Temperance – Breaking the RulesTuesday, 7th December 2021
Italian act Temperance positions themselves as a creative beacon for those who love a variety of heavy metal styles. Incorporating influences from the power, symphonic, and modern landscapes – their triad vocalist approach opens sonic horizons that other bands dream to be able to achieve. Their sixth studio record Diamanti again launches the band into stronger melodies, tempos, hooks, and catchy songs – sometimes heavier, more dramatic, and all emotionally engaging. We reached out to vocalist/keyboardist Michele Guaitoli again to catch up on how this record took shape during the lockdown/pandemic. We delve into topics relating to the home country scenes they incorporate into their video work, thoughts on the best countries for Temperance support, his love of Iron Maiden, Edguy, and Kamelot, plus the importance of patience and future plans with Visions of Atlantis, Temperance, and Kaledon.
Dead Rhetoric: The latest Temperance album is Diamanti – the sixth studio record and third with this lineup together. Is a certain comfort level and understanding now that allows the band to develop vibrant, energetic and diverse material under the melodic heavy/symphonic metal banner? Also, where do you see the major differences this time around compared to your previous work?
Michele Guaitoli: We finally have found a great confidence with each other. Especially in the studio. The first record we had with this three-vocalist lineup, we had to basically rush it. It was crazy fast, the release was scheduled for April 2018 and the recordings for the vocals were scheduled for January 2018. Alessia and I had joined the band in December of 2017. Everything was so super fast, we knew each other before with Marco and the guys, but the studio time was intense and we gave the best we could without really knowing our skills and our abilities in the studio.
Then we played a lot of shows, something like 80-90 in a year. Being together for that long for so many days and different situations, it made us take a step forward for Viridian. And now with the total confidence and acknowledgement of each other’s talents and characteristics, we’ve reached a really important level. We find a way to give space to every singer and every element of the band vocal-wise. With Diamanti, there are a couple of songs that are specifically written for a specific singer. “I the Loneliness” was written for Marco, “Fairy Tales for the Stars” is written for me, and “Let’s Get Started” is written for Alessia. Those tracks you can see how we really know how to treat each other properly.
Dead Rhetoric: Was this one of the first times that you and Marco acted as producers for a Temperance album?
Guaitoli: As producers, we did the same for the last two albums, but this is the first record in which there are songs that are composed together as musicians. There is a huge difference when you produce an album you structure and arrange it. When you compose and write material together from scratch, it’s a different feeling and atmosphere – and we had never done this previously together. On the previous records it was always a song coming from me, a song coming from Marco. On this record, we have some riffs that are from Marco, some melodies from me, they are all somehow entwining and putting the energy from each other together. This is a new vision for Temperance.
Dead Rhetoric: What are some of your favorite songs on this album, now that you’ve had some time to digest and process your work?
Guaitoli: I’m in love with the singles we have dropped so far “Pure Life Unfolds”, “Diamanti” and “Breaking the Rules of Heavy Metal”. I feel lucky that they were chosen as singles – as you know it’s not always like this. It’s not only myself or Marco who decides, you have the record label and management that work as a collective. The other one is “Follow Me”, it’s the last track of the record. It’s an unconventional song that is pretty original for us, I invite the listeners to really listen to this song. There are special vibes.
Dead Rhetoric: Was it an easy decision to make for the bonus song “Set Yourself Free” for the Japanese edition?
Guaitoli: The reason we did this, which is a super, super heavy track. It’s completely different from the rest of the record, we wanted to give the Japanese fans something extremely not conventional for Temperance. It’s a heavy, modern almost djent-like track I would say.
Dead Rhetoric: Tell us about the inspiration and lyrical content for “Breaking the Rules of Heavy Metal”? And what are some specific rules that you believe are meant to be broken in the genre – if any?
