About illness and anger, being detained by US Immigration, playing with musicians one generation younger, pictures in their heads, difficulties of being DIY band, The Alchemist Painters and other internesting issues with The Spiritual Bat.
SANCTUARY.CZ: FIRST OF ALL – HOW ARE YOU ROSETTA AND DARIO AT THE END OF WINTER? ARE YOU WINTER PERSONS OR ON THE CONTRARY?
Rosetta: We are doing ok, thank you! Winter is not a bad month, but it’s usually a bit stressful in this period, due to day jobs. We try to keep it simple, so we can have time for our art, but it is not easy. Also, this year seems odd, meaning usually we write music in the winter and tour in summer. This year is different, we are excited to be playing live shows, but have no time for writing and recording.
SANCTUARY.CZ: THERE WAS LIKE -10 DEGREES OF CELSIUS IN PRAGUE DURING THE FEW LAST DAYS. WHAT ABOUT FROSINONE?
Rosetta: It’s funny that you ask, because today it snowed here, and it never does! It happens so rarely that when it does, schools close and the city is nearly paralyzed. But I guess we were meant to prepare for Prague!
SANCTUARY.CZ: IT IS A PLEASURE WE WILL HAVE THE CHANCE TO SEE YOU IN HERE SOON AGAIN. YOU ARE BRINGING THE NEW RECORD "YOUR OWN WORLD - AND THE VISION OF SOUND" TO PRAGUE. THE ALBUM WAS RELEASED LAST YEAR BUT IF I REMEMBER IT WELL, IT SHOULD HAD BEEN RELEASED WAY EARLIER, IS THAT CORRECT? AND IF YES, WHAT CAUSED THE DELAY?
Rosetta: The pleasure is all ours! Yes, you are right. There were delays due to a series of personal and family issues that required our attention and care. So we went on tour to Castle Party and then in the USA, without releasing the album as planned. It was almost finished, but not quite. We released a digital demo, only, called "The Vision Of Sound", in the meantime.
SANCTUARY.CZ: COMPARED TO THE LAST ALBUM "MOSAIC" THE NEW RECORDS SEEMS TO BE LESS DEATHROCK-RAGED (EXCEPT THE SONG "KILING" OF COURSE), MORE GOTH/ROCK/ATMOSPHERIC ORIENTED WITH MORE SLOWER-PACED TRACKS. WAS IT AN INTENTION OR DID THE MUSIC JUST COME OUT OF YOU LIKE THIS? WHAT DO YOU THINK CAUSED THE SHIFT?
Rosetta: Really? It’s amazing how much perceptions differ! One person said this was our most aggressive and wrathful work. There are actually several dimensions to Your Own World - And The Vision Of Sound. And anger and outrage are among them, see the title track or Killing for example, even though we are proud 3of thae fact that in this one we managed to transmute basest human instincts like Anger into… actually a fun, ironic song that we love to play! I guess shifts come from life experience. We never have a chance to sit down and plan what sort of music we are going to make in the next album. It’s all about capturing the moment, like in photography. But the moment may last more than just one instant. Within an album and even within a song, it could cover years.
SANCTUARY.CZ: IS THERE ANY MAIN MESSAGE IN THE CONCEPT OF "YOUR OWN WORLD - AND THE VISION OF SOUND"? I MEAN – WHEN WE SPOKE ABOUT "MOSAIC" YOU SAID THAT IT WAS ABOUT "TRYING TO DESCRIBE THE WHOLE PICTURE OF A MOSAIC, WHICH IS IMPOSSIBLE IF YOU ARE ONE OF THE PIECES INVOLVED". IS THERE ANYTHING SIMILAR WITH THE NEW ONE, TOO?
Rosetta: In this album there are several dimensions, as we were saying. Another dimension is that of Illness (as it appears in Own World, in A Cure, and sporadically in other songs) a world in which some humans live, day by day. This is a dimension which may also border on the dimension of Isolation. We are part of this world together, yes, but each one of us lives in our own, individual world. Our macro cosmos and micro cosmos. We have things in common, but also big differences.
