Primitive Reason are an alternative cross-over rock band based in Lisbon, Portugal, with Guillermo de Llera (voice, percussion, didgeridoo), Abel Beja (guitar), Luís Pereira (bass), Tino Dias (drums), and Rui Travasso (Saxophone). Known for their musical experimentalism and fusion, they are one of the main alternative acts in the Portuguese musical scene, with a strong fan base in the country, as well as, in the U.S. (where they lived from 1998 to 2000), the U.K., and Spain. Their 6th full-length album, 'Power To The People', was released on 1 April 2013.
Long time friends Guillermo de Llera (bass and voice), Jorge Felizardo (drums) and Brian Jackson (main voice) originally met in the coastal village of Cascais (a few miles from Lisbon, Portugal). In 1993, they decided to pursue their dream of becoming professional musicians and founded Primitive Reason. Soon after, they called in good friends from the Cascais night scene, Mark Cain (sax) and Mikas Ventura (guitar).
The diverse backgrounds (Portugal, Spain, U.K., U.S., Switzerland), musical tastes and lifestyles of each member were, from the first moment, a trademark in their first songs, and their anarchic and intense concerts soon became famous in the local scene.
Primitive Reason emerged on the Portuguese musical scene in 1996, when they released "Alternative Prison" (União Lisboa, re-issued in 2008 by Kaminari Records). Their first single, "Seven Fingered Friend" (reggae/ska mood, in an ode to marijuana), was an instant hit and, along with "Hipócrita" (afro and ska fusion), showcased their unique and unexpected mix of musical styles from rap, punk, hardcore, reggae, ska, tribal and African rhythms to jazz and funky. Songs like "So you say" and "Devil in June" are classic examples of their anarchic, no-rules sound. With "Alternative Prison", Primitive Reason won the major musical awards in Portugal (Blitz Awards), for best new act and best single.
This success took them to countless tours in Portugal and to the stages of the most important summer festivals in Portugal (Paredes de Coura, Super Bock Super Rock, Vilar de Mouros).
Amidst the success, the band works, in 1998, on a second studio venture, "Tips & Shortcuts" (Farol Música), that revealed a tighter production. The impromptu and aggressiveness of "Alternative Prison" (brilliantly captured by Joe Fossard) gave way to a more technical, experienced and clean production by Marsten Bailey. The album has brilliant moments, such as Guillermo's breathtaking rapping in "Man and the Mask" or the Madness-inspired ska piece "Object"(the chosen single). In this second proposal, the lyrics (composed by both Guillermo and Brian) are less politically explicit and more storytelling (from Indian paths to LSD trips).
Not long after releasing "Tips & Shortcuts", frustrated with the label's lack of interest in promoting the band internationally, Primitive Reason decide to take a bold step and move to New York, where they sign a contract with independent label Jah Notion.
This move turned out to be a crossroad situation for the band. When they started working on new material for their U.S. debut, Guillermo and Jorge Felizardo found themselves alone after the other members of the band decided, one by one, to leave for different reasons (musical differences, personal problems or desire to change lifestyle). Nevertheless, they decided to keep going: Guillermo took on the lead vocals and the band completed their third record, "Some of Us" (2000), recorded with the help of friends from the NY musical scene, including members from the Scofflaws, Toasters and the New York Ska Jazz Ensemble. Musically, "Some of Us" extends the paths created in the previous records, although perhaps closer to a more extreme, hardcore style. In the record, a hidden track exist revealing surprise guests: Californian lyricist-vocalist Ithaka Darin Pappas and New York singer-songwriter, Jess King (singer-songwriter).
With the turn of the millennium, the band eventually recruited two NY locals and long time band fans, James (bass) and Abel Beja (guitar), and started touring in the NY club circuit, playing in landmarks such as CBGB’s, Mercury Lounge, Knitting Factory and Wetlands. To promote their first U.S. release, in the summer of 2000 the band performed several tours around the country, playing with acts such as Fishbone, The Urge, The Misfits, Murphy's Law and The Pilfers. In 2001, they eventually returned to Portugal to promote the Portuguese release of the record. The following year, Primitive Reason decided to relocate to Lisbon, and toured intensively around the country, sharing the stage with bands like Soulfly, Rammstein, Manu Chao, Suicidal Tendencies, UB40, Slipknot and Nickelback, among others.
After a whole year on the move, the band decided to pause the touring and explore their individual interests in other settings. Each member traveled to different parts of the globe: Asia, North America, South America and Europe. These experiences would have a musical input in their subsequent releases.
In 2003, a 'refreshened' Primitive Reason finished recording what would become their first release on their independent label, Kaminari Records. "The Firescroll", the band's fourth record, made good reviews and feedback, both in the media and among the public. Songs like "Kindian" and "Shadow Man" soon became new classics, and others previously released in a limited edition EP ("Primitive 4.0") were reinterpreted ("White Tree" and "Breath", among others). Musically, "The Firescroll" took Primitive Reason to unprecedented levels in their classic proposal: one can hear from Portuguese guitar to Indian sitar, African percussions and Didgeridoos in hardcore, thrash, reggae cuts.
