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9th May 2011
ALEX STAROPOLI: Ah yes, it’s a question someone asked me already, ten years ago…[laughs] It’s a very difficult thing to do, you know. If someone was making a movie…actually, I know…Neil Johnson, for example, he’s the director who did some of our videos, he’s a movie director in Hollywood and he’s releasing a movie all the time but he never called me, so…! [laughs] It’s a very difficult thing to compose music for a movie. It would be easier if someone would take a song from Rhapsody of Fire and put it somewhere in the movie. This would be the easiest way and, for me, would be really fantastic. That would be amazing, you know!
METAL DISCOVERY: You’ve labelled your music, of course, as “film score metal”, and quite rightly so because it is very filmic, but is it an ambition of yours to actually score a movie at some point during your career?
(Alex Staropoli on concluding the 'Emerald Sword Saga' with latest album 'From Chaos To Eternity')
"Everyone was “oh my god” and almost crying because this was so intense for us."
Rhapsody of Fire - uncredited promo shot
Interview by Mark Holmes
Rhapsody of Fire Official Website:
Legendary Tales (1997)
Thanks to Markus Wosgien at Nuclear Blast for arranging the interview
Symphony of Enchanted Lands (1998)
Dawn of Victory (2000)
Rhapsody of Fire Official MySpace:
Power of the Dragonflame (2002)
Tales from the Emerald Sword Saga (2004)
Live in Canada 2005: The Dark Secret (2006)
Triumph or Agony (2006)
Symphony of Enchanted Lands II - The Dark Secret (2004)
The Frozen Tears of Angels (2010)
From Chaos to Eternity (2011)
MD: So when you compose music for Rhapsody of Fire, do you approach it as a film composer would a movie in that are the lyrics and story always written first and then you try to visualise those and reflect them in the music?
AS: Yes. For ‘The Frozen Tears of Angels’ and this new album, Luca comes with a lot of guitars, a lot of guitar riffs and that makes already, of course, the way we wanted to have this album. And he comes, and being the writer of the saga, and the writer of the lyrics, he explains to me what the song’s about and we try together to give the right musical images to the song. So our aim is to bring the listener into our world and have the listener having images and pictures in his mind while listening to the music. And that’s the way I arrange the song, in a way that the cinematic element comes out and to help the listener…errr…
MD: …to take the listener on a journey.
AS: Yes, exactly.
MD: So you visualise images from the story in your head when you’re composing?
AS: Sometimes, of course, Luca comes with the storylines; sometimes he’s telling me things then, of course, it’s a process which I cannot really explain because then everything goes and flows in a certain direction. Personal emotion is involved too, you know. The process flows in a way which is not planned but, basically, a song is planned since the beginning but not the emotion of certain moments. Like, for example, the very last song, ‘Heroes of the Waterfalls’ Kingdom’ has some dramatic moments, especially in the end…there are some orchestral movements and when we did it, the first time we had goose bumps because we were thinking – “my god, this is the last part of the saga; the very last song”. Everyone was “oh my god” and almost crying because this was so intense for us.
MD: You’ve recorded a version of Claudio Simonetti’s ‘Phenomena’ on ‘Queen of the Dark Horizons’ and you’ve covered Goblin’s ‘Non Ho Sonno’ but how much of an influence is Claudio on your keyboard playing and the music you compose?
AS: When we were, many years ago, watching movies from Dario Argento which always used Goblin and Claudio Simonetti then it’s like when you’re an outsider and you watch this movie anyway, you grow with this kind of music and atmosphere. So it’s like something that is inside you when you want to describe a horrific moment. There are not so many possibilities to use so many different instruments to describe that. So Claudio Simonetti did a fantastic job for some music, you know, so it was great to be able to do a cover…and Claudio was so happy about that. He’s a very nice person, you know.
MD: Yeah, I interviewed him three or four years ago and we were talking about your cover of ‘Phenomena’ and he said that he absolutely loves it.
