Italy's metal scene is a flourishing one, sure it has household names like Lacuna Coil, Theatres Des Vampires, Exilia and Fleshgod Apocalypse to name but a few, it does however have a vibrant underground scene stretching from the Alpine regions right down to the Sicilian lands, bypassing the Sammarinese (San Marino) metal scene along the way.
Currently causing a buzz in Tuscany is Progressive sextet MindAhead who just last year dropped their debut album 'Reflections' via Revalve Records (http://revalverecords.bigcartel.com/product/mindahead-reflections), GMA checked in with this uprising ensemble to find out what carries this band forward and their unique connection with... San Marino.
"the issue [in Italy] is that there is not a huge live culture... local venues have no audience and so close and the groups are not known and do not emerge"
How did MindAhead start out? Were members of the band in previous bands?
"MindAheaD were born in 2010 at the behest of the guitarist Nicola D'Alessio (previously Athena and Hellrage). Firstly, guitarist Matthieu Angbeletchy joined the project, then the vocals composed by the aggressive voice of Francesco Novelli and the sweet voice of Kyo Calati (Evergaze Eternity), in the end and at the beginning of 2013, with the arrival of the bassist Matteo Prandini (Humangled) and the drummer Matteo Ferrigno (Exsecror).
With this line-up, MindAheaD created songs that composed their first studio album. In 2016 Matthieu left the band for personal reasons and was replaced with Guido Scibetta (now with Room 6 and Phalenae as well).
This band is formed by senior members and others much younger, and has been for many of us the first live and studio recording experience."
What is the metal scene like in Tuscany?
"There are a lot of metal bands in Tuscany, because there's a lot of passion for metal music. We're proud to know and to have shared the stage with Str8, Vision Divine, Domine, Felon, Deathless Legacy, Lab Eleven, Panic0 and many others and soon we'll be on stage with Norhod.
There are also several local venues: Borderline (PI), Theremin Live Music (MS), The Cage (LI), Deposito Pontecorvo (PI), Circus (FI), Cycle (FI), Patatrack (LU), Exenzia (PO) and many others.
In spite of all these bands (and many others), the issue in Tuscany and in Italy in general, is that there is not a huge live culture. People want to be reassured and so listen to music they already know (hence the birth of the cover and tribute bands), the local venues have no audience and so close and the groups are not known and do not emerge."
What sights / attractions could you recommend to metalheads visiting Tuscany to go and see?
"Tuscany, like the other Italian regions, is full of museums, buildings and great places to visit (more than 50% of artistic heritage is in Italy). We have the sea and mountains, the sun and the art... unfortunately often we don't know how to manage them. Tuscany is a great place to visit, we live in Pisa, where the leaning tower and the cathedral is, where were born and lived Galileo, Fibonacci, Pacinotti but everywhere you can find something great."
What is the meaning behind your band name? Who came up with it?
"Our band name is wordplay and is composed of two words: Mind (thought) and Head (anatomic part), as a (musical) creature that expresses herself through the rationality of the matter and the irrational power of the madness, underlined by capital letters M.A.D.. she looks "AheaD" to satisfy new expressive needs, exploring new frontiers and mixing together a lot of musical influences. We think that our music should express all these aspects, currently through the notes of "Reflections", maybe tomorrow in a different way, but always true to herself."
Your album 'Reflections' was mastered at Domination Studios in Republic of San Marino, were you previously aware of a metal scene in San Marino? What are your thoughts on metal's global spread?
"Not at all, but Simone Mularoni, great guitarist of DGM, is a guru for mastering metal stuff. Relating to the second part of your question I have already answered earlier just in part. Italy is a very conservative and traditional country, so it's very hard to change the behaviours. Radio stations bombard the people with hits and blockbusters, and this is normal and common across the world, but here there's no alternative... we have almost just pop music, or jazz if you are a scholar. The people should be free to know every kind of music and the decide what prefer to listen. This leads to a lack of musical culture.
From this point of view the social networks are a great resource for the diffusion, but all depends from the curiosity of the listener."
What has the reception of 'Reflections' been like from media and fans alike? Will there be a UK / EU tour in promotion of it?
"We've received a lot of really great reviews, from the UK as well, and we've been in Spain for a mini tour. It would be wonderful to be able to come and play in UK and we hope than one day this will be real in the future, but for now we have to promote "Reflections" here and try to make a UK tour possible."
Speaking of the UK, are you worried about Brexit and the challenges that you might / could be faced with?
"We're very worried about all the instability that we can feel during this time. We don't know if Brexit is the right way to solve the problems but we have to do something for sure. Brexit and other issues (see Greece, Spain, Portugal, Italy etc...) are the consequence of politics, not the cause of problems. We think also that journalism is not (or no more) very reliable and responsible, then it creates fear in people and the results are that we divide us. EU is a great thing, although with a billion of problems to solve, but it certainly helped to circulate a lot of culture between the countries: with Brexit we're afraid that UK could be isolated from other countries."
What can fans expect from MindAhead in the year ahead?
"We'll try to promote "Reflections" as more as possible, but we know that we're making our first steps. In May we'll be on stage for two dates at Circus (Florence) and Traffic (Rome) with Moldova's Jinjer. Meanwhile we're working new material for the next album; we have already got a lot of riffs and grooves ready to be assembled :-)
Thank you so much for this interview and for the time you gave us. We really hope to have the possibility to play our music in your wonderful country. Stay MAD!!!"
'Reflections' is out now via Revalve Records