INTERVIEWS: Interview with Vittorio Ballerio, Gianluca Corona, Sig Percich, Mau Lietti, Fabio Troiani - ADRAMELCH - 2006 - NEW!!!
Do you grimace at the sound of "Italian Metal" moniker? Well, I assure you it's not just "happy metal" (as the Helloween-clones are often referred to) - there are many treasures to dig in the land of Leonardo da Vinci and the best pizza in the world. But like most of the real treasures, you can find them under ground and they can be easily overlooked. One of them bears the ominous name Adramelch... Fear not, this demon is well-mannered and will do you no harm. The band, hailing from Milan, released their sophomore album only ...17 years after their debut. Many die-hard fans must have wondered if they can record an album that would be a worthy successor to the already cult "Irae Melanox" after such a long break... Well, the reviews show clearly that most of those who heard it (including myself) are unanimous: they've even topped it. "Broken History" is a concept album that takes you to an unforgettable trip to the Dark Ages to witness the cruelty of crusades... Musically it's a perfect marriage between progressive and epic metal, with complex structures and wonderful melodies - a masterpiece that shows a great dose of creativity and originality and consolidates the band's identity. For sure it takes time for this music to sink in, it grows on you with every listen though, revealing previously "hidden" soundscapes and flavours and embracing you with its unique, melancholic and mysterious atmosphere. Addictive and captivating. Its "stickiness-to-the-CD-player" ratio is around 9 in the scale from 1 to 10. I just have to play it at least twice in the row (and when I stop, the songs keep playing back in my head for a long time)... and I have already played it countless times since last September when I got it in the mail from Sig. This alone should have been a motivation good enough for me to officially ask the band members some questions, however only seeing them live for the third time and spending some more time with them gave me the missing kick I needed to get my lazy ass up and finally do it instead of just thinking about it. Well, I wasn't prepared to do the interview when I met them last time in Wuerzburg (and no, we didn't go to the nearest pub... the day after the show we went to the fine arts museum and the time we had together was unfortunately much too short), so I decided to send them the questions by e-mail... OK, enough of my rambling - let's see what the Adrams have to say!
Jowita: Good morning, gentlemen, how are you doing? Are you ready for some profound interrogation?
Sig: We were born ready. :o)
Mau: I eat interviews for breakfast.
Vittorio: Hehe... I should be indeed after such a long time, dear... but what may I tell you? As already told and repeated... a too full life! Thatís it! Iím not complaining, but... just explaining.
J: As you're not overly popular in Poland, let's start with a short history lesson... The times before Adramelch... Vittorio and Gianluca - you are the only remaining original members of the band... Did you have any musical experience before forming the band? Do you have any official musical education or are you self-taught? Gianluca, initially you actually played drums in Adramelch...
V: Yes, not that much of course since I joined the band when I was 18... After having sung with really "starters bands" playing Black Sabbath, Scorpions, Iron Maiden, Saxon covers I formed a band together with an extra talented guitarist (indeed he was so much better than all the other ones in the band) called Phoenix (you know, the bird renascent from its ashes) playing its own hard rock stuff... Together with that band we played many concerts in the Milano area in those years.
Vocal studies... Not before Adramelch, only later on. Not that much, but I studied especially with an incredible American teacher and singer living in Italy until a few years ago: Marilyn Turner.
Gianluca: Before Adramelch I didnít have any important musical experience. I started as a drummer in blues bands. I learned to play bass and guitar by ear listening and playing along records of hard rock bands I liked.
J: Choosing of the name... Were there any other options? Why "Adramelch" after all and who came up with it? Any story behind it? And when was the band formed as such?
V: WellÖ about the "deep reasons" behind that choice Gianluca might answer much better than me, but about the meaning I can tell you that we were fascinated by the various possible meaningsÖ No, not really meanings, but different "characters" that had that nameÖ Adramelch is a fictious character representing a terrible monarch-tyrant of the dark Middlea Ages, who fully expresses all the cruelty of those times. The word "Adramelch" comes from the ancient Hebrew, and is compound of the words: Ad (Adonai: lord, master), Ra (evil, cruel) and Melch (king), meaning "The king is a cruel master" or "God is a cruel king", a name well suiting for a tyrant who, in his frenzy of almightiness, sets himself as a living god.
The band took the "Irae Melanox" form only in the late 1986 when Gianluca switched to guitar, composed the "Adramelch" song, and Luca (drums) and Sandro (guitar) joined the band.
G: We found the name in several movies and books. For example in Umberto Ecoís "Il nome della rosa" Adramelch was one of the demons invoked by Salvatore under the Holy Inquisitionís trial.
J: How did it come to inking the deal with Metal Master Records?
V: You know how such things come (when they come). We recorded our demo tape in 1986, it was well reviewed by some specialized press and so LM Records contacted us, offering us to participate in one of the first metal compilations ever produced in Italy: "Heavy rendez-vous"... a good compilation, Iíd say... containing good bands like Creepin Death, Drunkards... Adramelch! :) But with the worst cover of all times!
Later on, with the demo tape and the compilation LP in our hands, we went to Metal Master and got the contract! A poor contract, I must say, as a matter of fact Gianluca had to add a part to finish recordings and mixing of the album, but it was a contract and in those times... letís say that back then it wasn't easy to sign a contract either. Moreover Metal Master was really a good label that had already published bands like Bulldozer.
J: Your debut was released in 1988 and soon became a much sought after album. Have you ever thought it would gain you a cult status? What were the reactions to it at the time it was still hot?
V: I think that no one could have imagined such an "eternal" reaction! After the release of the album we received some good reviews (the unforgettable "Kerrangís" KKKK that was simply unpredictable! The "metal bible" forged in eternal fire metal coming from the land of pizza and mafia) and some not so good ones. And the feedback from the fans was good, but in Italy in the '80ís, just like today, there is a wide-spread xenophilia: appreciation for the local bands is always much lower...
Anyway, when in the mid '90s we found out about the interest and the cult reputation surrounding us, we couldnít believe it! The band had disappeared just a few months after the release, but the album just rode alone... so well! "Irae Melanox" grew stronger and stronger in spite of the complete absence of any kind of promotion, the absence of a label, the absence of the band... it looks incredible, doesnít it?
