|I did this interview back in 2007 and I still remember the look on Luca's face when I confronted him with my thoughts on the narration element of Rhapsody's music. Unfortunately it did not make an impression (Proof: Ascending to Infinity). Below is my original article as posted on the RevelationZ Magazine website.
Being the warm-up band on a Manowar tour is not the easiest task in the world. That was however the reality for Rhapsody (Of Fire) back in March 2007 when I met up with Luca Turilli for a talk before their show in Hamburg.
With just 90 minutes till showtime the backstage area was buzzing with activity and band members from Manowar, Rhapsody and HolyHell were constantly passing by as I waited in the hallway. Finally Luca was ready and I was taken to the band's lounge where most of the band members were chilling out. Knowing that I had a few critical questions in store it felt like I was walking right into the lion's den. Luca turned out to be a warm and forthcoming guy and as he greeted me with a big smile I sat down and the interview quickly got underway.
A 10 year anniversary?
It has been exactly 10 years since 'Legendary Tales' exploded onto the scene. Some bands might celebrate that in some way, but no special plans are in the works. As the Manowar tour kept getting postponed it was tough to plan ahead. But what Luca does promise is that Rhapsody's headlining tour, which will happen this autumn, will be bigger than ever before. Special surprises are in the works but he is unable to reveal the details.
Taking another route I ask what his dream of the ultimate Rhapsody show would be if money was not an issue. Luca laughs and states the obvious "Like Lord of the Rings on stage" and jokes that "This one of Manowar's would be ridiculous compared to it". Elaborating further he adds "Everything from fireworks to theatrical scenes, a running time around 3 and a half hours, Christopher Lee coming as narrator of course. All these kind of things."
Film Score Metal / Hollywood Metal
Back in the late 90'ies Rhapsody's overblown music was something not heard before and almost demanded a genre definition of its own. It was a new way of interpreting classical music. Movie soundtracks and especially Danny Elfman was an inspiration for the band members, who wanted to make the grandiloquent element a fundamental part of the music, besides that the mission was to make the music modern, constantly evolving and let it paint vivid imagery in the mind of the listener.
Limp Schnoor, head of their record label back in the day came up with "Hollywood Metal" and that stuck with the band until they changed to the Magic Circle Music label where the, to some classier, to others including yours truly, sillier "Film Score Metal" took over. So I was interested in knowing how that change came about.
Luca explains "It was a correction from our second record company. To Americans 'Hollywood Metal' didn't sound so good, so when we changed to MCM they told us that what they intended for the USA sounded more like 'Film Score Metal'. 'Hollywood Metal' seemed too much like the Mötley Crüe style, like these bands from Hollywood."
Manowar and the business side of things
Growing up Luca was a major Manowar fan. He reminisces how he was once crying while listening to "Gates of Valhalla" of "Into Glory Ride", recognizing that magical and deeply emotional essence the song held. Helloween and Blind Guardian were other inspirations at the time and he calls these bands the basic heart of the Rhapsody style.
Getting signed to the label of one of your favorite musicians was a happy moment for the band. However the business side of the industry is a totally separate thing and now the musician Luca adored has also become the business man with whom he sometimes fights. As Luca says "...you learn in the business you have the nice moments and the bad moments and so on. This re-arranges the image you had before a little bit" and laughs.
What is wrong with this picture
Personally I love the music of Rhapsody. It stirs the soul and brings the very essence of music into perspective. But there is room for improvement and especially two issues have been bugging me from day one, embarrassing narration and Fabio's accent. Naturally I have to bring up these subjects to find out what Luca thinks. Moving onto the shaky ground of educating the band I adore I head straight for the throat.
Steen: When you do these very professional productions and big arrangements why do you use these amateur actors for narration?
(Luca looks stunned)
S: ...except Christopher Lee of course.
L: They are professional!
S: You think so?
L: Yes! My god, they work in theatres in London... For instance, on the last album, Triumph or Agony we used these people. My god these are good, expensive people who are playing in London and playing in theatres. How do you think this??
S: Ok... (laughs) It just doesn't work.
L: My god, we had to make a selection between the actors of London, old friends of Christopher Lee. Yes, they made movies, professional movies. So we had to pay a lot. Don't tell me this now! You ruin the investment. (Laughs)
S: So you are happy with how it turned out?
L: Yes, yes. We wanted to include this kind of new particular thing for our style, to be more film score metal we decided to have these actors performing and creating some movie scenes into the music and especially in this long song called.......
S: Demon Knight
L: The mystic prophecy of the demon knight. Thanks. We had the possibility to do this because usually we have this fast song where you want to be more straight and commercial, but then luckily we always make this varied long song where we can put whatever is in our mind.
So in the end we decided to put this very long song, one of the longest of Rhapsody, and used this moment to narrate the main part of what is happening in this second chapter of The Dark Secret Saga. So we wanted to represent that in a cinematic way. Like if you got this scene in mind...
S: Yeah yeah, I understand the idea.
