Heavy rockers from Rome, Misty Morning have been active since 1995, but their first EP Martian Pope was released in 2009. In 2011 the band released a two-track LP under the name Saint Shroom, and last year they came up with a full-length titled GA.GA.R.IN. Luke, MaxBax and rejetto spoke to Moshville Times about pizza, and other stuff.
Before we start, is it really true that every meal over there includes spaghetti or pizza?
Luke: Of course. Pasta at home and pizza outdoors. And don’t forget coffee! The real one! Not that insipid beverage you persist in calling “coffee” out there! (nothing personal :D )
Now after the serious start of the interview, let’s talk about unserious stuff. Tell me about the behind-the-scenes of the “GA.GA.R.IN.” video?
Luke: Behind “GA.GA.R.IN.” video there’s the will to make things on our own, take on new challenges and try new experiences. We would have liked a video with a good story, message and meaning. In our opinion GA.GA.R.IN. has a strong message and is the first fast, straight and tough song we have recorded so far. It deserved a video and we needed to keep it clear, solid and fluid but also cheap.
Making CGI space travels was too simple and maybe too expensive so we tried to change perspective and put our brains in motion. We also wanted to show our connection with Nature. Maremma is the area where I live and grew up and has great natural features, windy green fields, mystic woods but also wild shores and deep blue sea and sky. It’s an earthly paradise so we needn’t to recreate a virtual setting. The next step was to rethink our message through symbolism where everyday objects were those very symbols.
As you can read in the liner notes, GA.GA.R.IN. is a song about “connections, will and rebirth” and we came out with the idea of Audionauts, headphone and cables. In an empty room, a man and a woman choose to follow a trail left by the music and at the end of their journey they will open their minds to a new beginning. We looked after every aspect of the process from the script to the final editing and it’s one of the best experiences that I’ve ever had about Misty Morning! It was very hard but we had so much fun and we’re very proud of the final result!
You know what: we had also our “little inconveniences”. For example, in the first script there had to be three Audionauts, but the night before the shooting the third Audionaut abandoned the ship! We had to adapt the entire script for two actors overnight! But every cloud has a silver lining ’cause finally the man/woman relation suits better (the newborn Adam/Eve) and the final message comes out clearer than before. Then at after effect stage of the video we’ve also made the daring decision to keep the video clean with the real colours of nature in Maremma and that old style moviemaking nuance. Someone criticized this choice ’cause it doesn’t fit the “standard” of modern music videos, even the “fake” old style effects. Why making “fake” old style while you can make it for real?!
Anyway other people who prefer to follow a story and find its meaning paid us many compliments and loved the video. That is the important thing and we’re very happy about it. And at the end of the day, we’re proudly “not standard”. Period.
(if you’re curious about the straight behind-the-scenes and bloopers, keep an eye on our youtube page [https://www.youtube.com/electricmoustache] ’cause we’re editing some very funny videos about what happened during the shooting!)
“GA.GA.R.IN.” is the abbreviation for “Galactic Gateways for Reborn Intellects. How does it transcend to the album’s story?
Luke: At the beginning, I used that acronym only for the title track mission code name. Then I realised that all the songs throughout the album had carried that very message on their own. Completely different stories, with different background and characters were similar in meaning. Unconsciously I had written a sort of conceptual concept album. Even in “Black Monk Lives”, where I paid tribute to Giordano Bruno, the greatest freethinker of all time, there is a message of communication and the relation between Mankind and the surrounding Universe. So every song on the album could be seen as a gateway through space and time that should help Mankind intellects to find a way through awareness and awakening, to intellectual freedom and rebirth.
The album also features two bonus tracks: one is the Italian version of “GA.GA.R.IN.” and a track in Japanese. What is the song in Japanese about, and how come that you actually featured a song in Japanese?
Luke: Both “GA.GA.R.IN.it” and “Doomzilla.jp” are adaptations of their same English lyrics version. “Doomzilla” in particular is quite a weird song where I put lots of things in the cauldron: monster movies, Lovecraft’s pantheon and more. A love letter to pop culture! I did the same in the Japanese version but using Japanese imagery. I’ve got strong connection with Japan, I’ve performed there as professional classic Japanese theatre actor for many years (here is part of my story [http://www.centrostudiorientaliroma.net/unesperienza-di-studio-pratico-del-kyogen-sotto-la-guida-del-maestro-zenchiku-tadashige-della-scuola-okura-una-riflessione-retrospettiva/?lang=en]) and the drummer, Frankie Insulina, is a Japanese language and culture scholar too. So we decided to sing a song in Japanese and “Doomzilla” seemed to be made for it. Writing and singing and also adapting other features of the song in Japanese was great fun! For example, we changed the intro sample using the old Japanese man voice who has been the first to say “Godzilla” in the first Godzilla movie or using a Japanese sound for the final keyboard theme and putting the original Godzilla roar at the end of the song.
I sense the influences of Black Sabbath and Candlemass in your music. Does it in some way say that you are not interested in the modern metal music? What’s your opinion on today’s rock scene?
MaxBax: regarding the modern metal scene: personally I couldn’t find many interesting ideas in recent years.
I think that nowadays it’s very difficult to play original music, especially in metal where bands often use the classic cliché from the ’80.
Talking about the rock scene, I believe that we can count on many bands that have been able to mutate over the years, making their music even more appealing and interesting.
