Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Interview: Silvia of Anthologies

Blending together healthy amounts of folk and Gothic metal, Italy's Anthologies has steadily built up a healthy following since first hitting the stage two years ago. Their debut release, the aptly named Alpha EP, has elicited favorable support from critics all across Europe and hints at great things yet to come for the band. The band's bass player, Silvia, recently took a few minutes out of her schedule to answer some questions for Harvest Moon Music's Women of Heavy Metal interview series.

[HMM] For readers who may be unfamiliar with Anthologies, would you introduce the band and describe your role?

Silvia of Anthologies
[Silvia] First of all, hi everybody! And thanks Dave for this interview, I confess I’m excited, for me this is the first!

Anthologies…uhm, let me think. If I say Anthologies, I mean decadence. We’re Italian, our sound starts from the passion for folk music and moves to the direction of Gothic and doom metal influences. In the last two years we shared the stage with big names of metal (Finntroll, Eluveitie, Alestorm) and in July we have published our first EP, named Alpha.

I’m the bass (and theremin) player, and also the tyrant! My mates gave me this nickname because I’m the manager of the band, hehehe ☺

How and when was the band formed?

The band was formed in 2008. Me and the singer Alessandro are the founders. We’re best friends since a long time, and with common interests in music. Like other bands, all started out with a beer in a pub and the typical sentence “why don’t we play together?!”

Why did the band choose the name Anthologies?

To recall something old and dusty. As we used to say, Anthologies is a photo that turned to yellow, a collection of asleep thoughts, a dusty ancient book, a suspended dream.

Your biography describes the Anthologies sound as a mixture of folk and Gothic metal.  What bands have influenced your style?

For folk, In Extremo and Skyclad certainly. For Gothic metal, Tiamat, Type O Negative, Paradise Lost, Opeth and Dark Tranquility. The key between the two genres are Moonspell, they have the perfect mix of Gothic and folk, especially in the album Wolfheart, I think.

Your debut album, Alpha, was released in July. How has the reaction to the EP been so far?

Silvia of Anthologies
Very good! We gained a lot of new fans, and compliments from other musicians that shared the stage with us. Also the reviews have been positive until now: we have received good grades from webzines, all above the 80/100. And seeing the people enjoying our music is the best reaction.

Have you had much feedback from other countries in Europe and elsewhere?

Yes, and this is the real surprise for us, it is more than we expected. We have received requests for reviews, interviews and purchasing from France, Hungary, Great Britain, Sweden and also from USA, thanks to you! It means that our music is “strong” enough to cross the ocean. It’s a big award and we’re sincerely happy about that.

How long did it take to write and record Alpha?

Not much for the record, actually. The songs were ready since a long time, but we have had some changes in the line-up that have stopped both the work of songwriting and of arrangement a few times. Then we entered the recording studio in March and finished in May, because for job commitments we only have two days a week for recording!

Is the songwriting process for Anthologies a collaborative one?  If so, what are your contributions?

Yes, it is absolutely open. Generally Fabrizio (guitar) introduces some guitar riffs and Alessandro chooses a lyric from his notebook, and amazingly, the lyric fits perfectly the music! It’s magic! But everyone can provide ideas and all of us work on the arrangement. Instead some songs are born from jams in warm-up exercises during rehearsals, spontaneously. My contribution is basically in the arrangement, or in the whole structure of songs (you can hear me screaming: “Noooo, this guitar solo is too long! It Is boring! And here we put a stop!” and similar!!)

The EP contains a cover of "Paura Del Demonio" - which I believe in English is "Fear of the Devil" - by the Italian neo-folk project Rose Rovine E Amanti.  How did Anthologies choose this song to cover?

Correct, “Paura del Demonio” is “Fear of the Devil”! We chose this song because me and Alessandro are great old fans of Rose Rovine e Amanti, and when I heard the song I simply thought: wow, it’s perfect for us! The atmosphere is close to the one we want to arouse, and Alessandro’s growl sounds good in the contrast between the chorus and quietness of the first verse. Also Damiano, the singer and the composer of Rose Rovine e Amanti, likes our version of his song. We met him some weeks ago at a concert and we could finally talk to him, he’s a great man!

