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KINGCROW: Crescendo has a double meaning

Interview with guitarist Diego Cafolla of Kingcrow by Vera in March 2013

With ‘In Crescendo’ the Italian progressive metal/rock band Kingcrow has recently released the next true gem. Last month we published our jubilant CD review, this month we got the answers from artistic brain/guitarist Diego Cafolla. So we can keep on following this sympathetic and still underrated band closely. But… fortunately recognition is increasing! You can read everything about the successful tours, done by the band in the meantime, how the magnificent ‘In Crescendo’ came into being and much more...

Hello Diego! With the new Kingcrow album ‘In Crescendo’ within reach, growing into another stunner, it is time for our next interview, sequel on the one we did for ‘Phlegheton’ (2010). So let us pick up the thread around that time…
Thank you Vera. We’re very happy with the new album. I hope our old fans will enjoy this one and some new ones also!

I am glad to have noticed that ‘Phlegethon’ brought you some steps higher upon the ladder of more success. Let us first focus on the expansion of your fan-base by touring. In addition to Italian gigs, you could tour with Redemption and play at ProgPower Europe in October 2011. How do you look back at that tour and what did you experience on the road?
That tour was our first international tour, so we look at it with very great memories. It was a great experience and we learned a lot down the road. Plus the guys from Redemption were very kind and friendly. They are great guys to hang out with. The ProgPower Europe also was great and we love Holland and to play there because people are fantastic and very professional and the venues are great! So it is probably our first choice if we’re talking about places we like to play. Anyway the first thing you learn touring is that you have to be careful about maintaining a good vibe in the band. You are living twenty days with the other guys. And it is not the same thing as meeting them three times a week for the rehearsals. But we like each other and we have always a lot of fun together. Then you learn how not to waste time. You have to make everything in the time is supposed to be done.

Another important trek around Europe was done in Summer 2012 in the wake of the mountain king Jon Oliva (‘Pain). What are your memories on that adventure and what was different, if compared to the other EU tour?
When we toured with Jon we were in the middle of the recordings of ‘In Crescendo’. So the first thing I remember is the stress of the mixing sessions in time for the deadline and the fact that we had few rehearsals for the tour. But it worked out great. I think we played very well in most of the gigs and the audience was bigger than the previous tour. Jon is a gentleman; he was very kind and showed a lot of interest for our music which made us proud since he’s such a legend. Plus we were more experienced, so it was more of a “relaxed” tour. Anyway we did love both tours.

Going to the US is another feature which is not a dream anymore, but a true happening with memories. Can you tell a bit more about your trip to the US and your performance at ProgPower Atlanta in 2012?
When we were asked to play at ProgPower USA we got very excited. There is something magical and romantic in the idea of going with the band in another continent and playing your music in front of a screaming audience. Don’t know if with time you get used to those things but for us, that idea is still “magical”. Plus we did know about the ProgPower USA fest as one of the most important happenings in the world for this kind of music... so the excitement rose at dangerous levels hahahah... It was a great experience. The fest is so friendly and professional at the same time that you have the feeling of being part of a big family. I’d like to come back in the future for sure.

But of course, 2012 was also the year of focusing on the next album… when did you start writing the new material and can you go a bit deeper into the writing process of ‘In Crescendo’?
I started writing the songs for ‘In Crescendo’ just two or three months after the release of ‘Phlegethon’. I think the first songs completed were ‘This Ain’t Another Love Song’ and ‘The Hatch’. The last one was ‘Right Before’. It was a little bit of the same process we used for ‘Phlegethon’, so I prepared demos with all the songs and all the instruments played by me to the other guys, then we worked on the arrangements and we started the recordings. This time we had to be pretty quick since we did have a deadline for the end of the recordings and in addition we toured during the mixing sessions. So it was a little bit stressing, but it worked out fine in the end. So: any innovation in the creative process, just less time to work and more pressure hehe.

Kingcrow always brainstorms and finally perfects the ideas of you, main composer/guitarist Diego Cafolla. That may be common knowledge. But I have a question about the vocals. Diego Marchesi joined you in the middle of the recording process of ‘Phlegethon’, your previous album. He did already an amazing job on that one, but still improved now! Can you tell us about this evolution of getting to know each other better in order to create a maximum cooperation? What was the influence on the current result?
I think the main difference is that for ‘Phlegethon’, I wrote the vocal lines for the previous singer and THEN Diego joined us; it was during the recording sessions. So he had to use his voice to fit those melodies. Sure we did change things here and there, because the previous singer was a baritone and Diego is a tenor. So the vocal range is very different with just a middle area in common. I think he did a great job but this time, when I was writing the new ‘In Crescendo’, I had his voice in mind, so the songs were written for him. Then we did a lot of work during the production process to find the best way to use his voice on every song. You know, Diego has such a versatile voice that allows us, me as a producer and him as singer, to try very different things and very different ways to use the voice on the same part. I’d say he’s a very powerful tool in the production process haha.

I know Kingcrow always comes up with an engrossing concept in the lyrics. This time as well? What can we see as the main theme of the lyrics on ‘In Crescendo’ which means something like becoming bigger, like a crescent moon…
You are right. ‘In Crescendo’ is not a full story from the beginning to the end, like the previous records. It is a conceptual record, so every song is related to the main theme, which is the end of youth. So every song is related to that concept in some ways and every song is about something involved in the process of growing up. ‘Morning Rain’ is a guy talking to his father who has passed away, ‘The Drowning Line’ is about the desire of social affirmation, ‘Summer ’97’ is about the end of a relationship and has a kind of a cynical point of view in the end. Speaking about the title, Crescendo in Italian has a double meaning, the first one is growing up and the second is the musical Crescendo... from quiet to loud. I think it is the perfect word to describe the record, since a lot of the songs are musical crescendos and, as said, the main theme is about growing up.