J: Did you play live a lot then? Any shows outside of Italy too?
V: Just a few shows! And then the band split. Franco and Luca went to the military service.
J: What can be blamed for the breaking up of the band soon after releasing "Irae Melanox"? Did you have any songs written for the second album at that time? If so: what happened to those compositions?
V: You know the too common relations problems between the band members... and I have to admit that the biggest ones were just between the "survivors": Gianluca and me. Probably, today I'd say, the most motivated ones! And then surely the leaving of Franco and Luca who donated one year to the nation... The lack of the expected important feedback from the press and fans did not help either, but without a doubt the difficult relationship between Gianluca and myself was the main problem.
Were there songs ready for a potential second album? Yes, there were songs... and these songs... these songs ARE on the second album! The existence of these songs was the first reason for us to reform the band (many times during the last 18 years). We didnít want this music to die lonely, covered by the dust! So "Broken History" consists of very old songs, medium-old songs and new songs as well.
J: And what made you reform the band after 15 years? Whose initiative was it?
V: As I just said, during those years we tried to reunite many times and some of those attempts left traces, but only this last one had the strength to survive! So the first reason this time, like before, was not to let the songs, that we considered a precious treasure, die... We really wanted them to have a home, so in the very beginning (February 2003) this was the main reason...
Gianluca called me and told me that he had already tried hard, but he wasnít able to give words to such music and that if I was not going to do it, these songs were not going to have a future.
This time it was his first move! Upon hearing this I felt that I had to react and I started thinking of the 2nd chapter of the Adramelch saga.
But, digressing a bit from your question: that was just the start. Because day by day we learned that we were into a project greater than our initial idea. We had a real band, no, it was much more, we WERE a great band, we had things to tell, we had the will to live, a wonderful internal human and professional balance, we were the best band we had ever had! That's why we had to go ahead and continue this magic.
J: In the Adramelch-inactive period you weren't wasting your talents though, as you played in a bunch of other bands and projects... and not only metal for that matter. Let us know what were those bands and on which other releases you can be heard.
V: Other than trying to rebuild the band, you mean?! :) Well, youíre right, I sung in so many different bands, but since I donít want to bore you, Iíll tell you only about the most significant ones.
COLUMBUS' EGG was the name chosen for a strange project born from my insane passion for the Ian Gillan Band's "Clear Air Turbulence" and "Scarabus" albums. I was so in love with this music that I really wanted to try the same with my band. The result, materialized in an LP "Scramblin" which came out in 1989, was sooooo far from the initial goal that certainly, if I had listened to it before, I would have not started it at all! And it would have been a real shame, because I think that it is a very interesting album!
ENTER was a prog rock, guitar-free band. Great music, great melodies, great musicians - a high quality demo proves it!
G: I went on playing and composing songs on my own. The great part of the lyrics were in Italian language. Around 1995 Franco, Vittorio, me and other musicians tried to play those songs and to record them. Unfortunately the project couldn't go on mainly because of the lack of determination. However some of that material I composed is still living in several Broken History tracks.
J: You had keyboards in the band for a short period of time and it was Davide Doviti playing them. However you didn't look for a replacement once he left, correct?
V: Correct, we did not. Having Davide in the band was a potential magic, but it didnít work out in the end. Davide is a wonderful piano player with an incredible taste and sensibility. He is recognizable indeed! Some conflicts arose between him and Franco, but for sure that was not the only problem. Today, looking back at those days, I suppose that the main problem was that his personality and possibilities with his instrument didn't have the necessary room, space in the band... I hope that in the future I will be able to create a side project with him!
We did not look for a substitute, because the songs we had were guitar oriented and needed a second guitar much more than a keyboard.
And in the future... who knows?!
J: Sig, when you became one of the Adrams (...yes, actually: when?), you were not a new-comer... If I calculated correctly, 'til now you have played or co-operated with 12 bands except for Adramelch! Wow, that's impressive! Are you a mad workaholic, my friend? :-)
S: I entered the "Adrams Family" at the end of 2003. I've been playing drums since let's say 1988... I've had many different experiences in a lot of bands... rock, thrash metal, death, prog, prog/gothic, crossover, nu metal, industrial... playing with other musicians is a gift, a blessing. And now, with Adramelch, I feel like I had never felt before - the long search was not vain!!!! Oh, yes, of course I'm a mad workaholic! :o)
J: How did you find your way into Adramelch? Were you familiar with "Irae Melanox" much before you joined the band?
S: During 1997 I played for a short period in the prog-metal band ARKH… as a temporary substitute for their drummer. At that time they were asked to record a cover from Adramelch for a compilation that was to be released by Underground Symphony, but never came out after all. The song was "Fearful Visions". It entered my brain and since then it couldn't have been removed without damaging the entire nervous system.
I then met Vittorio in 2002, when we started playing in the prog-rock project DWARF NEBULA - we did covers of Yes, U.K, Gentle Giant and Genesis. The first day we met I discovered that he was the former singer of Adramelch, and I told him that I was a metal drummer who loved "Fearful Visions". Magic was in the air.
During the summer of 2003, Vittorio let me listen to the new material which Gianluca had been recording during the previous years... I was impressed. At that time playing with Adramelch could have been only a dream for me. But then they started having problems with their former drummer, Luca, mainly due to the great distance (Luca lives in Rome), so they asked me to try. The first rehearsal with them was pure magic, I studied and learnt 4 songs in a weekend (as if I was hypnotized), and after playing together we had a beer and I was in the band.
So I fully discovered "Irae Melanox" only after meeting Vittorio. Never too late!
J: What is percussion according to you?
S: Percussion is the twilight zone between gym and art. :o)
But jokes aside, probably the best answer I could give would be... well, when I'm behind my drums, along with my brothers, I really fly. Let's say that drums are the heartbeat of a living creature which propagates through time and space, forever evolving, growing, changing... Along with the voice, drums are the most ancient instrument... so bodily, yet so mental... so instinctive, yet mathematical...
J: How do you recollect your first visit in Germany and playing at the Headbanger's Open Air festival, were you surprised by the crowd's reaction to your show? Was it comparable to any gigs you played back in the '80s?
V: Definitely yes! Definitely not!
