Interview: Marcos De Ros

Guglielmo Malusardi: So Marcos, introduce yourself to the G9 readers.

Marcos De Ros: OK, my name is Marcos, but all my friends call me by my last name, De Ros. I'm a 39-year-old Brazilian guitar player and it's an honor to talk with you!

I started to play at 9, and when I was 11, I bought my first guitar (Brazilian-made, not so bad). Then I start to play with my first band, "Garganthuae".

A little later I started taking violin lessons and at 15, I joined the Symphonic Orchestra of my city, Caxias do Sul. After a few years, I choose to play just one instrument, and guitar won! I don't know where my violin is - I believe it's under my bed, but I'm not sure (laughs)!

Guglielmo Malusardi: In 1991, you teamed up with bass player Fabio Alves and drummer Sandro Stecanela.

Marcos De Ros: With Fabio and Sandro I started an instrumental rock trio with the creative name "De Ros"! (laughs) With this power-trio, we recorded "Ad Dei Gloriam" (1994), a CD with lots of humor and some nice songs and later, "Universe" (1997), where you can hear some very different influences, from Indian music ("Para-Bhatki") and jazz-fusion ("Stressing Out"). Of course, there's a lot of instrumental prog-metal there!

Guglielmo Malusardi: In 1999 you paid your tribute to the classical great classical composers. What was the feeling with "Masterpieces" that drove you in that direction?

Marcos De Ros: "Masterpieces" was recorded due to my my background in classical music. When I first start to study violin, I learned two things that I didn't know as a guitar student:

1. The discipline of methodical study, where you must do the right movements to get the best results. Because of that, I learned a thing that I called "mechanization" of the exercises.

2. Repertoire. A classical musician is not into improvisational techniques. So, what does he play? He plays songs that he studies daily! These songs that are mastered create their repertoire.

Then I start to put these principles into my guitar study. At some point, I discovered that I could play enough songs to record an entire CD and more! So I start to think about arrangements, and voila - "Masterpieces" was born!

Guglielmo Malusardi: Did you feel at times during the recording, any kind of fear in covering these giant pieces of immortal music?

Marcos De Ros: Well, I have some friends that are orchestral conductors (maestros), and I really have some fears about what they will think about my versions. But they are very open-minded people and they liked them! But, please pay attention to my word choice: I said they "liked" them, I didn't say they "loved" them (laughs)!

Guglielmo Malusardi: What was your criteria in choosing authors and masterpieces?

Marcos De Ros: It happened in a very natural way. Before I even dreamed of recording the songs, I just chose the ones that I really like. When I start to think about recording, I had to choose the best sounding ones for an electric guitar, which was very easy, 'cause everything sounds great on a guitar (laughs)!

Guglielmo Malusardi: How did you approach this great challenge musically?

Marcos De Ros: It's hard to explain. Each song has its particularities, and there's the aspects that make me love each song. Sometimes a special melody, or the rhythm or even the harmony. Once I know what is the thing that I love in this particular song, I try emphasizing that and add some of my own musicality to it. For example, I love how "The Flight of the Bumblebee" has this intense and non-stop feeling of flight, so I just did this guitar/piano version. But on "Meditation of Thais", I need something even more dramatic, so the female voice was the real lead part, while the guitar plays the melody. It seems a paradox, but you have to listen to understand that! Each song has its own joy, and requires some particular arrangement and feeling.

Guglielmo Malusardi: You also paid your personal tribute to the great rock classics.

Marcos De Ros: To tell you the truth, this isn't exactly an album. As I love to play live, I always want to do more concerts than it's possible for a band outside the mainstream. To play in places where they cannot pay the expenses for an entire band, I travel with only my guitar and a CD where I have my own backing tracks. And I noticed that the public reacts very well to these concerts! So to do a more entertaining concert, I began to sing some songs. But to sing live, I need to practice a lot, so I started to work with some songs that I've heard my whole life - and record them!

