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Rhapsody reunion: Luca Turilli & Fabio Lione

Twintig jaar Rhapsody wordt in klasse afgesloten met nog eenmaal flink toeren in de (bijna) originele line-up. De tegenstelling tussen lovers en haters van deze band neemt nog altijd bijna Justin Bieber-achtige proporties aan, maar vast staat dat er een heel leger aan trouwe fans is die deze bijzondere band onvoorwaardelijk trouw is. En wat de doorgewinterde blekkie er ook van moge zeggen, ik durf gerust te zeggen dat ik er daar al jaren een van ben. Met lichte fanboy-achtige gevoelens ging ik dus af op de backstage kamers van de Effenaar, waar ik een interview afspraak had met mijn jeugdhelden Luca Turilli en Fabio Lione. Fabio probeerde zijn keel wat te sparen en liet dus vooral Luca het woord doen.

Door: Jori | Archiveer onder heavy / power metal

band imageSo, at this point you have almost been playing these reunion shows for a year. How did it feel in the beginning to be back on stage together after some years of separate ways?
Luca: It was quite special. At that point we were not in contact that much, Fabio and I exchanged a few emails sometimes during the five or six years since the split. So it was quite special when we met only just before a photo session. We’ve spoken a bit on the phone at that time but when we met just before that photo session in Milano. That was a special moment, when we shook hands and hugged. We knew that we would meet to start a celebration with this reunion. The reunion itself was actually an idea by our managers to tell you the truth. I was sceptical, it had only been six years since the actual split. But then I realised that it had been twenty years since the debut album from 1997, it was 2017 then, so it would really be a twentieth anniversary. So then we decided to do it and immediately decided as well to call it a farewell tour, because we wanted to create a special event. The original idea was to play the complete first four Rhapsody albums, so the really old songs of the original Rhapsody band before we were forced to change the name to Rhapsody Of Fire. It kind of evolved from there

And those copyright issues are out of the way now? Since the band of the farewell tour is called Rhapsody again.
Luca: No, but for an act like this, when you don’t release an album, it is not really a big problem. For what I know the registration of the name was not continued quite recently, so technically even if we want to release something under this name we could do it. But there is also the other Rhapsody going on, Rhapsody Of Fire, so for all those copyright things you have to be very careful.

When the 20th Anniversary Farewell Tour was first announced, it was a time of turmoil for Rhapsody Of Fire. Fabio, you just quit the band, shortly followed by Alex (Holzwarth, drums). Luca you already mentioned it was a managers call, could you tell some more details about that?
Luca: I was not much in contact with either Fabio or Alex at that time, a bit more with Alex maybe but also he did not tell me that he quit. Then I read the news online, so I called and ask what happened and he explained all of it. The fact that this was so close to the reunion of course fuelled rumours that Fabio and Alex quitting had something to do with that. But that is not the case, for we could have done this reunion even if Alex and Fabio remained in Rhapsody Of Fire. But it was quite a big surprise indeed.

One person is notably absent..?
Luca: Yes, Alex Staropoli. He did not want to be a part of it even though we insisted really hard that he should be a part of this. Alex wanted to focus on Rhapsody Of Fire, who just got this new singer and all this, well this turmoil you spoke of. I think he preferred to push his band and present the new singer rather than confusing the people with the Rhapsody reunion experience. But of course, it would have been great to have him you know.

Fabio stated that the band Rhapsody as we know it will be over and done for after these reunion shows. Do you have any idea if this statement has any consequence for the Rhapsody that Alex Staropoli is still keeping up or was he really talking about the classic line-up?
Luca: That was about the classic line-up I am sure. I do now know of Alex’s plans since I did not speak to him for quite some time. Speaking for us, this will be the last shows with this line-up. The idea was to play these old songs, really as a celebration. I know that I will not play these songs anymore, we’ve been playing the same songs since twenty years. After these reunion shows that are much more successful than we expected, everybody has seen us play songs like ‘Emerald Sword’, ‘Holy Thunderforce’, ‘Dawn Of Victory’ and stuff and I do not like the idea to be dependent on one thing I did in my life. Life is so short, you cannot grasp one thing and live your life of it. There are some bands that are like seventy years old and are still playing the songs they wrote when they were twenty that brought them their success. It is something I respect, but I know I would never be able to do that. These twenty years which I already feel is too much time, now I need to do other styles of music. I am mainly a composer, I’m not a live musician.

