Interview by Si Smith
Armed with a killer logo and a deceptively simple album cover, Lunocode burst onto the scene of female-fronted metal this year with a debut EP full of musical richness and progressive flourishes. Suitably apocalyptic in title, “Last Day of the Earth” will certainly not be the last word from these musical maestros, as the EP has enough variety and melody in it to keep the earth revolving for them in the near future. Femme Metal spoke to angelic messenger Daphne and rhythmic wizard Perseo to uncover more…. When you first got together in 2004 you called yourself “ANIMA” because the name was connected to the platonic meaning of “eternal and indivisible”. Since names and meanings are clearly important to the band, why call the new band “Lunocode“?
Perseo: We wanted a more personal and unique name for our band and as “Anima” was a very common name we decided to change it just before releasing the “Last Day of the Earth” EP. Lunocode is a wordplay about “Lunokhod” and “Code”. Lunokhod is the first rover to land on the moon and being radio controlled by man on Earth. I discovered that tiny rover during some personal researches I was doing on the internet and I liked the idea of this little probe exploring the unknown on another celestial body. The others too liked the idea and we started thinking about a good wordplay to transform “Lunokhod” in something more personal. In the end we found “Lunocode”, merging the Russian “Lunokhod” with the English “Code”. It sounds good and suggests something that has to do with Universe and Space, two themes that really fascinates us very much. The Russian word Lunokhod means “moon walker”. “Lunocode” could be translated in English to “lunar code” or something similar and makes me instantly think about the black monolith of “2001: A Space Odyssey”, as it was just found under the surface of the moon. Lunocode is a “new” word and has not a clear and unambiguous meaning but suggests a bunch of fascinating images and thoughts. This is the reason why we chose it: it’s a fascinating name with a strong personality and it’s definitely what we were searching for! A little curiosity: the fact that we started with Lunokhod, that is a Russian word (the machine was built by USSR), to create our monicker has something to do with our next FL too!It is clear that the band members were friends for a long time before Lunocode ever existed. How does this affect the way the band works together as a whole? Does it come with its own problems?
Daphne: I’m the last one arrived in the group. The boys have a deep friendship, strengthened in time and it has given me a pleasant sense of tranquillity since the first time I met them. They are kind and put me at my ease at personal and professional levels. This attitude, positive and constructive, is one of the things that creates the right climate to do music: it’s the ground where the expression of each personality can grow up and become more mature as a musician and as a person, through the exchange. Obviously, to be a friend means also clear honesty, then, we are free to say clearly what we think.
Perseo: I solely add that yes, we’re friends since a long time (I actually know Giordano since the early days in the nursery school so we really are friends of a lifetime, we went to school together and we live in the same little country, only a couple of kilometres divides my home from Giordano’s home and it’s really the same situation between Paride and Francesco…and Paride is my brother as well!), but we also have a common goal that goes under the name of “Lunocode” and we work together for the best for our band! So yes there are, have been and will be, here and there, some problems (and I think this is very normal for every band) but we’re strong and mature enough to rapidly solve them and our friendship is a great and unique support that helps us very much in every aspect of being together. Daphne inserted very well in the band and we’re really happy with her.Cecilia Menghi handled the vocals on this album: Daphne, what is it like having into step into her shoes? What is your vocal background? How did you hook up with the band? (sorry, that’s a lot of questions in one, but we need to know!!)
Daphne: Cecilia and me has a different singing style. She is more turned toward power metal, then, maybe, she was more at her ease than me in the old songs. My background include prog-rock, prog-metal and dark: my vocal style is oriented towards a very interpretative way. I love so much to play with dynamics like changes of vocal register and of volume. I love to feel the songs deeply in their meanings and give a special “dress” to each one. I think it’s not a question of value, but it’s a matter of feelings and of personal taste. I like to sing this way and it fits perfectly with the new style Lunocode decided to implement in future songs. How did I hook up with the band? Perseo and me meet the first time in Prato, at a rock concert, some time ago, accidentally. He was searching for a singer and then we started talking about this collaboration: it went very well just from the beginning!The album teaser you put up on YouTube at the end of the last year began with some philosophical statements about “the need to find different meanings for the same old concepts”. How does your music reflect this concern?
Perseo: I’m glad you watched the video on YouTube! “Last Day of the Earth” has a conceptual nature and the “basic theme” of the concept is about losing all the convictions and all the happiness after a tragic event. When this happens many and many questions arise in one’s mind and one could find himself searching new meanings for old concepts like pain, life, passion and, most important, death. This journey is described throughout the 4 songs composing the mini-concept and this is the reason for the statement you’ve seen on the teaser.In 2011 the new album hit the stores. Since “Last Day of the Earth” is a type of concept album, could you tell us how the concept evolves through the main tracks?