L: Ok, ok. Some people is going to have opinions on some things you know. But it's good to have opinions on some things.
S: So why not have Christopher Lee narrate everything?
L: He is narrating everything.
S: Except that Toby Eddington is the Iras Algor guy.
L: This you don't like?
S: Compared to Christopher Lee he's like eeeewww....
L: I know but if you listen to the original version of the movie Lord of the rings we find out that his voice is very close to the one of Gandalf, Ian Mckellian, who also made X-Men. If you compare their voices they are very very similar. If you listen to the original version of some movies there are some strange voices. We were so used to the voice of Schwarzenegger in Italian that when I heard the real voice of Schwarzenegger I couldn't believe it. It was so high and strange and not epical and powerful and so on. So sometimes you can have a surprise like this. But I think really it is the same of the voice of Gandalf. It is narrated like this. I tell you this because he is a very famous actor in London. He made Shakespeare, Hamlet, a lot of stuff.
(I decide I'd better move on to the next question)
S: Are you ever going to force Fabio to take an English pronunciation course?
(Fabio looks up from the nearby table)
L: Know that I got a lot of comments, especially from USA when we toured there not so long ago and they love this kind of voice because to them...
Fabio: They think it's more exotic.
Luca: Yes, to them it sounds like... For example, we have a lot of famous actors in Italy that came from USA, singing in Italian in this strange particular way, but totally successful... So if USA likes Fabio.... it's strange because only you or other people from parts of Europe say it's strange pronunciation.
We end up agreeing that Fabio is indeed a fantastic singer and one of the main draws of Rhapsody. Having heard the live rendition of "Lamento Eroico" the night before there really is no doubt about that.
By the strange paths of destiny
Luca's path to becoming a musician was not what you would think. At 14 years he was going to school, hadn't played an instrument and didn't know what to do with his life. Everybody kept asking what he wanted and finally he settled on a military career.
Meanwhile he had started singing in a little local band. At 16 years he picked up the guitar. 2 years later he passed the military selection and decided to make that his career. All that changed one day when he was about to parachute out of a plane. In a destined moment he suddenly decided that the music was what he wanted to do with his life so the military career was cancelled and all energy and focus was put into the band. A demo was sent out and suddenly they had a contract with Limb music. The rest is history...
To this day his relatives don't consider him a musician and laughing he says that he still gets the "Ah, what are you doing? Find a real job!" often.
Life, the universe and everything
With all the success the band has had, Luca is still a very down to earth guy who needs time to unwind and do the basic things at home that make him feel like a normal human being. Having three bands going on at once can be overwhelming and when he suddenly finds himself talking about himself and his solo band in third person then he knows it's time to unwind.
The most important aspect is still that what the band does is their own vision.
Deep down Luca believes in the constant evolution of the human being and being open to different views. As he says " I don't like the people who say 'This is like this, like this, like that' because this you think when you are 25 and when you are 30 you think something else. So there is always an evolution. I like the idea that you get wiser the more years that pass. Of course you are more experienced. You see life from a different point of view. But I am very interested in psychology. To understand the people, to understand the life of men on earth, how we have adapted to the men that we are..."
I barge in with a most enthusiastic "The meaning of life!" and Luca continues "Everything leads to this basic question that every artist shares with the other. Why we are living here? What we are doing? Why we are like this? Is there life on other planets? All these interesting things."
The future and how to manage three bands at once
Looking to the future, exciting works are in progress. New albums from Dreamquest, Luca Turilli and Rhapsody are on the horizon, in that order respectively.
Luca is working on defining the stylistically differences between the three bands. Dreamquest will have the epic quality of Rhapsody while Luca Turilli's solo band will move more towards the typical style of the 80'ies with a definite Helloween inspiration. That Luca proudly calls his new album 'Keeper of the Seven Keys Part III' is something that sets the bar high indeed.
He elaborates. "I really want to go back to this kind of melodic style that made me love Heavy Metal. For me it started, as I told you, with Manowar, but especially Helloween with the two Keeper albums. I love the voice of Michael Kiske and these kind of melodies, they attracted me so much because for me it was like they represented a kind of introduction to Heavy Metal thanks to the fact that I was listening to Duran Duran, Limahl, Aha and these bands and then the path to Helloween was natural because I consider them as Pop-Metal. They sound a little bit like this, Dr. Stein, Future World, Twilight of the gods, all these songs, Eagle Fly Free.... These kind of fantastic sing-a-longs that I started to discover and to love, so I want to always follow that direction."
"So when you have three different identities you can focus very well on what you want to do. One day if I want to create a futuristic song I use it for Dreamquest. One day I want to make something cinematic I propose it to Alex."
When I ask how on earth he came up with that perfect melody line in the chorus of "Eternal Glory" Luca simply points to his heart and says "The music is in here."
Talking to Luca Turilli for 30 minutes has shown me that he above all has a burning passion for the music. From the look in his eyes it is obvious that this flame is going to keep burning for a long time to come.
Link to concert review
Written By Steen
Online: Tuesday, September 18, 2012