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Posted: April 01 2010 at 15:37
This Italian band burst into the scene twenty years ago with their Italian Symphonic Prog revival mission. Four albums was released between 1992 and 2002. Then there was silence, although their website is still here and they did a gig in September last year.
Their four albums has been well received in the ProgArchives community. I therefore went on a mission to find out more about Calliope; past, present and future.
Enrico Perrucci answered my questions.
This interview is meant to be both an update and a “this is your life” type presentation of this band. So without any more boring introductions, I give you Calliope.
What is Calliope up to these days ?
Calliope is, first of all, a beautiful dream. When I was 14,15 I went to the concerts of Le Orme and Banco del Mutuo Soccorso and I watched the musicians, thinking “Goodness/ Whew I would like to be just like them when I grow up !” It’s clear I didn’t manage to be just like them, but I can tell you that playing with the other ‘Calliopers’ is simply magic, either it is a concert or it is when we meet to rehearse every week.
The next part of the interview is a “this is your life” part where I ask you some more or less intelligent questions about your music and your four albums before we talk about your future. When was Calliope formed and by whom ?
The band was founded by my friend Rinaldo Doro a long time ago, in 1989, following a suggestion of Beppe Crovella, keyboard player of a more famous group called Arti+Mestieri. The original band had Rinaldo as keyboard player, the vocalist was another old friend of mine, Massimo Berruti, the guitar was played by Mario Guadagnin, Enzo Martin was the bass guitarist and Gianni Catalano was the drummer. As you can see, I was not in the band yet. I joined them in 1993, while they were preparing their second album. I helped them with the album and as sound engineer during their concerts.
It was when they were writing their third album that I joined them as second keyboard player, only on 1994. One year later I was the only keyboard player. Nowadays the lineup is this : Andrea Crovagna playing the bass, Enrico Merlo the guitarist, Roberto Zaffaroni the drummer, Alessandro Amato the lead voice and me, Enrico Perrucci, playing the keyboards.
What was your musical visions/ideas ? How would you describe your music?
The great passion of all of us is the more classic progressive rock, we love the international fathers of this music such as Yes, King Crimson, Genesis and so on, but we love also the incredible Italian bands such as PFM, Balletto di bronzo and Le Orme. Personally I’m crazy about Banco del Mutuo Soccorso.
In those years I had the pleasure to meet Vittorio Nocenzi, during a concert in Turin in 1992. Another time I had the whole group at my home for lunch, on a day-off after a concert. I couldn’t believe my eyes , I had been a fan of this group since I was 12!
Anyway the story of the NordLead is this: in 1996 the Banco played at a festival called Tavagnasco Rock which was quite famous in the area where I live, Piedmont . All the members of the band had reached T by car or using vans, except for Vittorio who had flown and had arrived at Turin airport . He had asked me to take him to the concert which was about 70 Km from Turin.
The day after I had to take him back to the airport.While I was driving, we were talking about music and instruments as usual. I had just bought a second-hand Nord Lead and I told him. “It’ a wonderful Synt! If you try it, I’m sure you will buy it too”. His answer was : “Let’s go and try it then !”
So we went to my home, I remember thinking “ If he stays longer, he will write the new album here.” Then I asked him to write a dedication on My Keyboard. He wrote : “ To Enrico. Play great music! You can find a picture of my keyboard in our website, if you want to see it.
Coming back to our music, as I’ve already said we are fans of the more 'traditional' prog but we also like other groups of the so-called New Prog of the 90s, my favourite one is IQ.
We write and arrange our songs as a sequence of different scenes that we use to build the pieces. In this way we use the song duration to form a continuosly-evolving musical telling.
So we have melodic moments, sometimes minimalists, other more powerful or simphonic, with choirs, strings, orchestral sounds.... , but we have also rock sound, more rytmic and hard, with guitars, Hammond and strong ritmics. We love to use all possible colours.
