Opprobrium (also known as Incubus) are one of the classic bands back in the day and they are back as Relapse has re-issued their classic release “Serpent Temptation” that came out in 1988 and if you don’t have it you’re a fool and here is a nice long interview I did with band members Francis M Howard guitars/vocals and some also answered by Moyses (drums)
What was it like living in Brazil? How long were you there for before you came to Louisiana? What were some of the big differences between the 2 places?
Francis: We left Brazil when we were really young, back in 1981. Since we use to live in Rio, from what I could remember it felt like NY, but with Beaches. There isn't much difference, since Brazilians are a lot like Americans in many ways.
What were you like growing up as a kid? Did you come from a big or small family?
Moyses: Big family. It was great. I remember me and my brothers watching lots of cartoons and TV series. Also going to the beach to body surf and play soccer at the beach or local parks.
What did you want to be as a kid growing up? Were you always into music at a young age or did that come later on?
Francis: Music came to me naturally. I've always wanted to make a living with music when I was young. But since the internet I think that dream will not be a reality, since no one is buying music anymore. The music industry is in trouble. It's extremely rare for a band to make money and still be able to sustain a family in music nowadays. Some bands do make money touring and are still able to sustain a family.
What were some fun things you did as a kid while you were growing up? Did you have many friends and was the city Metairie a big or small town?
Moyses: Play video games, collecting cards, etc. Yes we had many friends from school, Metairie is not a big town like New Orleans, things there is not too far but Metairie grew a lot over the last few years.
When did music start to enter your life? What were some of the early bands that you heard on the radio?
Francis: I think that what made me start thinking about music back then, was when MTV back in the 80s and College radio stations. The music videos back then had a great influence on me back then when it came to music. Early bands I liked was Wall of Vodoo, Flock of Seagulls, lot of punk bands back then, and of course rock bands like DIO, And many other metal bands like Sabbath, etc. If it sounded good I would listen to.
Now do you remember your 1st record that you brought? Do you remember where you got it at and do you still have it after all these years?
Moyses: Yes I remember, but it wasn't metal, I forgot the name of the band, it was a long time ago, but no I don't have it anymore.
Now what were some of the 1st bands that you got into as far as music goes and are you still fans of any of these bands these days or have you moved on from them?
Francis: When it came to guitars, I use to love DIO, since Vivian Campbell was the guitarist for DIO back then. I still jam to those songs till this day. As far as moving on, well, I still listen to all songs that made part of my life growing up, a great song last forever.
How did you end up discovering heavy metal music in general? Was it a particular friend or a family member? Did you like metal music at 1st or did it take a few listens to get into it?
Moyses: The heaviest bands I heard as a kid was Cheap Trick, then Queen, Boston, then in school I heard my friends listening to Judas Priest, Black Sabbath, Ozzy, Rush, etc, then the more I listened to it I liked.
Now we get to move onto the underground he he. How did you discover the underground metal scene? Was this from a friend or several friends? What were some of the 1st bands that you heard? Did you like it right away or did it take a few listens to get into this new style of metal?
Francis: When we started, the underground was none existent, we just did our thing and people liked it, and from there many other bands followed their own path in their own way. We just decided to play Metal, and play live; we never thought about a scene, we only saw ourselves as musicians that had a new style to offer to the people so they could have a great time enjoying the music. Back then this style of music was looked down upon, but I am happy to see how it is accepted nowadays, this style of music came a long way. I am happy to see that people respect this style of music now like any other style.
Now when you started listening to underground metal, was it like a drug that you wanted to hear more and more bands?
Moyses: Yes, after I heard bands like Motorhead, Exciter I started to look for more LP's from more underground metal bands.
Now where you based out of was it easy to get your hands on underground metal stuff? Was there a local store that carried metal or was there many metal tours that came in the area that you could go to?
Francis: There was no record store, we had to look for metal magazines and see where they would sale the music that we liked thru ads in these magazines. Back then Fanzines was a big thing, and we use to get information from word of mouth or fanzines when it came to our style of music, since back then this type of music was none existent in the mainstream metal media.
At what point did you decide to pick up and instrument and at the time was that the idea to go and form and underground metal band? What did your parents think of that idea and over the years did they ever listen to your music or see the band play live?
Moyses: I remember just wanting to play the drums along with the records that I had, I didn't even think to play in a band or anything, then after my brother Francis learned how to play guitar, we used to play cover songs just for fun, then after that we thought to form a band and play just for fun. Our parents did not like at first, but after they came to our first show they were impressed.
