Last January, the geniuses of Italian Power Metal, “Rhapsody of Fire” were forced to cancel their European tour, leaving all Spanish fans without the expected date in Madrid. However, they have opened the doors of their house to let us enter the kitchen.
In the first place, I would like to thank you for accepting this interview. It was a shame that the tour had to be cancelled, I would have loved to be there enjoying the show and sharing it with the public.
Alex – Hi, thank you for having me! It is a shame of course that the tour had to be postponed, and as we did, many other bands had to postpone theirs to late 2022 or 2023 like us. I am sure there will be another occasion to meet, maybe at the Rock Imperium Festival 2022 in Cartagena!
I suppose that for you it has been hard because an important part of musician’s life is to jump into the stage and connect with the public, how are you living this situation?
Alex – Being on tour it’s great and the connection with the fans very important. Having said that, I have used the last 2 years to create “Glory For Salvation”, so between composing, arranging, producing and recording, I have been happily busy. Same thing is happening now, the 2022 tour has been postponed to 2023 and I am using this very period to write new songs.
Even though if the tour would have continued, how it would affect you facing a smaller public, with masks, without the necessary contact in this musical style?
Alex – There is no way I would have given my thumb up to a tour with any kind of limitations. Our main concern is the health and safety of our fans of course. We postponed the tour because we want to offer the live experience our fans deserve, nothing less.
Moreover, having a very recent LP, I think that the first necessity is to present it live. Does this affect to the planning of your following tours, the setlists or even the participation in other projects?
Alex – Of course we would have loved to tour with a new album out, but we had to be realistic. We will participate to Summer festivals in 2022, so we will have the chance to presents some of the new songs. Among other festivals, as I said earlier we will play at the Rock Imperium Festival in Spain and we will be playing at the Release Athens festival this June opening for Manowar once again. This will be a very epic occasion to unleash our orchestral power on stage.
Having into consideration the time that we have been in this pandemic situation that forces new cancelations, do you have some routine to not get “untrained” with this time off?
Alex – In the last two years I took great advantage of my free time to write new music and dedicate myself to different activities that normally I would not have the time to do. Reading, studying, doing Yoga, taking care of the garden, etc. Of course I always spent quite some time, actually every single day, at my gym lifting weights. Well, basically I kept living my life and kept looking at the bright side of things.
How do you keep the connection in the stage without the tour’s routine?
Alex – We have been touring since 1999, so this is not really a problem. Soon we will be rehearsing for the Summer festivals and that would be a nice injection of energy for us.
Your last album, released the last year, is made of 13 cuts of an epic operatic and rampant Power Metal. You usually organize the work in sagas, telling a story through the songs, how was this album conceived? Do you start with a single idea in order to develop it gradually or do you have all your work in mind since the beginning?
Alex – “Glory For Salvation” is the second chapter of this new Nephilim’s Empire saga. At this time in the story the hero opens his eyes and realize the reality around him and understand that he will have to fight with all his strength to accomplish his goals. There isn’t a real connection with our daily life or our society but it is a metaphor to propel, to drive people to believe in themselves and to make them realize that every one of us has a second chance, and in order to do so we have to work hard for it. Composition wise, often I just start from the desire to use specific instruments and that’s the case of “Terial The Hawk” for instance. I wrote the song wanting to have the Uillean pipes, the Celtic harp, flutes, solo strings and the desire to use those fantastic instruments drove me into the composition process. I love the pipes and all the Baroque and Celtic instruments. I find the blending between metal and those intruments very exciting and I am surely going to do more of that in the future.
It’s since the 80’s and 90’s that I don’t see much rock and metal in the media. Also, nowadays the market is really saturated compared to the past
The Rhapsody of Fire’s album are stories that tells an epic story, what do you start with, the lyrics or the music?
