Diabula Rasa is a very interesting folk metal band from Italy. Even if they were born many years ago, their new work “Ars MedioHeavy” is actually like the debut of the band since it’s their first “metal” work. Let’s see what Luca Veroli, founding member and leader of Diabula Rasa, has to say about his wonderful band.
- Hello Luca. It’s a honor to have this interview with you and thank you in advance for your time. Would you like to introduce your band to our readers? How would you describe your music?
Hello. First of all, the honor is ours and thank you for your interest in our music. “Ars MedioHeavy” is an attempt to give a definition of our music. In my opinion, there is not a genre which exactly defines this kind of experimentation on Early Music and it is wrong to catalog everything as “folk metal”.
- Before speaking about your new masterpiece, let’s take things from the start. I read that you have studied ancient and medieval music and learned to play traditional instruments. Would you like to give us some details about your interest and research? When did you begin? How and when did you decide to combine metal with traditional music?
The beginning of our journey is original and unusual. We started playing together in occasion of many Medieval Festivals. We worked hard for years in order to make the audience enjoy musical re-enactments, by reconstructing ancient costumes, musical instruments and performing songs taken from ancient medieval manuscripts. In short, we began as philologists and bookworms! Despite all this, we noticed that the audience was not interested in Early Music and we tried to understand why. The answer is easy: we live in the XXIst century and we do not hear the same sounds of our ancestors. Actually, we do not hear anymore, because our life is daily bombarded with background noises as traffic, TV, phones, planes, trains, etc. Nowadays everything is very different from the past. The sounds of nature and countryside were all that you could hear in the Middle Ages and when an ancient man or woman listened to a bagpipe or a drum, they felt very strong and deep emotions. For this reason, we decided to revolutionize the same old songs and bring them into our time. We deeply distorted Medieval Music. Barbarian dresses, animal’s skulls, very high volumes and fun! Even if philologists were definitely not pleased with our decision, young people, children and people of all ages are enthusiastic and glad to dance and have fun thanks to this new kind of sounds.
- Tell us a few words about the other band members? How did you find other musicians sharing the same passion with you? Is this line-up together for many years now?
From the beginning, our project has been led by Daniela Taglioni and me. We are both classical musicians and we have extensively worked in the field of Ancient Music and folk traditions. During these 13 years the group continuously evolved, changing line-up and music style. Daniela and me are the composers and we write all our songs starting from the music of old manuscripts. The original ancient songs are then arranged in a modern style. Our current line-up includes Moreno Boscherini (drums) and Stefano Clò (guitars and medieval guitars) who were both friends of us and colleagues in other musical projects and then we recently added Samantha Bevoni (bass and lead vocal) and Sonia Nardelli (guitars).
- Around 2000 you formed Tabula Rasa. Was it a full band or a personal project? Were you involved in other bands before? What made you begin this project and what were your influences and ambitions?
Tabula Rasa was born as a personal project, in order to express my necessity to communicate ancient music to young people, giving them the possibility to appreciate it. However, I have always played in many groups of Early Music as multi-instrumentalist.
- What do you remember from your first album “Techno Gothica” from 2005? How would you describe its music? Was it a solo album, or were there other musicians involved in it?
The first album was the starting point of our project. Bagpipes sounds with the addition of exciting, captivating and modern rhythms in order to make people dance.
- In 2007 you changed the band’s name to Diabula Rasa. Tell us a few words about this decision. Was it only a change of name, or a musical redirection?
2007 was the turning point for our music. We changed our music that was made of rhythm and ancient melodies ,adding voices, electric guitars, organs and keyboards, contaminating Early Music with modern instruments and metal sounds. The name Diabula Rasa comes from a track of the first album “Diabula Rasa” which is characterized by the use of triton interval composed of three adjacent whole tones. The triton interval was denied by the Church in the Middle Ages because it was considered the interval of the Devil: Diabulus in Musica.
- In 2010 you released your debut self-titled Diabula Rasa album. I think it was a metalized version of “Techno Gothica” with added lyrics. How different was this album from your current sound?
You’re right. Many tracks of “Techno Gothica” have been arranged again in “Diabula Rasa” and this was the beginning of our current sound, which has been refined in “Ars MedioHeavy”.
- You recently signed a deal with Moonlight Records to release your new album. How different are things now for Diabula Rasa? Will this cooperation continue in your next works too?
