Before we begin, let's straight out some things first:
Gustav Klimt: (1862-1918) Austrian painter. He co-founded the Vienna Secession group, an alliance against 19th-century eclecticism in art.
Klimt 1918: Italian indie/wave/metal/post rock band, they released their sophomore effort last year, the critically acclaimed "Dopoguerra"
Being Dopoguerra my favorite album of 2005 I felt compelled to interview the band, so I contacted the guys, and Paolo Soellner (drums) agreed to answer my questions, this is the record of what he had to say.
1. Hello and welcome to Metal Storm, please tell us a little about the band for those who don't know you.
Hi guys, we are Klimt 1918 from Rome. We play now a kind of indie/wave/metal/post rock. Me and my brother Marco (vocals/guitars) formed this band in Rome at the end of 1999 from the ashes of ANOTHER DAY, an Italian act dedicated to wave metal music. On May 2000 KLIMT1918's first release "Secession Makes Post Modern Music" was recorded, a 5 songs release that keeped together scandinavian/english avantgarde sonorities and '80 new wave.
Thanks to it we signed a record deal with the label My Kingdom Music, recording under them our first release "Undressed Momento". Good feedbacks both from critics and audience let us sign a new and more favourable record deal with the cult german label Prophecy Productions. On September 2004 we have recorded our second release "Dopoguerra" (Postwar), and it's out since April 25th 2005. That's the story so farů
2. In early periods, Klimt 1918 was called Another Day and played Death Metal. How did you evolve from Death Metal to Klimt 1918? (and I refer it as this because I can't find a short term to label your music)
Another Day wasn't a Death Metal band properly. There were some metal elements like very distorted guitars and powerful drum parts but the main structure was a stunning mix of wave/rock music and '80s sonorities. Undressed Memento is a continuation of that period. That's the same way Katatonia grew up after the early period, reaching a sound probably much heterogeneous. If you had listened to the Another Day records, you'll be surely agree with me. So evolving to Klimt1918 has been very easy in my opinion, our aim is still the same: trying to put together different musical genres as we want, starting from the same point.
3. Your first album "Undressed Memento" was a great album that passed by unnoticed mostly, did you expect more from the album, or it filled your expectations?
It's a pity that it passed unnoticed mostly, but we should admit that without its release, Dopoguerra wouldn't be possible at all. Thanks to the amazing feedbacks, good reviews everywhere and small periods in the European charts that we got a bigger record deal with Prophecy Productions. I think we don't expect more from it even if it didn't fill our expectation till the end. It's a wonderful album, we love it a lot but now a day, it belongs to our past, where we'll surely not come back. It has had its history. A funny thing it's that UM got more reviews in Italy than Dopoguerra and obviously happened the opposite in Europe and in the rest of the world. Part of our fans consider UM as a jewel of goth rock and put in their best album ever, that's probably the best rewarding feeling most important than any success or sales expectations.
4. Dopoguerra. Intriguing title for non-Italian speakers as myself , what's the whole concept behind the title and the album?
Dopoguerra means literally "postwar period" but it doesn't refer only to war properly, it decribes an intense cultural period as a moment of reconstruction and convalescence as 1918 has been. It's an important year because it represents the start of a new age, just the wanting to start again for milions of people; It represents an elegy for the dying "old" and the excitement for the "new" that comes out. The streets divided bombed areas and the spirit of the people aimed to the future, ready to start over from the beginning. "Dopoguerra" is a hymn to convalescence. Convalescence from illness and abandonment. Convalescence from modern age that at one point collapsed, asking us to rebuild using the same stones, the same rubbles. Our music embodies all these suggestions and Dopoguerra is the right title to underline this concept.
The main concept, as i've just said, that keeps together all the songs is the convalescence, to what comes after a painful experience. The end of an inner conflict, the condition of someone who reminds that the evil just finished with will,strength and hope. These suggestions refers especially to every postwar period as 1918 and 1945 as been and they are at the base of the concept of this album.
For example "Dopoguerra" song it's a song full of hope: Rome portrayed by the survivors of bombings, the repopulating of the streets, the will to come out into the open and have a sunshower after the long months besieged, the brave necessity to put aside the past e focus on every day's life.
5. The range of styles that one can find in Klimt 1918 music is amazing, from Katatonia to U2, from The Cure to Anathema, seems like the perfect marriage from mainstream eighties pop music and nineties Metal music. Are you really fans of both musical styles? Are you planning to lean forward any of these styles in the future, in other words, can we expect a heavier of softer Klimt 1918 in future releases?
Oh yes for sure!! I am totally agree with you. Our post-modern way to compose songs putting together many influences both from 80's, 90's and 00's music.
During the time, we become acquainted with other sonorities, that's the reason why our music evolves continuously. I can define our sound is a kind of overlapping of different layers that let our music be various and heterogeneous. These layers take inspiration from pop, rock, post-rock, indie, wave, 80's music and obviously metal.
Me and my brother grew up with the bands that you mentioned. We make no secret of the fact that those are our first influence together with indie post-rock acts. Bands like Interpol, God Speed You! Black Emperor, Arcade Fire, Dredg, Explosion In The Sky, U2, Jesus and Mary Chain, Death In Vegas, Standard, Sigur Ros, Sophia never leave our stereo and represent what Klimt 1918 are today obviously mixed with heavier sonorities. We compose music, taking sounds, guitar techniques, attitude and combining them together in order to create a new musical background, an hybrid. Nowadays every band plays a kind of derivative music.
