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Interview med Francesco Paoli - Fleshgod Apocalypse

Paoli

I forbindelse med deres nyeste album, Veleno, som tog vores anmelder med storm, har vi fået os en snak med bandets frontman Franceso Paoli. Vi snakker om vin, Eurovision, Rammstein og meget mere!

Dansk:

1: Fik I nogensinde fat i det grej, som blev stjålet fra jer i Malmø?

Desværre. Vi samarbejdede med det lokale politi, men de havde ikke heldet med sig.

2: ”Pissing on the Score” er noget af en sangtitel, hvad er historien bag?

Tja… Den sang er drevet af en klavermelodi, som har en meget stærk ”klassisk” smag, og derfor kunne vi godt lide ideen om en stærk, delvist irrelevant, titel. Du ved, vi kan godt lide kontraster, og den sang er en sand ”harmonisk kontrast”. Rent lyrisk handler sangen om noget vi har tænkt på længe, men vi manglede den rette sang for at kunne lave denne slags statement. Der er så mange musikere nu til dags, der kalder sig selv for ”komponister” eller ”artister”, men det er at prale, og det giver dig ikke nødvendigvis evnerne, sanseligheden eller det engagement det kræver for at producere sand kunst via musik. At tage en selfie ved et flygel eller at sørge for, der ligger nodepapir på dit skrivebord, gør dig ikke til en komponist, fordi det kræver en sand, livslang dedikation til musikken.

Det betyder dog ikke, at man skal have et diplom fra en smart musikskole. Faktisk så var der mange banebrydende musikere, der ikke kunne eller kan læse et nodeark, men de var alle totalt hengivne til deres musik.

3: I udgav også vine samtidig med jeres to forrige album – kommer der også en Veleno vin?

Ikke lige nu, men det er da en mulighed.

4: I er tydeligvis fans af Rammstein, og på ”King” havde I nummeret Paramour, som var på tysk. Har I nogensinde overvejet at lave en kollaboration med Rammstein eller at skrive en sang på tysk, da Tyskland og Italien begge har en stærk og historisk operascene og er kendt for deres klassiske komponister?

Ja, vi er klar over vigtigheden, som både Italien og Tyskland har haft for den klassiske musiks historie. Komponister som Wagner, Puccini og Rossini repræsenterer nogle af vores stærkeste indflydelser, og det er derfor, det, at have en sopran (Veronica) med i bandet, er blevet en del af vores essens. ”Paramour” var en hyldest til den tyske musik- og poesitradition. Vi er meget inspireret af lieder, korte digte gennemført via musik og oftest arrangeret for en sanger og et klaver. At skrive en sang helt fra bunden på tysk lyder virkelig udfordrende, men det kunne være super fedt! Vi ville elske at lave en kollaboration med Rammstein, men de er så stort et band, så de er nok lidt ude af vores rækkevidde pt. Men hvem ved…?

5: Hvordan var det at arbejde sammen med den danske producer, Jakob Hansen?

Fuldstændigt fantastisk! Han er en utrolig dygtig producer med god smag og ekspertise. Vi lærte virkeligt meget af ham. Han var i stand til at håndtere vores tætpakkede orkesterarrangementer uden at miste detaljer og slagkraft. Jeg synes virkeligt, ”Veleno” er vores bedst-producerede album indtil videre. Han er også et af de rareste, mest nede på jorden, mennesker vi har mødt i musikindustrien. Han er også en fremragende kok – uden pis! Han lavede aftensmad til os engang, og det var delikat hah!

6: Hvordan er det at være frontmanden i bandet igen?

Rigtigt fint. Først troede jeg, at det ville være meget hårdere. Jeg var bange for at mangle kommunikationsevner, nu da der var så langt imellem mine erfaringer i front… Du ved, det publikum, vi ser hver aften, er meget større og meget mere højlydte, end da vi startede ud. Det gik dog glat. Jeg tror, denne position i bandet matcher min attitude bedre, og det gør, at det føles meget nemt og naturligt for mig.

7: Har Fabio og David spillet en rolle i at skrive Veleno?

Ikke i forhold til selve skriveprocessen. Den startede faktisk for tre år siden, men det er Francesco Ferrini og jeg, der står for sangskrivning og de generelle kreative valg. Men Fabio og jeg indspillede alle guitardelene af ”Veleno” sammen. Han er en utroligt dygtig guitarist, og han har hjulet så meget, da vi skulle indspille. Men på scenen er de den bedste tilføjelse, man kunne ønske, så vores optrædener har aldrig været så perfekte og konsistente som nu.

