Saturday 25 October 2014

Interview with L'IRA DEL BACCANO

I really thought today's guests had call it a day as it was over 6 years ago since they released their awesome debut album - Si Non Sedes Is Live. A blistering Psychedelic Doom/Space/Stoner Rock extravaganza which I have featured numerous times on Sludgelord Pages over the years.

Thank The Stoner Rock Gods that L'Ira Del Baccano have finally released their eagerly awaited 2nd album Terra 42 an album which is more groovier and spaced out that it's predecessor. This is what I said originally about the album:

"Terra 42 a sprawling epic that combines Doom, Stoner, Space Rock and elements of trippy Trance based vibes all wrapped up in one delicious and addictive jam-based package. With this being an entirely instrumental album it is still a highly intelligent and exciting album as it contains quite a few ambient-based noises to make you question the world around you.

Terra 42 is a success on every level. The production is flawless throughout and L’Ira Del Baccano sound incredible from start to finish. It’s a very expansive album with the emphasis on volume and Terra 42 packs quite an emotional punch.

Terra 42 is a must have album. You cannot pass this one by. An incredible release. Let’s hope the guys don’t leave it another 6 years for album no 3.”

With their new album being released very soon and their classic debut album starting to win a whole range of new fans 6 years after it's original release. I thought it would be time to catch up with these fuzzed up spaced out riffsters.

Q1 – Hi guys. Thanks for doing this interview. How are things with you today.

Ciao Steve!! Well..let's say pretty chaotic.. The new album has just been released and we are working to maximize the work on the web and we're also planning moves for the next months. We are of course very happy that the new album Terra 42 finally is out… and honestly it feels a little strange almost! Its been out for a month in Italy and we've really had a lot of great reviews. The CD version of the album is out since 2 weeks worldwide and the first reviews are also starting to appear around the web. Yours was the first in English!

Q2 – Can you give our readers a brief history of the band and where it is today.

Me and the other guitarist Malerba started to play together back in '95. We played a sort of doom-death metal even if I think that some of "our" trademarks already were somewhere in those composition. In '97 we changed the name to Loosin'o'Frequencies and the Italian guru of doom Paul Chain produced our MCD "Regeneration".

Later in 2000 we recorded an album that never was released. After that, in 2003, we took a pause in searching for a good singer and finally decided to simply turn the band into an instrumental act (in that period we also met our drummer Alessandro Salvi and the bass player that's on the first album). That decision was mostly made because at that time we were all very busy with our real jobs and to play music was more about the "need" to feed our passion for music, but without the pressure of making album, etc.

At that time me and Malerba were associated to a club with live music, working as sound technicians with our own equipment and we also had a small recording studio inside the club, near Rome. It was on that stage we played the concert that was recorded and became our first album " Si non sedes iS..Live". The past 3-4 years we've had a change of bass player, and Luca Primo joined the band forming a real great rhythmic section finally together with Alessandro" Fred". 2 years ago we entered the studio to record Terra 42. And just after the recordings Davide Cantone, boss of Subsound Records, got in touch with us and we found a deal for the we are - Terra 42 is finally out!

Q3 – How would you describe you music. As I feel it's it better for that description from the band themselves.

Usually we write "Instrumental doomdelic space rock" as description..I know that every band says its hard to be categorized, of course..but you know our music well Steve, and you know that in our case its really not that easy!! And I must say that this is also one of the things that personally, even if it from a commercial perspective isn't the easiest way, make me feel more satisfied thinking at this project. We really feel very free in our way of composing and playing. We try to gather up different musical attitudes, more than a specific sound reference. That's why we say that our influences span from Grateful Dead to Rush, Black Sabbath, etc. But we try to not focus our sound on a specific band or genre, I think that's our real "key".

Si Non Sedes iS ...LIVE cover art

Q4 – I have been a fan of your great band for over 6 years now since I discovered your debut album – Si Non Sedes Is Live – which you recorded live. That was a brave decision releasing a live album as your debut album. Was that your original intention to release a live album.

