Seldom will an exclusive interview be published online before it has graced the pages of Pariah Child. But for this very special artist I’m prepared to make an exception. From humble roots way back in 1988, Tony Tears has blossomed with aplomb. A living, breathing embodiment of the Italian Dark Sound, the catalogue is as stunning as it is diverse. With an EP and full-length album released in little over the last twelve months, the band has just entered the studio again to record their next LP. To celebrate and reflect upon this hive of activity, Antonio spent a couple of long evenings casting a little light and shade on his evolving esoteric path…
Welcome Antonio, to the shadowy realm of Pariah Child. Artistic minds are often considered to be troubled. Would that be true for you?
Hi Danny, thanks for the invitation in Pariah Child. Yes, definitely. I consider myself a person who lives on art and artists are all a bit problematic or if we prefer “a little crazy”. In my art forms, the one that most represents me is definitely music. I come from a family of musicians and poets.
As a child, were you more attracted to the mediums of drawing and painting or creating music?
There have always been artists in my family. My paternal grandfather wrote poems, my father is a painter and was a great guitarist. He played in Rome in the golden years of Italian music. I mainly took up music from my father. Also painting. So, I would say that the form of art that most represents me is definitely music.
How did your fascination with artistic expression develop as you grew?
It was a spontaneous path. When I was very young I liked to draw, and the drawings that came to my mind were things related to imaginary landscapes, mystical creatures and things like that. Over time, my maternal great-grandmother, believed to be a country healer (well known in Abruzzo), realized that I was a child with some particular “gifts”. She told my mother I had mediumistic skills. In the meantime, while I was advancing in mediumistic drawing, I was starting to take guitar lessons from my father. I was 11 years old. It was actually the guitar and music I preferred to do. I realized that this was my true art form. However, over the years I carried on with both. Let’s say that drawing (today oil painting) is more of a personal form of mediumship; that is, to “materialize” what certain Entities teach and communicate to me. The same is also true with music of course. They are two different but equally mediumistic art forms. I like painting because it is intimate and solitary; the other (music) is more to be followed and in a group (for this purpose more demanding) but music, once made, it’s the best for me. There is also another form of art that I have been doing since I was 6 years old: martial arts. This always helped me to develop self-control and a development of inner energies that serve me a lot also in my esoteric life. Everything has gone hand in hand over the years.
Why were you (and why are you still) driven to create? Is the urge unexpected with unseen force or are you a master of destiny expelling inner visions as and when you see fit?
I lead a fairly reserved life. In fact, I don’t like social media. They are present, but I don’t spend much time there. The main reason is because I love real life; in contact with nature and with certain forces that I have always been able to perceive. On a low level, they are often considered to be larvae, or troubled souls of the dead and the like. For some time now, I must have contacted some evolved Entity; perhaps thanks (also) to some successful magical practices. So, I will not be here to say with who knows what torments (because it is not true) but I have seen the results of these rites and fortunately with very positive implications. This means that the tormented Entities always intrude and in the past I have made some mistakes, in some cases it can be dangerous, but I have reached a level of preparation that these low “Entities” can come away with little. So, I follow “teachings” of Masters who often confirm me in everyday life. Universal masters who go far beyond the conception of the man of good and evil; they could be the face of the same coin. I put their teachings and (tangible) confirmations into music. It can be said that I follow what they tell me but above all what they make me live, and since the messages should be transmitted, I pour their communications (or teachings) into my music. The concept that could be the face of the same coin, is my belief, and derives from the fact that, in years of studies (and practices) I have always stumbled upon books where even certain Demonic Entities could be controlled (not easily) to solve personal issues yes, but also for the sake of other people; very special books on magic. I compared them with other knowledge such as Allan Kardec’s books on Spiritism; I am quite attached to the spiritual concept of Kardec (not only to him anyway) and if at the beginning it seemed different from some magical things, studying it in more detail I understood that in reality it could contain issues that also centred on demonic Entities and other Entities that can be evoked with Practical Magic. What may lead you astray on Kardec, is that its first-run philosophy may seem a little too religious but if you are very careful you will notice that it is not so. Many high Entities in his books say they had to speak that religious way because otherwise many people wouldn’t understand, and that says a lot. The very concept of Duality in universal forces (which everyone can call whatever they want) is a real question and is truly lost in the mists of time; it happened in the first Egyptian dynasties with the concepts of Red Dragon (Ra Hoor Kwiut) and Black Dragon (Hoor Paar Kraat) which is the opposite side to the Red Dragon, that is its Entity opposed (but face of the same coin) from these ancient concepts the religions have taken (all) something and incorrectly rewritten. So, Kardec’s philosophy applied to ritualistic magic (trying to make it as correct as possible) is the path I have been traveling for many years and it has led me to firmly believe in certain things and to bring them to music; most of the time they are the ones who tell me what to do; besides it is I who decide what to do. I would say 50% of the two.
