Zisis Petkanas from Rockoverdose.gr had the chance to talk with Luca Turilli about the new RHAPSODY, the upcomming album, and his plans... Enjoy the interview!
Rockoverdose.gr: A year ago, From Chaos to Eternity was released. Based on the album's success, we couldn't possibly predict that today we would be talking about a different Rhapsody. Would you like to tell us what happened?
Luca: What you said happened, in the sense that it was great to proceed to the spilt after a successful album, and after having ended the Fantasy Saga, because all the music and lyrics were related around this saga, you have to imagine ten albums, 15 years, 20 years that I worked together with Alex [Staropoli], when we founded the band in 1993, so in some way it's also an incredible record, and incredible result that we were able to stay together and last so many years, keeping the same main band members. Another question would be, "How were you able to last so long together?" So, we arrived really at the end of this artistic cycle, and as friends that we are, after we noticed that we didn't have the same fun anymore, like in the early times, because of course there were some external problems here and there, as people change after so many years, we thought that the best thing to do from now on is the new chapter for both of us, and the decision now may seem a little bit confusing, but in the end you will see that in 2-3 years it will not be confusing for the fans anymore because everyone will have his own identity. It's also the fact that we decided to go on with both of the Rhapsody names, but you have to understand that there are big, important reasons for that. Especially when you are friends, because we really wanted, if me and Alex have both the 50% of artistic possibilities related with the business. so, it's very important nowadays to keep the image, the logo, the name of the band, and so on, especially in a market like it is nowadays, very difficult. Also, because you have to imagine that in the recent history of Rhapsody we had to get out of some problems that we had recently, we had to personally put a lot of money, me, my family, and Alex Staropoli, we made big sacrifices to keep this band alive, and now we can both go on with the name Rhapsody, since we made a huge effort. Of course this means we cannot ask each other, Alex and I, to renounce the name or the logo of the band. So this underlines the fact that everything was done in absolute friendship, we are not people of war, we love peace and like each other, and treated everything as a natural consequence.
Rockoverdose.gr: This is the base of everything; that your relationship is good.
Luca: If you read something about Rhapsody lyrics, you will understand that with all the positive messages we try to give all these years, in the end, if we had acted differently, let's say we would not be coherent with what we were talking about all these years. We are really the people that we want to be, and we try to express ourselves by giving this kind of message. In the end, it's something that's naturally spontaneous for us.
Rockoverdose.gr: Let's go to your new album. What does Ascending to Infinity stand for?
Luca: Ascending to Infinity represents the main topic that was always at the base of all Rhapsody music, of all Rhapsody lyrics, from 1993. In all my lyrics, there was always a kind of spiritual evolution. When you're born on this planet, some people start asking questions. Usually children start asking questions like, "what am I doing here on this planet?", "where do I come from?", "where do I go?" which is the sense of existence on this wonderful planet. Some people then forget about these questions, because they become adults, they have other problems to think about, and they forget about this basic curiosity. Other people, especially the artists, like me in this case, I always went on asking. then from one question comes another, then another, and then another; so there are plenty of questions you would like to answer, to reach a part of the truth , to comprehend a little bit the truth about the space around you while you are alive, and most of the mysteries of the planet. So Ascending to Infinity is a little bit of all this. I was already speaking on the topic of spiritual evolution with the saga of Rhapsody and Rhapsody of Fire. But since everything was based on this saga, I had to use the narrative technique of symbolism, so I had to hide some hidden meanings behind the story. Now, starting with this new Rhapsody adventure, I can do it in a more direct way and, if you ask me about the lyrics, I can tell you that they cover all these kinds of topics, science, science fiction, mysteries of the planet, and so on. I can use them really in a more direct way, as I don't have to filter them through a saga.
Rockoverdose.gr: When is the album going to be officially released? The 22nd of June?
Luca: Yes, 22nd of June will be the release, and of course now I'm just concentrating on promoting everything. When you're on the first step of a new adventure, you feel very emotional, because it's like a new birth in a way. For me, every new album has been like that. I put a little bit of my emotion in each album. That's when people ask me, "Which album do you like most?" I can't really answer; because every moment of your life, you do what you think is the best on the album you are working on. Usually if you are an artist, you make the album first of all for yourself, because being an artist - of course in a humble way, it's not that I consider myself an artist - I try in a way to reach this, because I love to do it, and you always try to put a little bit of yourself and expression of your soul. You suffer, you cry when you make an album; this was always the case for the previous Rhapsody albums, as was with this one. So if you make something special of yourself in every album, that's why I'm never too tired to promote it, or give interviews or whatever, because I think it's really a part of you, and sometimes it's great when this energy you put inside, this emotional energy, can be reached by other people. It's great to see that on the other side of the planet, there are a few people that feel the same emotions. This is a great result for every artist; to speak through your music, to give emotions to the people.