We had no intention to release an album at all!! This is the story; working at that club I meet a lot of bands and musicians and people often asked me if I had a band and my answer was always "Yes, I have an instrumental, strange, band. Right now we play just for the pleasure to meet and play our instruments". So after some time more people asked me to let them listen to something by us so we decided to play at "our" club on Halloween.

I decided to record the performance with my equipment, mostly just to have something to practice on as sound engineer. Months later, when I started to mix the concert and let some friends listen to the first results all told me that both sound and songs were great and that I needed to think of publishing them in some way. Since that was the "Myspace era", I created one for the band, uploaded the songs and prepared the free downloads. As a social network for music Myspace was at its climax in that period, and the name of the band started to spread around the web very fast.

Q5 – How were the reviews/responses to your debut album when it was originally released back in 2008. Were you pleased with the original responses.

Oh yes, definitely.. One cool thing..and I'm very proud about this.. is that we never sent the album to receive reviews. Because as I told you, that wasn't our purpose when we built our Myspace page, we just thought about people having the possibility to enjoy and hear those songs, and not to "once again" enter the circle or world of reviews, etc. But after some time we started to receive mails from people saying that they published a review of the album or people asking if they could write a review. And I mean..we had a review on Decibel Magazine and I still don't know how! We were also on album/band of the day on the Roadburn site.

Q6 – With it being a live album, was it an easy or hard album to record for. As if you make a mistake you have to repeat the whole process at another gig.

It was just a concert in that moment, the only huge tension was the fact that we had never played on a stage with that line up. And it was also, for both me and Malerba, the first concert we had played in at least 4 years. I really don't remember so much from that evening, for example, if I even told our drummer and the former bass player that I was recording it all on a multitrack recorder! From a point of view we could say that we have been very lucky, because with a bad recording or a bad performance on that day I don’t think I would be here, answering your questions Steve.. hahaha.

Q7 – It's a brilliant debut album that I feel that has a cult following within the Doom/Stoner Metal community. It's received a lot more praise from fans over the last few years or so. Have you noticed this yourselves recently.

Uhm, honestly not so much. But in this sense, the bands name went around a lot between 2008 and 2011 and as I said we've had a lot of contacts, reviews, and so on. But from 2011 we had no opportunity to get out and play as we would, so the web was our main way to keep the band alive and active in music listeners mind.

That was also the time when Myspace went from being the main social network, to getting beat by Facebook. And I must say that in that period of not having more material out and having a break in our live activity, we sort of got forgotten in some ways. Facebook has grown hugely and very fast in the last 2-3 years and I think a whole lot of the, let's call it "generation", of people who have gotten involved in the stoner/psych/doom scene never have heard about us and our first album.

Q8 – Looking back would you change anything about the album.

The answer is, Yes ALL, and at the same time, No NOTHING. We are better musicians now and following our own attitude we left those songs changes a lot back then, gig by gig. So naturally when I listen to for example "Tempus Inane..." from our live debut I feel that its now much better, but at he same time I'm very proud and happy because that version represented the band in that specific moment. that song is the perfect example of our attitude. It will never stop to "move" so it will be always right for that moment and wrong in our perception for the time that has been after.

Q9 – Now lets talk about Terra 42. What an album that is. 6 long years I have waited for that album. Can you tell us why the incredibly long delay for the album.

Ah well...there are many, many reasons and some involve the personal life of everyone of us in the band. Let's say that a pretty huge dose of misfortune and some changes in the line up basically is the reason for all this delay!

Q10 – Terra 42 is an album influenced by the works of Douglas Adams. Are you big fans of his work and Hitch-hikers Guide To The Galaxy in general. Are you fans of other Science Fiction based works.

