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Extrema: 20 Years Anniversary

Interview with guitarist Tommy Massara by Vera in September 2007

To celebrate their twentieth anniversary, the Italian band Extrema recently released lots of material: a live CD ‘Raisin’ Hell With Friends: Live At The Rolling Stone’ and a double DVD ‘Murder Tunes & Broken Bones – 20 Years Anniversary DVD’ was launched. The band is extremely popular in their home country but abroad they still have to prove themselves. After all these years it is time for an introduction in the Benelux and founding member/composer/guitarist took the time to give us some guidance.

You are one of the longest running bands in Italy. How was it to form a metal band in 1986 and what were your main influences to start a band?
To be honest the band started some years before, 1986 has been the year of the recording of our very first debut the mini album “We Fuckin’ Care”. Personally, I started the band because of the love for rock and metal music. As you can imagine to put up a band in Italy, that has not historically a rock culture - the 80’s has been a mess - there where no places where to go and play our music and the few times we come up with a gig, usually the club owners or the P.A. rental watched us as crazy people with broken amps....... What’s that noise.... ha ha ha ha. Anyway, we have been influenced by all the good metal music from the 70’s to nowadays. Some names, Black Sabbath, Kiss, Van Halen, Motorhead, the NWOBHM era, Venom, Metallica etc....

Who were the founding members?
Stefano Bullegas: former drummer and Andrea Boria: former guitarist and singer.
Than Me Tommy Massara Guitar and Luca Varisco bass.
That line up only recorded the 1987 mini album.
All the people know better the Line up with me on Guitar than GL Perotti on vocals, Cris Dalla Pellegrina drums and Mattia Bigi bass.

Can you give a brief summary of the history of the band?
Three guys from the Milan neighbours meet and start to play as fast they can. It was mid 80’s than, with a different line up, the only one who survived was Tommy Massara, eh me… In 1993 they released their first full length and everything changed; a band that can finally compete with the international acts, much before other acts today more known internationally started. Italy has not a metal culture but it’s full of young headbangers who love this kind of music. Extrema sold in some months from the releasing of their debut more than 15.000 pieces, from ’86 the band released five albums, two mini albums a compilation of bside and rare tracks and a DVD, Extrema keep on playing shows constantly from more than twenty years, the band played alongside the biggest band of the genre. Today finally signing with Scarlet the band will release abroad their products and will start to play shows Europe-wide.

What were the highlights until now?
There have been many through these years, for sure playing alongside Slayer for their ‘Reign In Blood’ tour in 1987 and supporting Metallica in 1993 in front of 35.000 people screaming along with us!!!!

Were there moments you were discouraged because of bad luck?
Absolutely yes, but without negative can’t exist positive, right??? The negative period helped us in so many ways and kept us close and tight to go on all the way through these years.

I got to know you now by Scarlet, but I guess you have been on other labels before. Can you tell a bit more about your experiences with labels?

We’ve never done two albums on the same label, MultimediaAttack, Rosemary rec./EMI, Flying rec., Seven rec., About Rock/Sony, V2/Sony. Than, stressed I decided to open my own company Extremateam. I bought all the masters and signed a licence deal with Scarlet Rec. What to say, we had the more feedback since we signed for Scarlet than in the past 20 years, they are a small metal label that go all the way down to the core, they believe in what they do and finally they are fan of the music itself. We worked with majors but it’s always the same old story they have the economic power and that’s it, you are a product not an artist, they stress you and they don’t even listen to your music. I can’t say we haven’t good memories of our past deals, that’s it.

You entire back catalogue will be re-released by Scarlet soon. Please get into some details…
Well, through Scarlet we’ll re-release our past four albums, any album will have an addition of plenty of bonus songs, on “Tension at the seams” has bonus, you will find the entire live mini album “Proud, powerfull‘n’alive” originally released in 1994 plus two songs from the demo “Promo tape 1990”, than “The positive pressure...of injustice” plus the complete demo 1991, “Better mad than dead” with an acoustic version of the single “Another Nite” and two inedit songs than on our last studio effort “Set the world on fire” you will find the single only released on the 2003 compilation for the Italian market “And the best has yet to come”, “The world decline” and two inedit from the demo “rehearshal 1989”, as you can see there will be really hours of metal music.

Which CD should people check out to start with?
All of them, any CD has its own history and, musically speaking, we’re proud to say that we never recorded the same CD as many bands do.... than we decide for the midprice way, so, we hope, more people will purchase the CD’s.

How would you describe your music?
Metal without boundaries!!!! We’re mainly fans of the good music even if this it’s not metal.

The biography speaks of a “former singer” Gianluca GL Perotti. In some of the videos we see another vocalist (more hardcore). So please explain the singer mystery to us
Ha ha ha, the mysterious singer is GL with a different haircut and weight.

You are setting your sights on success abroad now and achieved some things. Please tell us about your new booking agency…
Stefano from Scarlet Records introduced me to Allen Wright of Go down believing, we just spoke for almost an hour and we found we have a lot in common professionally and humanly speaking, they are a small entity with major contacts, we think they could be the right agency to step up europeanwide.

There was also something about a special career award coming up in November?
Yep, there is this huge meeting in Faenza, a city close to Bologna, called the meeting of the independent labels, they will give us this award the next November 24th because of our 20 years in the metal business. We’ll be there to get the award and speak about the Italian metal market situation.

Can you tell a bit more about your musical background? At what age did you start to play and who were your heroes?
I started to play around 14, I started with a tennis racket haha. Then after some months I switched to a real guitar. It was much noisy and less boring than the racket..... to be serious I started to play guitar cause of Kiss. I’ve been a die hard fan of Ace Frehley, than Eddie Van Halen, Randy Rhoads, those guitar players have been my roots

What are the plans for the near future? Are there plans for a new album as well?

Actually we are trying to set up a real European tour and in these days we started to write some chords for the next album, we are heading for October 2008 for a new album release.

What about tour plans?
As I told you in the previous question we’re setting up a European tour looking for the right artist to support.

Last words are for you guys…
Hope to meet personally all the good people who have been supporting us through all these years. Respect to all of you.

Geplaatst door Vera op zondag 30 september 2007 - 23:39:27
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