It was amazing! We all knew about the fans in Europe, in Germany most of all, but no one could have predicted something like that! The metalheads singing our songs and screaming, and headbanging... we couldnít believe our eyes!
Before and after the show we had the chance to meet so many fans and talk to them and exchange thoughts... incredible indeed!
J: After coming back home you got back to the works on the new material... However Franco, the bass player and co-founder of the band, decided to leave and a week later Andrea, the guitarist that had played with you in Germany, followed his steps... Why did they quit? How did it affect the band's morale? Did you think that the reunion would not happen eventually or were you determined to continue in spite of this setback?
V: I feared it. Too many times we had been trying to find the good balance, the necessary feeling, the right people... and too many times we had to renounce during the past 17 years... I thought something like: "oh, no! Again!!!"
The night Franco left, he was... well, letís say that he was not completely "in" and we all hoped that the next day he would change his mind... but it didnít happen. He stood on his position. Later on we understood that, OK, Franco was not completely involved, that's true, but he had chosen the right path.
Gianluca and I were sure that the absence of Franco was going to worsen our historically difficult relations... But we were wrong! Luckily we were, in the end, grown up! Able to finally manage problems without breaking up the band! The result today is that we are stronger than ever! We have the best line-up weíve ever had, and we are creating music together that satisfies us like it had never before...Huh!!! Not that bad indeed!??!
G: I agree with Vittorio. I would never have thought that the departure of Franco and Andrea from Adramelch and the arrival of two new extraordinary elements like Fabio and Mau would have eventually created a stronger line-up for the band, with a greater human and artistic harmony, but thatís it! Every time I think about what we are doing with new songs and new arrangements, tears drop down from my eyes and I say: "This is perfect".
J: How did you "find" Fabio and Mau? You both played in some other bands prior to Adramelch too - please, tell us something more about it.
V: It was in 1989 when I joined as guest musician a band called ANATHEMA (formed long before the Cavanagh brothers' one). It was a metal band that was about to enter the studio to produce their second demo, but they had no singer, so I offered them my collaboration "spot", just to record the demo, and the result is "Salem Lunacy".
That was the chance to meet Fabio. I truly appreciated his style and personality as well as his approach to the band... And later on (in 2004!!!), when we were looking for a new guitarist (open-minded, able to propose and to accept), Fabio was the first man I thought of. And I was sooooo happy to hear his enthusiastic "OK"!
Itís not just that today we have a climax and balance that we had never had in Adramelch before - this is the best balance Iíve EVER experienced in a band, during over 20 years of singing!
S: Mau was a friend of friends and we were told that he could have been interested in playing in a metal band, so I went to see him at a concert with his band - SENTENZIA. When I saw him playing, I thought: the right man for the right job. Mau is simply GREAT. He's not only a great person and a great bass player: lately he has developed telepathy. He can guess my random bass drum beats and play on them with his bass - despite my poor attempts to be unpredictable.
M: I can only thank Sig for his words. One of these evenings Iíll offer him a pizza and a beer...
F: In the late '80s, after ANATHEMA, me and Vittorio played also in a prog band called ENTER. During the past years I've been playing nearly every kind of music (hard rock, crossover, funky, rhythm'n'blues, pop...). I even joined for two years a classical guitar quartet! I loved to play in a crossover band called ESSENZA. Those were the early '90s and our main influences were Living Colour, Rage Against The Machine, Urban Dance Squad... It was big fun mixing metal and hip-hop! Franco Avalli, bass player on "Irae Melanox", was in the band too.
J: Do you know what's up with all the other guys who played in Adramelch before?
V: Not exactly... Luca lives in Rome since 15 years and I think that currently he does not play drums. Sandro keeps on playing guitar with his Mesa Boogie Wall! But I donít know with whom... Last but not least, Franco... well, Franco bought a double bass and he already plays it so fast! Surely his talent is unquestionable. I know heís playing in different projects, one of them is a very strange noise band with Andrea VolontŤ on guitar and a girl playing violin... Bruit Poli this is their name.
J: Do you give the outlet for your creativity in any other projects at the moment?
S: I'm playing with HEART OF SUN, a project led by Gianluca Ferro (formerly in Arkhť, Doomsword and now a solo guitarist). I'm also writing the lyrics for the songs - yes, drummers often are able to read and write :o)
V: I would like to very much, but I really canít!!!
Unfortunately a day is only 24 hours long and a few of these hours, a few indeed, must be dedicated to sleep... and nothing remains at all!!!
F: I'm playing and composing for several projects. In these weeks I'm very much into a project called WEIRD CONFIDENCE. I call it Frankenstein-rock and it's basically instrumental rock/metal with ethnic influences and a lot of samples. In one of the songs I sing (well... I speak!).
M: I am playing with SENTENZIA, just a couple of days per month. Sometimes I enjoy gigs with bands of friends who need a bass player at the last moment.
J: Your new album is getting really enthusiastic reactions... At one point, in December, you posted in your news: "At last, a negative review. After 32 reviews, the most negative of which says that Broken History is a wonderful album, we read from the Dutch webzine Lords Of Metal a less flattering review, which gives Broken History a 73/100." Well, I had to check that review and I had a good laugh, as its author called "BH" a "mainstream power metal album" - from what he wrote it looked to me like he didn't even listen to it... or he's deaf ("(...) plays decently performed power metal, like Stratovarius and Helloween, which, again just like a lot of other Italian power metal bands, lacks the imagination and innovation"). Comments?
V: Frankly speaking I thought that he had listened to some other album... maybe he changed the CDs in his 5-CDs player and mixed them up! Although we canít say that 73 is a bad rating. The problem is that... maybe he intended to assign it to another band! :)
S: I do agree that some screams and horns and cannonball sounds and a bloody chopped head on the cover would have brought the whole stuff to a further artistic level. :o)
F: I'm very happy that the negative reviews are such a small percentage.
M: Metal music to me is a sort of big house: you can live in one room, or enjoy different rooms. Sometimes you discover that the room you are in now is very similar to the one where you are living, but maybe it is a hundred of floors above or below. Sorry, but what is the question?
J: Which songs are your personal favorites? Mine would be probably "Heap Of Bones", "Broken History", "Cluny Calls", "Different Times...", "Beloved Jerusalem"... OK, enough or I'll name all 13 of them, haha!
