Just a few days ago I was able to visit Budapest to witness Rhapsody’s farewell tour. The show was sold out and the venue full of crowd. In fact, I was hoping that Luca Turilli will somehow continue with the band, in one way or another, to play some Rhapsody songs, but it seems that this is the final end, mainly due to financial issues. Rhapsody has a long and very successful career , at least as we know it for more than two decades, but years before Luca has tried to complete the first full-length so for him this is even a longer history…
We’ll start with the history of the band, back in time when you’ve started. First of all I would like to ask you, which album was the most important for you and do you have any favorites when it comes to albums of Rhapsody which is closest to your heart and why?
It’s difficult to say because every moment was different, it was a long period. It was the motion when we started because, it was the first time, we didn’t know what to expect. Legendary Tales of course holds a special place in our hearts, but it was through our second album, Symphony of Enchanted Lands, when we established ourselves to the worldwide level. Also with the single, Emerald Sword, people really love to hear it. It was released in 1998. After that I would say, The Frozen Tears of Angels, it’s an album I really like because it sounds more modern. At that time I was really into this modern metal style. And in someway, I really like the saga, which started with the album Symphony of Enchanted Lands part 2, where we had Christopher Lee. It was a really great moment, and we had him on every album until the end of the saga. So, every album of that period was special, also because we had a possibility to record this actor. But, in particular, my favorite from that time is definitely The Frozen Tears of Angels.
You wrote quite a lot of songs but, do you have any songs that are closest to your heart, maybe some favorite ones that you like to play? Or maybe some songs that you’ve never played live and wanted to?
-Well, there are songs that I always liked in particular way. For example, from the album From Chaos to Eternity there was a song Tornado that I really liked and always wanted to play, but there was never the chance for one reason or another. Then there was another one called Raging Starfire from Frozen Tears of Angels. We mostly played songs from the Legendary Tales album and also from the Symphony of Enchanted Lands, especially now in the beginning of this reunion tour we play and perform the complete album. As I’ve told you before it was our best selling album, the one that established the band at the worldwide level, so we wanted it to represent our reunion. So from the past, I would say that, all the songs that I like more or less we played them.
For two decades you did quite a lot of shows here and there, and not only Europe but America as well. Could you take us for a few moments through some of the best or most remembering shows and moments that you’ve felt like you’re going to remember for the rest of your life?
I remember, in the beginning, the first time we went to South America and we had 5000 people in San Paulo so, just for us, it was incredible. We were coming from smaller shows and then seeing so many people that love Rhapsody. Then, I remember one time at the Wacken, a lot of people, we were playing in the night with all the lights on, it was a spectacle. It was our first time to play there. I don’t even know how many people were there, it was amazing. And then I would say, one of our reunion shows, the one that we played in Milano for example, and also the one we played in Chile in front of 4000 people in may last year. It was amazing. Kind of like the one in San Paulo 20 years ago. It was also a way to say thank you to all the people. To see that many people like your music after so many years and many people crying at the end of the show to see me and Fabio and the other guys for the last time on stage is a big emotion.
I remember your last show at Wacken 2011, I was there. And, when we speak about Rhapsody and all these stuff, if I’m not wrong, you didn’t just wrote the lyrics but also the lyrical background, could you tell us something more about the saga? How did you start this idea? It was really original at the time.
In the beginning there was no plan for a saga. I didn’t even like Tolkien at the time, it happened later with my girlfriend when I’ve seen the movie. And in some way I really loved all those themes and the atmosphere, those kind of locations. I was a big fan of movies like Conan the Barbarian, fantasy movies especially. So, then I wrote the lyrics for the first song, we were in Germany back then. Also, the comics of Conan, they were so dramatic. And of course Schwarzenegger, a big idol of mine. But then, when I was in Germany, we had to prepare a booklet of the CD Legendary Tales, we just started to record. We didn’t even know Fabio at the time. He was choosen just before we recorded singing part. And then they’ve said, you should put all of that into a story to make everything more interesting. It took me 4 to 5 days to try to create a story and connect all these lyrics because most of the lyrics were already written, so it was more to adapt them. But then, in a week, we had everything written so we just needed a singer, and I decided that the Fabio should do it, it was the perfect voice for that.
So, actually, the booklet was already done, before Fabio showed up?
Yes, and then, everything from the second album was much easier. We started creating that first part of the saga Emerald Sword, starting with Legendary Tales and ending with Power of the Dragonflame. So then, everything was created before even going to record the second album, Symphony of Encanteed Lands, everything was already written. There were 5 albums at the end of the first saga. And then, there was the second saga, that became my favorite, because at that time, we thought even to stop Rhapsody, to start other things. But then, we had Christopher Lee as narrator, and it was like, wow. We really loved the lord of the rings movies. I was so inspired to write the second part of the saga. I was working in my house day and night, ideas started to come one after another. In that moment I already knew that the saga will end at the album number 10 so, in that moment, even before releasing Symphony of Enchanted Lands part 2, which is called Dark Secret, I already knew the whole story.
Let’s consider one of the best parts, not only for Rhapsody but also for you, when you have actually met Christopher Lee and he agreed to do some narrating vocals and singing as well. Could you recall some time that you spent with him?
