Interview with Luca Di Gennaro
DPRP’s Edwin Roosjen
In between of the release of the debut album and the second album a lot has happened for Soul Secret. The debut album, Flowing Portaits, was released in 2008. Just before recording this album vocalist Michele Serpico became ill and all vocal duties were done by Mark Basile. Serpico returned for some shows but appeared not steady enough and he resigned.
After the release of the first album Martien Koolen did an interview with bass player Lucio Grilli. Just before recording the new album, Closer To Daylight, Grilli left Soul Secret. This time I will be asking the questions to keyboard player Luca Di Gennaro. Lets see what he has to say about the new album, the new vocalist Fabio Manda and the departure of Lucio Grilli.
Edwin: First thing that is immediately obvious is the new singer. I really liked the work by Mark Basile on Flowing Portraits. I am also a big fan of the vocals from Arno Menses. The new singer Fabio Manda has a higher voice and takes a bit of time to get used to. In the review I stated he is a bit like Geddy Lee. Do you agree with me and do you know any other familiar sounding vocalists?
Luca: Well, I disagree… Fabio doesn’t play bass while singing! Joking apart, surely his voice is more inspired by the 70/80s heroes than more recent ones and he makes no mistery of worshipping Dickinson and Plant. I really love Geddy’s voice but, to be honest, I always thought Fabio’s voice was slightly similar to Daniel Gildenlöw’s!
Edwin: In the interview with Lucio Grilli it is mentioned that Michele Serpico wrote all the lyrics for Flowing Portraits. Did he write any lyrics for Closer To Daylight? Is he completely out of the picture for Soul Secret (singing and or writing)?
Luca: About lyrics, he didn’t write anything in this one. Every word was written by me, Antonio Vittozzi (guitars) and Antonio Mocerino (drums and percussions). You can notice that themes in Closer To Daylight are more realistic while in Flowing Portraits they were more mystical. Musically speaking, there are some Michele’s traces here and there because we demoed the entire work with him on voice, then he decided to leave. We took those tracks, modified everything which was not really convincing, demoed all the vocals a second time for every track (except for Aftermath because Arno Menses wrote all the vocals arrangements) and send them to Fabio who listened to them just as an inspiration. He created his own version and recorded it. So everything was demoed a third time in order to be modified by the whole band. We are still very close friends with Michele, we gave him a copy of Closer To Daylight and he definitively loved it!
Edwin: Speaking of the interview with Lucio Grilli. He left the band in between the albums. On the website it is stated he left 5 days before recording the album. What was the reason he left?
Luca: Well, he’s definitively not an easy person to deal with. I personally noticed that he was in a dark period because he constantly created problems in the band and his musical contribution was even smaller than before. He did not rehears for months with us saying he was ill, so he never said clearly what was in his mind. The three of us continued composing and writing as always.Then we decided to call him, and he hung up on us. That was his last chance we gave him. You know what? The day after, we received a call. It was a bass player who heard the thing and wanted to win the game even before we decided to start auditions! Months after we met Claudio Casaburi. When we noticed that we finally had to deal with a great guy, a technical player and an extremely inspired composer, we thought “We made it!”.
Edwin: The last song (the best and the longest) was recorded with Arno Menses on vocals. I like his vocals and this is my favourite song on the album. Were you planning on recording the whole album with Arno just like you did with Mark Basile? The rest of the songs was rewritten for the new vocalist. Don’t you think the sound on the rest of the songs is therefor different from the last song and might split the album a bit?
Luca: Yes, we talked with Arno even before Fabio joined the band and the idea to have a guest singer on the whole album was considered. We unfortunately realized that we had to search for a live singer later in that case, so we started searching directly a band singer. The rest of the songs were instrumentally 90% done (and drums already recorded!), so Fabio rewrote just the vocals. About the last part of your question, if you’re talking about music… you got it! We feel that the album has a dark beginning, while the rest of it until “Behind The Curtain” is less heavy. Then “Aftermath” sums up everything because it has heavy riffs, fusion solos, rock sections and more. If you’re just referring to vocals, surely Fabio and Arno have two completely different kind of voices, so this can surely split the album in two sections.