Was there a solid underground metal scene back then in your area at the time? Now was it easy to find other musicians into underground metal music and how did you guys find each other and did the band go through many line-up changes before you came to the line-up that recorded the Supernatural Death demo?
Francis: In the beginning no, there was no death / thrash metal scene back then. We had to play with heavy metal bands or punk rock bands if we wanted to play live since there we no other bands that play Death / Thrash, there were a few but back then they played with rock bands or punk bands also. When it came to musicians, it wasn't difficult. But as you know, Scot, Moyses and I started playing heavy metal and then we decided to play a different style of music, we all agreed concerning this change musically back then, it was a natural occurrence.
Were you friends with the other bands that were around back then and were there any music stores that underground stuff from labels like Combat, Megaforce, etc?
Moyses: Yes we kinda knew many bands from back then from our local scene. We had a few cool local shops that used to have LP's from bands from those labels, it was cool.
Now before I continue how long was the band called Opprobrium before you changed your name to Incubus? Where did you come up with the name of Opprobrium? Why did you change the name of the band so quickly? How did you come up with the name of Incubus?
Francis: The name OPPROBRIUM was picked by me; I got the name OPPROBRIUM from the Bible. The name change came about the release of Discerning Forces. The name Incubus (Our old band name) was picked by my brother Reginaldo, and back then we liked that name. But to tell you the truth, I prefer OPPROBRIUM, because it fits better with our lyrics and it has a futuristic sound to it.
Moyses: We used to be called Incubus from 1986 until 1999, then in the year 2000 we changed the name to Opprobrium.
What were some of your influences back then music wise and tell me something that might surprise people about you?
Moyses: So many...Iron Maiden, Van Halen, Rush, Motorhead, Black Sabbath and many more. What might surprise people about me? Not much really, just love metal ha, ha, ha!
Now you are back to the name of Opprobrium because there is some other asshole band with the name of Incubus these days from CA. Now did you also now back then that there was a band from Georgia with the same name that recorded just a demo that also had the name of Incubus and that they were a death metal name? Did either one of you come across each other over the years?
Francis: Back then there was no way to have known. Since information was hard to come by, there was no internet back then LOL. And no, we never came across them, we were young and all we wanted was to play music and have fun.
Now you released your 1st demo in May of 1987. What was the line-up of the band back then and looking back what are your thoughts on this demo these days? Did you know about the whole tape trading and fanzine thing back then? If so did you send the demo out to many fanzines back then and if so what were the reviews like? Around how many copies do you think were sold and do you have your original copy of it these days?
Moyses: The line-up was the original line-up, me on drums, Francis on the guitars and Scot on bass and vocals. I still love that demo, it came out very brutal, eerie and very dark, 'Supernatural Death' demo was fantastic! Yes we sent to many underground fanzines to promote the band and it had great reviews worldwide. We lost count of how many copies we sold and gave away. We used to sell them at the gigs and thru mail order. Yes we still have the original copy kept in our band vaults, it's on as bonus tracks on the 1988 'Serpent Temptation' re-release 2016 out now on Relapse, and it’s awesome.
What studio did you record the demo at and were you nervous at all going into the studio? Back then how did a song come together and what were the early practices for the band like? What would you say were the early influences of the band back then?
Francis: It was an underground studio when we recorded the Supernatural Death demo. But since it was expensive, we had to record it all live, not like it is done today were band goes to the studio and record piece by piece. Back then you had to know your stuff before going to the studio since studio time was expensive. It was brutal recording back then LOL.
Your next release was released in August of 1987 and was a live soundboard tape. Whose idea was it to release this and seeing a picture of it on a Maxell tape brought back memories. Why a live soundboard so quick in your career? Where was it recorded at and don’t you think that at an hour and 22 minutes is a bit long for an underground bands live tape?
Moyses: We've never officially released this tape, I think it leaked somehow, but that show was at the now closed legendary VFW Hall in New Orleans if that's the one that I'm thinking of, we used to record those live soundboard cassettes for personal enjoyment and to review our live performances, that's all, but it was never intended to be released.
Now did you send this tape out for reviews and such or was this something just to set at local shows and stuff? Around how many of these were printed up and do you have your original copy?
Francis: We use to sell in our live shows and give to friends, and from there the word got out and people really liked the songs. As far as copies I do not remember, and yes we do have an original copy in our bands archives.
In April of 1988 you released “Serpent Temptation” on Brutal Records. Was this an actual label or was this your label with a name of Brutal Records? If Brutal was a real label how did you find them or how did they find you and where did you record this now classic release? How did the writing of these songs come together and did you know when the release came out that you had something special in your hands so to speak?