So the current run of the tour is almost over now. Any chance you finish this reunion with one last blast at the summer festivals?
Luca: There is plenty of time and possibilities to go on with this formation. Until halfway of 2019 I am free, after that I have a lot of contracts that will keep me busy through 2019, 2020 until… well my last day haha. There are some legal issues to solve concerning the name Rhapsody and what we can do with it. We want to do a little bit more due to the big success it has been so far, but I don’t know anything about that yet, these might just as well be our last shows. I would like to go on, but I am not sure yet what is possible.

Can we expect some memorial from this tour later on, preferably in the form of a live album, DVD or Blu-ray?
Luca: That is still part of the problems that I told you about before. We can tour with the Rhapsody name for now but we can’t just release whatever we want under that same name. At one point I wanted to release an EP to push the second part of the tour, but it was just too problematic. Anything could happen, but it will be very difficult.

But you are going to try for it?
Luca: We’re always trying. It would be stupid to not do it, but there are some legal things we have to respect. I don’t want to promise because then you will write it might be possible that something is coming and all the fans will be excited, and we might have to disappoint them later.

Star of the show tonight is the ‘Symphony Of Enchanted Lands’ album, while the 20th anniversary is really of the debut ‘Legendary Tales’. What makes ‘Symphony’ such a special album to you?
Luca: We started the tour with ‘Symphony’ as an integral play, but we changed the setlist here and there, taking out some songs people did not react on as much as others and swapping them for others and then the people went crazy. Now we are going for a year we have a setlist that works great for most places. We still play a lot of songs from ‘Symphony’ but also songs that got introduced on the setlist at a later time. We chose ‘Symphony’ as main album simply because it was the best selling album we ever did. It is spread more around the world, most people know these songs best, and also this was the album that established us in the scene as cinematic metal band.

To shake things up a bit more, Fabio, you and Alessandro Conti of Luca’s band released a duet album together. What were the reasons that lead to this idea?
Fabio: Well as you might know I was the one who introduced Alessandro to Luca back in 2011 when he was searching for a singer. He was a friend of mine and I introduced him to Luca. Luca really liked him and his voice. I was happy for Alessandro, we’re good friends. A while ago, Frontiers records asked me to do a record with another singer. They proposed different names to me but I said to them, why let’s not do this record with my friend Alessandro Conti. It would be great for the fans to hear our two voices in a different context, with stuff not composed by Luca. So we did it and it turned out to be a interesting, heavy and progressive record with the two voices of Rhapsody. It turned out great I think.

Will this project get a follow-up as in either new music or as in the two voices of Rhapsody, as you called it, sharing a stage together?
Fabio: They already asked me to bring this on stage, it will really depend on time. If we have time to do this… Well, let’s see![/b]

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Speaking of time, you just released a great new album with Angra, Omni, and will depart on tour just a few days after this leg of the Rhapsody reunion tour finishes. Fabio, how do you manage to keep up this insane schedule?
Fabio: It’s actually after one day. It’s a nightmare, but I will do it haha. And thank you, I really like this new record myself. The band did a really great job, it has a great production by the famous Jens Bogren. We had a great time over there in Sweden. It was really a team effort, everyone in the band put in ideas, I was composing most vocal lines. We had some guests as well, among those a very famous Brazilian pop singer. I’m really happy about the record, I think it’s an important step in the career of Angra.

Absolutely, a great album! And Luca, you think you’re going to come up with some new stuff of Luca Turilli’s Rhapsody?
Luca: I don’t know if I will really go on with Luca Turilli’s Rhapsody, I have so many projects going on now. I have one thing in the style of Within Temptation for example, that is going to be very special. The coming time I am going to mainly do bigger projects. It is also a market thing. The budget from a record company to create a Rhapsody album is never that big, and these albums require a lot of production and studio time. We can’t just put four people together and make an album in four months for twenty thousand euro, like many other bands can. We really need six digits of money to create an album in our style. Records companies often ask me to compose for big things, and sometimes when it touches my heart and soul I can say yes. I already said yes to one thing but I can’t tell you any details about that yet, but that is for 2019 and 2020. I also do symphonic pop. As a composer I like all kinds of music, except for blues that is not really my style. My favourite singer is Adele for example, she really touches the heart. So I have things ranging from acoustic stuff to going for a Queen-like band, so symphonic rock. So as you see, I’ll be very busy haha.

