Wind Rose – A Rising ArmyTuesday, 28th June 2022
Anthems of dwarven power/ folk metal might that transport the listener into fantasy realms with Tolkien and Warhammer themes – that’s the platform that Italian quintet Wind Rose travel down since their beginnings. Achieving viral status on last year’s Wintersaga album due to a Mindcraft gaming cover for “Diggy Diggy Hole”, the follow up Warfront proves the band is a viable outfit when it comes to creating consistent material full of passion, promise, and potential to be the next big thing in their space.
We reached out to singer Francesco Cavalieri who is very thoughtful in this conversation regarding the new album, the changes in recording/songwriting that took place due to the pandemic, imagery and its importance for the band, thoughts on “Diggy Diggy Hole” plus career highlights, and some future hopes and plans including outside Wind Rose material.
Dead Rhetoric: Warfront is the fifth studio album for the band. At this point in the career of Wind Rose, what do you wish to achieve in terms of the creativity and performances album to album – and where do you see this album sitting in the discography style-wise?
Francesco Cavalieri: I think that Warfront is the album for Wind Rose. I will explain why. Because with Wintersaga we felt like we reached the final form in terms of composition of style. With this album, we just add more layers on top. Even with the knowledge we have about ourselves and the music, the way that we want to follow. This is the best album so far that we have ever made in terms of respecting the Wind Rose style. It totally represents what we are and what we want to tell with our music.
Probably it’s a bit different from the other recordings because it was made in an extraordinary period of a historical moment – the pandemic. We had to learn how to compose remotely, and not be in person with the others. That was the hardest part of this work, to be honest.
Dead Rhetoric: Composing for this record remotely, do you believe that the band was able to focus maybe a little more on specific details to get the songs finalized just as you wanted, without any burden for rushing into specific deadlines?
Cavalieri: To be honest, we felt like we had all the time of the world, not literally. We didn’t know what was tomorrow, you know? We just said, okay guys, we have a new challenge to face. The compositions we would do remotely. We had to focus on what we always do, in person. In the beginning it was difficult, sometimes we got stuck with the ideas. It’s not like Federico was here playing the keyboard, and then stop and make this again. It was not possible to work like that, it was working at home kilometers from each other. Claudio would be working in his house; I would be working in my house as well. It was difficult to make all the ideas go in the same way, but when we got the way to follow, we were obviously going as always.
Maybe due to this pandemic, this situation we were living in Italy, we were a ground zero for Europe for Covid-19. Moreso the mood of the band was not a party mood, so you may not find as many party songs on this new album as you will more serious stuff. It did affect the compositions.
Dead Rhetoric: How important do you see the relationship between your imagery and stage gear and your lyrical/musical output? Do you believe you need both for your audience to understand the atmosphere and philosophy you wish to put across for the band?
Cavalieri: To be honest, yes. Maybe the imagery that we have, the stage costumes we have, it’s really good to emerge from the crowd and the music business. The music business is full of bands that sometimes just do this as a hobby. It’s very difficult to emerge from the masses. For us using the costumes was a sort of identifier with something. It’s also a sort of ritual for us. Where we put the costumes on, we switch the brain. I am not Francesco anymore, I am Francesco Cavalieri, I switch my brain and I am ready to kill the stage. The costume in my case maybe is more important for me than for the audience.
Dead Rhetoric: You’ve been on a variety of record labels since the band’s start – moving up to Napalm Records with your last effort Wintersaga. How do you feel about the staff and promotion you’ve received at Napalm – what are some of the key differences compared to the work of past labels, and do you feel they understand what Wind Rose is all about to aid in building the following of the group?
Cavaileri: The relationship we have with Napalm in terms of work has been well worth it. The combination of our ideas along with their ideas, we try to match the expectations of both. Obviously, we had to prove with the first album that we were worthy as we think we are. Even for sure, we are not the best band in the world, but we have something to prove and say to the listeners. We had to prove everything when you enter the professional music business. And we did it with the success of “Diggy Diggy Hole”, we broke the ice completely. Napalm started to see us as a successful band. It’s a good thing. In terms of the business, it’s not something like a friendship. When you are working, you have to make results. As long as both parties match the expectations and the results, there shouldn’t be any problems.
Dead Rhetoric: The video for your Yogscast cover of the Mindcraft-themed anthem “Diggy Diggy Hole” has over 34 million views on YouTube to date. Discuss the viral impact of this track, and do you believe you’ve crossed over beyond the normal metal followers into fanatics of the game and newcomers who normally wouldn’t check out a band such as yourselves?
Cavalieri: The original song made by Yogscast has a few million views on over ten years. That song was very popular among the gamers. We are also gamers, too. We knew that song, we knew it was a good move to make a cover about it. It was not expected, this success, to be honest. It was more a move that the manager wanted us to take, as an ice breaker for the business. He chooses this one, and I guess the song reached a lot of people in a short amount of time. It drastically increased our fanbase, so it was the right move for our career.
Dead Rhetoric: Playing in the dwarven power metal genre with folk elements, what drives the vision and output of the group? Do you find you are very aware and critical of the quality you need to place in all areas of Wind Rose to be convincing in what you deliver to the fans?
