I recently had the great pleasure of submitting a few questions to the guitarist of one of Italyís real Power Metal bands, Raising Fear. Yorick honoured me with some interesting responses and reflections on the bandís new album, Mythos, which you should check out if you still appreciate that epic feeling...
Hi, guys. Letís talk about your new and first album, ĎMythosí, which has just recently been released. How well has it fared so far? What are your expectations for this album and do you already have an idea as to the way in which it will be received, based on the success of your demo?
Yorick: We havenít had yet a report from our label, but we are very happy about it so far. We got a quite good overall response, so we cannot be disappointed about the work done. Well, as for expectations, we usually tend to have none. The fact is, if you donít have expectations, you wonít be deluded. Yet of course, weíre human, and each of us hopes our work can be really well received by the metalheads all around the world-our demo did very well, and we think we have produced a worthy successor to it, itís less rough, more epic, but sometimes itís not the way you do things that rewards you, but the way people perceive it- The only thing we really hope is that this album may give us the chance to play a lot around Europe. We want to meet as many people as we can, and spread the word of Raising Fear as widely as we can.
Mythos is an interesting collection of songs about various mythological entities from around the world, similar to the concept used by Iced Earth when they decided to bring all the creatures of the underworld together on their album ĎHorror Showí. What inspired you to choose legend as the topic for your very first album?
Yorick: I personally love myths very much. I was a researcher some time ago, and the love for the past, and ancient civilizations is still very intense. On the other hand, I must admit that almost all of us are very fond of this matter, so we decided to walk this path as for the subject for our album. I usually read a lot, so anything that came from my readings has been filtered and put on Mythos. Itís a sort of gallery in a museum- and this was our original idea. Not exactly a concept, but rather a series of musical sketches depicting some mythological characters. And thatís what we also tried to do with the cover: depicting a sort of gallery of ancient artefacts and works of art, which tell the audience their stories.
Are there any mythological figures that did not make it onto the final version of the album, but that you had originally intended to include on Mythos?
Yorick: Well we had a set of figures we wanted to use. During the music writing process we would choose the characters according to what the music was telling us. So some of the figures had to be left out. We had Heracles, Odin, some other Aztec gods- but the music to us inspired the one we actually chose in the end.
What does Raising Fear mean to you - is it a way of life for the members of the band? I assume you have other jobs to keep the pennies rolling in?
Yorick: Youíre right. In some way, it is indeed a way of life. I mean, we all have other jobs and families, but instead of watching TV at night, or taking a nap at the weekends, we study our instruments, we write new songs- or research new material to tell stories about. Ití s also difficult for our wives or fiancťs, because itís not a very cosy way of life. Travelling for concerts, being alone at nights when we rehearse- Nevertheless, I think itís the only way we can live, we love our music, itís what makes us 'alive'- and regardless of our other jobs, I think weíll never give up music. You know, when you are on the stage and people sing along to your own songs- well, thatís the energy, the surge inside you that nothing on earth can recreate. So there is no sacrifice that can stop us from leading this way of life-
Why did you choose to play Power Metal? Do you think that there is still a place on the music metal scene for the 80s American Power Metal you choose to espouse? The reason I ask is because the most popular Ďbranchí at the moment is the more German- sounding style, some elements of which are obvious in your songs, such as 'Fenrir'.
Yorick: We actually didnít choose. We started playing together, and thatís what came out- Raising Fear. A mix of our influences is the recipe for our music. I donít know if there is a place for us in the metal world, we are trying hard to do things the right way, with professionalism, I think itís the fans that in the end will decide. I have lived in the US, so I guess some of the American feeling comes from that- but other than that- itís been just a natural process.
Do you intend to continue using the same mix of American and German PM styles in the future or have you thought of experimenting with any other sounds/instruments at all?
Yorick: As far as things like these can be planned we want our next album to be harder and heavier, and possibly faster. But as I was saying earlier, I think weíll just follow our inspiration, and just try to give it a heavier and harder twist.
How did you get together as a band and how long has each of the bandís members been involved with the music business?
Yorick: It all started in 2000. I still was in the USA teaching at University, but I was planning to come back. Alberto and Cristian were looking, at the time, for new musicians to start a new band, because their former project was over. So as soon as we met and shared some of our ideas, we thought we were just perfect. So in 2001 Raising Fear was founded. It took more than a year however to have a complete line up with Frana and Rob. As for our past before Raising Fear, Alberto and Cristian played in a very important underground band called War Trains; Rob released an album with Deadline for Underground Symphony, and I released two albums with Helreidh plus I recorded some material with Gary from Shadow Gallery for a project I want to complete by next year.
How easy is it to start playing music in Italy and have you encountered any difficulties over the past when you were trying to achieve the required funding/ support for your first live performances?
Yorick: Itís not easy at all, as far as you want to be professional in what you do. There are very few spaces for this kind of music, especially in Italy, and the number of bands is increasing day by day. This in some way is good because there is a lot of music around, however, the metal fans donít change in number so itís more and more difficult succeeding in finding support, and being particularly original.
Who are your Heavy Metal/other musical heroes and are there any new bands that you respect on the metal scene?
Yorick: I can speak for myself in this case, because we have all different influences and backgrounds. I come from a prog metal scene on one hand and on the other from an intense 80s metal experience. I was a kid at that time, and I wanted to have on vinyl every album released at the time. So I range from Symphony X, Marillion, Arena to Iron Maiden, Metal Church, and Exodus. My favourite band is Savatage, I love them and I love Trans Siberian Orchestra too, which I was lucky to see live when I was in the USA. As for respect I tend to have it for all musicians, itís a hard job, and whoever manages to release an album is worthy of great respect, because I know what it takes.