Guaitoli: At first, I want to say that this song started with a completely different title – “The 70,000 Tons of Metal” which I believe you may have heard about, the cruise that is organized in the USA. We wanted to dedicate this song to that, but there are some legal rights and copyrights that came up. We had to change it into “Breaking the Rules of Heavy Metal” – but the lyrics recall the experience that we had, and other bands have had, through the years. When we talk about being carried by the waves, carried by the seas, this is exactly the reference we are referring to when it comes to the metal cruise.
When it comes to breaking the rules, as Temperance with our stance and our music, we don’t want to follow some stereotypes that are sometimes connected to heavy metal. Especially by the old metalheads – when you speak with an older metalhead they think of you as a dark guy, a sad guy, someone with a lot of anger in your music. We are on the opposite side of that, we are super positive and bright as a band. We want to break the typical metalhead stereotype, and have them understand that heavy metal is amazing, positive, and bright.
Dead Rhetoric: Did you choose different scenery across Italy for the landscape shots in these videos that have been released so far? And do you enjoy mixing that up with the band performance footage?
Guaitoli: Totally. This is something that we really take care of. We want to show something of ours. All of the Temperance videos are shot in Italy, because we believe that our country has a lot of amazing scenery and environments. Everyone thinks of Italy relating to the art, monuments, history of the Roman Empire, but we have so many amazing places. We have lakes, we have seas, we have mountains, we have a lot of environments that might look different from Northern Europe. We are proud of our country – it matters to us to show this side of Italy.
Dead Rhetoric: Do you think the pandemic shutting down the touring cycle for Viridian allowed the band to put more time, energy, and effort into the material for Diamanti in a way that was a bit more focused with attention to the little details – and how do you believe the mixing/mastering from Jacob Hansen brings this record to another level for the tones and final sonic output?
Guaitoli: I do agree with what you said 100 %. The pandemic really made a difference on several levels, giving us the time to focus on our music is only one of the bright sides that occurred due to the pandemic. Because we were stuck in our places, Italy had one of the longest lockdowns in Europe. We had time to think, to focus on what we were doing, to discuss online the shape and the sound that this album needed. Which is something when you are constantly on the road, constantly playing or away, you don’t have this gift. We managed to take the dark side of the pandemic into a positive side for our music. There are some songs that can be heard lyric-wise on this record like “You Only Live Once” and “I the Loneliness” which are deeply influenced by the pandemic. When we say “Let’s Get Started”, let’s get started with a new way of our lives. “I the Loneliness” talks about all the people who were forced to stay alone at home on their own. The pandemic gave us time to focus and make us reach a deeper connection in our music.
When it comes to Jacob Hansen, this is not the first time that we’ve worked with him. The more we work with him, the more we are surprised by his talent. He’s amazing. The way of changing our music into something that is totally a step forward, compared to anything else we could do. In terms of mixing and mastering, he is a master – he is an alien (laughs). When we send him something and we get it back from his studio, it’s magic. I truly believe in the team that we have right now.
Dead Rhetoric: As a producer yourself, do you admire his work or others in the scene – people that you look to for tips and guidance that can aid your own work?
Guaitoli: I really admire him. If I could believe I could do what he does, I would do the album myself. I don’t fear competition. Both as a singer and as a producer generally in my life. I like challenges, but it’s important to know your level. Jacob Hansen is an alien. His ears, all the years, they are a gift. He has a sense of the frequencies, he has a vision of sound that is above everyone else that I’ve been working with. As long as I can keep on working with him, as long as he is willing to continue to work with us, I think I will never drop that. I really admire him from the heart.
Dead Rhetoric: What countries seem to gravitate towards the Temperance sound outside of Italy? And do you believe you are gaining more respect and appreciation in your home country due to the hard work and consistent album release schedule you’ve had?
Guaitoli: So, Marco and I are statistic guys. We really like to check out where our music is listened to from Spotify, you can look on YouTube, the most views and streams. Surprisingly for us, the US is one of the countries that listens to us the most, together with the UK. In the past, especially with the UK, we have played there a lot of times. In the past Temperance came to the US for a small tour with the old lineup, it was a huge effort. When you are seated in the right place, and making an effort, it’s nice to see the feedback. Of course Germany is popular for us too, the country where metal lives in Europe and we are luckily part of it too.