Rockoverdose.gr: This is a great pleasure for the artist.
Luca: Yes, every song is a kind of hymn to life. Personally, I love life; I think life is a miracle. Sometimes people forget about it. They think about the problems, they life in mental schemes, they live in debt, to make money, to think about the back accounts, to find work, to die, it's just all fixed. But the beauty of life is that you can live different lives, parallel lives, discovering new birth every day, to have new stimulation. Thanks to God, thanks to this job, I have these possibilities. I think that I am really a lucky person. Every person has this possibility to feel the same sensation of enjoying life that I live. This is not about money. Lots of times for us musicians, I know about the Greek problems, now Italy as well is very close. I'm not speaking about money or economies, it's about the feeling of the people and how we interact between each other.
Rockoverdose.gr: As far as music is concerned, you seem to continue from the point you left off with Rhapsody of Fire. The only difference is that now, this is a rather operatic mood, right?
Luca: Yes, this was really the intention. That's why the record company specified that this is the 11th Rhapsody album. We didn't want people to think that because in the past I released some solo album, just because my name was added on top of the name Rhapsody, people may think this was one of my solo albums. This was very important for us, and that's why we said that. Then of course people can interpret it as they want, think that this is a new Rhapsody album of a new adventure, people can think of it as album number 11. They will decide by themselves what they like most. For me, it was very important to compose this album in the same way that I composed all the other Rhapsody albums. Before, I did it with Alex, now I do it alone. I had a lot of fun here, because in this case, I am the guitar player, and also the keyboard player. For me, that is fantastic; my big passion is always the work of the cinema soundtracks, is represented by this. I like to orchestrate the music; the keyboard playing gives you this possibility. I could write the music for each instrument of the orchestra. This is a kind of great artistic satisfaction. Before I was also composing the orchestration with Alex, the basic things, but now I have 100% total control, so for me, it's just fantastic.
Rockoverdose.gr: Nevertheless, I sense an opening to other music styles; Luna for instance, I think, sounds more like pop. Do you agree?
Luca: Many people, as for sure yourself, don't know that Luna is a cover. It happened that Luna and March of Time were supposed to be the two covers of the album. In the end, just because we were short on time and we had a deadline in the end of March to give the album to be mastered to the record company, we were really in trouble. I remember we didn't sleep for three consecutive nights while we were mixing the album on the last days, because we really had to respect this deadline, as I really wanted this album to come out before the summer. It was very important for me, so we really worked like 20 hours per day, it was unbelievable. In the end, we were not able to mix one song off the album which was called Fantasia Gothica, an Italian titled song. In the end, we had to take one of these cover tracks, Luna, and put it inside the album. So now we only have one bonus track, which is March of Time, the remake of Helloween's famous song, of course. This Luna is a cover of a lyrical singer, called Alessandro Safina. He sang this song about 7 or 8 years ago. It was very famous in France and Spain, but in some countries they really don't know about this song. People always think when they hear it that I changed my style a little bit, but the reality is that it's just because it is a cover.
Rockoverdose.gr: So it's based on this song. How would you call the music style of the new Rhapsody?
Luca: We decided to call it cinematic metal simply because cinema is always the heart of the composition. We always composed music in this direction: the love for cinema, for Hollywood blockbusters, the movies with tons of special effects, like The Avengers, Transformers, Battleship, all the incredible movies that really give me a lot of adrenaline when I see them, when I listen to the trailer promoting them, all that is really the base for the passion of all this composition, and this is why we decided to found Rhapsody in 1993. We want to give the same emotion that we give when we sit in front of the big screen of the cinema to the people that like our music. This is what we tried to do, as I am trying now with the new Rhapsody. I think "cinematic" was the adjective I've wanted to use since the very beginning. Back then, it was more of the record company's decision to define the style more as Hollywood metal, or film metal, but I proposed the words cinematic metal because I loved the word cinema. For me it's the main word, of course. You can understand it in every different language; in English, in Italian, it's always the same word. For me, I already proposed this to the old record company 5, 6, 7 years ago, but it was not accepted. Now with Nuclear Blast it's possible to use it, and it's just great for me.
Rockoverdose.gr: So it's going to be a new music genre.