Moyses: I think they got in touch with our old management, probably because of the demo if I'm not mistaken. We recorded the album in Metairie (New Orleans), at Southlake Studio, it no longer exist now, and we mixed it at the legendary Track Record Studio in Hollywood (Los Angeles) and we was very happy with the production. We had some more songs written after the 'Supenatural Death' demo that we decided to include in the album along with some songs from the demo. After me, Francis and Scot heard the final product playback in the studio in Los Angeles; we kinda felt the power of the songs from the album.
How did you come up with the name for the album and also the killer artwork? When the album came out what was reaction to it? I think it is simply amazing did some feel it was too fast ha ha?
Francis: The name "Serpent Temptation" we choose because it would make it easier to make an album cover, this song title. My brother Reginaldo did the album cover. Back then it was all done with spray paint (The album cover).
Who wrote the songs and the lyrics back then? The songs on Serpent Temptation are so fuckin catchy and the songs are so memorable and the blast beats will beat you into oblivion. Is that what you were trying to capture when you were recording this classic album? When someone calls this album a “classic”, what would you say to them?
Moyses: Francis wrote all the riffs, then I assisted him with all the arrangements and song structures, being a drummer I kinda felt the different tempos of each chord and helped combine the riffs to flow musically within each song. Yeah, the blast beats combined really well with Francis riffs, and the way the songs where written it served the songs well. Yes, we captured the intensity and the power in the album that we were looking for, it was great, very similar to what a movie director seeks to capture in a motion picture. We never thought that 'Serpent' would become a classic death metal / thrash metal album, it really stood the test of time.
Now in 1990 you hit the jackpot so to speak as you were picked up by big indie label Nuclear Blast Records and you released “Beyond the Unknown”. Now did you as a band feel any pressure to deliver the goods so to speak as now you were not recording a demo or putting something on some small label as you were on one of the biggest indie labels around at the time?
Francis: When we signed with Nuclear Blast Back then, Nuclear Blast was an unknown label. We signed with them back then because Markus was a fan of the band and he really liked the Serpent Temptation album. We liked how he treated the band, he is a great guy, God bless him. It is amazing how big they've had become, I would never had thought they would grow so much in the music industry. I wish them all the best and prosperity.
Where did you record this release and how did the recording process go and what was the line-up of the band these days? How easy did the songs come together for this release? When you gave it a listen after it was released what were you thoughts on it? What were the reviews like? Looking back was there anything you would try and change on this release?
Moyses: We recorded and mixed the second album 'Beyond The Unknown' at Morrisound Studio in Tampa, the recording process went great, me and Francis rehearsed a lot and we were very prepared when we entered the studio to record. The line-up at that moment were just me and my brother Francis, we did not had time to find a new bass player at the time. We were still living in Louisiana 2 years before we moved to Florida that we me and Francis had all the songs completed, I remember it was a very difficult record to write, we kept fine tuning and changing the songs for a long time until we were really satisfied. After me and Francis gave it a listen after it was released, we were very happy and very proud of the hard work that we invested in it. The reviews were great worldwide. No, we would not try to change nothing on 'B.T.U.'. Those songs were written and performed from the heart on this record.
How did you come up with the cover and title for this release? Now your time with Nuclear Blast was for only one album. How did they treat you while you were on the label and did you get to do any type of touring?
Francis: Beyond The Unknown album title was due to the album cover design, it had to match the album cover that we choose. I can't remember how many albums we signed with them at this moment, but they did do a good job when it came to releasing the Beyond the unknown and our 1991 Tour in Europe to support the Beyond the unknown release.
Did you think you were a good live band and did you get to play many shows over your career during this time? Are any clips or shows on sites like You Tube these days? What are some of the bands that you shared the stage with over the bands? Have you ever played overseas and if you have not do you hope to now that the band is back in action?
Moyses: Opprobrium always deliver when we play live, we always play live with fury and power. Yes we played many, many shows and also European tour. Yes you can find the clips online. We shared the stage with many awesome bands, too many to mention. We've played and tour overseas before, now we hope to land another tour soon so we can play for the old and new fans of the band and play the full 'Serpent Temptation' album live on stage to promote the re-release by Relapse.
Ok what led to the band breaking up? Was it a number of things or just one thing in particular? Did either of you join any other bands while Incubus was dormant at this time in the 90”s? Did you follow the underground scene at the time as the music business was changing big time with the demise, sadly, of fanzines and cds sales and the internet making a big blast and labels even just releasing stuff as digital releases only.
