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Interview conducted June 10 2017
Interview published July 11 2017

"This doesn't mean that we would not like to do something new together in the future."

Vocalist Fabio Lione and guitar player Luca Turilli reunited last year in the Italian symphonic power metal outfit Rhapsody and are at the moment out on some kind of extended farewell tour. Metal Covenant met the band's frontman when they were at Sweden Rock in June and obviously our conversation landed in the direction of the current tour, where they play the album Symphony Of Enchanted Lands in its entirety, but also we had a few words about the style and the uniqueness of the band.

"I think that I know my voice very well and I always wanted to find a personal way to sing."

Tobbe: You're currently out on the 20th Anniversary Farewell Tour and some bands are out for years and years on tours like this, so for how long could this tour continue, really?

Fabio: Actually we are thinking about doing it for one year, so around March-April next year should be the end. Should be… So, this is what we have in mind. We started a few months ago in Latin America and we played 12 shows there and 9 shows were sold out. And then we played a show in France and today we are here in Sweden.

The reaction of the fans is fantastic and I was, honestly, surprised because it has been almost 6 years since I played with some of the guys, like Patrice [Guers, bass], Dominique [Lavin, guitar] and also Luca, and the feeling in the band is great. I mean, we have fun and it's like we never split up and you see the band happy and the shows are good, so this is the best thing that could happen to the band.

Tobbe: Luca has said that this will be the last time that you will play all those songs, so why don't you keep the door a bit open?

Fabio: Point is that Luca and I would really like to close this chapter; this Rhapsody chapter. This doesn't mean that we would not like to do something new together in the future. Maybe with another name, maybe with another kind of music. But yeah, at the moment we would really like to close this chapter.

Tobbe: Is it really a difference to play with Luca on stage than playing with another guitar player, in your opinion?

Fabio: It's a big difference, because Luca is a very particular guy. Of course he's a good guitar player, but I like him because he likes to move and to jump. You know, this is the way I like to do it also. I mean, I really don't like to be really static on stage. If you have to play some kind of complicated songs I understand a lot of bands. You know, when you have to play really difficult parts. But every time that I see Luca jumping I am like "Hey! This guy is great!".

Tobbe: So for how long were there, like, negotiations before you finally announced this reunion?

Fabio: We started in February 2016. So it's a long time ago. We received many proposals. We knew that we had to do something to celebrate 20 years of the band. So we talked a lot and then in the end it was possible. So we are now doing this and we are discussing a possible DVD.

Tobbe: Actually I was gonna ask about a DVD. So have you been filming some shows already?

Fabio: We already have some material. We filmed some songs in São Paulo [Brazil] and we're thinking about recording some more shows in the future where we will have some guests and some friends of the band. And maybe, and it's kind of a dream and I don't know if it will be possible, but we have already talked to some orchestra director. We would like to do kind of a special show with an orchestra, and let's see if it will happen.

Tobbe: Have you even discussed if you will have a documentary on the DVD too?

Fabio: Yeah, I think so. I think we will have probably a complete show and some other songs from different show that we did and some stuff from backstage and a documentary part. Yeah, I think so.

Tobbe: So why did you decide to play Symphony Of Enchanted Lands [1998] and not another record, like Legendary Tales [1997] for example?

Fabio: Yeah, there's a point, because we knew that we had to celebrate 20 years of the band and, exactly, the first record was Legendary Tales, but we said that if it's our farewell tour of 20 years of the band we should play the most representative CD, the CD that people know more, sold more copies and …so it's Symphony.

Tobbe: So when you end this tour, if you end this tour, what will each bandmember do then?

Fabio: I know that Luca has another project in mind and Alex Holzwarth [drums] has the band Serious Black and some other project. I have finished the recording of a new record with Ale, Alessandro Conti, the Luca Turilli's Rhapsody singer.

So Frontiers Records gave me a proposal to do a record, and it's a very good one. It's not Rhapsody style; it's more progressive metal music. So a mix between Symphony X, Kamelot and various bands. Not so much in the direction of Rhapsody, because we talk a lot with Alessandro Conti and we're thinking that it would be really cool for us and for the fans to hear a record with both singers together.

But to release a CD that sounds like Rhapsody makes no sense, so this is a kind of metal/progressive record and it will be something really nice. They sent me the mix now and I was listening and I said "Wow! Sounds really great!". Then I have this new band that I have with a young girl [Giorgia Colleluori, vocals], Eternal Idol, but I mean, it's just a jam band and we just have a first CD [The Unrevealed Secret, 2016]. I have some other projects and, I mean, let's see, because Luca and I are thinking of maybe doing something together in the future. Maybe it is possible, I think.