Perseo : “Last Day of the Earth” is a mini-concept album, as I said before and every song has a “job” to perform to carry forward the story behind the concept. This is made clear on the back cover of the CD-Rom version of the EP because in the tracklist each song has a “subtitle”. “Flow, My Tears”, for example is “Falling from Grace”, denoting the start of the journey: something has gone bad and we have lost certainties and convictions, everything is changed and we have no more a solid base for our life. “Universal Plan” is “transition”: after falling from grace one is generally sad and depressed and reflections start to get darker and darker and sad as well. But this is just a moment, a transition. In fact, during the song “Universal Plan”, we start from darkness but, at a certain point (I’m referring to the “special” section in the middle of the song, right after the solos) some “light” is shed upon the darkness: positive cosmic concepts are introduced (Carl Sagan, Fred Hoyle, Stephen Hawking and others are quoted here and at the end of the song with their beautiful statements about universe and man condition), something starts to evolve and the world can be re-read with different meanings for sad or happy facts of life in mind. This makes a person do the first step toward final salvation. The interesting thing is that everything happens in our minds: our approach to the Universe changes our life radically while the Universe remains the same at every moment. In “Heart of the World” (“Reflections of Autumn”, where is described the scene you can see on the cover of the cd, with the man and the tree: “I’m staring at the sunset in silence in this autumn evening, On the top of this hill sitting in the grass everything is whispering Infinity”) and “Silent Thoughts” (“Final Step (..?)”, where the concept ends…or starts again? J) this process continues and comes to an end…at least for the main character of the story, but I’ll let you interpret the end by yourselves! I don’t want to explain too much of the story ‘cause I think that, in this type of concept album, the listener should be able to build up his own vision and interpretation. What I described here are just the “basics”: in the album there is so much more and I will let you find it all!Is the EP the beginnings of an upcoming full-length, or is it a stand-alone piece?
Perseo: The EP “Last Day of the Earth” is really a stand-alone piece with its own character, story, sound, artwork and themes. It is not a preview of the FL, it’s just a “mini-concept” representing our debut!
Daphne: “Last Day of the Earth” is a “stand-alone” work, as you said. At the same time, we are working on a new EP and on a FL. The new EP will live an autonomous life with respect to the other two works, but will overlap with the FL. We’re going to enter the studio in summer and we hope to give birth to it in autumn. Surely, the FL will require more time. So, keep in touch with us!
Italy is well-known for its power metal, thanks to bands such as Rhapsody of Fire and Luca Turilli‘s work in general. How do you feel that your band stands out against these other Italian stalwarts?
Perseo: We’re a young band and we do essentially what we like to do with enthusiasm and passion. Rhapsody of Fire is a gigantic band with worldwide reputation and with many and many years of career: we watch them with great respect. Lunocode and Rhapsody are really different animals. Lunocode is basically just a small band but we’re very determined in doing what we do because we like it: we hope this is the key…doing just what we feel we have to do at our best!
Daphne: Maybe only in offering something simply different. It doesn’t mean better or worse, but only something else.On the first main track, “Flow, My Tears”, Cecilia has to reach some quite high notes. Daphne, are you going to sing the songs as Cecilia did, or are we going to see a completely new interpretation of the songs?
As I said before, I’ve got a different approach to the songs and my interpretation is something completely different. I will obviously maintain the melodies and arrangements but I will interpret them with my own sensibility.“Universal Plan” contains many queries and thoughts about the meaning (or meaninglessness) of life. Do these reflect any particular spiritual or life beliefs of any band members or is it just a great lyrical subject?
In “Universal Plan” lyrics starts with a quite “dark” image of someone under the rain reflecting about being a “nothing” in front of the vast Universe and about being just a “gear” without importance in the cosmic game of life and death. I can say this image is certainly a good lyrical subject but the truth is that all I’ve written in “Last Day of the Earth” is very autobiographic: I like to write about reflections that I do when I find myself alone and I use my time to think and think…and the Universe and the human condition really fascinate me. In “Last Day of the Earth” I wanted to share some thoughts of mine with people that listen to our music but I also wanted to try to drop a “seed” of peace, compassion and equality in the large World hoping that this seed could influence someone: also if it’s one person only I am just happy, because this means that the world has became just a little better. I’m an atheist and what I say is not, in any case, related to religion, I want to make it clear. But I think humankind has a natural spiritual side that is, when united with rationality and science, our real strength. To understand what I’m talking about when I say “spirituality” you can do a little experiment by yourself: search “pale blue dot” in google images and do a little research about this theme…surely you’ll get what I’m talking about if you listen to your feelings JI see the song “Heart of the World” begins with a drum solo: nice one, Perseo!! Do you play the drums each time the same when you rehearse as a band, or is there room for “creative interpretation” within the tracks? Do you get much time to rehearse together?