How does this process of creation help maintain your psychological balance?
Even if it is not easy to control certain Entities, in the past I have suffered and erred a lot but today I have perfected these matters and I can only do constructive things. This means that I can pass from being a calm and positive person to something opposite; in spite of this, I manage to be fairly balanced and the music, once I have made my album, it is like a seal, I can perceive its magical and particular essence, there is truly something that goes beyond music. This helps me to channel energy better and to give me a beautiful artistic balance but also of life. There are three aspects that in my life are indivisible by now, they are: the Esoteric experiences, the Music and the realization of these two things (linked together) to live life in a total and balanced way.
To what extent has this relationship changed over the years as you have become older and dare I say wiser?
I could say after being initiated by my great grandmother at the age of 15. But I do not want to be accused as someone who exaggerates or who invents goodness knows what story, so sorry I will try to keep it brief. At the time I was already doing some spiritualist séances and I was wrong. I was persecuted by certain Entities that frightened me. I was very young then, it took a few years to get those Entities out of my way. One person literally saved my life. From there, instead of giving up and abandoning certain subjects, I deepened them and slowly resumed practicing. Even after correcting myself, I made some mistakes, but minor ones compared to the past. I understood that spiritualism could be practiced (with greater results) in a different and less risky way by doing other mediumistic forms compared to spiritualist séance. I dedicated more time also to Magic, which is equally important and in a certain sense linked to the first. I started everything at 12. At 15, there was a mistake of mine, I recovered and started doing things in the right way between 20/25 years; but as my great-grandmother said to me, I was predisposed for certain things from birth. In my life I have been initiated into the esoteric world three times (even if it would be enough once). the first time since my great-grandmother when I was 15 years old (very young), the second and third time in more recent times by two important people; one is a Master who has special gifts, very mediumistic and Reiki, the other a Master of Magic and Demonology (and everything that is more related to the esoteric Magical world). As you can see, it’s not a game for me and I’ve always believed in it. You will have noticed (and it is no coincidence) that it is already twice, even in the previous question that the number “3” returns in the most important things in my life; this is proof that certain forces are always there (even at this time). In fact, the Esoteric Magical Master just mentioned above, revealed to me that my vibratory number was “3” and that I had to notice in my life how important it was; a vibratory Entity is associated with it (let’s call it that), that’s all on this question. Believe me, I have not exaggerated anything, in fact, I have minimised.
Your sixth album, “Demons Crawl At Your Side” explores the themes of possession, madness and torment through demonology, film and art. Why does this fascinate you so?
“Demons Crawl At Your Side” was made in a period where I was “attacked” first hand. You must understand that when you have known certain forces and have been in some way part of it (even with mistakes of the past) when you improve yourself and as much as you come out of it, you become even more sensitive and receptive. At that time, I saw and felt these (unfortunately negative) Entities around people; I breathed their nefarious energy and they on several occasions made me understand that the very fact that I perceived them bothered them. When you feel these things, it happens that people, on the street (led by these Entities) challenge you, annoy you, and commit all sorts of things that can lead the human being to commit from the most annoying thing, even, to atrocities. It was an experience that led me to believe that (especially today) possessions are real and take place in a subtle way (even when we don’t notice it). It is not necessary that a person necessarily has to vomit green, blaspheme, and twist to suffer a possession. Certain dark forces feed on the ignorance and indifference (superficiality) that the human being has towards them. Many schools of spiritualist thought maintain that in order to remove certain negative forces one must be indifferent to them. I don’t totally agree. What is certain is that if one knows it can prevent, knowledge leads to shielding itself, vice versa, no, because you become vulnerable. I know, an exaggeration may appear; because then all people should be interested in these things, but in reality it would be enough to understand. The fact is that unfortunately today people don’t want to understand. It’s not nice to understand, better to live in a caged world. This generates true evil, true possessions. So, “Demons Crawl At Your Side” is a very painful, dark, but equally Heavy Metal album. I’m proud of it because the mix of everything I’ve done better in my project and band since 1988 (year of foundation) is just right. The choice of the inserts taken from the films: “The Exorcism of Emily Rose”, “Demoni”, “Devil Dog” and “Omen III” were intended to make the atmosphere that permeated the album more sinister and real. I can guarantee you that the choice of these films is less superficial than it seems. These films reflect real facts, and also reflect the ambiguity of real evil. Actually I am fascinated by the esoteric search for man; the positive aspect of Darkness, since Darkness also has its positive end. However, being involved in certain things, when you come across negative energies that attach themselves to indifferent (negative) beings and are attacked by them, you cannot help talking about it. Based on what happened to me (and it often happens) I made a painful Album, a seal (for me and for those who know how to get into it) because I fought against these forces. “Demons Crawl At Your Side” is a fair balance between Italian Dark Sound and Dark Music in the true sense of the word. A complete album and one that has been lived.
