THREE ITALIANS AND A JEW: THE FLESHGOD APOCALYPSE INTERVIEW
Italy’s Fleshgod Apocalypse are the current winners of the Band I Had No Idea Was So Popular Award. Every time they sneeze, we get a cavalcade of e-mails about it. And when they played as part of the MetalSucks-sponsored Summer Slaughter tour (remaining dates here) in New York last week, the venue was packed when they went on despite the fact that it was 3:30 in the afternoon on a Thursday and they were only the second band on the bill — and the crowd knew every song. I was, frankly, shocked.
But pleasantly so! Fleshgod Apocalypse are fucking great, and they deserve all of the success they’ve been experiencing as of late. I suspect that their new full-length, Agony (out now on Nuclear Blast), is going to wind up on a lot of year-end lists, and their live show absolutely does not disappoint. These dudes are the real deal.
So I was stoked to get to speak with guitarist/vocalist Tommaso Riccardi, guitarist/vocalist Cristiano Trionfera, and drummer Francesco Paoli a couple of hours after their Summer Slaughter set. After the jump, check out our chat about touring the U.S., breaking out of the Italian metal scene, the differences between American crowds and European crowds, their upcoming MetalSucks-sponsored tour with Decapitated, Decrepit Birth, The HAARP Machine, and Rings of Saturn, and more.
I’m sorry I’m so poorly researched… is this your first US tour?
Francesco: No, it’s our second one. We played with Suffocation, Through the Eyes of the Dead, and Decrepit Birth in October, and now we’re back with Summer Slaughter. We’ll be back in October with Decapitated, Decrepit Birth, The HAARP Machine, and Rings of Saturn.
That tour I know about because we’re sponsoring it! So how’s this tour been going?
Cristiano: Very good. So far it’s very, very good. It’s hard. Summer Slaughter is stressful because summer is hot and there are long drives [from show to show]. But it’s very good. [America has] got beautiful places and beautiful venues and big crowds. It’s very good.
How have the crowds been responding? It seemed like a pretty intense turnout today…
Tommaso: Yeah. We’re having a big response; I would say more than expected. Every day there are more people coming out earlier to see Fleshgod Apocalypse. It’s great, it’s great. It’s a great response.
And your album just came out, and the response to that seems very positive…
Francesco: Absolutely. We’re super happy about that. The fans are supporting us even if though we made big changes on the new album. We’ve moved on and pushed ourselves to the limit. We are getting feedback that was definitely never expected.
You guys formed in 2007… it seems like your ascent was very fast.
Cristiano: [nodding] We’re working really hard with this band. Last year was really crazy because we were very busy. It’s always good when it’s like that.
Francesco: We try to play as much as we can. We play a lot of shows every year. Many people come to the shows to see us and some people like us and some people are just getting to know us for the first time. So things are moving fast because we’re playing a lot.
Was it hard to branch out from Italy or from Europe?
Tommaso: It always is. Being here isn’t easy. Not often do you see Italian bands around. We are really proud about it.
And the other Italian band that’s really big right now isn’t as heavy as you guys…
Tommaso: Yeah, yeah.
What’s the Italian metal scene like in general?
Tommaso: I would say that it’s growing. There are good bands in the extreme scene that are coming out. The only thing is that the shows are not so good. We find it a little bit harder to play in Italy. This is why we didn’t start from out country. We started touring outside the country.
Tommaso: From the beginning. Yeah, we played more outside than into the country. That’s a matter of promotion and everything. There isn’t a big culture of shows [in Italy].
Francesco: It’s not that we don’t want to play there.
Tommaso: Yeah, exactly.
Francesco: It’s that it’s hard to find good venues and places to play. The last few years have been better. It’s getting better, but it takes time.
Is there a big difference that you see between American crowds and European crowds?
Francesco: Yeah, it’s VERY different. American crowd are crazy, and the European crowds are a bit harder to convince. It takes much more time for them to like the show. They have to be used to the band in order to like the show for real. If they come for the first show, they’ll give you a chance. If they’ve already seen you two or three times, they’ll enjoy the show. They need to have some kind of feel for the band.
Cristiano: I would say that the European crowds are more meditative. The American crowds want to have fun. You give them a show and they love it!
Tommaso: Here they are maybe more open-minded to the new stuff. It’s easier. If you do well here, if the show is good, the people are like, “Okay, next time you come out we’ll support you.” It takes more time in Europe.
Francesco: They want you to play for a longer time. Maybe it’s because we’re an opening band most of the time that they’re not already drunk. [laughs] It’s a matter of set times. If you’re the first, it’s pretty hard because they just had two or three beers. If you’re in the middle of the set, it’s okay. If you’re the third or fourth band, they’ll enjoy it for sure.
I would think that Europeans start drinking earlier in the day… it seems like you guys can always drink Americans under the table. But moving on… how did you find doing your music video?
ALL: Funny, great.
Most bands say they hate doing videos… doing the same thing over and over and over…
Francesco: It’s hard, but it’s fun.
Tommaso: If you get into what you’re doing, you enjoy what you see after. You try to imagine how the video is going to come out while you’re doing the video. When you see it, you’re like, “Yeah, that’s cool.”
Cristiano: It’s part of the job. You’re used to playing and hearing what you’re playing. When you shoot a video, you’re not really playing.
Tommaso: We found out how to play without playing.
Francesco: It’s harder.
Tommaso: It’s harder than playing for real. Playback is terrible.
Cristiano: You get used to it.
So to come back to this big fall your you’re doing with Decapitated… What’s going to be different from this tour to that tour?
Francesco: We will have more time to play so the set list will be longer. We’ll be playing a few new songs from last album. It’ll be much more comfortable. This time we didn’t have our engineer, and we’re always in a rush… the changeovers [between bands] are very fast.
Tommaso: It normally takes time to set everything up. With Summer Slaughter, you feel like you’re in a war.
And we’re happy to be coming back with other European bands. We’re good friends with Vogg from Decapitated.
Francesco: We played with him when he was in Vader.
It didn’t even occur to me until just now that you’re the only European band on Summer Slaughter…
Tommaso: Yeah. Last time we were here, it was the same.
Francesco: But a lot of Americans appreciate that we come overseas to play the shows here. We want to play everywhere. We’re going to go through South Africa next year, Australia, Indonesia. Maybe we’ll go to Mexico and do some South American shows. We’re trying to cover the whole world and spread Fleshgod Apocalypse’s music as much as we can.
Get dates for the MetalSucks-presented 2011 Carnival is Forever North American tour with Decapitated, Decrepit Birth, Fleshgod Apocalypse, Rings of Saturn, and The HAARP Machine here.