Illness is that dimension where at the extreme your only goal is survival, or relief of pain. There everything changes. And if your loved ones are in that dimension, that is when you meet Rage, against a cruel, materialistic, superficial system, and you meet Hope, because you see Bridges being made, you encounter noble souls, capable of a loving attitude towards their neighbors, their fellow humans, the environment, our planet, which belongs to us all, and that some don’t care to protect. So everything intersects, our individual worlds, our society, the world that we all have in common. But the balance is ever-shifting and very fragile, it seems.
SANCTUARY.CZ: THAT IS REALLY SERIOUS TOPIC… AND WHAT ABOUT THE MUSIC? DARIO, YOU ARE THE MAIN SONGWRITER FOR THE SPIRITUAL BAT – HOW DO YOU PERCEIVE MUSIC? IS IT LIKE... HAVING PICTURES IN YOUR HEAD CREATED BY THE SONGS? OR THE OTHER WAY AROUND – ARE THERE PICTURES IN YOUR HEAD THAT YOU ARE TRYING TO "TIE UP" INTO SONGS? IF YES, WHAT PICTURE IS YOUR FAVORITE ONE AND HOW DOES IT LOOK LIKE? AND MAYBE NOT ONLY FROM YOUR BAND BUT OVERALLL PICTURES…
Dario: Honestly, I don’t know how songs are born. I play and play and play, and capture things that resonate with me. There’s a direct link between Image and Sound, but it’s hard to explain with words… I see Sounds. I see Light and Shadows. I see blurry silhouettes, I see waves… One of my favorite images is the monolith for 2001 Space Odissey, which I saw as a child. But it’s not from a movie, not an album, sorry!
SANCTUARY.CZ: THE COOL THING IS THAT THE NEW RELEASE STILL KEEPS THE RITUALISTIC VIBE, IS FULL OF INTERESTING MELODIES (LIKE "GUILTY" THAT IS AN INSTANT GOTH DANCEFLOOR HIT) AND YOUR VOICE GIVES ME GOOSEBUMPS AGAIN. ARE THE REVIEWS PLEASED, TOO? ARE YOU SATISFIED WITH THE REACTIONS?
Rosetta: Hahaha goose-bumps? Must be the cold… in a review someone described my voice as icy … That sounds strange to me because… If I think of icy vocals I think, say, of Michael Sele of The Beauty of Gemina, very nice, by the way… I tend to think my voice is too “hot” for this genre sometimes, I even try to control it because I think I put too much emotion in it, I reveal too much… but on the other hand, Emotions is what I hope to convey, so if it results in goose-bumps that’s a mission accomplished for me!
Regarding reviews, we got really good ones, but we didn’t do a very good job at spreading the word… you know, we do everything ourselves, and with all the problems we haven’t been able to do that part of the work as much as we should have. That is why we are really grateful to our bat-friends’ support. This is what it means to us to be a DIY band. Lots of work, lots of passion, but not enough money to “think high”, to invest in marketing deals, and stuff like that, so we could just concentrate on playing and recording, without having to worry about the rest, and the rest is a lot, between booking, advertising, etc! So, we got fewer reviews than we were used to… but the ones we got are all flattering!
The Spiritual Bat – Escape
SANCTUARY.CZ: "YOUR OWN WORLD - AND THE VISION OF SOUND" IS IN MY OPINION A VERY GOOD AND POWERFUL RELEASE – DID YOU DO IT ALL BY YOURSELF (INCLUDING MIX) AGAIN?
Rosetta: We did almost everything ourselves, as usual. But we have special guests, though! Ashkelon Sain of Trance To The Sun (also known for his work with Soriah) who was on tour with us in 2014 and has contributed some tracks to Mosaic, also has a part in Caress The Scar. And our bass player Emilio, contributed a synth track to “Killing”. Our mastering engineer Marco Cento (inventor of Cento Microphones), is a mentor in the technical aspects of post-production. We wanted acoustic drums but it was too late for that… I had already programmed drums to the slightest detail… we would have driven even a great drummer like Massimo crazy - as we admit we are a bit of a pain in the neck… But hopefully there will be live recordings and future albums with Massimo on acoustic drums!