I read that the band is searching to add a new member to its ranks.  What kind of musician are you looking for, and how do you expect him or her to influence the band's sound?

Ad: “We’re looking for a multi-instrumentalist!” ☺
We’d like to give our music much more folk influence further than Italian legends and folklore in lyrics. We already have a big number of ethnic instruments, but we can’t obviously change our instruments for every song, during live concerts it is very difficult. I think that a violin or winds would be optimal. The new member must have the will to grow with us, our music is young, help us make it complete!

Your gig schedule looks pretty full for the near future. Are there any big touring plans for 2013?

No big tours for the future, but who knows? At the moment we only have some gigs in Italy in pubs and concert halls, I hope in the future we can have a professional tour as opener for some great band.

Have you toured outside of Italy?

Not yet! But we’re programming a little tour in Switzerland for 2013, with local bands. Alessandro and me have some contacts there. I hope it succeeds!

Do you have a favorite song to play live?

At the moment I think “My Cards”. It has good changes of atmosphere, the bass arpeggio before the first chorus and the fast outro are funny to play.

Anthologies has opened for such bands as Eluveitie and Finntroll, which must have been very exciting. Are there any interesting stories from past gigs that you'd be willing to share?

Silvia of Anthologies
Oh, you mean stories like when a cable inside my bass got broken during the show before Finntroll? Aaaaargh not this, it was a poor figure! But I have a curious fact to share with you: recently we have written a song dedicated to Edgar Allan Poe. Every time we play this song live, something bad happens! It starts raining and it ends exactly at the ending of the song, the power goes down on stage, or the stage itself is confiscated (yes, I’m not kidding!). Every concert brings amazing stories…not all can be told, hehehe!

How long have you been playing bass, and what led to your involvement in heavy metal?

I started playing bass when I was 15, now I’m 26…I have been playing for around 11 years, 4 of which with Anthologies (but until 2010 the band was not active on stage). When I started I would also play other kinds of music (punk, rock, alternative and indie), but metal music has always been continuous in my musical growth.

Are there any specific bass players who inspire or influence you?

Well, when I started playing bass my influences were Steve Harris and Geezer Butler. Now I can say that my references are Sting and Bootsy Collins, but I actually go on playing bass like Geezer does! Groove and scales! Yeah!

I read on your website that Marilyn Manson was one of the artists that led you to the Gothic style of music.  Are there others that turned you on to the style, and is Gothic imagery something that carries over into your non-musical life as well?

Yes, I started listening to Marilyn Manson when I was twelve and for a child his music and his image are a great influence. But my mind was already predisposed to Gothic stuff I think, because when I was six I stole from my father a book of Poe’s poems and I only drew monsters at school! After Manson, I started listening to traditional dark wave and post punk, dressing in total black, watching horror and silent movies, reading decadence poetry…Gothic imagery is an important part of my life. I can’t see myself as not dressing in black or without heavy makeup. I can define myself with few words: dark and nerd!

If there was one bit of advice that you could give to a woman with aspirations to play guitar in a heavy metal band, what would it be?

Silvia of Anthologies
If someone tells you that you can’t play like a man, or they don’t  want a girl in their bands, take your instrument and show them what you can do!! And then, please, remind them that you have something they cannot have. Yes, we’re thinking about the same thing! LOL

Finally, do you have any parting words for your fans and for those who may be reading about Anthologies for the first time?

Thanks to everyone who supported Anthologies’ music. Without fans a band loses its reason to be. We’re so lucky to have so many people that follow and support us. If you like our music, please put  a “like” on our Facebook page!

At last I would like to thank you Dave for giving me the opportunity to participate in this interview and for your interest in our music.

See you on stage guys, cheeeeeerz from Italy!

Thank you Silvia for the enjoyable interview! I'm looking forward to the next dark chapter in Anthologies' story.

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