8: I optrådte med et helt orkester for ikke så længe siden. Er det noget, I kunne finde på at gøre igen? Måske at tage dem med på turné?

De var en ufattelig oplevelse! At se en gruppe talentfulde, klassisktrænede musikere udføre din musik er en følelse, jeg dårligt nok kan beskrive med ord. At tage dem med på en turné er klart noget, vi har tænkt over. Det ville være fantastisk for os og vores fans, så vi overvejer det. Det ville dog ikke være nemt.

9: Fleshgod Apocalypse er et meget visuelt band med jeres kostumer og teatralske elementer. Har I nogensinde overvejet at gå efter de store scener, som teatre eller selveste Eurovision?

Ja, kombinationen mellem musik og billedsprog er en absolut nødvendighed for os, både i vores musikvideoer og på scenen. At gå mainstream ville være fedt, så længe det giver en et større publikum, men det ville nok kræve for mange kompromisser i forhold til det musikalske aspekt. Jeg tror ikke, vi ville kunne deltage i Eurovision uden at skræmme publikum til døde haha.

10: Har I nogensinde tænk på at skrive et reelt stykke eller en opera, som fx ”Figaros Bryllup”?

Wow, det er meget ambitiøst. At skrive en hel opera, ville være fantastisk, men også kræve så meget tid og arbejde. Det er en stor ting at håndtere, men også noget der er værd at overveje i fremtiden. Lad os vente og se…

11: Veleno virkede til at have et mere menneskeligt tema ulig jeres forrige album, som virkede til at have større fokus på et mytisk eller historisk tema – var der en specifik årsag bag dette?

Du har ret, det her album er anderledes fra de andre i den henseende. Hvor “Labyrinth” eller “King” var konceptalbums i en mere klassisk forstand, så at sige. På dette album gik vi efter en anderledes tilgang i forhold til både musikken og lyrikken. Mens vi arbejdede på det nye materiale, opdagede vi, at der var en slags rød tråd, en ”fil rouge”, der forbandt alle sangene. Den tråd var ideen om ”forgiftning”, noget der kan fortolkes på mange forskellige måder både bogstaveligt og metaforisk. Albummets titel er ”Veleno” (italiensk for ”gift”) af netop den grund. I stedet for at fokusere på historisk fiktion eller ren historiefortælling besluttede vi os for at udforske forholdet mellem mennesket og naturen – forstået som ”menneskets natur”, men også det naturlige miljø. Mennesket skaber sine egne ”gifte”, fra stoffer, der udsletter din krop og sind (sangen ”Sugar”) til overtro og irrationalitet (”Fury”) eller religion (”Worship and Forget”). Hvis du tager et grundigt kig på teksterne med det udgangspunkt, så vil du se, hvor forbundne sangene er.

12: Nu da Veleno er udkommet, vil I så annoncere en verdensturné snart? Muligvis med en dato i Danmark?

Absolut! Vi har en række sommerfestivaler og en turné i Japan allerede. Flere datoer bliver annonceret snart, så hold øje!

English:

1: Did you ever recover the gear which was stolen from you in Malmø?

Unfortunately, not. We collaborated with the local police, but they had no luck in recovering them.

2: “Pissing on the Score” is quite the title, what is the story behind it?

Well… that song is driven by a piano melody which has a very strong ‘classical’ flavour, therefore we liked the idea of choosing a strong, kinda irreverent title for it. We like contrasts, you know, and that song is a true “harmony of contrasts”. Lyrically speaking, the song is about something that has been in our thoughts for quite a while, but we needed the right song to make a sort of statement about it. So many musicians nowadays call themselves “composers” or “artists” but bragging about it doesn’t necessarily give you the proficiency, the sensibility and the necessary commitment to produce true art in music. Taking a selfie near a grand piano or keeping music sheets on your desk doesn’t make you a composer, because that requires a true, life-long dedication to music.

That doesn’t necessarily mean that you need a certificate from some fancy musical academy. In fact, many ground-breaking musicians couldn’t, or can’t, even read a music sheet, but all of them were completely devoted to their art. Nowadays, appearance is more important than substance.

3: With your last two albums, you released a wine – will there be a Veleno wine too?

Not for now, but it’s a possibility.

