Interview Luca Di Gennaro (Soul Secret)

“Current Italian bands have a great inheritance to carry on!”

(July 2012, text by Pedro Bekkers, edited by Peter Willemsen)

With the release of Closer To Daylight (see review), The Italian progressive metal band Soul Secret took a giant step forward into the major league of progressive rock music. The rating of four stars and a half was also a reason to focus a bit more on these promising musicians. So, I gladly got the oppertunity to ask musical wizard and keyboard player Luca Di Gennaro a few questions about the new album, the band and some more.

Luca Di Gennaro

Firstly I would like to thank you for the interview and secondly I want to congratulate you with Closer To Daylight, which I think is a great album.

Luca Di Gennaro: “Thank you very much, Pedro.”

In the past you weren't that lucky with the vocalists. Could you tell us please how this line-up got together?

“Well, we have two new guys on this album: bassist Claudio Casaburi and singer Fabio Manda. Our previous bass player left the band just five days before the recording sessions, so we started auditions and chose Claudio to be a new band member. I think that he was heaven sent! He certainly changed our sound for the better. As far as our vocalists are concerned you're absolutely right! We had Michele Serpico, an amazing singer with whom we wrote our debut album Flowing Portraits. Unfortunately he was unable to participate on the album for health reasons. We hired Marco Basile for that task and he did a tremendous job. Then we had some other singers for the following tour. Michele Serpico played for the last time with us during a gig in Lithuania in 2009, a sort of swan song. During that concert we performed with the original Flowing Portraits line-up, but after that he decided to leave the band permanently. He wanted us to search the right singer for the band. Our manager Davide Guidone introduced Fabio Manda; he was eager to join the project.”

Do you think you have a stable line-up now?

“I sincerely hope so! I don't know what the future will bring, but somehow we're trained!”

What's the background of the musicians? What are their preferences and how are they trained?

“We all studied music and our influences are really different. Claudio Casaburi once started to play punk and he's strongly influenced by funk music. Fabio Manda sang in a thrash metal band, guitarist Antonio Vittozzi
Luca Di Gennaro
has been influenced by AOR and drummer Antonio Mocerino once started in a thrash metal band and next he studied jazz. Personally I like every kind of music, from rock to chill out, from jazz to post-punk without any preconception. That's the beauty of progressive rock for me, I can really mix all my influences there!”

Can you tell me why the quality of the modern Italian progressive/power metal bands is of such a high standard?

“Well, the Italian prog tradition is really great; during the seventies we had world famous bands like PFM, Banco Del Mutuo Soccorso and Le Orme. So current Italian bands have a great inheritance to carry on! Nowadays, the great progressive bands hail from the United States of America and so European bands must work really hard to shine. Maybe this is a correct answer to your question!”

What is the connection between the band and Karl Groom, the producer of the previous album?

“During the Flowing Portraits recording sessions we were searching for someone to do the mastering process. Our manager came up with Karl Groom from Threshold and he contacted him immediately. It was very nice to work with Karl; I remember that he really liked our work.”

With a supporting female vocalist the sound of Soul Secret gets a bit different from the other songs. Are you going to use a female singer in the future?

“We loved the experiment with the beautiful voice of our friend Anna Assentato. I think her voice added variety and a new dramatic dimension to the song. I don't know about the future, but if we'll have some nice spots for a female voice... why not?”

How did the guest musicians Marco Sfogli (guitar) and Arno Menses (vocals) get involved with the album?

“I had already the idea to have Marco on the album. Our manager asked him and we met in our rehearsal room to listen to River's Edge. He liked the track very much and he said: “Guys you're just as good as the bigger international names!” He did a great job and we really enjoy listening to his guitar solo. As far as Arno Menses is concerned: we got in touch with him before Fabio Manda joined the band. Actually we had some email correspondences with Sieges Even, Arno's previous band, before they split up. We strongly wanted a great voice for the epic on this album and we found one! Arno wrote all the vocals for Aftermath on an instrumental demo we sent him, and I think he provided a wonderful result. Later we continued collaborating with him, we supported live his actual band Subsignal and he wanted me, Antonio Vittozzi and Claudio Casaburi to be part of his solo project team.”

How hard is it to get live gigs in your own country and in the rest of Europe?

“As a matter of fact, we played more abroad than in our own country! Prog is not what I would call a mainstream genre, but I must say we never had problems in finding the right venue. In general we aim to be support acts to bigger bands; so it's just a matter of timing with the other band's touring organization.”

Are you able to live of the music you make despite the economic situation or do you have a regular job to support your musical adventures?

"Yes, we all have our jobs because we aren't big enough to make a living with our music. Who knows, maybe someday!"

What are the future plans for the band, regarding to touring and promoting the new CD?

“We just ended the first session of gigs to promote Closer To Daylight. There's some free time now and the writing process of our third album has already began. We'll have some gigs in September and then back again to writing! We really want to do something special with the next album, because we always try to improve our work, production and musicianship.”

Thanks for answering me and I wish you all the best with a super album release!

“Thank you for giving me this opportunity and, as I always say thanks to the people who shared their time with us listening to our music!”

More info about Soul Secret on the Internet:
       Soul Secret Website
       review album 'Closer To Daylight'

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