S: I love every song, every note... but my fave one is "Dethroned In Shame", since that far day in the summer of 2003 when I listened to it for the first time.
V: Hard to say, but today I think "Ten Wiles", "Heap Of Bones", "Darts Of Wind".
F: "Heap of Bones" and "Ten Wiles".
M: I love "Iíll Save The World" because it is the song I played with Adrams for the first time when they were looking for a bass player. But the best is "Heap Of Bones": the first song my child Jacopo listened to after few minutes of life in our world. Every time I play it and I listen it, I recall the moments when Jacopo was born. Unforgettable. I will never stop to thank Gianluca, Vittorio, Sig and Fabio for the opportunity to enjoy Adramelch.
G: I donít really know... maybe the title track, or "Heap Of Bones", or "Darts Of Wind". Anyway, for me this album (and its songs) is a closed chapter. Iím very proud of it (and "Irae Melanox" too), but now Iím looking ahead. I think the new material we're working on is over and over better. I hope that a lot of fans will appreciate what we are doing now.
J: Unlike on "Irae Melanox" the sound on "Broken History" is very good (but not over-produced). You recorded the album in the New Sin Studio. How do you remember those sessions? I guess the chemistry was right there (Sig was keeping me up-to-date with some leakage, hehe)!
V: A great sound indeed! We are so satisfied! Itís full! Itís clean, but it sounds so "live"! Those were really funny and hard days!
I think we reached a very good final result.
F: I remember a big hurry to record all the guitar tracks!!! Luigi Stefanini, the New Sin' sound tech, was so afraid of the amount of tracks we wanted to do! His support was fundamental to keep all the things together. He was quite like a producer, and gave us precious advices.
M: A lot of concentration to perform the best lines in a few takes. But also moments of relax listening to the music growing day by day. A great experience indeed.
J: What is the main ingredient that makes Adramelch so exceptional? Or is some magical mixture of a few elements?
S: A mixture of five exceptional persons who, at the same time, can find the humility to form one entity.
M: It is important to be friends, to understand each other and to do everything for the band, not for a private interest. "Humility" is the right word, thanks Sig.
V: Hmmmm... a very good answer, Sig! Although I would say that itís the 2nd important ingredient... The first one is the songwriting of Gianluca Corona. His so unique way of composing songs, his innate sense for the melody... always intriguing, never trivial. And also the progression of chords, often apparently sensless and in the end always so brilliant.
F: The most important element is the way Gianluca writes melodies, so melancholic, intricate and catchy at the same time.
G: Thank you very much, dear guys! Also I, like Mau, shall offer to you pizza and beerÖ and anything you like! :-)
J: What is the biggest challenge for you when you think about the band?
S: Being able to wake up the day after for going to work. I mean, every time I play with them is extraordinary - being it a concert or rehearsals. So the next day, when I have to go to the office, it's just like falling down from a dream into the crude reality... The real challenge is going on with Adramelch and, at the same time, carrying on a "normal" life with a job, a house to clean and so on...
V: Keeping the band united, despite different intentions, beliefs, expectations.
F: A challenge that is the same for many bands: find the way to reach the people when you play non-commercial and non-trendy music.
M: Listening to the progress day by day and realizing that the band is really powerful and compact.
G: Like I said before: to know that we are creating something new which is simply great, with our passion and strength.
J: As said before, you've gained a cult status thanks to your only album up 'til 2005... Frankly, I like it a lot, but I could never fully understand the big hype about it. Maybe because I heard you live - at Headbangers Open Air in 2004 - before I heard you from the CD... I enjoyed the show, but while some bands that I hear for the first time from the stage can make my head if not bang, then at least nod to the rhythm, during your performance I was just standing still, listening and watching (and taking photos of course :-) ). Your music is not for mass-music consumers who don't have the will to give it some more attention - it requires more time and dedication to get into... It's like an exquisite meal that needs to be relished piece by piece to reveal the whole symphony of flavors. But once you do it, you're hopelessly hooked!
V: Wow! Hard to add a single word to your exposition. I fully agree with your words: "not for mass-music consumers who don't have the will to give it some more attention - it requires more time and dedication to get into..."
But you know... the fact is that nothingís planned, and what you hear is what freely flows out. But I do agree with you! Listening to our music I feel that it ainít that common... and that you cannot keep it just as a background, you have to listen to it... or to turn it off.
But thereís something more... I also think, and some witnesses could testify it, that at the same time it can be appreciated by people so far from metal... people used to listening to rock, pop, ethnic or even Italian pop! And we do like it! I admit without any shame that, just like I listen to so many genres, I really love that people, theoretically so far from us, can appreciate our music!
J: Talking about food... Bratwurst mit Pommes und Sauerkraut ...or pizza?
G: Mau, this is not exact! You prefer steak with mushrooms and fried potatoes! Do you remember???
I usually like to eat whatever characteristic food of whatever country, state, region, province, city I go to. Iím always hungry!
V: Aaaahahhhhargggheh! THIS is the hardest question! But frankly speaking, although I might be considered as the 5th Ninja Turtle pizza eater, I must admit that it depends on the place I am! In Germany I would never turn down a wonderful Bratwurst to look for the typical Italian pizza that I can eat all the days of my life.
F: Bratwurst in Germany only, pizza in Italy only. You have to eat food where it was born!
I agree with you. But back to the music, we'll talk about some more silly stuff later. "Irae Melanox" re-release. I heard there were some unofficial re-releases of this album... how do you feel about such bootlegs? Was the CD version released by Warlord Records in 1998 done with your knowledge and consent? When can we expect an official re-release and will you do something about the sound? And do you know about any live bootlegs?
M: If bootleg is another form to collect music and to enjoy it, why not? I prefer a bootleg rather than an mp3 taken from internet.
Frankly speaking, I feel myself closer to "Broken History" than "Irae Melanox". Old Adramelchís songs to me are almost like cover songs to play. Maybe it's because I was not in the first Adramelch project that I feel being a little far from it.
