Interview with Davide Tiso of Ephel Duath
For those that have never heard Ephel Duath before, introduce them to your music.
Ephel Duath began as a duo (Giuliano, vocals, guitar and synths and me, Davide, guitar) in 1998, in the same year we published our only demo "Opera", musically influenced by the Black Metal of the Scandinavian Scene (Emperor, Limbonic Art). The demo brought us to the attention of the newly founded Italian label Code666, that directed us to record our debut album "Phormula" that was released in the summer of 2000. This work in comparison to the demo tape is an enormous step ahead in every area, especially for the improvement of the duo's technical ability. Just in the most promising moment, Giuliano decides to quit music, leaving myself and putting Ephel Duath's career at risk, but thanks to the Code7 agency (a branch of code666) the band found a deal with Elitist/Earache. After the signing deal, I started to compose new material with a great determination.
You have a new album out, "The Painters Palette". Tell us a little about the album and the songs.
"The Painter's Palette" is an ambitious work composed by five different personalities that have worked together with great cohesion while maintaining their musical peculiarity. The result is a connection of sounds, influences and different colours that could wrongfoot at first listening. The will to stay away from every type of label is really strong, but the more interesting thing is that everything is really spontaneous. This album tries to be a sublimation of the free interpretations and colours are, in my opinion, a perfect way to symbolize this desire. Have you ever noticed how many various and curious effects the view of the same colour have on different sensibilities? During the compositions, I have fused our music intimately with pigments and, to fully express myself, I have reported it in the titles, but not to guide: this is the reason for the black and white artwork. So, nine rays of the colour that are depicted in our composition would try to hit you, absorb them with a completely open mind, and you will understand the sense of our work.
What prompted the drastic style change between "RePhormula" and "The Painters Palette"?
After the Rephormula release I started to compose new material with a great determination. In a few months I wrote the guitar and structures for six songs and for the second time I recorded the new compositions in a small studio in my city. The sound engineer said to me that a typical metal drummer would be a disaster with such varied material so he gave me the contacts of Davide Piovesan, a jazz/prog/blues musician. I was in a very difficult period, crushed between the will to bold and the fear to be not support to our label for such an audacious choice, but I followed my instinct and in a few weeks was in studio with this crazy forty-seven year old drummer and his friend, a double bass player. Unfortunately in a few weeks the bassist left the band for his various projects, but his help was fundamental: I understood that this was the right way to create something new. In a few days we found another great bass player, Fabio Fecchio (a funky/pop/fusion player) and the rhythm section was complete! Finding the right singer was quite difficult but after various auditions the line up was complete. The clean vocalist, Davide Tolomei, was the only person that I knew previously. We immediately started to play together and after hundreds of hours spent in our studio our work took shape. Working in a duo is easier, you only have to control two point of views and a lot of different processes are quick, moreover there is the possibility to create a sort of "magic" alchemy that is difficult to find in a full line up, but I can assure you that now the continual musical growth allowed by the constant comparison with the other members is a really new and exciting factor! The new members are very interested to play in such a distant genre from their musical roots and they respect a lot my curious vision of music. They are completely involved in the band and it has been fundamental during these months together. There is a good atmosphere and it helps to the growth of the band.
Are you worried that the current fanbase will depart due to the radical change of style?
I hope that the metal audience will approach to The Painter's Palette with a really open minded attitude. This is a work that could be very difficult to grasp upon first listening but if one has the will will to enter in our dimension there would be a lot of interesting public opinion. If this doesn't happen it won't be a big problem for us: the will to experiment is the only reason to go on for Ephel Duath.
Will Ephel Duath go even further on the next album as far as experimentation goes or has the band found a style they are comfortable with?
We'll continue to experiment but not following a precise direction. We have a sort of personality in our sound and not a style that have to be conform with on the next work. I'm really free when I think to my band, and I'm very excited to have the opportunity to start to work on new disturbing material soon.
How does the songwriting process work with the band? Does one person do the majority of the writing or is it an equal partnership?
I'm the sole composer of the music and lyrics, but we work together to arrange the songs and structures. Our songs usually originate with the guitar lines that constitute a sort of architectural skeleton of the compositions. In a second phase we insert the rhythm section (in the past this meant programming the drum machine and the bass lines, now it's jamming with the new members) and the synths (cured by our producer, Paso). The last piece of this mosaic is the vocals.
How do you work in the studio? Do you record songs from beginning to end, or in pieces? Do you use click tracks? How many guitar layers do you use?
We have recorded the songs in pieces (due to the fact that we have different bits in the same composition) using click tracks. I have recorded all the album with the same guitar.
There are a number of musicians in our readership, what gear does your band use? Please be as specific as possible, amps, pickups, guitars, strings, etc.
I use an Ibanez RG7 guitar with Di Marzio Pickups and D'Addario or Ernie Ball strings and a Fender Hot Rod Deluxe amplifier. Fabio Fecchio uses a Musicman 4 string bass with Seymour Duncan Pickups, a MusicMan 5 string bass with MusicMan Pickups, and a 5 string fretless Manne with Manne pickups. He uses Richard Coco strings for the MusicMan and Maxima Gold strings for the fretless with an EDEN amp head and a SWR cabinet. Davide Piovesan's drum set consists of Tama Super Star X-tras, with UFIP Byonic Series cymbals, Remo Emperor (coated) drum heads, Regal Tip drumsticks by Calato (model 5AN and 5BN), and Tama hardware.
