Miguel Correia

Illustration by: Andreia Vieira da Silva

Interview by: João Miguel Fernandes (originally published in 2014)

Occupation: Musician and Photographer

Click here to read the interview in Portuguese


1 – If you had to talk about someone who has influenced you a lot in your life who would it be and why?

My brother and my father. In a way, my mother too, because when something happens in your life you will always hear that specific song, and your mother is that song. I started to follow the music scene because of my brother. One day he came home with a guitar and I realized that two guitarists at home was not going to work well, so I took the pans and started playing drums. And this comes from my father giving us the education he gave, a rigid upbringing one, coming from the world of bikers. We would pick up on things that our father would unintentionally push us through. He was very hard, he tried for us to be something he never was, like doctors, he wanted us to study, but then under the table he would put us magazines of motorcycles, trips to bike concentrations, etc. This made us confused, because we wondered which way we should go. There was a time later in our career as students that our father told us, “hey, do what you want to do”.

Imagine that I’m giving a concert, there may be thousands of people, if my parents and my brother are there, I will convey everything to them, without disrespecting the people who paid the ticket, of course. Both me and my brother haven’t had bosses since the age of sixteen. We work here and there, but we’ve never had a career boss, the goal has always been to collect some money from those jobs and  do what we wanted, which has worked so far. I just want to be better than I was yesterday, I don’t want to be better than anyone. I like to feel inspired by others and inspire them, because that means I’m doing something right, it’s a reward for your work. I’m not going to change the world, the world is heavy and I have a back problem.

2 – Tell me about a moment in your childhood that you can still remember clearly.

I never remember the story well, my parents are the ones who really know the year it was because they had to cancel my tuition at school, but I must have been about sixteen years old. At the time I had only come to Lisbon once with a band that I had, and at that time internet was rare, only two guys in Quarteira had it. And one day they called me saying they needed a drummer to go on tour and I said immediately yes. I got home and said I wanted to go on a tour. Of course my father said that I was crazy, that I wasn’t going to give up school to go on tour, specially because I had never failed at school before. I was naturally pissed, and after a while my father came and said to me, “Is that really what you want to do? At sixteen, do you want to go with some Lisbon dolls to play in Europe? “So I made a contract with my father, which was when I came back from the tour, I had to finish my studies, and one day if you get a chance to meet my father, ask him if I had finished the studies. He will say that since I went on this tour I never stopped. I don’t know how this tour was scheduled, there was no GPS or anything. I know there was a paper in the van with the towns. As we passed through them we were scratching the names of this paper, so we knew we were closer to the next. We did the whole tour, the van came better than it was, with a radio and everything.

3 – How was for you to grow up in Quarteira? What has changed in the music scene until today?

Nothing, nothing has changed in terms of music. There is a lot of good artists from Quarteira but they are no longer there. I take off my hat to my brother because he can live in Quarteira up to this day. He has his business, the tattoo studio, “Devil In Me” started as a band from Algarve, with me and my brother. Hip hop was always very strong, but it was always very competitive on the wrong side. There is good music in Algarve, Entre Aspas, Nuno Guerreiro, etc.

The life quality down there is amazing, you have the sea, things are not very expensive, but it depends on what you want, if that’s enough. If I could do the life I do here, I would go to Algarve. Lisbon sucks, Quarteira sucks but sucks in a smaller way, you can manage things better. I defend very much the situations that you create, although I can recognize that in my particular case I had some luck. Things don’t come over to your lap, you have to expose yourself. I, on one hand have exposed myself too much due to the internet. My name is Miguel Correia and nobody knows me, they only know the character. I have a name, but even I call myself Mike Ghost.

If you can manage your life well down there, you can have a very quiet life, but people get too relaxed. Down there there is fresh fish, the sea is right outside the door, there is already a Pingo Doce, Titanic premiered two weeks ago, not bad. Tourism is weaker, but the climate is still great. The new generation can already get out of there and go to Porto and Lisbon to study. My brother and I were educated with a very different culture, practically American. If some day I would make a lot of money, I would live down there and worked in Lisbon. I’m ready to move, I have practically nothing at home, my bed is a mattress. You never know what comes tomorrow, you have to be ready for everything.

“I don’t have money, so I’ve never been in crisis. I pay the rent, the expenses and the food, that’s what worries me. I think crisis depends a lot on us, people. We have to be more active (…)”

4 – If you would rule in Portugal, what would you do regarding the crisis we are experiencing?

