The fact that we could have one of the most famous actors in the world singing with us was a real dream.”
Wikimetal (Nando Machado): Hello, Alex, this is Nando from Wikimetal, from Brazil, how are you?
Alex Staropoli: Hi, how are you? I was waiting for you.
W (NM): Oh, thank you, that’s great. So just to begin, what were the main influences you had when you created Rhpsody?
AS: It was Luca and myself starting to… Writing music immediately, you know, and our goal was to create something new and something that we liked. Actually, we did analyze the music market at the time, and we realized that what we wanted to hear from music didn’t exist yet. So we did what we wanted: to created a heavy metal band with influences from classical music and soundtracks. So we were lucky to do what we loved and what the market was really missing, you know. And it was a very big challenge because we were an Italian heavy metal band, you know, so it was very hard to make the world believe that we could reach this final goal. We were lucky and we worked a lot to reach it.
W (NM): Since you mentioned it, how was the heavy metal and hard rock scene in Italy in the early 90s?
AS: It was a tragedy. To be a heavy metal band, and to be an Italian heavy metal band was really something… A really big minus, you know. And that’s why it was a big challenge, it was a big mess. Everybody was laughing at us, you know, because everybody would say “you will never do it”, you know. But we really worked a lot, and I remember that period as a very stimulating period, Luca and myself working together, really close and composing music, and it was really fantastic to know that we had in our hands something special, we knew that we had something that the people could really like, you know. So we invested time and money, and we were really young and completely humble, and sent demos around Europe and finally got a contract and released the record “Legendary Tales”. It was a dream, it was fantastic.
W (NM): And how do you see the heavy metal scene and hard rock scene in Italy today?
AS: Today is much better. I think there are many, many talented musicians everywhere on the world now, and in Italy there are lots. Maybe its missing ideas, it’s difficult now to propose something new, you know, that’s difficult, I think. There are very good musicians, but that’s not enough anymore, you really need to propose something that can get the interest of the people, something new, something exciting again.
W (NM): Who do you think, changing the subject, Alex, who do you think were the main artists that mixed classical music and rock?
AS: Oh, well, there are many names… I would have to say bands like Deep Purple, Led Zeppelin or Rainbow, they did something really cool, you know, and without these bands there would be no other bands after. So I think they did something special and they began to do rock music, metal music connected with some kind of cinematographic element, music that could get pictures in your mind, you know. So this was Rhapsody of Fire’s goal since the beginning, to do what was traditional, but to do something more, having some soundtrack music on top, you know.
W (NM): Excellent. Changing the subject again, Alex, we have a classic question on our show, one that we ask every single person that we interview, just imagine yourself maybe driving your car, listening to your ipod on shuffle mode, and then a song comes up that you just lose control totally. Can you chose that song so that we can listen to that one on our show now?
AS: Oh, well…
W (NM): A song that makes you lose your mind completely.
AS: Oh, there are so many, but I would say… I would say “Red Sharks” from Crimson Glory.
It was a very big challenge being an Italian heavy metal band, you know, to make the world believe that we could reach this final goal.”
W (NM): Tell me what you remember of the recording session with the great Christopher Lee?
AS: Oh, yes, it was fantastic. We were in London and we met him in the studio, we were there waiting for him and he came, he entered the room and it was amazing, you know, because… Not only because of his physical aspects, because he’s very tall and very big, you know, he’s so big… After five minutes we started to talk, to talk about music and everything, and we really were so happy to see that communication-wise, we were really on the same level. So after three days of narrating – and it was very emotional, very exciting to hear Christopher Lee narrating the words that Luca wrote, regarding the saga and everything, it was fantastic – then in the end, he came out of the studio and said “yes, yes, this is great, I love it, but everybody wants me to narrate, I want to sing” he said, you know. His voice was very loud in the studio, you know, and we said “Do you really want to sing?”, and he said “Yes, let’s do one song together, I want to sing together with Fabio”. It was his idea to sing in a song, and then we did “The Magic of the Wizard’s Dream”, it’s a song that we were going to play live, we are playing this song live and everybody is going crazy, you know. And the fact that we could have one of the most famous actors in the world singing with us was a real dream.
W (NM): Excellent. So would you like to choose a song from Rhapsody of Fire that you are really proud of, so we can listen to that one on our show now?
AS: Oh, my God… This is the most difficult question you could ever ask me. There are so, so many great songs that I really like… Let’s play “Dawn of Victory”.
W (NM): Who had the idea of recording “The Magic of the Wizard’s Dream” in four different languages, and how was that process?
AS: The idea was Christopher Lee’s idea, you know, because he speaks like twelve languages.
W (NM): Really?
AS: He speaks English, Spanish, French, Italian and German, he speaks Greek, Russian, he speaks many languages, so he was forcing us to sing the song in many different languages, so we did it in four languages. And I remember Fabio saying every night before this song, explaining that Christopher Lee was really into the song and he wanted to do it in nine different languages, you know… And the process, actually I was not there, but Fabio was there and it was very difficult, you know, because Christopher Lee was not used to sing a song in a studio, so he didn’t know about wearing headphones or singing in front of a microphone, he just wanted to sing in the middle of the room, in the air, you know, he thought that they could catch his voice magically. And then we said “no, no, we have to wear headphones, we have to hear the music through the headphones” and everything. So it took some days, but in the end the result was great. It’s really an honor to have worked with someone like him.
W (NM): “From Chaos to Eternity” represents the end of an era, the end of a saga. What are the next plans of Rhapsody of Fire for the future? What will the next project be like?
