Saturday, June 22, 2013

Interview with Horror Vacui (2013)

Horror Vacui is a band from Bologna, Italy; they are one unique band with a sound really powerful and captivating with amazing musicality. They have managed to blend the raw energy of Punk with the melodic-musical structures of Gothic Rock; or as they say : Gothic Rock heavily influenced by Punk. Their album, “in Darkness You Will Feel Alright” is one of the most impressive debut albums from 2012. They are a very honest band, and their music has message.

Daniel Olvera

You are very skilled when executing your music; do you have previous experience with other bands?

Koppa:  First of all, thanx for thinking we are skilled musicians! I don’t think so, but it doesn’t matter, eheh. Well, yes, everybody play in other bands and in HV we play instuments that we don't normally play in our other bands. Besides Horror Vacui I play in Kontatto (D-beat) and Campus Sterminii (crust core), but I’ve been in countless bands for many years. I share Kontatto and Campus Sterminii with our guitar player Marzia which normally is a drummer in these and other bands, so it's a new experience for her being a guitarist.

Laura:  Thanx for the compliment. I play in other bands too: IntoTheBaobab (punk) and Gandhi Kamikaze (peace punk)... But i don't know if this helps me or in being a good bass player, because I play drums in the other bands!

Enri:  Like the other guys in HV I played and I'm still playing in other punk hc bands.

Andrea:  I'm normally a bassplayer but I do guitar here and I have some other bands as well.

Some words about the origin of the band…

Koppa:  Nothing so exclusive. We just wanted to play goth/death rock simply because we all like it and decided to start the band in winter 2009. After some line up changes we started playing “seriously” in winter 2010/11. In summer 2011, after the first shows, we recorded our demo cd-r and, since many people found it interesting, we got to play more and more shows and recorded our first 7” (May 2012) and our first LP (October 2012)

How many lineup changes have experienced Horror Vacui?

Koppa:  The very first line up was:

Koppa: vocals/guitar
Marzia: guitar
Julia: bass
Henry: drums.

Then we had a friend of ours called Elvira for a while on guitar (instead of Koppa who took the vocal duty only), but she wasn’t really working out well for the sound of the band so Andrea Masbucci replaced her. In 2012 Lara replaced Julia on bass 'cause she couldn't go on with the band due to work and personal things and we have now a definitive line up which works out perfectly.

Laura:  I am the latest replacement!  I have been playing bass in HV since December 2012, but after several concerts and a tour in Spain, I really feel like one of the band since ever... maybe because we have been friends for some time.

Why did you choose this name?

Koppa:  At the beginning we were supposed to be called Black Friars Bridge, a bridge on the Thames river in London. Underneath that bridge, the boss of a very important Italian bank who was working for the Vatican has been found dead under mysterious circumstances. The name didn’t pleased us 100% so, after a conversation between me and Marzia (I was accusing her to suffer of horror vacui syndrome because she collects all kinds of crap and useless shit ahaha) she came out saying that Horror Vacui should be the name of the band. And everybody liked it.

How many releases do you have, previous to your debut album?

Koppa:  Demo cd-r (limited to 100 copies-August 2011) which unexpectedly sold out. Black Rivers Demo cd-r (reissue of the demo with a different cover and an extra track-October 2011) Can You Still See Reality? 7” (Legion Of The Dead Records-May 2012), In Darkness You Will Feel Alright LP (Legion Of The Dead Records/Avant! Records-October 2012).

Some words about the current underground scene in Italy, what’s your vision about it?

Koppa:  I don’t know what you mean for underground scene and I personally don’t pay any attention to it. We belong to the d.i.y. punk/hardcore scene. We don’t know any other band playing our style that doesn’t belong to our same scene and we don’t wanna be part of all those rockstars wanna be’s because we are punx, not rockers or musicians.

Marzia:  Well, if you mean DIY with underground I can tell you that it's more than 15 or 20 years for some of us that we belong to it without never leaving or having doubts on where we belong to. It comes then that all our choices, shows, attitude atc are filtered by this and this is how we feel. The DIY/underground scene has many shades, from punk to hc etc and I think HV is the first Italian experiment of postpunk/deathrock stuff to enter some kind of squats etc in the last decades, together with Dystopian Society from Florence. This is a new thing as gothic stuff was not welcome before, due to too much ambiguity for political issue. It's really easy to find right wing fascistfashion people in gothic clubs. We hate it so we decided to try bringing back post punk to this kind of underground venues, and it worked out really good since 3 years inward. For other aspects, the scene in its general aspects is well alive and healthy even if all the evictions and national politics towards spaces like squats etc are becoming really harsh so it's less and less possible to keep places and get new ones. The old places are often under eviction but we try our best to keep everything alive, there's a good connection between different cities and people.