I don’t have money, so I’ve never been in crisis. I pay the rent, the expenses and the food, that’s what worries me. I think crisis depends a lot on us, people. We have to be more active, get through the assembly, act. We have the habit of complaining, then we throw the blame for the left or right party, then there are a few crazy people who want the old coin back (escudos). I don’t care about politics, I like watching documentaries about politics, but politic tv shows not really. It’s up to us to change this, as a united people, it’s not just politicians alone. Today there is a politician, tomorrow comes another which is the same.

5 – At what point in your life have you decided to be a musician and why?

The first time I saw “X-Acto”, my brother had already seen them and had told me it was amazing, was in Faro. I said I wanted to be like them. I remember my father starting to limit the concerts we could attend, he would made excuses for us not to go to the concerts. I thought, “One day I’ll be like these guys.” And because of the American education that my father gave us you always try to be better than yesterday and create some parameters. When I’m investing my time on a tour I’m giving everything, it has to be worth it.

At the moment I look at all this and I see that I’m friends with them, that you have bands with them, with the guys that you idolised. It was something gradual, you meet more people, invest more in you. When I go on the stage the people who paid the ticket have to leave there feeling that their money was well spent. I really like to see concerts in a calm way, to observe everything, I’m always taking mental notes. People have to understand that what we do is for passion, for the enjoyment of reaching many people, not only for money, obviously that everyone needs money, but deep down the important thing is that the audience is happy. Of course that it was difficult to explain to my father that I wanted to be a musician, just like those tattooed “Madball” dudes, but deep down I never had serious problems. Once, my dad gave me a bike even when I had good grades. If you want something you have to work for it.

6 – You are part of the band “Men Eater”, you have played with “Devil In Me” and now with “More Than A Thousand”. What’s the biggest difference between playing in Portugal and abroad?

In Portugal there are no tours. Sometimes we have a tour in Portugal, but play twice on a weekend and then just play on the other, that’s not a tour. Here there are few venues, with little flexibility, just like the music made in Portugal. If you take “MTAT” and “Devil in Me” as examples,  these bands play out there for crowded venues. In Portugal you have to manage your career well, because you have reached a level where you can’t decrease from that. Here these bands can’t play in venues without sound quality, because if you give a bad concert you ruin everything. Outside, the smaller venue treats you at their best level.

An important thing that in Portugal is not valued are the opening bands. All the bands have to be treated at the same level, although there are headliners and some band that get more money, of course, but they should have the same treatment. “More Than A Thousand” have a lot of fans in Portugal, so we have to manage the concerts well.  As for “More Than A Thousand”, we were in the best-selling cover ever of the magazine “Loud”, which shows how we are seen here. And in Portugal there is the craze that what comes from outside is better, so outside our audience it’s difficult to recognize our value, even with sold out venues.

In music you have to create a good relationship with people, because besides the band there are the technicians, promoters, managers, etc. People have to be friendly, accessible, this happens a lot out there. In Portugal, sometimes people complicate things. Once we had a big mess in Vagos with “We Are The Damned”. Outside Portugal this never happens, people always try to be helpful, friendly, or do things in a minimal professional way. In Portugal musicians are not valued. For example, with they never get the band photos right, they get photos with members that were never there before.

 

7 – You had the “Hollow Ghost” project, which has not progressed and now you have a solo project. What is your plan for your solo career?

 

“Hollow Ghost” was the first time I went to the studio alone, a lot because of Chris Common. And it was a kind of outburst at the time. I don’t want to make money with my solo career. I went to play in London because it was a proposal from Volcom and I basically had to go. I then played again in Santa Cruz, also for Volcom. I will be releasing another song from “Death! Kings & Queens”, but basically what you will see from now on will be different, more electronic, environmental.

Myself as Mike Ghost as a solo career will depend on my will. If I want to record something I’ll do it, if I want to record with someone then I’ll do it, but I don’t have time to play live. I like to pay the musicians who play with me, but to play with me they have to play very well, so I have to spend a lot of time around the project. If you would invite me to play in a project of yours I would play as you wanted, I wouldn’t put my ego ahead of it. For me the music has reached a point where I’m free. I don’t think I’m going much further than I already am in music, I’m not going to win any golden globe.

8 – Besides music you are also a photographer and director. How did the love for these two areas begin?