I remember the first time that we went to London, that’s when the magic happened because, it was the meeting with the great Idol. When we saw him, we were a little bit afraid which kind of guy he would be but, in the end he was nothing we would expect. He was very charismatic, with his big voice, speaking many different languages, he also knew Italian, it was very nice. When you meet a person like this and you speak the same language, it’s just fantastic. We considered him as our uncle, like part of the Rhapsody family.
Which album was the most complexed, not just to write but also to record. Should you say it was the Symphony of Encanted Lands part II, or something else perhaps, and why?
For the first time we had the big budget, we had a chance to use the real orchestra, real choir and all that. It was complex in the sense, when we recorded the orchestra for example, it was the first time so we didn’t know what to expect, we were very careful, but there were some mistakes and we needed to re record a few time. It was a big process you know, when you have a big goal you have to face a different obstacles, but then in the end we spent a lot of our personal money to be able to succeed in this. In the end it was really exhausting.
I remember time when Dawn of Victory was released and when Rhapsody started to be on the front covers of magazines, catalogs etc. Could we say that this moment around Dawn of Victory, when you have also released and recorded King of the Nordic Twilight, was perhaps the most important part when it comes to increasing the popularity of the band?
Yes well, with the Dawn of Victory we collected the success of Symphony. And it was the great moment because Symphony is our best selling album.
When it comes to later albums, there were some bad markings in some magazines, like german Metal Hammer. Could you say something about that? How do you take it?
The first time we were young, we invested so much money and energy and we were like “What is that?”, because, you always release the album that you feel in your heart and soul, regardless of what people would say. So, these can harm first time, second time, but then, every album, even the record company says that they have a problem giving the album to some magazines because they know that they don’t like that kind of music. I always admired countries like Germany, Norway, Finland, Sweden, when some of their own bands become known, they do everything to push them. In Italy with Rhapsody we were lucky, they have pushed us a lot, but normally they don’t do this with the other bands, the journalist always try to put them down. So this is the constant of Italy, not only in music in general, but also in soccer, they try to put everyone down in every way possible. But in our case there were also these magazines like Metal Hammer that described our music as Spaghetti Metal. In the end for me, it was just ridiculous that someone would consider himself a journalist when giving this kind of attributes and not even respecting the german part of fans that were loving the band, because at the beginning we were selling a lot of copies. I remember, the director of Rock Hard at the time said: “Hell, we will freeze before I put the Rhapsody on the cover of my magazine.” It was funny at the time. You just don’t care at all anymore.
But you were at the front page at the EMP. I remember that Limb Publishing, the first record company of yours, actually never believed in Rhapsody before you’ve released the Legendary Tales that the band would succeed in this kind of music. Could you recall that time?
Yes, he was in love with our music, but he couldn’t bet. No one thought that we would succeed in this kind of music especially because, that was a bad period for power metal. But then Angra came, their manager was a manager of Heloween for years before them, that’s why we approached him and sent him our music, Helloween was my favorite band at the time. We approached him in 1993, and the album came out in 1997. So from 1993, when we sent demo to him, we made many other songs that later ended on Legendary Tales and Symphony. But at that time, we were just making songs like this not knowing what the Limb would say. At that time I remember there was FAX, there were no internet. It was a long time after we’ve sent the first demo, we needed to write more songs to have enough for the first album. And we would send these other song and we were just waiting and waiting, thinking that he might not like it. We started putting folk and medieval characteristics in our music and we thought maybe this is to much, maybe it’s not metal anymore. And then one day: “IT’S FANTASTIC GUYS!”, and we were like, oh my god, you made us suffer for nothing. So then we had enough songs and we started doing the real production and finally, in 1997, the Legendary Tales came out after all this process.
Well, you have inspired many bands as a matter of fact, not only in the beginning but later as well, for example a band Dragonland in Sweden etc. Even today, a lot of bands are taking influence from Rhapsody, like Numenor or Twilight Force. So, what can you say now that you’ve inspired so many people to start a band or to sound one way or another like Rhapsody?
It’s amazing. I thing it’s maybe the greatest satisfaction for any artist. In our meet and greet section we’ve meet some people that said:“thanks to your music I managed to solve my problems in life.”And that was great. It means that you were transmitting some good energy with your music. And after all that, the advantage is great. The market becomes saturated with bands playing your own style, your own style kind of sounds the same because you listen to so many different variations. So you kind of need to always invent something new.
And the last question, about your own project Luca Turilli’s Rhapsody. Will you continue with the shows and recordings, or with the Rhapsody songs, I’ve heard you played them a couple of times?
No, this is really a farewell tour when it comes to Rhapsody. That’s why we are celebrating in this special way extending this tour so the most of the people could come and see us for the last time. There are many reasons for that, especially economical ones. Now because of so much illegal downloads we have to invest so much of our personal money. At first you think it’s great, you can promote your music on the internet but, for a band with a name it mainly becomes a hobby, even if, at the beginning it could have been a job. The fact is, now is the moment for me to close this chapter with Rhapsody and to start new projects in different music directions. In one way or another, you could see me and Fabio together in some of the future projects.
- Answers by Luca Turilli
- Interview by Marko Miranovic
- Typed by Darko Panic