With which bands have you shared the stage in your recent tour in Europe?

Koppa:  We toured with Sect, a great band from Barcelona whose members share the same passion and ideas that we do. We couldn’t find any better than them. I don’t really remember the names of the bands we played with. Too much booze, too much driving and not enough sleeping.

Laura:  We had a great time with SECT who are really nice people and I hope to meet them and play with them again soon.

Marzia: I remember Malaise, from France, really interesting duo. Then Y from Barcelona, kind of a mix between experimental stuff with dark atmospheres, interesting.

Can you share some good and relevant moments from that tour?

Koppa:  Everything was great. First thing, the weather. Italy was bloody cold, Spain was unbelievably warm. Every show has been very successful, even on fucked up nights like 30th, 31st December and 2nd January when everybody are already/still partying the new year’s eve/day. Every moment has been very relevant to me because I had a lot of fun and had the chance to share my life with my bandmates and the Sect folks who turned out to become some of the best friends I have ever had around Europe.

Enri:  When you share your day 24/7 it's normal to have a stable memory about it. I still have some great shows and days in my head (the beaches walks, the shows in Madrid and Alicante, all the people met and the great drinking nights) and I'm personally happy to have shared it with Sect which I really love and loved to know better.

Marzia:  Every tour is special to me but this one was simply perfect for the people and for the shows. Every moment was great. When you are with the right people, the best show of the tour  or the sandwich at the gas station have the same importance :-)

There is a quote in your bio about being STRICTLY ANTIFASCISM AND ANTISEXISM, what can you add to this statement?

Koppa:  Nothing, that says it all.

Marzia:  With our other bands there's normally no need to state this also because the kind of places we play in are clearly anarchist or antifa. Since in Italy it's pretty common to have right wing/fascist people attending goth events or liking post punk bands, we decided to make it clear for this kind of people only that they are not welcome and that we don't want to share out music with them. The slogans we did sometimes are statements to make sure everybody can see what we think so to stay away. We don't share this idea of let's get together under music and fuck the rest, no thanx, I love people that know who they are and that can make a stand. Politics and awareness on things are very important to me. Then, also music is very important but in my opinion it doesn't walk separately from ideas.

This leads to your lyrics, what are the topics that you are dealing with in your songs?

Koppa:  We have songs about mental illness, songs against war, songs against our governments, songs about our own lives, fears, dreams, nightmares, desires. Everything we write about is definitely filtered by our own perspective, so there’s no room for lyrics about dancing girls, Satanism, imagery worlds, drinking beer and useless topics like those ones.

Marzia:  We generally don't talk about something we don't know personally and we never tried to build an “ad hoc” image of us as something obscure etc. We are exactly as you can see and we deal with what we can see. I wrote all the latest lyrics especially those about mental illness because of experiencing it with my job. Corvus Corax has been written years before for no reason, in 2007, driving next to a field of rotten sunflowers in Czech rep. Yersinia is inspired from Dylan Dog comics and deals with the plague, Things like this.

I think that Horror Vacui is a very honest band with message. The lyrics of “I like when a soldier dies” have been controversial for some people. What is exactly that do you wanted to express with these song lyrics in particular?

Koppa:  I wrote that song. The day I wrote it, another Italian soldier had been killed in Afghanistan and there was nothing else to listen on the radio or on the tv besides the sad story of that honest soldier who left a wife and 3 children in this bloody world... I don’t give a fuck! You’re a soldier? I don’t like you! You carry a gun? I don’t like you! You kill people? I don’t like you! Soldiers earn 15000 € x month to go to play some wargames in Afghanistan and Iraq. They know it’s risky so it’s their choice. If they’re so greedy to go and risk their lives when they have wives and kids, it’s their problem, not mine. My problem is living in a world full of wars where people kill each other in the name of religions, multinationals and dirty affairs we don’t wanna hear about. I want to live in a peaceful world, soldiers and weapons free. So if a soldier dies, it affects me in one way only: it makes me happy because I hate them, their weapons and the governments they’re working for! By the way, I’m talking about soldiers, not rebels, right?

Marzia:  I had the same feeling, mostly because they make national funerals in Italy when soldiers die (which is 99% risk of their “job”) and no one cares if another kind of worker dies maybe for no safety rules on working places etc. When constructors die falling form buildings, no one makes national parades. So, that's why the song has such a straight title.

