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14/03/2007 – Interview with EMPYRIOS

EMPYRIOS (official website) is an Italian Progressive Powermetal band and for the most part comparable to their American equivalents SYMPHONY X. Some will already wonder about EMPYRIOS being a clone or whatever, but that's not true. But in this interview with mainman/guitarist Simone Mularoni, it is pretty obvious SYMPHONY X served as a major influence and inspiration for the band's songs. The other great bad they adore is NEVERMORE. The band released their debut two months ago and you can read my findings on "...And The Rest Is Silence" at this location.

Empyrios logo

When you decided to start a Metalband, was this a spur of the moment or did you really think this through?

Simo: Well, me and Teo were in school together, and we always had this dream to become a rock band. And here we are. Eheheh, so you can say a dream came true.

I've read in another interview that the band name, EMPYRIOS, comes from Dante Alighieri's "Divine Comedy". I'm not familiar with this work, but is there a reason why the y stands out in the bandname?

Simo: Just a graphic trick, no link to the "Divine Comedy" opera. You know, SYMPHONY X have the X, and EMPYRIOS have the Y, hahaha.

And The Rest Is Silence coverAccording to you, what are the strong and 'less strong' points of the band? Which points still need working on?

Simo: Well... Me and Teo wrote almost all the music, so for me it's difficult to choose the worst point of the band! Well, we're writing the new material, and I can assure you that we're moving to a more heavy territory. You know, a sort of STRAPPING meets NEVERMORE while drinking a beer!!!!

Every bandmember has his own taste in music/metal, so I guess there are sometimes moments where compromises are to be made. Were there significant discussions about the direction of the songs? Also, who's in charge when a decision must be made and no one seems to agree with the other?

Simo: This is a beautiful question! Yes, playing in a band means to make compromises every day, from the musical side to the personal one. For example, I can tell you that me and Teo 'fight' everyday talking about the songs and the direction, but until now we've always found the right compromise. Ya know, I like intricate passages, he likes catchy parts, I like to play infinite solos, he likes riffing.. ahahahah it's a fucking massacre! But I really love the way the songs come out following these 'fights'. Obviously I'm the supreme LEADER of the band, so I take the final decision! Hahaha.

The artwork was done by Silvio. Is it important to keep such things inside the band and who would you consider for a future album, if Silvio can't do it or if you want to appeal to a third person?

Simo: I'm really convinced that I want to have the total control of our product, you know. We took care about the artwork, the production, the mixing/mastering process... I think only in this way you can be sure that there will be no errors. But if Silvio couldn't do the artwork, I think I would call Travis Smith - I love his works!

Related to the previous question: in your opinion, how important is artwork in Metal? Is is just a visual aspect of an album, or is it important that it's connected to the songs, the storyline on the album?

Simo: personally I don't think that there must be a link with the storyline, but on the other hand I'm sure that the artwork is the first thing you notice when you are in the store buying an album. So I think it's very important.

Empyrios - bandThe lyrics mainly deal with confused states of mind, but how does the artwork for "...And The Rest Is Silence" fit in? What's the connection between the hand and the face/head?

Simo: Well, only Silvio knows it and he still doesn't want to communicate this secret with us! Hahaha. Anyway, I think that the cover and the entire artwork are very 'confused', so for me the link is obvious.

Musically you play Progressive Powermetal, but despite the influences from the mentioned bands, EMPRYRIOS can be considered a second SMYPHONY X, as most of the material sounds similar to that of the American Progressive Metalband. Hell, even Russel Allen would fit very well on "...And The Rest Is Silence". Every thought of asking him for a guest appearance or maybe for (one of) the next albums?

Simo: Wow. You're talking with a major fan of Russel. It would be a fantastic dream to have him on a song!!! Even a phrase!!! Russel for president!!!!!!

During the composing and try-outs of riffs, melodies, etc... how do you avoid copying from other bands? I know this is easily done, taking over a riff, even when you don't do it on purpose (e.g. "The Ruiner" has some similarities with NIGHTWISH and MASTERPLAN and in "Eal" the part where Silvio sings "I'm forever by your side..." and "If you search for something warm..." sounds very similar to MASTERPLAN's "Into The Light" - sorry for being picky ;-)).

Simo: I just play guitar or write the parts down on a pentagram, so if I don't know the original riffs I go on my way. Nothing's new in metal, every band copies the old ones, hahaha. Anyway, I sing the song "Eal", not Silvio. But we try to be careful about copying, although we can know every song written.

During the recording process, did you play your parts entirely or was it in short pieces and then join it all with ProTools or other software?

Simo: I work in the recording studio so we take care about the recording. Usually I try to play the entire song and then eventually correct the small imperfections with digital audio software.

