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DGM Interview: Different Shapes of Progressive Power

Interview with bassist Andrea Arcangeli of DGM by Vera in June 2007

None of the three founding members we can find in the name DGM are still present in the nowadays line-up, but that did not prevent this Italian band from going on and return to the scene with a superb progressive metal album. ‘Different Shapes’ will appeal to every metal fan with a liking for heavy riffs, innovative keyboard layers and powerful vocals. And new guitarist Simone Mularoni is the amazing newcomer who gives this record a fabulous drive with his tremendous skilful guitar skills. ‘Different Shapes’ is a record that cannot be missing in the collection of every self-respecting progressive metal fan. We contacted the band and bass player Andrea Arcangeli took the time to give us some fine answers.

Let’s start with something that just happened: you played at the Gods of Metal festival in Italy. What can you tell about this experience?

Well, first of all the organization was better than 2003 edition so we had the possibilities to play with a much powerful sound and a better chance to be “understand” hehe. Jokes apart; we were very surprised from the large number of people that knows DGM. Their response has been simply great and when you are on the stage, this is what you expect and what helps you in doing a great show, what DGM done surely. This has been for us a great satisfaction for all the works done in the past. We had also a great surprise, all the Symphony X express us their positive impression in listening our music and see our show. A great festival organized in a fantastic way, great support from the people and great bands on the stage. I will always remember this day as a fantastic one.

But you played there before I think? (2003) Any comparisons?

In 2003 we were a bit unlucky. There were some problems in doing the festival in an open area, so we played at 10:30 A.M. in a close stadium. So there were not too much people. We had few minutes to play our songs and the sound was really bad. This time things have been different. After several albums we were considered as a band, not as an opening band, we had more time to perform and a fresh release to present :-). This one has been the best until now, maybe the next will be much better? :-)

Your previous album ‘Misplaced’ came out in November 2004. Were you happy with the results of that record and could you play some shows to support this CD?

Well, let me say that in our opinion and in the opinion of the press ‘Misplaced’ has been a great album, but what followed the release of ‘Misplaced’ was not what we expected. I try to explain better. After ‘Hidden Place’ we tried to maximized the positive waves we are living on, so we decided to make another album, we had the songs we were happy of the new ones. But the sells, also if not bad, and the promotion has not been so positive. So we felt a bit defeat from the whole situation: always the same bands in the festivals, always the same bands in large tours, always DGM at home. It was no good. We were going through a dark period, so we were not too convinced in doing several gigs, we did few and these few live shows were really great, but we missed the joy and the will to do something more. That’s the reason why for ‘Misplaced’ we didn’t plays a lot of gigs around.

One year later an important change in line-up occurred when Diego decided to leave. What happened and why did he leave?

A little part of this answers could be find in the previous one, Diego, as every one of us, expected more than what happened after ‘Misplaced’. We spent a period with no playing and talk each other rarely, because too much energy has been involved in the release of ‘Hidden Place’ and ‘Misplaced’. Together with this situation Diego wanted to experiment other kind of music. One day talking all together he informed us about his will to leave DGM. We were totally blasted from this news. Almost all of us were ready to start again another album and to see all the things in a positive way. We were sad of this, not only because Diego was the DGM guitar player, but because he was/is a great friend. We’re scared something in our friendship could change. Fortunately it didn’t happened and we usually have fun with Diego. After these first negative impressions and fear about the future of the band, we are now happy of Diego’s choice. For him, because it is useless to continue playing something you don’t like and for us, because we found Simone.
Indeed, it was a nice surprise to see Simone Mularoni taking his place, since I just reviewed and interviewed EmpYrios in the beginning of this year :-)

Man, he’s doing a great job on ‘Different Shapes’. How did you get in contact with him and convinced him to play in two bands?

Simple, we called him on the phone and said “Simone, God’s Speaking….your future will be in a band called DGM”….ahahahhahahahaha
No okay, we already knew Simone. He came to some of our shows in Italy and we speak together. He played with our friend and new keyboard player Emanuele Casali, Titta saw Simone played in few gigs in his city. We already knew that Simone was a great guitar player. After Diego’s mess, Titta expressed us his idea to call Simone. We decided to contact him and ask him about some rehearsal in our studios, just to see if his style could be good for DGM. He was really happy to hear this also because Simone was a DGM fan before he became the DGM guitar player. The first impression we had about Simone was not for his guitar style but for the person he is. He is a fantastic one! When we started to play some old DGM’s songs, we had no doubt: Simone would be the new Axe Man of the band. This impression became stronger every time Simone gave us a little taste of what he had in mind for the new songs. He’s extremely prolific as guitar player, that’s why he could play in 2 bands :-)

Another change came when keyboardist Fabio Sanges left DGM. And the salvation came out of the EmpYrios camp again, isn’t it?