Your music has a proper progressive tinge, yet catchy as well. That is one of the main characteristics and noticeable on ‘In Crescendo’ again. But what do you see, as creators of this album, as evolution in your music this time? Did you have any pre-thoughts about sounds, production, songs in advance?
I have to say I still feel a little bit too close to the production phase to have a clear vision of the record. Anyway, when I was writing I wanted to resolve a lot of songs about the Crescendo since the main theme was clear from the beginning. Plus I really wanted the music to be atmospheric and melancholic in some ways, to make the listener feel the “time passes by” feeling. I think on this record there are some beautiful melodies and atmospheres, so I am proud of what we achieved. About the production, we wanted to have a more organic drum sound without destroying the dynamics with too much compression to maintain the crescendos alive and great sounding. Sure I’d like to change things here and there right now but you know, there is no way you can think “ok it’s perfect!” when the record is finally finished.

In the fragile ‘Mourning Rain’ we hear any orchestration, but not too much. Can you tell a bit more about this song?
As said before, that song is a guy, talking to his father who has passed away. And I love fact it is one of my favourites on the record, because it is a complex composition but it is very ...moving...for me at least. The interplay between the instruments, the subtle use of the odd time signature... It was probably the most challenging song to write and to produce, especially the vocals...we spent something like three days just to find how to sing on it. Yesterday I was listening to the first version of the song I wrote and I was really surprised how much it changed within time.

Can you tell a bit more about the two lengthy compositions: ‘The Hatch’ and occluding track ‘In Crescendo’?
Those two are the more proggy tracks on the record. ‘The Hatch’ is very complex, but it was not that much complicated to write. In some ways it seems to be simpler for me to put down something like that, with a lot of things going on, it’s just natural. There are some interesting harmonic modulations in it and tons of riffs. I remember when the other guys listened to the demo version, their faces were a little bit WTF!?!?! Hahaha ...but they loved the song. ‘In Crescendo’ is... well, first it’s the longest track ever by Kingcrow  And then it is another of my favourites. It is about a young girl suddenly facing the fact that she has to be strong and she has to grow up even if she is so young. We’re rehearsing it these days and it is a hell of a job to make it sounds tight because of the great dynamics, but it is also a lot of fun! So we’re looking forward to its debut live!!!

The album was recorded in your own Sound Under Pressure Studios and mainly produced & mixed by you, but mastering happened in the US. Can you tell a bit more about the recording process and why a mastering outside of Italy again? How did this contact come into being?
The Production Team is the same of ‘Phlegethon’: me and my brother Thundra taking care of the recordings, editing etc. in our studio. Then Giampiero Ulacco joined the process at the mixing stage. The only difference was, as you said, that the album was mastered by Alan Douches. It was a choice by our label so, to say the truth, I was a little bit concerned about that, because I had no control on the mastering. But Alan did a great job, not destroying the dynamics with too much compression. So when I received the master I listened to it with a smile on my face.

Who did the artwork and can you tell a bit more about it?
All the artwork was made by Devilnax and I think he did a fantastic job. I can remember we started working on it pretty early. We still had to start the recordings when the work for the artwork started. I invited him to the studio to listen to my demos and I remember we immediately agreed on one thing : the album cover had to be white! That was our first thought, then we started to brainstorm about the concept and how to represent it on the visual side.

After one album with Scarlet, you inked a deal with American label Sensory Records. Why this change and please tell us about your expectations?
We were searching for a label, more oriented to progressive music. Scarlet is basically a metal label and we had the feeling that they really don’t know how to handle our music, since we were an atypical band in their rooster. Sensory/Laser’s Edge is one of most important labels when talking about progressive music, so for us it was a natural choice. And we’re very happy to work with them.

Are there plans for a video clip? Which song would you prefer?
We just released the video clip for the song ‘Morning Rain’. It is directed by Mauro Marani with the help of Devilnax and I think they caught the mood of the song in a beautiful way. Check it out since it is a very “artistic” work.

I also heard rumours about making a DVD. Well… I am eager to hear more about that 
Yes, we filmed the whole show of ProgPower USA, which was a fantastic experience. The material is at mixing stage right now but we just put a hold to the work for it because of the tour and the release of the album. Anyway, I’m going to work again on the mix after the North America tour, so plans are for releasing it this year.

As you said, in May you are going back to the US for a proper tour and I found out that you will join Pain Of Salvation. Congratulations! So please tell me about this planning…
Yeah, right now that’s the big thing for us and we’re thrilled to play with Pain Of Salvation and come back to USA. We’ll also play some gigs in Canada, so we’re very excited. There will be ten gigs with Pain Of Salvation since they are one of the biggest bands around for this kind of music and I think their audience should enjoy our music as well. We’ll also play some headliner shows and a special gig at RoSfest after party. I think it’ll be a lot of fun.

When can we hope for some gigs or a tour in Europe to support ‘In Crescendo’ and what are the plans for the near future?
I think we’ll be back touring Europe in the end of the summer, first fall... We hope to play again in Holland which is probably our favourite European Country to play. The venues are great, the country is beautiful and we had a lot of devoted fans there, so stay tuned because something will come up soon! As said for now we’re focused on the American tour but yet working on something about Europe!!!

Diego, thanks again for your deep-draught, sincere and genuine assistance during this interview…
I want just to say thank you to you for the interview and to our Dutch fans for supporting us so much! Hope to see you again soon!

Geplaatst door Vera op maandag 08 april 2013 - 21:24:30
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