V: My feelings about such bootlegs are ambiguous... Of course I disapprove the fact that someone re-released it without our consent and itís not just a matter of money. On the other hand though, I have to admit that in those times, when the first illegal re-issue came out, it was followed by thousands of incredible reviews and interviews with different bands stating "Irae Melanox" as one of their most important influences and so on. And the LP was totally impossible to find! So, thinking of all the satisfied guys thanks to this reissue... well, letís say that Iím not happy yet, but... The Warlord Records version of "Irae Melanox" was agreed upon with the label, but not exactly in that way!
Unfortunately they didnít want to work in a real team with us and the result is awful. The sound is so bad, graphics are horrible, color completely misguidedÖ and these are not the only problems we had with this label... but letís forget it.
We do not know about any live bootlegs... so far!
J: According to the news on your website the "Irae Melanox demo 1987" was to be reissued under Heavy Metal Heroes, a division of Underground Symphony. Has this release seen the light of day at all? If so, the distribution must be total crap...
V: HeheÖ no, not yet! The news should have come clear on our website! We suppose that this may come at the end of the year, maybe in the fall... And it will be a nice surprise.
J: Let's talk about the writing process now... Gianluca, you are responsible for all the music, but do you have an open ear for the other guys' ideas if they come up with some? How is it for you to work with Gianluca? How much can you contribute to the songs?
V: The todayís picture is that Gianluca is the author of the music. He is the trademark and we donít feel the need to change this situation.
Handling relations with the cruel master?! Today it is much better... back then it was the main reason for me to leave the band!!!
Today it seems that weíve found the balance and everythingís easier!
F: I always feel a good chemistry when I work on his music. After listening to his chords and melodies, I feel very inspired, so that it's easy for me to put my lines or to suggest something. And it always seems to work! There is always enough space for everyone of us to arrange our parts.
S: Gianluca always gives us the greatest freedom to introduce new elements in the song, providing the original structure and the "sense" of the song remains unchanged. I'm always free to create the drum parts, and sometimes there is some contribution from the others, like suggesting some groove, or choosing between some grooves I play.
I believe that every song "wants" a particular drum part, as if it were "obvious" that the drums should sound in a certain manner. It's quite rare that Gianluca and me disagree about a drum part - this maybe means that we have quite a common musical taste.
Though I like studying and playing complicated drum parts when I'm by myself, I always try to keep my drumming with Adramelch simple, not to overshadow the other instruments.
M: Gianluca writes the main structure of the song, the main melody and harmony, but the final shape is up to everyone. He shows the song and we start to work on it, trying to improve the song. Sometimes the direction is wrong, sometimes it's a masterpiece... Gianluca promised me that, after the fifth album, the only song I've ever composed, "Monks", MAYBE will be on the sixth album... maybe...
G: I think that my role in the band is being the author, the composer. I canít imagine other roles. I play my instrument as I can, I'm not a guitar hero or a virtuoso player. This is the only way I feel the music, my own music. Every time I create something good for my beloved Band, I feel myself very proud of it.
J: How about the vocal lines? They are quite unpredictable sometimes... What I mean is that very often the accent is on the "wrong" part of the word (or maybe it's partially because of your Italian accent, Vittorio :-) ) and the timing is rather untypical. I think actually those small flaws in your pronunciation only add to the originality of the band. These melodies are not easy to sing under the shower, haha. Frankly, I had to look into the booklet otherwise I wouldn't have understood some of the lines. But that's another thing that attracts me to this album so much: your voice sounds really unique and complements the music just perfectly.
V: Hey, dear! Another hard one... But first of all I have to say: thanks! :)
Vocal lines are integral part, perhaps the main part, of the composition and therefore totally under Gianlucaís control. I simply sing. Probably the accent on the "wrong" part of the word as well as small flaws come from the rest of the music I listen to... from Zappa to jazz... through Sephardic and prog and...
J: "Broken History" is a concept about crusades and not a clichť one for that matter... Who came up with the idea to choose this subject and why? Is any of you a history enthusiast?
V: It was me. These were themes that I really felt deeply and that I needed to tell about.
Crusades are a typical epic theme. The problem is that it is always treated in a way that I donít like. Crusaders depicted as savers... The crusade as a mission to free the holy land... We all know that historyís written by the winners, but if we accept it as an unavoidable distortion of history without trying to plunge a bit, we accept to drink liters and liters of lies. Crusades are a dark chapter of Europe's history... Slaughters and senseless crimes...
Moreover it has been the first clear and pure example of the transformation of the faith - the possible link with a different dimension - into an instrument of power and control over the people. And later on: "Twentieth century - barbarism, Common people are - executioners, History taught how - to use charisma and power." (taken from "Heap Of Bones" - JK)
Moreover I liked to use that icon (the pure knight) which deeply pertains to metal music iconography in this rather upsetting way!
J: The lyrics on "Irae..." were written by Gianluca, but on "Broken..." by Vittorio... Why this change?
V: In the beginning, in my opinion Gianluca had to write them... as it had been in the past with all the previous stuff, but he told me clearly: if you will not write them, we are not gonna play them, because I'm not in that mood anymore, I am not able to put words together to such music.
And so it came. Responsibility on my shoulders was very heavy and I started wondering what could be the center around which I was to build the stories...
G: There is no fixed rule about who has to write the lyrics. In the case of "Broken History" I would not have been able to write words to such complex vocal melodies with my poor knowledge of English. Vittorio was simply great! On the new songs we are working on now, maybe somebody else will work with Vittorio and me on lyrics (maybe Sig who has had previous experiences as a lyrics writer).
I have already written the basic theme and the general climax for several new songs. I wrote some verses and choruses in English. It was really simple, because new melodies are naturally suggesting the sound of the words and the assonances.
J: My friend who is very active in a medieval re-enactment group and organizes tournaments is also making a feature movie set in the Middle Ages now... Suppose you were asked to act in it, you agreed and you were free to choose the character... who would you like to play? Let you imagination run free... :-)
V: NiccolÚ Macchiavelli.
M: A knight armored with a sword, on a black horse, in the forest of the middle Europe.