Trauma comes in many forms. What is your earliest traumatic memory?
In spite of the esoteric events I already described, my first trauma arose from another matter. You must know that I have a congenital disease that even if it is a nonsense, it was something that was noticeable as a child and was for a short time a cause of suffering (or trauma if you prefer). This “disease” is Microtia, a deformation of the auricle of the left ear, the same that Paul Stanley of Kiss has (among other things, I love Paul Stanley as a guitarist, as well as Kiss). As a child, as I said, for a very short time this deformation was noticeable and I knew the first forms of human malice, the other children (but often also “adults”) made fun of me. I remember that we ended up in many fights, but then I suffered a lot and cried. As soon as I grew up (shortly after) I didn’t care anymore, I realized very soon, that nature had deigned me with a fairly pleasant aspect and that I didn’t miss my first girlfriends and satisfying human relationships. As soon as I came of age, I began a series of surgeries which led me to have a practically normal ear within several years. Today, little is known and thank God, I wear my almost 48 years very well. So, there are no more traumas. However, as a child for a very short period I suffered a lot.
Mental health has really only become a bigger issue in the public consciousness in recent times. For some though, it remains taboo. How has Italian society coped under the rule of the Church and State?
As I said before, when talking about “Demons Crawl At Your Side”, the wider population (including Italy) for several years now, prefers to live in an illusion. In a world that runs fast and doesn’t want to stop. Years ago I made an experimental Dark Sound Album entitled “Vortice” and yes, it spoke of the Mayan prophecy, for many this prophecy did not come true, falling into error because in 2011 the axis of the earth (if only very little) moved, this shift made many things change both materially and also psychically . From there, human beings did not take anything into consideration, did nothing to understand, and began a real free descent towards all kinds of sufferings (climatic, violence, up to reaching viruses, the last one COVID19) and everything is tied together. The saddest and truly malignant thing (the only real evil existing in the world) is that the “powerful”, the political class and even the church are the cause of these things, for the simple reason that many know but for various reasons (including economic interest) they want to keep them hidden. However, by now, many things are before everyone’s eyes and (if you want) if the human beings were more united, united between the “simple” and “common” people, the powerful class (clergy and politicians) could not ignore us. However, that’s just what they don’t want. I am of the idea that even they are possessed by the one true and authentic evil. I never believed in the speech of conspiracy theorists that the powerful “use” occult powers (occult in the true sense of the word) only as an excuse to ask for political purposes and for money. The money god is more important to them. Although I agree with the fact that politicians and the church itself is interested in the God of Money, for me, there is something much bigger and less rational behind all this, I am convinced.
Speaking of troubled minds, how and when did you discover the works of Alfred Kubin? Please elaborate on the lure that draws you in…
I met him in a book of art that my father owned. Although he has always done it out of passion, my father is a very good painter. He has had several requests to sell his paintings in some exhibitions but always refused. Anyway, I realized immediately, looking at the works of Alfred Kubin, that he was a “visionary”, or rather: he saw things as I think they really are. In his works the world of dark figures mixes with man’s atavistic fears until he lives with them and they are made to appear almost like a normal thing and not entirely to be feared. The real terror is to let these same figures take you somehow. A bit like saying that the figures of an unknown world are there. They observe you. If you want to live with them you become a unique world. If you are afraid of them they can drive you crazy and lead to death before your hour. You will have already noticed (if you noticed) the similarity of what I saw in his works and the album “Demons Crawl At Your Side”. Initially one of his works “The God of the Snakes” was to be the main cover of the album, but then we opted to use our photo with the masks and we put this artwork inside the CD. I really like his creations.
The painting adorning the reverse of the album sleeve is by no means his most grotesque or unnerving. Whether it’s a demon haunting or a tortured soul almost pleading, I cannot say with certainty. The line is blurred. How does the image resonate with you?
The figure is clearly a Monster (or a Demon if we want). If you observe the fingers, his hands are pointed and are placed in a position that seems to want to launch an attack on those who are observing him. The rest of his body is like a giant crawling snake body. His face, however, seems to hint at a smile.
It’s that expression that I find so ambiguous!
So, in me, it has always seemed like something with a human face that tries to please but that at the right time, crawling next to us, can launch a deadly attack. All this represents society, as it is in its majority, that is, possessed and always ready to act under the influence of these true negative forces. I saw in that work everything that could represent the meaning and deep meaning of the album.