What does that say for Luca Turilli’s Rhapsody, is that something that is going to fade?
Luca: At this moment I treat Rhapsody more like a hobby. I always have to put some of my own money on top. Even if you sell thousands of copies of a Rhapsody album you don’t get back your money. Illegal downloads were terrible especially for a band like Rhapsody. When you are a small band you can use the net to spread your music to become better known. The budget you need to produce an album is let’s say five to ten thousand euros, maybe fifteen. We needed over a hundred thousand for the latest Luca Turilli’s Rhapsody album ‘Prometheus’. With low sales that are completely incomparable to let’s say ten years earlier it is difficult. So I prefer to do other things where I can put my melodies and ideas in, but for bigger budgets. I need to eat as well haha.

So now that about ten years have passed since this thing, I just have to ask. Can you tell us something now about that feud with Joey DeMaio from Manowar and Magic Circle music, what was all that about?
Luca: That is something we still cannot speak about because that has been agreed legally. When this thing got settled, there was this non-disclosure clause that forbids either party to speak of it. So sorry, but legal stuff haha.[/b]

Haha well what can you do, we’re all subject to the law. So, the two of you were at the cradle of a band that later turned out to have created a whole genre of music, Italian power metal or as you have called in the past, cinematic power metal. You have truly re-invented the meaning of the word “epic” in music, have recorded with a world-famous actor and have told two complete fantasy sagas in ten albums. What new musical territories are still there to conquer for you?
Luca: That why we stop now! (explodes in laughter) Well, after working with Christopher Lee… You have to imagine for a cinematic metal band to work with the most filmed actor in the history of cinema, after that what more do you want hahaha. It was so amazing. We were one of the few bands to complete an artistic journey in twenty years, we were able to bring it from beginning to end. There were many highs and lows, vile ideas and moments of love. But for us, the artistic intention was the first thing. We were talking about the split before completing the saga, because it was not always the same amount of fun that we had in the beginning, also between Alex Staropoli and me. But in the end, the priority was to continue until album number ten, because it was the closure of the saga. So after that we said, okay let’s stop, we can do whatever we want now. We all invested so much money that it would be stupid to renounce any of us to the rights of the name, so that’s how all of it lead to how it is now. Of course we are proud of what we did. Also for the last Luca Turilli’s Rhapsody album, that was almost nominated for a Grammy. There was this album by Kraftwerk that was eventually chosen in the category “best outstanding technology album”. Our album ‘Prometheus’ was the first album ever in the history of music to be mixed in Dolby Atmos. Thanks to the amazing producer Chris Heil, who even did stuff for the likes of David Bowie. He was given our stuff to listen to and he really liked it. Thanks to him, Dolby is now using the music of my ‘Prometheus’ album in cinemas around the world to present their Atmos technology. Working with Chris Heil got me so many contacts, and that is really crucial as a composer, to have a wide audience.

So of all these things, what is the first thing you will focus on after this reunion tour?
Luca: There are many albums that are almost completed, I just need a few months after the reunion to finish them. I’m working on stuff as well in the time gaps of this reunion, many things that I can’t tell you about yet haha.

Well that was everything I could possibly ask you. Thanks for taking the time for the readers of Lords Of Metal. Any final message from the original band Rhapsody for them?
Luca: Of course a big thank you. It is amazing to see how many people came to our show, the best numbers in twenty years haha. We are closing, but we are doing so with the respect and the love of the people and that’s the most important thing for us. So a big thank you for what you gave us in these twenty years.

Fabio: Thanks indeed also to the readers of Lords Of Metal, we appreciate they listen to good music! Hugs to everybody, thank you!

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