No no no, haha, it could be so but the things are a bit different. Emanuele plays with Titta in another band. When Fabio Sanges decided to leave DGM he was the first person we thought about. But Emanuele was also a friend before entering the DGM family. We have together with other people a Recording Studio in Ostia (near Rome) and Emanuele was one of these guys. The only thing is that Emanuele entered the band when the songs were almost totally written.

After rehearsing with the new members it was time to write new songs for this album. With some new members I guess the writing process was different as well. How did this work out for ‘Different Shapes’?

The writing process has not been so different, with Simone we started writing the new material as we did with Diego, the only difference has been the distance. Simone lives in another city so we worked using the net. We sent and received files from each other and every two weeks we meet to work better on all the material. As every perfect guitar player, Simone brought most of the ideas you hear in the CD, but our role in the writing process was to give his ideas the DGM sound. The result has been a great team work and the CD is the demonstration of it. For Emanuele, as I told you before, the things were different because he joined the band after the writing sessions, but when we gave Emanuele the freedom to change every part of keys composed before and he enriched all the songs with his personal and fantastic taste.

Are these line-up changes the reason for the album title?

Not totally. The new line-up is part of the reason of the title, the complete reason for ‘Different Shapes’ is represented by the different music influences that came out in the songs of the album. As you can noticed you can find power songs, progressive ones, AOR refrains, thrashy riffs. When we finished the recording sessions we were surprised by the fact that every song was different from each other and when we were thinking of the title ‘Different Shapes’ was the first idea and the best one for such a CD.

Simone is specialized in orchestral arrangements, I guess. Did this have an impact on writing arrangements and recording?

Well, surely his orchestral point of view has been very important, but since the first album we always gave an important role to the arrangements. With Simone there was a natural meeting of ideas, so an easy way to develop these arrangements. His orchestral influences could be found in the opening notes of ‘Frontiers’. He wrote that part totally by himself.

I remember you once worked with Novembre’s Giuseppe Orlando, but now I cannot find where the album is recorded, how long it took; and did you use an extern producer? Was it great difference with recording of ‘Misplaced’?

Giuseppe “Peppe” Orlando :-))) is an old friend of the band. Also for ‘Different Shapes’ we decided to mix all the material in his Outer Sound Studios. The difference from the other CD’s is that this time the drum has been recorded always in Giuseppe’s studios. The guitars and bass were recorded at the Fear Studios. Simone works there as sound engineer. The keys and the vocal parts have been recorded in our studios “Random Music House”. All the recording sessions took one month: one week for the drums, four days for guitars and bass, one week for keys and one week for the lyrics. All the previous albums were recorded at “Random Music House” and they were mixed at Outer Sound Studios.

Who wrote the lyrics and what was the main source of inspiration? Is there a kind of theme running through the album?

There’s no a concept between the lyrics if this is what you mean, but there is always a thing that can unify them: the personal feelings. Ok I think I have to explain better :-)
All the songs of ‘Different Shapes’ reflect our personal point of view about the problems and situations of every day: hate, love, jobs, politic, religion, society… but we always write about these things trying to leave the reader/listener free to impersonate himself in the theme of the song. Let me show an example: ‘A Man I’ll Never Be’ is a lyric written by me and Titta. During the writing session of the lyric I have an idea of what it should represent and Titta had his own idea too. When we read the lyrics, we were happy to see that both mine and his ideas were easily explained by the words contained in the lyric.
This is what we wanted, that everyone reading the lyrics could find a part of himself/herself in it. Almost all the lyrics have been written by Titta. Me and Fabio cooperate to write and restyle most of them.

Are there specific lyrics you want to tell a bit more about?

Well… I’m personally involved in “A Man I’ll Never Be”. My idea was to express the emotions you feel when you’re in front of an important choice… fear, happiness, doubt, certainties… in every kind of situation such as love affairs, work, daily little problems, personal choices. For me it represents something related to my personal experience but it is easy for everyone to find his situation in these words. This represents also a kind of bet for the band….”We’re able to come up with this new CD?” “Will be now the time to get what we deserve?”. Another one I consider near to me is ‘Peace of Mind’: have you ever felt unable to do something or say something, just because the person you have in front of your eyes doesn’t want to understand? Please read the lyric, I couldn’t explain better :-)

You are booked for the ProgPower fest in the Netherlands. I am looking forward to that! What are your prospects?

For the ProgPower our intention is the only one we know, play at our best and have fun with our music and with the people there. This is what DGM usually do :-)
What we’d like to do is to organize some other live dates in that period ‘round Europe, so Prog Power there won’t be the only one out from Italy. Let’s see what will happen.

Are you invited to ProgPower US as well?

Unfortunately not. It was quite difficult to obtain an invitation for the European one. You can imagine what could be arrange something for the USA, but we hope with this date, that could be the beginning for other appearances in the ProgPower Europe and USA.

