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24/12/2007 – Interview with Alex Mele, guitarist/songwriter from KALEDON

It's been one year and a couple of months since KALEDON's last album "Chapter 4: Twilight Of The Gods" (review) was released and a year and a half since I last interviewed mainman/guitarist Alex Mele. The band has recently replaced their vocalist Claudio Conti with Marco Palazzi and they will enter the studio in March to record "Chapter 5". The release date is scheduled for May/June 2008, again via Hellion Records, with whom the contract was also renewed very recently.

As a result of the recent changes, and requested by Alex himself, I sent him another list of questions to find out more about this evolution. You can read his answers below.

Kaledon logo

First of all, thanks for wanting to have an interview before the release of your new album and sort of going back to the procedure of 2004-2005. Last October Claudio Conti (vox) left the band, due to characterial differences. Could you explain a bit what went wrong after so many years playing together, building on the band's career?

Hi Tim, it's always a pleasure talking to you. You are very welcome!
Well, what I can say is that Claudio was a good singer for us, but we've been having serious problems since a long time! I don't want to pull shit against him, so I prefer not to say nothing more about him. I'll only repeat that the characterial differences were enormous and it was impossible to continue together.

Alex Mele - KALEDONAuditions were held and potential candidates had to meet certain requirements:

* No older than 35 years
* Must speak perfect English
* Stage presence
* Must be serious
* Must be available to go on tour
* Cannot have any other bands

One month later, after Claudio's departure, Marco Palazzi was chosen as the best candidate. How many people tested and when did you know that Marco would get the job? Also, what made you choose him?

Well, we received a lot of tapes, also from New York. Candidates have recorded their voice on a karaoke version of "Clash Of The Titans". We listened to them and after some weeks we chose Marco's version.

In addition, did you purely concentrate on tapes/cds or did you also let people come over for a jam?

As I told you, we have chosen Marco's version of "Clash Of The Titans" (some day we'll put it online), and we asked him to join us during our rehearsals in the studio for a 'live' test. Of course you can imagine the result. :-)

What musical background does Marco have?

Not a proper Heavy Metal background. Of course he likes Metal, but he came more from Hard Rock - For example, he loves DEEP PURPLE, QUEEN (like me, *laughs*), JETHRO TULL, URIAH HEEP, WHITESNAKE, ... I mean, all great bands. Of course, I repeat, I like Power Metal and all the melodic things.

Based on the videoclip Marco seems to go for some roughness while Claudio would go for the higher notes, which was lots of times a point of criticism. Will this affect the writing process?

Absolutely not. Marco's voice is fucking perfect for the new tracks. I can say that it was Claudio's voice that was not good for the new album. You know Claudio's voice was always the same - clean and high - but in this case we needed a different one. And Marco is the perfect example. His voice is very hot and he has a great feeling. This is the greatest difference with mr. Conti.

Marco - KALEDONHow did Marco do when you rehearsed the older material? Does his voice fit or will you have to make some small changes for the gigs?

Marco sings the old material very well. Of course he'll change something here and there, but his voice is absolutely ok for the old stuff. You'll hear it soon.

Looking back at the first 4 albums: compare them with their strong and weak(er) points. In addition, would you have done things differently with the knowledge you have now?

Well, for sure I can divide our 4 albums in two sections: The first is composed by the first and the second album, where I still love the songs but I totally hate the production - especially for the first. The second section is composed by the third and fourth album: these two records have a professional production. "Chapter 3" is very important because of the presence of Jörg Michael and "Chapter 4" is considered by the band as our best work ever! Therefore the weaker points are, for me, only the production of the first two records. The rest is good and if I could go back in the past I am sure that I would repeat everything in the same way.

You will record "Chapter 5" in March and plan to release it in May/June. How much work is done already and what can we expect, musically, compared to the previous albums? You told me last time there would less speedy songs and hearing that one song (videoclip with Marco - click here) is a clear indication you/the band is evolving/maturing and exploring other territories, like going a bit more Progressive, no?

"Chapter 5" is completely ready. These days we are working on guitar/keyboards solos and arrangements in general. This new record is more Hard Rock oriented. What you have seen on YouTube is just a song, but it's the only song in this style. Of course you'll find also some Power Metal songs, but the greatest influence for "Chapter 5" is Hard Rock.

Is the choice for less fast songs due to the storyline or because you wanted to show that KALEDON is more than speed?