4: You are clearly fans of Rammstein, and on “King” you had Paramour, which was in German. Have you ever considered doing a collaboration with Rammstein or writing a song in German, since Germany and Italy both have a strong and historic, opera-scene and are both known for their classical composers?

Yes, we are aware of the importance that both Italy and Germany have in the history of music. Composers like Wagner, Puccini and Rossini represent some of our strongest influences and that’s why having a soprano (Veronica) in our line-up has become part of our essence as a band. “Paramour” was a tribute to German musical and poetic tradition, being strongly inspired by lieder, short poems transposed in music and typically arranged for a singer and a piano. Writing a song in German from scratch sounds really challenging, but it could be great!

We’d absolutely love a collaboration with Rammstein, but they’re such a huge band and maybe they’re a bit out of reach for now. But who knows…?

5: What was it like working with Danish producer, Jakob Hansen?

Absolutely amazing! He’s an outstanding producer, with great taste and expertise. We learned a lot from him, really. He’s been able to handle our dense orchestral arrangements without losing detail, clarity and punch. I really think “Veleno” is our best production so far. Also, he’s one of the most kind, down-to-Earth human beings we had the chance to meet in this industry. And he’s a killer cook. No kidding! He prepared dinner for us once and it was delicious, haha!

6: What is it like being the front man of the band again?

Just great. At first, I thought it could have been way harder. I was scared of the lack of communicating skills due to the long gap in between my front man experiences…you know, the crowd we are facing now every night is way bigger and louder than the one of the early days. It was smooth though. I guess this position in the band fits more with my attitude and this makes things very easy and natural for me.

7: Has Fabio and David played a role in the writing of Veleno?

Not in the writing process. That actually started three years ago already, but me and Francesco Ferrini are the ones in charge for songwriting and, in general, for creative choices. However, Fabio and I have recorded all the guitar tracks for “Veleno” together. He’s an amazingly skilled guitar player and that helped us so much during the recording sessions. However, on stage they both are the best addition we could ask for. Our live performance has never been so tight and consistent.

8: You performed with a full orchestra not too long ago, is that something you would like to do again? Maybe take on tour with you?

It was a mind-blowing experience! Watching a bunch of talented, classically trained musicians performing your music is a feeling I can hardly find the proper words to describe. Taking them on a full tour with us is something that definitely crossed our mind. It would be wonderful for us and our fans, so we will consider it as an option. It wouldn’t be easy though.

9: Fleshgod Apocalypse is a very visual band, with your costumes and all the theatrical elements, ever considered going for the bigger stages, like theatres or even the Eurovision contest?

Yes, the combination between music and imagery is absolutely crucial for us, both on our video clips and on stage. Going mainstream would be great as long as it allows you to reach a wider audience, but probably it would require too many compromises on the musical side. I don’t think we could go to Eurovision without scaring to death all the audience there haha.

10: Ever thought of writing an actual play or even an opera, like “The Wedding of Figaro”?

Wow, that’s very ambitious. Writing a full opera would be amazing, but it also would require so much time and effort. It’s a big thing to handle, but it’s also something worth considering for the future. Let’s wait and see...

11: Veleno seemed to have a more human theme, opposed to your previous records which seemed to have a more mythical or historical theme – was there a specific reason to this?

You’re right, this album differs from the others in that regard. Whereas “Labyrinth” or “King” were proper ‘concept albums’ in a more traditional sense, so to speak, for this album we adopted a different approach both on the musical and the lyrical aspect. While working on the new material and putting all the lyrics together, we noticed that there was a phantom thread, a ‘fil rouge’ that connected all the songs. That thread is the idea of ‘poisoning’, something that can be interpreted in many different ways, literally and metaphorically. The album is titled “Veleno” (Italian for “poison) exactly for that reason.

Rather than focusing on historical fiction or pure storytelling, we decided to explore the relationship between man and Nature, intended as ‘human nature’ but also natural environment. Mankind creates its own ‘poisons’ in so many ways, from drugs that annihilate your body and mind (the song “Sugar”) to superstitions and irrationality (“Fury”) or religion (“Worship and forget”). If you take a deeper look at the lyrics starting from that, you realize how deeply connected each song is to the other.

12: Now that Veleno is out, will you be announcing a world tour soon? Possibly with Danish date?

Absolutely! We have a bunch of summer festivals and a Japanese tour already confirmed. More dates will be announced very soon, so stay tuned!

 

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