Cavalieri: Every step that we took was needed to arrive to finalize this style that we have right now. I guess that for the moment, we always top what we made before. We just don’t match what we’ve made before. We surpass what we’ve made before. Every album it would be hard to do what we expect with the next one, but we do it. We don’t know what to expect for the next one, but we feel we have reached the final form and we are clear within our eyes the way to follow. The fans, I cannot promise them anything, or say anything for the future directions of the band. What can I promise is that we will always have our style, the Wind Rose style in the songs.
Dead Rhetoric: When looking at the career of Wind Rose, what do you consider some of the special moments that have occurred – either albums, songs, tours, or festival dates – where you knew you were making an impact and moving up the ranks when it comes to your career?
Cavalieri: I can say for example as highlights, the first European tour with Eluveitie and Skalmold in 2015. Because obviously it was the first European tour, we were on the road meeting our fans, we also made a lot of new fans. In 2017 the release of “To Erebor” the video. On social media that video reached eleven million views on our Facebook page. It was shared six hundred thousand times. That short video, do you know dwarven metal, with the part from “To Erebor”, it was the trend of the moment in 2017. It was our first international success on the internet. I remember that as a highlight. After that success we had, and Bloodstock in 2017, we found 7,000-8,000 people singing our songs. We felt loved and appreciated, they were greeting us like rock stars. It was the first time for us. In 2018, the big tour in Europe with Ex Deo and Ensiferum. Ex Deo is a band of our manager; we knew our future manager and we got connected to Napalm Records. We spent a lot of time with Ensiferum, and they are now friends of ours. It was a fantastic moment. The last moment of signing with Napalm, the release of “Diggy Diggy Hole” and the release of Wintersaga, it was an entrance into the bigger music business. It was a blast. I cannot be happier about it.
Dead Rhetoric: What are some of the most interesting stories that have happened with fan interactions that took place related to Wind Rose at your live shows?
Cavalieri: I don’t remember many funny moments. I have noticed a lot of people have been singing “Diggy Diggy Hole” live now, that’s where we got the idea to do the cover. For me, every place where I play is a blast. I have always found lovely people, very friendly fans. I don’t have any complaints about it, they have all been fantastic.
Dead Rhetoric: How do you feel about the development of your voice over the years – what do you consider the strengths of your delivery, and what improvements (if any) would you like to make?
Cavalieri: The development of my voice was from when I started. The first album Shadows over Lothadruin was recorded across 2010-11 and released in 2012. I was 19 and 20 years old. After that recording, I wanted to improve and find my way to sing. I decided to start a career, opera singing, and started working with a vocal teacher from Florence. My voice started to change, I started to understand this profession, what was my strength of my voice. What was the lack as well in my voice? I have a lot of power, I can interpret emotions and stuff like that, but the lack is in the high notes, because I am not that kind of singer, classic power singer. I focused on what was working and fitting 100% with my voice. Since I have started this journey, improving what I can really do as the best, the people have started to love my voice more. When you are yourself, the people appreciate it, it’s cool.
Dead Rhetoric: Since everyone in the band are gamers, what are some of your favorite games to play – do you have a preference for old-time efforts, or do you also keep up with some of the latest games that hit the market?
Cavalieri: I try even the new games that hit the market. I really try every game that is coming out. The only thing I don’t like is the single player games. They have a better story, but I’m more a multi-player gamer. I love MMO’s, RPG’s, I prefer the newer first-person shooters because they are more realistic. In terms of role-playing games, I prefer the retro-gaming because the ones from the past are more complex in terms of game play, and they were also more fascinating and more beautiful. One of my favorites of all time is Dark Age of Camelot. It’s a game that has no rivals in my opinion, especially in the market now. Even World of Warcraft, the game play in Dark Age of Camelot to me cannot be beaten. It was a game from 2001.
Dead Rhetoric: What would you consider three of the most important power/folk metal albums that are very inspirational and influential to your outlook on those genres?
Cavalieri: Time I from Wintersun. Maybe Stand Up and Fight – Turisas or even From Afar – Ensiferum. In general, the bands the influence Wind Rose the most are Wintersun, Ensiferum, and Turisas. Just for the music, for the vocal parts I don’t have any reference. When I listen to our music, the way we do the vocals, I don’t see any other band doing the vocals the way we do.
Dead Rhetoric: What does it mean to live a good life? And how do you know if you are living well?
Cavalieri: To live a good life means do what you can, with everything you have got to be happy. My life was obviously influenced by the idea, the ambition of being a musician. I want to follow my career, even doing active work in construction wasn’t scaring me. My life belongs to the music, I was always sure to become a musician in my life. I got all the opportunities that life gave me, I didn’t refuse any of them. You need to do the life that you want. It’s not about getting the stuff easily, it’s about getting the results that you want, even if you need to put in more effort. In the end you will have no regrets.
Dead Rhetoric: What’s on the agenda for Wind Rose over the next twelve months? And are there plans for more work with Fairyland or any other guest appearances / side things to expect?
Cavalieri: I am working with Orion’s Reign from Greece; we are making an album with them. With Fairyland, I guess they almost have finished a new album, the compositions. They are working on it, but they decided to change the singer. I will be a guest on that, because I don’t have the time anymore for that. I will be busy with Wind Rose. We will do some touring, it’s better to stick with the plan. We are waiting for the approval, but there are plans for the United States, Canada, and even South America besides Europe. We will tour all around the world, more or less.