On June 24, 2014, I along with my Uruguayan sister Andrusky were given the opportunity to speak with Tommaso Riccardi, lead singer and guitar player of FLESHGOD APOCALYPSE at Gramercy Theater in NYC, the second stop of the Conquers of the World Tour they are on with Septicflesh and Necronomicon (a local band called Animist from Rockland County, NY also played but I don’t think they’re on the full tour). We got to discuss interesting topics such as theater, power metal, Italian politics, and pasta.
Below is a partial transcription — you can listen to the full audio embedded at the bottom of the article.
Pluckman: Thank you for taking the time to speak with us. My name is Johnny Pluckman, and this is Andrusky, and we’re representing Alternative Control. Welcome back to America.
P: Is this the first night of this tour?
T: It’s the second, actually. We had the first gig in Springfield, Virginia. We had a lot of issues because Septicflesh’s gear been lost at the airport, so we had a lot of problems for the first gig. But, we reacted very well so we’re pretty satisfied with the beginning. And we had a pretty crowded concert so we’re pretty happy about that. We had a day off in New York yesterday so I was really happy, because it doesn’t happen that often and I love New York City.
P: I saw you guys last August when you were here with Wintersun and Arsis, it was a fantastic set that night. One thing I wanted to comment about the act that you guys do, in addition to just going up there and playing the songs you have a look, you have your costumes, there’s this background to it when you come out on stage – you don’t just come out on stage with jeans and a wallet chain and you’re like “Hey! We’re Fleshgod Apocoalypse. The next song is called rawrbrarwrar!!”
T: (laughs) Yes.
P: Is that something that you guys feel is a very important part of what you do? Or how do you feel that affects the performance?
T: Yes, yes yes. Because, the thing is we conceive our art as one thing that should really comprehend not only the hearing part, not only the music, but the visual part is very important, the concept behind is very important, so we really try to make everything from the videos, to the live shows, and the albums and the lyrics to match all together. Because we really care about the message that there is behind the music.
The point is, a show in my opinion must be a show and must be something that is between music and theater, and not just going there and playing. So this is why we do that.
P: As a follow up to that, the look that you guys have, is that something… I mean it’s something that’s in the “Violation” video, did that come from the video and then it sort of stuck? Or was that something that you had already decided beforehand, and the video was just an actualization of that?
T: Yea, I mean we didn’t start with that from the very beginning actually. The first year we started touring with Oracles we still didn’t come up with that idea, but the idea was there from the beginning we just needed some time to understand how to do that. And “The Violation” was our way to try to spread this idea throughout the video, sending the message in order to have people ready for this when we went on stage for the first time like this.
But the cool thing is that, as every other thing in the band, we thought about this look not just because it’s cool. I know it’s cool, it works. But it’s because it really incarnates the idea behind the band. It’s the visual expression of what we do in our music; it’s something that is really brutal but in the same time it’s very romantic, it’s very grandiose. So this is the idea behind the band, and I really hope that the look matches the idea that is behind. But I think it’s working, so it’s good.
P: Yea it’s there. It’s definitely working.
P: So let’s talk about Italy for a minute – You guys are from Italy obviously. You are from Rome, correct?
T: Actually, there’s this idea that we’re from Rome but we’re from Perugia, that is a pretty small city in between Rome and Florence. It’s not a very famous place because it’s pretty small. But yea, it’s correct in some way because our guitarist Cristiano is actually from Rome, and Francesco our drummer he’s in a place that is right between Perugia and Rome so that’s the area, like central Italy. But now we are established in Perugia and that’s where we have our studio and everything, so that’s where we live now.
P: So is it true what they say? When in Rome?
T: Wh-what do you mean?
P: You ever heard the expression ‘When in Rome’? Ever heard people say that? Do they say that in Italy?
P: In America, there’s an expression when you’re thinking ‘oh should I go all out on this?’ and you say ‘well, when in Rome…’
P: So it’s saying when you’re in Rome you go all out. Do people go all out in Rome?
T: Yea, yea, yea. I didn’t know that, sorry.
P: Also going off Italy, and this might be just a misconception on our part, but it seems at least to me that a lot of the metal exports coming from Italy, a lot of it is power metal. Bands like Rhapsody, or Vision Divine, or Athena… or something like Lacuna Coil. So bands like you, Hour of Penance, and Graveworm for example sort of break out of that. Would you say that inside Italy it’s more on the power metal side, or is that only what we see?
T: I would say, there was a period. In the late 90’s it was really big. It was big even outside because we had all those bands going out, like Rhapsody, and they did a lot of stuff inside Italy and Europe. In Italy it was pretty popular. But now in the metal scene in general, and in Italy especially, the thing of power metal is a little bit lower than before. Even if these bands obviously always have their recognition because they did very good things in the past.
And it’s cool to see that now, in some way, it’s extreme music’s turn, y’know what I mean? Even with Hour of Penance, so not only us it’s cool to see that there are other bands that are doing good on that side. Another band that recently came out that is from our hometown and they’re good friends of us called Black Truth. This is cool to see a small town like ours, and in general in the area between Perugia and Rome, these things are happening. It’s cool to see that this scene is growing and, in my opinion, extreme music is taking over a little bit and something is happening.