S: A monk who has been a warrior in his temporal life. Have you seen that Chinese movie "Hero"? There is a sword master who, at the end of his path, after being the greatest swordman of his country, realizes that peace is all he wants. This is the idea. A man who was a warrior in his youth - so he is corageous and strong - but realizes there's a superior form of courage and strength. I like the idea of the monk living afar from this noisy and cruel world, dedicating himself to work, studying and meditation. And drumming. :o)
J: Delving deeper into this subject: if you were a historic person, who would you like to be? Maybe to change some course of events? And whom would you like to meet most?
V: Hmmm... Probably the Pope Urbano II... the one who started the bloody enterprises. Yes, sure: in order to prevent them all! History should be different... I am sure that todayís world should be different.
M: I would like to meet Francesco díAssisi most.
S: I like peacemakers, ambassadors and diplomats (and that's not only a matter of drumheads, hehehe), I'd probably like to be one of them. Being able to meet even the humblest person from the past would be great.
F: To me Dante is the most interesting mind in the Middle Ages. I love the role of the "prime movers" in every age and in every artistic field.
J: Now Gianluca comes to my view-finder, coffee-break for others! I just can't miss this opportunity - it's not quite common that one professional artist interviews another professional artist, right? Until recently I had known only two of your paintings, those being the covers for the Adramelch albums of course. The image on the "Broken History" cover is very striking - I had to see more! Google came in handy and when I checked a few websites showcasing your paintings, well (pardon my colloquialism) I was simply blown away, jaw on the desk. Some of the most amazing still lives I have seen... The palette of colours and the light on your paintings is not less breathtaking and magical than the music you compose. You must be coming from a family with artictic traditions, don't you?
G: Thank you very much for your words, Iím really embarrassed...
Well, yes, I grew up in an artists' family: my father was a graphic designer in a big publishing house and my mother is a photographer and art director for a magazine.
Iíve taken from them my passion for the arts.
I've been painting ever since I was a little child, and since 1997 painting is my job.
J: You have graduated from some art academy, correct? Please, tell me something more about those studies...
G: Iíve attained the ĒfamousĒ Brera Fine Art Academy in Milan, but... I have to say that for me it was not really significant for improving my technique.
Iím a self-made painter, because I have learned perhaps all I know from the ancient Masters like Leonardo, DŁrer, Rembrandt, Caravaggio, copying and studying their styles across the Italian and European museums.
At the end Iíve understood the school is not as much important as choosing a great master for yourself.
J: Which artists have been most inspirational for you?
G: Apart from the names Iíve mentioned, mostly Vermeer, all the Flemish painters and some of the great contemporary artists like Antonio Lopez Garcia and Pietro Annigoni.
J: The sleeve artwork on "Irae Melanox" LP ("The Realms Of Mist") was black and white while on the CD released by Warlord Records the cover is in blue hues... What are the original colors? Being a cover artist myself I'm very sensitive about how the covers are printed, but it's usually beyond my control of course.
G: Neither the first nor the second version is similar to the original which is in brown/grey colours. "Irae Melanox" reprint (Underground Symphony will release it soon) will finally have the original version as a cover. It is always very difficult to see to the good print quality of your paintings. I always try to give to the printer a digital scan of my painting, sometimes together with a cromalyn.
J: Do you work mostly on commission or do you paint what you want and then try to sell it? Have the Adramelch covers been the only album covers that were graced by your paintings?
G: I work both on commission (especially for the portraits) and by free inspiration (especially still lives, flowers). Since a few years Iíve been working with the Forni art gallery in Milano and Bologna. Some paintings of mine are printed on the classical music CD series (you can see those covers on the website http://concerto.musicmedia.it/gallery/content/home?show_nav=0).
J: What is your favourite technique and what are your feelings towards the art created digitally? Do you feel that traditional artists are somehow endangered by those who learn some graphic program (I'm talking about those computer-created "artists" who can't draw with a pencil) and do the designs much faster and cheaper? Well, maybe it doesn't really affect you, as you are a painter selling the originals and not an illustrator selling the copyrights, but anyway...
G: In my actual style the subjects are all real subjects. Iím a realist painter.
I use a mixed technique made of charcoal drawing and transparent oil painting over that on board or canvas.
I donít like the digital graphic art Ďcause I think itís it much too cold. Yes, I produce only unique pieces and sell the originals.
J: Do you eat what you paint? I mean, do the models (the vegetable and fruit models of course) end up on your plate once the work is finished? At least they live on your paintings. :-) I would love to see the originals one day (the paintings, not the vegetables :-) ) - they look so real!
G: Of course! I always eat every model after painting it... except for the persons I portray!!!! :)
J: I hope - otherwise you'd be the most well known cannibal among artist (or the most well known artist among cannibals), haha. I must admit I've done it too recently when I was painting for a Lovecraftian band Philosopher... There are some tentacles of the Great Cthulhu on this cover... enough said, hehe. Anyway, you don't limit yourself to painting only still lives though... I've had the chance to see a few outstanding portraits as well... In which field do you feel best?
G: The music! :) Yes, I feel that the music is my instinctive and natural way of expression and painting is the intellectual, rational way of expression.
Anyway... I think the portrait field is more difficult than the still life field, because with the human model you have less freedom of interpretation, you have to remain closely connected to the subject. On the opposite, with the still life genre (or landscapes or interiors genre) you can change everything you like: colour, form, light.
J: Do you have any method to overcome creative blocks? Or maybe you don't know what a creative block is? Well, this question refers to the musical creative blocks as well, so I'd like to hear all of you.
S: I usually sleep a lot, especially when in troubles. When I wake up, usually everything runs fine.
V: I take my time. Thatís the only way... and then... literature, images, places, talking and listening - everything can work as the adequate stimulation. The thing is that you donít know it before.
F: My method is to wait until they end! You can't force yourself to create, so you can do something different, yet important to develop your art (taking care of your technique as a player, just to give an example, or learning new stuff).
G: I never have proper creative blocks... instead, I may receive sporadic visits from creative inspiration, when she condescends to me.
J: And what do you do to relieve stress? By the way, do you ever experience stage-fright or are you always at ease when you're about to enter the stage? And what's the story behind those sunglasses, Vittorio, hmm?
V: Yeah, in fact there is a small story behind them... they are one of the last objects left by my father (who died some years ago) and the strange thing is that they were supposed to be his own sunglasses, but, since they perfectly fit for me, they couldnít fit for him (his head was smaller than mine). I tried them during my first concert in Germany - at HOA - as you perfectly know! And I liked them so much that ever since then I couldnít resist wearing them anymore!