Thank you very much! I’m really happy I can say something about that drum solo: someone could hear a “quote” from a famous drum solo by Cozy Powell. Do you remember the solo Cozy does as an intro to the song “Stargazer” in the Ritchie Blackmore’s Rainbow album called “Rising”? The drum solo I do in “Heart of the World” is specifically composed to be a variant of THAT drum solo and it’s my tribute to one of my favourite drummers of all the time: Mr Cozy Powell! I love his rock-solid drumming and I wanted to pay tribute to such an inspiration for me. However the drum solo in “Heart of the World” is composed by two parts: the first is my tribute to Cozy, the second (starting when the guitars kicks in) is a much more subtle tribute to another drum legend and another of my top 3 favourite drummers: Mark Zonder of Fates Warning. The second part of the drum solo is freely inspired by the drum parts that Mark plays in the song “Pale Fire” by Fates Warning in the album “Inside Out”. Excuse me if I wanted to make public this tribute that I, with maximum respect, decided to pay to those great drummers…but it’s important for me! J To finally answer your question, as the drum solo is composed with this in mind, I usually play it the same every time and it’s the same for the majority of the other drum parts in the various songs even if there is, in some specific parts, enough room for interpretation and for having fun playing drums live. As a band we usually group together to rehearse 2 days a week and we group together in our studio another 1-2 days a week to write new material, to record demos, arrange new songs etc..normal band activity! JIt was quite brave to include a 9 minute ballad on such an EP! It seems at a listen that “Silent Thoughts” represents the end of the main part of the album, and the last track seems a bit different (not to mention short compared to the other songs). What was the intention of adding this acoustic track onto the end of the album?
Yes, “Silent Thoughts” represents the end of the concept “Last Day of the Earth” (for this reason it’s a lengthy song) and “Invisible Tears” (Acoustic Version) is a so-called bonus track : Lunocode is our new monicker and the previous band monicker was Anima. With the monicker Anima we published a demo-cd, called “Birth” that contained 4 songs (I think you can find it online somewhere). The song that, in various reviews, was elected as the best song of the demo was “Invisible Tears” as so, in our debut EP, we wanted to put a reference to our past by adding, as a bonus track, an acoustic version of the best song of our old demo. We rearranged and reworked the song and put it at the end of our EP: I think it’s a good ending theme for the CD.Daphne, no matter how great a band are musically, fans are often drawn to the front-person as a focal point for the band. Please tell us what kind of a person you are, and what are the things that interest you and make you happy?
Daphne: Oh, I’m sociable and I love to laugh (Perseo can confirm it…maybe I’ve hit a new world record in knowing the largest number of quotes from sarcastic and demented films!). The things that make me feel happier are: sharing good moments with the people I love (especially in concerts), singing on stage with Lunocode and having the possibility to meet people with the band, to talk with them, to exchange opinions and emotions.With such as strong musical opus behind you, are there any plans to bring the music to the live stage soon? If so, would it be limited to just Italy, or would you like to set your sights further afield?
Perseo: Yes, we made our first show with Daphne in a small but beautiful pub called “Rock Highland” in Arezzo, Italy, last March (there is actually one video on YouTube) and we played “Heart of the World” and “Universal Plan” as well as some brand new songs. We’ll play in Rome at Pictures of Prog festival (April 23, 2011) and in Barletta (Bari, June 19, 2011) at A.Live Rock Festival : you can find all the updates on our social network profiles (we have Facebook, MySpace, Last.fm, ReverbNation, Twitter…search for us!). It would be really fantastic to play outside Italy but, as we’re working on a new EP and on our FL, we’re actually concentrating on studio work. In future, maybe, we’ll also travel outside Italy: we really hope so!Finally, let me just give a big thank you from all at Femme Metal, and we wish you success with any new plans for Lunocode!!
Daphne: Thank you so much for the occasion you gave us to talk about our experience to you and to people who read your great site. Bye!
Perseo: We thank you for this great interview and we hope you all stay connected with us because we have some news to share during next months! To all the readers interested in us: for everything about the band check www.lunocode.com. Thank you again and goodbye!
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