Tobbe: When you go between different projects or bands, do you think that you have to adjust your voice a little bit to fit in or do you just sing all the stuff in a natural way?

Fabio: In a natural way, yeah. That's my way. Especially with Rhapsody it's really my style, so it's kind of natural to me. I think that I know my voice very well and I always wanted to find a personal way to sing. Very various, so I like to sing really rough, and dirty, and clean, and soft.

You know, sometimes when I listen to a singer it's boring. Sometimes you have a very good singer, but they just sing this way [Makes a flat move with his hand.] and that's it! No fucking chance to hear something different and that makes me bored. That's why I try to put many elements in. You know, like an opera touch and aggressive and this aspect, in my opinion, was working very well in Rhapsody because we have very different songs.

So I am very happy, because I spent 20 years with some guys that composed great songs and they composed these songs thinking about this voice [Points to his throat]. Not a generic one, so I think I was lucky. It's not easy to find a band like this.

Tobbe: You know, Italian bands don't always get so much room in other parts of Europe and is the heavy metal culture so different in Italy so fans in other countries don't listen so often to Italian bands?

Fabio: It's kind if weird, because Italians like more the stuff that is coming from outside of Italy …of course. So there's a risk, because if you have a band then they always try to learn the lessons from the Americans, or from the Germans, or whoever. So in the end you have this result: You end up with a very nice, good band and very nice, good musicians, but they just learn the lessons and they don't produce something unique.

In Italy we have very good musicians, but it's kind of Symphony X style or it's kind of Dream Theater style, so they are not so unique and that's the most important thing. You know, technique is very important, but think about Ozzy Osbourne and Lemmy. These guys were fantastic; they are fantastic, but it's not a matter of technique; it's a matter of being unique. That's the way. I really like Jon Bon Jovi and he's not the best vocalist in this world, but after one second you hear it's him. That's the point!

Tobbe: Then what made Rhapsody different in the late 90's? That made the band become one of the most popular bands and I guess the most influential band in the style of music you play?

Fabio: It's not easy to answer, but I think Rhapsody was a band that was inspired by bands like Helloween, Manowar and Maiden, but the band never tried to copy those bands. The band learned the lessons and put new elements to it. We love classical music so we composed songs in a Maiden way and in a Manowar way with classical elements, with an opera touch and with choirs, so in the end the proposal was kind of really new and fresh.

When they proposed to me to sing for this band, in the beginning for the first record, I didn't know Luca and the other guys. So the first manager [R. Limb Schnoor] was calling me at home and said "Hey Fabio. You are Italian. I have an Italian band, Rhapsody, and I have a demo tape and I will send it to your house if you wanna listen.". It was a cassette, not a CD. I was listening and I said "This is something new." and I said "Okay, Limb.". So I traveled to Germany and I did it just because I realized that they proposed something fresh, something new, at least personal, unique, you know. It was a good band, but with a normal proposal I don't think that I had taken that decision.

Also because I at that moment, if I have to tell the truth, could not go to Germany because I was kind of in the marines and I had to find a way to do it, you know. To escape somehow, for one week. It was great. And I think the guys worked a lot on the songs, on the concept, on the idea and they were looking for a singer for a long time, so I am happy that Limb and Luca probably listened to my first stuff with Labÿrinth and "Hey! This guy is Italian, so let's try to do it with him.".

Tobbe: So, after so many years on the music scene, from where are you able to pick up the energy to continue doing this all the time?

Fabio: Sometimes we ask ourselves this. [Laughs] Because, you know, you go on stage and you smile and you think about the same things you did when you were 20-25 years old, but sometimes you're like "It doesn't feel good.", so it's not exactly the same. I think that there are people that really love this music and really love what we are doing. It's difficult to explain, but when you go on stage it's not like you're thinking "Okay, another show.", but it's a feeling like "I am a kid and I go on stage to show the people my music.". So the feeling is so great. And if you're still thinking this way you are not tired and if you are not tired you go on forever.

Tobbe: Are you ever worried about losing your voice some day?

Fabio: Yes. I was worried once. It has happened only one time in 25 years. I didn't have any voice, because I had a problem. I did a show and I finished the show at 2 in the morning, I had my daughter in the hospital and I went to the hospital at 4 in the morning, I didn't sleep, I drove my car to the next show and I arrived completely destroyed. But I did it. I don't know how, but I did it. But I think I am lucky because until now it has only happened once.

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