Later, I realized that I had enough tracks to release a CD, but, due to it not being a top quality studio record, I just released it through the Internet. On my page on YouTube you can find almost all the songs! I remember the excitement recording "Space Truckin'" (Deep Purple), 'cause this is a song that I listened to every morning to wake up when I was a kid. "Little Wing" (Jimi Hendrix) was great to,o 'cause I was courageous enough to do a very different version of this classic (with all due respect to Jimi). To tell you the truth, each song is from an important moment in my life.

Guglielmo Malusardi: Talk about Akashic.

Marcos De Ros: Akashic started when we (the De Ros band) found Rafael Gubert (the singer). The keyboard player (Eder Bergozza) was in De Ros since the album "Universe". When we invited Rafael to play with us, we felt he was the right guy for the job! He has a great and beautiful voice, and perfect intonation. In a short time, we had some songs with lyrics and we were amazed at his ability to quickly learn the material. So we decided to change the band's name, as De Ros was connected with instrumental music! With the new name, we started to play concerts, and we recorded our first demos.

Guglielmo Malusardi: You then put together a European tour to promote the release?

Marcos De Ros: No, it didn't happen that way. When we first traveled to Europe, we just had a demo! The goal was go to Europe and sign with a label (the year was 2000, still had labels out there at that time, hehehe). We went there and in two weeks, we signed! But as we intended to record there (in Portugal), we started a tour, as a way to get the band sounding better! Well, if you take the rehearsal time, the tour time and the recording time, we spent eight months in Europe! We did a lot of concerts in Portugal, Spain, France, Belgium, Switzerland and Holland. It was a great time and fun. To tell you the truth, I could write a book full of those tour stories!

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Guglielmo Malusardi: You later condensed all this musical activity, in terms of technique, into an instructional DVD.

Marcos De Ros: Yes, I released my first instructional CD-ROM though "Chops from Hell", and this was a great honor for me! I believe I'm the first Brazilian guitar player to have a CD-ROM released in another country! It's called "Advanced Guitar Techniques", and, after that one, we also released "Intense Picking" and "South American Guitar Masters" (featuring Pablo Soler and I).

Guglielmo Malusardi: And then was time for Akashic's second release,

Marcos De Ros: "A Brand New Day" - it was our motto while composing and recording the CD. We wanted to sound fresh and new. It's a very nice, heavy and mature work. We all are really proud of this CD. On this album there's some adult, rock-oriented songs that we all love. The only problem is the lack of fans of this genre here in Brazil.

Guglielmo Malusardi: The southern half of your continent was demanding one thing... give us some shred! You answered the call, touring extensively with your Argentinian mate, and another great guitarist, Pablo Soler.

Marcos De Ros: I toured with Pablo Soler for four or five years, doing three or four tours per year. The name of the gig was "South American Guitar Masters". Some of those tours were pretty long (two months), but it was always great time! He is a great player, but a even better person, and a good friend of mine, We planned to work together touring again, but we have to schedule it when we are both able to do it.

Guglielmo Malusardi: Then you had more tributes to pay.

Marcos De Ros: Well, "Masterpieces 2" was a little bit more "provocative" than the first one. If, in the first version, I was trying to make the guitar sound more classic, on the second one I tried to make the songs sound heavier. "The Bee" (Schubert) is played exactly as was written, but on "Greensleeves" (anonymous), I changed almost everything, except the beautiful melody (but in 4/4, instead of the original 6/8). The same happened to "Habanera", where I dare to sing in French - but I don't speak the language (laughs)!

There's also two Bach Minuettos - They are so similar to each other that, at times, piano players mix the two, as if was one single song. On my CD, one is a relaxing ballad and the other is a heavy metal piece! I love the contrast!

Guglielmo Malusardi: Then it was movie time.

Marcos De Ros: I love to work on soundtracks! It's a perfect compositional exercise, since sometimes, you just make ambient music, other times you participate in the scene with your music. It's very difficult to go straight to the point, as movie music demands. It's great and challenging work, and it's very instructive to learn that it doesn't matter how amazing your music is if it just doesn't fit the scene - you may have to create something else. At the beginning it was difficult and very frustrating to me, but now I can accept this with no frustration! Love to work on that!