Luke: Actually I listen only to contemporary rock bands. I’m bored by big names and I prefer attending small acts. Maybe you have that feeling ’cause a part of the songs in the album has been composed 10 years ago, when I was into Cathedral and Sabbath stuff. Candlemass, I’ve some records but they’ve never been one of my favourites. At the contrary, I love modern music scene and I don’t agree with the common idea that rock and metal are dead. I also like modern approach towards arrangements, compositions and musical evolutions. I think there are a lot of great modern bands out there. The problem is that we’ve access to tons of free music, more than we could ever listen to.
Years ago, you could guess a band just listening to a single guitar riff. Nevertheless, I think that one of the main reasons was because we bought cds and listened to them hundreds of times. I still buy cds or vinyl and I still listen to them lots of times instead listening lots of bands just once. Maybe I don’t know all the “bands of the month” but it’s not a competition and I’m very satisfied with my approach. We should keep our pace on listening. Finding good bands among the “war of clones” ain’t easy. Homemade recording, sound templates and “DIY sound engineers” don’t help the task but I think it’s important to live our musical era without sanctifying bands from the past. Maybe our sound and riffage could resemble the bands you said, but I think it’s because we grew up with that music and we’ve followed the same writing and recording method.
What was the toughest moment during the recording or writing sessions of GA.GA.R.IN.?
MaxBax: the toughest? I think it’s before lunch! Or (seriously) when, during the mix, we had to decide what kind of solution we have to take in a particular moment of the song. It may happen that each of us makes a good different suggestion and when that happens, it’s always hard to choose definitively. However, in the end we always do.
Luke: I don’t think we had really tough moments but I remember quite well the annoying ones. For example, that time when our technicians from Elefante Bianco recording studio called me asking to record again all the guitar parts because they had finally found the “perfect” guitar settings! I did it ’cause I trust them blindly and you know what: they’re right! I love how guitars sound in “GA.GA.R.IN.”! Or during the voice recording session, I made an over emotional vocal performance on “Mourn O Whales” that I almost cried but after that I realized that I had completely lost my voice! It never happened before! We’ve been waiting for hours but nothing to do, we had to schedule another session a week later.
You told us that you are working on new material, to be released at the end of the year. Could you give any more clues on what to expect? You mentioned that the record is about a Japanese theme, tell me more about it.
Luke: We’ve already left some clues around our websites and I think that well-trained eyes have already understood what it’s all about. However, we can’t expose more. We’re also forcing ourselves not to play live unrecorded track of the forthcoming album as we usually do. I can say that it’s not a theme easily associated with rock or metal. Some bands tried to approach to it but no one went as deep as we’re doing. It’s a theme with a very fundamentalist fandom so it’s really challenging ’cause we’re on the risk threshold of disappointing both Misty Morning and “new album’s theme” ‘s fans (lol). At the same time we’re also pushing our musical limits: we love the challenges! Final clue: there’s a reason for releasing this album exactly in the year 2015!
Let’s talk tech. What kind of gear do you use in studio and live?
Luke: In studio we’ve always recorded with ye olde gear. I love Gibson and old Epiphone (when it was top class) guitars. In particular, I’ve got an old Epiphone SG that our technicians love! It has a very fat low-end sound that is perfect for rhythm sections. No distortion pedals, we spend a lot of time in studio merging Marshall and Mesa Boogie amplifiers’ sounds to get the distortion we like instead. As for the Fxs, I use a MXR phase90mod, DDelay 7 and a Space Echo. Finally a Dime Wah pedal and an EA Double Muff for big occasions. Same pedal board at the gigs but through a Marshall JCM800 head. I’d like to spend a word about D-tuned strings from the Italian company Gallistrings: they’re amazing, best strings I’ve ever played in 20 years!
MaxBax: In our first albums (Pope and Shroom) I played a Gibson EB0 bass, while in GA.GA.R.IN. I played a handmade bass we used to call “Tezenis”. Now I’ve changed again. Currently I play an Epiphone Thunderbird Classic IV Pro alpine white with Gibson TB humbuckers. My pedalboard is almost entirely made-up of guitar effects, except for a Dunlop cry baby bass pedal. Other pedals are: Electro Harmonix little Big Muff pedal – T Rex Moller overdrive/boost pedal – Marshall RG1 Regenerator – Modtone vintage analog delay and of course, TC electronics polytune tuner pedal.
Rejetto: I currently use an m-audio axiom 61 attached to a laptop running Reaper and a bunch of free VST.
Considering the music you create, do you feel that if you lived somewhere else it could be significantly better in terms of reception?
Luke: I can’t say if it could be better or worse. I consider just how the reception has been. During our tour in Ireland and England we had people front stage singing our songs words by words and every single crowd we met was great (Irish’d say “savage” :) ) In Italy it could happen just with our closest friends. Unfortunately, English is still a limit here. International press has always been enthusiastic with every production of Misty Morning. Italian one has not. Most Italian press like tags but we’ve been becoming quite untaggable so someone gets disappointed. We’ve only received good reception from isolated open-minded journalists and the progressive area of Italian press lately. It’s encouraging indeed but we still have problem with venues, promotions and exposure. So considering all of that, no one knows if living somewhere else could be better but it could give us better exposure and reception for sure.
What is your secret for being diverse?
MaxBax: I think that the secret to be different is to be yourself. I’ve felt different since I was born.
Luke: Indeed. Just being ourselves. I know that it could be seen as an obvious answer but I mean it. Being ourselves means to play whatever we like: no restrictions, no tags, no limits. Everyone of us is unique and our true selves should stand tall and proud of their uniqueness. That’s when being diverse appears.