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05/09/2010 – Interview with Alex Mele (KALEDON)

The Italian Power Metallers from KALEDON (official website) released their sixth album earlier this year under the title "Chapter 6: The Last Night On The Battlefield", which concludes the "Legend Of The Forgotten Reign". You can check out the review of this album at this location.

In July I finally managed to interview Alex Mele (guitarist/songwriter) about the band's live release "Roaming The Land: Ten Years Later" (review) and with this new interview an era is concluded. Like before, Alex took the time to answer the many questions regarding this new album and other things about the band and its history. You can check the previous interviews to complete the picture, if you want.

Kaledon logo

Let's start with the new album, "Chapter 6: The Last Night On The Battlefield". ;-) The artwork was again done by Jean-Paul JP Fournier, who previously worked with bands like AVANTASIA, EDGUY, ANGEL CORPSE, HEAVENLY, IMMORTAL, IMPALED NAZARENE, MYSTIC CIRCLE, NIGHTMARE, and many many more. How did he get into the picture? Was he recommended to you or did decide, after seeing his works, to contact him for this new album?

Hi my friend. Well, this is the very first work with JP Fournier. We totally love his style because it's perfect for KALEDON. We tried to work with him in the past, but the right time was "Chapter 6". I contacted him via his website and after a few mails we decided to work together for KALEDON's new album. I sent the "Chapter 6" story to him and I told to him what I had in mind for the front cover. Of course the rest was his hands. :-)

Alex Mele - KALEDONAnd like before, also because you most likely already know each other long enough to know what to want and expect in terms of production, Giuseppe Orlando took care of the buttons. This allowed you to do a sort of follow-up and improve where necessary. Did you take a different approach this time, for "Chapter 6", compared to the previous albums?

Absolutely not. We made this album like the others... same approach. Of course year by year with the same producer can only improve the working methods. We are very proud of this new album, you know, a complete satisfaction is very difficult for a musician.

When looking back at this collaboration, what have you learned from him? As you know, I liked what you guys made under his guidance ("Chapter 3" until today). You improved in terms of sound and songwriting.

At the end we learned only one thing (*laughs*): when you think that you play perfect, mr Orlando says "DO IT AGAIN. YOU CAN DO IT BETTER!!!"

As the story is now over, the six albums are done, have you considered working with a different producer for your next album, or is Giuseppe still no. 1 on your list?

For the moment Giuseppe is the first of the list.

On "Chapter 6" you play Power Metal again, whereas on "Chapter 5" the music was more Hard Rock oriented. However, those influences are also present on this new album. In this context, would you consider "The Last Night On The Battlefield" the perfect KALEDON album?

Well.. this is very difficult. I like "Chapter 5" and "Chapter 6" a lot. The same goes for 3, 4 and the others! I only think that in this particular moment "Chapter 6" is the better result you can expect from us. I mean, we play what we like and not what our style says. Yes, I think that "Chapter 6" is a perfect album, but only for now. :-)

The organ is also less present than it was on the previous album. Was there a reason to use them so much back then? And since the music is more Power Metal, I take it they were not really needed or the right instrument, right?

Well, "Chapter 5" was a more Hard Rock oriented album, therefore the Hammond organ was perfect for it. Now on this new album we returned to play our own style and in Power Metal we don't need the organ. Of course it's is present but in a very few lines... just because Fuligni totally loves it.

Which songs stand out for you?

"Surprise Impact", definitely.

I noticed that the solos were a very important part of the album, or the songs themselves. Did you focus on this element during the writing and/or recording process?

Well, only in a very few songs do I have the solos ready during the song writing process, all the others are written during the recording session. The same for the keyboards. You know, during the song writing we only do improvisation but nothing complete. Just ideas.

The Last Night On The Battlefield coverThe reviews are more positive than before, I have the impression. At least, the few ones I've seen so far. Perhaps you have seen more reviews (especially Italian ones), so you should have a better view on this than me. Does KALEDON now (more than before) get the praise it deserves?

Well, usually for every KALEDON album we received positive and negative reviews in this percentage: positive 80% negative 20%. There are some people who don't like our music, but I think it's normal. "Chapter 6" is beating records, so far we received more than 90% positive reviews.

The Japanese edition of "Chapter 6" comes with the live audio CD of "Roaming The Land", which is only available as mp3 in Europe. Was Scarlet Records not interested in also putting this out on CD?

Not for the moment, so we decided to give the live disc to the Japanese market, that totally loves it.

On the vocal front, Marco seems to finally have found his place in the band and the music. As a result, at least to my ears, the songs sound looser. It's as if you're freed from certain obstacles. Did everything go smoother than before in terms of songwriting, recording, etc...?

I agree. When Marco joined the band "Chapter 5" was totally written for Claudio's voice and of course maybe (!) something might not suitable for Marco, but "Chapter 6" was written and composed for his voice. I think it's totally normal.

As I said before, the story is done. Any ideas of what the next KALEDON album will be about, which kinds of songs you'll write (musically and lyrically)?

KALEDON's future is totally in my criminal mind. I have of course the next 10 years in my brain. And I can tell you that WE DEFINITELY REMAIN IN THE REIGN OF KALEDON. I won't give you any more details right now.

And once a story is told, it's bedtime. I'm referring to the ending of "May The Dragon Be With You", which seems very much based on MANOWAR's "The Warrior's Prayer" (see ). Did you use this as a basis and why did you end the album that way? Personally I think it's a black spot on a very good album.

