I never really understood why Italy, one of
the largest European countries, produced such a small number of internationally
recognized metal acts. Hopefully Power
Symphony might join the handful of new Italian bands changing that reputation
given the strength of their new album, Lightbringer.
With a new line-up, new record label and new album under their belt, their mix
of classic power metal with epic touches should garner them some real
attention. To check out the situation in the band's camp, I email interviewed
members guitarist Marco Cecconi and vocalist Michela D’Orlando
You had many line-up changes recently. Could you elaborate a bit about that and what were the reasons behind the changes? Do you feel you have found a stable line-up?
Marco - Basically people left on their own because Power Symphony was getting “too serious” for them. Here in Italy the scene is still young and people do not expect their involvement in a band to get to “pro” levels. Well, most of the people! In any case, we have the best line-up ever now, everyone is extremely motivated, and also for the first time we’re actually close friends with the other band members. So yes, I think this line-up will work for a long time!
Your first album, Evillot, was released by Northwind Records but it got distributed through Nuclear Blast. How did that deal came about and wasn't there a chance to sign directly to Nuclear Blast?
Marco - It came about thanks to a German journalist who was interested in our material before we signed with Northwind. Nuclear Blast decided to just keep the distribution of Evillot. At the time we would have signed with them but it was not an option.
Looking back, are you satisfied with the outcome of the first album, promotion and its general success?
Michela - Evillot was released by a new little label and we knew it couldn't have a big promotion. It allowed us to become noticed though, and started a Power Symphony fan base, and because of that we are really happy. Now a lot people who like Lightbringer are asking about Evillot. They say it’s hard to find in many territories and that definitely doesn't satisfy us to hear about people wanting it but who are unable to find it. There are many on-line stores that have it though.
Shortly after the release of the first album you signed a deal with Pavement Music. It may look like a strange choice considering that they are not well-known for releasing this type of music and considering that most of their resources are in the US. Tell me a bit how that deal came about and what made you decide to sign to them?
Marco - Well, we chose Pavement Music because they were opening their European offices at the time and the head of the office was Joey Severance, a long-time fan of the band, who is now our manager. We thought we would be better off having a decent deal and some attention from our label, than signing with a bigger name and having a bad contract and no attention at all.
Lightbringer was released relatively shortly after the first album. What was the reason for that? Lack of touring, lots of ideas...?
Michela - Evillot was released relatively late if I think about when the promotion of it was ready, so we had new material in store and we wanted to release a new album for a bigger label than Northwind as soon as possible.
The artwork for the new album was done by well-known artist Travis Smith. Why have you decided to use him and are you satisfied with the final result?
Michela - We are totally in love with the final result to say the least! We became interested in Travis’ work when we saw covers for Death, Nevermore and Katatonia. We contacted him even for the Evillot cover, but he couldn't do it because he was working at some other artwork then and our former label insisted to have a Luis Royo cover. When we signed with Pavement we immediately asked for Travis again, we love his work!
Lightbringer was produced by Joey Vera. I think you'll agree with me that he did a stellar job. What made you choose him and tell me a bit about recording process for this album?
Marco - We were looking for a producer and Joey Severance suggested his name. We sent him our material and he liked it and that was it! He came over to Italy, we spoke a bit about the kind of production we wanted and what he thought was best for the band, and found out we basically had the same ideas. The album was recorded over two weeks at Flying Studio. I must add that the vibe was excellent. Joey was a real angel to us all the time, he never got upset no matter how much crap we threw at him sometimes. He’s also been a tough worker, our daily schedule was something like 15+ hours in the studio and he never complained!
It is obvious that a lot of emphasis is focused on Michela when it comes to promoting Power Symphony. Are you afraid that the other members might feel neglected? But on the other hand, people tend to forget that she is not just a singer but a co-founder and one of the main writers as well?
Marco - It is something we discussed with Pavement before they started promoting the album. Since Michela’s talent sticks out in Power Symphony, it was just natural to have things go this way. There are no bad feelings in the band because of this, and I think Power Symphony fans know that the other band members have talent of their own! The fact that Michela is a co-founder of the band is well-known now, so we have no problem there either.
Michela, you are an opera trained singer. I was wondering if your style and range of singing in Power Symphony is your natural style or do you have to tone it down to fit the band?
