Arctic Plaeatu – That Which Will Never DieSunday, 31st March 2013
(This content originally appeared on Blistering.com)
Neutered by Facebook and done-in by its functional and cosmetic faults, Myspace was once the place to be for finding new, unsigned bands. By our own estimation, the span between 2004 and 2009 were the glory days, allowing bands to expand their social reach and gain exposure in ways that once seemed unfathomable. There are no actual figures in terms of how many bands were discovered via Myspace, but there are notable stories, including Italy’s Gianluca Divirgilio-led Arctic Plateau, who were discovered on the ‘space by Les Discrets mainman Fursy Teyssier in 2009. Teyssier proceeded to pass along two of Divirgilio’s compositions to Prophecy Productions, who quickly snapped up Arctic Plateau for the release of that year’s A Sad Sunny Day. Teyssier would continue his show of goodwill by compiling the artwork for the first two AP albums, and partnered with Divirgilio for a late-2011 split.
While A Sad Sunny Day is formidable in its own right, it is this year’s The Enemy Inside that should effectively thrust Arctic Plateau into the upper-echelon of the dark rock/metal annals. Divirgilio imposes his magnificent songwriting will via a bevy of awe-striking, emotionally captivating songs, including opener “Music’s Like,” the dreary “Abuse,” optimistic-sounding “Big Fake Brother,” and harmonious “Of Loss and Love.” Divirgilio has a reserved, yet confident appeal to his voice, and it makes the bulk of these songs both immediate and intimate. And in spite of its non-metal nature, The Enemy Inside is sure to register with those who fawn over any of metal’s darker shades and tones…there’s no substitute for impeccable songwriting.
We snagged Divirgilio for a round of questions, a lot of which focused on The Enemy Inside, the man’s approach to putting songs together, and his relation to the metal scene. As you will find below, Divirgilio is certainly not at a loss for words and insight…
Blistering.com: We’re three years out from A Sad Sunny Day. In what ways have you grown and progressed as a songwriter?
Gianluca Divirgilio: To be honest, I have always written music in this way; I think it is natural and inevitable that someone can feel the difference between first and the second albums. The latest album contains a greater amount of lyrics… in fact, on On a Sad Sunny Day I consciously chose to publish more instrumental tracks because it needed more music and not many words.
Too many albums of famous bands are also full of useless words. I also think it’s useful sometimes to keep quiet. But in a real band the singer is usually the “first lady” and he doesn’t easily accept to be quiet, listen and stop; this is not a post-rock glorification of, but only sane good taste and sometimes it’s much better to listen a good record of classical music rather than a useless lyric. The Enemy Inside is definitely a step forward, my songwriting is definitely better than before, but The Enemy Inside needed more lyrics and I have given voice to the meaning of music that accompanied my arrangements. Every word is functional to the music and every word is true. That’s all. I’m not a rock star, I’m just an author, a musician.
Blistering.com: Most musicians make statements as to how they spend most of their life writing their debut album, making the sophomore effort harder to compose. Was that the case for you with The Enemy Inside?
Divirgilio: I never had to struggle to write music and the lyrics are born independently, if the music is ready, usually for lyrics you must wait patiently. I always write music, even when I don’t write music, because my music is expressed through my life, even when I get up from my bed in the morning. When I die you can say that I stopped writing music, but before I want to make many more productions and at least one child.
Blistering.com: As a one-man band, who helped you out with the recording of the new album?
Divirgilio: Massimiliano Chiapperi [drums] has a formidable approach to my rhythmic stuff; he works on my ideas and he adds precision and timing on each Arctic Plateau pre productions. I’m very satisfied of our collaboration because Massimiliano has a good sense of humor and he is also a good friend and a real Arctic Plateau fan. Fabio Fraschini has played also in On A Sad Sunny Day; he is a professional and so always much busy and I don’t know if he will play again in Arctic Plateau. I need a fixed bass player, especially for preparing a good live set, in fact now I’m searching for a new bass player. Fabio is a good musician and a good engineer, if he wants, maybe in the future, we could collaborate together in the studio.
Blistering.com: Is it difficult for you to trust and/or develop working relationships with other musicians in a regular band context?
Divirgilio: Yes. I know that I’m so volcanic that it’s very difficult for another musician accept the role of simple executor, but I can’t pay another musician, I’m not rich, I work on my music and various aspects of it; you can accept [it] or not. Arctic Plateau was born in this way, it is not a band; really I can play each instruments but I’ve choose other musicians can execute my original parts using their feelings and they can adds their touch to my stuff using their instrument in the studio. Massimiliano for example, can play each Arctic Plateau sequence and he knows that while I compose my songs in my operative room, I must use my rhythmic phrases, for open my creativity and close a good song I must apply what I listen in my head in that moment. Massimiliano after my songwriting process will elaborate my sequence through his personal experience and he can adds all his creativity using my guidelines. He should accept my guidelines because he knows very well my songwriting process and he respect the original idea, but you can make these things only if you are really in love of music that you’re playing now.