Well, my book ("Legend Of The Forgotten Reign") starts with a child that asks his grandfather a story. The grandfather told the story to his nephew and of course, at the end of the story the little boy said to his grandfather what you can hear at the end of the album. :-)

Label talk then: After Northwind Records and Hellion Records, you signed this year with Scarlet Records. Were they the only candidates? And is it for the sake of easiness that you signed with them, since they're also Italy-based?

Of course there were other labels, but in the end Scarlet was the better solution for us right now.

Kaledon with Anthony DragoFor how many albums did you sign?

Only one for the moment, we hope to make others very soon.

In one of the previous interviews you said a Best Of would be put out. What can you tell about this so far? Or has this plan been abandoned?

Hehehe, you want to know some reserved details? Well... maybe you can expect something ahead as scheduled. :-)

Six albums, more than ten years of activity... surely your popularity must have increased over the years? What's the status on that, in Europe, Italy and abroad?

Yes, we're pretty known everywhere. We have regular sales in Europe, America and Asia.

A couple of months ago you got endorsed by Schecter guitars. How did that deal come to existence?

Yes, it was a very great deal. We totally love the Schecter brand. They have very good instruments and we will be with them for 2 years.

Do you still use the older guitars you have (Gibson, Dean, Jackson, Ibanez, ...)?

I can't :-) I sold the most of it. The only one I still have is the Ibanez john petrucci.

Back in 2004 you told me that "Legend Of The Forgotten Reign" was "based on a medieval concept in the England of 1376". Did you write this yourself or did you get help from other band members?

Totally by myself, it's my own creation. I wrote it in 1998, during my military service, as a novel. In 1999, I decided to create KALEDON to use my novel in music.

Is this a concept you worked out by yourself (thus not based on books or other sources) or did you take historical data and made a story of it, like for example Bernard Cornwell - - does?

Absolutely, it is my own stuff. No external influences or other books. I can also tell you that I read "Lord Of The Rings" for the first time in 2002.

This then also means you like Fantasy and/or historical fiction, right? Which authors or books are in your collection?

Well, I like mr. Cornwell of course, but also Tolkien, the father of the fantasy stuff. Patricia Cornwell is another author I like. I read of course also other kinds of books. I love Dan Brown and his way of thinking.

Back in 2008 you told me the story was put out in bookform - "La Leggenda Del Regno Dimenticato 1" being the first part - and would be translated into English. Were the other two parts also released and has everything been translated so far?

Well, if to release a cd is very difficult, to release a book is totally impossible. My book is ready. The first part and the other 2 will be ready soon, but at this point I'll try to release it as bonus material with some box set in the future or something like that.

Speaking of videos, the last one was for "Surprise Impact". Where was this shot? And whose idea was it to use such an environment?

The location was a wood property of Marco Palazzi's family. We decided all together with Goffredo Passi of Estremarte (the film maker) to shoot the video there. I think is a great video.

Kaledon25. You were criticized heavily for the "The New Kingdom" video. What impact did this have on the band?

We became famous world wide. *laughs* More than 70.000 clicks for the videoclip, KALEDON's best song in Japan, first on lastfm. Well... Thank you, guys, for criticizing us.

When you look back at all the bands you shared the stage with (be it DIO or GAMMA RAY or ...), which has left the biggest impact on you? Which gigs were the best?

Of course the great Ronnie James Dio. He was a very kind person. We remember him as the greatest person we met in our career. Of course all the others were perfect and good, but Ronnie was the kindest person I have ever met in my life.

How's the scheduling of the European dates going on? Will you cross the Italian border and play on German, Belgian, Dutch, French, ... soil? Not to forget, when will the tour start?

We have a new management and booking agency, CPA booking and management, and we'll definitely come to Europe this time. Just wait a few more months.

Playing in a band requires a lot of time and devotion. Can you easily arrange this with your employer (you and the rest of the band)?

Right now, yes, we can. For the future I can't say anything more, but of course KALEDON will be the priority.

How often do you rehearse with the band?

Usually one day a week. For the moment we don't need to rehearse more.

And one final question, something I've been thinking of recently. Many bands put out albums on a constant basis, sometimes even one every year. Either you have to be very much inspired to write new material from scratch or you use old stuff and just add a few different elements (riffs, melodies, ...), making a small copy-paste process. How does this apply to KALEDON? Do you write from scratch, from zero, or do you re-use certain older parts (whether or not they've been recorded before)?

Well, as I told you, I wrote the complete story in 1998. So, when I write a new record I have only to decide which part of the story I will use for the next cd and, with that basis... music in my brain will come automatically. I NEVER used more than 15 minutes to write a KALEDON song. Ideas comes in my pick very fast every time. I hope it will be the same in the future.

Ok, I guess I've asked all I could think of now, hahaha. :-) In any case, I'm thankful for having the chance to follow you guys (albeit just the albums, but that's already a lot) and see you evolve. In a positive way, of course, else it's devolve. Good luck with the gigs, and of course future albums and I do hope to see you guys at least once at work. Maybe I'll need to travel to Italy for that. We'll see. As usual, the last (un)holy words are yours to add.

Thank you so much, Tim. I really appreciate your work for us. I really hope that this year or at the beginning of the next we can come to your country. I want to drink a fucking beer with you, man.

Alex Mele


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