S: I relieve stress by playing drums. When drumming becomes stressful... well, it produces a Larsen effect (the electroacoustic phenomenon of feedback between microphone and amplifier - JK). Either they disconnect me from the drum kit, or I'm going to die. My mental abilities are not enough developed for being frightened and thinking about drumming at the same time, so I'm usually frightened a bit before the show, but never during it.
F: For me playing an instrument is one of the better ways to relieve stress. A little bit of stage-fright is good to keep the right amount of adrenaline while you're playing live. If I'm very relaxed, I tend to loose the focus on what I'm doing.
M: I usually do not experience stage-fright. Maybe the first time at KIT in Dittigheim it was so... emotional, but when I started playing the bass, everything became easy and simpleÖ Enjoy!!
G: I fight the stress by painting. Or listening to music. To me these are the only ways. For sure resting is important, but the most relaxing feeling is when I paint or compose music. My anxious behaviour disappears every time I am working.
J: The 2005 is past now... I don't do it often, but this time I wanted to write down my "top 10" albums... didn't manage to do it - ended up with "top 30". Well, just for the record, "Broken History" got the silver (gold was taken by the sword of my epic metal gods... Manilla Road of course). I'm wondering what your "top 5" of 2005 looks like...
V: Wow! Indeed?!?? Number 2 of 2005 in your faves list!??!? Hehe, Iím personally honoured, dear Jowita! Can I tell it?!
My personal top 5... this is a very hard question... because Iím not used to consider my favourite album year per year, but... day by day! And moreover, here with me I havenít mags to remind me what came out during this year... anyway, Iíll try:
1.PORCUPINE TREE - Deadwing
2.OPETH - Ghost Reveries
3.MUSE - Absolution
4.SYSTEM OF A DOWN - Mesmerize/Hypnotize
5.NOVACT - Tales From The Soul
6.DYNAMIC LIGHTS - Shape
PS: maybe the album of the Polish RIVERSIDE is not be among my top faves, but they are a great prog act indeed! And soon Iíll see them live, because on the 2nd of May, thanks to the intervention of a friend of mine, they will play in Italy, not far from Milan...
S: I don't like hit parades, nor do I make charts on my own. To me telling that one record is better than another one doesn't make much sense. Sometimes I listen to an album 100 times without knowing if it was recorded in 2004 or 2006... so it's really a difficult question. In this last year I didn't listen so much to music and I rather tend to go back to the old records than to look for the new ones. Sure, the album I was listening to a lot in 2005 is "Broken History". :o)
F: I'm not updated to the new releases, ask me next year!
M: Maybe MANOWAR "King Of Kings" and VISION DIVINE "The Perfect Machine". And MUSE "Absolution"... for sure!
G: Iím sorry but my 2005 top five albums are not totally metal albums. One of these can be surely "Mesmerize/Hypnotize" by SYSTEM OF A DOWN, "Ballads For Little Hyenas" by AFTERHOURS (a great Italian rock band), MUSE "Absolution" and DAVID GILMOUR "On An Island".
J: You must have your all time heroes too... Who are the bands/artists that shaped you to be the musicians you are today?
S: I cannot mention all... Let's say Fates Warning and Terry Bozzio.
V: Yeah... toooo many, definitely too many... Iíll try to summarize, but if my summarizing isnít enough, you are authorized to cut!
Letís start with my all time hero: Rob Halford and Judas Priest (ALL until "Defenders Of The Faith"), then Black Sabbath... all the titles with Ozzy, most of all "Black Sabbath", but the albums with Dio, the one with the wonderful Ian Gillan as well as "Eternal Idol" and "Seventh Star" are a must too! The above-mentioned Ian Gillan Band and also Magnum, Thin Lizzy, Rush, Motorhead (until "Another Perfect Day").
And thinking just of singers, excluding the already mentioned, I have to say: Bobby McFerrin! The true new prophet of this art.
F: From past to present: Iron Maiden, Metallica, Anthrax, Chick Corea, Queensryche, Steve Vai, Living Colour, Tori Amos, Extreme, Jeff Buckley, Radiohead and many, many more...
M: Wine Spirit and Steve Ray Vaughan. Bass players like Alberto Bollati, Marco Melloni, Billy Sheehan and Tommy Shannon, just to give a few names...
G: Most of all: Queensryche, Rush, Radiohead, Dream Theatre, Genesis, Yes, Pink Floyd, PFM and many others.
J: Do you know of any bands covering your songs? If you had heard any cover versions, what do you think about them?
V: Yes, we know about those cover versions and we have also listened to many of them and when we discovered them, we were astonished! It was, and it is, a great honor for us to know that another band played our music! All the covers Iíve heard have been given personal identity by the bands and I am convinced that this is the best way to play the othersí music: adding your own character until it becomes completely yours.
The one I liked most is "Zephirus", interpreted by the Helreid. I read a review of their album and the nice element was that the reviewer, who hadn't known Adramelch nor the original version of that song, wrote something like: "...frankly speaking, it sounds just like a Helreid song, fully in their style..."
F: I've heard a powerful cover of "Eyes of Alabaster", played by Wyvern, an Italian band that, like us, was born in the '80s.
J: When saying "Italian Metal" a lot of people think of the so called "happy metal" simply because this is what the music media promote most. However there are some true gems coming from your country and I would like to take a while to talk about the more underground and obscure Italian scene... Except for such legends like Death SS (before they started experimenting with industrial on "Do..."), Paul Chain, Requiem, Dark Quarterer, Astaroth, Wotan (the "Carmina Barbarica" one), I love also the younger epic heavy and doom bands: Doomsword, Thunderstorm, Battle Ram, Jotenheim, Holy Martyr as well as a few more extreme metal acts: Bulldozer, Necrodeath, Schizo, Neurodeliri, Insane, Hatework, Vexed... But I also like some early '70s prog/hard rock like The Trip's "Caronte", Museo Rosenbach's "Zarathustra" or Biglietto Per L'Inferno's debut... Are any of those bands your favourites too? What other Italian bands or albums could you recommend checking out?
