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27/03/2010 – Interview with ANCIENT BARDS

Italy has given birth to a new RHAPSODY. ANCIENT BARDS (official website) its name and the band recently released its debut album, "The Alliance Of The Kings", earlier this month via Limb Music Products, the label that was important in RHAPSODY (OF FIRE)'s international career. You can check out the review of the album at this location. Any fan of Symphonic Power Metal is highly recommended to check out the band and its debut album. and this is only the beginning, as the saga will span several albums.

Because of this exquisite release an interview had to be done with mastermind/keyboardist Daniele Mazza. Vocalist Sara Squadrani helped to answer where appropriate. Read along to find out more.

Ancient Bards logo

ANCIENT BARDS was founded in 2006 by you/Daniele. What inspired you to form your own band and how did you find members to complete the line-up?

Daniele: Hi Tim and hi to all of your readers of ToM! Precisely. The project started in 2006 when I decided to transpose into music the saga I wrote before. I've always loved epic and high-sounding movie soundtracks (like those by Hans Zimmer) and Metal music: when I first heard a tune of RHAPSODY it was love at first sight! So I started creating a band that could call to mind their sound. This first phase didn't last a long time, we were too young, so everything died after a few months. In July 2007 the project became more serious, thanks to MySpace I found Sara and together with Martino I found the other members of the line-up.

Ancient Bards bandDid you all take lessons or was it primarily self-teaching?

Sara: The boys have studied, in academies and conservatories. I'm the only one who never studied seriously, apart from a few lessons with Michele Luppi. I must say, though, it would have been better for me if I had some more solid bases. I would start studying now, if only I had time.

You're the songwriter of the band. Do you create the foundations to which the others can add their ideas, or can anyone come up with a riff or melody and work from there on?

Daniele: I write the whole song, from the beginning to the end: riffs and melodies included. But obviously if the guys have some good ideas to make the song better, I never say no! (above all for what concerns guitar solos!)

Usually, Power Metal bands and specifically Italian bands have a male singer. You opted for a female vocalist. Was this in view of the songs or to avoid being no. 34553225 on the list of Italian Power Metal bands?

Daniele: Initially, I was looking for a male singer (like every other Italian Power Metal band), but when I heard Sara sing I thought that the songs would sound a whole lot better with her amazing voice! Moreover, her presence would have, of course, also made us different from all the other Power Metal bands!

For your music you created a story/saga, "The Black Crystal Sword". A few questions:
-- a) It's a Fantasy story. I take it you like reading such books? :-) Which series/authors do you like?
-- b) Musically you're inspired by RHAPSODY (OF FIRE), but it seems the saga was also quite an attractive element. Can it be considered a tribute or is the similarity a coincidence?

Daniele: I sincerely have to say I'm not such a big fan of books. I don't read much. I don't have time to do it! I've never even read "The Lord Of The Rings"! For what concerns the similarity of our saga to Turilli's I must say it's just the title. I mean, they have the Emerald Sword, we have the Black Crystal Sword. Those who will follow the story will find out there's nothing more in common.

"The Alliance Of The Kings" is the first part. How many albums do you have in mind for the saga?

Daniele: Well, the saga has been written from the beginning to the end and I already know who many albums it'll take to tell it... but I just prefer not to reveal anything. I'll just tell you it won't be a trilogy, it'll be longer!

Do you have leftovers from the songwriting sessions (entire songs or rough ideas for a next album)?

Daniele: there are no leftovers actually as... the next album, except for the lyrics, has already entirely been written and it has a title, too.

The cover looks very nice. Who made it and what is shown? Daltor in profile view? One of the kings in battle armor? Plus, what's that blue aura?

Ancient Bards - The Alliance Of The KingsSara: The cover was created by our graphic designer Matteo Pasquali from Flush Design. You absolutely got that! The knight is Daltor in his shining armor: his head is low as if he was praying while the blue aura symbolizes his soul, as it was separating from his body.

Sara sings some Italian parts in two songs: "Lode Al Padre" and "Faithful To Destiny". Are those lyrics translated in the booklet? And have you considered making her sing entire songs in Italian?

Daniele: In the booklet you'll find the lyrics in Italian, not translated in English. We thought a lot about it and we decided to leave them in their original language, considering they were so short. "Lode Al Padre" was written entirely in Italian, but my co-workers weren't so fine with it, so it has been rewritten in English. It is possible that someday we'll release "Lode Al Padre" exactly the way it was at the beginning! Anyway, on the next albums there won't be songs in Italian.

Everything was done at the Fear Studio. How did you arrive there? And how did the recordings go? Did you go in and record, or did you have to change some things?

Sara: We are from Rimini, a city near Ravenna where the Fear Studio is. We have known Gabriele Ravaglia and Simone Mularoni for a long time and we knew how good they were, so our choice was easy to make. We spent July 2009 enclosed in the studio with our ideas very clear, so the recording sessions were fast. It has been the first studio experience we had together as ANCIENT BARDS and it has been great!