And what are your thoughts on “The Other Side” by Kubin and the way in which his nightmarish novel dips into the subconscious?
I don’t like to tell lies (if not strictly forced) and I never magnify things. On the contrary, I tend to simplify things that really happened to me. Therefore, I will tell you that I am not a great reader of novels. For heaven’s sake, I don’t deny that they contain funds of truth, but personally I prefer books and real culture over novels. I read some novels I read from the classics of E.A. Poe to those of “Carmilla” by Sheridan Le Fanu, “Dracula” by Bram Stoker, the ancient novels about Ghosts and so on….
As for Kubin’s “The Other Side”, my singer told me about it and I must say that it is in line with my esoteric thoughts. I like the way of describing these worlds that man initially sees as dangerous but then in the end they are truer and less dangerous than man himself. Indeed, the man in these worlds seems like an intruder, fantastic! But I know Alfred Kubin more for his works of drawings and paintings.
It’s intriguing that your front cover depicts the band in demonic masks and on the back cover you are all unmasked. Are you deliberately tapping into the different faces of madness? Possession? Schizophrenia?
You see, today, many bands (besides make-up) have started using masks; I could name a lot of band names, but one thing I’m enormously proud of is that we Tony Tears used them first. In the year of foundation and the first demo “Strane Sensazioni” (in 1988) there was already the photo with my mask. I was 15 years old and already a lover of Rock / Metal music. I followed a lot both the Italian scene and the foreign one, thanks also to my older brother (who kept me updated with the Italian bands) I must say that there was really no one who used the masks, only Tony Tears. Even if someone can say that ours was a project still in its infancy, I say that in any case I already existed. What does a young project or young band have to do with it!? Even Death SS (if we go to see it) from 1977 to 1987, until the release of the anthological record of Minotauro Records did five concerts (if I remember correctly) and a couple of semi-official demos, let’s say that even if the name spread much in the area of Romagna and around; then little was known about them. Still, time has given it back its historical merits, and today we know that Death SS have unique make-up and they are a unique band in the world (for skill and historicity!). Their definitive crowning which consecrated them was from the album “In Death of Steve Sylvester”. I took them as an example because they are (of course) among my favourite bands ever. I love the old and new Death SS! My story (our story as Tony Tears) is very similar in some ways to that of Death SS. In 1988 I had made my first demo (inside it there was the photo of the very first mask…) therefore, without a shadow of doubt, the first Band in Italy to use the mask and not the classic make-up was us! By now, fortunately, in Italy and abroad among those who follow the genre, (and having now made several official albums) it has become known the truth about the Tony Tears masks.
This preamble on the History of the Masks of the Tony Tears it was necessary. For us, the masks are a very heartfelt thing, and I have to take a small step back in telling you that, thanks to my culture (but also practices) linked very much to Spiritism by Allan Kardec and also from other schools and forms of thought I have always firmly believed (since a young man) in life after death; although I am convinced that the life we are living (living now!) is equally important. Indeed, it is from living the present that the great reparation of our Soul starts. Precisely because the soul has a great free will (as well as man in material life) every Tony Tears mask is destined to change. Over the years, between used masks (at least twenty), the unofficial ones (made but used very little) I have created fifty different models of masks (the average of one per year since I was born …). In addition, I designed another hundred never used. The masks in Tony Tears, as I said, are changeable, because every Tony Tears Album is changeable, each of our periods is changeable, the Magic itself is changeable, the soul is changeable (especially the soul). Hence, in Tony Tears the mask always represents and will represent our changing Soul, because this is the way, in the world parallel to matter, that Extrasensory world (both of souls who reincarnate but also of already existing evolved Entities). So, for me (for us), our masks are what we truly believe in, our true face, our true experience and life condition. However, precisely because we truly believe in what we do, we have never hidden our true face; just like in “Demons Crawl At Your Side”. This decision has the significance of the fact that, with or without a mask, we (the human being) always have “hidden” sides which, if not accepted and elaborated, can lead him to madness and his death (before the times foreseen by the Karma). So, this condition will not lead him to a healthy madness (the artistic madness in being different from the mass of ignorant so to speak, that would be a healthy madness…) but an anguished madness, of fear, of torment. The more man rejects certain things that his soul claims, the more he is forced to fight you one day. It is inevitable. Understanding them as soon as possible and accepting them, understanding them, helps a lot. Here is explained the fact that, as much as we use our masks, we do not hide our true face; whether we use them or not, we are always ourselves. We are True. Always!
Please elaborate on the creation of your masks. Which materials have been used? How much preparation was required to make a mask? From the fifty pieces, have any been particularly important representations of your evolving self?