Yeah, I’m a huge fan of the Guide and of Douglas Adams as "thinker". And I introduced the other guys to the Hitch-hikers Guide To The Galaxy when we were composing the 32 minute long song that became "The Infinite Improbability Drive". The main characteristic of that song is the fact that in those 32 minutes, its only at the end that there's is a repetition of a previous part/riffs.

In Douglas' world "the infinite improbability drive" is a way to travel with a space ship going from a point to another, passing through every conceivable point in every conceivable universe simultaneously, not knowing exactly where you will arrive. I thought that all of this could fit with the dynamic of our song, especially thinking of the "first listen". Of course, as many know, the title of the album itself, TERRA 42, is based on the Douglas saga since 42 is supposed to be "the answer to the Ultimate Question of Life, the Universe, and Everything".

Q11 – Was Terra 42 an easy or hard album to write record for. It's a very different sound to your debut album. Was that your intention to release something different and push yourselves further as musicians.

All the music inside Terra 42 has been written starting from some months after the release of Si non sedes iS..and it has been in constant evolution through these past years. Let's say that we had all the time to search and challenge ourselves to find the best way to play these composition, that definitely are more complex than the songs from the first album.

The last "huge" change in the songs was probably when we changed bass player and Luca joined the band. His skills as musician and knowledge of the instrument really made me take the song where I wanted it to reach from the beginning. So we decided that it definitely could be worth to re-arrange all the songs, thinking of Luca's way of playing. So after all this work we entered the studio really well prepared and knowing exactly how we wanted this album and the songs to sound. The most hard part has probably been the "trauma" to come back into the studio instead of making a live performance.

But I decided to keep the production pretty simple, not so much editing but more the act to choose for example the best of 3-4 different drum takes, also, the guitars are mainly arranged to play all the parts live. For what concerns the musical concept of Terra 42, as we explain in the album credits, its is a sort of trip and exploration into how many different ways to play and structure a song we could use.

As I said before "The Infinite…" has a structure that never repeats itself for almost all the song and it opens the album. On the opposite end, "Volcano x 13" that is the closing track, we have a completely different structure. We play almost always the same theme for 14 minutes, but changing the perception of the listener with time signatures, rhythmic patterns, etc. "Sussurri…", the song in the middle of the album, even if is the shortest song lasting "only" 11 minutes, is an extreme summary of the other 2 songs concepts. The first part is very static, only noises and sounds that move around the leading bass until the second part starts that has 5 minutes of different riffs.

Q12 – The album is being released on Subsound Records. How did you hook up with that awesome label.

Subsound Records is based very close from where I live. We have a lot of friends in bands under Subsound so when Davide Cantone, the owner, contacted us knowing that we where about to finish the new album recordings, we started our communication. Thus, he was the first one to listen to the album and we found a deal very fast.

Q13 – Congrats on Terra 42 being released on Vinyl. Did you have much input into the design and recording of the vinyl. Or was that left upto the label.

Thank you so much. As I said, we entered the studio before getting in touch with any label so when Subsound Records contacted us we just discussed about the best way release an album in these times. And of course we all agreed that we had to take advantages of this return of the vinyl market. I like vinyls even if I don't care so much about the aesthetic side, in terms of different versions, etc.

So I let the label lead and decide on what would be the best, Davide knows very well the actual market and it was natural to trust his decisions and the common thing in all the 3 versions is that it will be a double gatefold, 180 gr. And I must say that the artwork, that's already great on digipak, will be stunning as a huge version on the vinyl.

Q14 – Who designed the fantastic covers for the album. Trippy as hell.

All the artwork has been done by the Italian artist Fabio Listrani. Fabio is a long time fan of the band and I'm a huge fan of his works. Even if his work usually has been more into cyber sci-fi art. I contacted him and we started to talk about the album title, songs etc. He soon started to send me the first ideas and in some months of feedbacks and hours of chatting and talking we reached the result. I'm a very, very happy and proud of it and also that I decided to call Fabio. He's also working on the new T-shirts so I can say that this collaboration is still going on very well.