In this way we hope to capture the interest of the people listening to us but we also try to enjoy ourselves, or at least we try.
As to our lyrics we don’t draw our inspiration from fantasy, neither magicians nor goblins. We usually talk about social or everyday situations. For example the song “Terra di Nessuno” from our first album was written for the miners in Sardinia who were protesting because they were losing their job, or the song “Sarayevo” about the war in the Balkans . Also the third CD which is softer and renaissance -like in the style, faces the theme of the soldier coming back home from war.
How did you sign on Vinyl Magic Records and what is your experiences with the music/record industry ?
Our producer Beppe Crovella is, first of all, a friend, so we never looked for anybody else. He is a great musician, he is our first supporter and he helps us to develop our projects. A fully positive experience.
Please give us a presentation of La Terra dei Grandi Occhi. The music, the recording, lyrics, the musicians, the artwork, the tracks.........
This is the first album of the band, and I was still not part of it, so I can freely speak about the music. These tracks are influenced by the more 'traditional' progressive rock, they are full of Hammond, Mellotron and Minimoog. The lyrics are more dreamy. In this CD there are 2 of the songs that I prefer to play: 'Lunario', an instrumental piece with a baroque atmosphere, with a very melodic refrain ending in unison with synth and guitar, and the title track, with sudden changes of atmosphere, that make both us and our audience to hold our breath. When the songs approach the ending the music stop, and Alessandro sings: “big eyes, nobody sees after that he believes or assumes to understand...”. I find it very timely: we are filled with information, used to hide more than to show the truth.
Please give us a presentation of Citta' di Frontiera. The music, the recording, lyrics, the musicians, the artwork, the tracks.........
'Città di frontiera' (Towns on the borders) is focused on the places that are in some way a frontier. From 'Sarayevo', written for the Bosnia war, to 'La Prova' (The try) which speaks about the limits we think as absolute, but that we must try to break to fulfil our projects.
The music has a more rock taste, with some hard atmospheres. A lot of the songs you can listen in our gigs come from this album. We usually open the concerts with 'Windsor'.
Please give us a presentation of Il Madrigale Del Vento. The music, the recording, lyrics, the musicians, the artwork, the tracks.......
We added many traditional instruments and we had many guests: violin, hudie-gurdie, flute and moreover a Dijeridoo. In this album you can find two suites more than fifteen minutes long, and this was an hard try for our capacity of developing the musical structure: we hope we did it... we love these tracks so much.
Up to now we haven’t played these songs live, but...
The story tells about a medieval soldier on his way home, although the theme of the veteran is basically timeless: someone stayed at home waiting and someone came back.
Perhaps the soldier has been changed by the experience of the war and also finds a place he doesn’t know any more. I remember the song “Dopo niente è più lo stesso” (after no longer the same) of the album “Io sono nato libero” (B.M.S.) that says “what did I win, now that I won?”
Please give us a presentation of Generations/Generazioni. The music, the recording, lyrics, the musicians, the artwork, the tracks........
This album has a story which is a bit special. One day I was speaking with Beppe Crovella whether to publish a CD of a concert recorded live in 1992. He was determined to release it but I did not like the idea of publishing a new album played by a band which was too different from the line-up at that moment. So I got the idea To point out the change with a live album with both teams ... generations in fact.
In addition there is the unreleased 'Luci ed Ombre' (Lights and Shadows). Since it was released a collection of songs with the magazine 'Nobody's Land', we choose to include the old version on 'Generazioni' and to keep the 'new' one for the collection.
The art work on your albums is a bit special. Please tell us more about the art works.
The first cover leads to distant lands, floating in a blue sky, topped by globes of light ...that’s the land of big eyes. The cover of the second one goes back to the theme of the journey , because the border involves a journey, with the hot-air balloon that takes off and the passenger on the pier, in keeping with the songs lyrics: such as “Margherita a Rodi, which is a story of immigrants, or “Windsor”, the story of a trip in Canada and the contrast between Windsor and Detroit, just across the border.