The preparation comes from sketches on drawing. After that, I purchase masks from any theatrical shopkeeper. The masks, therefore, are very simple materials. They can range from (classic) plastic or papier-mâché ones. The latter are certainly more professional, but not easy to find. The colour must represent the soul, therefore, from the first mask of 1988 up to those used to date, I chose white and black. White is the sum of all colours. In an esoteric sense, therefore, for me, white represents the experience of all reincarnations up to absolute purification. The black masks, on the other hand, are the absence of light. In an esoteric sense, it represents the black soul who, having had no light (light in the sense of spiritual search in life, or a life devoted to true evil), pays the consequences also as a soul, retracing the same sufferings in the Soul. The concept of Black may appear similar to White (in a certain sense it is) but, nevertheless, it has a meaning more than souls (or Entities) linked to the earth and in a certain sense more “rebellious”. In any case, the choice of one or the other of the two “colours” is often chosen for an aesthetic taste combined with a design to be used on the masks and not specifically linked to the meaning of the two “colours”. (Black and white are not even colours). There is no fixed rule in choosing a colour or a mask model, they represent Change. Change in the meaning of each album. As each musical album is different, the Mask is different too. In the past (on some rare occasions), on some album there was no photo with the mask. However, there was also a mask dedicated to that album. For many years I applied to my masks only paints (acrylics) with drawings of tears. Even if, at first glance these tears seemed the same, from observing each other you should understand that they were different in the design (and also in the meaning). Over time, improving my techniques on pictures, I also improved the operating techniques on masks, and in more recent times, I also applied clay objects to them. For example, the type of mask used for “Demons Crawl At Your Side” which is certainly one of the most beautiful models ever made. Obviously, since the masks in the Tony Tears are changeable for each album (for a meaning of Occultism and Esotericism) I have never made expensive masks. However, I have always tried to make them as professional as possible. For the latest “solo” album, the Darker Progressive Electronic “The Wail of the Elements” I chose a beautiful Steampunk mask (one of the first science fiction forms born in the Victorian era). I chose this because it aptly represented the human being who tries to evolve until he reaches a point of no return, just as it is happening (really) between man and nature. The Steampunk mask chosen for “The Wail of the Elements” (for example) has not been retouched or modified. I liked it as it was, and I used it without changing it. It was the first case in my entire discography and since the Tony Tears project exists (1988) that this has happened. In other words, to make you understand, there is no fixed rule in the choice of masks.
The time of realization, usually can go from a week to almost two. Again, it depends, if the masks are only painted. Usually a couple of days are enough for the draft of the drawing, and five days to paint the masks, even several times over, in order to give the right colour chroming. Instead, if (besides carrying out what I have just said) I have to add objects with clay, or objects of all kinds, the time doubles and it goes to almost two weeks. Sure, the choice of masks is made on the basis of a belief strongly linked to my esoteric experience and it is not a sham; as someone does (and tries to copy us without admitting it). But the history and name speaks for us. From the fifty masks created, some were double (or second choices). However, all were representing a specific musical and extra-musical period that mirrored us. There will be some fabulous masks for the Band’s new album (already in preparation), but I can’t say more at the moment.
Tony Tears has multiple personalities. Your discography blurs the line between solo works and having a fully-blown line-up. The pattern is not even chronological! How does the differing chemical balance of minds suit you?
This is your opinion. In reality, I tell you that it is my way of understanding esoteric and occultism. I have a well-marked path, and it is far from having multiple personalities; if anything, I am consistent. It is true that I combine “apparently” different currents of thought but I have learned to bring them to my “advantage” in life. I love being consistent and what I just explained is proof that I am. The same applies to the record chronology in the “apparently” different genres. Over the years I have made “solo” albums where I played everything, albums where I ranged from more Metal songs with Martial rhythmic sections, in Kraut Rock style, to more extensive music with Industrial and experimental sounds when the Industrial did not yet exist; as an example I would say the 2000 CD “Fears and Sensations …” although the recording was not very modern, it had its vaguely industrial experimental Italian Dark Sound charm. This was repeated after, with the album “The Reality Before All”, although from this second album the sound began to be definitely more professional. “The Reality Before All” was an album with longer suites, while in “Fears and Sensations…” (with the exception of the last song) they are all catchy songs. Despite this apparent diversity between the two genres, personally, I don’t see a lack or a melodic diversity in the two styles practiced by solo Tony Tears and Tony Tears as a band. In both styles there is always something recognizable and in both there are two essential characteristics in the Tony Tears band, namely: the melody and the compositions are two very important things, they will never be missing. So, the difference is only in the length of the songs that goes from those more Anthem Rock to those more Dark Electronic Progressive stylings. In singing we range from Italian to English, sometimes I leave my most solo albums wholly instrumental (but it’s something I’ve been doing since 1988). So, there is always a great compositional and melodic arrangement capacity in my songs and in my albums in general. The very fact of defining the more soloists and the others as a band, is given only by the fact that the fixed Band is used to play live and to make most of the favourite songs by myself, or the Dark Sound ones with a formation behind. In fact, the so-called “solo” albums are because, there, I find myself doing (as in the past) all by myself. One day, when we have a keyboard player in training, also the songs from the “solo” albums will be reproduced live in the Tony Tears Band. Therefore, Tony Tears’ discography understanding be done by inserting both the Albums played alone more in the style of Electronic Dark Progressive, with the Albums where more is done Metal with the Band. The difference is not in proposing something very different from one another; even in the Albums with the Band there is no lack of more atmospheric songs (even if combined with Metal and they are much shorter). The so-called “solo” albums are not minor or simpler than those with the band, they are not a filler or something very different from the things done with the band, they are (in reality) to be considered all Tony Tears albums. I can guarantee that in many “electronic” Albums (so-called soloists) by Tony Tears there are musical finesses that if you don’t know how to play will never be able to do, there is great music inside them. As you can see, also on a chronological level there is a unique and coherent path. The so called solo albums are born from personal ideas that I feel I can use in music in a totally solitary, but there is no musical difference, we are always consistent. Our minds are on the same wavelength, also because, when I make my “solo” albums I don’t keep the band still, we are always active, and they are excited to play in the Tony Tears.