AS: Oh yeah, really, fantastic. It was really great. We did, also, another one; we did ‘Non Ho Sonno’ from one of the later movies of Dario Argento. It was cool. It was very cool. It’s a fantastic band, I really love it.
MD: Have you been to see Daemonia, Claudio’s band now?
AS: Yes, of course, I’ve seen Daemonia twice and I was blown away. I saw them twice and…oh my god! It’s one of the best bands I’ve ever heard live. It was really amazing because they did this concert 50km or even less from Trieste and they did it open air in a place, like town square. It was free entrance and there were some people there, and they had a sound that was amazing. The sound quality was fantastic. You could hear everything. And then he was introducing song by song, explaining the year it was composed and which movie it was from, so there was a very nice atmosphere, you know. It was like watching a movie!
MD: That sounds great. When I saw them in London…
AS: …ah yeah, I knew they played London.
MD: Yeah, and it was in a really dingy, dirty and derelict looking club so it looked like a set from a Dario Argento movie! Perfect!
AS: [laughs]
MD: So you’re playing Bloodstock over here in the UK this summer which will be your first UK show?
AS: Yes, it will be the very first. We are so excited about that.
MD: Do you have a setlist already planned for that show yet?
AS: Yes, sure. Of course, we are playing five festivals this year and our setlist is sixty minutes long so, yeah, we have a setlist that will be a killer one!
MD: Great! Do you find it a struggle to decide on a setlist for festival slots because you only have one hour and, obviously, you have such a big back catalogue of material now?
AS: Well, of course, it’s good to play more than one hour a night but the festival is a different situation and, sometimes, playing sixty minutes is very easy, you know. You have to concentrate everything in sixty minutes so the challenge is maybe more difficult than playing longer. In a festival situation you have to show yourself as there are a lot of bands but I think it’s fantastic; I think it’s great.
MD: Have you considered the possibility of getting Christopher Lee onstage with you at Bloodstock?
AS: No, no, we haven’t thought about that. It would be fantastic but I think that this is going to cost a bit! [laughs] We can’t really do it right now, you know.
MD: There’s been a side project mentioned on and off over the years where you’ve been composing music with your brother. Is this something you’re still working on?
AS: Many songs are ready…and this was something that we already had to do months ago because I was working with Midnight, the singer of Crimson Glory. He was here in my house for two months and we were working together but then he passed away and it’s a sad story, you know, because I composed the music for him. We met him in Florida three times, then I was there with my brother to offer him to sing this album. Then he came to Trieste and we were working together; he was writing lyrics. It was fantastic. It was one of the best periods in my life because he was such a genius and he was so happy. Actually, he was here for Christmas so he was here with my family together. It was a really, really good moment. And then, unfortunately…that’s the way things…but now we are in search of another singer. Sadly, we have to do it because we believe in the songs and me and my brother are so close, and we composed everything together. We think the songs are good; we just need to find a singer that can sing it. I have my own studio here in my house so it’s easy in the end but I just have to find the right person.
MD: The final thing I was going to ask – after the summer festival dates you have booked, what lies ahead for the rest of the year for Rhapsody or Fire because isn’t Fabio back out on tour in the States with Kamelot in August and September?
AS: I think it’s in September. September is a period that he will be gone with Kamelot. There’s nothing planned yet but I think that we will go on touring. We don’t know where yet. We would like to go to places we didn’t play in the last year. Of course, the future for Rhapsody of Fire now is to play as much as possible because we have a lot of material released in the last few years. So we’ll maybe aim to go back to the US, Canada and then in 2012, back in Europe…
MD: Come and tour the UK!
AS: Well, for us to play as much as possible is the priority.
MD: Okay, thank you so much for your time.
AS: Okay, thanks for your time and maybe we’ll see you at Bloodstock.
MD: Oh yes, I’ll definitely be at Bloodstock. Looking forward to seeing your band for the first time!
AS: Okay, thanks!
MD: Cheers a lot.
AS: Okay, bye, bye.