Interview with Anto Addabbo (Guitars/Clean Vocals)
Interview by Svetlana Likhacheva
Greetings Anto, I hope you are having a great day! Thanks a lot for this interview. Reality Grey is a well-established band – 17 years is such an impressive time period! How do you think the music industry in Italy and the world has changed over those years?
Thanks for having me, glad to be talking with you Svetlana. The music industry has changed dramatically, not just in Italy, but worldwide and the internet has a crucial role in this of course. In theory, everybody can reach an audience much easier than before, but again this is just theory. The reality is that it’s too crowded out there and stand out from the others is very hard. When we started, to send our music to labels or magazines we had to package everything, go to the post office and literally send the material. It took commitment and passion and you needed to be sure to have a great product to justify all this. Now you just send an email, it goes without saying that anyone with a computer can send anything to everybody. What happens is that there is so much stuff around that it’s harder to be heard by labels or magazines if you’re not represented, it’s way harder than before for sure. I’m not complaining or anything, it’s just the way it is now, why complain for what’s unchangeable? You need to adapt to the new environment. Fortunately, we’re doing pretty good, can’t really complain.
Are you looking at the modern music trends when producing new music?
Not really, we don’t plan anything ahead, all the music we produce comes naturally, at the end of the day we write the music we would like to hear in a band. Of course, we could be influenced by new trends as we gravitate towards the new bands as well as the old stuff.
You have just released the new album called Beneath This Crown. What kind of story it is going to take us into?
The album is a “journey” for sure, it has different styles and colors, every track is different from the other, I would say each track has a story to tell. Lyrically it’s not a concept album, but to sum it up it surely mirrors what’s happening and what we are experiencing in these times we’re living in.
Where do you usually draw your influences from when it comes to writing music? Is it your inner world, or most things happening in member’s lives?
Personally, I write the band’s music with small contributions here and there to the lyrics. When writing this album I was listening to a lot to sci-fi movie soundtracks, artists like Hans Zimmer are amazing music creators and the record has strong sci-fi/futuristic elements to it, which I like. Of course, our music is very angry, that is something we’ve been doing since 2004. When we started we lived in a difficult environment coming from southern Italy, no jobs, crime, no future, was not easy at all. Things have gotten better now in our place, but it’s not a huge leap from the past, we’re still 5 angry guys playing angry music.
The band has stated that Beneath This Crown is “the most innovative and modern record you’ve ever made”. Also, there were a lot of experiments with sound and composing, as I can hear from most songs. Why did you decide to experiment so much in this album?
Actually, we wanted to experiment with our music since our start but we never had the means and the right situation to do so in the way we wanted to. With all our past records we just hinted at what we really wanted to have in our music, mostly because of budget and time restrictions. This time we worked with the awesome Divergent Studio of our dear friend Simone Pietroforte that gave us all the time we needed to experiment with our music. We never liked to be pigeon-holed in one genre, we like to do different things all the time and so we had the time and the chance to work on clean vocals, synthesizers and so on, we’re really happy with the result!
Which track from the new album was your favourite to work on and why?
Nice question! Maybe “Kings of Nothing” and “Daybreakers”. The first one because has a progressive feel, it was a challenge to put together all the pieces of the puzzle, “Daybreakers” because has a odd riff at the beginning where I use a picking technique used in country music called “hybrid picking”, you play both with the pick and the fingers, turning the riff into something evil was not easy and also the clean chorus, find something that went well with the rest of the song was a challenge. Both of the songs have some guitar solos where I tried to be as creative as possible, mixing metal playing with some fusion patterns.
I know you had some issues while recording Define Redemption LP in 2014… How did the recording process go this time? Did you make everything the way you are already used to?
The recording session was amazing! As I’ve mentioned above, we worked with Simone Pietroforte at Divergent Studios, he was very kind to us, we had proper pre-production that we never had actually. Also for the first time, we used digital amps instead of “real” amps. We got to use a Fractal FXII and Mooer Audio products, for guitars, it came up pretty good! So, a lot of nuances this time, everything went smooth since day one, recommended.
