Interview by Ary G.& Anna Fortini
On the occasion of the two new italian dates that see Xandria as the opener act for the new Epica tour, Femme Metal had the pleasure to have a great chat with Manuela and Marco in Milan, that kindly talked about the new record, “Neverworld’s End”, about the influence they’ve taken from Nightwish, the life on the road with the colleagues Epica and Stream of Passion and a possible of a new music direction.
Ok. We are here with Xandria, with Marco and Manu. Welcome to Femme Metal.net!
How are you doing guys?
Marco: Oh great!
Manuela: I’m fine, grazie!
So, yesterday you’ve been in Rome for the very first time. How was to visit a city that you’ve never seen before?
Manuela: Well, actually we didn’t visit the city, but I could tell you about the concert: it was really amazing! The people were really great and we really had fun on stage, so it was great to be there, really…
Marco: The location was about 40 km far from the city center of Rome, so unfortunately we had no chance to see all the famous things in Rome…
What about the weather?
Marco: April weather! Ehehe! Rain, shine, rain, shine…
What could you tell about the lyrics, instead? Today you are here in Milan again, after having been here for Out of the Dark Fest. How is going? How do you feel like coming here again in Italy, for the second time this year?
Manuela: I like it very much 🙂 because concerts in Italy have always been great, also for me in the past I’ve been here with Haggard already, so I know we can expect a big concert.
This tour is the first one that doesn’t see Nils unfortunately, because he had been injured after some dates you had with Epica and now you have a replacement, that is Fabio D’Amore from Serenity. What did cause this choice and how have you decided to take Fabio in your crew?
Marco: We have joined Out of the Dark Fest with Serenity, the main band with Fabio, it was one of the five bands we have been on tour, we were in the same tour bus, we were friends, so he was the first one we thought of when we were searching for a replacement.
Manuela: He is a very good bass player and he has a great personality, we like him very much. Nils is recovering, but he will be with us as soon as possible…
We want to wish Nils a good recovery, we wish him to get well soon!
Marco & Manuela: Oh, thank you 🙂
So, as I said, you’ll be in Milan tonight. So, will we expect some surprises tonight from you guys?
Marco: We’ll play the songs from our new album, some songs because we have only 35 minutes, as we’re the opening act, but it’s the first time we’ll play some of the new songs of the album for this tour, it’s a great thing for us because we’re also fond of the new material, all the years we’ve been really looking forward to play that stuff, because we knew that it would have been working, it would be great fun to play live, as we’ve seen in these last 2 days it’s really the case and so I think it will be great tonight.
This tour sees you with Epica and Stream of Passion. It started a week ago or so, but I discovered that some dates were already sold out, so what’s the feeling of discovering that “your dates” are sold out?
Marco & Manuela: Ehehe!
Marco: Of course, it’s Epica sold out shows, but we are amazed of possibility to get new fans, we hope to get new fans on this tour 🙂
Last month you’ve released “Neverworld’s End”, after five years of silence. How’ve been the feedbacks so far from the media and the fans? Are you happy about the result?
Manuela: Well, until now it has been really positive and we got very good reactions and responses to the album. Of course there is someone that says “We want Lisa back!”, but it’s always like that when singer is changed, but most of the people accepted me as the singer now, so I’m really happy about this…
I see that daily you receive lots of compliments on your Facebook profile and Facebook page, so are you happy to be so accepted in the band from all the foreign and European fans of course?
Manuela: Yes, of course I am! I am really thankful for it. It puts me a big smile on my face when I see all the comments on Facebook, this gives me strength to go on, I know that I am on the right path, that we are on the right path with what we do, so it’s very nice to have such good fans!
Marco: It’s the best choice we could ever do with Manuela, really…
Manuela: Oh, thanks you 😀
Marco: I think all those five years of silence you’ve mentioned it was all good worth, we followed ourselves again for the future, a new musical path, we wanted to do more heavy, more symphonic, more bombastic. The new album is the more ambitious we’ve ever done and we also have the best singer we could ever find for this album, I think it’s the strongest incarnation of Xandria.
Yeah, I agree 😀
Marco: We really feel like that. We feel like being reborn, it’s a really good feeling!
What about you? Are you happy about what you wrote in this album? Because I know that you write and wrote most of the lyrics for Xandria, so what about this result?
Marco: Yeah! It really turned all the way I wanted from the beginning, I wanted this symphonic, this more epic style for the very beginning, when we were thinking about the album, we wanted to be like that from the very beginning.
Now Xandria is more metal-oriented than before. In the last album called “Salomé”, if I’m right, it was more gothic-oriented, it was less metal than this one. This is more symphonic. What do you feel like writing some new stuff? Do you feel yourselves more mature in this new record?
Marco:Yeah, definitely! As a songwriter, I’ve been able to do things that I’ve never been able to do before, and I’ve always been fan of more complex, more heavy stuff, because also the new songs are a bit more sophisticated and complex and this was a challenge for me as a songwriter, I always need new challenges, something that pushes me forward.
Where do you get the inspiration when you write something for Xandria?