Your recent official bootleg has a very special dedicatory. Please, some words about it….

Koppa:  In 1969 a bomb exploded in a bank in Milano. That was the beginning of what in Italy were called “anni di piombo” (literally “years of lead”) that lasted till the very beginning of 1980 and left a lot of people dead on the streets. The government together with the deviated secret services, the C.I.A. and the extreme right wing put up a lot of attacks in crowded squares, trains, streets, banks, stores, train stations, airplanes etc just to create what has been called “the tension strategy”. The great enemy was the communist party who was taking more and more advantage, so the government didn’t care about all the innocent victims and started this crazy civil war. So, the anarchist movement has been judged guilty for that bomb in Milano in 1969 and the anarchist Valpreda has been arrested as he was considered the real responsible for the attack. During an interview in a police station, the anarchist Giuseppe Pinelli has been found dead in the yard of the building. The policemen said he killed himself (shouting something like “this is the death of anarchy”) jumping from the window of the room where the interview was taking place, which was at the 4th floor of the building. Other people said they heard some noise, then Pinelli screaming “Noooooooo nooo”, so most of the people think some policemen killed Pinelli pushing him out of the window. In fact Pinelli was not guilty neither he knew who placed the bomb at the bank (because, years later, a group of fascists has been judged guilty for that attack), so he had no reasons to commit suicide.The night we recorded that live bootleg was the anniversary of Pinelli’s death, so we decided to dedicate the record to his memory

Laura:  We  dedicated a live, which has been recorded, to the anarchist Pinelli and we played on the anniversary of his death. As I think you have already understood from the last answers, it's very important for us to give a political message with our music. I don't know whether this is considered unusual in a band like ours, but this is what we are and always will be.

“In Darkness You Will Feel Alright” is a great record; your music is really exciting and well executed. What can you tell about the positive feedback from the people around the world, did you have received proposals for gigs outside Europe?

Koppa:  Thanx for the nice words. Yes, the record is selling surprisingly well both in the punk scene and in the goth and metal ones. It's almost sold out. We mostly got only positive feedbacks and it’s so strange for us that we still can believe all the attention we’re having. Yes, somebody asked us to play some shows in the U.S. and we’re thinking about it. If we don’t go there by the end of the year, definitely, it’s gonna happen in 2014. We got invited in Amsterdam for next month too.

Laura:  I didn't record that album as I wasn't in the band back then, but I have listened to it so many times! I think It is a great album and we are very pleased with all the positive feedbacks the record is collecting here and there.

What are your all-time favorite bands, and which of them have  influenced to your music?

Koppa:  Discharge, Wretched, Queen, Doors, Guns n’ Roses, Nirvana, Sex Pistols, Dead Boys, Hellshock, Amebix, Disorder. None of them influenced Horror Vacui’s music. I also have a passion for bands like Lords Of The New Church, Bauhaus, Sisters Of Mercy, Screaming Dead, Depeche Mode, Fields Of The Nephilim, Killing Joke and so on, but none of them is so huge in my heart as the ones I’ve mentioned before.

Laura:  Joy Division, Wipers, The Mob, Depeche Mode, Damned, Screaming Dead and lots more.

Marzia:  I don t get influenced by other bands when writing my music because it would be really different to combine my huge love for guns n roses in a post punk way ahahah. Anyway, GNR, Metallica, Discharge, Wretched, Iron Maiden, Nirvana, L7 Uber Alles Forever.

And what are your favorite bands from the current underground scene?

Koppa:  If underground means d.i.y. punk hc scene, well, Belgrado, Sect, Moral Hex, Bellicose Minds, Crimson Scarlet, Hellshock, Wolfbrigade, Perdition etc

Enri: River City Tanlines, Firewater, Ladytron, Alaric, Forgetters, A Place To Bury Strangers, Nachtmystium

Marzia:  I agree with Koppa and add Beastmilk too. There would be too many other diy bands I will for sure forget some.

Do you have plans for a new release in the near future, maybe this year?

Koppa:  yes, we are writing new material and we already have 5 songs that will end up in the next full length. We hope it’ll see the light before summer 2014. Like I said before, we all play in other bands and we don’t have much time due to jobs and other activities we carry on so we can’t focus all our energies on Horror Vacui only.

And finally, some words for the people who likes your music.

Koppa:  We wanna say thanx to you and to all the people who will read this interview. We would love to live in a world with no wars, weapons and fascists, so it would be awesome if everybody would start living/thinking in these directions too, but of course that’s just a dream.