Light & Shade – Bend to the Will

Monday, 2nd January 2017

Modern advances have accelerated the recording process, as what once had to be done in an expensive studio on the clock can now be achieved at a fraction of the cost at home – plus with the added benefit of adjustments based on your personal time schedule to perfect your art. So it should not be shocking to see many metal musicians develop multiple bands or projects to suit their diverse tastes and desires to perform with talented musicians from all over the world. Such is the case for singer/ guitarist/ songwriter/producer Marco Pastorino from Italy.

Known to many around the world for his guitar work in the melodic power/ progressive metal band Secret Sphere over the past eight years – others are aware of his modern heavy metal act Temperance, a quartet who throw everything from electronic to symphonic, folk to power elements into their platform. Not content to juggle just two acts, Light & Shade is his latest venture, developed as the result of a Progpower USA compilation appearance for Dead Rhetoric faves Seven Spires – as Marco would be blown away by vocalist Adrienne Cowan’s multi-faceted range and power. Released this past fall, their debut album for Scarlet Records The Essence of Everything truly embracing an all-encompassing sound – progressive and extreme nuances come into play, tender ballad work, along with a healthy amount of metal to ensure this could be a future superstar act in the making.

Setting up a Skype interview with Marco (proudly representing his power metal affinities with a Gamma Ray shirt, and telling me about the wonderful tour the band did across Europe in 2010 with Kai and the boys), his measured English would reveal a fair amount of touring/discography talk surrounding all three bands, a love for numerous musicians and bands across Europe that may not necessarily be the ‘biggest’ names, and insight into his hands on passion for all aspects of the music he creates.

Dead Rhetoric: What are your earliest memories surrounding music growing up – and at what point did you decide to pick up an instrument and start performing in metal bands?

Marco Pastorino: I began to play guitar at age 11 or so. After three years of starting to learn classical guitar I decided to play more in the hard rock and metal style. After that I decided to create the first bands with my songs, then I began to sing. There were a lot of years in many different bands, including cover bands too. In 2008 I (joined) Secret Sphere – and from 2008 until this moment I’ve played a lot of gigs in all parts of Europe, the USA, and Japan as well with all of my bands. A very beautiful story that I am so happy about!

Dead Rhetoric: How did you get the chance to join Secret Sphere in 2008- replacing long-time member Paolo ‘Paco’ Giantotti? And how do you feel about the work that you’ve done so far with the band, what are some of your happiest moments with the group- I would imagine playing Wacken Open Air in 2013 has to be one of the major highlights?

Pastorino: Probably the highlights are playing at Wacken and the first tour playing with the band in Japan. I remember when the promoter told us that the Tokyo show was sold out and for us it’s a very great honor. About my entrance into Secret Sphere – I met Aldo (Lonobile) the guitar player and Andrea (Buratto) the bass player in 2005. After the first meeting, we became a very good group of friends. When Paolo the first guitar player left the band, Aldo decided to call me and asked me if I was interested in joining the band. It was so cool, because Secret Sphere is one of my favorite bands, not just because they are an Italian band, because I really love the first few albums from the band.

The first time I collaborated with the band was on Sweet Blood Theory in 2008, I wasn’t in officially yet but I recorded some choir vocals. I really love the last album we did Portrait of a Dying Heart, the first with (vocalist) Michele Luppi. There are a lot of different influences on there, and my first songwriting experience with the band through “The Rising of Love”. I have a lot of good feelings about it.

Dead Rhetoric: At what point did you develop Temperance – which stylistically pulls from everything from symphonic, folk and electronic elements beyond the melodic metal textures? Did you hand pick the right members back in 2013, or were you familiar with them through other work you’ve done in the Italian music scene?

Pastorino: I played for many years with Luca (Negro) the bass player in other bands – Luca and myself have played for a couple of years with another band that (drummer/keyboardist) Giulio (Capone) was also in. After we split up with that band we decided to start a new band in a different style – with a female vocalist. I contacted Chiara (Tricarico), my very old friend to try to make a new style. After the first rehearsal, we decided to create Temperance, as you’ve talked about we have a lot of different influences, but not just in the symphonic metal style. We like other bands outside of Epica and something more- very great orchestral stuff but with massive guitar riffs and choirs in the style of Savatage.

Dead Rhetoric: How would you describe your Temperance discography to date, as you’ve released three albums in three successive years? What do you consider the high points of each album either in terms of recording and songwriting – is there anything you would change about the efforts now having time to look back and reflect?

