Myriad Lights – A Diverse KingdomMonday, 18th July 2016
Starting in 2006 with the intent of combining a love of classic heavy metal while also incorporating an affinity for modern and power styles, Italy’s Myriad Lights went through a number of growing pains in assembling the right players to finally record a debut album Mark of Vengeance that hit the streets in 2012 on Underground Symphony. Gaining acclaim in Europe and abroad (including an import chart appearance in the infamous Japanese magazine BURRN), the band would enter the studio in 2015 to record the follow up Kingdom of Sand with a new record deal in place through Punishment 18.
The new album combines a literal ‘myriad’ of influences – sometimes anthem-oriented, other times more classically based, and then straight forward power when called for. Imagine a mix of Firewind and Judas Priest with the sophistication and grace of Rainbow and Whitesnake and that will clue you in to the expansive, dynamic platform Myriad Lights uses in songwriting and performance tools. After taking in numerous playbacks of the latest studio record, the need to learn more about the quintet made me put my research hat on and fire off a round of questions to guitarist Francesco Lombardo.
We discuss the early lineup struggles, the switch of record labels, the work of Felipe Machado Franco as their cover artist and a love for guitarists such as Lanny Cordola and George Lynch beyond the typical Myriad Lights discussion.
Dead Rhetoric: Tell us about your earliest memories surrounding music – where did you get your start in heavy metal, and at what point did you decide you wanted to move from being a fan to picking up an instrument and forming a band?
Francesco Lombardo: Hey there everybody! Well, it’s been quite simple for it all. I just wanted to be cool with a guitar! I was inspired from my schoolmates first, that were starting their own bands, and so I did the same. I started to be first a musician, since I was a kid (self-taught), and then a fan of the music I play now. I think now I’m much more a fan than a musician! Every day I like to find out about new music, new bands in the underground scenario, even outside heavy metal. Really!
Dead Rhetoric: Myriad Lights started in 2006 with 17-year-old guitarist Francesco Lombardo – but the early years found a lot of struggle in developing a stable lineup. Did many people question the commitment and sincerity of a teenager in his quest to develop a classic heavy metal band with modern and power influences – or were there other factors that took place over those years to find a more stable lineup in late 2010?
Lombardo: No one asked me this before. In 2006 I had in my mind the music you can listen to now. There were just the wrong people in the band maybe! At those ages, everyone has to find his own identity, so many members changed with others during the years. I want to clear this up: we found our stability in 2010 with a four-member lineup that allowed us to make our first album, but my ideas were always the same since the beginning. Between 2006-2010 we just recorded some demos, and made a lot of local shows to gain experience.
Dead Rhetoric: How did you gain the interest of Underground Symphony Records who would release your debut album Mark of Vengeance in 2012? How did the songwriting/recording sessions go, any particular surprises/ struggles take place, and how do you view this record now this far down the road?
Lombardo: Underground Symphony was the only label interested in our work at that time. Now, the songwriting of the first album was based on the songs we played for all the years back, but we never recorded them seriously. With Andrea (Di Stefano) on vocals we reached a new target of playing together in a band, and for sure everyone had his own voice on that record, the thing that I like a lot.
Dead Rhetoric: You were able to play some shows locally and abroad to support the record with Luca Turilli’s Rhapsody, Firewind, and others – can you describe what Myriad Lights shows are like, and do you feel that you are always learning more about performing and audience interaction every time you play out live?
Lombardo: For sure every show is a new surprise for us all and we love it. We get on the stage and “shout it out loud” till the end. That’s how our shows are like! Very simple! And yes, we are learning more and more every time we get on (stage).
Dead Rhetoric: What circumstances took place for keyboardist Lele Mr Triton and drummer Simone Sgarella to come into Myriad Lights? Were there any hard feelings from the old members who left?
Lombardo: There are no hard feelings with the old members. We’re still good friends with everyone who came into the band. I met Lele during my experience in the band Highlord. We worked very well together and so I invited him to join Myriad Lights, as our sound was changing to some kind of speed-power metal.
Simone was a good friend of Lele, who took him into the band to make a try when our ex drummer left. And that’s all! Our new lineup is perfect!
Dead Rhetoric: Kingdom of Sand is the new album on another label Punishment 18 Records. Did anything special occur to gain a new record deal, and how do you feel this record differs from your debut?
Lombardo: Surely we made a bigger label search this time and I was really surprised that almost every label I wrote to was interested in our product. Punishment 18 just made the best offer to us, and I really wanted to work with the owner Corrado. This record is a refreshment to our sound. Much more keys, speed drumming, and aggressive guitars to make the best heavy metal that you can listen to out there in Italy! (laughs)
Dead Rhetoric: Songs like “Abyssal March” and “Deathbringer” have a heavy anthem-oriented stance, while “The Waves” showcases more of an acoustic epic/folk type feel. Do you believe this variety is important in showcasing all aspects of what Myriad Lights can deliver, and what are some of the special moments to you either lyrically or musically on this record?
Lombardo: We like to have different kinds of music in our records. We did the same in the first album with the track “Wandering Spirit”. We like the acoustic side of music a lot, you know, different atmosphere and stuff like that! We just make it with our hearts, as we want to give a variety of emotions to the audience.