The album features the Toto Corde choir. What can you tell me about them?

Daniele: The Toto Corde Choir sings sacred music aroud Rimini. It consists of 10 members, all professionals. It has been good to work together, they learned the songs pretty soon and in just one day the recorded all of their parts (always at Fear Studio).

The press release also stated there were guest musicians, next to the choir. Who are these guests?

Sara: exactly, we had the pleasure to work with some other people. The acoustic guitars you hear in "Lode Al Padre" and in "Daltor The Dragonhunter" were recorded by the great Simone Mularoni (guitar player of DGM and EMPYRIOS), and the choir you hear at the end of "Faithful To Destiny" was recorded by the "barbarian choir", a fictitious name invented by Daniele, thet was formed by Daniele himself, Simone Mularoni and Emanuele, Giacomo and Lucio from the band FIGURE OF SIX.

Considering the large orchestral input, some questions come to mind: did you grow up with classical music and learned to appreciate Metal afterwards? Or was it the other way around?

Daniele: Since I started playing the piano I love classical music. I especially appreciated composers like Mozart, Bach and Beethoven. I came to know Metal music a bit later, I was 16. I liked hearing those influences coming from classic music in Metal music and I loved that!

Did your grow up in a musical family?

Sapa: Nope! No one of us comes from a family of musicians.. let's say we're the first of the stock.

Ancient Bards bandI noticed several musical references, as you may have read in my review: DREAM THEATER, RHAPSODY (OF FIRE), LUCA TURILLI, TURISAS, EPICA, ... a coincidence or did you find those specific parts useful to create new songs from them?

Daniele: Well, RHAPSODY (and LUCA TURILLI) are my favourite band, they are my first reference frame. About the other bands I must say it's just a coincidence. When I write I don't look at Metal bands, but at composers like Hans Zimmer, John Williams, Herry Gregson Williams and Nobuo Uematsu.

ANCIENT BARDS is signed to Limb Music. Did they contact you or vice versa? And were there other labels that showed interest?

Sara: When we finished the recordings of our album we already had some contacts with a few labels. But before making any decision we tried to contact some other labels, among which there was LMP. When we had the response from all the labels we decided that LMP was just perfect for us.

Considering the music sounds similar to RHAPSODY's, I take it LMP was very enthusiastic to sign you, right?

Daniele: Yes, they were! LMP seem to be enthusiastic about us and our music. I remember a nice episode: our album was made of 10 songs, but Limb needed one more song for the Japanese release. I went back to the Fear Studio with Sara and in just one day we recorded the 11th song and the next day I sent the master to Limb. When he recieved it he wrote us immediately an e-mail to tell us he was stunned by our work. It has been really really nice of him!

Who owns the rights to the songs? You? LMP?

Daniele: The right of the songs for the reproduction on CDs are equally split between me and LMP.

Are you connected to an author's rights organization? And how do you feel about these?

Daniele: I am a member of SIAE, the Italian society of authors. For now I can't complain, it always worked poperly and well.

You've already played some gigs, since the release of "Trailer". How did it go and what was the response from the audience?

Sara: After the release of "Trailer" we played on a few important stages, thanks to Emiliano Nanni and BRC, our agency. We've always received a good response from the audience actually, most of the times far better than we expected! I particularly liked the show we had in support of TURISAS: the audience was jumping and dancing and singing with us, it has been a really good gig!

With this first full-length, have you already received more booking requests? Maybe international ones?

Daniele: Unfortunately not yet, but we're waiting to see if we can make an international tour, maybe as support band.

RHAPSODY OF FIRE will release a new album soon, "The Frozen Tears Of Angels". Have you talked to Luca and co. about touring together sometime?

Daniele: Wow, it would be awesome! But we never spoke to Alex or Luca... it would be a dream for me that would become reality!

Attention from radio stations: any luck with that?

Sara: Well, I heard some radio station aired "The Birth Of Evil". I admit it's really satisfying.

Like with a gazillion other artists/bands, you're registered on Myspace and Facebook. How has this influenced the popularity, the name-spreading of ANCIENT BARDS?

Sara: Internet is a must for a band! It really helps you getting noticed, and the best part of it is that it works worldwide! I think we wouldn't be here, if it wasn't for the power of the net!

With all the work you put into this first album, do you still have time for hobbies or other interests you wish to pursue?

Daniele: The time is little! But I tray to find some space for my hobbies. I love swimming, playing Xbox 360 and hanging out with my friends. I try to fit those things with my work. My hobbies are things I could never do without.

Well, that's all from me. A long list indeed, inline with the review. ;-) Thanks for taking the time and if there's anything you wish to add, please do so.

Daniele: Thank you very much for the interview, it's been fun! Greetings to all the readers of Thoughts of Metal! Our adventure has just begun, we hope to go as far as we can, so thank you for your support! See you on stage!!

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