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LIONE CONTI: Grandioso Italian cooperation!

Interview with Simone Mularoni by Vera in January 2018

Frontiers Records is famous for its exquisite cooperation of musicians. This time they launch a true Italian bond at the world, one we cannot ignore, due to the gathering of eminent vocalists and a composer/producer we already followed for a long time. We are talking about Fabio Lione (Rhapsody) and Alessandro Conti (Luca Turilli’s Rhapsody) as singers and DGM mastermind Simone Mularoni as composer, guitarist and producer. Since we have a long history with the latter one, we were eager to talk to Simone again about this new constellation of stars.

How did this Lione Conti cooperation come into being and when and how did you get involved in it?
The idea came entirely from Frontiers' boss Serafino Perugino. He liked the idea to have an “all-Italian” version of Allen/Lande project and he asked to a few well known Italian singers if they wanted to be part of this. After a few emails between each one of us, we ended up creating this one with Fabio and Alessandro.

You have written all the songs. Can you tell a bit more about this specific writing process, when you had a kind of strict mission in style/sound… Was it more difficult or easier for you?
Well first of all it has to be a good record with good songs. Of course the affinity with Allen/Lande project is there, but I tried to write stuff more in my kind of style/vein. It was difficult in the beginning, since I almost always write songs for my bands, but after a few songs done, I started to enjoy the process and it was actually challenging to write songs for two different singers. Every part has to be thought with their specific vocal range in mind, so I guess the most difficult part was to compose the vocal lines. But I always enjoy writing and playing music, so I don't care if it's rock, power metal or progressive metal, it's really all about writing good riffs and songs for me.

In this respect, can you tell a bit more about your personal affinity with the material of Allen/Lande?
Russell and Jorn are my absolute favourite singers of all time, so I obviously listened to the albums many times. Every note they sing is magical and Magnus did a great job writing/producing them.

And of course I would like to know: what were your earlier contacts with Lione and Conti… can you tell us when the first personal contacts took place?
Oh the story is long! I know Alessandro since many, many years, I guess at least ten or twelve years. I produced/recorded every Trick or Treat album since the beginning, so we fast became good friends and we write/call each other almost every day since then. I met Fabio a few times when we played with our bands in some festivals I think five or six years ago, but I actually became closer with him I think right after the Vision Divine's album I mixed: ‘Destination Set To Nowhere’. After that one we did a few other things together, and I recorded him for a week for the Eternal Idol album/project. He's one of the greatest singers in Italy and absolutely a real professional when it comes to record in the studio, so we got along pretty quickly and the friendship was born.

What were new challenges for you with this concept as guitarist? Because I think there is a slightly different approach in riffing and excellent soloing for you this time as well…
I don't really see any difference when it's time to play guitar in different records... you know since my first band I did tons of records, of course with DGM and empYrios but also I did a lot of rock/hard rock stuff for Frontiers, more melodic or extreme stuff etc etc... but in the end I play guitar in the same way, I just like the heavy riffs, but also and especially the melodic aspect of guitar playing, so in every record where I play I try to put my touch, sometimes aggressive/fast/shreddy and other time melodic/soaring.

As a producer you are the superman of the Italian scène by now I think haha; working at Domination Studios. Can you tell a bit more about your work over there for our readers and how you turned into this famous producer?
Ahah thanks for the “superman”!!! Working in the studio is actually my main interest/occupation nowadays and it takes most of my time. I started about 15/17 years ago in another studio and in 2010 I moved to my own place, Domination Studio. I don't see myself as a famous producer, I just work hard every day to please every client/band that contact me and my everyday's goal is to reach the best sound possible for every song/album. I'm a workaholic and I really enjoy this side of music, experimenting with sounds, effects and all the things that are related in creating a record. It's actually a balance of things in the end... when I spend many months in the studio recording/mixing I really start to miss the band and playing live my music but when I'm not mixing for a couple of weeks, I start to miss that too!

