ZT INTERVIEW: SPIRITROW

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ZT spoke to guitarist / vocalist Joe of Italy’s Spiritrow.

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ZT: Tell our readers about Spiritrow – how did it all start?

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J: Well, Spiritrow was formed late 2009, based on an idea of drummer Doc idea and I. We used to play together in a crossover band years before called Pnx-Mode (check it out, it is worth it) with the purpose of creating a direct, catchy and heavy sound, but  at the same time ‘accessible’ even to those people not into metal stuff! Basically something really simple and catchy but also satisfying our ‘metal thirst’. Originally that was our goal and then jamming and playing over and over prevailed our thrash nature to write the song a little bit more of what we expected in our minds originally! For sure we care a lot about lyrics! It was and it is not in the second place. We wanted something really different; give a message but in a different way that is, at the same time, direct and poetic based also on spirituality; take “Even Stars Cry” for example: My friends from the States really appreciate it, even if, you know, American people definitely prefer direct lyrics; and the mix (music and lyrics) of course proposed with a great live performance and give a big impact to the crowd! People must be touched and in a way shocked! After a month Rage joined us as the bass player. He is a close friend to me, and also he used to play with Pnx-mode before I replaced him. After a while Matteo “fish” Fasan took place as the other guitarist (really picked up him from the road). I didn’t know him at all. Rage introduced him to me, once, in a bar .It was so….weird; he goes “Hey Joe this is fish he plays with a band called Hellborn something like that, he is really good”. I was a little bit high and I ask him: “So you wanna play?” he said “…yes”. I again: “Do u really want to play? You know what I mean? No bullshits and stuffs!” He said “Yes!” so I:“You’re in, next Friday in our practice room!” After a year playing around our area Rage left the band and Gianluca replaced him.

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ZT: What/who are some of your chief influences?

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J: Well … it’s hard to pinpoint a common influence for all of us, but my musical roots definitely lie with Sepultura. It’s what converted me listening to metal music; so i can’t do anything, it’s part of me even though i listen to a lot of different metal stuff. I’m a great fan of death and black metal and also some really extreme brutal and grind metal! But Roots album was the one the opened my eyes! Really! I was 12 at the time. Consider the fact that I used to play in a citizen band the franch horn since i was ten. I remember I bought the Seps album and it was my “conversion”. But my influences apart, Luca “doc” is a great fan of alternative and new metal like Alter Bridge and i am too. We all are very big fans of In Flames or Slipknot, Nonpoint; Fish is a big fan of Lamb of God and Trivium! Actually we have some thrash and alternative new metal influences but i also like bands like Opeth and other melodic metal or prog and they also are a good example of good lyrics!

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ZT: What does the name stand for? (In the namesake track you seem to be singing ‘spirit raw’)

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J: AH AH AH AH Medium rare please! …with some BBQ sauce at side!  Ah… jokes apart. It’s row like as in a line. Spiritrow like to say a SPIRIT in line almost to mean the line of the spirit or a spirit waiting the line or the bound between reality of the matters and mystery of the unknown spirituality! And trust me; the most difficult thing to record on that album was to maintain a decent accent screaming loud! Oh s**t it was a pain in the ass. Some things I know, i couldn’t do better than this, and i have more an American accent and just some words i simply couldn’t pronounce as i wanted to do…!

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ZT: Tell us about your new full-length The Signs – did it turn out the way you aimed? How did you record?

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J: Well, we tried our best to get what he had in our minds, also because, as you know, we are not the same and the result really satisfied everyone and all the ideas we individually had. What we aimed for, what I tried to explain, is our original goal of the band and talking about the sound we opted for a really heavy and dark sound based on low frequencies. Couldn’t it be a good sound for a gothic band? That is MY question. We tried, and got, also a “clean sound” I mean that, if you listen the guitars are not so distorted; and we thought also to get the guitars a little bit “cleaner”. So this match the idea I explained at the beginning, to be “understandable” to everyone but at the same time reeeeeeeeeeally GROOVY! We recorded the whole album in a small studio in our area called PoisOn studio; Dario, the owner, is our friend. We recorded four tracks of guitars, clean bass (just a little of fuzz effect) and some tracks for the voice. No special effects, no reverb, no editing (too much). Really natural! We went to Alessandro Rorato (another great friend I have) for the mastering. He is really, really great. He teaches in a big associations for sound engineers and we chose to pump it up in the “right way” not too much! That’s what we WANT! Extremely clear and understandable! It could be almost a pop mastering… I’m not kidding, well of course it’s metal riffing style but focus on the mastering and the sound… sometimes when listen to metal stuff I say yeah cool but after a while even my ears that are really trained start to hear noise and noise! I mean both the first listening and after a while u listen to most of the metal stuff is hard to get it stuck in your brain, because THERE’S TOO MUCH DISTORTION!!!! I know man you want a kick asses album but wtf you can get it in a way that every ears can assimilate it. That’s our real goal! At least for this album, then…. never say never…that’s why also our label liked us when they heard us the first time; and that’s why they have been doing such an incredible work for Spiritrow! It’s such an amazing connection between all of these things (band members, studio recording, mastering studio, artwork guy and also the label that was introduced to us from a special friend  Master Dino Fiorenza another special guest!) I want a metal music with a pop (but pumped up) sound! …and FIRE!