P: What are some of your favorite musicians, bands, or types of music to listen to? Obviously Fleshgod is a combination of a couple different, diverging things, so what personally do you like to listen to?
T: Actually I have very different tastes. I think at a certain point growing up and being a musician, you start understanding that there is just one distinction – and it’s good music and bad music. So I really love listening to everything.
If we want to talk about what is into Fleshgod, obviously you got classical music and metal music. And I really feel that our roots are really based on the old school American death metal music. So even if we are very European and we sound very, you could say even if it’s not the proper word melodic because we have all these progressions from classical music, but in the riffing and in the drumming I feel we have a lot of the old school metal, because that’s what we’ve been listening to the most. So like Morbid Angel, Cannibal Corpse, Deicide, Vital Remains… all these kind of stuff.
On the other hand, obviously there’s the classical music and it’s something that in different ways everybody in the band having heritage on that side. And for our music, our main inspirations come from the pre-romantic and the romantic period, so everything that goes from Paganini, to Beethoven, Mozart, Rachmaninoff, Brahms. But we are also really much into composers for movie themes like Hans Zimmer, or Howard Shore, or John Williams, and I think we also have a lot of that stuff in our music. Especially in Labyrinth I’ve noticed that Francesco our pianist working on the arrangement he really took a lot of inspiration from that kind of stuff.
But on the other hand I love very different kinds of music. I’m a big fan of grunge rock music, the day before we left for this tour I’ve been to Milan to see Pearl Jam live and it was my first time. To me, Eddie Vedder is one of the biggest inspirations as a front man, even if I do completely different music. And I really love jazz, so this is also why I love New York City because I’m a big fan of jazz in general.
P: If you could put together a dream tour for Fleshgod, who would be on it with you and where would you go?
P: And it could be any musician live or dead, whether it could be performed live or not, if you could call all the shots what would it be?
T: Wow, this is very hard. Let’s say this, one thing I could imagine, and this is my idea, my vision, I would think about a Fleshgod tour obviously with orchestra, and I would put the Vienna Philharmonic there, because that’s my favorite orchestra. And the director would be Leonard Bernstein; in my opinion has been maybe the best director of the 20th Century. And he also has done a lot of things to spread the idea of music. If I could play with them, that would be like the biggest dream ever.
P: And you’d do that in Vienna, or you wanna go somewhere more exotic?
T: Maybe in Vienna, and maybe on the New Years Eve concert because that’s the biggest thing they do and one of the biggest things in classical music in the world. I don’t think they’re gonna allow Fleshgod Apocalypse to play on New Years Eve, but−
P: Well not with that kind of attitude!
T: (laughter) No, exactly.
Andrusky: Conquer.. conquer..
P: Yea you gotta conquer the philharmonic!
T: Yea, yea. Maybe we should buy some new stage suits, with no blood. No makeup, shaved and everything.
P: Just wipe the dust off it and say you’re supposed to be here.
So what’s next for you guys once you get across the country, I think you end in California, what are you doing after that?
T: No, right after California we’re going to Arizona and then we finish in Denver. After that we fly straight to Mexico because we got 2 gigs in Mexico, so we’re gonna do Guadalajara and Mexico City. And then we come back to Italy. But then actually we have a pretty busy summer because we got a few festivals between July and August. We’re gonna do Wacken Open Air for the first time so that’s very important, so we already concentrating on that because we need to do a good show there, which I’m sure we will do, but it’s exciting. We’re doing Brutal Assault, so we’re doing some good festivals.
And then finally, after a long time, we’re gonna take like 10 days of vacation for real. Because we have one show in Sardinia Island, in the middle of the Mediterranean it’s a beautiful place, like seaside and everything. So we have a show there, then we’re gonna take 10 days to stay there for some vacation. Then in the fall we’re for sure gonna do a European tour with Insomnium, and we’re trying to work on something else for the end of the year but still nothing sure. But we’re pretty much keeping touring and promoting Labyrinth until the end of the year and then start thinking also about new material, so let’s see what happens now.
A: I was gonna say, maybe we sneak in South America in there, because I know many people want to see you down there, but is it too far fetched?
T: We are really thinking about that, and the right time to do that. So we still don’t know how and when to put it, but we really want to do that because we know that we have a lot of fans there and we would like to go to Brazil, and Argentina, Colombia. Also, no one of us has ever been in South America and I think it would be really interesting besides the musical thing. For Central America, we did one show three months ago with Deicide in Costa Rica and it was amazing, so I know Brazil, for example, will be awesome. We are already thinking about something, we just have to find the right situation to do that.
T: No, we didn’t!
P: I wanted to try it ☹
T: We can ship it, but we cannot bring it physically. It’s not easy to ship all the stuff, and also it’s not easy with FDA, there’s a lot of laws. In the future we’ll probably try to do that, because it’s been interesting as an experiment. People really like it.
P: I’d love to see it in the supermarket, like I’m in the super market and it’s like “Ronzoni… Fleshgod Apocalypse”
T: (laughter) I hope it’s gonna happen.
Thanks Tommaso! Good luck on the rest of the tour. And always remember, when in Rome…