Tuesday, May 15, 2012

An interview to Colapesce's Lorenzo Urciullo - English translation and Italian audio

Dear readers, having restarted to post on this blog, I am trying to take a few steps back and recover for this blog some interviews I've done in the past few months for our show on Radio Onde Furlane, "UP!". Colapesce is Lorenzo Urciullo's baby. We can consider this a spin off his other band, Albanopower. You'd wish every spin-off were like this! In late January they released their first LP, "Un Meraviglioso Declino", now they're touring all over our beloved "boot"... I started by asking if he considered this a solo project or a group thing.
LU: In truth I write and arrange all the tracks by myself but I collaborate with some old mates... The bass and drums players have been the same for fifteen years! Ever since Albanopower, and even before that, Dodi and Beppe Sindona have been friends, our collaboration has continued for several year, both as Albanopower and as Colapesce. We have a small recording studio, where we produced the first ep, the album was co-produced by Giacomo Fiorenza instead, in a way he was an artistic producer for us.
UKN: How were these songs born? Some are very simple and graceful, others like "Bogotà" make you wonder, especially its refrain and what it wants to convey as a message. These songs are like summer sketches but can also lead you to deep reflections, what do you think?
LU: Yea, there's definitely "heat" in my lyrics, the Sicilian origins are there in my accent and in the songwriting too I guess, I've also read a lot of Sicilian authors in the last few year, Gesualdo Bufalino, Pirandello, I also re-read some of Verga's works and so on. "Bogotà" is the only song that's entirely auto-biographical, it's dedicated to my brother who's living in Bogotà [capital of Colombia, Ed.], I haven't seen him for a couple of years now, so these are my most intimate lyrics on the record, as for the rest I write simple lyrics, I don't like to use too many quotations, for example on "Sottotitoli", the song with Sara Mazo from Scisma, the lyrics were initially to be based on movie titles but then I thought otherwise since I prefer to reach the listener in a different way, I prefer Pasolini to Calvino in that respect, I tend to put a "veil" on some elements in the lyrics.
UKN: Did you say "Pasolini"? Sorry there was a gap in the communication.
LU: Yes, Pasolini to name one, there are quotations from Ariosto, Pirandello but also Smog, Yo La Tengo, so foreign things too... I tend not to let this show though...
During production I used some 50's instrumentation to record, maybe this is a little extreme today.
UKN: So you used something "vintage" to record...
LU: Yes, even though this term is hackneyed nowadays, but certain sounds can be reproduced only with some kinds of machines, I don't know, like the sound of a 50's Guild, you can "digitize" that but you won't be able to reproduce it if you don't use that [kind of machines], or with the drums, Ludwig drums sound in a certain way... Anyway we made very precise choices during production.
UKN: The record is being released on Jan. 27th...
LU: In vinyl format too... I want to pinpoint that...
UKN: Really, vinyl too? At the moment I'm in a room and I'm surrounded by vinyls since I'm getting ready for a record fair that will take place this weekend in the city of Pordenone, it is one of the most important in Italy at the moment, so that of course pleases me, maybe I'll find it there, you never know! The mysteries of Italian distribution, sometimes you can find very unexpected things... So how can people buy your record?
LU: CD's and vinyls are distributed by Audioglobe but you can buy it through our website, with no shipping costs. CD is 10 euros, vinyl 15 euros, vinyl comes in a gatefold sleeve, so it's old style... Moreover if you buy the record you'll get a gift, 9 covers recorded in our studio in Siracusa... From Blonde Redhead to My Bloody Valentine but also some Italian things like Enzo Carella, Antonello Venditti. We had fun changing these classics radically.
UKN: So there will be an extra CD  included?
LU: No, when you purchase the record you get the chance to download another one, a covers record, it's a giveaway for those that buy the record online.

UKN: I guess you're going on tour to support the record.
LU: We'll leave in March from Sicily, there'll be a presentation at the Noto theater, a very nice theater near Siracusa, the DNA agency from Rome is organizing this tour. We'll play 20 dates between March and April, then there will be a break and then we'll start again. We'll play all over Italy, Milan, Bologna, Rome,
Florence, Perugia and so on.

