Italian Prog legends Premiata Forneria Marconi (PFM) are back with a new studio album called Emotional Tattoos. Keeping their essence but with added modern elements, the album was released in Europe on October 27th via InsideOut Music, and will surely please the long time fans. We spoke with their only original member, drummer and lead vocalist Franz Di Cioccio about this new release, and their status as cult prog icons and future plans:
Lotsofmuzik: Congratulations on the new album! It sounds Just like classic PFM, with a modern edge. Why the long wait between albums, and how did the recording sessions go?
Franz Di Cioccio: You got it! We wanted to make an album with everything we learnt in all those years through what we are feeling in this moment. We did several albums for the Italian market plus few intense experimental works so it was about time to come back to you guys. The recording sessions were cool but busy… Many tracks, 10 plus an instrumental one and many many words…this is our life so we never complain when we have to do with new music.
Lotsofmuzik: What can the long time fans expect from this release?
Franz Di Cioccio: They can expect what PFM always gave…emotions, emotions, emotions.
Lotsofmuzik: How did you guys choose the title "Emotional Tattoos"?
Franz Di Cioccio: We think that when art reaches your heart in deep, it often leaves a mark that will never disapear. This is what we call an emotional tattoo… and these are the emotions we want to transmit.
Lotsofmuzik: Why recording two versions of the album, one in English and one in Italian? And what do the lyrics talk about?
Franz Di Cioccio: We are an international band, so an English version was the first one we thought about. But at the same time we realized that many people love our Italian sound and not only in Italy. So here we are with 2 versions. The lyrics talk about our today vision of the Planet Earth and about the ratio between dream and music. We want to stimulate the listener´s imagination with a brand new energy.
Lotsofmuzik: PFM has been around for over 40 years, and that´s a claim not many bands can make these days. What is the secret to your longevity as a band?
Franz Di Cioccio: Always play the music you feel like playing. Never think about what media or industry will want. We play what we are at the moment and we become what we play. This is the musician´s happiness and many times it becomes the audience´s happiness.
Lotsofmuzik: You are regarded as one of the pioneers of prog rock from the late 60´s / early 70´s. How do you view bands such as PFM, Jethro Tull, Yes etc. still drawing decent sized crowds to their concerts?
Franz Di Cioccio: What’s great about good music is that it never lacks good crowds. We don´t know about other bands but we are very happy about our concerts filled up with people from many different generations and this is the most rewarding felling.
Lotsofmuzik: These days, the definition of prog is a bit broader, and many bands with a heavier style may fit that description. Do you follow modern bands like Periphery, Between the Buried and Me, Leprous, Haken etc?
Franz Di Cioccio: For us, Prog music is a continuous evolution. No boundaries, no ceiling…we know where it comes from and we are curious to see where it will go. Respect for good music is the key to evolution.
Lotsofmuzik: How do you pick your setlist these days, with so many albums under your belt? Do you guys use any kind of rationale to choose which songs to play every night?
Franz Di Cioccio: We choose to play songs that represent PFM from day one until yesterday, actually until today. Few tracks from the new album will obviously be present…the concert is always log and intense with many improvisations of course.
Lotsofmuzik: What are your favorite songs from your back catalogue to play live, and is there any particular song that you consider tough to play live?
Franz Di Cioccio: We have so many “kids” and they’re all great…how could we prefer some of them…we love to play tough songs and if one become too easy we rearrange it. That’s pfm!
Lotsofmuzik: What are your plans for the remainder of 2017 and 2018? Will there be a lengthy tour to promote the album?
Franz Di Cioccio: A very long tour starting mid November 2017 until April 2018. Many concerts in Italy obviously but we’ll play all around the world, Japan, South and North America, Europe including UK… That’s all it is for us. The stage is our second home!
Album vover and the tracklist for PFM ´s Emotional Tattoos:
Premiata Forneria Marconi – Emotional Tattoos (124:02)
CD 1 – English version (62:01)
1. We're Not An Island (7:12)
2. Morning Freedom (6:06)
3. The Lesson (5:08)
4. So Long (5:56)
5. A Day We Share (6:03)
6. There's A Fire In Me (4:55)
7. Central District (5:27)
8. Freedom Square (4:47)
9. I'm Just A Sound (5:57)
10. Hannah (5:16)
11. It's My Road (5:07)
CD 2 – Italian version (62:01)
1. Il Regno (7:12)
2. Oniro (6:06)
3. La lezione (5:08)
4. Mayday (5:56)
5. La danza degli specchi (6:03)
6. Il cielo che c'è (4:55)
7. Quartiere generale (5:27)
8. Freedom Square (4:47)
9. Dalla Terra alla Luna (5:57)
10. Le cose belle (5:16)
11. Big Bang (5:07)
Note: The vinyl version includes the English version and both Italian & English version on two extra CDs
Franz Di Cioccio: lead vocals, drums
Patrick Djivas: bass
Alessandro Scaglione: keyboards, Hammond, Moog
Lucio Fabbri: violin
Marco Sfogli: guitars
Roberto Gualdi: drums
Alberto Bravin: keyboards, backing vocals
Pfm Discography (studio albums only):
Storia di un minuto (1972)
Per un amico (1972)
Photos of Ghosts (1973)
L'isola di niente (1974)
The World Became The World (1974)
Chocolate Kings (1975)
Jet lag (1977)
Suonare Suonare (1980)
Come ti va in riva alla città (1981)
PFM? PFM! (1984)
Miss Baker (1987)
Stati di immaginazione (2006)
A.D. 2010 - La buona novella (2010)
PFM In Classic – Da Mozart a Celebration (2013)
Emotional Tattoos (2017)
Jordan Rudess keyboardist of progressive metal band Dream Theater talks about his new solo album INTERSONIC
Jordan Rudess may be one of the most influential prog musicians in the world, but he's surely not one to rest on his laurels. In addition to touring the world with Dream Theater celebrating the 25th anniversary of seminal album Images & Words, he’s found time to record an ambitious album named INTERSONIC. Written and performed in partnership with Steve Horelick, a composer of music for TV programs and videogames, the album explores electronic/ambient sounds, and will surely catch the Dream Theater fans by surprise. I spoke with Jordan via email regarding his new release and some of his other endeavors, and his answers are below:
1 – Congratulations on the new album INTERSONIC, yet another unique release! How did you and Steve Horelick get to know each other, and what drove you guys to explore ambient sounds like that?