If there's any movie directors reading this, send me an e-mail at, I want to work on your next movie (laughs)!

Guglielmo Malusardi: 2009. Time to be a book author and appear on Brazilian TV.

Marcos De Ros: The "Tecnicas Incendiarias" is a little guitar method, similar to a magazine, that I had written some time ago. It's sold in the magazines stores all over Brazil. This was fun to do and a very nice way to make some new friends! And the same goes for my little sketch on the "Stay Heavy" show. It's called "Descendo a Lenha", but sorry, I don't know how to translate it into English. It's 4 or 5 minutes into to the program, where I talk a little about guitar sounds and techniques and then play a song. Love to do it, but as it's all my production, it's a lot of work.

Guglielmo Malusardi: 2010 was the year for "Pecas De Bravura". Let's start talking about this amazing project you did together with Eder Bergozza.

Marcos De Ros: Well, for some years I studied Brazilian music, such as Choro, Baiao and others. In process of studying, I also started to compose some music. At the same time, I always wrote classical oriented music. Suddenly I came up with the idea of an album, with some very special characteristics: some Brazilian music, to spread our great culture, and some classical music, since I worked on this for years. But it is not just that! I needed something different than usual. Then came the guitar/piano idea! There's a lot of great music written for piano and violin - that proves this combination has worked for years. With this idea in mind, I remembered the concept of the first "Masterpieces", where the guitar takes the violin role. So now I have it - the duality of Brazilian/Classical, Guitar/Piano, Electric/Acoustic, CD and DVD.

Guglielmo Malusardi: It's a two-in-one package, with a CD and a DVD, but they are not the same thing.

Marcos De Ros: That's correct, they are not the same! They are the same songs and they're even in the same sequence, but the CD was recorded in a studio (except 2 or 3 songs) and, sometimes, we added some traditional Brazilian percussion (not drums). This is makes this CD sound different from other guitar players' CDs. It's not a loud compressed work, it has a lot of dynamics!

Guglielmo Malusardi: Tell us about the live recording first.

Marcos De Ros: The live recording is only on the DVD - just guitar and piano. We recorded two days of concerts and chose the best. We rehearsed for months to do our best in these concerts. I believe it works fine!

Guglielmo Malusardi: Which adjustments did you need to make so that you did not overwhelm the piano volume during the concert?

Marcos De Ros: Well, since we already knew we wanted the live sound, the first thing was to use a little closed back combo. The use of a volume pedal was crucial to have the dynamics match with the piano.

I'd like to thank the people from Fundoprocultura here in Caxias do Sul; they were great and helped us a lot! And, of course, to the maestro Eder Bergozza, who's like a brother from another mother to me, and added a lot to this project with an amazing musicality!

Guglielmo Malusardi: Ok then, Marcos, tell us about your project for the 2011?

Marcos De Ros: Both things. I do love going on important tours, recording CDs and making music for advertisements on TV. Thanks to these things, I can do my own projects, so I am very grateful. Moreover, you can play with great musicians and you learn a lot.

Guglielmo Malusardi: Let's end the interview talking about your projects for the near future.

Marcos De Ros: Well, I'm working in a heavier version of "Pecas de Bravura", I'll probably call it "Sonic Resistance Experience". I believe it will be great, and will reach the regular fans of my work! And I have to do it, because I started working on another "too different" project (laughs)! Beside that, I'm studying some proposals to release the transcriptions of "Bravura" and some other stuff. The other plans are top secret, but soon people will know more about them!

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Brazil is very famous in the world for several reasons. We can name the sun, the ocean, the beaches, the Amazon forest, the football (soccer for U.S. readers) players, the gargantuesque Rio de Janeiro Carnival festival and... music! Samba, bossa and less known rhythms, are a kind of "original movie soundtrack" all over the world. But more and more, especially in the past few years, the electric rock guitarists from that country, such as Marcos De Ros, are quickly gaining a positive response for their works.

Guglielmo Malusardi recently spoke with one of the veterans of this Brazilian guitar army, Marcos De Ros, who has a new DVD/CD package out now entitled "Pecas De Bravura".