Our collaboration with Moonlight Records (now Nemeton Records) is strictly bound to the distribution of our CDs and we have absolute freedom in our musical choices.
- In 2013 “Ars MedioHeavy” was released and it was my first contact with your band. I was really impressed! What were you fans reactions about your new work? I suppose you got positive press feedback too…
Yes, the album has been a huge success. Our Italian and international reviews were great and we are pleased and proud of this result, which confirms the positive choice our artistic direction. Our fans are enthusiastic. They follow our shows enjoying not only our music, but also appreciating our medieval costumes and make-up. They are very fond of us and we want to express our gratitude for their affection.
- Tell us a few words about “Ars MedioHeavy”? What are the musical differences compared to your previous works?
“Ars Medioheavy” is the album we’ve always desired. Carlo Izzo, our producer, has done a very good job. He gave our music an heavy and powerful sound without compromising the medieval side of our project.
- Is there any concept behind the album? Your lyrics come from ancient and medieval texts.
The purpose of this and of the previous albums is to rediscover melodies and lyrics in ancient and forgotten languages, giving them a new life. You can listen to songs sung in Latin, Old French and German, Macedonian and Galician – Portuguese.
- I’ve read that you use many existing traditional melodies. Are all folk tunes in your song existing ones, or have you composed new ones too? Tell us a few words about all traditional instruments you use and how have you learned to play them?
In some cases, we reconstructed and implemented the original music with new parts written from us, trying to use a style similar to the ancient one. We use amplified or electro-acoustic ancient instruments reproductions, such as bagpipes, hurdy-gurdy, lutes, organ and harpsichord. Daniela and I have practiced the use of ancient instruments for about twenty years in many projects of Early Music. The use of this kind of instruments comes quite natural to us.
- What is the compositional process you follow? Do you compose all songs, or is it a team work? Do you read an interesting text and try to add music to it, or do you listen to a great folk melody and try to find the perfect lyrics for it?
Our music is composed and arranged by Daniela and me. First of all, we analyze an ancient track choosing a small part of a melody or the lyrics we like most. Then, we use them as a starting point adding our artistic contribution.
- How difficult is it to combine metal and acoustic instruments in such a tight result? Are you satisfied with your current sound, or do you still think there is room for improvement?
The secret to mix diverse genres is to listen to a multitude of different music. The end result is unpredictable. It’s important not to limit your creativity because of commercial music trend.
- Would you like to tell us a few words about your stage shows? I know you use traditional costumes. What should a fan of your music expect on stage from you? Do you feel more comfortable on stage or in studio?
We want to send a precise message. We want people to get rid of the paranoia and usual schemes of modern society and we ask them to liberate the barbarian who lives inside of them. You can see hundreds of young people dancing wildly, dressed and made-up like us. I recreated the barbaric look using barbaric costumes, leather armors and blue face painting, in order to evoke a barbaric fantastic age where everyone can be a warrior or a princess to be saved.
- I think most of you are involved only in Diabula Rasa. Does any one of you play in other bands too?
Diabula Rasa is our main project. However Daniela is a pianist and a very good painter (she painted the covers of ”Ars MedioHeavy”), and Stefano and Moreno play in other groups. As for me, I take care of Early Music and I also build ancient instruments.
- Are there any other bands from the recently blooming Italian folk metal scene you’d like to mention?
Even if this kind of music is not widespread in Italy, a great interest is emerging among young people. Our label collaborates also with Vallorch, Artaius, Kalevala and Folk Metal Jacket. In addition to this other famous groups in Italy are Folkstone from Bergamo who sing in Italian, Lunae Ad Plenitatem and Furor Gallico from Milan, with whom I had the honor to play the bagpipes in their last Masterpiece.
- Is there any big goal or dream you have for Diabula Rasa? What could be the ideal tour line-up in your wishes, including you of course?
Diabula Rasa gave us more than what we expected. Every little step forward is a dream come true.
- Are there any future plans? Any thoughts for a new album?
We are always at work, even if our job is not easy because it requires time and patience. We are now working on a new project which focuses on the figure of Theodoric, where history and legend are joined together… Time will tell.
- Thank you very much for your time. Wish you all the best with your band and your musical researches. Last words are yours.
We are pleased and proud that our music has aroused interest in your country, which is rich of culture and great musical traditions. We hope to have the honor to play for you one day.
Diabula Rasa @ Facebook