 

Photography began as a joke. At the time I was a drummer and nobody took pictures of drummers, so I thought I should start recording moments. My father photographed the family  and this in a way inspired me to want to record moments, that and all the influence of bikers, naked women, analogue photos. In photography I discovered an incredible passion. In the case of MTAT, they have never had as many pictures as now. I rarely show up, because when they try to take pictures, they forget that it’s an analog machine and I always appear blurry. I don’t think anyone is good or bad, everyone has their own vision, at least in photography.

The style I really like is lifestyle, I photograph what you are. The fashion scene in Portugal is very prejudiced, regarding the style of photography. I love fashion, I would love to take more fashion pictures. I buy several fashion magazines, I don’t buy music magazines anymore, luckily the bands I like are bands of friends.

I also photograph in digital, that’s something that I choose. Photographing in analog is expensive, there are times when I have to think that buying a photo film may imply buying less food. As John Filipe once said, video is photography in movement, it’s a natural thing, hence my photographs have grain, strange colors, that’s what I like. I don’t want to be better than anyone, I just want to be okay with me. When I don’t have fingers to play or strong back pain, I will have photography to strive for, it’s a giant passion.

“I have this lifestyle because I want to, I’m willing to. It’s complicated because there is no safe money coming in, but fortunately I have friends who are there for me, and I say this without being selfish or out of interest. I get to survive because I want to, there are things I don’t need, I don’t need to go out to dinner every day, or to go to every movie premiere.”

9 – How do you manage your career in Portugal?

I have this lifestyle because I want to, I’m willing to. It’s complicated because there is no safe money coming in, but fortunately I have friends who are there for me, and I say this without being selfish or out of interest. I get to survive because I want to, there are things I don’t need, I don’t need to go out to dinner every day, or to go to every movie premiere. If something unexpected happens, I won’t have problems going to work in a supermarket or construction, in fact that’s something that I have already done and it’s an honest job like all the others. My parents have become accustomed to living with what we have and not with what we think we need. If you want more then you need to work more, if things go wrong, then you need to have a plan b, even if it’s to go home back to your parents.

This is not the third world where you can’t even try to change anything. You are the one who chooses your way. Of course I only do this because there is a certain recognition that allows me to sustain myself, also because I have no children or animals, I depend only on myself. People give little value to failure, to fail is to grow, to learn.

10 – “Men Eater” are back. Why did you think you should come back?

 

Someone spoke with BB and they invited him to play in “Musicbox” again. He talked to us, exposed the situation, that the band had finished in the middle of everything. This is not a reunion show, we will play when we feel like it. And then we decided to play the first record, which was the one that put us on the road. The fans wanted “Hellstone” and we thought it made sense. None of us have much time now, so we’ll just play when we feel like it. There are people who think it’s a serious return, a priority, but it’s not. It may be that we record something new or not, because there are things left behind without being recorded. “Men Eater” will never go back full time like they used to. Today the cachet is important, we have other occupations, to waste time with this means that we have to get some too.

11 – If you could choose several musicians with whom you never played to make a band, who would they be?

 

Nowadays I don’t mind doing some jams with anyone. Sometimes, when I go to Volcom headquarters we jam, because they have a rehearsal room. People who are part of the bands are what made the band getting to where it is. I’ve gotten to a point where I can’t make a band with anyone anymore. I’m so used to the people I play with. Of course this depends on the project.

I don’t have any specific people with whom I would like to make a band. You have to connect with people to have a solid project. To make a jam that would be different, I would like to play with Jimi Hendrix, Mastodon… I would like to have a project with my brother, but in that case it’s different, because we already know each other and we have played together.

12 – Do you often worry about your career? Is it something you plan ahead? Are you afraid of failure?

 

No. I did everything without thinking in advance. I recorded records, did tours without thinking about anything in advance. I just want to be okay. Of course I have things to do tomorrow or the end of the year, but I’m not fixated on it. All I did until today was because that day I decided to do that. I am where I am nowadays because I decided to do it without great plans. Now I need to hold the boat, because I have to subsidize myself. As you grow up you are also living and you are realizing what is good and bad for you.

One day when I wish to leave this character I don’t know how it will be. Who is Miguel Correia? They don’t know, just the alter ego. I would like to release a book with my photos, buy a house and a motorcycle. As long as I do what I like I’m really fine. I’ll never give anything for granted.

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