SANCTUARY.CZ: DID YOU TWO RECORD ALL THE INSTRUMENTS, OR DID SOMEONE HELP YOU?
Rosetta: Let’s see – Dario recorded guitar and bass and most keyboards. I programmed the drums, recorded keyboards on Escape and A Cure. Ashkelon from Portland, Oregon, recorded synths on Caress The Scar, Emilio Synths on Killing… and what else? Ah yes, I did vocals and back vocals. So mostly in our studio.
SANCTUARY.CZ: WHICH GUIDES US TO YOUR NEW LIVE LINEUP – CAN YOU INTRODUCE THE CURRENT MEMBERS ONBOARD?
Rosetta: With pleasure! Do you remember our old drummer Alessio, who played with us the last time we played in Prague, and who recorded on several of our albums? Well, he is from Rome… And we are from Frosinone. It was very impractical to get together for rehearsals, but we did it for a long time. Then, due to our personal and family issues, it became really difficult. And we needed to play, more than ever. Even as a sort of therapy, of relief for all that goes on in life.
So we asked around in our home town, for someone good who might be interested in our style of music. Some musician friends mentioned Massimo Ceci, as a possible drummer. When I realized who he was, I thought, no way! He had been my student, at one of the schools where I work. All I knew about Massimo was that as a student (I teach English conversation), all he wanted to talk about was music. And he knew a lot about it! At that time I was impressed when this 16-year old talked to me about Charlie Mingus. But he was really young and Dario and were a bit skeptical. Dario in particular.
But I thought we should give it a try. We gave him a chance and he is actually amazing, as a musician, as a person and as a professional. He brought Emilio Torella into the band, as well! They had played together before, which was a plus for our brand new rhythm section. We are proud to have such talented, young musicians playing with us. They are very different from us, besides being a different generation, and they each have their distintive musical taste, which is what we want, and most importantly we all share the will to bring The Spiritual Bat songs to another level.
SANCTUARY.CZ: THE AVERAGE TIME OF YOUT SONG IS SOMEWHERE ABOUT 5 MINUTES... DO YOU PLAY THEM IN ORIGINAL VERSIONS LIVE OR DO YOU HAVE SOME "GIG-CUT" VERSIONS?
Rosetta: Nah, we very rarely change the structures. A lot can happen live that differs from the recording, but not so much the structures. There are a few slight changes in the arrangements here and there, but we pretty much follow the score and concentrate on giving the most there, in the details.
SANCTUARY.CZ: YOU HAVE PLAYED A LOT BOTH IN EUROPE AND US SINCE YOUR LAST VISIT OF PRAGUE. WAS THERE ANY PARTICULARLY GOOD OR TERRIBLE SHOW?
Rosetta: Lots of great shows, bad ones? One show, I remember, yes, we played a fantastic set on a nice stage, with great sound, lights and lots of fog…. only problem was that we played for a handful of people… turns out there was a final football match for that city’s team, and also we feel the promoter for some reason had thought of promoting through just a couple of FB posts, which is not ideal. It was one of our first shows with Massimo and Emilio… we had a good laugh about it later… on our way back along the highway we saw fire trucks with their lights on, and lots of smoke… something had happened… Out of the blue Massimo said: "There’s lights, there’s smoke, let’s go play! " But for all of us music is a journey first of all, and we know all about ups and downs.
I can’t think of any bad shows at the moment, somehow we always have fun and enjoy beautiful company. Castle Party was a highlight, for sure. And our last show in our hometown was really crowded, which surprised us, because there is no goth “scene”, no real space for bats here, so we really appreciated that. Well, now that I think of it, a special show was the one in Oakland, CA, on The Vision Of Sound Tour. This was with Aaron Nicholes on drums, coast to coast from New York to Seattle, passing through the North and the South. We had suffered a major drawback coming back from Mexico. We haven’t really talked about it until now because it really hurt, at the time, it was humiliating. We were detained by US Immigration for about 24 hours, and were told we could not finish our tour, that we had to leave the country. But our friend Jeremy (Thin Man Entertainment) in Los Angeles, convinced us not to do that immediately, to talk to an entertainment lawyer and an immigration lawyer first.
