A few weeks ago, I had the honor of reviewing the outstanding third album, A Blind Man’s Dream from Italian progressive metal band 81db. After the review I was given the opportunity to dig in a bit deeper into these talented musicians and ask them some questions. Let’s see what they had to say….
lonestar– Thanks for your time gentlemen. First off, let’s start with a little background, how did you all meet up, and how did 81db come about?
81db– It was in 2006 when Kostas started the band with Filippo as a drummer. After a while William came on board as a singer and Vieri as the bass player. Since then, 2008, the line-up is still the same and we know each other pretty well by now.
lonestar– I always felt that a contiguous lineup is so crucial to a bands sound. Now, the band name, 81db, is there any significance to it?
81db(Kostas)– It means 81 decibels. In the studio where I was working in Florence, there was a sign that was written “it’s forbidden to go over 80dB outside the console room” or something like that, so I thought, hey, I really like to tease and challenge, so I added 1dB more. Thus came the name!
lonestar– That attitude is so reflected in you music as well. Now, as stated in my review, there are many bands which come to mind listening to your music, a real variety of influences. What bands or artist would you say most influenced your unique sound? And who do you look to now for further inspiration?
81db – Well, actually it’s a pretty vast musical horizon. We would say that we are influenced by alternative groups like Faith No More and Tool, classic ones like Metallica but also more progressive like Dream Theater, Rush, Watchtower etc. Many elements from the legendary scene of 70’s: Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath etc. Adding also the traditional Mediterranean sound, that’s what you take as a result! As you can see it’s a musical kaleidoscope!
lonestar– It most certainly is. With the high acclaim for your two initial releases, Evaluation and Impressions, was there a certain need to really go big on the third album (which I certainly thing you did)?
81db– They say the 3rd album is a very important step for a band. We really didn’t see it as a challenge though, never did. We did what we had in mind and what you listen is the final result, artistically transparent and with no “on purpose” elements.
lonestar– Your second album was recorded with Sylvia Massy in California, how was that experience, and how did it help you guys further develop as a band?
81db– Working with Sylvia in her great studio was a unique experience! Sylvia loved our sound since the beginning and followed some special procedures for recording our songs since they were more complex and technical than the average songs. She had a great spirit of making you feel comfortable and gave us ideas whenever she felt that there was something to improve. I (Kostas) learned a lot on what it takes to produce an album and how to work on certain details that can make the difference. This gave me a lot of experience points and helped me produce our new album the way we wanted to. Working with a person with such an experience is by itself a psychological bonus. It really helped us a lot!
lonestar– Having listened to your back catalog, there is certainly some serious growth in your production and writing for sure. Now, is the live performance a huge thing for you guys? Do you thrive for it, or is the studio work the heart of what you do?
81db– They are two different worlds actually. When in the studio, we have to be very careful and perfect for all the details we record and perform, since the music we record is many times complex and odd. Live is like a cathartic moment though. You don’t care if you miss a 16th note so much but you give the full energy and craziness on stage. We often hear from the people that watch us in live shows that the songs sound more powerful in a way, maybe it’s the energy we put on stage, that magical crazy moments that we become messengers of our sound and images to the people that are there.
lonestar– From a fan, I can tell you I’m usually rocking out so hard I would never miss that 16th note either. Now, on to the album. A Blind Man’s Dream is based on One Flew Over the Cukoo’s Nest, why did you choose that certain work for an album?
81db(Kostas)– It was last summer, before we start composing, that I saw a photo gallery of madhouses in Italy. The atmosphere that these pictures created to me was like an instant inspiration. I always had a certain attraction to these mental and crazy things of the unexplored human mind. Then I saw the movie again and I kind of remembered the effect it had on me many years ago. It made me such an impression! Those two things made the concept of “A Blind Man’s Dream”
lonestar– How much did you draw from the movie for the album? Was any of it drawn from the Ken Kesey novel as well?
81db– The record is based on the story, not an actual reproduction. Many events and images were taken as the song “Sirens” that it’s all about the pills they give the people in order to keep them “well and behaved”, the song “The Great Escape” that it’s pretty obvious for what it is about, “Electroshock“ too and almost all the songs speak of images that are drown from the story. There are some new characters though, as in “Alien Invasion”. We added a paranoid character that believes the earth is invaded by aliens. I think he adds a lot of craziness in this cocktail!
lonestar– That it most certainly does. Now, on to something that intrigued me the moment I saw it. In your bio, you have the quote,”Time to change your idea of how heavy rock music sounds today.” Do you think you are doing that? Is Blind Man’s Dream the album to do that, and why?
81db– What we want to show with our work is music that would make the ear, the sentiment and the brain work together. We believe that each time that somebody listens to our album, discovers something new, regarding as sound and sentiment. It has happened to us a lot of times, to listen to somebody saying me “Hey you know, this is the first time, I notice that!” in some songs, making him understand more and more its meaning. “A Blind Man’s Dream” is our best work until now, and we believe that it captures every bit and piece of what we musically are and want to offer.
lonestar– Awesome man, and I can attest that you have accomplished that and much more. So now what does the future hold for 81db? Where do you see 81db heading from this release?
81db– We just finished the first part of an Italian tour that went really well and we are leaving for a tour in Greece. After Christmas we will try organizing a European tour and maybe a return to the UK. We will have to wait and see how the album goes and hope for the right support to do so. Let’s hope that we will make it soon and see our friends in other new countries for the first time. We would love doing a US tour too since we think that our sound has many US influences, but for now it is pretty difficult for the obvious (financial) reasons. Well, people say that in the live shows our music sounds even better than the record thus I’m sure we would have an awesome time! Stay mentally rock n roll!!!
lonestar– Just brilliant guys, and if you do ever make it to the states, I do hope California is on that list. I can promise you will have one dedicated fan losing his mind in the front row. Thanks so much for your time gentlemen, and I wish you all the best in the coming days and years. Rock on guys!!!
And if this wasn’t enough to entice our dear readers, just check out the opening track from A Blind Man’s Dream, Manicomium…