UKN: Will you play around here (in Friuli, Veneto)?
LU: I have no idea, don't know all the dates yet. But you can check our facebook profile or our tumblr
[Here's an update about Colapesce's gigs:
17 Maggio Sensum, Lamezia Terme
19 Maggio Auditorium Parco Della Musica, Roma Special Guest: Mauro Ermanno Giovanardi 
13 Giugno Vicolo Bolognetti, Bologna
15 Giugno La Darsena, Castiglion Del Lago (Pg)
16 Giugno Vinile 45, Brescia]
UKN: Yes, I was checking that [their Tumblr, Ed.] and I love the pictures and everything, I need to repeat the word "vintage" again now I'm sorry haha! I love seventies pictures too, I can see a certain symbolism... You're a little bit revisionists in that respect! Take that as a compliment!
LU: Yes of course, well the lyrics, if you had a chance to take a listen to them, are very "contemporary", they are modern and talk about real life.
UKN: Real life situations that all of us had to go through, sooner or later. The listener can definitely empathize with that, it really struck me in that sense. The first time I listened to it I was waiting to take a flight coming back from the States, I was in this airport, a surreal situation, listening to this advance copy... And your music is very sophisticated. Another question I have to ask you... Some Italian bands managed to go abroad, play dates and have a little success, like Verdena; Alberto [guitar player, lead vocals from Verdena, Ed.] told me they have a following in Germany. What is your strategy, will you try and play abroad or will you just stay in the Italian area?
LU: Well, at the moment, being from Siracusa, it's more likely we tour Morocco than Germany, considering the distance (laughs). But we'll try... With the Albanopower band we had already had contacts abroad, it's my dream to bring our "Italian" music to foreign countries, but we'll do it "step by step".
UKN: Is the Albanopower project on standby at the moment? 
LU: Yes, only on standby to give room to the Colapesce project, but then again it's always me keeping the show going. Also I don't want to risk confusion between the two things. One thing at the time!
UKN: One last question. When they sent me your music and I read the name of this project I was wondering what kind of music you were playing, since the name could have referred to, I don't know, post-rock for example...
LU: The name comes from an old Sicilian legend, started around 1400-1500 AD, that talks about this guy, Nicola Pesce, who's half man and half fish, who was able to remain in the depths of the sea for several days at a time. To cut a long story short (laughs), he noticed that the legendary Messina's pilaster (in old times they used to think that Sicily "stood" on three columns and one was right there below Messina) was about to collapse, worn out by the valley of the Etna volcano, so he replaced the column, saving Sicily from collapsing in the sea. This legend has some Greek origins, they think that Colapesce was the sirens' father. So the name wasn't picked by chance like Albanopower but it's tied to our land, to our tradition. There are many nice versions to this story, one of them is [Italo] Calvino's one.
UKN: Yes, I recently heard about Calvino's version... Of course when you hear about this tale the name takes on a whole new imagery...
LU: Are you  an "isolano" [meaning a dweller of an island in Italian, NdR?]
UKN: No, I'm from Friuli.
LU: Ah, your accent reminds me of Sardinia, maybe I'm the only one telling you this!
UKN: I have a bad cold these days, by the way...
LU: I'm a "Terrone D.O.C."! [derogatory but also tongue-in-cheek term for a Southern Italian, NdR]
UKN: It's likely that my family's origins are from Sicily too, I don't know but I checked there might be many D'Andreas in your area !
LU: Yes, there are some! Maybe you're a "terrone" too and didn't know that!
UKN: Do you want to add anything for our listeners/readers?
LU: Listen to the record, download it, burn it on a CD, I don't really care much about the format or the purchase, it'd be pathetic to ask people to buy the CD (or the vinyl) nowadays. It's a year's work, it's sincere and I think it says some things that can make you wonder.
UKN: If you want people to buy the record you should push them to buy the vinyl version, it might be worth some money in 5-years time! Maybe 200 euros if you don't reissue it anymore!
LU: By the way the first issue is very limited and it's very expensive to print the gatefold sleeves! We do it for the sake of it, design is nice, it's worth having it anyway even though the content might suck to you! (laughs) It's always a nice picture to hang on your wall!
UKN: No, it's a very good record actually and I give you my compliments! Shake a leg! We can talk in a few months again and maybe you can tell us how the tour is going...
LU: With pleasure!


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