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ZT: Who drew the artwork? What does it stand for? Does it tie in with lyrical patterns?

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J: The artwork was penned by Andrea Marson. He is another friend of ours. Of course everything ties in with the lyrics and the meaning of the whole album. The “funny thing” in the cover is a spirit/shaman; we set him in a desert because it recalls a little bit more spirituality or at least it makes that sense. In his hand he holds a pole with our logo on and reflects all the signs in the ground. Basically everything means that reality is surrounded by signs and but sometimes we don’t know who or what sent them or even if there is a addressee and from whom are held or depend of. That’s why he is in the middle of the smoke or clouds, he is mysterious (look the chorus of the title track). We need to look at the signs! So, spiritually connected …but not really clear and direct! That’s why I prefer to write lyrics majestically mystical! I want to talk about reality and existence in general with a vaguely poetic and “hanged in the air” way. Existence, philosophical and spiritual explanation of everything; it’s really complicated to explain in two lines but to make sense I try to avoid to use a subject or personal meaning probably I embody something abstract to a subject to get it more understandable and the it’s so ….poetic. So in the lyrics I try to avoid to write “I am…”, “we are”, I do …”, “you …”, ” for you, for me” … Who the fuck care what you are/have or think! It’s complicated to explain in two lines but …it makes sense…right? Right???

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ZT: The Italian metal scene is somewhat of a mystery to many over here in the UK- how would you rate it?

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J: Yes, definitely! I really can’t explain how metal bands cannot be so “famous” as they deserve to be! Even in our small area or also in our town , it’s so full of great bands and artists but without receiving the right following; but I noticed that this is the case with art in general… we are the cradle of art and we don’t even consider it! We are not aware of the importance of our wealth! Live music in general here in Italy hasn’t enough consideration as it should have that’s why bands can’t be reached from the people. Young guys (and not only) prefer to spend their night’ in disco pubs, clubs or private parties rather than listen to a band playing live. It’s (unfortunately) our culture for entertainment!

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ZT: You have been called the busiest band in the Italian underground – what makes you so relentless?

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J: Uuuuuuuuh! Wow! Really? Who said that? The band (but mostly me, really) strongly believe on self-promotion. I think that in this days and age it’s important to be the manager of yourself! There’s no better manager except of you! Of course you need connections, help, you need money, but trust me if you firmly want something, you get it! We work a lot on finding gigs; there’s a kind of organization in the band to share our DUTIES. We established rigidly our duties towards the band; sometimes I’m the pain in the ass of the band, sometimes the guys are really sick of my “professionalism” towards the band. But I always say (as i asked the first time to fish): “Hey guys, do u really want to play? Do u want to play on a big tour? So we have to work our ass’ off! If you don’t think the same, no problem man, everyone has his own priority, but don’t block up the band in respect for those who want it!” Trust me, everything is made from ourselves!! Even considering the fact that playing around here in Italy, especially metal music is sooooo hard; we don’t blow over, we never give up, waiting for that moment (like this) that repay you for your efforts! And it’s a never-ending stop, after this step we don’t have to relax or stop ’cause we need to reach the next step. It’s kind of our song ‘The Voice Of Nothing”  that says “…after the efforts then the effort, always the last but never the eternal one..” it’s kind of philosophic, ’cause there’s always an effort to get something, it’s always the last one because after one you have another one to get something else, but it is not the eternal one because when you get something from that effort it ends! ’cause it pays you back… but a new one is coming… but also never eternal ’cause beyond in the afterworld every check is paid in full! I consider the band as a job! Someone can disagree but it’s the same thing I said before. Then when i ask the magic question: “Do u really want to play on a big tour?” So if you don’t work in the band more than in a regular job you can’t get anything!….You know it’s hard to get some gigs in this condition, so  how can you expect to do something big with your band if waiting for these things to fall from the sky? We need to work even harder!

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ZT: What can we expect next from Spiritrow?

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J: Pop music! For sure some more “clean sound”! I already wrote down some new stuff and we have three songs ready 80% done. For sure more spiritual! A little bit more experimental more “evocative” oriental oriented. I’m fan also of ethnic and oriental music, helps a lot on connecting spiritually. We can expect some Arabic songs…I’m a little bit surprised that no one mentioned the fact that songs sound a little bit oriental. Take ‘Infliction’ for example; it’s based on Arabic scale, same as ‘Spiritrow’ or main riff of ‘Even Stars Cry’. It is basically  played in metal or thrash style but the notes are mostly in that scale and recall a little bit ethnic arrangement!

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ZT: Any final words?

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J: As I always say: FIRE!

 

 

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