About the future of Klimt1 918, we surely I'll direct our sound to the indie/post-rock one, none heavier or softer but something original. Less distorted but more powerful. Just look at Sigur Ros, they can be soft and really heavy in the same time, being a pop-indie band.
6. Could you name for us your top ten influential artists when composing? which albums never leave your stereo? Heard any new band lately worth mentioning?
This is a question for my brother who is the only composer of the band. Anyway I can list them all: Interpol, Godspeed You! Black Emperor, Dredg, Explosion In The Sky, early U2, Jesus And Mary Chain, Cure, Gregor Samsa, Verdena, Tears for fears.
In this period the albums that never leave my stereo are: Arcade Fire "Funeral", Depeche Mode "Playing the Angel", Sigur Ros "Takk", The BirthDay Massacre "Violet", Dredg "Catch without Arms", Apoptygma Berzek "You And Me Against The World", Katatonia "The Great Cold Distance", Dope Stars Inc. "Neuromance", Ephel Duath "Pain Necessary To Know", Bloc Party "Silent Alarm", Editors " The Back Room".
7. In both album of Klimt 1918 we found songs that have bits sung in Italian, your native language. This is very interesting, because your music entwines very well with your mother tongue. Why the decision to sing in Italian as well? Can we expect more Italian in future releases?
Starting from the previos album, we used the italian accidentally, by chance. We liked how the words sounded in our language so we decided to leave them as they were, without any translation in english. It's been a success both in Italy and abroad. Especially in foreign countries, they were fascinated for how it sounds: for them our language assumes an exotic and romantic charm, something that obviously we can't understand. That's also deals thematically with the songs and the meaning of the album "Dopoguerra".
Right now I don't know if we'll use again our native language for the next album. It's too early, the songs are still under construction, but sincerely I don't exclude it.
8. Gustav Klimt was the maximum exponent of the Wien Secession, but it seems your name is not an homenage to the painter itself, but the year of his death, 1918. This was a year of important events, but mostly a time of transision. Why 1918?
Obviously, the name of the band takes inspiration from Gustav Klimt, the maximum exponent of Wien secession. He was the symbol of liberty-style, the point of conjunction between '800 and '900 art. He died just in 1918, when Asburgic empire and 1st world war ended. It's an important year, as I said before, because it represents the start of a new age, especially for art and all the artistic movement of that period. As you said it's a time of transition, but in those year the world changed. Music like art. We wanted to experiment something new, an hybrid.
9. I must admitt. I love Dopoguerra, every single song is just amazing, but not only that, the whole design and cover art is gorgeous, what's the story behind the marvelous cover art?
Oh thanks a lot. I personally took care of the artwork and the image of the band. All the illustrations have been though to follow the message behind the album. There is a straight connection between the concept and the whole images/graphics appearing inside the CD, that are deeply kept together by the same colour: red.
The photo of the cover moved us at the first sight.It probably sums up the main theme of this album in just one view. I worked on its artwork to create a colour/black and white contrast to devide the picture in two parts to transmit a meaning. It portrays an exact moment when the survivors of bombings of the War repopulated the streets having the will to come out into the open and have a sun-shower after the long months besieged. The girl, the buildings and the city represent this moment while the sky (red) has still the trace of a war just over.
10. Let's play a little game here, i'm going to mention some musical genres and you tell me your preceptions, opinions or complains about them:
Power Metal: I've never listened power metal bands, just few of them in the past. I esteem their way to be always the same, so faithful to music they play.
Classical Music: Powerful but boring in the same time.
New Wave: it's intersesting for some moments of your life but not for me now!!
Black Metal: It's a musical genre i was used to listen in the past but i'am sure that 'll never leave. Represent my adolescence. One of the best way to put together violence and melody.
Electronic Music: Cool indeed!! I'am talking about bands of the 80's period the built up the base of the modern music as Depeche Mode first of all, Duran Duran,Kraftwerk, Human League. Some bands learned from them, evolving the sound creating realities like the EBM music, Aphex Twin, Telefon tel Aviv, Royksopp, Goldfrapp.
Doom Metal: Just the early Anathema and Doomraiser from Italy
11. In one particualr song you take one succes that happened not too long ago, i'm speaking of "Rachel" which, is my favorite song in the album. How come the idea of dedicating a song to Rachel Corrie came to life?
Rachel Corrie was an International Solidarity Movement militant from U.S.A., who was crushed to death by an Israeli bulldozer while she was trying to oppose the demolition of Palestinian settlements in the Gaza Strip. She gave her life for the rights of an occupied land as it's Palestine; her story moves us so much to write a song that could describe it. The song begins with a dance riff and very straight vocals. Gradually, the fell changes and emotional depth grows. The ending is melancholic and disenchanted, just like the fate of this American girl. (http://www.rachelcorrie.org)
12. What are your plans for the future? Are you satisfied with the level of success of "Dopoguerra"? Are you going on tour, take a rest, start working in your next album, which one will it be?
We are satisfied a lot of Dopoguerra. It reached where we expected it could reach. I'm so in love with this record probably 'cause I love its songs. The most rewarding fact is that Dopoguerra has been appreciated from different scenes: from metal to goth, from alternative to post-rock indie, from dark to wave, It's amazing for us and for our expectations. It gives us the possibility to do a European tour and a lot of concerts alone and supporting big names. We scheduled to record the new album at the end of 2006.
13. And that wraps thing for us, I wish you the very best of lucks, and you can always count with metal Storm for anything! Thank you! Any last words?
Thanks a lot Kike, I wish all the best to you and to the Metal Storm readers!!