Michela - I have been studying singing for several years now and I certainly wouldn't sing in a way that is not suited for my voice. When I started singing metal and then studied opera, I gradually discovered that my voice can take high notes but delivers best as a mezzo-soprano, a more “central” range of notes, so I never had to tone down or change my style to fit the band. Actually, it’s the exact opposite, because the band have to fit my vocal range and style! I hope that’s what happens in most bands for singers!
What is an idea behind the album's title?
Michela - Lightbringer is the literal translation of the Latin word Lucifero (Bringer of Light) and refers to the song “Lucifer”, which is obviously about the devil. The song’s about the complicated relationship between creation, creatures and creator, and the way in which bright and pure intelligence and free will can be demonized.
I think it is obvious that “The Way Of The Sword” is a song that will probably get the most attention. Do you think it is a song most suitable for fans of classic heavy symphonic metal and do you plan to release this as a single?
Marco - That’s what we thought too, and although it has received attention, I think that the song that most identifies Power Symphony is “Never Dream Of Goodness”. We released both songs as MP3s on our site and we got much more feedback on “Never Dream Of Goodness” than on “The Way Of The Sword”. Right now we have no plans to release any song as a single, but you never know.
What is the meaning of the title “Gethsemane”?
Michela - In the Bible, the garden of Gethsemane is where the last supper took place. From my point of view it’s just like any other great legend, so I made it an excuse to talk about loneliness and desperation.
Getting back to the song “Never Dream Of Goodness (Evillot Pt.II)”, what was the idea behind it and do you plan to write an “Evillot Pt.III”?
Michela - Evillot is a character from my own fantasy. She’s an evil woman who voted herself to darkness but still longs for light. It’s actually a story of suffering and surrendering to stronger, greater forces. It’s a story of denying one’s true soul and nature. I have in mind an “Evillot Pt. III” but I haven’t really put this into something concrete yet. We shell see. The reason is that I just like this character. There is a sadness about her that I don't fully understand. Up to now I didn't find out what side of me this story is, so it keeps intriguing me.
Tell me a bit about the last song, “The Necromancer”. What’s with the few repeated words from the song “Lucifer”?
Michela - “The Necromancer” is an instrumental and it is the last track after the album is over. The words from “Lucifer” are the ghost track! We love ghost tracks, especially those that come after a long silence. Sometimes you really forget about them and they are kind of scary, that’s the idea.
I guess you’ve had your share of Rhapsody comparisons. I personally don't think you are similar to them but what do you make of it? Does it really bother you when people say that?
Michela - No! (Laughs). It’s normal that bands get compared, but it finally does get on your nerves when you hear things like, “This is not a good Rhapsody imitation”. Well, this is Power Symphony, it’s a different band, a different sound.
What do you think is the reason why melodic metal is so popular in Italy and not some other metal style?
Marco - Because it sounds like ‘70s Japanese cartoon melodies, of which we were all fans of in our childhood. (Laughs). I don't know really!
I never understood how it's possible that such a big country as Italy produced such a small number of internationally recognized metal bands over the years. What do you think is the reason for that?
Marco - Easy said. There have been no labels, no venues, nothing for a number of years. Since Italy started producing metal albums in the mid ‘90s many bands have started producing promos and sending them over to international labels. Some bands have gotten noticed and the whole scene started to grow. But before the mid ‘90s Italian metal was a joke!
So far you have mostly played only in Italy. What was the reason for not doing a European tour and do you plan to tour in the near future? It is certainly something that needs to be done to get you to the next level.
Marco - Tell us about it! The problem is that although Pavement would provide us with the budget to tour, we’re not big enough to headline and Pavement has no headliner band compatible with us. So basically we’re looking for a slot on other labels’ tours and that isn't easy! For example, before Lightbringer came out we were too small to get a slot. Then it was too late to get on pre-summer tours and festivals. Now there are more chances, but there are so many power metal bands trying to do the same that we’re not sure even now if and when we will tour.
Okay, thanks a lot for this interview and I'm giving you the chance to finish it off with a few words of wisdom for our readers.
Michela - Subliminal message: Isn't it tempting… Isn’t it charming...
- Bobo Markulincic