I believe Temperance still has some cards to play when it comes to spreading our music out. We are a star that can still shine brighter. Honestly when it comes to our home country and consistency/respect, I don’t think we have gained it. I have a huge example of this with Lacuna Coil. They did a lot abroad, and still it took a lot of years for them to be properly recognized in Italy which they are now after more than twenty years of huge efforts on the road. Which is the motto that fits – no one is profiting in their own country. We feel like our efforts abroad are not seen the same in Italy – which can be envy or resentment, which is not something we like because we think the opposite. We think if a band from your country somehow grows abroad, it brings visibility to the whole country. This is the mechanism I see to spread and share with others. It’s not always happening in Italy – and that is a bit sad.
Dead Rhetoric: That is sad. I remember following Lacuna Coil from the early days and being happy of their US breakthrough – getting massive radio airplay and bigger tours. I don’t think I would be jealous of one band from Italy reaching new heights of popularity, because I would believe it would open doors from other bands from that country…
Guaitoli: For instance this is the same thing happening with Måneskin right now. I am a huge fan of them, I have been following them during the Eurovision competition. I’m proud of them and the music coming from my country. I have been reading so much shit thrown to them from Italians, saying where were they before, I don’t believe they all know what they did before. They just announced opening some shows for The Rolling Stones, I’m super proud having an Italian band do such a huge thing in the world of music. Then I read my Facebook wall and a lot of people are not happy or proud of what is going on. It’s sad and surprising to me. The world is different.
Dead Rhetoric: You mentioned in our last talk that your second thought when you wake up after Alessia your girlfriend is working on improving your voice. Where have you seen the biggest growth as a result of this consistent work schedule for your voice, and what tips/techniques do you think have benefitted you the most in terms of the studio or stage?
Guaitoli: Awareness. My awareness has grown a lot compared to the previous records and this is something that will still grow more and more. Touring, the major growth has come from this because it really puts you on the edge with your voice. Vocals are not like any other instrument because it’s your body that is actually playing the game. And if you are ill, if you are sick, if you are not 100% in the proper condition, you are tired, you really suffer. Being on the road for long periods of time with Temperance and my other band Visions of Atlantis, really put me on the edge sometimes and made me understand how much I can push sometimes and control my voice. Where do I have to ask myself to stop a little? You start managing your voice in the proper way, and you realize your boundaries. The limits become more of a power point than a downside, it makes you focus on what you can do best in a better way. Being on the road and practicing with live shows, this really is the only suggestion I could give to another singer. If you really want to grow, you have to push yourself in a direction where there is more demand than you can actually give. You have to face this and find a way out of this, if you find this you will be happy and very satisfied with your voice.
Dead Rhetoric: What would surprise people to learn about Michele the person when you are able to step away from music? In what ways do you think you’ve changed, evolved, and grown as a person through your work in the music business over the years?
Guaitoli: (laughs) Patience. This is such a clear answer to me. I’ve grown so much in terms of patience, thanks to the music world and the experiences you have to face here in the music world. Just think of the pandemic, and how much patience every musician had to give to the world because of the long wait between going back on the road. This patience is needed on every level. When you plan something in the world of music, it’s never something that arrives like an Amazon package that you order online, you pay, and you have it the following day at your place. McDonalds, Burger King, they get us used to a life that is super fast – you want something you get it. The world is aiming to go in this direction which is completely far from what we are forced (to go), it’s something that is natural in the world of music. You have to grow and grow in a proper way. Only when people are ready will things properly happen. You have to make an effort to reach that, and only through efforts and time will you reach where you want (to go).
Temperance has grown on all levels – a relationship level, a professional level, everything. As a musician, I’ve grown thanks to the musical world for this.
