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Interview conducted May 7 2019
Interview published June 27 2019

Luca Turilli: "I think in a few years nobody will even ask us anymore about Rhapsody Of Fire."

Well, the story with different incarnations of Italian metallers Rhapsody seems to go on forever and on July 5th Zero Gravity (Rebirth And Evolution) by Turilli/Lione Rhapsody is out. Metal Covenant met up with guitarist Luca Turilli and singer Fabio Lione in Stockholm to listen to their reflections on the band's new effort.

Tobbe: Zero Gravity is your first record together in quite some time now and yet, was it just like before when you started the writing process for the record?

Luca: You know, this time was kind of particular, because we were not expecting to start together again after the farewell tour. So I even had to use songs ready for other projects and arrange them in the Rhapsody way. But in the end it was great for us, as we wanted to propose something new compared to the past.

It was just amazing, because it gave us the possibility to have a wide variety on the album, artistically speaking, and this is possible thanks to Fabio's voice of course, that allows this, because this is not possible for many singers. In the beginning we were thinking about not even continuing.

Tobbe: Yes, you told me that in March last year. You told me due to legal stuff you couldn't continue.

Luca: You see. But at that time we were really thinking "Okay, let's stop.". I was supposed to do other projects and Fabio was supposed to do other projects in any case. But then we thought that the tour went fine and that we would maybe make a project together, like a rock project in the style of Queen, you know. So that was the idea. Nothing related to Rhapsody or whatever. But then, the pressure, the success of the tour, all that, a lot of requests, and we were still saying "No, we feel it's not fair to go on.".

But then, more pressure and then we said "Okay, we can reach a compromise.". At first even not with the name Rhapsody. We were thinking about using the name Zero Gravity. So this was the first idea. A new band, you know. But then we discovered that the promoters were not really enthusiastic about the idea. You know how the market works. They want something that is already giving them some income.

So the only possibility, really, was to use the Rhapsody name. But with our names on top and we changed the logo to get a modern impact. We do really what we like to do now, and that's why it was good for me to also take a few songs from another project that really fit with Rhapsody and fit with Fabio's voice.

(Fabio:) It's a kind of evolution. Like we say "Rebirth And Evolution". I mean, it's not really the same music as before. I think it was fair to ourselves and to our fans, because we said from the beginning "We want to go on doing something different. If you like the idea, follow us. If you don't like it, that's okay.".

Tobbe: When I listened to the record the first time, or even the second time, I was thinking that it was a very varied record and was wondering how the fans would perceive this newborn style of Rhapsody. Aren't you even worried a little bit?

Luca: No, we just released Phoenix Rising and it's a song that has some connection with the past. And everybody loved it, so we don't feel at all worried. (Fabio:) The record is a bit far from what we did before. But from the other side, if you don't start a new band with a clear message immediately… But for sure it's possible that we can lose some old fans.

(Luca:) But normally, this is a transition, like Nightwish passing from Wishmaster to Once. Of course, they changed a lot. In our case I don't think it's so drastic, because there are songs like Phoenix Rising and Zero Gravity that can be liked by the old fans, and why not Decoding The Multiverse? So it doesn't feel so drastic compared to many other bands.

Tobbe: What kind of new stuff, that you have never done before, have you brought to this record?

Fabio: We have some ethnic elements; Indian and Tibetan instruments, percussions and even voices. For sure we have some progressive elements; more than before. I mean, even in the past we had some songs that were more progressive in a way, but for example, the song I Am is progressive more in the Dream Theater style, which is kind of far from the old Rhapsody style. Then we have more Italian opera.

In the past there are some Italian songs, but I think in this record you can feel a little more of the opera touch. Not only regarding my vocals, but also Emilie Ragni for example, who was singing with me in many songs. Then we have some pop metal. I was really happy about the song [D.N.A. (Demon And Angel)] with Elize Ryd and also this song is not really in the style of old Rhapsody. But it's a fantastic song and we are really happy about it. So in the end there are many new elements, you know.

(Luca:) Also we have never used a saxophone before. We could not do it before of course, due to the saga, you know. But now we have unlimited possibilities and this is the greatest thing for this band. Now we only have our own limit, as I like to say. (Fabio:) And the guitar sound is really different.

(Luca:) Yes. It's another world thanks to Simone Mularoni, the engineer. Me and Fabio produced the album, but he was working as an engineer at Domination Studios in San Marino and he made a miracle with the guitar sound. With Angra, Fabio has had a guitar like that, but I myself have never in my life had that sound.

(Fabio:) And the way that Luca was playing keyboards is also different. It's more modern in a way. So the variety in the record is really, in my opinion, big. And there are some Queen influences. There are some parts where I think people might think about Queen. So in the end I think this record is different and not boring and this is something great for us because it's what we love and we hope that it will be the same for the fans.

Tobbe: In your opinion, how much of this record could be considered classic Rhapsody?

Fabio: Well, 30-40 percent. We didn't choose the easy way. We could make a record with 40 percent new stuff and 60 percent old, but that's not what we like to do today.