Anto, as far as I know, you also worked on the record’s artwork, and I find it really great! Can you tell me a little more about this? Is that the other side of your creativity?
Thanks Svetlana! That’s right, I’ve worked on the artwork, actually for a long time because I don’t see myself as a “visual artist” or anything, I was just inspired a lot, I’ve made several artworks for the release of “Beneath This Crown”, included the artworks for the singles “Multidimensional Hollow”, “Powerblast” and “Preachers of Hatred”. All these can be found on our BandCamp page. About the cover art, Tommy our vocalist always comes up with awesome titles, but didn’t tell me the meaning behind it, so I’ve put my vision on it. For me “We are beneath this crown” means that we’re beneath a major force that we can’t control, that can affect our life and potentially could be lethal for us. That can be a lot of things, depending on your beliefs. It can be our mother Earth that is showing us who’s boss, or if you’re a religious person it can be God or Fate. Many times God has been represented by the Sun. The cover art is representing this, the Sun or Earth. I wanted them to be “cold” as “fate” is relentless, it does not care. I’m not sure if I’ll do more artwork in the future, maybe it was just the moment, again, I’ve never seen myself as a visual artist but thanks for the kind words.
Do you think it’s easier to make artwork when you are one of the record’s creators?
Not at all! It was very hard for me, it took many many months, but that happened after the completion of the record anyway so at least that was out of the way ehehe Thing is that I’m comfortable in writing my feeling, my vision on the guitar, but it’s way harder turning it into an image because I simply never did it so far. This was another experiment we did with the record.
Reality Grey hasn’t produced a full-length album quite in a while. What was the reason for that? Were there any troubles inside the band, or you just took a little break from writing/ didn’t have inspiration?
No, the reason for the long waiting was not for any lack of inspiration or personal problems among. After our Japan tour for “Define Redemption” in 2014 up until 2017 we changed 3 drummers for various reasons. Actually, we started the pre-production for “Beneath This Crown” at the end of 2016, but the drummer thing slowed everything down. With the entering of Francesco on drums in 2017, we finally had a stable line up to continue the recording session, also because we wanted to bring Francesco’s skills into the record, and that took time. Also, once the record was ready we waited for the right offer from labels, and that took forever as well eheheh But the waiting has been worth it at the end.
Has the COVID pandemic influence the recording process of Beneath This Crown? Were you forced to change the way of recording things or push the release date because of it?
Of course COVID had a big impact on the record, but not in the recording sessions, as fortunately, the record was ready before March 2020. But of course, the pandemic slowed down all the rest, we decided to release the album now because we didn’t want to wait any longer, a risky move, but at the end was the right one.
What kind of feedback have you received so far from your fans? How do they like the record?
We’re getting a lot of positive feedback from all over the world! All the reviews so far have been like “9/10” “10/10” “8/10” that’s amazing! Also, we got to be on charts with the record on #2 in the iTunes metal charts in the US. We’re actually pretty stoked.
What are the band’s plans for 2021? Have you planned any live shows or other projects?
We’re working with our management to be on tour at the end of 2021 and 2022, we’re in conversation with several booking agencies but it’s all up in the air at the moment as tours and festival are not really happening in Europe and the States are still closed. Hopefully, this pandemic will slow down and we will get back to normality again soon, finger crossed!
Is there anything else you would like to say or wish to our readers?
Sure! Check out the band and our new record “Beneath This Crown”, it’s on all digital platforms, we also got CD’s on our BandCamp page https://realitygrey.bandcamp.com/album/beneath-this-crown for all the “old-fashioned” metalheads out there. If you want to support the band, stream, download and purchase our music, it’s the best way to do it! Thank you Svetlana for the interview, was very interesting and fun!
Thank you for your time! Stay healthy and safe as well as other members of Reality Grey, and best of luck for Beneath This Crown!