Any other tour plans in the pipeline? :-)

In these days our label, Scarlet Records, are managing some European dates with other bands of their roost. In September we have been invited on a festival in Portugal. At the end of October we should be in your country for another festival, but we still have to define all the things. We are trying also to mange something in Asia, DGM has a large number of fans in Japan and ‘Different Shapes’ seems to be a masterpiece for them.
These are the fresh news, but something else is on fire :-) This time we wanted to do much more than after the other albums.

You are all classical trained musicians, isn’t it? Can you tell a bit more about that?

Sure…..with pleasure….talking about me….let’s say that I love practicing with my instrument. Many people are scared about learning something related to different kind of music or technique or something else, I don’t know why, I’ve always think about my instrument as a friend or a girlfriend. I don’t think you like a girlfriend only because she likes cinema, but also because she likes music, she’s intelligent, you like her job, you like what she thinks and so on. A complete knowledge of another person… in this case… of your instruments. Almost every one of us are still studying their instrument and most of us give private lessons or is a teacher in some musical school, for me I try to do the teacher out of my job…..also if there’s no much time….but I like…
I like very much practicing with jazz, also if it’s not possible to recognize in the album, but it is a kind of music that has a lot of possibilities to express yourself. Simone is simply a demi-god, he never took lessons and he plays guitar since 2003…….no words…..
Emanuele is graduated to the academy of music. Titta took several voice lessons and Fabbio a few years in the University of music here in Rome.

And you are all active in several bands. We mentioned already EmpYrios, who released an amazing debut. Is there some news about the other projects/bands anyone of you is involved in?

Oh yes, almost all of us has other projects. You already mentioned Simone. (EmpYrios)
Titta is involved in many bands, he’s drummer in Claudio Simonetti’s band (ex-Goblin), he plays drums in Necrophagia, a death metal band, he’s singer in a band called Astra together with Emanuele. Emanuele is Astra’s keyboarder. I have another couple of bands as CONCEPT, Zero Point Field, Soilisia and so on. Fabio is the only one, totally focused on DGM and also because he’s completely absorbed by his fantastic daughter, Flavia, born in the last august……we are really happy for him :-)

My impression is that ‘Different Shapes’ has a more progressive approach than ‘Misplaced’ which included more power elements than this one (though there is some heavy riffing on DS too of course :-) ). Do you agree on that?

Yes I agree, ‘Misplaced’ is more straight oriented than ‘Different Shapes’, there’s not a voluntary choice behind this. If I have to be honest at the beginning of the writing sessions I was quite sure this album should be more power than ‘Misplaced’. But when we listened for the first time to the final master, we realized that the songs have a powerful sound but that they were more complex than ‘Misplaced’ ones. All together we are really surprised about that. We never spent time to reflect about the direction of the album and this was the same impression when we realized that all the songs were different from each other.

To occlude I would like to know more about the beautiful, mystical artwork…

OK, before choosing this cover we talked to the guys of our label and we explained them we wanted something particular to better explain the music including the album. Stefano from Scarlet tried to realize our ideas and the first cover was beautiful, but didn’t reflect what we have in mind. After several tries Stefano gave us this cover and every one of us was surprised for the colours and the beauty of the image. We thought it could better represent our songs. The meaning of what you can see is related both to the different kind of songs contained in the CD and to a sense of hope we would like to communicate.
This album for us represents a kind of “new life“, as the first song may explain, and usually all the new things walk side by side with the hope to reach the target. For this reason the hand could represent the faith and the little ship is you - a general you of course - every one of us is always searching something better for his life……during all the time of his life (the roman clock)…….and in every place (the universe). I hope people understand and appreciate this great artwork.

Now is the time for checking out reviews and doing interviews for you probably, but what are the other plans for the near future?

I’ve already talked about the tour we are trying to realize, but I can tell you also that we are already working on some ideas for a new album. With Simone on board this process is quite easy. If you have an idea Simone realize it haha….no jokes apart…..we are really working on something new but we are really at the beginning. For now we prefer live this period with relax….enjoy the interviews…the reviews…the shows…..organize as much as possible the next dates and then step by step think about other.

Can we hope for DGM having a more stable line-up from now on?

I’d like to say “sure this is the perfect line-up” but we are persons and you can never know how what will happen in the future. For the moment I can tell that everyone of us is satisfied and happy of ‘Different Shapes’ and of what is happening. Let’s see if the future will be always so kind….

If there is anything you want to say to our readers and Belgian/Holland fans, please go ahead…

Ladies and gentlemen :-) Really thank you very much for all your support in all these years. We hope to give you a great show at the ProgPower and play in your country as much as possible.
Every one of you is an important piece for our music.
See you soon….

Geplaatst door Jany op zondag 01 juli 2007 - 19:24:26
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