The Underworld, Camden
17 March 2016
Interview by Demitri Levantis
When the Italian Symphonic Death Metal veterans turned up in the capital city to showcase work from their new studio album, ‘King’, we caught up with vocalist, guitarist Tommaso to talk about the new album and the Italian metal scene today.
Let’s talk about the new album, ‘King’, what is the story or concept behind it?
King could be seen like two different layers, we try to tell a story and have different layers like metaphors that tell a lot of stories. We’ve always been interested in talking about humans and how their behaviours can really effect the world and others around them. With King we’ve been inspired by the changes of the world around us today. It is a story actually set during the romantic period between the end of the 18th and end of 19th century but doesn’t refer to any specific king. The king is the only positive character in the story; he represents that part of us that is still simple and concrete about us. The rest of the court represents the different behaviours of ourselves and how different people behave towards the different changes of today. They are the negative representations – how we escape from the consciousness that is important to us. We do become addicted to a lot of things we don’t need.
Is there a message to it?
There is a positive message, we all have this king inside us that is always conscious and able to come back and realise what is really important like the simple things and we should feed that part rather than other parts represented by those characters.
Are there any artists or writers who inspired it?
No it’s actually reflecting how many writers and philosophers have been talking about this over history. Like Frederick Nietzsche, he was talking about this more than 100 years ago and today we are in a moment when you can see the real tension going on among so many cultures and people. It’s also happening with technology and we end up using it for useless things, like we can easily get lost in using our cell phones. It looks like something is more but so many things really distract us from the important elements of life. That’s the main message of the album.
Have you ever thought of releasing an album entirely in Italian?
No we never thought of doing that, just because it’s our language and would be the best to communicate it is more important for us to reach as many people as possible. With English being the most spoken language in the world we try to communicate as best we can. Even if we use other languages, like we use German for one song on King, and we use Latin and Greek, those are connected more to the story, we use English to talk to the most people as possible.
How do you think the band’s sound has changed over the years?
I think it’s really been a continuous evolution, we try to stay with our roots but we also try to follow a flow with our sound and satisfy ourselves and curiosities and never be scared of ourselves. I think it’s really bad for musicians who are scared to try and experiment a little and try something new. I really think that’s our style and whoever really understands the band will follow us on the next step. With regards to the production we’ve been searching for a long time now for a good sound with which we can bring a good balance. With this album in particular we’ve been really satisfied with the production, it was all completely new because we worked with new people.
What do you think of Italy’s metal scene today?
It is not easy. It’s not a very healthy scene. I think in general, what I see is nowadays with music, cinema and art in general, sometimes it gives me the feeling there is too much rush in getting there and sometimes people forget about the context. For art it’s not an easy period because it’s easy for people to fall into the anxiety of making it. With Italy the problem is it’s not enough to have bands and people who want to play to build up a scene. There really has to be a structure like clubs and promoters who really love doing it as a job and building a scene where people can exchange ideas. We certainly don’t have that for metal music. It’s not like New York where there are places like the Village for Jazz music, where the music really is made. We miss that kind of reality where people can be open about music and get to the next stage, one of the dark sides about being Italian is we’re too closed. Italians can be really closed and it takes a lot to be open minded and accept criticism positively, we’re very hot blooded people. Pride is good but can be a problem with recognising new things.
How do you find playing in the UK compared to other nations?
UK is really good. We’re having a very good time right now and we’ve been playing here a lot, it took a while because we worked a lot in the UK but it’s getting better and better. I think tonight is going to be a packed show, Hammerfest was amazing and I think Bloodstock really helped last year too. We had a really good response despite some technical problems, people coming to the shows always tell us it was a good one. We’ve been working really hard since we first came here in 2009 but I think after that it’s gotten much better with really good reactions and I really like the English crowds.
Which festivals are you playing in the UK this year?
I’m not sure if we’re playing anywhere other than Hammerfest last week I don’t think we’re confirmed for any summer festivals in the UK yet.
Do you have a particular favourite festival you like playing?
I really like Bloodstock so would like to repeat that. It’s very rare you play one year and the one right after.
Do you have a particular favourite Fleshgod album or song you like to play?
To be honest, I’m supposed to say this, but ‘King’ really is my favourite. I really like what’s been going on in our music and I really like the way we manage the balance of ideas this time. and it’s an album where I have difficulties choosing between one song and the other because it’s the most varied album we’ve got out there, each song is so, so different at times. Me personally, my favourites are Cold as Perfection, which we released a video of recently. We started playing that song recently and is a good one to play live. I really like the song Syphilis too because it’s a very strange song to play, very slow and very dark which we’ve never done before.
Are there any bands you listen to who you’d recommend to anyone?
I can only think of bands that have nothing to do with Metal but I always try to push this band I love: Fast Animals and Slow Kids, they’re Italian and play something between Rock music and Indie Rock and Punk, I have very ranged tastes. They’re doing really well and have one of the most powerful shows out there too. Besides that, I’m really getting into the last Cattle Decapitation album, really interesting and different and they’re good friends with us. One artist I’d also really recommend is a guy from Iowa, William Elliot Whitmore who recently put out his third album, he’s a country musician. And another band called City and Colour it’s the solo project of the guitarist from Alexisonfire.
That’s very interesting. Thank you so much for this and good luck with the show tonight.