Portuguese punk and rock is not something we’ve discovered too much of in our time scouring the world for the latest new rock and metal talent. However, Zebra Libra offer up a fun and catchy sound that they refuse to allow to be tied to one musical genre, ranging from lively punky tracks to more groovy hard rock.
The quartet formed in the summer of 2018 and recorded debut EP iLLadvised then toured Portugal in 2019 to promote their sound across their homeland. They were all set to head into the studio with a new guitarist on board, only for the ongoing pandemic to delay that until June. But the result was worth the wait.
They sent us their latest track (De)Generation, which is very much on the energetic, punkier end of the Zebra Libra sound. It opens up with a big cry of the chorus vocals “Degeneration baby, Degenerate me.” A darting riff jumps in and drops into engaging vocals, the guitars and drums pick up a notch as it builds into a big catchy singalong chorus.
That drops into a little bassline under high-pitched guitars that continue under more fun vocals that are joined by backing vocals and build up to another chorus that we defy you to not sing along with. A bit of call and answer vocals comes in, then the pace slows down with the chorus vocals over pinao, then bursting into one final lively blast of the chorus. Check it out in the video here:
For a taster of the more groovy side of the band, check out the delicious, funky riff-led Static Shock here:
While we love the delicious opening riff to Clarify, give it a listen here:
We had a chat with the band to find out more about them, their music, and Portuguese rock music generally. Read on below…
GR: Who are Zebra Libra? What’s the backstory, how did you get together?
ZL: “We originally started as a trio, with very different backgrounds. None of us knew each other prior to forming the band. João (Lead Singer) had been playing music since he was a teenager but had only been in local bands with close friends. He wrote all the songs by himself and never really had any serious projects.
“Henrique (Bass) had only started playing the instrument. 6 months after he started playing he read an ad where a tribute band was recruiting a bassist and that’s where he met João. Dave (Drums) also plays since his teenage years as well and has been in countless projects but none of them were too serious to him. Mostly jam bands or just bands that seemed to have no real expectations.
“We came together without knowing each other and with only one goal in mind: to write music we truly like but also to have some freedom in expressing ourselves. Everyone plays an equal part in the band. Then, as a trio, we released our first EP iLLadvised and played more shows in the summer than we expected to in order to get out and spread the word of our music.
“After the summer tour was over, we decided to get back together to write some new and better material. We decided we needed a new guitar player because João wanted to focus more on the vocal side of things and that’s where Alex (Guitar) came in. Henrique & Dave knew him from a local jam session and got along pretty well with him and decided to try him out for the band. It was an instant perfect fit.
“So the four of us got together, jammed out some stuff, wrote some new material and went to Lisbon to record a couple of new songs. The first one being released is (De)Generation but there’s another one coming up as well, with a very different vibe and style.”
GR: You just released (De)Generation. What should people be expecting from the song? What inspired you to write it?
ZL: You should expect an honest opinion on the current state of affairs in modern society. An anthem for the youth and the troubled.
GR: How would you describe your sound to people that haven’t listened to you yet?
ZL: “Energetic, fast paced, catchy, emotional music with strong instrumentals and a powerful voice.”
GR: What influences you to write music? Any key themes or topics that you write about?
ZL: “The very things we see in life are what inspires us. In this particular song, three specific things: superficiality, technological control and a ‘degeneration’ of society.
Those are the topics that inspired us because as we see, for instance, social networks have been on the rise this decade and are gaining an everlasting control on people. There are obviously good things about them but we need to find a balance and keep them in check.
The urge to scream is why we write. Music is our way of trying to fight back. We make music because we love to, but also because we have to.
GR: We’ve not featured many Portuguese bands, and you’re the first Portuguese punk band! What are your thoughts on the current rock/metal/punk scene in Portugal? And how much support is there for new bands from people in Portugal?
ZL: “First of all, thank you for featuring us! There is a relatively big market for metal and indie underground music. Usually a lot of venues, festivals, and a lot of fans. Regarding other genres it is not that easy for upcoming musicians. There are great big artists on the rock and punk scene but there is not a big movement that includes upcoming and less known artists.
“As Portugal is a small country, there are also fewer rock/punk bands and it is harder to get these artists onto bigger platforms and to share their music to a wider audience. Even with these obstacles, there is a lot of support when the audience has a collective cult for their music.”
GR: Which bands/musicians are/have been your strongest musical influences?
ZL: “As a band we have some artists that immediately come to our minds like the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Rage Against The Machine, Green Day, Muse, Blink-182 and others.
But the fun part of making music with us as individual musicians is that we all love different musical genres besides the amazing bands we already praise collectively. From Broadway musicals and Reggae, to Hip-Hop and Death Metal, we try to be as eclectic and open to new sounds. It allows us to reach new musical boundaries and apply characteristics from those genres into the music we make and give it a more modern and fresh approach.”
GR: What have you got coming up through the rest of 2020?
ZL: “We are going to keep making music, record it and hopefully share it to the world. We also hope that the COVID-19 situation is taken care of soon, for the benefit of everyone’s health and security – also hoping it will allow us to gig again, which is probably our favorite part of this whole process. Receiving immediate feedback and energy from the audience is always an amazing experience.”
GR: Anything else you’d like people to know about you/your music?
ZL: “If you’re hearing us for the first time, you’ll see that (De)Generation is a punk-rock song. We love that genre and we definitely are going to write more songs like that. But, if you follow us for the next release, you’ll see that the next song is going to be more groove/hard-rock oriented. Something like Led Zeppelin meets the Red Hot Chili Peppers. That’s who we are and that’s we do – we don’t stick to one sound or one genre.”