We were so terrified we just wanted to buy a ticket (we wanted to borrow money from family to do that), cancel the remaining seven shows and go back home… We had already written to all the promoters for the West Coast shows that were left on this huge tour… Two of them canceled the shows immediately, but the bigger promoters actually told us to check out possible solutions, because they knew it was still possible, and said they would wait for us…
We finally got the answers we needed just a few hours before the Oakland show. At that point it was a race against time… getting out of LA and to Oakland in time…. Aaron the drummer had to do all the driving because I could not risk getting stopped even for a speeding ticket! We got to the The Night Light, the venue, right when the last of the opening acts had finished their set, friends and fans were waiting outside and helped us load in all the gear, we ran up the stairs and got on stage, plugged in and played! No make-up, no sound-check, no change of clothing…. It was the most intense show ever!
SANCTUARY.CZ: WHO IS RESPONSIBLE FOR THE ALBUM ARTWORK? QUITE HONESTLY, IT REMINDS THE ALBUM COVERS FROM THE LATE OF 80'S OR SOMETHING... WAS IT AN INTENTION? :)
Dario: The artwork is by Vincenzo Compagnoni of The Alchemist Painters, our movement that was most active right in the late 1970s and 1980s. Vincenzo is the artist in this group who is most well versed in the new technologies. He’s always had a passion for digital art. For the front cover, actually, part of the concept was sort of my idea, or rather an obsession of mine. Our faces captured in a sort of stone, a wall, cold, still… The background is from one of my paintings. Most of them have that rough texture.
Rosetta: At the same time I see in it waves, as blue as the Mediterranean sea, where many die on their way to a promised land, and are forgotten. Some of that atmosphere is captured in the song Escape. And the ancient symbol with the Double Dragon to protect a passageway.
SANCTUARY.CZ: HOW ARE PITTORI ALCHIMISTI IN 2018 ANYWAY? ARE YOU STIL SOMEHOW ACTIVE WITH THEM, DARIO?
Dario: I am quite busy transmuting darkness and shadows into sound and trying to make it so that this sound evoke visions! As far as the other Alchemists, I am not aware of much going on at the moment. I know some of them are teachers, some do sporadic shows. But the same year we played in Prague, there was an important retrospective exhibition by Lamberto Bracaglia, the founder of the movement, in which we had the privilege of seeing all his older scrolls next to his newer work. This was a major event because all the Alchemist Painters showed up (originally nine of us) except for Luigi Pacioni, of course, who passed away long ago… We hadn’t seen each other in years! Ever since that day, Vincenzo has been supporting us with artwork, graphics, throughout tour and even with the album. Let’s see where this leads us.
SANCTUARY.CZ: ROSETTA, YOUR VOICE IS INCREDIBLE SO I'M REALLY SURPRISED I HAVEN'T HEARD YOU AS A SPECIAL GUEST ON SOMEONE ELSE’S TRACK THAT MUCH... IS IT JUST MY LACK OF KNOWLEDGE OR YOU SIMPLY DON'T DO SUCH THINGS ON PRINCIPLE?
Rosetta: Thank you! Not very often, due to lack of time, but I don’t mind at all, if it doesn’t take me away from my own work for too long! Let’s see, so far I have recorded some vocals for Christine Plays Viola, Ariel Maniki and the Black Halos (excellent gothic rock from Costa Rica), and for Bazalt (new project of Valerio Lovecchio and Emiliana Voltarel, ex Yabanci).
SANCTUARY.CZ: I THINK I BOTHERED YOU GUYS LONG ENOUGH :). SO IT'S YOUR TURN NOW – IF THERE'S ANYTHING YOU MIGHT WANT TO SAY TO THE CZ GOTH SCENE, PLEASE GO AHEAD!
Rosetta: Let’s say it with a video :)