Edwin: I like the fact that Soul Secret uses guests on the album. When not really paying attention the guest appearance of Marco Sfogli, is not really noticable.
Luca: I think Marco did a great job and we really liked his solo on “River’s Edge”. He also recorded a video while playing it. It was really nice to talk about the album with him, we live near so it was easy to set up a meeting.
Edwin: Marco Sfogli played on the album by James LaBrie. Do you like being compared with Dream Theater (that will happen to every progmetal band)?
Luca: It is surely a great thing to read this kind of comparison, but sometimes it’s the shortest path to follow, you know what I mean? I think Soul Secret has a lot of features that can’t be found in Dream Theater nowadays. If you listen to “Closer To Daylight” absent-mindedly and just one time… well, the comparison is really easy to do! For example, no one talks about some Jamiroquai or Porcupine Tree influence, I can say I was really inspired by them while arranging keyboards for Pillars Of Sand!
Edwin: The guest appearance by Anna Assentato is very noticable, great. Will there be again guest appearances on the new Soul Secret album? Or are you not really thinking of a new album?
Luca: The collaboration with Anna was great, we wanted so much to do a duet on this album and Anna fit damn well! I think there will be guests on our third album (even though we have no names yet) and we’re currently writing songs for it!
Edwin: In the interview Martien stated the acoustic piece was boring in his opinion. I like it when a metal album contains a small mellow song. As a stand alone song October 1917 is not really interesting but as a breathing point on the album it suits very well.
Luca: No, I don’t think October 1917 is boring, I really love it! It’s surely different from Regrets on Flowing Portraits because it’s a sort of introduction to Behind The Curtain (chorus is the same, some section are rearranged and lyrics are linked together). If you listen to both of them in a row, you can see October 1917 in another point of view.
Edwin: Will the next album again have a small acoustic song and a very long song at the end? Will that be Soul Secrets standard formula?
Luca: I really can’t say anything right now. We really enjoy writing epics so it’s possible to have one on our next work. Just before an epic we think listeners need a breath so an acoustic track is the best choice, maybe with acoustic piano instead of guitar next time… who knows!
Edwin: The new album is released via Galileo records. What is the reason for the switch? I must say the production is better on the new album. Was that all the effort of Markus Teske?
Luca: We switched because ProgRock Records said they were not interested in this album. We know that they were in deep water at the time, so it was surely impossible for them to produce our work. We then submitted the album to Galileo Records and met the management during a live gig. They were really satisfied about us so the decision to produce Closer To Daylight came shortly after.
The production is way better on this album, for sure! Markus Teske highlighted everything, and he did an excellent job! After having put Flowing Portaits in Lucio’s care (and after noticed that he almost switched off lo-freqs from the mix, even though he was our bass player!), me, Antonio Vittozzi and Antonio Mocerino decided to follow every step for Closer To Daylight personally, so everything was analyzed with attention multiple times.
Edwin: You have a small tour coming up as support act for Subsignal in Germany. Three nights in a row just like in September. Did the gigs in September work out pretty good? Looking forward to the new shows?
Luca: Yeah, the gigs were awesome… great venues in beautiful cities and amazing crowd! There we previewed some songs from Closer To Daylight and the feedback was beyond all expectations! We really respect the guys from Subsignal, we’re really happy to be with them again so we definitively look forward to the new shows!
Edwin: Arno Menses is a Dutch guy. Do you know of any plans of Subsignal playing in the Netherlands with Soul Secret as a support act?
Luca: We won’t play with them in the Netherlands but we’ll be in Oberhausen (Germany) in May… it’s not very far from there!
– Luca Di Gennaro –