DPRP’s John O’Boyle talks to members of Mastercastle
Italy is a hotbed of some decent prog metal bands. Mastercastle’ Pier Gonella and Giorgia Gueglio took time out to from their recording schedule, (who at the moment is recording their third album), to answer a few questions for DPRP. Mastercastle are an intriguing band who has grown in strength with each release. Interviewing them was a real pleasure where they offered a good insight to their fascinating world
John: Mastercastle is a seemingly unusual name for a band. What is the point of reference or meaning of the bands name?
(Pier Gonella) We chose this name during a return journey from a gig.
(Giorgia Gueglio) We were searching for something that could reference to me and to Pier in the same time. So Master was right for Pier because of his great skill in playing guitar and in recording music, and Castle was right for me because during a journey in Scotland I was impressed by some castles and the landscapes inside and outside.
(Pier Gonella) The 2 words are very simple individually, but if you put them together the meaning became particular and interesting.
John: What made you guys make Mastercastle your permanent band job? You guys had worked together before in some capacity; did you feel that the time was just right to make this more permanent?
(Pier Gonella) I had many bands and projects in the past with Giorgia Gueglio but we never tried to create anything musical together. We wrote some songs just for our pleasure and without any fixed genre of music. But we was impressed because her voice and my musical style worked very well together, creating a mix that is melodic but different from all gothic or female fronted bands because the rhythm guitars are more heavy and neoclassical. Everything in Master castle’s life was born naturally, without any planning, and this is our real engine
John: Pier’s guitar style is very neo classical in approach, very fluidic, reminding me somewhat of Malmsteen, Satriani, and two personal favourites of mine Vinnie Moore and to some degree Luca Turilli? In places your sound / approach reminded me of Moore’s Mind’s Eye. Which guitarists influenced you the most?
(Pier Gonella) You are right! I’ve been listening to Joe Satriani and Y.Malmsteen for many years. I studied so many songs from them and from many other guitar player like Vinnie Moore, Joey Tafolla, Greg Howe, Tony Macalpine… every guitar player usually try to follow them and their technique, but I studied their way of composing music, their chord progressions, this is the best way to get inspirations without became a clone. Every guitar technique has to be used in the right music background. Vinnie Moore is one of my favourite rock guitar players. For years I was influenced by them, and then I worked to create a more personal style. Luca Turilli of Rhapsody of Fire is also one of best Italian guitar players and composers.
John: You have played various styles in the past from classic rock to thrash metal, but your style feels more relaxed with your present approach. When you hear the beautiful guitar tones, particularly with the instrumentals, you feel so at home; what I mean is playing this style a more natural process?
(Pier Gonella) Yes, if we consider the composition aspect Mastercastle is my preferred place.
I write really what I feel and together with the voice of Giorgia we create a personal style. The 2 instrumental tracks are also the best compromise because all people can appreciate them. In the same time also musicians that are curious about the instrumental can appreciate entire Mastercastle stuff.
I’m also a member of the thrash band Necrodeath. I started because I was friends with some of them and I’ve been listening in the past to some thrash stuff as Slayer and some stuff of Metallica. I enjoy Necrodeath stuff first during gigs. But I also can compose with them. My ideas are mixed with the mind of Peso (drummer and band founder) and so the result is different.
John: Giorgia’s vocal style particularly lends itself to this genre of music, something that Italian bands don’t seem to struggle with, who would you say your main influences are?
(Giorgia Gueglio) My preferred singers are male singers. In particular David Coverdale of Whitesnake is my first influence, from his beginning with Deep Purple till today. And so Ian Gillan of Deep Purple and Robert Plant of Led Zeppelin. I also like very much those bands. I like all American and English hard rock, but also every kind of music. I enjoy Mastercastle stuff in particular because Pier leaves me free to express my self in the compositions. We work together to arrange the songs and the melodies but He never force me to sing in a way I don’t like. In the music business this is a very rare opportunity.
John: If you could record with any musicians in a project situation who would you invite along to play in the band?
(Giorgia Gueglio) David Coverdale is enough for me…
(Pier Gonella) It would be very good to play with Blackie Lawless of Wasp, Dean Castronovo of Journey or Dave Lombardo of Slayer, Dave La Rue on bass, and many others?
John: Your critically acclaimed debut album The Phoenix is not a concept album as such but does deal with subject matter that has a commonality, human nature, forgotten tales and real life events. Did this progression just flow naturally once you started to write or was it by design?
(Pier Gonella) Everything in Mastercastle compositions is natural, and I naturally express myself with the guitar and Giorgia writes all lyrics.
