Interview with Ottobrenero, Progressive Death Metal Band from Italy
Ottobrenero is Prog Death Black Metal Ban from Milan, Lombardy, Italy. They're Walter - Bass, Vocals, Daniele - Drums, and Virgilio - Guitars. Virgilio gave us some information. Check it out.
Tell us about Ottobrenero?
Technically, we started playing in 2012, when long time friends Daniele, Walter and Virgilio gathered and came up with a list of covers. You know, that way you to get to know each other, musically speaking. The selected songs included both aggressive death metal songs and slower and melodic tunes, like Cathedral's "Midnight Mountain". Things were going OK, a few songs were in the works but then I had to move abroad for personal reasons. I came back to Milan after a few years and immediately called the others: we had to unbury the project. I started working right away on new material and in a few months more than 10 songs had been written.
What are lyrical themes of Ottobrenero?
Our songs tend to differ from each other both instrumentally and thematically. What usually happens is that I hand some roughly recorded music over to Daniele who lets himself be inspired: sometimes the song's mood would suggest him a subject, like "this song should really talk about one of those space colonies from Asimov's books". Some other times, he would come up with some nice sounding metrics and words first, and eventually tailor the rest around them until all follows a consistent thread. From this approach were born songs about extraterrestrial life, archaeology, ancient magic and folklore, space and void and their inconceivability. They often hide references, if not critiques, to much more mundane and earthly themes, in form of allegories. I really think Daniele did an amazing job with those words.
What are your influences?
This could turn out to be quite lengthy! Well, in terms of songwriting, it's quite obvious that we are greatly influenced by the colossi of Italian progressive rock, as we owe our very name to Area's 1973 song "Luglio, Agosto, Settembre (nero)" [July, August, September (black)]. I can't forget about other great acts from our musical culture like Franco Battiato or Il Balletto di Bronzo, whom have been mentioned as influences by famous and foreign bands such as Opeth, too. Then, we threw in the mix some our all-time-favourites, Killing Joke, King Diamond, Voivod, Type 0 Negative, Rush and something more modern and extreme like Enslaved, Nevermore, Emperor, At the Gates, Meshuggah, etc. You'll be the judge of its quality, but how we managed to squeeze all that stuff in one single record is pretty hilarious.
We looked for something that could depict what's expressed in our lyrics. Time and space could be seen as a massive, eternal and mysterious stone statue of which we know next to nothing, surrounded by yet more endless plains where the unintelligible lies. Or more simply, we just thought my photoshop composition looked cool and the colours were jazzy.
How were the songs written?
The process usually starts with me having idea about a catchy arpeggio or riff, I play a lot with my classic guitar and that's where most of our songs originated. Once I was on a public bus, and in order not to forget something I had to hum it and record it with my phone, while trying not to look like an idiot. These basic ideas are then transferred to my electric guitar, recorded, shared with the others and discussed. Then I write an actual score where I imagine what the structure could be, usually during a sleepless night. Next stage is where the whole band sits and thinks if the lyrics fit the music and decides wether it lacks something or needs trimming or improving. Then comes Walter, who tries to apply the fittest vocal register to our creation. He is quite a versatile singer and enjoys swapping different styles, as per our influences.
How did the recording process go?
Once all is decided and we're all happy, we get in our home studio, put the click on and record all the necessary tracks, hoping for my baby daughter not to barge in and shout during that best vocal take. Mercurio was for the greater part created in one single room, where I eventually mixed and mastered everything.
What are your future plans?
The band is currently busy with promoting and spreading Mercurio, trying to reach as many listeners as possible. As I said, we did literally everything by ourself, there were no producers, no studio engineers, no money was invested except for instruments and software: this album is the result of an immeasurable amount of effort, copying with our daily jobs and stuff, so even reading a complete stranger praising it on our Facebook page means a lot to us. I secretly yearn for some spare time to start writing new songs, there are a ton of things I would like to experiment and so little time, sadly.
Are there any countries you’re interested in touring or performing in? Why?
You touched a raw nerve. For the same reason it took so much time and effort to complete the recordings, we are currently unable to even think about touring. It is definitely something I would do right away, should the planets align. Maybe, without aiming so high, we could start with local gigs and see how things go. The three of us all have very different jobs, with different times and shifts, so we'll need some luck, too. If we are talking dreams, then, I believe I would enjoy a south American tour, they're so passionate about extreme music, it's insane.
What bands would you like to play alongside?
Well, Slayer! One can always dream, right? All kidding aside, of all the recent bands I came across, Vektor has really grown on me. I love daring artists and Vektor surely knows how to crush a stereotype. In their "Charging the void", towards the end, some sort of female soul choir abruptly surges through the mix while they're screaming and shredding and blasting the drums. I remember thinking "what the **** were these guys thinking? How could they even consider...this is brilliant!". So, yeah, my pipe dream as a musician would be to play along those fellows.
Any last words?
I'd like to thank you for sharing your time with me and hope you'll love our album. I thank my bandmates, my patient girlfriend and that guy that sold me my ESP guitar back in 2004 so cheap. Cheers, ciao!