and even less because we work with this or that person.

If a band has personality, it doesn't matter who you work with, the band will keep its character. Logically, Carlos and Mika have their style and their way to do things, but they always work to complement the band, they will always help add a bonus to the work.

I think Barbarian Prophecies has found its own personality and its own style with the passing of time. I have to say something that helps a lot with this is the fact that among ourselves we have very different influences. That, from my point of view, enrichens music and makes the final product more complete for the listener. If you only listen to prog, or blues, or jazz or whatever, you won't have enough tools to create something different from what you listen to.

- In "XIII" you included Absorbed's track "Engulfed", with guest appearance from Óscar Insua 'Jumpin', composer of the song and founding member of the band. Why this band and this song?

Absorbed, because they were pioneers and precursors of a style that still nowadays isn't fahionable, and that is a double achievement. Galicians as we are -Arnt already is, too- (laughs), we wanted to pay tribute beyond words and capture in music some of their fantastic compositions.

"Engulfed", because it was the track that fitted our style best. Even being such different bands, with "Engulfed" we found nexus that said it was ideal for us.

- There are some more collaborations in your album. What is the contribution of these guests to your compositions?

Ócar Insua 'Jumpin' himself does the vocals and solo on "Engulfed", and the first solo on the track "Embrace Of Insanity". An overwhelming guitarist we can always rely on whenever we need him and one of the most honest people you can find in music business.

David Muñoz, has been a friend for years, a prodigy as a composer and guitarist, who plays the second solo on “Embrace Of Insanity”. Apart from his collaboration with music, he has also done an amazing work with the artwork for “XIII”.

Raúl Muradás (Yuyi) has created the intro for the track “The Hidden”. We asked him for something short and concise with piano and strings to creat the tension before the start of the track; we knew he'd do it wonderfully, as he's done.

I would like to thank them from here, in the name of Barbarian Prophecies, for all the work and talent they've added to this album we feel so proud of.

- Do you have any favourite track in the album? If so, which one(s) and why?

We all have some favourite song in the album, in my case “9 Days Of Storm”  is my favourite track. Personally, I think iths the best one I've recorded until now, in my opinion it's got something that the rest of the tracks in the album don't have; it's not the most complicated I've played, nor the fastest, but the composition, the development and the lyrics make it something very special for me. “The Hidden” is another one of my favourites, it's fast, aggressive but at the same time  it's full of groove and with a change halfway of the track that make it something great.

“Anger” and “Punishment Of Oblivion” are some of the best to play live, they go straight to the point from the beginning, they're the kind of songs people like to listen live to go mad (laughs).

- Last summer, just before the release of the album, there has been a change in the band's line-up, since Kike Rodríguez left and in his stead now we find Xavier Lovelle. How did this change happen and how has it been assimilated by both parts (the band and the singer himself)?

It's been something completely natural because we already have an age and we don't fool around. Kike told us he had to leave the band due to family and work issues; it's personal stuff that as a band we have to understand and respect. We still had two very important dates to do -a concert with Napalm Death and Live For Madness Metal Fest- and Kike's behaviour was exemplary, he gave everything in both concerts, as always, and we could have great goodbye-shows, as he deserved. We spent 5 fantastic years together and we meet very often, as it has to be.

Xavi was one of the first people we thought of. We know what we want and we had clear that we wouldn't put and ad unless it was absolutely necessary. The most important thing for us is that people are there, that they commit, and when we talked to Xavi he told us he'd be happy to be with us, that's all. He came to the rehearsal room, sang the songs, did great and now we hope this relationship will last long and we all will have fun together (laughs).

- Precisely, Xavier's first concert was the one you played at Resurrection Fest. This festival is already well-consolidated and a good proof of it is the collection of bands we could see in the line-up this year. I suppose there was a lot of people, even more considering your show was on the same day as Slayer's... What was the atmosphere at the festival like? Did Barbarian Prophecies, with new album and new singer, have a good reception from the audience? Any anecdotes to tell?

The atmosphere was sensational, the sheer fact of being able to see a festival of this size from inside it's already worth it. The organization treated us great, the musicians and colleagues from other bands, the same. The reception was very goo; we shouldn't forget Barbarian Prophecies is an underground band, we played at 15:35 and people came by to see us, many were friend and many others people who hadn't ever seen us, and at the end of the show they congratulated us for the performance -what else can we ask for? I think nothing.

Anecdotes? Many. I'll tell you that we were there in the evening, after our concert, sitting at the backstage area, eating something and Gary Holt showed up. I said to him "dude, you have to take a pic with me", and he answered "sure". We took the pic, I thanked him, he thanked me and right after, when I sat on my chair again... it broke and I ended up with my arse on the ground (laughs).

- Regarding national metal festivals, like this one we've just talked about, do you think they are well organized/advertised enough?  Are they of the same standard as similar festivals abroad?

Everything depends on how you look at it. In my opinion, there are many and good festivals in Spain, but most of them are focused to the same kind of audience and bands.

Resurrection has been growing in an overwhelming way year after year, but it has done so orderly, they've known how to diversify and complement styles, which makes it, to me, the best festival we have.

- With "XIII" you've decided to form an alliance with an agency, Lost Penguin Conspiracy. Are you noticing any difference in matters of promotion and publicity for "XIII", compared to your previous album, "Remember The Fallen"? What do you expect from their work?

Yes, but more than signing with an agency, we've signed with people. I'll explain it. We know the people behind “LPC” doesn't search for what others do; the most important thing for them is the own good of the bands they work with. They're moved by the illusion and passion for what they do, as are we, that's why we know all their work is to look for the benefit of Barbarian Prophecies, and we are very thankful for all they've done and are doing. Evidently, now, with their support, our work is being more spread and therefore it has a bigger impact in the media; but I insist, we can't forget we're an underground band. 

- Let's have a look to the national scene. There are many coming bands doing quality stuff, but they're not supported as they should be, and even, in some cases, they have obstacles put on their way. In your opinion, what's being done wrong about it? Where is the mistake?

There are too many factors to reply in few lines... There are too many bands, there are good ones, there are just ones, and there are bad ones... Sadly the bands that will receive support will be the ones that will show the money, it doesn't matter whether they're good or bad... Young people need to understand once and for all that this is business. Do you want something? Pay it! Do you want a good review on a national edition website? Put publicity on that web... It's all about the money... Believe me, I've been there, I know how it works. 

The most important is that you can wake up in the morning and look in the mirror knowing you've achieved it, be it a lot or a little, it's been because of your effort, not because of what others did.

- Is it easier to reach to a bigger audience singing in English than singing in Spanish?

In English without a doubt. Some months ago I was lucky to be invited to a debate about this same topic... and got to this same conclusion... Think of a country, then think which one's the most popular band in that country and in which language they sing.

English is the universal rock language. Logically, you can choose to sing in the language you think is more suitable for you, it's totally personal decission and as valid as any other.

- What are your next objectives as a band? Where do you see Barbarian Prophecies in a close future?

First thing, presenting this new work, enjoying playing it live as much as we can, we'd love to play in other countries again and get to know other cultures, there aren't any more plans... Step by step, enjoy the little things music gives us.

- Thank you very much for your time and attention. Is there anything else you want to add for your fans and for the followers of the blog?

Thousands of millions of thanks for the interview, Judith, for taking the time to listen to our album and write a review for it, for the blog... for everything you do... CHEERS EVERYONE!!!!!!!

Judith Sáez
(Thanks to Trev for the corrections)