M: Biglietto Per LíInferno for sure and Wine Spirit.
V: I also listened to a lot of Italian doom in the far past... I loved the Paul Chain music and the very first phase of Death SS, but also Astaroth, Scarlet, Steel Crown and from the most recent ones we surely appreciate Doomsword and the Gianluca Silviís projects like Battle Ram and Jotenheim... Moreover, I also listened a bit to the old prog wave (Banco, PFM, Museo Rosenbach...).
From the todayís metal I should mention (just because they are already famous) Lacuna Coil! Their latest album is great. Frankly speaking I was not completely convinced by "Comalies", but the new one is good indeed! And from the less known Iíd mention three names that, in my opinion, deserve attention: Dynamic Lights, Ephel Duath and Soul Takers.
S: I'm not so much into the Italian '70s prog/rock/metal bands. I do agree with Vittorio about Soul Takers - they play interesting metal music using violin and piano along with the electric guitar.
F: Two great prog bands from the '70s: PFM (Premiata Forneria Marconi) and Banco del Mutuo Soccorso, but you have to check out the earlier records, because in the '80s they turned to pop music.
J: And who's the biggest Italian artist according to you?
S: Gianluca Corona.
M: Vasco Rossi, after Gianluca, of course!
V: (Iíll consider only the still alive ones, otherwise should be too hard indeed, OK?!) Moni Ovadia.
F: Leonardo Da Vinci... a little too obvious, I know!
G: Please, Mau and Sig, donít joke! Also for me: Leonardo.
J: Name 3 things you don't understand.
S: Racism. Greed. Women.
M: Hypocrisy, war, un-ecological behavior.
V: Death core, (any kind of) violence on the children, Japanese lifestyle.
F: Religions, Italians, mathematics.
G: The pope, Berlusconi, football.
J: What's your biggest fearful vision?
S: The last man turned into a consumer.
V: History repeating itself.
F: It's the "absolute nothing" after death.
M: A Vampire in the night when I am walking home...
G: That I cannot pay my house loan.
J: And what makes you laugh whenever you think of it?
S: "Young Frankenstein" by Mel Brooks.
V: Yes, no doubt: "Young Frankenstein"!
M: A funny tale about a girl and a man.
F: Non-sense humour.
J: OK, we already know that Gianluca is a professional artist... What do the rest of you guys do for living?
S: Computer programming and database designing.
M: Reverse Osmosis Units designing.
V: The most "normal" job... bringing enough money to survive and allowing me to do what I ONLY really love to do with the music.
F: I am a graphic, I mainly work for magazines.
J: Typos... Well, my most common typo looks like this: "teh" (followed by: "wuold", "yuo", "liek", "soem", "lyrisc", "fro"...), but when it comes to typing my own name at the end of e-mails... my creativity, caused probably by the rush to send them, is unlimited then, haha. I know the king of typos (a real King, by the name! Cheers, bro!), but if there are enough of common typos, maybe we can create an alternative vocabulary/language, hehe. So which words do you mis-spell most often?
S: I nerev maek mitsakes!!!!
V: "Teh" without a doubt... "Vittrio"... it happens!
F: I don't do those mistakes when I type, I do them when I talk! Unintentionally, I create some monsters by mixing two words (for example: "guitar cable" becomes "catar guible")! When it happens, then I know it's time to go to bed.
J: Would you reveal what you're up to recently? Have you already started writing music for the next album? We won't have to wait for it another 17 years, will we? :-) Do you plan to create another concept album?
V: We have very good news, dear: we have completed 2 new songs and we're working on many others. The music for the next album can be ready by the end of this year... then we will have to look for a label... but thatís another story. It wonít be a concept, although there will be a thin red line among the songs.
F: Gianluca's new songs and the new arrangements show that he is growing as a composer, and we are growing as a band, so you can hear clearly a stronger identity on the new tracks. We are really building our style brick by brick, and this is great! I love bands that you can recognize from the first note of a new song that you haven't heard before.
M: Yes. Although the next album is still under construction, it already shows the new sound, more progressive and powerful than the "Irae Melanox" and "Broken History" one.
J: Well, I also hope very much to meet you and see your show again this year... Possible? The gig in WŁrzburg was fantastic and I enjoyed myself immensely being able to take photos and to be carried away by the music (action taken: headbanging of course).
V: Thanks dear! Yes, the gig in WŁrzburg was fucking great, although the day after, in Kaiserslautern, I think it was even better, because we played all we could play during an almost 2-hours' burning set... in front of a great audience!
We are trying to organize a gig in the North of Germany during the first days of August, but it ainít easy... Be sure that you will be the first one to be informed about it!
F: Playing in Germany was every time an exciting experience! We wanna thank you once again for all your photos! At the moment we have no exact plans. Do you want to manage for "The Poland Tour 2006"?
M: Probably we can find our best audience in Germany, so for sure we'll try to come back.
J: All right, we're coming to the end of this interview... I know you of course want to thank and greet all your fans (especially in Poland) and wish to see them at your shows... But let's leave the obvious thing untold. You're not a typical metal band, so let's close this interview less typically as well. I know Sig is a well of aphorisms (I could already print a book just from the quotes from your e-mails! :o) ), but I'm sure all of you, signores, have something of much substance to say. So share with us your favourite quote, words of wisdom... or silliness! :-)
V: Jowita, thanks for this interview, thanks for the patience, the time and space that you decided to dedicate us and please, accept our excuses for the huge delay... but, as already said, the time is - by default - too short... and this interview - too difficult! :)
My personal suggestion (cut off the obvious, but sincere wish to meet the Polish kids at our concerts) is: KEEP YOUR EARS OPEN WIDE. Donít close them by prejudice. Be ready to change your mind and to discover that what you were supposed to hate is your wildest dream now... It might be Vivaldi or pop, or the jazz-punk or the Berioís symphony... donít refuse anything by prejudging.
Thanx, dear, hope to see you soon!
F: "I've got an XL-sized soul in an M-sized body". To me it's a way to express the feeling of needing much more freedom in my life.
M: This evening all the songs should have been ready!!
S: The "Three T rule": Things Take Time.
G: Notung! Notung! Neidisches Schwert (from "Siegfrid" - R. Wagner).