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Interview conducted March 4 2018
Interview published March 24 2018

"It was a hobby for 20 years."

A semi-reunited Rhapsody with guitarist Luca Turilli and singer Fabio Lione up front came to Stockholm on their 20th Anniversary Farewell Tour and Metal Covenant had the pleasure to meet up with one really happy and very nice guitarist who often digress quite a bit and rather tells a story than answering a question.

Tobbe: You've been out, on and off, with this Rhapsody reunion tour for close to a year and will you get an uncomfortable feeling now that you realize that it will soon be over?

Luca: You know, in the beginning the plan was really to be on the road with this reunion and farewell tour for a festival season. That was the first plan. The managers contacted us, me and Fabio separately, you know. So, in the beginning I must admit I was a little sceptical because it was just 6 years since the split with my ex-colleagues and all that, but then I realized… In one of those days they contacted me I said "Really? Next year?", because we're speaking about 2016 when they contacted me, "It corresponds to the 20th anniversary of the band.".

So then I called Fabio and we said "Then let's make something really special. Let's make a reunion, but not only a reunion, but something in the sense of a farewell tour to really show that it's something so special that everybody has to be part of it and for us it has to be something really incredible because we will play these glorious songs for the last time.". So it really seemed like a celebration, you know, corresponding to the 20th anniversary. All from a few shows planned and now we are speaking about one and a half years. Almost 70 shows already played and now we are on the second part of this European tour. So it was something totally unexpected.

Especially the second leg in South America, because the first was such an unexpected success that we were kind of obliged to go back, you know. And it's particularly emotionally, because every time we are where we are, we know it will be the last time for people to have the chance to listen to these glorious songs that made the success for the band. You know, that brought Rhapsody to where they are nowadays.

Tobbe: But wouldn't it be kind of best for everybody if you'd just forget about this being a farewell tour and you'd continue with this lineup of Rhapsody instead?

Luca: No, because already before we decided to go on this tour, there were many plans processed, especially for me. And there's some legal issues, so it's not like we just do what we want, because there's always some big discussion with ex-colleagues. Technically, I'll tell you something, we have the chance to still do something more, because in reality I start with my new music project in 2019. So technically there's still some months for me and Fabio, except for when he's busy with Angra, to dedicate ourselves to this Rhapsody reunion. But then there's all these legal things, so I don't think it will happen and that's why we now say "No, no. This is really the end.".

So from our side there was a possibility to do something more, you know. But no, it is like it is, so we leave it really like an incredible final experience. And some elements are vital for us as musicians. For example, the market, you know. Imagine, we already gave the best with Rhapsody from the beginning until the end. So for us it was already a kind of complete artistic journey when we split. Just before the split we released album number 10, From Chaos To Eternity, and I ended the saga from a lyrical point of view, where everything was related musically. So that was like really writing a book in the style of Tolkien, because it was something apocalyptic for me to study and to create. So we finished that and we think we are one of few bands that were able to complete something like this, an artistic journey of this proportion.

I don't know how many bands, honestly, that are around that base the music around one saga and are able to be still there after 10 albums, with the main singer and the main, important band members. So for us it was already something completed and then when we spoke to our ex-colleague Alex Staropoli [Keyboards] and we said "Okay. It's not the same fun." and normally we would have split already probably 2-3 years before. And after that we had all those legal problems that everybody knows about and still we can not of course speak about it because there's this non-disclosure agreement, but this really lead to a status that was different from the very beginning.

But anyway, for us, the priority was to complete album number 10. So then the split came naturally and then everybody did what they liked to do, so for example, in my case, I did the Luca Turilli's Rhapsody band, that I now also will end, because now I really like to end the complete Rhapsody word, you know. As a composer I can not stick to the same style for so long or otherwise I don't feel good. I'm a composer, I'm a studio guy, so I have to compose new music and now I'm listening to completely different things than what I was listening to 20 years ago, so I can not stick to the same thing.

I love to do this, to celebrate, to touch the heart of the people and to see that we even have a young generation listening to this music now. When we were in South America we saw in the first rows just young people and that's amazing, but as a composer I also need to satisfy my heart and soul, so I just need to do other music. I don't know if it's in the same level of success, maybe not. I don't know, but it doesn't matter because it's about art so we don't really care, you know. You have to know that in the end for me Rhapsody was mainly a hobby, because with such wrong investments and such bad choices we made in our career even the good money that we were able to earn from time to time in the end was lost.

Now I really concentrate on something that I love and that also fits me in some way for the years to come and especially when considering this market and all that. There are all these elements to evaluate and then, as I told you, all this legal bullshit accompanying us since years, so you always have to find the perfect way to balance everything, the business point of view, but always giving priority to heart and soul. So we never do something that I don't like. Many people say to me "You have your company. You were supposed to do something in Hollywood with soundtracks.", but I stopped right away because I understood that the Hollywood way of moving with a little bit like "Yes, we love your demo. Okay, now please compose 50 pieces of music. Imagine a horror movie, then a comedy, then a…" and I said "Oh no" because I come from a situation where Nuclear Blast, our record company, and our previous record companies, gave us total freedom, so you can really put heart and soul at first, you know.

And now that I'm becoming old, every choice comes more from my mental and spiritual evolution. Call it what you want. You know, I call it like that because I'm into yoga meditation. But I think it's very important for every individual that the closer you go to the moment that you will pass away, you want to make the right choices to be able to pass away with dignity.

Tobbe: You said you made some bad career moves, so in your own opinion, what's the worst career move you've ever made?

