Primitive Reason are a Portuguese band formed in 1993. Recognized for the fusion of sounds and the experimentalism of their music, they are today one of the main names in the Portuguese alternative scene, with a cult following in this country, as well as in Spain and the USA. (where they lived between 1998 and 2000). Their sixth original album ‘Power To The People’ was released in 2013 by Kaminari Records and re-released on vinyl in 2015.
Guillermo de Llera (bass and vocals), Jorge Felizardo (drums) and Brian Jackson (lead vocals) met in the village of Cascais (a few kilometers from Lisbon). Childhood friends, they decided to pursue their dream of being someone in music and created, in 1993, Primitive Reason. They quickly recruited Mark Cain (saxophone) and Mikas Ventura (guitar) for the project.
The diversity of origins (Portugal, Spain, England, United States of America, Switzerland), influences and styles of each of the members became evident in their first songs, and their anarchic and intense concerts quickly gained notoriety in the local scene.
Primitive Reason emerged on the Portuguese music scene in 1996, with the release of “Alternative Prison” (União Lisboa). Thanks to the success of their first single, “Seven Fingered Friend” (reggae/ska melodic ode to marijuana), and later of “Hipócrita” (fusion between ska and afro), they shook the local music scene with their unprecedented proposal of fusion of styles, from rap, punk, hardcore, reggae, ska, tribal and African rhythms, passing through jazz and funky. Songs like “So you say” and “Devil in June” surprise by the miscellany of styles presented, marking the anarchic sound of the group as a trademark. With “Alternative Prison”, Primitive Reason won the main local music awards (the Blitz Awards) for best new band and best single.
This success led them to make numerous tours in Portugal and to play in the main Portuguese summer festivals (Paredes de Coura, Super Bock Super Rock, Vilar de Mouros).
Taking advantage of the packaging, in 1998 they moved on to a second studio proposal, “Tips & Shortcuts” (Farol Música), which presented a more elaborate production. The rawness of “Alternative Prison” faded, in the face of a stupendous production by Marsten Bailey and a great injection of experience into the band members, as a result of the amount of concerts they had given in recent years. As a result, the sound of “Tips & Shortcuts” is very clear, worked and clean. “Man and The Mask”, one of the most brilliant songs on the album, with Guillermo pushing the art of “shaving” to the limit, proves to be one of the best lyrics ever by Primitive. “Object”, single chosen by Henrique Amaro, is pure ska reminiscent of Madness while “El Otro”, is for “Tips” as “Sold Out” was for “Alternative”. There is also a kind of skazzada version that recalls NOFX’s The Brews: “24 Pints” is a real party with Jorge Felizardo taking over the lead vocals.
The lyrics of “Tips” are non-controversial like those of “Alternative Prison”. They tell us stories, whether they are from Índios calcorreantes or trips from L.S.D., and their authorship is shared between Guillermo and Brian, who seems to look for inspiration in a 7-fingered friend when she composes them.
However, frustrated by the label’s lack of interest in releasing their records internationally, Primitive Reason moved to New York, where they signed with independent label Jah Notion in 1999.
Change turned out to be a complicated option. When they started writing new material for their US debut, De Llera and Felizardo found themselves at a crossroads, after the rest of the band decided not to continue, due to musical or personal differences or the desire to change their lives. However, the duo did not give up: De Llera took over the lead vocals and the band completed their third album, Some of Us (2000), recorded with the participation of friends from the local New York scene, including members of the Scofflaws, Toasters and the New York Ska Jazz Ensemble. In terms of sound, “Some Of Us” essentially follows the same paths as “Alternative Prison” and “Tips & Shortcuts”, although occasionally it is more radical in the expression of hardcore. For the rest, reggae, ska, punk and different sound experiences are applied. “Some Of Us” has, at the end, a hidden song, lined up as part of “Poison Plants”. Among these hidden pieces of music is, for example, a simple participation by Ithaka: “I walked yesterday from Estoril to Bairro Alto. Thought I was supposed to see something along the way that was supposed to remind me of what my mission on Earth is. But I didn’t, just got sore feet.”