Q15 – What is the song-writing dynamic in the band. Is it a group collective or down to one individual.

Usually when we rehearse all start from me riffing, or from a drum groove on which I start to play on and then we jam all together for even a couple of hours. I listen to the recording during the days after and start to imagine a possible structure or way to use the ideas. And so when the band meets again the follow time I start to explain, let the other listen to specific parts they played, etc, and we proceed from there. And this usually takes a long time, ahahah, before we decide that "OK, the first incarnation of this song is born". Its really a group work mostly, let's say how I often like to say it, that I'm the director that gather all, trying to maximize the qualities that my incredible band mates have as musician. No one writes a song alone, each song is always an ensemble work, from my point of view.

Q16 – Can you tell our readers what is your musical setup when performing live and recording new material.

We have a very simple set up, even if by listening to our songs a person could think that for example we've used a lot of pedals etc. Well, its definitely not this way… I only use my amp, one channel I do most of the parts just working with the guitar volume and change of pick ups during the song. I only use a reverb pedal for the more quite clean parts and even Malerba who plays 90% of all effects of guitars and synths, uses very few things. One delay, one chorus one wah-wah. The bass has no pedals at all.

Q17 – L'Ira Del Baccano have been going as a band for over 15 years now. What have been your favourite moments with the band. Also your least favourite moments as well.

Considering all the various stops and breaks we've had I can say that the best part still is creating and jamming in the rehearsal room. Because that's probably where we, from a "egoistic" point of view, give our best in the sense that its our safe place that we go to. We still go to for the most simple reason…we love to play. We need to play to escape the stress for some hours, the stress of our works, problems, etc, and I'm very happy we still keep this attitude after all these years. Because otherwise, again as I wrote about the first album recordings, in this moment I would not be here writing to you and your readers.

About least favourite moments, well, I have some but you know Steve it is people who are " bad " so I cannot say that about the band as an entity and concept. It is a huge difference! Because the band is always something good and is always only a positive thought in my mind.

Q18 – Italy has a lot of brilliant Doom/Sludge/Space/Stoner Metal bands to call their own. What is the scene like in your own words. Do you gig much in Italy or do you have to travel further afield.

This is a difficult question. Well let's say…yes, Italy definitely has that, and that is true from many years now. An incredible number of really great bands in what we could call the doom/stoner/psych genre.

But since we have been "frozen" for a long time, except for the virtual contacts, I honestly think that I could answer this question about "the scene" and how it is nowadays, in full only in a couple of months Steve. We still have to get a taste again of all the dynamics that then will allow me to talk about an actual "scene" in Italy regarding the world of both band and live promotion.

Q19 – Apart from your new album, what other plans do you have in store over the next 12 months or so.

We have material to work on for at least another two albums already, material that has been recorded during the last years rehearsals and such!! But for now my real wish is to have the possibility to bring our music on stages around Europe. It's not that easy due to many cross the italian boundaries from Rome already means more than 700 km. And lets just say it…the general economic crisis is making a wide cut between those who economically can afford risking to lose money on going on tour, and those who cannot. We really hope that the response about Terra 42 will let promoters, etc, be interested in L'IRA DEL BACCANO. And we are already in fact searching for someone to organise a tour for us as soon as possible.

Q20 – Before we go, Do you have anything else to say to your fans.

I would like to say something to someone who still isn't one of our "friends". First of all, be curious!! The internet, with its blogs and social networks give the opportunity to discover so much music and so many bands, but don't just follow what the "others" share on their pages just because everyone does it or because it's band of the moment. Listen to what you've never heard, not what has the most "Likes".

Well guys thanks for doing this interview. See you in 2020 when I review album No 3. HA HA.

Thanks to L'Ira Del Baccano for talking to us here at Sludgelord HQ. Terra 42 is now available to buy Digitally from BandCamp now. CD/Vinyl from Subsound Records.

Words by Steve Howe

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