As to the cover of 'Il madrigale del vento' , the artist has created a figure of a woman who waits for her man back from war, taking a bath in a little river.
For 'Generazioni' we have a departure, but this time it is the music sheets that fly away, and fly between generations as a kind of baton in the relay of the various musicians in the band's history.
What is the current situation regarding availability and distribution of these albums ? Is it any plans to make your albums more accessible/easier to find ?
The distribution problems are due to the division of our label a few years ago. The first 3 albums were published under the name Vinyl Magic. Then Beppe Crovella separated from the other member and founded the Electromantic, which released 'Generazioni'.
To tell the truth I don't really know why. I’m sorry, but I can't tell you much about the distribution.
Both your music and sound is a revival of the old masters in the Italian scene. The likes of PFM, Le Orme, Latte Miele and all the greats. Is that intentional or is it “just” in your blood as an Italian to play progressive rock in this typical Italian prog rock vein ?
Thank you for mentioning Calliope near those mythical figures. Actually at the beginning the Calliope project was inspired by the idea of the great tradition of Italian progressive rock, but not only as architectural choice, mainly because we all grew up “on bread and Genesis, bread and Orme,” etc... The songs are a synthesis of the souls of the musicians who contributed to the writing and execution, so there are moments when the atmosphere and the sounds are close to the 70s, but we do not feel it like a chain. It 's a choice we make, where we like, without foreclosing the possibility of using more modern colours and textures.
I think you refer to the last September concert at Veruno 2 Days Prog festival, where we had the pleasure and honour to perform before Orme and Mangala Vallis. It was a memorable evening, everything worked well: the sounds were very good and I think we also did the job well. Obviously we were very worried about being compared to these bands, but everything was really OK.
We would like to create a different section in the middle part of the show, more symphonic, with these songs, but this requires a female singer in the band line-up. From the instrumental side it presents some difficulties due to the length of the suites, to the complexity of the arrangements, but we are working on it.
Is Calliope your main occupation in life or do you all have other jobs ?
Unfortunately none of us may live only on music, and this is true both for the 'old' and the 'new' Calliope. Andrea and I work in Information Technology, Enrico Merlo in electronic design, Roberto Zaffaroni in industrial technical assistance. This does not leave us much time to devote to music, and then the time between publications becomes long. Anyway we rehearse every week , we regularly meet to play together and exchange ideas.
What is the plans for Calliope this year and in the future ? Gigs or any new albums ?
We wrote some new tracks, but I don't think we can issue a new album later this year, partly because we've got a pretty ambitious project... but still secret! Now we are working to realize the new live show, we care a lot about it. I know it's a long time that we do not publish new material, but it is not easy to put together work and all the efforts required by a rock band. We apologize for this. Sometimes it happens that you have time but you have no inspiration. Anyway we have some ideas for a new album that we will try to realize to end the work.
In the end I want to thank Torodd Fuglesteg that gave us the opportunity of this interview and all the ProgArchives friends for their interest in Calliope. We will not disappoint them.
Long live Prog-Rock.
A big thank you to Enrico Perrucci and Calliope for this interview. I think Enrico and Calliope is too modest about themselves. Calliope is an excellent band and their albums and gigs is recommended to all RPI fans around the world.
Calliope's PA profile is here and I will keep myself updated on their activities in the next years. I have a soft spot for Calliope and the new generation of RPI bands and I am not ashamed of admitting that.
Keep an eye on this band.
Edited by toroddfuglesteg - November 11 2010 at 05:23
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|Posted: April 01 2010 at 22:20|
Another excellent read. I really enjoy their debut. Oh and thanks for the reminder that there is an interview section here with surprisingly(to me) lots of reviews i didn't know about.
"The wind is slowly tearing her apart"
"Sad Rain" ANEKDOTEN
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