Luca: You know, luckily I can not speak about this because it's related to the legal problems. [Laughs wholeheartedly] That's why we will never write a biography about the band. It's just impossible, you know, because we almost can not speak about the fundamental years of the band.

Tobbe: What will you miss the most by not having Fabio by your side? Even though you maybe will do some stuff with Fabio in the future as well.

Luca: Yes. Because there are already plans now to make something with Fabio. Not in the same style like this, but we always had this thing and I love him as a vocalist and for me he just gave 60 percent of what he could give in this style of music. And he loves me as a composer, so there's a kind of particular feeling between me and him and we always wanted to make kind of a new Queen style of band, you know. Because Queen left and there is a kind of hole there. Sometimes you hear bands like Muse. Did they try? No, but a little bit they are in that style, so they call them the new Queen.

But I think there is still space to make something in that style and to make it even modern. So I think he would be the perfect new style of singer that can really be very eclectic. What you hear from him is just some opera singing and some great stuff from his bands like Rhapsody and Angra, but his potential is infinite because he is really able to put heart and soul in his voice. What is very difficult to find is, even if there's many amazing singers now, but someone that really touches your soul, you know. And I think Fabio can do that and that's why I'm always attracted working with him, even in something totally different than Rhapsody, you know. Why not? And yeah, I won't really miss something because we're already speaking about possible future things and then of course also things outside metal.

And I'm also approaching a new style. You know, I love this modern metal in the style of Within Temptation and those kind of things. It was always my favorite band, besides Nightwish when Tarja was there, so I have many songs in that style ready to go. So something will be released very soon. Also because Nuclear Blast is very interested and there's also other record companies. And then I have something completely different, like Adele. I love her. So, completely different projects. Many, many different things, really.

Tobbe: You seem to have a lot of things to do. Your name will be on thousands of record, I guess.

Luca: You know, sometimes when you do things very different from what you usually do, then sometimes it's not even good to use your name. It's a typical problem you can have, you know. Like, it was fantastic when I made Dreamquest. The first time the fans were shocked because it was something like goth metal and commercial and particularly for people who were used to me playing and composing Rhapsody music it was strange. And this was great and this is how it works normally: After 5-6 years everybody was asking me for more. Because at first you shock the people when using the same name, because it was Luca Turilli's Dreamquest, and then the people get used to the new style and they listen many times and then they love it and want more, you know.

So now, as we know that this is a typical problem of this business, and if you can play Metallica then it's very easy to play Adele, so I can do those things also, under different names. It can also be that there's a totally different market when you are with big companies, different companies, so maybe you're in a totally different style of music and play at other kinds of festivals and then you can use your name because it's not a problem, you know. And my fans, apart from this episode with Dreamquest, always respected the fact that I said I'm a composer and I'm not really a live musician. I'm a composer, loving all music existing, and over the years they've learned to respect that and I really appreciate that. So they give me some freedom that probably some other artists don't have. They can say that they don't like it, but at least they give you the freedom to do what you have in your heart and soul, you know.

Tobbe: Obviously you have many different sources of inspiration and are you never worried about putting too much of that inspiration into your own music so it gets too spread out?

Luca: Yes, absolutely. And this is the problem when you have one project only, you know. So Luca Turilli's Rhapsody: I ended up making an album like Prometheus and for some metallers it was not enough metal. You know, because it's always like this: When you take one direction there's always some that love it and some that are disappointed. So that's why it's better to divide by projects, you know. So I like to have one project specifically, like, in the Adele style, then I want one in the Within Temptation style and then one in the Queen style, you know. It's the most easy thing, because the fans can choose what they like the most.

Tobbe: Do you think young bands in the future will play symphonic power metal or will they try different kinds of metal instead?

Luca: I don't know. The situation of the market… It's also one of the reasons why Rhapsody simply can not exist, because, for example, take my Prometheus album: It took around € 110000 to make it, you know. In the market like nowadays, ruined by illegal downloads, you know, you hear many bands say that the web gives you advantages and for band that spends € 5000-15000 I can understand that, but a band that, you know, already has a kind of status and is already spending a lot of money can't go on, you know.

I have invested a lot of my own personal money and that's why I can say it's a hobby. It was a hobby for 20 years. [Laughs] The fact is that in the end you just can not go on because you want to guarantee your level. I will never constrict myself to make a Rhapsody album with € 30000, because I know what the fans expect and I know what I expect from the sound quality. That's why I prefer to make big projects where you can have a good budget, you know, so you can really guarantee your fans a kind of minimum quality. So, to come back to the point, for a young band it's very difficult, because now all there is is this kind of YouTube thing. You have one idea and we always insist on the originality. That's the basic thing.

When we wanted to start Rhapsody the first thing we said was "What do we do? What do I like? What do you like?" and we put all those things together and we created a mix. Nothing was new, but the mix was new, you know. So in the end that makes the difference and now when the bands ask me I always say this: Take a piece of paper and say "Which are the empty spaces where we can confirm our artistic identity?".

Tobbe: Last summer I talked with Fabio about a DVD. So what's the status of that DVD now?

Luca: DVD? No, I think we just spoke for a few days about it and it's not just possible for the same legal reasons as I told you about before. Like the name. You see, the word legal appears in the Rhapsody history a lot of times and that's not good because we are artists and there is the business and many times we were forced to be businessmen, that we were not able to be. [Laughs] That was the main problem. [Laughs joyfully indeed] But no, there will not be a DVD release, in relation to this story.

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