(Giorgia Gueglio) Every lyric started from sensations I feel listening to Pier compositions. So there is not anything planned about the lyrics. But writing the lyrics of this album I noticed that there is a common theme, the “desire” theme. Its appearance is a common word but if you think about it you find so more different aspects.
John: To record Greed Blade an ambitious song covering the disaster of Vaijont, a dam in the Italian Alps, must have been difficult process. How do you approach such subject matter?
(Giorgia Gueglio) I’ve visited that place many times and every time I remain impressed by this happening.
The instrumental stuff that Pier sent to me was melodic and melancholic so it reminded me of that sad happening. I also get informed by a documentary of Italian actor Marco Paolini and decided to write the lyrics to remember that day. Some time people forgot the power of the nature following the apparent power of money.
John: Sticking with the writing process. How do you as a group in general arrive at a finished product?
(Pier Gonella) I usually start the composing process with some guitar stuff for a verse and a chorus. Then Giorgia writes the lyrics and the vocal melody. So we work together to arrange melodies and rhythms in the best way and then we give the song to Steve Vawamas for the bass arrangements and to Alessandro Bissa for the drum arrangements. This is natural for us, but sometimes there are exceptions, such as the instrumental songs that I usually write by myself, or the ballae song “Jade Star” that started from an idea of Steve’s.
John: One thing that has always intrigued me is the naming of albums. What is or is there any meaning to the titles of your two albums, The Phoenix or Last Desire?
(Giorgia Gueglio) For the first “The Phoenix” we chosen first one of our preferred song. The lyrics of the song are also very representative for me because The Phoenix is a bird that dies and is born again from his ashes, so it represents all of us when we make some important changes in our lives. Also in the musical aspect Mastercastle was a new born for me.
We chose the “Last Desire” title because of the common theme in the lyrics that I told you before.
John: Your Latest album Last Desire is conceptual in approach, which deals with the topic of desire having a darker feel to it. Would you like to give a track by track run down of the album?
(Giorgia Gueglio) Yes, as I said the desire is a sort of “concept” that runs over all lyrics. On the opening track “Event Horizon” I tell about the desire of cross the human borderline of reason. The song tells about the general relativity, where event horizon is a boundary in space beyond which events cannot affect an outside observer. It’s a point of no return that represents the curiosity of the man who wants to know everything new of him. “Misr” tell about some magic potions, the desire to go over our imagination and dream new fantastic places. In “Wild Spell” the desire means hope, the hope of escaping from reality and the will to dream away.”Last Desire”, the title track, tells about the passion that lights between two individuals. In “Scarlett” I tell about the film “gone with the wind” that represents the desire as the strength to go on between the pains and discomforts of war, where a combative woman never loses her female charms. On “Cat-house” we can find 2 desires: the more turbid of a customer who turns to a prostitute to overcome the difficulties of life; and the desire of the prostitute that want to escape from that condition. And so on…
John: Last Desire has a cleaner and more dynamic approach musically than The Phoenix, was this due to taking more time with the writing / recording process?
(Pier Gonella) Yes, we had more time to arrange and record all songs. But the most important thing was the experience of the previous album. The production of “The Phoenix” was well accepted everywhere. So we knew what aspect could be done better this time, and we didn’t change anymore.
John: How is the Prog Scene in Italy? At the moment the Prog market in your part of the world seems to be giving the world some exciting bands, (long may that continue); who would you recommend people to keep an eye out for?
(Pier Gonella) I think that an Italian promising prog metal band is DGM. In my opinion they combine in the best way the particular background rhythms work with great melodies. There are many other prog bands but in my opinion they are to much complicate in compositions. The winner in prog scene, in my opinion, remain the albums “Images and words” and “Awake” of Dream Theater, the best compromise between technique and melody. And before them all Rush and Genesis stuff.
John: When push comes to shove, what are your favourite albums?
(Pier Gonella) Some albums I never stopped listening are Joe Satriani – The Extremist, Faith No More – The Real Thing, Scorpions – World wide live, Pink Floyd – Delicate sound of thunder.
John: What does the future hold for Mastercastle?
(Giorgia Gueglio) We have just finished the production of the video clip “Last Desire” (you can find it on youtube or from our site www.myspace.com/mastercastle. The previous video “Princess of Love” has passed 90,000 views and will reach 100,000 soon. It’s really a good goal for us. Than we have just started the recording of the new album. It will be released by Lion Music in November or December 2011. Than we hope to meet you and many of your readers on stage! Thanks a lot for this interview!