Making a Name For Themselves
CoC chats with Frances M. Howard of Opprobrium
by: Adrian Bromley
A few things have changed for death metal act Incubus. Most notably their name.

Now called Opprobrium, a change needed due to the alternative rock band Incubus now owning the name (more on that later), the Louisiana-based, Brazilian born squad have returned to the metal scene after a long absence. Their solid and well-received debut for Nuclear Blast, titled _Beyond the Unknown_, is but a metal memory and the band knows this. With a new name, pent up aggression and strong songs, Opprobrium plan on making a name for themselves once again.

The call comes in late one night from singer/guitarist Frances M. Howard after one failed attempt earlier on the night to hook up with him. I'm glad he has called back, because without him explaining the band's return to metal, there is no story.

"We have just been living out our regular lives since we left the scene", Howard offers about himself and his brother, Opprobrium drummer Moyses M. Howard. "We tried to put out a record in 1994. We tried to re-release our first record, called _Serpent Temptation_ [1988, on Brutal Records] with me handling the vocals [the original release featured then singer/bassist Scot W. Latour -- Adrian] but it never came out. My brother and I went to Brazil for vacation a few years back and that is where we met Luiz [Carlos], our guitar player. We also discovered we had lots of fans down there and it inspired us to go back and try to start this again. It gave us [the band is rounded out by bassist Andre Luiz Oliveira -- Adrian] an appreciation of what we had had before and inspired us to work on new material. We just wanted to get back that metal sound and vibe we had lost after so many years of not doing music."

So what happened with the name Incubus? And why does that alternative rock band go by the name now? "It is kind of funny", snickers Howard. "We were in the record store just looking around and we saw a band with the same name and laughed. After we found out all of the legalities for all of this, we knew that changes had to be made. We thought that we had rights to the name, but after four or five years of not releasing material under that name, someone has the rights to take it. Plus, back then we didn't even trademark the name. We just wanted to have fun and just go out and play rock 'n' roll. So now we have chosen the new name for the band, Opprobrium, and have already trademarked the name too. We are playing by the books now."

"The name is great for us, I think", he says. "It has a little bit of mystique. I am really happy with it and I am hoping that with a new name and attitude for all of this, things will start to work out for us once again."

Talking about the new record, it is quite obvious that Howard wanted to have his band's return be a triumphant one. His care for the material and the production is apparent. Everything needed to be just right. "I was very apprehensive about doing all of this over again. The writing, the studio -- all of it. It took a couple of beers to just get me settled in and going about recording and writing again <laughs>, but seriously, we really made a strong effort on this recording. There was a lot of pressure to really make this record representative of what we are about right now. To add even more pressure, Markus Staiger [head of Nuclear Blast] was there in the studio with us. That definitely added more pressure."

"I had a hard time getting the vocals down", admits Howard about problems that arose in the studio. "It was just a struggle to get things going, but the producer who helped us -- Harris Johns, he really made an effort to help me get things back on track. He coached us through the singing and it helped out a lot. I think the vocals sound great."

Having really been out of the metal music scene for more than five years now, and seen it unfold as a fan, how has Howard viewed the music scene over the last few years and where it has come to? "I think a lot of the old bands out there who are still playing and making records just don't have the fire anymore. I don't really want to name any bands, but I think those bands know who they are. It's a shame, really. I mean, I think a lot of older bands just go out there and make music and not really give it their all. It has been a long time since our release and we know we have to give it our all. We can't just go into a recording half-ass. We need to make a statement here. Why should bands that have been around for a long time not show it? If you have the experience, go for it. That is our attitude right now."

Continuing on, he says: "Things have changed so much nowadays with all of the information we are receiving, and so fast. The Internet is an amazing way for bands to let the world know about them. It has changed so much since we started way back in 1986. Man, if we had what we have now back then, we'd be famous." He laughs.

"We just wanted to be able to express ourselves with music and go out and play live", says Howard of the underlying reason for returning to metal music. "We just wanted to be able to get our music out there, obviously under a new name, and just have doors hopefully open up for us. I'd love for us to do a song for a soundtrack for a horror movie. That would be cool, but obviously, we just have to worry about this new record and trying to make a name for ourselves all over again."

(article submitted 25/10/2000)

8/12/2000 D Rocher 6.5 Opprobrium - Discerning Forces
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