Alex – The music comes always first. I compose by myself or with Roby, in both cases it’s the music that will be created first. Later on, when I have created and programmed all the instruments, including drums, bass, etc. I start writing the vocal lines. Vocal lines have to work well with all the complex arrangements, that’s why I am taking care of it as well. Giacomo will then receive all the songs in demo form, with vocal lines, a canvas to write the perfect lyrics on.
The classic influences are obvious, but no everything is Verdi, you introduce also some Celtic folk in your styles. Your songs have complex music sheets, a lot of types of voices and instruments, who have been your influence for this album? Which parts were more difficult to record for you?
Alex – It’s been many years that I write songs and do orchestral arrangements, so it became a very natural process that I don’t even think about it anymore. I just write what comes to my mind and go from there. There is anything particularly difficult to record. Surely for recording vocals you need passion and a high level of attention, but at the end it’s a pleasure being able to record Giacomo, all the choirs and the solo instruments as well. I like to make most of the recordings myself, in this way I can enjoy also this part of the process, which is in fact, the completion of the writing process.
Who has the final responsibility in the production, composition…? How do you organize this roles within the band?
Alex – At the end of the day I am the sole responsible. As a producer that is my role and my duty. I do work with Roby in many songs, especially in regards of guitar riffs and guitars in general, and Giacomo has great skills in writing lyrics. Regarding drums and bass, is it true that for arrangement purpose I create and program them as well, in order to have everything a song need in a demo version, but beside the guidelines, I like Alessandro Sala and Paolo Marchesich, the new drummer, to add their own skills when doing the final recordings for the album. There is a lot going on during the recordings and we work on till the result is perfect.
After so many albums, where does your inspiration come from in order to compose brand new songs and histories?
My main influence is the nature, the movies, the soundtracks, everything is wide, intimate, epic, magic, powerful. Those elements come naturally into my music. You need to love what you do, and I love music and Rhapsody Of Fire. The possibility for writing new songs and new stories and limitless.
The great musician is not born, he becomes one, how much time do you invest in training/practicing?
Alex – Not much as I would but I prefer writing music, much more exciting. I am not interested into developing my techniques further, I am rather interested into writing good songs that last the test of time or at least bring me and our fans joy.
(Giacomo Voli) The last song of the album ”La esencia de un Rey” is written in Spanish, it is not your first song in this language, and even though you use many languages in your discography, do you feel comfortable with the Spanish?
Alex – Yes, pretty comfortable! Alex and I like Spanish language a lot. Alex lived in Valencia for about a year and he was always telling me how much he loved Spain and the sound of Spanish. First of all, every song in different language feature new lyrics, those are not just translations from the English versions, that would not work most of the time, so we like to adapt some parts but also create new parts that sounds good vocally and that make sense with that specific language. I’m very proud and enjoy very much to test myself with different languages. Do you know that for both songs, “Rain Of Fury” and “Chains Of Destiny” I have singed them in Japanese for the Japanese editions? That is really cool in my opinion!
With this way of expressing you work and the actual trending of the physic format with the return of the vinyl, do you prefer the physic and traditional way or the streaming platforms for communicating?
Alex – I prefer physic formats, without a doubt. I want to own it. I have a waste collection of vinyl and CD’s, of course through the years I have saved all this music digitally, for the comfort to have it available at all time. As a band we like to offer physical copies and overall special editions, something our fans highly appreciate. To own and collect is the way to go and moreover, the best way to support the band you love.
The music scene has changed extremely in the last few years, and the Rock & Metal has each year less and less media presence, being like a ‘cult’ music. How do you think that the public has received this last album?
Alex – It’s since the 80’s and 90’s that I don’t see much rock and metal in the media. Also, nowadays the market is really saturated compared to the past. Starting with “The Eighth Mountain” and also for the latest release “Glory For Salvation”, our fans showed us an incredible response. With Giacomo a new fresh era started and he was acclaimed as the new singer in a very epic way.
Beyond doubt, your followers will continue rising their fists with you, but how do you plan connect with the new generations in a world ruled by the electronic music and urban rhythms?