Luca: Like you say, the root is always the same; the cinema. So you can call it different things, but surely now the new Rhapsody will be mostly based on this, much more than the previous two Rhapsody albums. It will always be a middle path between the metal impact and also the apocalyptic, bombastic impact of trailer music and soundtrack styles.
Rockoverdose.gr: What about power metal?
Luca: Yes of course, it's always the root, since we were influenced by Helloween. If you listen to this album carefully, especially due to Alessandro's voice, that I really come from that root. Power metal, speed metal is always there if you listen to songs like Ascending to Infinity, Excalibur, Dark Fate of Atlantis, and Lucifer's Fall, you will notice that there is a kind of very obvious influence that comes from the love that I had from the two Keeper albums, Keeper of the Seven Keys Pt. I & II, and imagine that I started to listen to heavy metal thanks to those albums.
Rockoverdose.gr: Yes, a great monument to metal. My favorite period.
Luca: I was thinking many times that if you compare the releases that come out these past few years, and you compare with what came out in 1987, and 1988, all these albums of Iron Maiden, Queensryche, also for me as a guitar player, every month there was something incredible. The Keeper, unbelievable.
Rockoverdose.gr: These were the greatest years.
Luca: Absolutely. 1988 is one of the most incredible years. Every month there were 2-3 incredible, historical releases.
Rockoverdose.gr: There's a rumor that maybe Helloween will try to unite after 2015. They are thinking to reunite after the next album.
Luca: I didn't hear about that! What does that mean, that Andi Deris will not sing anymore?
Rockoverdose.gr: Maybe they will make one performance with Kiske, with the original lineup.
Luca: So maybe they will make a special event? Because I know that Michael Kiske usually never liked to sing all the songs. You can never say never!
Rockoverdose.gr: Right, that's why we were so surprised by this news. But who knows? In music, everything is possible. We see a lot of bands who are reuniting.
Luca: Now that the market is falling, especially for music, because of this Internet thing, which is very good on one side, but very bad on the other, then you see that a lot of bands unite again, of course because money is not the same anymore, so you really try to do whatever is possible.
Rockoverdose.gr: You try to attract and gain fans. Alessandro Conti was recommended by Fabio Lione?
Luca: Yes, how do you know?
Rockoverdose.gr: I know a few things! Is it a secret?
Luca: No, absolutely not! But it was strange, because I usually have never say it before. It's true. It was particular because it was not supposed to be for Rhapsody. At the time, I was looking for a singer in the style of Avantasia because it was something proposed to me before me and Alex agreed to go on with two separate Rhapsody bands, when we decided to go for the split after the end of the saga, after releasing From Chaos to Eternity, there was the possibility that I would completely change my life, completely dedicating myself to the world of the soundtracks, to the cinema, I also had another proposal, to make a band in the style of Avantasia. So, I was looking for a singer for this project. We were on the European tour, and Fabio new about that, and he proposed to me to check out this Alessandro Conti, because I would like his voice for sure, and I didn't know about him at all, so it was really Fabio telling me that. Then I went to check on YouTube and I discovered him. Before, I never knew about him. So I have to say thanks to Fabio and then of course the time passed, I decided to go with Rhapsody and then I discovered that he's able to sing in many different ways, really high, remembering really the history of The Keepers and this operatic lyrical approach. For me, it was really fantastic, because it's essential for a singer who is able to sing in a thousand different ways. Then I really called him and told him after 3-4 months that he was the singer of Rhapsody now, because in the meantime, the summer passed and I decided to go on with Rhapsody together with Alex, a different band. So, he could not believe this news.
Rockoverdose.gr: To be truthful with you, my partner Panayiotis gave me this question because he's a fanatic fan of Rhapsody.
Luca: Okay, so he knows everything, of course!
Rockoverdose.gr: He knows almost everything! Personally, I'm not a big fan, but he's crazy about you. He was the right person to do it.
Luca: Okay, say hello from me!
Rockoverdose.gr: Alessandro is Italian, right?
Luca: Yes, he is from Modena.
Rockoverdose.gr: Have you tried to listen to singers of other nationalities?
Luca: No, because in the end, for me it was always very important to also have some Italian lyrics, some songs in Italian. I started doing that, composing for Lamento Eroico, a very famous ballad in the Rhapsody discography, already on our fourth album. So, in the last six albums, we always increased the amount of Italian lyrics in every album. Now, as for the new Rhapsody, I thought it was essential to have an Italian singer because of that, because for me it's much easier to compose in Italian. I can use deeper meaning; it's not the common spoken Italian. It's more ancient, more historical Italian in some cases, so I really love to write in that way. Of course, for Alessandro it's very easy, like it was for Fabio before. He always liked the lyrics and songs in Italian. You sing in your mother language much easier, it's much easier to record in the studio; everything is more fluent, easier pronunciation. You see, for an Italian it's always a problem, you know!
