Interviewed by: Fabian Kleinbloesem
RHAPSODY are the creators of the so-called ‘Hollywood Epic Fantasy Power Metal’ style, which turned them into one of the most original Metal bands during the 1990s. They developed their own sound, which was a combination of fast Neo-Classical keyboard versus guitar instrumental techniques, catchy massive sing-a-long hymns and fantasy lyrics and artwork. Although their classic albums were released during the 1990’s, the band always continued to release new high quality records and since a few years under the name RHAPSODY OF FIRE. Last year co-founder LUCA TURILLI left RHAPSODY OF FIRE to form his own band (and release a fantastic album by the way!). So the new album ‘Dark wings of Steel’ will be the first album without Luca. I talked with Alex Staropoli (keyboards and co-founder) about the new line-up, the upcoming album and his personal life.
In the 90s Rhapsody of Fire brought a new kind of dimension/energy in Heavy Metal. Tell me something about how Rhapsody of Fire came to create this unique sound?
Alex: Well, we started our band around 1993-1995 and were very excited to use orchestrations and choirs in the music. We really wanted to develop a special sound and sent out our demos around after a while. Limb Schnoor contacted us and we signed to his label Limb Music. He promoted us very well, especially with the beautiful packaging of our albums. Limb did a great job to make us well-known in the Metal scene.
Rhapsody of Fire had a turbulent time the last couple of years, how did that impact you? Especially the leaving of Luca Turilli?
We talked a lot with each other and finally came to the decision to go our own ways (we are still friends by the way). Luca had completed the saga story and it was time for something new for the both of us.
Rhapsody of Fire has a new guitarist (Roby de Micheli), how did you get in contact with him?
That is a good story, Luca brought him in. He was actually a schoolmate from him and was involved with the band in the beginning. I asked him if he was still practicing 6 hours a day like he did when he was 16. He actually was and actually Roby was playing in different bands just for fun. So this is his first official job in the music business, because he always had a regular job. I asked him to play some guitar riffs and solos and that sounded great. Then he quickly learned the Rhapsody of Fire songs and joined the band.
And did he already perform with Rhapsody of Fire on stage?
Yes, we already did two shows together, two festivals exactly, one in Italy and another one in Belgium. It went pretty well.
That is good to hear, can you tell me something about the creating process of the songs from the new album. Are all the members involved in the writing process?
Me and my brother Manuel wrote almost all the music and Fabio did the lyrics. My brother has always been involved with the band and he plays the flute and medieval instruments on most of Rhapsody of Fire’s albums.
The sound of the new album is going back to the successful first couple of albums, do you confirm that? Can you explain why?
A lot of people say that, because I wanted to have a more song based sound, including slightly shorter songs on the album and not too many long songs. However, you still want to listen to them more than once. I wanted to have a good sound on the album, so I used only real instruments such as an orchestra and choirs.
There´s one song on the album sung in the Italian language, do you ever consider to do a whole album in your native language?
Many times I thought about it, but when I decide to create such an album, it will not be a Metal album, as it will be a more mid tempo ballad kind of album.
Rhapsody’s of Fire lyrics are fantasy based, are there also any real stories behind the lyrics on this album?
The saga story was over, so Fabio was free to write. I really like his poetic style of writing. The most important thing is the fact that the lyrics sound good to the music.
What are you hoping to reach in the future with Rhapsody of Fire?
Not really something to reach, as I just want that this line-up to be stable in the coming years, write good songs and have no trouble within the band.
At last I have some short personal questions:
When and why did you start playing keyboards?
I started playing piano at the age of 5, I got really interested in keyboards because of all these different sounds you can create with it. For a short time I also played the guitar, but when I met Luca I fully concentrated on the keyboard.
First bought LP: The Final Countdown – Europe
First gig: Scorpions, later on Ozzy Osbourne and Yngwie Malmsteen
Favorite keyboard player: Jens Johansson, always loved him since he was in Yngwie Malmsteen’s band
Favorite non Metal artist: I like music which touches you, could be Pop/Rock, really love soundtracks.
Food: I love different kinds of food, but I have to say Italian
Drinks: Water, Soft Drinks, no Alcohol before the show, but love a Beer during a wonderful meal
Sports: Body Building, Climbing, Swimming
Favorite country to play: Hard to name one, every country is special, love to play in Italy, South America, Asia, Holland
Your favorite Rhapsody of Fire song: Can’t name one, something from the new album. I always want to look forward, not look back too much.
Anything to add for our readers: I hope you will enjoy the new album and hope to see you all on the next tour.
Thank you for your interest.
Thanks for the interview, ciao!