Marco: It comes every day from somewhere 😀 While driving the car from my home to the studio, where we recorded the vocals in Munich with Manuela… or on long travels or even here on tour and that comes the inspiration…
So you’re definitely happy of having written this new record, that fans really appreciate for what I’ve seen but my attention was catched up by a song called “A Thousand Letters”. What can you tell us about this song?
Manuela: For me it’s a very personal song, because I wrote the lyrics for it. The lyrics are about my grandparents, it’s inspired by what my grandfather and my grandmother told about the War and about their love. I’ve read a diary of my grandfather and it touches me very deeply and after their death, it was easily for me to overcome this sadness about their death and I wanted to write something for them and about their love. It’s about their love and the 2nd World War and it has a positive end, because they meet again after the end of the war. In reality, it was the same so… It made me very happy that this song has finally made it on the album.
Concerning “Neverworld’s End”, I’ve read some reviews on the web and I’ve seen that so many reviewers told that you are a “clone” of old Nightwish. How do you react to this statement?
Marco: Well, I think that they think this album reminds something of the old Nightwish but I really don’t like the word “cloneW because most of the people see that it’s not about doing the same stuff again, but understanding what they did and appreciate it, taking it as an “influence” and making your own stuff with that.
Was you inspired maybe by from old Nightwish era somehow?
Marco: Honestly, I am a real fan of Nightwish, yeah… that’s right! I love all their material, even the last two albums! Yeah.
What do you think about “Imaginaerum”? Random question…
Marco: It’s different from what I expected! When they told all the people that it would have been a real soundtrack thing, I expected more soundtrack and not so much rock songs, it was a bit surprising for me but I like it 🙂
Usually when you get some criticism, from the media or fans, even if they are positive or negative, how do you react? Do you feel yourselves offended or do you think “Ok, it’s a constructive sentence, it’s a constructive critique, so I have to accept it”?
Manuela: Well, I try to take the good things out of the comments, I separate the critique, I mean I take the rights ones and I put away the bad ones, what I mean is: there are some comments that are sometimes very mean. I don’t care about those! I just try to take the good things 🙂
Marco: You have to push them away, sometimes it’s just a matter of tastes, you know! If someone say “Oh it’s too much bombastic!”, it’s more cheesy, sometimes for some people, I just say “OK, this is not the music you like, it’s ok for us”. We can’t include everything that comes from somewhere, because it would be something that doesn’t please everyone. We want to make music we feel, it’s all from our heart, it the people like it, it’s ok, if the people don’t like it, it’s ok also!
Manuela: Yeah! Everybody has different tastes! That’s okay 🙂
When a band changes her own vocalist, every single fan always dares to compare the single member, the female singer and so on. So has it never happened to hear maybe some fans saying “We want Lisa back” or “We want Kerstin” back or some evil things like that?
Manuela: Yes, of course, but that’s okay for me, because you know, we have very different voices and some like Lisa’s voice better, some like mine better, so it’s ok. I was prepared for that, because of the things I saw going on in Nightwish, for what concerned Anette and Tarja and so on and so I’ve thought “ok, it might be some people say that”, but it really didn’t touch me, I just focus on people that really like me and love me and appreciate me.
As you said, you’re on tour with Epica and Stream of Passion. Have you had the chance to get in touch with the girls or the boys?
Manuela: Well, of course we had the chance to get in touch a lot with Stream of Passion because they are in the same bus with us, so it’s really great, they’re really great guys and a great girl and we had lots of fun together…
What about Epica?
Manuela: Well, not so much but we still have some talks here and there and had fun of course.
Marco: We’re just not in the same bus, so we always meet occasionally. We have different date schedules on the show dates, so sometimes we meet and they are great people too!
What do you think of Simone Simons as a vocalist or as a person?
Manuela: I think she’s a very, very great vocalist, I adore her voice very much, and well she is a very beautiful person.
Marco: And she knows how to handle a metal audience, it’s really cool.
What about Marcela?
Manuela: She is a really ground to Earth person! I love her personality a lot, she’s a very interesting person! I like her very much!
Okay. Tonight you will play here at Alcatraz venue and I assume you’ll play also some old songs. What could we expect?
Marco: We will play “Ravenheart”, eheheh. You know, we have only 6 songs, we’re the opening act so it’s a short time for us to play . We really want to present our new album to the people, because it’s the new Xandria! We want to leave the past behind because of course it still belongs to us, there are still some songs we like to play, but the time is very short on stage on this tour. We chose just one of the old song and the rest is new, in order to know the new Xandria.
Ok. This question is for Manuela only. I’ve seen some videos on Youtube from Marcela practicing some famous opera by Puccini and some other famous composer. The same did once Simone Simons from Epica so what about you? Will we ever hear you singing and playing something from any famous composer?
Manuela: Perhaps. I don’t know yet. I focus now on my metal things but next I’m going into a Celtic project, so I don’t know what to expect now, but this is going on. Perhaps you will hear some classical stuff in the future, but nothing is planned yet.
Ok. Thank you for the interview. Would you like to say something to our readers and your fans of course?
Marco: Thanks for your support, Femme Metal! It’s really great. Thanks to all of your visitors for supporting us and coming for the show, it would be great to meet you in our shows.
Manuela: Thank you very much for accepting the new album so much and for accepting me, as the new singer. I’m very happy about the new response, so thank you for your support!
Photos by Anna Fortini