Francis: The band never broke up; we were just at a lost due to the name change of the band at that time. And we had to in many ways to start all over again do to the name change. We never did join another band back then. Concerning the music industry, I really do not see any money to be made in music anymore, unless someone releases an software that blocks all forms of piracy online LOL, until then, I really do not see anyway to make money in music anymore. The bad thing about this is that, what young artist would want to spend days and hours like I did learning guitar, knowing that there is no money to be made in music? I feel sad for the future musicians, since money is a great motivator and with no money, there is no motivation to do a great job. No one should work for free. With no good musicians in the far future because of this, music will only repeat itself and music will be dumb down, and the NEW creative process will be lost because no one will want to be a musician since there is no money to be made.
Moyses: Francis is correct. Again, a band can only make money if they tour all year round and sell their merch, like Francis said a band cannot make a decent living from only LP's, Cd's and digital sales, it's not enough, they will have to go on the road if they want to make money, the music industry nowadays is not like it used to be decades ago.
Now in 1996 Radiation Records, which was part of Nuclear Blast Records, re-issued your ‘Serpent Temptation”release. This is not the same record as the 1988 release on Brutal Records in the US and on Metalworks in the UK. The re-release has many lyrics changed to be less violent and new vocals from Guitarist Francis Howard, whose style is a bit too close to Max Cavalera to be considered unique sounding. Also the guitar tracks were re-recorded and are cleaner, but has less "bite" than the original guitar tracks. Why was this done? Are there any bonus tracks on this release and did you guys do any shows to support this release?
Moyses: We did not had any new material written yet for the third new record for Nuclear Blast back in 1994, so we had this idea to re-release a new version of 'S.T.' while we were still writing the new stuff, which would be the music for 'Discerning Forces' in 2000, Nuclear Blast liked 'S.T.' a lot and they liked the suggestion so they released the album in 1996. No there were not any bonus on that release, we also did the album so the fans would hear it with Francis vocals on 'S.T.' 1996 remake version so they can have those songs with Francis vocals, and no we did not played any shows or went on tour to support it because we felt that this 1996 remake version was more of an experimental side project for the band then a part of the Incubus/Opprobrium discography, it was pretty cool and all, but me and Francis still prefer the original 1988 'Serpent Temptation' with Scot's vocals, the power, the brutality and the atmosphere of the original can't be beat.
Now at what point did the band decide to get back together? Is this when you found about that other shitty band named Incubus in CA? Was it a pretty easy decision to just go back to your original name? Now I read that your original bass player Scot W. Latour rejoined after not being in the band almost 20 years? That is amazing. So what is the current line-up of the band these days?
Francis: Like I’ve said, we never broke up as a band (Moyses and I). With Scot, It would be great to do as many shows live with him and play Serpent Temptation live, but we are still waiting for a tour offer, until then, many fans will not be able to see the band live, since we all know that is not cheap to tour and it takes money, and we also want to make money, like I said, it has to be a good tour offer. Since labels aren't making that much money like they used to and bands are not making money, it will become harder for bands to tour since albums sales are super low.
Now how did Francis Howard and Scot Latour end up signing background vocals on Sepultura album Beneath the Remains? How about Francis Howard did guest session vocals on two Cannibal Corpse songs on the album Eaten Back to Life?
Moyses: On the Sepultura album, it happened in 1989 when we got in touch with Max and we went to visit him in Tampa since he was doing the vocals for 'Beneath The Remains' there at Morrisound Studio, we went to see one of the sessions and he called Francis and Scot to see if they wanted to do the backing vocals and they all went behind the mike and did it right there on the spot. On the Cannibal Corpse album, me and Francis were living in Tampa at that time, I can't remember too well, but I think that their producer Scot Burns called us one evening and told us that the guys from Cannibal Corpse were recording their album and asked us if we could to go to the studio to meet the guys and that they wanted to find out if Francis could do some backing vocals with Chris Barnes, so me and Francis went there, met the band, then Francis and Chris went to record the vocal tracks.
Now in 2000 Nuclear Blast re-issued both of your releases on one cd. Did you have anything to do with this and did this sort of speak the idea of getting back together?
Francis: If I remember correctly, that was Nuclear Blast's idea, I really can't remember. In 2000 we did release Discerning Forces in order for the fans to know our new band name. If I am not mistaken, those re-releases was also to push the new band name, so that our fans might know that we are the same band but under a different name.