Dead Rhetoric: Can you tell us three albums that helped shape your outlook on the genre of heavy metal, and what is the best concert memory that you have, purely attending a show or festival as a fan in the audience, and what made that so special to you?
Guaitoli: I would say Brave New World by Iron Maiden. This is the album that initiated me to heavy metal. When you hear the music, I heard it in 2000 when I was fifteen and it created a whole new dimension, I got blown away. It was magic, somehow engaging and thanks to that record I never have stopped listening to heavy metal and music. After that I have to mention Hellfire Club from Edguy. The album that really got me into power metal, and I really believe this is one of the best power metal records ever. Their music, the lyrics, the arrangements, the sounds – this is my favorite album ever on every level. From the songs to the production, this is something that I care about. The last release would be Poetry for the Poisoned by Kamelot. This is because of Roy Khan’s singing. Roy influenced me as a singer, there are some aspects of my singing that are really derived from him. I will never say that I am cloning him because I have my own personality. There are some sounds though that he taught me through his recordings, and this record is especially one I learned about singing and singing in an emotional way.
When it comes to the live experience, the best show I’ve ever seen is from Rammstein. I have been following them a while, and on tour in 2016-2017 I saw them. They offer a show, not just the music, from the first sound to the last note. It’s not only with your ears that you listen to them, it’s with your eyes that you watch the show and your body that you feel the fire. It’s a three-dimensional show that left something in my heart.
Dead Rhetoric: What would you say are some of the toughest aspects for the average fan to understand when it comes to personal or business decisions that are made with Temperance or any of the other bands that you currently work with?
Guaitoli: (laughs). The hardest thing to explain is why we don’t go to some countries. For instance, touring in South America is one of the hardest things you can do as a band. Especially as a European band – or Australia. There are so many issues that are hard to explain to a fan as a musician. You have the visa, you have the travelling expenses, they just believe you earn a lot with music to afford any method of travelling. Unfortunately this is not true. A South American tour for a small band like Temperance, we are not a big band yet, it’s a huge economical effort that we can’t do right now. It’s one of the biggest requests we have now, why don’t you come to Brazil, Argentina, Chile. The same thing with the US – it’s an investment that is not as easy as visiting New York for one week for travelling. You have the gear, you have the working visas which are expensive, the insurance – so many aspects that are not easy to get as a European band without help. Even if you have the direct contacts, it’s the working experience you face to get over there.
Dead Rhetoric: If you had the opportunity to teach the young people of the world a high school or college-level course of your own making, outside of the expertise you possess as a musician, what subject would you teach/develop, and what topics would you handle under this course?
Guiatoli: Computers! I am a nerd (laughs). Not many know this aspect of my life, but I am a computer nerd. Before becoming a musician, I would have loved to become an engineer, an info engineer. I have to say thanks to music, I love the world I am living in now. I love to program, I love to create which is some form of art. I would find myself teaching computers to young kids.
Dead Rhetoric: What’s on the agenda for Temperance, Visions of Atlantis, and your other musical projects as far as shows, tours, or recording during the next twelve months or so?
Guiatoli: Of course, this question can only be answered within the regards of the pandemic. Things are settling and going really well especially in Italy we have a high amount of vaccinated people, so this is making a huge difference. I hope and believe starting with December, things will get back to musical normal. If this will happen and there are no surprises, the agenda will be busy. Starting in December, we have a tour with Visions of Atlantis in Europe. In March and April of next year, the tour with Temperance supporting Tarja, this is also in Europe. We have all the summer festivals, there are quite a lot. Both with Visions and Temperance. We have tours planned for the winter, with Leaves Eyes in 2022. Visions of Atlantis will also have a headlining tour. We want to get back to the US – we were sad we had to miss that tour with Dragonforce, we spoke about trying to get back there.
You ask about Kaledon – the album is ready that we recorded during the pandemic. I recorded the videos last week. There won’t be any touring – this band is not a priority for any of the members, they have families, I have things with Temperance and Visions of Atlantis. Maybe there will be an album release show, the album will drop soon.