Apologies for the interjection. But on that thought of training a keyboard player, have you already played live as Tony Tears? Will this become a priority in future? How do you envisage the ideal presentation of your works on stage?
Here in Genoa, it is difficult to find keyboard players and bass players. Maybe more so keyboard players. In my project and band, the majority of fans see me as the guitarist of the Tony Tears. I hardly see my band with two guitars; I wouldn’t even like it, because, having a very particular touch, I want to remain the only guitarist. I’ve always rather imagined the Tony Tears Band with a good keyboard player. However, the risk of finding a Power Metal style keyboard player is there. Precisely for this reason, we are looking but with great caution and without haste. Among other things, in Tony Tears Band (always) I deal a lot with keyboards, therefore, as we now find it, any player should accept the condition of dividing the keyboards with me (at least in the studio) and this makes the matter even more difficult. On the other hand, thanks to the technique and the harmony that we have as a Band so far, we are able to make up for the absence of both a second guitar and a keyboard player. Both our former bass player and the new one have always done a great job of bass, both for power and for filling, which makes our songs explosive (in the true sense of the word). Anyway, to answer your question, yes, we have already played live. In 1989 there was the first concert, even if in an unofficial way, in the sense that there were no albums but only demos, therefore, the members of that band of kids did not have time to study the pieces. We had a concert with masks, sets, however the songs were Dark / Doom Metal improvisations, more or less sketched in the rehearsal room. In the same vein, there were other concerts in the 90s. For many reasons, in the following years I dedicated more time to bands to play live, but the idea of bringing a fixed line-up to Tony Tears has existed in my mind since the project was born in 1988. Although I made several albums first like Tony Tears, the difficulty of having people capable not only technically but also within the project with the right frame of mind (since it is not just music) pushed me to wait and not to be in a hurry. For this reason, there were no concerts before the last period that goes from 2019 to today. I repeat, as Tony Tears (myself) in other bands, I played a lot in all eras and this made sure to keep the name of Tony Tears alive. This meant that when Tony Tears (Band) played, it was like we had always played and in a way it was the truth. From 2019 to today, we have played three very important concerts. One in Parma at the Obscura Doom Festival, in its sixth edition, with: Ferum, Chains, Night Gaunt and Messa. Many people in the audience came especially for us. Then, we played at the Carignano Theatre in Genoa on a large stage, with Rebels Under Rain, Deathless Legacy and Freddy Delirio And The Phantoms. Finally, we played at Angelo Azzurro, also in Genoa, as Headliner. Angelo Azzurro is the most Metal venue in Genoa and although we were at the end of the night and thought no one would come; the place was full of fans. We were stunned. We didn’t think it could happen because nearby there was a concert by a well-known Metal band. Yes, from now on, it will become the normality that Tony Tears will play live. Believe me, it was a fire that burned under the ashes, since it was my will from the time when I was a kid, when I started with my first official 1988 demo “Strane Sensazioni”. The sets of the Tony Tears will always be particular, the feel never tacky. In the three concerts that we played, we brought my esoteric paintings, our masks, statuettes that David and I use (also for our rituals). We have not managed to bring everything completely. In the future, we would like to enrich our stage decoration further, but I don’t want to make suggestions for other bands to copy. I will keep it secret for now…
Having released two albums as a trio in three years do you feel more cohesive as a group? To what extent do you think that this partnership made “Demons Crawl…” a stronger album than if you had tried to execute it alone?