As the millennium passed, the band recruited two New Yorkers, James (bass) and Abel Beja (guitar) and quickly entered the NYC circuit, playing at legendary venues such as CBGB’s, Mercury Lounge, Knitting Factory and Wetlands. In promoting its first release in the U.S.A. in the summer of 2000, Primitive Reason embarked on several national tours, where they played with the likes of Fishbone, The Urge, The Misfits, Murphy’s Law and The Pilfers, before returning to Portugal in 2001 to promote the national release of the record. The following year was an intense tour, which toured the whole country and included concerts with names such as Soulfly, Rammstein, Manu Chao, Suicidal Tendencies, UB40, Slipknot and Nickelback.
After that tiring year, the band decided to take a break and explore their individual and collective interests in other musical and cultural settings. Each member traveled to different points of the globe: Asia, South America, North America and Europe. These experiences would profoundly mark, from the sound point of view, his subsequent works.
In 2003, some “reincarnated” Primitive Reason finished recording what would become the band’s first release on their independent label, Kaminari Records. The Firescroll, the band’s fourth album, received good reviews, both among the public and the media. The integration of the Beja brothers (Abel and James) in the band’s sound proved to be irreproachable, and themes like “Kindian” and “Shadow Man” would go down in the band’s history. Never has the fusion of sounds gone so far on a Primitive Reason record, this time even Portuguese guitars can be found here as well as instruments of a more tribal nature. The tracks from the independently edited EP, “Primitive 4.0”, were also recovered for this disc, taking on a very different look here in some cases. Good examples of this are “White tree” and “Breath (Respitarium Asmaticus)”.
Their national tour included live performances in front of thirty thousand people at the Rock in Lisbon festival, where they shared the stage with Marylin Manson, Audioslave, Deftones and Disturbed. The music videos for the singles “Kindian” and “Had I the Courage” were voted #1 on several TV shows, and Primitive Reason were nominated for Best Portuguese Band at the 2003 MTV European Music Awards.
At the end of the summer, however, Primitive Reason would again undergo an important change in its line-up, with a sudden farewell to Felizardo, who decided to move to London. The band quickly found a replacement that allowed them to finish the national tour, but were forced to cancel their plans to tour internationally.
In the years that followed, the band saw an in and out of drummers as they continued their national tour. This didn’t stop them from returning to the studio to complete their next album. Pictures in the Wall (Kaminari 2005), the band’s 5th album, and the most ambitious to date, was a reflection of the diversity that characterizes and has always been the hallmark of this band. The album was conceived as a 74-minute soundtrack to a short story written by De Llera. The vocalist explains that, “the book, and the music that accompanies it, describes a deep sleep, where several different dreams tell their own story, full of wants and desires, living on memories and suffering their sorrows, like a full wall. of photographs that apparently mark the passage of time” . Originally written in English, the book also included Portuguese and Spanish translations.
After the release of Pictures in the Wall, Primitive Reason returned to the road, playing in Great Britain and Spain, in addition to sharing the stage at festivals with bands such as Tool, System of a Down, Placebo, Prodigy, Deftones and Incubus. Both editions of Kaminari Records were later made available worldwide through CD Baby, Super D Distribution and major digital music services including iTunes and Napster.
In 2007, with the additions of Pepe de Souza (drums) and Ricardo Barriga (guitar), Primitive Reason solidified their alignment and returned to the studio. Their first results were recently released on a limited edition EP (Cast the Way), which revealed a more aggressive and compact sound, while maintaining the band’s characteristic diversity of records.
In 2008, Primitive Reason took the opportunity to celebrate its 15th anniversary, re-editing the long-sold out debut album “Alternative Prison”. This event was accompanied by a tour (“Back to the Future Tour”) through Portugal and Spain, in progress.
In 2009, there are new changes in the band’s lineup, with the departure of James Beja and Ricardo Barrigas.
In 2010, the band returned to the stage with a new lineup, now with Nuno Gomes (vocals and bass) and Rui Travasso (Saxophone), with the first one leaving in 2011, with the return of Guillermo De Llera to the voice and the entry of Luís Pereira on bass, and released the sixth album ‘Power To The People’ in 2013, mixed in New York by Bassy Bob Brockmann.
In 2014 they performed at various festivals in Portugal and Spain, and ‘Power To The People’ was reissued on vinyl in early 2015.