Alex – Metal fans are a minority in the music market, it’s true, but they are without a doubt the best fans ever. They are supporting us since a few decades and are still supporting us today. The music we do is for real, is sincere, it reaches you deeply and it make you shake, it makes you feel emotions. We created a bond with our fans that goes beyond trends and fashions. The bond we have with our fans is forever. We already have conquered quite a few generations since 1997 and I believe that music created by heart and passion will eventually reach who is ready for it, also between new generations.
Do you think that there is still a place for your genre or is the Metal in decadence?
Alex – There are waves, ups and downs in any field. If you truly enjoy heavy metal today, likely you will listen to it for the rest of your life. As I said, we have a bond with our fans and we want to respect it by doing our best to create the best music we can.
If you would have to name 3 relevant bands right now, somebody that triggers your interest, who would you name?
Alex – I’m not listening any band really. I’ve spent the last years to write the last two albums and I had no will to listen anything different than what I was working on for Rhapsody Of Fire. The only modern band I know is Alter Bridge that I saw in many occasions, last time here in London at the Royal Albert Hall with the orchestra.
Do you feel comfortable with the necessity of using the social media for communicating with your followers? Have you suffered a lot from exposure to the hater?
Alex – I feel pretty comfortable with social media despite I don’t manage that myself. The best way to communicate for us is to go on tour and meet our fans, in the meanwhile social media are very important. I was never bothered by the so called haters. If you like our music, you buy it and you come to our shows, that’s fantastic. If you don’t like it, fine for me. Surely not my problem.
We can see Giacomo winning an Italian musical (All Together Now!). The talent is well known, but how do you value this show in the mass media?
Alex – Every singer I know like the idea of having a wider exposure and the chance to show to a bigger public their vocal skills. Giacomo participated to All Together Now! for the final prize of 100.000 Euro. Yes, it’s a mainstream program that has nothing to do with rock and metal but he sung a lot of Queen songs and brought the energy of rock on a platform where normally there is no space for it. The Italian audience already knows how incredibly talented Giacomo is from his second place at The Voice Italy back in 2014.
Not everything in life is working, what do you do in your free time?
Alex – It’s important to not be victims of your own self and victims of our own desires. Every one of us is special and we have to understand that if something in life is not working out the way we want is probably for the best, it’s an indication that we may have a different path and future ahead of us, probably many times better and more relevant to our personal development than what we think. I prefer to create a brighter vision and believe that life it’s just working fine. Most of my time is spent in the studio, composing and programming Rhapsody Of Fire next steps. As I said earlier I do take a few hours off every day to train at the gym. Of course from time to time I like to organize proper free time and go on vacation, preferably in the nature, mostly on the Italian Alps, both in Winter and in Summer.
(Alessando Sala) You combine your music with your job as a teacher and scientist investigator, how is it mixing those two worlds? Are you benevolent or do you use the ‘red pen’?
Alex – Luckily, being a scientist is not a 9-to-5 job, so my schedule is flexible enough to accommodate both worlds. I just need to be very well organized, efficient and plan my activities years in advance! Sometimes I have the red pen in hand, but just because of my attitude to be as precise as possible. Moreover, I think the two worlds share a common ground, there’s no mental rest from them. Scientific ideas and melodies come into your mind anytime, anywhere, no matter what, and the best thing you can do is to follow the tide!
Last but not least, what is the future of Rhapsody of Fire? Do you have some new project in mind or ideas to develop?
Alex – Roby and I are working on some new songs for the next album. Well yes, now we do have some time and we like to use it wisely. In the band’s future I see more albums and more shows around the world. We are soon completing the routing for the European tour to take place in Spring 2023. We are also organizing touring and shows in other countries abroad, maybe for Fall 2022 but surely also for 2023. We are really looking forward to be on the road again.
Thank you very much for everything, I hope it will not be that long before seeing you from the front part of your show!
Alex – Thank you! We will surely have the chance to meet soon I am sure!
Best regards, Alex.