Special moments on the record? Let me think .. uhm.. Yes! When Andrea is not singing! (laughs) Seriously, I like the vocal choirs in “Ascension”. Musically, I think “Abyssal March” is my inner voice!
Dead Rhetoric: Felipe Machado Franco designed the album cover- tell us about the process behind this, was this a collaboration between the band and artist, and how important do you think visual imagery is to the heavy metal platform? What have been some of your favorite covers through the metal genre?
Lombardo: We worked with Felipe via his manager Emil that we really want to thank a lot. He was so kind with us and everybody worked really great. I think the covers are really important. Even the colors have a specific meaning to our eyes and mind every day. Felipe for sure made great covers in his career, so we chose him because of his works with Blind Guardian, Rhapsody and many others, you know better than me. One of my favorite artworks that I have to tell you without thinking at, is by Stan-W Decker, who created the cover for the record Kingdom of Rock by Magnus Karlsson!
Dead Rhetoric: Italy seems to have a very strong scene relating to power and progressive metal – many acts gaining international acclaim and recognition. What are your views on the movement in your home country – the good, the bad, the areas that may need improvement? Any recommendations for newcomers to check out?
Lombardo: Sorry but I think Italy has to work really hard to improve its culture, sound, and targets in music. Yes, there are many great bands from our country, but not so many can keep up with German or Swedish bands. I’m honest. One band that I like a lot at the moment is Alchemy. They’re from Brescia and play a really good style of hard rock with 80’s influences. No excuse for the area you come from. If you play great and work hard, you will be always respected in the long-term.
Dead Rhetoric: When you look at a model of success for heavy metal, what band(s) come to your mind the most that you would love to see Myriad Lights attain as far as respect, audience appeal, or just for their professionalism? And what does success mean to you at this point in your career?
Lombardo: I have the answer: Firewind or Hammerfall. I think you can only compare Myriad Lights to those 2 bands maybe. Yes, I’m dreaming. We’ll never get good like them. But I like dreaming! Anyway I’m talking about appeal, professionalism and stage presence, as I had the chance to see both those bands live many times. So come to see us out!! Ha-ha! Success? We play our music because we LOVE it! That’s it!
Dead Rhetoric: What worries you the most about the world that we live in today?
Lombardo: I tell you. Nothing at all. We’re making the life we want and this is really great for us. I’m grateful if I can make this life. It’s a miracle, a dream.
Dead Rhetoric: Who would you consider some of the best guitar players that have influenced your technique and songwriting abilities? And what is your view on technique versus feel when it comes to the guitar?
Lombardo: My main influences as a guitarist are Lanny Cordola and George Lynch. I think the greatest thing you can do on guitar (and other instruments obviously) is have control of what you are playing in every moment: vibrato, notes that you choose, shred. Everything’s important, but I love the feeling that a guitarist can give to me. Cordola is the best so far to me, he can shred with taste in every kind of music he’s playing, from metal to jazz.
Dead Rhetoric: What would you consider your top five albums in the metal/ hard rock realm- and what’s the best concert you’ve personally witnessed from a fan perspective, and what made things so special?
Lombardo: Top 5 albums? Well I tell ya, though I use to play metal, I’m not totally into that, so I will mention something more in general. Rainbow – Rising, Stratovarius – Visions, Fifth Angel – Time Will Tell, House of Lords – Demons Down, Dokken – Under Lock and Key. The best concert I attended was Night Ranger in 2014 at Frontiers Rock Festival in Italy. The special thing was that they are incredible musicians who can play really great having fun on the stage at the same time. They are not one of my favorite bands, but they are fantastic on stage. Think about this: after some months guitarist Joel Hoekstra joined Whitesnake …
Dead Rhetoric: Given the four-year gap between records, have you already started writing material for the third album – and if so do you think the direction will be similar to Kingdom of Sand or do you foresee twists and turns from record to record?
Lombardo: Well, yes, we’ve already got new material, and I think we’re going in the Kingdom of Sand direction, but who knows? Maybe there will be new surprises. Stay tuned with us!
Dead Rhetoric: Do you have the help and support from family and loved ones as you pursue your musical career? How do you balance out the activities of the group with also trying to make a living, as I would imagine that music alone cannot pay all the bills?
Lombardo: I have total support from my family and girlfriend, as I can tell the same for my bandmates. Without them I’d not play anymore maybe. They like my music, my world, so they always follow me and support me in my choices. That’s really wonderful. Yeah, we do have our jobs, and you know, that’s not a problem for us. I’m not a pro musician. I like my job as my music.
Dead Rhetoric: What is the plan for Myriad Lights over the next six to twelve months? Touring, videos, any other special activities? Are there other bands that you guys also have going on the side?
Lombardo: Great question! We already have many live dates from now to the end of the year, and we’re working also for 2017. There will be a little surprise for all our fans out in Europe, but I cannot tell you anything at the moment. In the end of the year we’ll be recording a new music video probably, so stay tuned with us! Moreover, our bassist Giuseppe is really busy also with his other band Fogalord. Check them out!
Thanks for your time! Check out Myriad Lights on the web! Cheers!