AS: Oh, well, first of all, I decided to bring Rhapsody of Fire on stage, on tour again, because we have basically two new band members, Oliver Holzwarth and Roberto De Micheli, who is a big friend of mine, and we already played together, myself, Luca Turili and Roberto De Micheli, we played in the very beginning, before Rhapsody started, you know, so I’ve known him for 20 years. And Roberto was Luca’s schoolmate, they started to play the guitar together, so that’s why I brought him into the band, you know, he’s a very nice person. So that’s the reason why I decided to go on tour, to present the new members and to show the world that Rhapsody of Fire is strong again, an established band. And we played in Europe, now we played in North America, in Latin America, and soon we’re going back to Europe to play more shows. Then we’ll start working on some new music, I have some ideas already in my mind, and I spoke with Fabio already and we really want to do something amazing, something special, something unique, because it’s a very important step for Rhapsody of Fire, which kind of music, which kind of studio album are we going to make? So the next plan after these last shows is to sit down and write music.
It makes no sense to be sad and depressed now, hoping to be famous in ten or twenty years. It’s important to have fun today and really enjoy playing with your band.”
W (NM): I know that you guys still have a good relationship with Luca. How exactly was his departure of the band like? Is it true that you guys are still good friends with him? And is it true that the band almost broke up after he left?
AS: No, no. The point is that he didn’t leave, we – Luca and myself – decided to divide, to split, you know, so nobody left a band. He decided to create his own, I decided to create my own, maintaining the name, maintaining Fabio and Alex Holzwarth, and he did his own thing, so we just friendly divided, you know. And yes, we live in the same town, we’ve known each other since we were very young, so despite not working together anymore, we are still good friends, and we still have big respect for each other. So the friendship here was not the problem, the problem was to be able to work again, in a stimulating way, me, him and Fabio, the three of us together, it was very difficult to work in the very last period, you know. Sometimes when you don’t feel like working together, you can still create good music, because this kind of pressure, this kind of problems sometimes can lead you to create good music, and this is the case of earlier albums. Despite the problems we had, we had really good albums. But after 15 years working together, after 10 albums, two big sagas, we decided to try something different.
W (NM): And you’ve been to Brazil another time before, what do you know about Brazilian music?
AS: About Brazilian music? Not so much. I have to say the truth. I don’t listen to much music in the end, you know, I don’t listen any kind of music beside Rhapsody and some soundtracks. I don’t really want to be influenced by any other music, especially in this period, which is very important for me, in which I want to create new music. So it’s important for me to be clean and not to listen to heavy metal or other bands that I could be, sometimes, without even knowing, that I could be influenced by. Anyway, I love Brazil, I love the feeling we have when we are there, it’s a place I would like to go on vacation for sure. This is the feeling I had last time, when I came to São Paulo, I was like “My God, I would like to stay here for two weeks, three weeks, just to stay here”, because the energy in the air was so special, and the people are so special too. And we are Italian, so we are Latin and we feel the same. We’re really looking forward to playing for this audience, it’s like maybe one of the best audiences in the world.
W (NM): Do you believe that the Latinos are different from other people in the world?
AS: Well, every country is different, you know, every country is special in some things. But for sure, I have to say… I remember when we played there, in 2001, for the very first time, in São Paulo, we had 5 thousand people, and it was a dream. It was a dream to step onstage after the intro and to see these 5 thousand people screaming, from the first roll to the last one, everybody with hands in the air, they were so loud that we could not ever hear our own music onstage, you know. This is something that gives me goose bumps if I think about, and it was more than eleven years ago, you know… And yeah, with this picture in our minds, we want to go back and play in Brazil. We know that the fans are so crazy, it’s fantastic. It’s a great feeling to step onstage and to see the reaction, you know, you play better, you play stronger, you know, it’s cool.
W (NM): That’s great, Alex. Before we finish, let me thank you so much for your time, I really hope you have a great time in Brazil, and anything you guys release or need from us, we’ll be here to support Rhapsody of Fire anytime, OK?
AS: Thank you. It’s the feeling that we have, you know, we really feel that you are really supporting the band. And for that we will be working to make the best music possible. Many people told me, during the tour “please don’t stop making music, please go on” and this is fantastic. It gives us so much energy to go on and to get better and better so… I hope you come to the show, right?
W (NM): Yeah, sure. We’ll be there on Saturday. And before we finish let me ask you just one more question.
W (NM): What would you say to a young kid, like 13, 14 years old, who is just staring to play the keyboards, for example, or to study music, and wishes to become a rock’ N roll star or to become a band member? What would you say to this kid?
AS: Well, it’s important to have a goal to reach, that’s for sure. So it’s great if some boys at this age, they already have a vision, you know, they really want to reach something, it’s important. But I think it’s important, first of all, to have fun, to really enjoy the music you play, and to study, a little bit at least, your instrument, you know, it’s good, it’s great, it’s good. And to have a final goal, you know, and to surround yourself with positive people and people that have the same ideas, you know, people that you are on the same page with, and you can really grow in the future. And maybe in four, six years you can really reach your goal. Maybe you will never be famous, but at least you do something that you really enjoy. Just don’t look to much ahead, just think about today and have fun today, this is also important. It makes no sense to be sad and depressed now, hoping to be famous in ten or twenty years, it’s important also to have fun today and to enjoy today, you know, to really enjoy playing with your band, and then, if success comes, that’s great.
W (NM): That’s great, Mr. Alex Staropoli, thank you so much, and count on Wikimetal for promoting and supporting Rhapsody of Fire. We’ll be there on the show, and I’ll see you in Brazil.
AS: Yes, thank you, thank you for having me, for giving me the chance to talk to you, and for all the Brazilian fans: thank you so much and see you soon.
W (NM): It was a real pleasure, thank you.
AS: Thank you.
W (NM): Grazie.
AS: Bye bye. Ciao.
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