EC's Interview with Thunderblast vocalist Felipe Machado Franco

Columbia's Thunderblast have finally released their much anticipated sophomore effort "Invaders From Another World". It has been seven years since the band's debut "Warzone", a record that was braced by hard hitting thrash and melodic power tendencies. The group's new album is a phenomenal piece of power thrash, incorporating elements from Germans like Rage to the US stomping grounds of Iced Earth and Megadeth. "Invaders..." comes by way of Pure Steel Records and was produced by the band.

Maximum Metal's EC sits down with singer Felipe Machado Franco to talk about the band's hiatus, the new album and his design studio.

EC: Felipe it has been seven years since the debut was released. Why the lengthy delay?

Felipe: I guess it was a series of things happening in the last years. First it took us some time to find a drummer that could play and record the type of songs German (bassist) and I wanted to have on a new CD. Jaime is actually no longer part of the band but he was the first drummer that actually gave Thunderblast a new direction in terms of how we sound today. The other issue is not being able to dedicate our entire lives and time to the band. Maintaining a metal band in Bogota (Columbia) becomes a weekend thing, even knowing we would love to make a living out of Thunderblast some day. In the end the record company took ten months to release the CD after we signed a deal for it, that's like another year of wait.

EC: How did this new line-up come about?

Felipe: Around 2008 Jaime was playing with a band called Mekanix and I met him because I designed their CD and after some months I invited him to be part of Thunderblast as Mekanix was no longer active. Jaime is friend of Victor Mosquera and he suggested Victor to be the second guitarist of the band. German Rojas became the new bass player after a friend of mine knew that we were looking for a new bass player last year. So Jaime left the band a few months ago to concentrate on his commercial music career and Christian Gaitan entered the band because ha also plays drums in my other band Vorpal Nomad (www.myspace.com/vorpalnomad).

"I personally think that evolution on a creative level is inevitable and positive as long as it doesn't crush the roots of a band."

EC: This is the band's first album for Pure Steel. Is this a long term deal and how did the label contract come about?

Felipe: Most record companies sign bands for a one record deal now and if all goes ok the band keeps on recoding new material. A new contract could be made for each of the following albums. Back in 2008 we contacted Pure Steel and sent them our five song maxi-CD "When zombies Rise". They were interested in the band and suggested that we should record more songs for an entire 10 or 12 song CD. So we re-recorded the maxi-CD songs plus six new songs and that's how the new record came together.

EC: At one point this record was called "When Zombies Rise", correct? Why the title of "Invaders From Another World"?

Felipe: Initially we had the idea of having a double CD out, one concentrating on science fiction stuff and the other on horror stories. In the end the new CD has the titles that we liked most out of the two narrative directions so "Invaders From Another World" felt like a more universal name for the two types of narrative lines on the CD.

EC: The whole album was produced by the band. Tell me a little bit about that process. Where was it recorded, the length of time and are you happy with the end result and budget?

Felipe: We recoded the new CD at ART studio over here in Bogota. The studio is owned by our close friend and producer Juan Felipe Gutierrez. We've worked with him for all the stuff we've done in the band, he mixed and mastered our previous CD. So thanks to him and the special rates and care he has for the band we are able to keep recording music. For me personally it felt like a long time to record. We started recoding this CD by the end of 2008 so I felt it important to move ahead and start thinking about new material even if for the rest of the world the new CD just came out.

EC: Obviously this album is loaded with sci-fi and horror themes. From titles like "Horror At Outpost Ten" to "Screams At Hunted Hill" what exactly influenced some of these songs? Comics, movies, pulp fiction, etc.?

Felipe: Yep, all of that, I do love fiction and horror stories so that's the main material I usually use to write my songs. German loves video games so we do have that in common.

EC: Some times I think guys like Jon Schaffer and Peavy should be locked in a room with this album for an hour to really get back to the roots of aggressive and racing power metal. From a music perspective what bands have the most impact on the Thunderblast sound?

Felipe: Wow thanks man! I personally think that evolution on a creative level is inevitable and positive as long as it doesn't crush the roots of a band. I recently listened to Iced Earth's new CD "Dystopia" and for me it is the best of 2011, much better than the previous two CDs. I'll have it on the same rank as "Something Wicked". And of course we do listen to and admire bands like Iced Earth, Rage, Gamma Ray, Annihilator, Blind Guardian, Judas Priest and Iron Maiden.

EC: Felipe I can't let you escape without talking about Final Frontier. Your artwork can be found on just about every power and progressive album that is out right now. You are the brains behind covers for Blind Guardian, Iced Earth, and most recently Iron Savior. How did this part of your career take off?

Felipe: I made a deal with the devil. I was standing at a cross road and screamed "I want to live out of metal"! The dark winged, long haired fallen angel appeared form the fog, he was wearing a Dio t-shirt and he said to me, "Do you offer your spirit, time and art to the powers of metal"? He offered in return cool inspiring music to hear for the rest of my life so I said--yes! Some days I tell myself that's what happened. I studied visual arts here in Bogota and graduated in 2003. I started to do artwork and posters for local rock and metal bands and after that I worked for Lucas Films ("Star Wars") creating commercial stuff for movies like "Revenge of the Sith" and "Kingdom of the Crystal Skull" after I met an art director at Wonder Con in SF. After that I worked for some Spanish bands and one day I asked Axel Rudi Pell if I could work for him. He said sure show me a cover art idea and after that I ended up working for AFM records, SPV, Nuclear Blast and in the last four or five years I've evolved my art style to what power metal bands like. It has been a lot of "Hey can I create the art for your next CD"? emails. I do love the music from the bands that I work for so that has helped me to love the work I do for them.

EC: Do you normally come up with these designs completely on your own or does the band have a basic idea?

Felipe: It depends, sometimes the bands know exactly what they want and if I'm ok with their concept I work based on their directions. The coolest scenario is when the band gives me info about the CD and music and then I can surprise them with my ideas.

EC: How do the bands and artists out there contact you for design work?

Felipe: They reach me after they visit my web page: http://finalfrontier.thunderblast.net. Others know or are friends of other bands that I've worked for.

EC: Okay Felipe, thank you for your time and best of luck on this new album. It is what I describe as the "Monster Energy" of metal this year and everyone out there should have a taste.

Felipe: Thanks for all the support you give me and Thunderblast.

Final Frontier: The Art Of Felipe Machado Franco (finalfrontier.thunderblast.net)

Thunderblast (www.thunderblast.net)

Vorpal Nomad (www.myspace.com/vorpalnomad)

Felipe FrancoEric Compton1/13/2012
Felipe FrancoEric Compton6/5/2005

Invaders From Another World
Eric Compton1/12/2012
Eric Compton5/26/2005

<< back >>