Related to the previous question: did you record every instrument seperately or was everyone playing together while recording? EDGUY, for example, did this on their last record, "Rocket Ride", where they all played together and meanwhile the songs were being recorded.

Simo: I like to record the instruments separately, so you can concentrate more and only on your instrument.

Empyrios - bandYou've signed a contract with Burning Star Records. For how many albums are they willing to support you and did you have talks with other labels too?

Simo: For two albums, at least we hope, hehehe. No contacts with other labels until Burning Star works so well.

What do you think of the roster of Burning Star Records? Which bands do you know and/or like?

Simo: I love the way Michael and Burning Star works. The guys are wonderful. I know ASTRA (another BS band) very well 'cause Emanuele plays also with them.

Silvio apparently is no trained vocalist, but did he consider taking lessons/seeing a vocal coach in order not to ruin his voice on a short or long term basis?

Simo: Silvio is a very strange kinda singer. He can sing for hours without ruining his voice. Maybe it's because he's so young??? :-) Anyway, he's quite a shy personality, so I really think that he won't take any kind of lessons.

Have there been talks with Burning Star about a future tour? And who would like to tour with?

Simo: Just today I was talkin' to Burning Star about the possibility of a tour. Surely it would be an opening act tour, since we've only an album to present to the audience. We'd love to play with our heroes: NEVERMORE, SYMPHONY X and so on. But we're talkin' about it, we'll see.

How much time do you weekly spend on your work for EMPYRIOS and how much is left for you personally, for your hobbies, your work, studies, .?

Simo: Personally, I dedicate every free minute to EMPYRIOS, by which I mean I'm not the PR guy, I'm constantly in search of melodies, riffs, rythms etc...etc... The other guys in the band take much more care of the 'public relations' aspect of the band. EMPYRIOS is our hobby.

You seem to work in the Fear Studio, where the album was recorded. Why is it called like that + which other bands have you or will you work with?

Simo: The studio has been in existence since about ten years, but it wasn't me that came up with the name. Working at Fear Studio is my main occupation in life, you know, the job that lets me earn some money. It's wonderful work, and I've worked with hundreds of bands. The best I can remember are Daniele Liverani's GENIUS and TWINSPIRITS, CRYING STEEL, BROWBEAT, and... Fuck, I can't remember all of them.

You guys also have a MySpace page, as many other bands. What's your opinion on such a website? Is it really a necessity nowadays to be on MySpace?

Simo: I think it's one of the best inventions in the last years! You can reach a lot of people and spread the words about your band/music. It's beautiful.

The follow-up to "...And The Rest Is Silence" is said to be darker and heavier. Can you already give more details of the progress you've made so far, what the album will be about, any working titles, ....?

Simo: Me and Teo are working hard to choose and built up the first songs. I think I filled about 3 CDs with riffs and ideas. You know, we've written "...And The Rest Is Silence" about 2 years ago, so our style, our musicianship and our musical taste are changin' day by day. I can only tell you that there will always be the 'EMPYRIOS attitude', but the general mood will be surely darker. Or heaviest... 'heavy' will be the new frontier I think, more heavy and less progressive, hahaha.

Metal has always been considered evil music by the (mainstream) media and never got the attention it deserved, except for the more popular bands. Of course, Metal would not fit in the tight play-schedules on the radio as lots of songs are too complex or long. What's your opinion on this? Should Metal indeed stay away out of mainstream hands, or should there be more radio/tv-programmes that really talk about Metal like it is and treat bands with the right respect. Programmes in which presenters know what they're talking about.

Simo: we all listen to every kind of music, from pop to classical and I really see no distinctions between musical genres. It's only and simply MUSIC. Obviously I'd love to listen to my music on the radio or TV but based on what I've seen so far I think it will be impossible. Mass media are too close minded.

Again a related question: do people look differently at you when they know you play in a Metal band? Do you see a change compared to when EMPYRIOS wasn't founded yet, or at least, when you weren't playing Metal in general?

Simo: Yep, haha. You know the classic prejudgements: You have long hair, long beard so you're evil. We don't mind nowadays. If some people are too close-minded to understand, then I don't give a fuck. We're all only guys who like some headbanging and loud guitar playing.

Italy has got some very good bands (mainly Power Metal), but I guess lots of them are to be found underground. Which bands in Italy stand out for you?

Simo: I know a lot of great bands here in Italy. And not only power ones. I love LACUNA COIL, old RHAPSODY, old LABYRINTH, NOVEMBRE and all the great Italian acts.. I think that they opened the doors for us.

That's it for me. Many thanks for your time and good luck with the next record(s) and your other activities. Any final words are yours to add.

Simo: I really thank you for the great (and exaggerated, hehe) appreciation for our work, hoping that all of you will follow our career. Stay tuned!

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