Pastorino: It’s not so easy to explain what I feel. Maybe for the first album, the self-titled Temperance, we tried to transport our thoughts in music- especially about the electronic stuff and great songs. In my opinion from the second album Limitless our identity was out of our mind. We created step by step a very unique sound, mixing different kinds of metal. About Limitless I am very happy (with) the result, the record contains a lot of songs that we will play I hope forever in our set lists. Our biggest selling point though is the latest album The Earth Embraces Us All, this encompasses the best that we can do in metal with non-conventional instruments like violin, saxophone. I’m very proud (of) this album, this is the Temperance album with the best feedback from magazines and the audience too, journalists who follow the metal scene all across Europe and in America too.

Dead Rhetoric: Was it an easy process to identify where you would put in the violin, saxophone, and folk parts for the new album? Did you have an idea of the special guests who would participate?

Pastorino: Yes, of course. We have a lot of great friends here in Italy. We know a lot of great musicians- for example the violinist Giovanni Lanfranchi, he’s an amazing player and works for a lot of pop music albums on Universal Italy and Sony Italy. This is my very good friend, he was so excited to participate on this album and be creative with us. The same goes for Ruben Paganelli, the guy on the saxophone. We tried together to write in a particular style for his parts.

Dead Rhetoric: How did the twelve shows Temperance perform in America go back in 2014? What do you feel you learned most about touring here in comparison to tours in Europe- especially the early 2016 run with Luca Turilli’s Rhapsody?

Pastorino: In 2014 we received a proposal for a chance to come to America for a few shows- maybe 10 or 12 shows. This was very great news for us. In the last two years, we have focused more on Europe to create a very good fan base step by step, show after show. It’s not so easy for a European band like us who is not so big, but not so small, to come to America year after year. A European band has a lot of costs to come to America. We really would love to come back to America, and I’m trying to work on this for the second part of 2017.

The Luca Turilli’s Rhapsody tour was totally amazing. We played for the first time in some countries like Belgium, Scotland, and Spain too. We never played a single show in those countries before this tour- and after the great results we received a lot of proposals from these countries. For example, one month ago, we played four shows in Spain after the great shows in Barcelona last February- with 500 people per night, and it was so cool. We are looking to create an amazing fan base in Europe- so in a few weeks we will be announcing a lot of gigs next year from February until May, we will play about 40-50 gigs in Europe.

Dead Rhetoric: Light & Shade is your latest group with a debut album The Essence of Everything just hitting the streets. Is it true you discovered vocalist Adrienne Cowan (also in Seven Spires and FirstBourne) through a track of Seven Spires on a ProgPower USA compilation? How did this set of songs come together in comparison to your work in Temperance?

Pastorino: Yes. I’m the songwriter of Temperance along with Giulio the drummer. If someone were to listen to both albums they would notice I also am the songwriter for Light & Shade but in my opinion the style is totally different, because the voices of Chiara and Adrienne are totally different. I think Adrienne is a very unique talent in the metal scene. She’s so very young, but she’s amazing. Her vocal range is infinite! There is a lot of color in her voice, a great metal style, and a very good way to change every part of the song with her voice. After our first meeting, when we heard the ProgPower compilation, we talked about the chance to collaborate. I tried to send a song to Adrienne (“Spirit of Anne”), and after a few days she sent me the song with her vocals- I was so excited about the chance to have a great voice as hers (in the band). Very metal, but not only metal for the screams but the extreme stuff and clean stuff too. With Light & Shade we have a lot of ways to grow for the future.

Dead Rhetoric: What was it like for Adrienne to record in Italy- did you give her free reign to work out her own melodies/ phrasing based on her vocal training and abilities? She develops three shades to her voice on this record between the clean side, growls, and screams…

Pastorino: From the first moment that we decided to collaborate- I began to write certain songs for Adrienne’s voice. There are some tracks like “Brokenhearted”, you can hear the high parts of her voice, because when I wrote those parts I thought, ‘okay, Adrienne will make this part very amazing with her vocal range.’ After we did the pre-production for the album, Adrienne’s preparation made this record so easy. She came to Italy for 2 weeks, but in only 5 totally crazy days we recorded all the vocals, all the choirs, all the harmonies, and other great stuff. I think in the next year our name will go everywhere. I think that in the next year, we will try to play finally a lot of shows in America and in Europe too.

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