What was the 1st practice like and how fun has it been getting back together and learning your old songs again and how hard has it been if it has been hard at all and Moyses how hard has it been doing blast beats after all this time?
Moyses: It was great fun! We knew most of the songs already, so we kinda just had to review the minor details. About the blast beats, I'm always practicing so the blast beats just comes naturally for me, I feel I'm playing better and faster now then when I was in my mid 20's.
Now what happened to Luiz Carlos, who has sadly passed away? Did he play on any releases or many live shows at all?
Francis: Did Luiz passed away? Are you sure? It's been since 2009 since I last spoke with him. If you have any information concerning him, please let me know. Luiz never did play any shows with us, since we did not have any tour support for Discerning Forces at that time.
Does the band have any goals at all? Are you still on Metal Mind Records or are you looking for a new label these days?
Moyses: Yes we still lots of goals; we want to tour to support the 'Serpent Temptation' (1988) re-release from Relapse, release the new album and continue touring. No we no longer with Metal Mind.
Over the years did you ever go on sites like Ebay and see how much some of your stuff was going for I mean like original copies of your release on Brutal Records? If so what was the going rate? Do you feel if the band had stuck around longer you would have had much more success that you did at the time?
Francis: We could have been like major bands are nowadays, but we had many obstacles, that did affect our music career. But since the music industry is in such a bad shape today, I doubt we will ever be able to fix that. All we can do is write music as long as we can and if a great tour offer comes along we would love to tour the world and make money doing it.
Moyses: We just have to write the best material that we can and keep on putting out great records to make out for the lost time. Also as soon as Opprobrium starts touring again things will take off from there, it's just a matter of time for Opprobrium to start touring again, and the fans will have a great time when they see us ripping on the stage.
To your knowledge, do you know if any band has covered an Opprobrium or Incubus song?
Moyses: I think we heard more than 3 bands doing a cover from songs from the 'Serpent Temptation' album and the 'Discerning Forces' album.
Do you think you’re an original band and at what time do you think you found your sound so to speak?
Francis: Yes, I've always wanted to be original when it came to our sound.
Looking back, what are some of the highlights and lowlights of the bands career?
Moyses: I think all the albums that we put out and past shows and tours were some of the highlights. I can't find that many lowlights on the bands career, we are all thankful and very happy with everything that we do as a band.
Does the technology of today in some ways amaze you as now there is now no more writing letters, dubbing tapes, etc? Do you miss those days because I sure do? I just feel the underground is not what it used to be and all bands care about is getting likes on their Facebook page and stuff.
Francis: The digital age has changed a lot of things. I like the old ways that when you bought an album you would see the art work, read the lyrics, etc.., it had a great feeling. Digital music is good, but with a touch of a button it vanishes in our IPhone or Android phones, there is no art work, only a digital album cover. I never did care about Faceboook likes, likes does not make band money, only true album sales do. But like I said, no one is buying music anymore like they used to.
When can we expect to hear some new music from the band and I hope it is in the same style as your previous stuff? Sadly many bands after a couple releases would change their style and not stay the same path as their previous stuff.
Moyses: We will be trying to release the new album before 2017 hopefully. The new material is awesome and yes it very close to the early previous stuff; it will be a monster album! Opprobrium will continue to play our original style of death metal as we ever did.
Is the band still based in Louisiana these days? If not where is the band at these days?
Francis: We've recently moved back to Louisiana from Florida. Been here for two years now.
Please plug any websites or anything else you might have.
Moyses: Yes, please all the fans come and visit our Facebook page for band news and updates at: facebook.com/opprobriumofficial, we are also on Twitter, Instagram and ReverbNation. Don't forget to get the newly released 'Serpent Temptation' (1988) reissue 2016 on Relapse Records out now! Also check out Francis new instrumental solo guitar album from his solo project/band; And It Echoed In Every Part, it sounds great, you can check his music at his following YouTube channel at: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCa9CKmpWHqf4IpCBEumdl1A
Mega metal thanks for doing this interview and last words you would care to say before we wrap this up?
Francis: Thank you for this great interview, and I would also like to invite all our OPPROBRIUM fans throughout the world to check out an instrumental rock album that I’ve recently released entitled "Let Your Light Shine" in digital format only, Band name: And It Echoed In Every Part. It's a different style, many fans will enjoy it. Also I would like to thank you once again and all our fans for the support. Thank you very much.
Moyses: Thank you for the interview! Also thanks to all the Opprobrium fans around the world for the support over the years, we really appreciate it! Take care everyone and keep on metal!
Interview by Chris Forbes