I first was introduced to Steve through his work in online Logic tutorials. I use LOGIC for all my recording on my computer and I was drawn to his approach and what he was doing with the platform. When I reached out to him we immediately hit it off, realized that we lived pretty near each other and had a lot in common! Steve was one of the first synthesists to use synthesizers in commercials for TV and radio and he has a lot of experience and knowledge on music technology. We started to get together years ago and our music sessions were always inspired, spontaneous and fulfilling. I love the textures Steve conjures out of his EuroRack and Buchla Synthesizer. We both have a passion for instruments that drive musical expression. Things like the Roli Seaboard or my own GeoShred for iPad. Interestingly there is also kind of a homecoming for me in that there is a lot of acoustic piano! We both love sonics and that inspires us to explore together and create this music!
2 – The album shows a different side of your work, with new textures added and new avenues to explore. Did you make a conscious decision to do something completely different than your “day job” with Dream Theater, or was it a coincidence that the album turned out like that?
The music i made with Steve is a very natural kind of musical output for me although it´s not what most people are used to hearing from me.
In that sense the recording naturally evolved and became what it is.
Through the years I’ve had a few partners to explore sound with and journey into more Ambient and Electronic spaces.
This album definitely represents a side of who I am and what I like to express with my music.
3 - The album cover compliments the album quite well. Tell us about the process to choose Thomas Pasieka as the artist to provide it.
Thomas and I have done a lot together!! He also did the artwork for my last solo piano album entitled The Unforgotten Path. In addition, Thomas and I worked together on some visuals for Dream Theater shows. I knew he would be able to do a beautiful job as always.
4 - After releasing The Astonishing and this album, you now have at least two releases under your belt with quite a cinematic approach. Would you consider doing an actual soundtrack for a movie?
I’m ready willing and able...
5 – A musician with such a high profile like you must receive a million different proposals to do side projects like INTERSONIC. How do you choose which ones to take on?
Good question. It really has to be something worth my time. There are many factors. Of course the quality of the music is a big one - but also who the people are!
There are some people out there with such wonderful spirits and artistic natures that I just love to work with them. The other factor that does often come into play is financial.
In general it´s about balancing these elements!
Photo taken from https://web.musicaficionado.com
6 – When Scott Schorr from Lazy Bones Records posted a photo of you on Facebook recently with the caption “Who are these dudes and what are they scheming?!”, mine and everyone else’s guess was the release of Levin Minneman, Rudess 3. Is that still in the cards? And if so, can we expect a tour sometime in the future?
At this moment I’m not sure about that. Everybody is so busy that it’s hard to say if that project will ever come around again. That said- it was musically really fun for me and I think we made some great music!
7 – You’re now an Artist in Residence at Stanford University’s CCRMA (Center for Computer Research in Music and Acoustics), just released INTERSONIC, you’re supporting the new platform Artistco, just released an album called “Light Becomes Day” with musicians from India, and also develop work with Wizdom Music. Even without your steady job with Dream Theater, that’s a lot to take! Do you have a process to juggle all those different endeavors?
It´s all about passion for music and a strong work ethic. It’s about not having many other hobbies and it’s about having a wife that is loving, supportive, helpful and smart.
8 – When you start writing a keyboard part, or have a cool idea for a riff, how do you figure out if it’s suitable for Dream Theater or any of your other projects/bands?
I’ve learned a lot about what works for Dream Theater over the years. That said it is still possible that I would present something that might not be suitable.
My musical interests are very broad and the styles I play range over a wide spectrum so it can get a little confusing!
9 - It must be a special time for you and DT to be celebrating the anniversary of Images and Words on the road...I for one can't wait for you guys to hit Toronto in mid November. How's the tour going so far, and what are DT's next steps after that?
The tour has been long for sure but GREAT! So much love out there for what we do. People are especially excited about the Images and Words celebration and Anniversary.
The band is playing well and strong and there is a great feeling every night when we make music together. After this tour will all take a break and start recording again around May 2018.
10 - One last question to wrap it up: since 2010 you and John Petrucci have taken the helm as main composers in DT. A lot of old time fans miss a more collaborative effort from the band as a whole, where the other members contribute in equal measures in the making of an album. Is this something you guys discuss and would be willing to try in your next albums?
I’m smiling: John and I have always done a great deal of the writing for Dream Theater. The Astonishing just happened to be a different kind of approach in that it was just us working in the room together. That said - we look forward and are excited about getting contributions from everybody in the band on the next record!
Thanks for the interview!
INTERSONIC is scheduled for release on November 14th via Lazy Bones Records. The tracklist is as follows:
1 - Child Mind
2 - Particles
3 - Quantum Fuzz
4 - Submergence
5 - Into Tranquility
6 - Northern Lights
7 - Unfolding
8 - Swarm
9 - Dreaming Aloud
10 - Elias's Lullaby
11 - Beyond Time
Pre-order the album here:
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