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maandag 25 januari 2016
RHAPSODY OF FIRE: Circle of Friends and Musicians

Interview with keyboardist Alex Staropoli by Vera in December 2015

Rhapsody Of Fire skyrocketed themselves into the international metal scène from 1997 on with epic symphonic metal. Their film score metal might be considered unique and ultimately skilful. They survived the trouble with the band name, the problems with Manowar and even the departure of star guitarist Luca Turilli (no bad blood involved in this divorce). In the midst of January their new album ‘Into The Legend’ was released and half December we talked already about it with leading master of ceremony Alex Staropoli. Some interviews are a true race against the time. That happened with this one on behalf of Rhapsody Of Fire. However Alex Staropoli told us in speedy words all about the new Rhapsody Of Fire record ‘Into The Legend’ right before a radio live show was calling him.

This album should go back to the roots in a way. In which sense?
Well, it is using the typical elements we always had in the past. The orchestra, the baroque sound, all the different choirs… I really wanted to have all these elements back again into the music. This is what we loved to do and what I love to do right now. I am pretty satisfied with it.

You always write with your brother Manuel now. Can you tell about this cooperation?
Actually for ‘Dark Wings Of Steel’ we wrote a lot of things together. For ‘Into The Legend’ we worked less together, just a few songs we worked on together. Also new guitarist Roby de Micheli contributed a lot, because he gave me some very cool guitar riffs and guitar parts. For me it was important that the album included very good guitar stuff as well.

’Winter’s Rain’ is one of my favourites. Can you tell something more about that song?
Everything started with the guitars, as I said. That song started with this riff that Roby did and I worked on it and put some orchestra on top of it. It is a particular song, you know. When Roby gave me the riff, I already imagined how the song would grow. Sometimes that happens: you hear a riff and you already hear the complete song. Of course in a song of this kind it is easier to place orchestral parts in the middle, to go crazy a bit with breaks and different atmospheres, it is also one of my favourite songs actually.

And the long one, the occluding track ‘The Kiss Of Life’ for sure…
Yes, that is another opus magnum of ours… (laughs).

I know that Fabio (Lione – singer – VM) has written the lyrics, but is there something you can tell about the lyrics?
The fact that Fabio wrote the lyrics is a big advantage for him as the singer, because he can write his own words and he can make the singing a bit easier for himself. Fabio has this kind of poetic approach and you can find that in his words and lyrics as well. This is a big thing! We always try to work with crazy music that gives images, speak to the imagination. At the same time I think Fabio did a good job writing lyrics with a lot of pictures that stimulate the imagination.

Recording this multilayered music is always a huge challenge. This time you worked in four different studios and it took seven months to record. There were special original instruments you used. Can you tell something about which ones and what was special?
Yes, basically this was organized by my brother. He collected a number of musicians. We have the baroque ensemble, we have the Celtic harp, some pipes, some Celtic instruments as well. So all these instruments are original and produce a very good sound. Ancient, magic sounds. It was important to have them back in the music, for organic sounds sake.

I also watched the video for the title track ‘Into The Legend’. Can you tell something about the making of?
It will be the first single and performance video. The music is the centre of the scene here. We just released a lyric video for ‘Shining Star’ which is our second single. We are very proud on it. So you can enjoy the music and read the lyrics while watching beautiful landscapes, from Norway to California. For us it is important to work with images and that lyric video illustrates that very well. When you place our music on those kinds of images it makes a lot of sense.

Indeed, it is a great video. You mentioned Roby before. He is your new guitarist. You had to replace Luca Turilli, a big challenge. How did you meet him and why was he the one to recruit?
Roby De Micheli and Luca Turilli were going to school at the same time together in Trieste. So when I met Luca, I met Roby. We were playing together. Actually Roby was part of the band in the very beginning. Not only at school, but also on their instruments, Roby and Luca studied together. At a certain point in time, Roby left, because he wanted to play progressive music, different music. So I knew him from then and when Luca and I decided to part ways, I wanted to call Roby because he was the perfect choice. He knew the band already since the very beginning, before Rhapsody even. He is the man, very devoted and dedicated to the guitars and fantastic person to work with.

Another line-up change happened on the bass front. What was going on?
Oliver Holzwarth, the brother from Alex Holzwarth was replaced by Alessandro Sala indeed in 2015. We did not get along so well in the end with Oliver, on personal level, not musically. So we decided to change and I am very happy now. Sala is a great bass player and he is from Trieste. Geographically it is very important for me that somebody is close to my town, in my town actually. He already played with Roby De Micheli before. For me it was important to have a new member that is a friend and that he can join our close circle of friends and musicians. When we go on tour everybody is centred nearby, in Trieste. Most of the people are from Trieste, really cool.

That item we also see reflected in the mix by Alberto Bravin at Echoes Studios in Trieste…
Indeed, Alberto is our sound engineer when we go on tour. He has a studio as well, so that is fine to have a kind of live recording in the studio. However, the mastering was done by American Maor Appelbaum.

Rhapsody Of Fire is cinematic metal. What are your favourite film scores?
I like movies and I love soundtracks. I appreciate when the music is good, any kind of music can be fine, from comedy to fantasy. My favourite style is epic. So when the movie is epic and the music is supporting it and well written, that’s the best I like. It is a big thing for a movie. A movie without the music can be not that good.

Who did the artwork this time?
Felipe Machado Franco. We worked on this dragon idea. I did some graphic parts for the colours. It was really cool to participate in the process. It was the very first time I did something like that, because when I saw the final colours, I missed something, some dynamics, some movement and layers. It was an experiment to start working on the colours myself and it worked. It is impressive, I am really happy about the cover now.

In your hobbies we see travelling. You have been to Mexico. You will be going back pretty soon to Mexico with the band… Is that one of your favourite places?
Yes indeed. We all love playing in South America. We love Mexico, as well as Chile and Brazil. All the Latin America countries are crazy. The weather, the food, the temperament… it is a combination of good things. But we want to play all over the world!

70,000 Tons of Metal cruise will be a highlight then…
Yes, we look forward to that.

Are there any plans for a European tour?
Yes, that should happen in April. We are working on it. News will come very soon about that.

Geplaatst door Vera op maandag 25 januari 2016 - 22:47:44
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