The national tour for "The Firescroll" included performances for thirty thousand people in the Rock in Lisbon festival, along with Marylin Manson, Audioslave, Deftones and Disturbed. Video clips for "Kindian" and "Had I the Courage" had extensive airplay, and Primitive Reason were nominated for Best Portuguese Act in the MTV European Music Awards in 2003.
Yet, in the end of the summer, Primitive Reason suffer an important line-up change, with the sudden farewell by Jorge Felizardo, who moved to London. The band quickly found a substitute and finished the national tour, but was forced to abort their plans for an international tour.
In the following months, the band tried many different drummers, while still playing in Portuguese venues. This also didn't prevent them finishing their next album, "Pictures in the Wall" (Kaminari 2005), their fifth and conceptually most ambitious release up to date. The album was conceived as a 74-minute soundtrack for a short story written by Guillermo de Llera. As he explains it, “The book, and the music that accompanies it, describes a deep sleep, in which several distinct dreams tell their own story, filled with hopes and desires, living on memories and suffering through its own sorrows, like a wall filled with photographs that seemingly mark the passage of time”. Originally written in English, the book also includes Portuguese and Spanish translations.
After releasing "Pictures in the Wall", Primitive Reason promoted the record in Portugal, Spain and the U.K., and played in the major festivals, alongside international acts like Tool, System of a Down, Placebo, Prodigy, Deftones and Incubus. Both Kaminari Records releases were later made available worldwide through CD Baby, Super D Distribution and the main digital music services, including iTunes and Napster.
In 2007, with the addition of Pepe de Souza (drums) and Ricardo Barriga (guitar), the band returned to studio to work on new material. In December, the band released a limited edition EP, "Cast the Way", that revealed a more aggressive, compact and technically complex Primitive Reason, though maintaining their trademark diversity.
In 2008, Primitive Reason celebrated their 15th anniversary with a reissue of the band's debut album "Alternative Prison" (which had been sold out for many years), and a subsequent tour throughout Portugal and Spain.
The summer of 2009 brought about another line-up change, with the departures of James Beja and Ricardo Barriga.
After a short hiatus, Primitive Reason returned in 2012 with Tino Dias on Drums, Luís Pereira on bass, and Rui Travasso on saxophone. The band debuted a few new songs at several national concerts while spending most of the year working on their 6th full-length album, 'Power To The People', which was released on 1 April 2013. The album was tracked in Portugal at Tino Dias' studio, and mixed in New Year by Bassy Bob Brockmann. A series of album presentation concerts followed throughout Portugal in 2013. In 2015 they released a Walk Inside: The Singles Collection. It was one of the 19 records nominated for the IMPALA Album of the Year Award 2015.
- Guillermo de Llera - Lead Vocals, percussion and didgeridoo, founding member
- Abel Beja - Guitar, backing vocals, since 2000
- Tino Dias - Drums, since 2012
- Luís Pereira - Bass, since 2010
- Rui Travasso - Saxophone, since 2010
- João Rato - guitar - 1996-1997
- Brian Jackson - singer - 1993-1999
- Micas Ventura - guitar - 1993-1999
- Mark Cain - saxophone - 1995-1999
- Tom Martin - guest guitar player in the album Some of Us - 2000
- Rob Dinero - turntables - 2000
- Jorge Felizardo - drums - 1993-2003
- Tó Bravo - trombone - 2003
- Nélson Sobral - drums - 2004
- João Marques - trombone - 2004-2005
- Marcos Alves - drums - 2003-2006
- Hélder Brazete - drums - 2004-2006
- Ricardo Magala - trumpet - 2004-2007
- Jorge Mata - saxophone - 2005-2007
- James Beja - bass - 2000-2008
- Ricardo Barriga - guitar - 2007-2009
- Pepe de Souza - Drums, 2007-2011
|Alternative Prison||15-05-1996||União Lisboa, Kaminari Records|
|Tips Shortcuts||10-12-1998||Farol, Kaminari Records|
|Some Of Us||30-07-2001||Jah Notion, Kaminari Records|
|4.0 EP||00-12-2002||Kaminari Records|
|The Firescroll||19-05-2003||Kaminari Records|
|The Firescroll (Fan Edition)||06-09-2004||Kaminari Records|
|Pictures in The Wall||12-04-2005||Kaminari Records|
|Cast The Way EP||17-12-2007||Kaminari Records|
|Alternative Prison (Reissue)||12-05-2008||Kaminari Records|
|Power To The People||01-04-2013||Kaminari Records|
- "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2008-05-17. Retrieved 2008-06-07.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
- "Young labels featured in shortlist for IMPALA Album of the Year Award". sur impalamusic.org.