In reality there are three titles when counting “Follow The Signs of the Times”, “Demons Crawl At Your Side” and the vinyl EP celebrating thirty years of the project (and band) Tony Tears. So, the works with the formations are from 2015 to 2020. Even in the past, there have been guest musicians in different works. So, as you can see, there has always been consistency (even in trying to establish training). The things I did totally alone, were just the Dark Electronic Progressive works, because I liked it and it was a job that allowed me to do it. Today we are very cohesive as a band and as a group, and by group I mean the things just explained above. Today Tony Tears is a team, therefore, necessarily, it is better than doing things alone; but they are two different things as a way of understanding the works, so the thing is not comparable (in measure). Both things are important, even my so-called “solo” works have evolved compared to those done years ago. To give you an example, while I’m writing this interview, my latest album “The Wail of the Elements”, an album on the electronic dark progressive style, has been released for less than two months, yet, compared to previous works, it is ten spans higher. I have improved exponentially in terms of sounds, recording, mixing in these types of works (which I do totally on my own, including mixing, everything). I am very proud of “The Wail of the Elements”. If I had done “Demons Crawl At Your Side” alone it would have come out equally beautiful but different from thinking of it as a Band. Instead, thinking about it for the Band, a great album came!! And that’s okay so…
The names of your esteemed colleagues should be at least vaguely familiar to those with even a passing interest in the Italian Dark Sound. Please tell us how and when you met. What brought you together and how have those bonds strengthened over time?
Two old friends who understand me and follow me of many years (since the early 90s) are: David Krieg on vocals, and Lowrence Butleather (Lorenzo Mapelli) on drums. David, I met him in the very early 90s in the Black Widow Records store. Lawrence, on the other hand, I met him in the company of friends always in the very early 90s. They are the friends and musicians I’ve been playing with for the longest time. In addition, there is always a long-time friend and Tony Tears fan; that is, Regen Graves of the Abysmal Grief. Regen, I met him at “The Black” concert in ’98 where with Abysmal Grief, they rang on the support. For a short time, he played bass with us, then he decided to devote more time to his band (and we understood it). Regen remained as a helper; sound engineer, and graphic aid. Regen is also very good at graphics. I, however, in the graphics I should improve a lot. I have a lot of taste in the choice of covers but the result that Regen obtains with graphics, light effects and title logos, he is always excellent, we often leave this task to him. He cares for us and is happy. Then, there is the second female voice, which is my partner, that is, Sandra Silver (Sandra I don’t think she needs any introduction, also considering her vocal past with Paolo Catena and some performance collaboration with Steve Sylvester). I met Sandra when I was a boy (in the 90s) when I went to visit Paolo Catena at their home; I saw her again after years at a martial arts internship (which I have been practicing since I was 6 years old) I immediately snap the spark between me and Sandra. Only after a few months did we decide together that we could embark on a journey with the Tony Tears. Personally, I have always believed in Sandra Silver a lot, I have always supported her, since her works with Paolo Catena. Then there is the new and definitive bass player: he is a fan of ours, at our concerts (in Genoa) he has always been in the front row. A young boy but with a great interest (and culture) for the esoteric, in addition, has an exceptional musical culture for his age. This boy is actually a guitarist of a very good Genoese band, but he also has a passion for bass and plays it great; he is a young boy (the youngest of the band) but he brought great enthusiasm and a breath of freshness, it took! Then there is the girlfriend of David Krieg (Lisa) who is a good designer and author of paintings of various kinds. Lisa, created the design of our T-shirts. There’s a kind of team behind the Tony Tears today, and that’s a great thing. Each of us has a partner who can do something and everyone can bring ideas inside.
