Sunday 27 January 2013

20 Questions w/ The Secret

Marco Coslovich (vocals), Tommaso Corte (drums) and Lorenzo Gulminelli (bass)Michael Bertoldini  guitar)
Today, I am thrilled to be able to bring you my interview with one of my recent favourite bands.  None other than, blackened hardcore terrorists, The Secret. 
I caught these guys, when they recently supported Converge during their UK leg of their European tour. I spoke briefly with guys after the show and they were cool enough to sign a copy of their new LP for me.  (Bless)
Anyway, The Secret released their amazing record Agnus Dei and I thought it would be cool to get these guys to talk to us.
The interview was conducted towards the end of last year and my questions reflect the period when they were in the UK, during the end of Nov. 2012.  Anyway, enjoy the interview. 
Hey Michael, How are you? I appreciate you taking the time to talk to talk to us, here at the Sludgelord. Just like to congratulate you guys on another stunning record, it is so brutal!

Q) I caught you guys live in the UK ( Manchester, Nov 29, 2012)  with Converge, A Storm of Light and Touché Amore. How was that experience, because you seem to live on the road? At the same time, it must be a relief to finally have the record released?

*We're finally back home now and it feels great even if the tour has been amazing, probably our best touring experience so far. It's great to have the chance to play in front of so many people every night and to share the stage with cool bands. It's been the first time we played our new material live and I really enjoyed playing a new set list after touring for 2 years basically only playing material from "Solve et Coagula".

Q). Sorry if you have been asked this a millions times, but for the benefit of our readers who may be new to your band, could you tell us a little about the history of the band and some of the bands you've played with? Where you’re from? When The Secret first formed? Current band members?

*We started the band around 2003/2004 but we basically disbanded for few years after recording our first album. We got a more solid line-up around 2007/2008 so went to Sweden and recorded our second album, released by the Canadian label Goodfellow Records. Goodfellow stopped being active few years later so we recorded a demo and started looking for a new label and Southern Lord knocked at our door. We recorded "Solve et Coagula" with Kurt Ballou in 2010 and toured as much as possible. We recorded our fourth album "Agnus Dei" last summer, still with Kurt at Godcity Studio in Salem and it came out on Southern Lord few months ago.

The current line-up is Michael Bertoldini (myself, guitar), Marco Coslovich (vocals), Tommaso Corte (drums) and Lorenzo Gulminelli (bass).

Q). So, based on the name of your twitter feed, what is your fuckin Secret? Hehe. Let me guess, you’ll have kill me, after you tell me, right?

*Exactly. I really hate our band name to be honest.

Q) Is The Secret a full time commitment, because over the last few years, you seemed to tour Solve Et Coagula constantly, hit the studio, recorded your new record and you’re back out on the road?

*The band is definitely a full time commitment since it's been our priority in the past couple of years but most of us are doing different jobs in order to pay the rent. Playing a band like ours is awesome but we're not really making enough money to make a decent living with it, unless you tour basically at least 7-8 months every year, which is actually very hard especially for a European band.

Q) What was your motivation to start the band? Did you all know each other before you formed the band? Since your inception, what were your aspirations for the band?

*To be honest I don't even remember about it since it was a very long time ago and our lives were very different. I think we all wanted to play in a band and have fun with our friends. We wanted to record an album and possibly play some shows but we didn't really plan on touring or trying to take it to a different level. When we started we were all studying at the University or even in high school and we really didn't knew about about how it like to play in a band.

Q) With all the changes in the music industry, it genuinely does appear harder to make a commitment to a band, what with potential for constant touring, promotion for very little financial reward, what motivates The Secret?

*Right now trying to play with a band full time is definitely not financially speaking a very smart choice. It's hard to sell records and to make any profit from touring unless you're a bigger band. I don't think there is any rational motivation beside the urge to express yourself and do what you like the most.

Q) If someone was unfamiliar with your band, how would you describe your sound and do you feel it has evolved? In your early day your sound was mentioned as being metal core.

*Loud, dark and heavy music influenced by hardcore and black metal.

Q) Are you big fans of rock/metal, if so what are you listening too at the moment? You have to say Converge right? You’re on tour with those guys, haha?

*Converge is one the best live bands around so I've been watching their sets pretty much every night, it never gets boring. At the moment I've been listening a lot to Crosby, Still Nash & Young, Craft, Magma, Chelsea Wolfe, Nuclear Death Terror, Guapo, Goblin, Pagan Altar, Satyricon and Pentagram.
Agnus Dei

Q) Who would you say are your influences/heroes both musically and artistically in terms of the bands sound and subject matter for your lyrics?

*There are tons of bands that influenced us since we started but if I have to pick one I'll go for Black Sabbath since they're the original source of all the good heavy music that came out later.

Q) I was looking for the origin of the name of your record Agnus Dei and came across this The name Agnus Dei has been given to certain discs of wax impressed with the figure of a lamb and blessed at stated seasons by the Pope. What is your understanding and is the name reflective of the theme running through your new record?

*Agnus Dei is the Latin for Lamb of God. Between 2011 and 2012 for some reason we got really fascinated about the role of sacrifice in our culture and that's what we are exploring with this record. We've been taught since day one that Jesus Christ died on the cross to free us all committing the ultimate sacrifice for humanity. Countries send their children to die at wars, sacrificed for their nation. Basically we all grew up learning that we all owe something to someone, our God, our country, our parents. We learn that we all have to pay somehow.