Will you be touring to support the new album? If so, where?
Finally Ephel Duath can also a live band and I'm really proud that fact. At the moment there isn't a tour planned, but there are good possibilities to play around Europe during this summer and autumn. At the moment we are playing here in Italy supporting important band like Entombed or Lacuna Coil, and the 24th of June we played at the Upstairs @ The Garage in London with Mistress and Desolation. The 5th of July we'll take part in the Quart Festival in Norway with bands like Massive Attack, Queens of The Stone Age, Meshuggah, Cult Of Luna and many others. The 8th of August we'll play at the "Brutal Assault Festival" in Czech Republic featuring Malevolent Creations, Hollenthon and many others.
What is the extreme music scene like in Italy?
The Italian extreme metal scene is very diverse, and this
could be considered the trademark of our bands. There isn't a strong concentration
of band in a specific genre but a larger spectrum of different musical
inputs and influences. I suggest checking out the works of two Italian
bands in particular: Void of Silence (Apocalyctic-Ambient-Doom, now with
the singer from Primordial on
What do you like most about the music industry?
The exciting life that it could offer to a musician.
What do you like the least?
The power of the image. It is inevitable that this could be considered more important than music for a lot of "artists".
How long has Ephel Duath been a band? I'm speaking of all versions of the group, not just the current one.
Ephel Duath was formed in 1998.
If you could go back in time, what would you do differently?
Nothing. I'm proud of all the things that I've done, and all the mistakes that I've committed could be considered learning experiences that have been fundamental to the growth of my band and of my professionalism.
If you hadn't been born in this century, when and where would you like to have lived?
Probably in France at the end of the 18th century.
Who are your musical heroes?
All the musicians that try to create a new and personal way to express themselves, and not following in the footsteps of others.
What do you do in your spare time?
In my free time I usually have books, movies, art, alcohol and few other things....I love movies, especially the works of Kieslowsky, Amenabar, Polansky, Antonioni, Joel Coen, Tarantino, Guy Ritchie, Lars Von Trier, Scorcese and Kusturica. My favorite painters are Chagall and Mirò. They have offered a new dimension to colours and their technical search has been really illuminating to my artistic development. I love also Magritte, Dalì and Pollock for their innovative and crazy attitude. In literature I enjoy Bukowsky, Brett Eston Ellis, Chuck Palaniuk, Kundera, Tibor Fisher and J.T.Leroy above all others. The last book that I read was "Fight Club" by Chuck Palaniuk. It's really an incredible/crazy novel written with an innovative and personal style that really shocked my senses.
How hard do you push yourself?
Quite a bit, this is one reason my life is so hard and full of stress. I try to offer to my band all my energies and as a result I'm becoming a little bit unstable, but it can't be considered a problem 'cause I think that usually pressure helps one to be more active and lucid to face the problems.
When are you completely satisfied with your work?
When I feel the need need to listen to it a number of times during the course of a day.
What are you listening to lately?
Cult of Luna "The Beyond", Manes "Vilosophe", Ulver "Perdition City" and "Lycanthropian Themes", Neurosis "A Sun That Never Sets", the upcoming album of Radiation4, "Wonderland," and some Radiohead, Pantera, Placebo, Void of Silence and Diabolicum.
What is your favorite album by another artist/band?
"Time of Grace" by Neurosis. This is the perfect music to accompany the Apocalypse.
What song of yours are you the most proud of and why?
"The Other's Touch (Amaranth)". It's a deep and melancholic journey through visions of emptiness. This is an section from the lyrics: "View is overturning to this internal abyss when my withered leaves are burning and mirrors have nothing to reflect".
Are there any songs you've done that you wish you hadn't?
Absolutely not. Every single Ephel Duath composition has specific things to offer and a reason to exist.
Had any of you recorded with any other groups before Ephel Duath?
All the members of the bands have been involved in other bands that are not important enough to be mentioned.
What would you be doing if you weren't a musician?
Probably I would become a not so talented painter.
Other than your current band members, if you could get any musician living or dead, who would be in your "dream band"?
Mike Patton on vocals, Steve Von Till on guitar and backing vocals, Robert Trujllio on bass and Dave Lombardo on drums.
What's the first song you remember hearing?
Something by the terrible Italian singers that my parents usually listen to.
What was the first album you ever purchased?
Europe's "The Final Countdown", I was really young and this album completely blew my mind.
How many CDs and records are in your home collection?
Not so many, unfortunately I haven't a lot of money to spend on music and usually my label and my management pass me what I'm searching for.
What's next for Ephel Duath?
We have composed two new songs "Imploding" and "New Disorder". They seem to be more powerful, thick and with a touch of seventies music in the sound, they have something like a stoner rock appeal. We hope to record a new album at the beginning of 2004.
Any last words?
Thanks a lot for the support, for other information or to download videos and music visit http://www.ephelduath.net
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