Each brings its expertise to the others, but you know, I can’t change my original project, this is really my personal thing, a reason, not is simple music, this is not only music. You can’t play in Arctic Plateau only for your personal convenience or your personal curriculum vitae. Arctic Plateau is a different reality – musicians that play with me have also their personal benefits, sure, but you can be honest and I’ll be honest with you. As I said I’m not a fucking rock star and I don’t wanna be a rock star, I do not want be recognized at all costs when I leave my home in the morning or simile bullshit!
Blistering.com: Your writing style is very simple, but the songs are very lush and involved. To you, how does a song make the cut for Arctic Plateau?
Divirgilio: I haven’t a real method, I haven’t a secret; an AP song can be born in whatever way…
Blistering.com: Conceptually, you place a great deal of importance on your childhood experiences. As you get older, are these memories more vivid, or harder to remember?
Divirgilio: It depends. I have a good supply of bad memories, I haven’t spent an easy childhood. But I am convinced that one day I will be a father and then I’ll be on the other side of the fence. You know, each of us has deep wounds within himself. The best memory of my childhood is my father and my mother in the car while we sing a song, together…
Blistering.com: Favorite line on the album: “Music’s like a memory that never dies.” Does this correlate to your relationship with music?
Divirgilio: Yes, because if you write good music you can’t really die, ever.
Blistering.com: I’m especially struck by “Big Fake Brother.” What sort of significance does this track have? Does it have any connection to Orwell’s 1984 novel?
Divirgilio: My song refers to a type of behavior. Many people call you “brother” but when you turn around from the back they will destroy you and your life. I have known many such people.
Blistering.com: Because you’ve done a split with Les Discrets, do you feel that invariably, you’re going to be lumped in with bands like the aforementioned Les Discrets and even Alcest? Not bad company to be in, eh?
Divirgilio: I think everyone has his own character, each of us plays the music he has inside and I don’t find many similar connotations. Alcest is a great band, and his music is very different from mine! Les Discrets is a great band, and in my view, Les Discrets is a very personal project. Perhaps an average listener might confuse the fact that both they sing in French language but if you listen carefully you’ll notice for example that every band has its own sound, every band has its own EQ and each band has its own history behind it. I think it is possible that each of us has influenced the other but each of us has our own personality and responsibility. Arctic Plateau is an Italian project and you can hear it in the air, I am geographically far away from them, but I appreciate Alcest and Les Discrets. They have courage and I have great respect for each of them and our audience…I don’t believe that a listener can get confused between each of us. Our split was a time to celebrate our tastes and our music. We (Fursy and I) are friends and fans of our respective projects. We have the support of a great label and we are very lucky. We know it and we appreciate it. That’s all.
Blistering.com: Why do you think so many rock/shoegaze bands are accepted within the metal community?
Divirgilio: I think it also depends on the mode in which a band shows its influences, but if you want to know the truth, I’m also tired of the “shoegaze” term. There is only one way of doing things: the best way. If you do your job well everything will be fine. Classifications or catalogs are things that serve to the market; when I write a song I don’t think in these terms. Maybe when I was younger, but not now anymore. The music is constantly evolving and we cannot enclose a genre in a sub-genre, we must wake up. As I said before everyone has their own influences and this comes from our listening, but we must move forward, we must move forward! I love a certain type of metal music and I love a certain kind of shoegaze but I really don’t like ska music. So what, nothing changes. The world continues to move forward, you know. The reality is that the public today is very intelligent and can recognize good music, no matter if it’s metal music or shoegaze/metal/industrial, the important thing is that it is real music, real music and that can give strength and energy to their lives, and that this could be the soundtrack of their life. The rest is all talk and fashion stuff.
Blistering.com: Do you feel any sort of ties to the metal scene?
Divirgilio: I love some kind of metal, I am a collector of black metal vinyl (old True Norwegian) but not only metal. I tell you this; I started thanks to some Randy Rhoads solos when I was very young, I studied Alex Skolnick’s solos when I was a student, then I loved the first four albums of Darkthrone and some other important metal albums. Now, I occasionally turn on my mesa boogie DC2 + and I take my old 1987 Charvel Jackson and I play metal riff and solos in my room, but I do it for me. Stop. Maybe 20 years ago, in 1992, I did it more often but I think it’s normal; at that time I studied metal structures and played in various bands, new wave and metal and you know, in 1992 I was 19 years old! Many metal musicians plays blues music or jazz for example, intimately. Alex Skolnick [Testament] is now a good jazz musician and I listen his jazz solos or metal solos equally. Things change, but each of us has his loves. The metal was a beautiful and fundamental school for myself, like jazz and other forms of preparation for the development and construction of its own musical language on its instrument.
Blistering.com: Other than Arctic Plateau, what other projects are you working on?
Divirgilio: I don’t have much time, never. I’m very busy now; in Italy I am working with some musicians. For the rest of time I’m working a lot for preparing some good Arctic Plateau live shows.
Blistering.com: Finally, what’s on the agenda for the rest of 2012?
Divirgilio: I want to play live, as I said I’m working a lot for organizing that. I’m searching a new bass player and I’m working in the rehearsal room…