Hi there. Congratulations to your great new album. Please describe the reactions to the CD so far.
Victor: Weíre really satisfied about the feedback we are receiving so far about the new album both from the media and our fans. 21st Century Slave is an album that is both different from all our past release but still embody the trademark sound weíve been working on since 2003 but with a more focused and mature attitude that is managing to get the interest of our past followers but also catch the interest of different kind of people. Basing on whatís going on in these early step we really hope that with this album we can reach an higher level and also can bring our words and music to the worldwide audience.
Do you care for the opinion of your fans, the press and people in general? Or is it just you and your music?
Victor: Generally we just prefer to do the music we like to do independently from the opinions around also because itís really hard to say if itís better or worse to be influenced by such opinions. Most of the times there is a part of fans that would like to listen to something new and get bored if you start to make the same kind of things of ever, another part of fans instead just would like a band to keep repeating the same sound because they are personally bounded by old songs. What about the press i can say weíve always scored a pretty good feedback in general as we always tried to bring something new compared to what has been said before. But after all i think itís important for an artist to experiment and make its sound evolve through the years as what influenced you by the times of past releases, both musically and lyrically, cannot stay the same forever and ever. Besides i think itís always better with a new album to deliver something different also to bring on the live set together with the old numbers, as we of course play all the old and the new songs when possible and this makes our live shows more interesting. To make another album following the same line of old ones would have been too easy and this is something alot of bands to as itís way more safe, but weíve always been a band that like to risk in order to tell somethign new and iíve to say that after 6 years and 3 very different albums in the overall scene it pays off as weíve alot of different people that like more or less one particular release and this is important to get a more wide audience in the international scene.
Some of our readers may never have heard about you. Please give us a short briefing in the band's biography.
Victor: Weíve started in 2003 with an Ep called Ą10.000 Watts Of Artificial PleasuresĒ which has been self produced by me and self released online. Afterwards we signed a deal with Trisol Records for which we released 2 full lenght album ĄNeuromanceĒ in 2005 an EP with exclusive tracks and remixes in 2006 called Make A star and another full length called ĄGigaheartsĒ between 2006/2007. During these 6 years weíve been touring alot espcially in Europe and performed at alot of important festivals. Now after 2 years since the latest full length studio album weíve released first an EP ĄCriminal Intents / Morning StarĒ which feature some exclusive tracks and remixes and some songs of the new album Ą21st Century SlaveĒ that has been released in July by Trisol Records in Europe, Subsound Records in Italy, Metropolis Records in North America and Deathwatch Asia in Japan.
Was there a moment when you realized that "21st Century Slave" would become something special?
Victor: While writing and producing it during December/January i could not really realize how it would have developed but once finished by february we all realized it would have been the strongest release ever. Itís not only about the music though, which is a kind of evolution from the latest album but also it has a very strong visual and lyrical concept that makes this new work something really special for us. It actually follows most of the same background we had also in other albums but we all think this release is much more complex and detailed like never before. In a way it is an album that makes a summary of all the experiments of the past but also deliver something totally new. Besides this is the first album where we managed to record also real acoustic drums which makes the whole concept of rock and electronics merging together even stronger and the concepts of lyrics of the album also can find a very direct connection to the times we are living and how the Cyberpunk imagery become more and more a reality nowdays.
Let's talk about your new CD. What are the differences between "21st Century Slave" and your first two records in your opinion?
Victor: I think this album has both things in common with our past releases but also alot of differences. There are songs that bring you back to the times of Neuromance and Gigahearts for matter of sound and attitude, iím thinking about songs like Itís Today, Criminal Intents or 21st Century Slave for example, but there are also other songs that brings to a totally different experience and arrangement such as Omegadrones, Digital Warriors, Megacorps, Outlaw Thrones, Itís For You. So in a way itís an album that really express the complete sound research we have been working on since years.
What are the reasons for these differences?