Can you tell a bit more about the other musicians Marco, Filippo and their background?
Sure, they are awesome musicians!!!! Filippo was playing keyboards and guitars in a band I recorded and produced at Domination, and we did two albums together. After that experience we stayed in touch and I started to know him better as a person and as a musician. I really love his approach to arrangements and “dramatic/epic” keyboards, so when it was time to hire someone to play keyboards on the album I immediately called him.
Marco is one of the best drummers I ever recorded and played with. We met at a DGM gig somewhere in Italy and he was really, really young. After that meeting we stayed in touch and it happened that he came in the studio to record some hard rock albums with Hell In The Club, one of his many bands. But the real “connection” was the last year when we did the DGM European tour with Secret Sphere and Trick or Treat: our drummer Fabio couldn't make it to the shows, so I called Marco to temporarily replace him and he did an amazing job. So consistent and tight every night that he really impressed me. That's why I called him to play on the album, it was so easy to record him in the studio.

I think it is heavier and more power metal than the classic rock of Allen/Lande. Do you agree on that?
Absolutely. This was my main intention when I started writing. It was an obvious decision considering the type of singers that are involved. Fabio can really sing in many different ways, but he's most known for the Angra/Rhapsody kind of things and Alessandro has also this melodic/hi-pitched vocals. So the direction was basically more power oriented than Allen/Lande.

Who was in charge for the lyrics and can you tell a bit more about the sources of inspiration on that level?
I really suck at writing lyrics, so I asked to a couple of friends of mine that are really, really good in doing this. The main thing was, as in every song that I write, to avoid fantasy subjects or political stuff. I really like lyrics that are either abstract or more “introspective”.

Will this remain a studio project or are you planning to do some live shows?
We got some good offers for live gigs and we're thinking about this. Fabio will be busy for many months touring with Rhapsody and Angra, and I'm always super busy in the studio, so it's not an easy thing. If we get more offers we'll consider to do maybe a mini-tour or a short run of dates, it would be fun!!

There is a video clip for ‘Ascension’. Can you tell a bit more about the making of and about this impressive song?
The video production was handled by Matteo Ermeti, the same guy that does all the DGM's video clips. This time, since there wasn't a real “band” playing all together, he told me that he wanted to try a new approach, with computer graphics and green screens. I was a bit worried in the beginning, because I know that it's really hard to create something that looks realistic and professional with that technique, but when he sent me the first preview I was totally blown away. I think it's one of the best video clips that I ever shot.

Another favourite of mine is the occluding track ‘Crosswinds’, so any thoughts from you about this song would be nice as well…
Thank you! I really enjoy that song, and the inspiration came from some Kamelot songs. I really love their sound and atmosphere and I wanted Fabio to sing in that style, since he toured with them a few years ago. Surely it's not a “typical” melodic metal song, but I really love the groove of the riff and the dramatic chorus, one of my favourites too!

Who did the artwork and please shine a light on this segment of art…
The initial idea was sketched by Alessandro himself. He's a really great painter and tattoo artist, so he sent us the idea of an epic fight between a lion and a swan, representing the two “faces” of Rhapsody. We all liked the idea and the colors, so Frontiers contacted Stan Decker who transformed the initial sketch into a wonderful cover.

What are the plans for the near future for Lione Conti?
The album just came out so we'll see what the reactions from the public are. We all would love to do another one in the future and also playing live, but it's all depending on the sales and on the feedback we'll get from this one!

And what are the plans for 2018 for DGM, EmpyrioS and other projects/bands you are involved in at the moment?
DGM are my main and only focus now, since with Empyrios we stopped playing live and doing albums a few years ago. Our drummer Dario moved to New York where he married and had a baby, so there's no plan of other music in the near future. With DGM we'll have a few selected gigs this year and then we'll start composing the new album, which I think will be out later in 2019.

If there is something you’d like to add, feel free to do so…
It's always a pleasure talking to you after all these years!!!! See you at the next show!

Thanks a lot Simone, the pleasure was all mine!

Geplaatst door Vera op donderdag 08 februari 2018 - 11:54:01
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