Tobbe: It was in the late 90's you did your first record and now it's 2019.

Luca: Yes, how can someone even imagine that an artist can do the same thing after such a long time, after 10 albums, about the same thing. Bands like U2 can have a career over 60 years and write about whatever they want, but we were connected to a saga. The colors are always the same, you know. You can change the arrangement, but it's always related to the saga. You can go from one flute to another to change the sound, but there's always a flute playing renaissance melodies. You can change the melody, but it's always the same style.

Tobbe: But could you actually make a record like the first one [Legendary Tales, 1997], if you would try today?

Luca: No, I could not. It would hurt my stomach, you know. I don't feel it, you know. And you can never make it better than the original. Maybe someone says "Let's hope they make another Emerald Sword.", but Emerald Sword is already existing and the other will be a copy and will never be as good as the original.

Tobbe: When I look at the album cover I see more future and when I look at the old covers I see more past.

Luca: This is very important to say: It's not science fiction, you know. It's just modern. The artwork represents the metaphor of the meaning of the concept of the album, but it's a coincidence. You know, next album might have a cover in a totally different style. It's not like we're making a science fiction saga or things like that. I think it's clear. We have a song about Da Vinci [Arcanum (Da Vinci's Enigma)] and Amata Immortale is about [Giacomo] Leopardi, the famous poet. I don't know if you know anything about him. He was very famous in Italy.

Tobbe: Da Vinci I've heard of…

Luca: Da Vinci, yes. [Laughs] It's now 500 years since his death, so this is an important moment to celebrate him. One of the greatest geniuses of mankind. It's a song about, you know, Dan Brown, the movie, the secret codes hidden by Leonardo himself. These special codes, these numbers, these things. He knew everything about the secret societies at the time. It's also the mystical aspect of Leonardo, because through his art there's magic, you know. Something incredible came out from his hands. We interpreted the art of Leonardo as kind of a portal to another dimension in some way.

Tobbe: During the interviews we did last year and the year before that, you both told me that you were never gonna play the old songs again. What will you do now?

Fabio: Oh, that's a good question. I mean, of course we have to play some old stuff, because we have a new record of, let's say, one hour, so if the band needs to play two hours, in this moment we are forced to play old songs. I think we have many songs in our records that can fit somehow with this new style. But for sure, a lot of songs we will never play on stage again.

(Luca:) Yes, of course, the ones that are not really related. I was surprised, honestly, now when Fabio says this, just how many songs that could honestly fit with songs like Phoenix Rising and Zero Gravity. Take a song even from the second album Symphony Of Enchanted Lands [1998]: Riding The Winds Of Eternity was already progressive at the time.

Tobbe: It would also be hard to play the entire new album live.

Luca: Yes, that's not possible. There's kind of a rule, that we told the manager, that there's always, like, 3-4 songs that you have to play, depending on the set. On a 90-minute set, maximum 5 songs from the new album, and the rest have to be a percentage of very old songs, and then the ones in the middle of the discography.

Tobbe: We have Rhapsody, Rhapsody Of Fire, Luca Turilli's Rhapsody and now Turilli/Lione Rhapsody. Can you do anything else to complicate this even more?

Luca: About Luca Turilli's I already did something positive: Luca Turilli's Rhapsody doesn't exist. But this new one could be the definitive one, because we didn't want to do that, as we told you before. So this is the last thing possible under the name Rhapsody, you know.

And this is a new band, so that makes it less confusing, in the sense that everybody now will know clearly that changing subject, changing image, changing concept, changing logo will be the difference. Before, my logo was modernized, but now it's another thing; another imagery, another graphic concept. So everything is different. From the artwork you understand the difference immediately. So now it will be very clear and not confusing like in the past.

Tobbe: Have you listened to Alex's [Staropoli] Rhapsody Of Fire record [The Eighth Mountain] that came out in February?

Fabio: Two songs. (Luca:) I haven't listened to that style in 10 years. I listened to just one song because I wanted to know what they had done. I was curious, you know.

Tobbe: Both bands use the name Rhapsody still, but you guys have the original singer and is that what actually counts the most?

Fabio: Maybe yes, but I think it's just a matter of time probably before the fans will realize that we play different music. We are two really different bands. We have the same word, Rhapsody. We use that word, but we are completely different now. And it's weird that in one of the bands there is the original guitar player, founder, composer, singer and in the other band there is only the original keyboard player and the band that is trying to do something new is the first of them. This is, in my opinion, a funny thing. It would be more logical if it was the opposite.

(Luca:) With that being said, we wish them all the best. There's no competition. There were some fans that were trying, you know… Like the soccer teams, you know. But they will understand very soon. I think in a few years nobody will even ask us anymore about Rhapsody Of Fire.

Tobbe: Could you do a one-off gig with Alex or is that door forever closed?

Fabio: It would not make sense. But no, for many reasons. His taste is completely different from our taste today. His vision in music, what he likes… I don't have any contact with him…

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