Wednesday the 28th of March saw Fleshgod Apocalypse hit Cape Town on the fourth date of the eight day Detonation Tour 2012 and Metal4Africa was there to chat to Cristiano Trionfera (guitars) and Paolo Rossi (bass) about the tour, the band’s music and how they got where they are today.
Metal4Africa: Hi Christiano and Paolo, welcome to Cape Town and thank you for taking the time out to answer some questions! First off, I have to ask, what has your experience been of South Africa so far?
Christiano: Man, it’s been great! This country is a very different place to tour. For now we’ve been pretty much to all of the “normal” continents, Europe and North America, and now with a chance to be here you see very different things, cultures, and of course it’s something that is new to us which is overwhelming.
M4A: On that subject, have you ever played anywhere as obscure as South Africa? Or, out of the way of the normal Europe, America deal?
Paolo: We’re planning to play a lot of different places and until now South Africa is the most unusual part of the world.
M4A: Were you aware that there was a metal scene in South Africa? Or that there were metalheads on the African continent and in this country?
Christiano: We actually knew about some bands… We knew about Bile of Man because we met their previous bass player in London a couple of years ago, he came to one of our shows and he told us about South African metal so we kept in touch through Facebook and he in introduced us to Valentina (the tour manager). So yeah, we knew about what was happening here.
M4A: Aside from Bile of Man and Bleeding Spawn, who you’ve been jamming with, have any of the support bands stood out for you? Who sounded really good or put on a good performance?
Christiano: There are a lot of good bands here, man. We played with a couple of young bands, you know, young guys with such a fresh attitude.
Paolo: They looked good! Things here seem to be very active.
Christiano: There are many local bands… Personally I love the two bands we are touring with. They’re very good and are writing very good music; for example, Bile of Man have a great singer, I love his attitude. It’s very, very tight. And Bleeding Spawn have a great bass player! I couldn’t watch every set on the tour but I caught a couple of songs here and there, so when I listen to their albums I’ll be able to hear it all.
M4A: Now to move away from South Africa and on to matters more Fleshgod-related. There’s a very noticeable shift in sound between your first album, Oracles, and then Agony. It’s got a lot bigger, a lot more symphonic sounding. Was this a logical progression for the band?
Paolo: Definitely, it felt really natural. From the beginning we wanted to reach a higher level. Before writing Agony, when we were thinking about the album and how to progress in our sound and we had different ideas. So we explored, I would say. And it was pretty much a step forward for us.
M4A: When it comes to the symphonic influences: Where do they come from? Are they from specific composers?
Christiano: That would be, uh… the famous ones? (laughs) Mozart, Beethoven.
Paolo: It’s not specific composers, I would say it’s more a specific period, that romanticism. We feel like it’s more a death metal influence on symphonic music way of thinking.
M4A: What about the introduction of clean vocals? I don’t recall there being clean vocals on Oracles and then it came to the Mafia EP and followed through to Agony. Why go for that? Especially in death metal where clean vocals are frowned upon.
Christiano: We tried this experiment and it turned out very well, so why not stick with it? We tried this new attitude on the record and we love it, people seem to enjoy it. It’s an unusual element for death metal.
Paolo: We compose, write and play music we like.
Christiano: For us it feels normal, that’s the main point. We don’t like to have genre boundaries so we can switch from a very slow song like “The Forsaking”, that is quite a ballad, to a very fast and complicated on like “The Oppression”.
Paolo: Yeah, we like to experiment and we like to take ourselves somewhere new.
M4A: How do you guys write songs? Do you all bring something to the table? Do you sit and jam through riffs?
Christiano: No, no. Actually it’s our drummer, Francesco (Paoli) who has the main ideas and on Agony he started writing with the other Francesco (Ferrini), who is our piano player, because we wanted to start with the symphonic elements, trying to think of all the instruments that are part of the ensemble of the orchestra. In the studio is where you find the little differences, the last moment changes from all of us.
Paolo: At that point there is a lot more interaction. And I take care of the lyrics!
M4A: There seems to be a lot of metal coming out of Mediterranean Europe at the moment. It’s normally been Britain and Scandinavia and now all of a sudden there’s been this spring of bands from the lower end of Europe. Can you talk a little about the Italian metal scene and are there any underground bands there that we should check out and keep an eye on?
Paolo: Yeah, there are a lot of bands!
Christiano: We’ve got a lot of bands. Our brothers in Hour of Penance… They’re good and they’re doing their first US tour…
Paolo: They’re actually there now, along with The Black Dahlia Murder and Nile so they’re turning out pretty well.
Christiano: Hour of Penance is probably the first name that comes to mind… We’ve got Iconoclast…
Paolo: They’re trash, modern thrash metal…
Christiano: The Modern Age Slavery…
Paolo: We’ve got a lot of good bands actually…
M4A: And how developed is the scene in Italy; if you were to compare it to the South African Scene?
Christiano: I was talking to the guys in Bile of Man yesterday, I think, and it seems to me (personally, at least) that South Africa is like what Italy was maybe, I would way, five or ten years ago. It’s just a matter of structures, you know what I mean?
Paolo: Italy’s not a very big scene but it is growing. But, you know, we are in Europe and so it’s easier for us to communicate with the other scenes and all the underground work… the bands, the organisers, the event teams, management teams, radio, zines, webzines… there’s a lot of structure. And that’s what’s happening here and it’s good to see that there’s a lot of people working to make it happen.
M4A: Lastly, based on your experience as a band that has “got out there”, that has toured and has people all over the world buying your CDs, can you give any advice to local bands down here?
Christiano: It’s all about working as hard as you can!
Paolo: I would suggest going outside your own country. If you don’t go out and visit other countries and play all over the world people will think you are nothing in your own country and we experienced that. We had to go out, touring Europe and North America, then we come back home and it’s like, “Okay. Now you’re a great band”. It’s reality. For many people they need to see that your band is not a joke band.
Christiano: Yeah, you’ve got to take it seriously but at the same time you still need to not have an ego about it because what we do is not easy. You’ve got to convince the people and you’ve got to work it out really, really hard. Work as hard as you can and you’ve got to realise that if you want to do this, that’s what you do. The music is very important but it’s not the only thing, if you really want to make it.
M4A: Thank you for your time, guys and I hope you have an absolutely killer show!
To say that the coming onslaught of death metal was breathtaking would be an understatement. Fleshgod Apocalypse brought their A-game and their performance (as well as the support bands’) was nothing short of spectacular! Many thanks again to Paolo and Christiano for answering our questions and kudos to Valgar Entertainment for bringing down such a great act!
Stay tuned for our full review of the event next week!
The Detonation Tour continues tonight at Tin Cups in Witbank, Gauteng and then tomorrow at Milano’s in Vereeniging, Gauteng! Don’t miss out on seeing The Mad Orchestra live and in the flesh (godapocalypse! Sorry… – Ed)!