Q) I’m assuming all musician like to talk about gear, so with that in mind what gear do you use in terms of guitars, amps and why? Also what tuning do you use?

*I use a Soundcity 120B and a Marshall JMP 100w guitar amps through Titan 4x12 cabinets because i need pretty clean sounding, loud amps to get the kind of thick, big tone that i like. I play a Gibson Les Paul Custom because it's the best guitar in the world. My tuning is C G C F A C.

Q) What is the scene like in your hometown? What are your thoughts? Where do you think The Secret within that? Any bands we should be keeping an eye out for?

*I don't really think we can talk about a real "scene" in my town, there are few newer bands that started playing in the past couple of years and I think it's very positive. The most interesting is probably Grime that features our ex-drummer. They're sludgy, loud and very heavy, check them out if you're a fan of Eyehategod or 90's inspired sludge/metal music.

Q) What are your views of blogs such as the Sludgelord reviewing your records, as opposed to mainstream music magazines?

*Usually smaller blogs or underground medias are more informed about our band and about the kind of music we play but fortunately this time some bigger magazines paid attention to our record as well and gave us a little bit more exposure than in the past.

Q) How you feel your band has generally been received and does it surprise you when people buy your music and merch?

*It's always a great feeling when people pay attention to what you're proposing and support it buying records and merch. We're very proud of what we achieved so far, especially considering we come from a country that never really offered much for what concerns heavy music. We travelled all over the world and shared the stage with bands that have been a great inspiration to us when we were younger and i think in general playing with this band made our lives, or at least mine, more interesting.

Q) Do you have any interesting stories from your tours, favourite’s places you’ve toured and bands you’ve toured with?

*We've been very lucky for what concerns our tours, we always met great people and played with incredible bands. Before the last tour with Converge we toured with Early Graves, The Funeral Pyre, Tombs, Rise and Fall, Oathbreaker, Kvelertak, Toxic Holocaust, Doomriders, Wolves like Us and played with a multitude of great and inspiring bands like Sunn o))), Napalm Death, Eyehategod and Pentagram. All these experiences have been different but I think we learned something from each band we played with during the years.

Q) You elected to work with Kurt Ballou again on this record, was it a given that you would work with him and what does he bring to table in terms of production style?

*We all love the fact that Kurt records heavy music that sounds like real bands playing their instruments instead of a computer interpretation of heavy metal. Even if some people seem to disagree i think he also tries to give every of his record a certain personality.

He's a smart person that seems to care a lot about the stuff he's recording and he's also an experienced musician which I think really helps you feeling more comfortable when you're in the studi0

Q) What were your aims for Agnus Dei and how do you feel about the record now that it has been unleashed on the unsuspecting public?

*I have to admit that is the very first time in my life that I'm happy about how our record turned out. It's not that I hate our previous works but they always sounded a bit different than what I personally expected, and this is the most important thing for me. It's definitely great when people appreciate your work but we really don't think about our audience reaction when it comes to write and record music.

Q) Did you agenda when you began writing the new record? It is hard to believe that it is even heavier than your last record. A reader of the blog jokingly asked, if Tommaso’s drumkit exploded what with intense blastbeats? haha

*I definitely take it as a compliment since our goal was to write a dark and punishing record and I'm glad you appreciate it. Tommy is a beast!

Q). In terms of the band, do you feel that 2012 has been a good year for the band and what are your plans for the rest of the year and 2013. Are you scheduled to tour the rest of Europe and America?

*Right now we're making plans for the new year, we're gonna play some headlining shows in Italy starting in 2 weeks and then we're gonna be touring Europe again in April and May. Things are moving fast and we're trying to keep us busy as much as we can.

Q) Thanks for answering my questions, but one final question, you got anything you like to say to your fans?

*Live Evil
Another great interview and as ever show your support to the band. Thanks to Michael for taking the time to answer my questions and also to his fellow bands mates for being so courteous when I asked them to sign my copy of Agnus Dei in Manchester, UK in Nov. 2012 .  Last but by no means least, thanks to Lauren at Rarely Unable for setting up the interview. 

Check the links for more info on the band. Record is available to buy via the label.  You can also read our review here

Fresh from their tour with Converge, Touch Amore and A Storm Of Light, and proving to be quite the unstoppable force, THE SECRET return for a UK/EU tour with Deafheaven.

18.04.13 Germany Karlsruhe @ Stadtmitte
19.04.13 Belgium Durbuy @ Durbuy Rock Fest
20.04.13 France Rouen @ 106
21.04.13 France Paris @ Le Fleche D’or
23.04.13 Germany München @ Feierwerk
24.04.13 Italy Bologna @ Freakout
25.04.13 Italy Milano @ Lo Fi Club
27.04.13 Hungary Budapest @ Dürer Kert
29.04.13 Germany Berlin @ Magnet
30.04.13 Denmark Lyngby @ Templet
02.05.13 Sweden Stockholm @ IOGT-huset i Skarpnäck
04.05.13 Holland Arnhem @ Willemeen
06.05.13 UK Nottingham @ Rock City Basement
07.05.13 UK Glasgow @ Ivory Blacks
08.05.13 UK Leeds @ The Library
09.05.13 UK London @ O2 Academy Islington
10.05.13 Germany Köln @ MTC