We have already touched upon the Italian Dark Sound on multiple occasions. As a native, please explain what it means to you personally…
In my opinion, the term Dark Sound cannot be reduced to something restrictive like Doom. Traditional Doom Metal (which is then the classic Dark Metal) is the real Dark Sound; Trouble, Candlemass, Manilla Road, Sarcofagus, Witchfinder General, Angel Witch and Demon; but also Iron Maiden in many moments, Judas Priest, MercyfuL Fate, King Diamond, Saint Vitus and many others. In Italy, our historical Bands of true Dark Sound includes Jacula, Antonius Rex, Goblin, Mario Di Donato with The Black and Requiem, Death SS (also the modern one of the last period), Paul Chain (with all its variants of name), Black Hole and Run After To (never mentioned, yet very good). All these foreign international bands have contributed to the Dark Metal world in all its forms. As for the Italian bands, the same is true; and in fact, you want our esoteric cultural tradition, you want the popularity of all our bands just mentioned, but I think I can say (without a shadow of a doubt) that Italian bands are second to none, and are well known and appreciated by now all over the world. Tony Tears, by name historicity, beginning of the project, and bands (1988) are not very second compared to the historical Italian bands. Indeed, by now, in various reviews and interviews we are seen as a band of the time (rightly in my opinion), as well as for the year I started (1988) also because Tony Tears Sound takes a lot from the old school of Italian style; even if we managed to put it, sometimes, into modern contexts. For me, therefore, this genre (and this tradition) transcends myself, goes beyond music itself. Tony Tears’ music is a continuous change and evolution of my esoteric experience poured into music, something so profound and lived that it cannot be described in an interview. However, I don’t like having the Doom label (as it is understood today). Today, this term refers to something slow, spasmodic, even too much in my opinion. Tony Tears is not like that. Our melodies are always open (they breathe), even when they are very gloomy. Obviously, in Dark Prog Electronic style music, music is more atmospheric, but the melodies and composition are many and open. In the Metal pieces, we have here and there some calm but never excessively slow moments I don’t like excessively slow music and I don’t like the opposite extreme either. For this reason, I am a lover of Classic Metal (and classics) rather than Doom as it is understood today. For me, the Italian tradition is not Doom as someone else might understand it. If I listen to the “slower” things of the Italian bands mentioned above, they are never excessively slow. If you hear Tony Tears’ things, they are not overly slow. By slow, I also mean songs that are half an hour on the same notes that make Rock repetitive with: drums, bass, guitar, voices. Personally, I could never do such a thing. For me this is to force something. In fact, the labels that some reviewers give to bands always leave the time they find. Some labels have been attached to us, such as Doom or simple but fascinating music. I don’t agree with these labels and statements, because: first of all, Tony Tears is not canonical DooM and we never want this to be and secondly, our rock music, like a band, our songs more stage, are deliberately more captivating. But I can assure you, in the middle there are many of those musical and technical subtleties, which if a person does not know how to play he will never be in able to do them. I have studied music from a lifetime, and I continue to study, therefore, I tell you these things as a competent musician and not an amateur. For this reason, a band like Tony Tears wants to get out of the discourse of labels, because they are always made by those who have a very limited vision of music; I’m sorry to say it but it is so.
Look at The Black, who now make reputable Dark Metal and with “Gorgoni” they have taken a monstrous step forward, yet there are those who continue to catalogue them as cult bands, when (instead) they have gained (especially with this album) a place among the most important bands of Italian Metal in general and not necessarily in Dark / Doom alone. Look at the ridiculous criticisms that some make of the new Death SS, saying they have marketed, only because they have “detached” themselves from the traditional Dark Sound of the first seal. But why, sorry? Has the band Death SS not always made a dark and gothic Dark Metal? I think so. Was it supposed that the new Death SS would remain the same like almost forty years ago? Absurd! This is what I mean. Those who make music do not care (rightly) about the opinion of the few who would like to relegate a musical genre to worship. There are bands that want to get out of the cult logo (or label), and it will seem strange, but Tony Tears is also part of this movement. The new album (now in preparation) is a big step forward in this sense. I know someone will be disappointed. Patience. In addition to those who understand us (among old fans) we will gain new fans. We cannot remain anchored to someone’s thought. From birth, Tony Tears was already projected to evolution and a proof of what I say lies in the fact that if somebody listens, in a chronological sense, right, our albums (our discography) they will notice what I am saying. We have gone from making a Dark Sound Metal to experimental electronics, a little old-fashioned perhaps (but made with our style) with technical improvement and increasing recording capabilities, therefore, it is not surprising. One thing is certain. Tony Tears will always be sincere in what they propose, wanting to make a qualitative leap does not necessarily mean marketing yourself. That’s what was said about (new) Death SS and it happened to many other bands; statements and “accusations” made by those (few but don’t give up) who would like to have a Doom job (Doom as it is understood today). It seems like they are a distressing machine that cannot stop. So for me, the Italian Dark Sound tradition meant having loved (and having lived) the bands mentioned earlier. But having a project and a band (Tony Tears) that existed since the age of the bands mentioned above and being (us) changeables (changeable by our nature), we cannot remain anchored to canonical Doom, it has never been like this. Evolution is an important thing, often the difference between professional bands (even in the Italian Dark / Doom) and those that are not, lies precisely in this difference. Tony Tears is part of the Italian tradition and we will always be proud of it. We also look at the evolution, both in the most theatrical songs (Dark Metal) and for my solo works. “The Wail of the elements” is much more professional, modern and powerful as a solo album compared to things done years ago, but it is consistent with an Electronic Dark Prog style I’ve always done. Our tradition is wonderful and second to none. Tony Tears is part of it…
To be continued…
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