Rockoverdose.gr: What about a Greek singer?
Luca: You never know! It could be; I always love to use different languages. If you listen to our song Dark Fate of Atlantis, I used five different languages, because for me it was important to underline the universal concept related with the song Atlantis that is representing a kind of cycle for every civilization. The birth, the growth and the death, the fall of every civilization that represents also the cycle of the human being, of mankind. That's why I really like to make it universal using different languages. One of these five languages was Greek, because in the refrain of that song, which also happens to be the first single we released, there is the word "mantis," which means "prophet" which you know. So it was very nice for me because it was very particular; I was attracted by all this. "Dark mantis, dark fate of Atlantis." It really stuck in my mind; I really wanted to have it. I knew this word because I studied Latin at school. I also liked to check things in Greek like that. I discovered this great word, and so it became something that all the people will think about. I think it's something particular. It's personal homage to Greece and our Greek fans.
Rockoverdose.gr: We've known the band since 1995, and the Eternal Glory demo.
Luca: We actually released three demos; you're probably talking about the official one. You are better than me because you know more about my history!
Rockoverdose.gr: There are a lot of fans out there who have stood by you through good and bad times. Have you thought of how they feel after the split? They may be confused.
Luca: Not really. In reality, they knew that, even though it was announced at the last moment, we were talking about it 4 or 5 years ago when we had to face these important, big external problems. The band was finished at the time. Of course they think this changed the atmosphere completely. But for us it was very important to arrive at the end of the saga, because for us it would have been like writing a book for 15 years and then to let the last pages blank. We could have never split before that time. This was really made for the fans, thinking of them, so they could have the complete opera available. Now they can sit down, like in the movie Lord of the Rings where they have three chapters, in our case there are 10 albums they can listen from the first to the last consecutively. It's a kind of incredible opera, not many bands did that. Now, there is some confusion that is normal, but I tell you that in two or three years there won't be any more. Now I am releasing my album and Rhapsody of Fire will release their own. The stylistic and artistic differences are enough to justify the existence of two Rhapsody bands. We will have the same fans loving the two Rhapsody bands, maybe I will have my fans, and maybe Alex will have his own fans, so everybody will be happy in the end.
Rockoverdose.gr: Your old fans will follow both bands.
Luca: Yes, I don't understand why it seems like you lose to choose! In reality, it's not like that. You can enjoy many bands at the same time, of course.
Rockoverdose.gr: Are there any plans for a tour?
Luca: There is a big tour going on, so we will be in Europe in November and December, and then by the next year at the rest of the world. A big, long tour of course.
Rockoverdose.gr: I think in Rhapsody of Fire's early years, you wouldn't go on the road, right?
Luca: That's true; we were mostly a studio band in the beginning, more than a live band. When we started, me and Alex, we had never played live before. So we were more composers. I didn't feel like a rock musician. Then, in some way, we were constricted to play live, while in the beginning we were afraid, we didn't feel like musicians on the road. But then was the time that we really learned that it's great to be on stage! When you have these big speakers behind you, there's this emotion from the music, and in front of you, you have the people. So it's double the emotion. The people that like your music, that are happy to see you. Then we started loving more and more to tour, and then when we really wanted to make big tours, we had a lot of problems that constricted us to stop for a few years. We were unlucky in this sense. Now finally all the problems of the past have been solved. Now we can really start a new era. It's very particular, because many bands start composing the album in the rehearsing room, so they start being live musicians beforehand, and then they composed something based on what they play. But Alex and I were composing everything on the table, in front of the computer; actually, in front of a keyboard! It was something strange; Rhapsody is a particular story.
Rockoverdose.gr: At your live shows, will you also play songs from the past?
Luca: Of course! We will also play stuff from my solo albums, because Alessandro's voice is really perfect, especially for the very first Rhapsody songs. When we composed the first albums with Alex, we composed the vocal lines very high, so it was difficult to perform them on stage. They were really very high at the time! But Alessandro's voice is very highly toned, so for him it will be very easy to sing those songs. It will be great for all the fans that can really expect new songs, a couple of surprises from my solo albums, since I have now stopped my solo activity to really dedicate myself to Rhapsody only. As now with Rhapsody there is no Fantasy Saga, I can compose what I want. This was very important for me to dedicate myself only to Rhapsody now, and so the only chance for me to play on stage the old songs from the solo albums was to play in these next tours that we will play with the new band. It's also great because Alessandro's voice will allow me to do all that. His voice is perfect for the new songs, of course, for the old songs, and for the songs of the solo album.
