Wednesday, May 16, 2012

.... DOCTOR CYCLOPS : “Borgofondo” review + interview with Christian Draghi

DOCTOR CYCLOPS is a three piece from Italy, consisting of Christian Draghi - guitar and vocals, Francesco Filippini - bass and Alessandro Dallera - drums. Their debut album “Borgofondo” which has just been released via the German label WORLD OF SOUND, came as a surprise to me and what a nice surprise!
The album is a collection of songs that carries the 70s vibe but the band has a pretty eclectic list of influences so don’t expect it to be a simple nostalgia trip. You’ll find yourselves on an incredibly evocative and a bit mystical journey with music you can easily grow to love. The warmth of Christian’s vocals adds a lot to the obscure overall feeling of the album, the guitar work is a pure delight to the ears and I absolutely love the fat groove of Francesco’s bass and the pounding beats of Alessandro’s drums. Most definitely my favourite track is “Giants of the Mountain”. It’s a very interesting piece featuring the amazing Alia O'Brien on flute, Alberto Greguoldo on saxophone and Alberto Pena Zaldivar on trumpet. Sax and trumpet make the track’s end quite unexpected but very very cool. I can hear the band jamming more on this part with a bigger brass section, oh yeah that would be even cooler! The rest of the tunes are just as enjoyable but yours truly is not good at portraying emotions so you better hear them for yourselves. I also can’t be a very reliable source production wise but all instruments and vocals in “Borgofondo” sound very balanced. There’s one thing I don’t like on this album : some rather annoying bubbling and squeezing effects on some of the tracks. But that’s just me and my headphones I guess.
The stunning album artwork of “Borgofondo” is by Luigi Filippini and the album is available on CD and vinyl. I think for now it can be purchased only from European distributors (and maybe Amazon) but you can find more full information on the band’s website (links after the interview). There you can listen to a three tracks promo as well.

Now, I hope you’ll enjoy the interview with Christian.

As a beginning - please introduce the band and the members and if you could tell me something about DOCTOR CYCLOPS that can’t be found in your official bio.
The band is composed by Christian Draghi, guitar and vocals, Francesco Filippini on bass and Alessandro Dallera on drums. DOCTOR CYCLOPS was started in late 2007 by the two current members and childhood friends Christian and Francesco, with a different drummer, as Alessandro joined in 2010. We began to play live in early 2009, after more than one year spent in the rehearsal room in order to make our own repertoire. We are currently trying to become our favourite band!

You should really enjoy and love what you do to make others believe you and love it too! How did you come up with the name? It’s taken from an old horror movie, right?
Not really. The band name came up during a phone call between me and the bassist, Francesco. We where looking for a name and we both agreed that “Cyclops” had the right meaning and a good sound. At the time Francesco was taking his degree, so it came up that also the Cyclop could be called “doctor”… some like a joke, but that’s how it went: DOCTOR CYCLOPS. We found out about the movie later, as we googled it to see if there was already any other band with that name!

That’s interesting; in what sense “Cyclops” has the right meaning?
In the sense that the Cyclops is a mythological figure, recalling loneliness and magnificence at the same time. Moreover he sees things with just one eye, so metaphorically speaking, with a clearer point of view…

I’m also curious to know what does “Borgofondo” mean?
Borgofondo is an Italian word which cannot be exactly translated… let’s say it may sound like “Deepvillage”. It’s an evocative word, reminding a place (a village) deep into your soul.

You are releasing your debut album via WORLD IN SOUND. How did they find you?
Through a common friend, Jens Heide who runs Vortex Club in Siegen, Germany. He had us playing there and we are good friends, so when we decided to record the lp he put us in touch with WORLD IN SOUND. The label liked our music and we decided to release together… now we have a contract including the second album too.

Do you think that the path to any success goes through knowing the right people at the right moment? By the right people I mean those who wouldn’t think twice whether to help or not just for the passion, be it music or something else. I know for sure that world of underground music has lots of these people…..
The underground world’s made by a lot of good people, doing things just because of passion. Of course it let musicians great freedom to express themselves and the music they like… but to consider it as a sort of paradise on earth that would be a bit naive. Even in the underground scene you can find people moving because of personal interests and politics. Especially people handling things around big festivals and bigger labels and booking agencies. They surely don’t help people just because of their music! I mean, in the underground you can build your own career with your strength and blood only, but without one of these people’s help, you’ll never reach the “top” of the scene. That’s how I see it.