Both. When I started to compose "Chapter 5" I certainly hadn't decided anything about that. It's just a normal evolution, I think. I mean, we are still KALEDON, but with this new album I think that we are able to reach a new kind of fans. By the way, we'll have to wait for the release date. :-)

Has it already been decided who will do the artwork? Will it again be Jean-François Le Gac?

Of course, we totally love mr. Le Gac. So the new artwork is in his hands.

Is it certain now that Giuseppe Orlando will again be the man behind the buttons? If so, one small advice - perhaps you're already aware of it - regarding the drums: on the last album the bass/kick drums sounded too triggered (= too clicking), therefore less natural. I hope this will be corrected on the upcoming album.

Thank you so much for the advice! Yes, Giuseppe 'the wizard' Orlando will be the man behind the buttons also this time. We love his working style so much and I consider him as the seventh member of the band. About the drum sound: I'll tell him. :-)

Twilight Of The Gods coverHow did "Chapter 4: Twilight Of The Gods" do sales-wise, also compared to the previous three?

Well, "Chapter 4" sales were very very good. We have sold a lot of copies worldwide, also because we have three record companies with us. So, this is the bestseller of KALEDON...for now.

With "Chapter 4" you also had more gigs to play, much more than before. I guess you were pleasantly surprised, seeing KALEDON finally taking off, gaining recognition and being asked in many places, including festivals?

Yes, it's a very hard market's rule: if you sold, you play. No compromises! 2007 was the year of KALEDON's confirmation on the Metal market. Now, in 2008 we would like to come to your country, too, for a great and superb Metal gig.

How was the response from the public? Did you convert many souls? ;-)

Yes, *laughs* we received a great acceptance in Germany and in all the other places. All the people knew our lyrics and our songs as well. YES, MANY SOULS WERE CONVERTED!!!

How easy was it to play the songs live? Or do you usually compose material with gigs in mind?

No, absolutely not. We compose the songs in studio, so at that moment we think only of the studio result. About live performances: During the rehearsals we'll make some changes here and there, you know, some live chorus instead studio chorus and things like that. Nothing huge.

In November you also renewed your contract with Hellion Records. Was this a natural consequence after "Chapter 4" and is it again for one album only? Also, did you consider signing elsewhere?

Yes, Hellion Records was very good for us and I like them so much. By the way, the new contract is only for "Chapter 5". After the big deal (pain in the ass) with our last record company I don't want to sign a long term contract. Or better, not for now. The better thing is to renew it year by year, so you are free to change when you want.

Before signing with Hellion, you first had a deal with Universal Metal Production (June 2006), who were on the verge of bankruptcy. Seeing their website exists no longer - - I guess they had to close their books. How did this agreement further evolve and why did you choose Hellion afterwards?

Universal Metal Production was our record company in the United States, they did only the American distribution for us, but I think that we won't renew the contract with them, because we don't like their kind of work.

Kaledon band picture 2007I'm going to ask about the future DVD again, hahaha: Last time (31/07/006) you said "We have hours and hours of video material of the band: live bootleg stuff, studio sessions and many other stuff. Maybe now with the new company we'll release something in the near future!". And that was when you had signed with Universal Metal Production. Will the deal with Hellion make a release more possible?

Well, good question! It's true, we have tons of material, but the singer of that material is Claudio and now we have a new singer. So, automatically that material is now archive material. Of course we'll have a lot of material with mr. Palazzi (the new singer) and of course will release something, but at this point I don't know when. Don't worry, soon this material will be available in some way...

In addition, will this be a biographical DVD, with the band's history, added with interviews, concert footage, and other things? Or hasn't it been decided yet exactly what will be on the DVD and how it's going to be arranged?

I like the biographical DVDs with interviews, past members, live footage and similar so much that for sure it will be something like this. The only problem is that - I repeat - I don't know when. :-) The priority now is the new album.

Looking back at 2007: which releases stood out for you, which were less good, what were the greatest and 'suckiest' moments (for you personally and for the band), etc... ? Plus, what are your expectations for 2008?

Greatest release: the new SYMPHONY X.
Less good: the new AVANTASIA. God, nothing compared to the others.

Second, expectations for 2008: QUEEN's new studio album!

Great moment for the band was live in Germany: a very great and cool experience.
Suckiest moment: *laughs* again Germany: the whole night at the fucking Hamburg airport as tramps. *laughs*

Once again, many thanks for answering and I wish you all the best for the coming year, incl. the recordings and upcoming gigs. Feel free to add the (Un)Holy Last Words. ;-)

Thank you so much, Tim. We all hope to meet you on the road and of course we really hope that you and all your readers will like our new album. Stay metal and...


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