Rockoverdose.gr: Is Greece in your touring plans?
Luca: As I told you before, this is my dream. The problem is to find promoters that want you there. We are right now negotiating that. It's always about who wants you there. We know that there are fans who want us there, we want to come. We just have to find the promoter who really wants to bring you there nowadays. This is the problem that I talk about with many bands, about Greece. We would come yesterday to play there! I remember the times we played festivals, it was just amazing. It was too many years ago, but my memory is still fresh, we were welcomed in a great way. It was just amazing. We really hope to be there very soon.
Rockoverdose.gr: We also hope promoters are listening to this!
Luca: This is the problem. There has to be a kind of collaboration between journalists, promoters, bands, if everybody goes in the same direction it will be more possible. I remember this when I came to Athens, I took some days to make a big trip around the city, it was just amazing. So my dream is really to come back there. Otherwise I'll have to come back on my holidays!
Rockoverdose.gr: Let's conclude with something different. Greeks and Italians have a lot in common, and nowadays they are expressing the same financial problems. What is your opinion on this situation?
Luca: It is unbelievably bad. In my lyrics, I always tried to speak about the emotion of the people, spiritual evolution. In some way, I feel very close to the feelings of the people. There is a kind of empathy between the artist and the people; you always communicate with the people. So, all the things that I read and see - of course, I cannot have a direct contact; we are not very close, and I am not there now, but I really feel this kind of tremendous emotions for what is happening. Now Italy is in almost the same situation. Believe me; many countries are at risk to be in the same situation. It's a kind of chain reaction. So it's really a matter of being ready to face that. As I spoke in my song, Dark Fate of Atlantis, this is the metaphor of every civilization. When there is an economical system, there is the moment that you are up, and the moment that you are down. There's nothing you can do. We are unlucky because this is the moment we are living this situation. You can wish all the best, but you always have to be ready for the war. The cycles, the end of civilization, the bad moments, are part of mankind's journey. It's the typical cycle of man. Now is the moment to face this terrible situation, but we are all united; we are all in the same position. I see it hard. I cannot say that I see it positively. When you speak with the people that are really inside business, you understand the situation. So many times, politicians don't want to speak with the people directly, because you have to pay care to their reactions. It's not a fantastic moment, and I of course don't see a very happy ending in the short-term. I see it as a long-term case.
Rockoverdose.gr: We have to be strong and united.
Luca: Be strong, and don't base everything on this. Man in general is trapped in this mental scheme, and it's very difficult to get out, even for me. You're born, you live, you want your bank account, make your family, live without problems, be happy, and die happy. But sometimes this is not the course of nature; it doesn't correspond. Many people discover it during big earthquakes, like now in Italy, or when there are big natural catastrophes. The problem is that we always have to live and think that every day is a miracle, if we are able to live thinking about the bank account, to be happy with the family. In reality, nature is about variety. One day can be like that, and the other day totally different. Emotionally, inside ourselves, we have to be ready to face that. If we are ready beforehand, then we face it with strength. We are able to go against that. If we are basing everything on the bank account and the economy like that, then we will suffer, like it usually happens. Many people are committing suicide because they don't have the nervous system to face something like that. So, just strength, force, courage, and positive emotions, and a lot of hope. This is the only way to get over all that.
Rockoverdose.gr: Let's hope everything goes well in the end.
Luca: I don't believe in the short-term, but in the long-term in this case. The disaster that some people made, the economic system itself made, is really hard to get back to normal.
Rockoverdose.gr: What is your message to the Greek fans?
Luca: It's really related to this. I wish a lot of courage. I would like at least to transmit that through the Rhapsody music, some of these positive emotions that can be converted in this positive energy in some way. Many people have thanked me for our music, and that is my greatest satisfaction as an artist. These people were able to get out of their problems, from drugs, from depression. If in some way we can bring all of this positive energy to increase the strength inside people to face all of these bad moments, like we are all living now, that's the best thing. So I hope really they can get some energy and the same emotional impact we put while composing this album.
Rockoverdose.gr: Thank you very much for this really great interview. We heard great things about you and Rhapsody.
Luca: Don't forget to say hi to Panayiotis!
Rockoverdose.gr: Thank you very much.
Luca: Thank you! All the best, for now, for today, and for the future.
Transcription: Vicky Denaxa