Well, I don’t and I doubt someone considers it a paradise on earth. But everything depends on what your priorities are and what compromises you’re ready to make. Alia O'Brien from BLOOD CEREMONY and her flute are guests on “Giants of the Mountain”. Was it hard to convince her to do it?
Not at all. We met in Paris last year as we opened the act for their show. We knew better in the backstage and they really liked our music, so we simply asked her if she would have liked to put on her flute on a song of the album. She said “yes” and we are really proud of this, as we are good BLOOD CEREMONY’s fan! They are really nice and easy going guys.

That same track has some jazzy/ funky sounding with brass section that, along with the flute, is giving it very nice and quite interesting twang. How did you come with the idea to include all these instruments?
Well, we thought to use that song as the masterpiece of the album, and so to include some experiments too, with flute, percussions and so on. We just wanted to try something different on that number, something which could sound bizarre and wrongfooting. We tried to add a brass section because this song is a really theatrical one for us. Brass on the fading section really fitted our musical intent.

A birdie told me you’re already working hard on the second album. I won’t ask for details as you may not want to share too much on this stage but are you keeping the music direction you’ve taken with “Borgofondo”? Guess you’re more confident in writing music now and you don’t seem to be afraid to experiment……
I think that the second album will continue going deeper in the speech that “Borgofondo” started… Maybe it will be a little more doomy, and it will have less and longer songs, but definitely it won’t be a really different album. If you like “Borgofondo”, you won’t be disappointed: we’ll introduce to you a lot of new freaky characters with that.

What do you want people to find in your music? What do you want to tell them?
We want them to find the key to another world, a world made by strong emotions and gloomy paths. Musically speaking we want to communicate ourselves, as we couldn’t do anything else I guess... We don’t use complicated studio tricks, we are a trio and we just play like that. About what we want to tell…Any song tells a story, it’s like a painting made with words. So, you just have to find out by yourself what’s the meaning. We know the one we wanted to give, but anyone can find his own.

There’s a big revival of the 70s sound at the moment. What you think makes you different from other 70s inspired bands?
I never thought about us as a revival band… we didn’t decide to sound vintage, we just played that way since the beginning and that’s all. We put in our music a lot of influences, not just from the seventies hard heavy rock scene, but also some from progressive or American rock too. I think we mixed it in an “original” way, in the sense that we don’t sound exactly like any other band than ourselves. You can find a taste of Sabbath, or Led Zeppelin, or Deep Purple, but it’s never just like that.

That was a provocative question, just a little bit. You mentioned communicating honestly with the listener, is there more honest period in music than the 70s and before that of course… When was the moment when you said “music is what I want to do”? Do you sometimes have doubts?
70s have been a period of great freedom for music. It seemed that everybody could do anything they liked. This gave us a lot of music, some was really good, some less, but anyway great sorts of inspiration you can now rely on. As for me, I never said “music is what I want to do”. It simply happened that music became the only thing making me feel really alive, and giving me strength and motivation to move on day by day. Music is emotion, is like love. And of course it’s always a big risk to base your own life on emotions and “not concrete” things… tomorrow I could wake up and find out that my love has gone, or that it is not like it was the day before…This is the same for all of us in the band I guess, even though this is more a personal question. Of course there are doubts, but now I’m in love, so I cannot do anything but love. If you understand what I mean.

What kind of people attend your madness show, what is your revolution and where the unquiet garden is? What are you lyrics about?
Eh eh… freaks are our ideal audience! Our lyrics are about a lot of things. There are more intimate songs such as “My Revolution” (which is a black-love song) or “Night Flyer”, or “The Unquiet Garden” itself (which is inside of us, the place where people who lost their dreams live)… but also songs telling stories about some characters. “Madness Show” that you quoted tries to guess what could Jesus Christ do if he should born again now, for example. “Giants of the Mountain” is directly inspired by Pirandello’s drama, about the relationship between Art, artist and his audience. “Eileen O’Flaherty” was born in Ireland, while contemplating one of those beautiful graves they have on the Aran Islands. Any song is a story, different from the others…

Freaks, huh? You’re playing at FREAK VALLEY FESTIVAL this week. Excited? Is this your first festival?
This is our first big festival, yes. We played others, but smaller and more local ones. Of course we are excited!, we’ll play same stage with great international bands we used to listen to when we actually didn’t play gigs yet, such as GENTLEMAN’S PISTOLS, COLOUR HAZE or WICKED MINDS!

I’m sure you’ll fit perfect into that great company! What do you plan next? Are you going to tour to support the new album?
Yes of course, but compatibly with our job commitments, as music is not enough remunerative for us to get by with it only. Not yet, at least! We have plans about touring Austria late september, and France late October/ early November, and maybe some gigs in the UK before the year ends. This summer we’ll concentrate on the second album’s recordings.

*** review and interview by VANIA ***

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