Regarding the recording of the album, how did you approach this rather complicated task - where all members of the band in the same place at the same time, or did you end up having to email bits and pieces of the various tracks to each other before they could all come together, as so many contemporary bands have to do?
Yorick: We are very lucky. We live almost all very close to each other, and very close to the studio as well. So we were there almost all the time, even if recording in solo sessions. That was my fourth time in the studio, and each time you learn something new- which is quite great and stimulating. When we write songs however, we usually share material on the Internet, because sometimes itís just easier like this.
You recorded and mixed Mythos at New Sin Studios. How satisfied are you with the sound on the final product? Would you use the same studios for any future releases?
Yorick: I really like the result we got for Mythos. Of course, every time you finish recording there is always something you would have changed. Weíve actually reserved the studio for December for the new album so weíre quite confident the studio is going to give us a great sound again. I think weíll work more on guitar sounds, next time I would love to have a more personal and aggressive approach to it, but thatís the only thing weíre going to change- for now.
As far as I have gathered, the album cover, designed by Diego Ferrarin (White Skull), brings together some of the Ďcharactersí featured on your album. In many ways it reminds me of the He-Man animated series, both in terms of the colour palette and style of drawing. Do you think the finished artwork conveys the general feeling you wish to present through your music?
Yorick: Tricky question actually, which deserves a proper answer. We think that the tract and the colour palette in some way might not well fit the style of the album. There is evidently something wrong, even if we thought it was perfect at first, but after having received several critiques to it- we in some way have cleared our minds. However, I must say that the details and accuracy in depicting all of the artefacts we wanted to have in the artwork are appreciable. I think itís not that bad, and that in the end a book shouldnít be judged by its cover-
How did your signing with Dragonheart records come about? Do you see this as a productive relationship?
Yorick: Last year we had our 'Promo 2003' out - it was meant as a means to start spreading our music as widely as possible. It happened that the response was so good, that we thought we could take our chances and send it to labels and see what could happen. And it happened. Actually we had some other labels interested, but we chose Dragonheart in the end. I must say that itís a very good and productive relationship, they are very professional indeed and the promotion for Mythos has been great so far.
The name Raising Fear presumably stems from the same-titled Armored Saint album. How do you feel about John Bushís rumoured departure from Anthrax and the fact that he will, presumably, be concentrating all his efforts on Armored Saint as a result?
Yorick: Itís correct. The name is more an homage paid to Dave Prichard rather than all the band Armored Saint, of which we are all great fans. I think he was a great guitarist, with a great style and he was able to make metal different. I donít want to say that he was all Armored Saint, but I think that like all great guitarists (Rhandy Roads, Petrucci, Kai Hansen, Smolski, etc-) he was able to give the band in which a unique personality. As for Anthrax vs Armored Saint, I have always loved Athrax with Belladonna, and the line up without Dan Spitz and him I really wasnít able to figure as 'Anthrax'- if you see what I mean. I know that bands split, change musicians in their lifetime, but I was so fond of Among the Living that I think they lost something with Bush. While I am also curious to see what the new Armored Saint will be like-
Who is the main lyricist for Raising Fear? Do you have any particular historical interests that you may wish to cover in your lyrics on any of your future recordings?
Yorick: I do write lyrics. Itís been a natural choice, even if the others support me with ideas and comments on my work, which is always good. Collaboration first of all!. I was a researcher in Medieval studies in the USA so I have a literary background, and I always write about what I read. I am very fond of Ancient civilizations, so Mythos somehow was a natural expression of this.
On the next albums, we are trying to be more structured and possibly complex, writing a story around a character, and still touching in some way on ancient literature and history- but itís still too early, we are just writing a draft for now.
Iím sure that you will have won fans with Mythos - where can they expect to see you in the near future - perhaps at one of the Ďmillionsí of German summer festivals?
Yorick: I hope we have won a lot- we still caní reckon on this. We are trying to see if there is any chance for us to hit one of those festivals. There are a lot in Germany, there are also some in Belgium, Holland and UK. As for now, we are booked for some in Italy, and hopefully there will be more- we are available to go anywhere, actually, because we think playing live is our natural dimension. So letís just spread the word-
Who do you see as your typical fan? Any particular age-group or demographic? Do you prefer to appeal to a certain type of fan-base or do you wish to reach a wide variety of people with your music?
Yorick: Hmmmm good question. I think we look at metal fans as a unique entity. We are trying to play Heavy Metal, with no labels or genre definition attached to it, so we hope that any one that likes music for its energy and for the adrenaline surge it may give would enjoy our work.
How do you feel about the recent craze for releasing epics films, such as Troy, Gladiator, Alexander, to name but a few? Do you think that there is room for epos in everyoneís life?
Yorick: I think that like in every period of history people need stories. Cinema is our way to hear stories, like in the past there were jesters or the great oral poets like Homer. I havenít seen any of the movies you mention. I just saw the previews for King Arthur and I thought it was very bad-. There was a feel of comic heroes rather than of historical movie- and I didnít like it.
What are your plans for the near and distant future for Raising Fear? Do you intend to start composing new songs for a subsequent release fairly soon or will you be taking your time over it?
Yorick: We have actually already started, we have already a good set of new material and we are working on it, when we are not out for live shows. I think that the new album will be out next year some time- donít know yet when exactly.
Please give us a message to convey to existing fans and to those people who have not heard any of Raising Fearís releases to date?
Yorick: Stay Heavy! And get a copy of Mythos, you wonít be deluded!
Interview © 2005 Emily Dgebuadze