Victor: The reasons are basically because i like the new and also the experiences weíve been doing through these 6 years of touring and presence in the scene influenced the way of my songwriting. Iíve also been producing other bands which helped me to imrove my skills as producer. These are all experiences that strongly influence they way you are making music. Even if the basic background of influences is still the same and itís more or less the music iíve been listening since i was a teenager, especially the 80ís music of both the rock and electronic scene, i tried to have a different approach to make something really modern and that could mix together the soul of rock, metal and punk with the world of electronica, techno and industrial music. Besides also the production has been a bit different as usual as iíve written, produced and recorded everything all together in one unique session, without re-recording most of the stuff from the very start like i did for other albums and this also helped to give to the new work a sort of very strong isntinctive and natural sound.
What is the message of "21st Century Slave"?
Victor: The message behind the whole album which is expressed by the title is connected to the worldview of cyberpunk that is slowly becoming very similar to the world we are living today. The influence of corporations over politics, the massive industrial production, aggresive marketing and advertising brainwashing the masses with their imposed lifestyle and models, the evolution of technological control over the people are all things described in the cyberpunk novels that are now becoming reality. Weíre living in a world where the cyberspace have a much stronger impact than just few years ago, more and more people are on the internet and is becoming dependent to it, nanotechnologies are rising and the connection between men and machines is becoming more a everyday thing than a science fiction topic. Also the intenrational politcs is proceeding into the direction to create super states with a strong attitude of control, the whole mass is monitored by constant statistics and thousand of bits and bytes are gradually influencing the way governments interact with society in alot of different ways. We are now in a moment where we canít really live without all these technolgies so the only way to surive is to master this technology and become able to control it to not be controlled by it. This is the main message behind the album that wants to push the people to open their eyes and start to own the technological advancement and use it in an intelligent way in order to not become slave of it. Most of the people around are slaves of the 21st Century because the big part of the masses has been not able yet to understand the way it should be experienced and the risks that are behind it so this album want to send a message to all the electronic minds that itís time to master the weapons offered by technology in order to get the real freedom back in our hands.
My favourite is "Digital Warriors". Can you tell us something about this song and it's history?
Victor: This song is an hymn to the electronic minds and is connected to the ĄMaster TechnologyĒ main theme. It is a song that has been inspired by the Cyberpunk Manifesto of Christian As. Kirtchev and belongs to the set of songs in 21st Century Slave that describe the background scenario of the album. The digital warriors are the knights of the new era and the soldiers of upcoming wars that will take place inside the cyberspace. The punks and rebels of the network that will be the ones who will change the world through the power of technology. It is a song that is connected and talks to the hacker communty but not the criminal one, but rather that communty of cyberpunks that are fighting behind the scenes against all these entities that want the cyberspace to be blocked, censored or controlled in some way. The cyberspace is a place of freedom where all the barriers of differences are broken and where all we can feel free by any prejudice. Back to the music i think this is a song that express really the term ĄCyberpunk RockĒ that we like to describe our music as it exactly fits both musically and lyrically being a song that fuses the souls of punk/rock and cyber music and also embody a cyberpunk inspired concept.
And what about "Outlaw Thrones"?
Victor: Outlaw thrones is one of the very different songs that are featured in the new album as itís a song that got a very strong rock soul and a totally new and different arrangement compared to all what weíve been doing before. The lyrics are connected to the times we are living and the lack of deepness of the poltics we are living today. It is years that when a new figure comes out it is more or less like just changing the name or the face but in the end nothing changes for real. The world politics pushes the masses to the extremes before making even small changes and we are living in a endless static situation where instead of making a whole jump ahead we are still stagnating in the same problems of always.
Which one is your favorite song from the album and why?
Victor: I canít really say honestly but i can say 21st century Slave , Itís Today and Digital warriors are the songs i mostly prefer cause of the concept of their lyrics too.
How and why did you choose the album cover? Is there a further meaning behind it?
Victor: Yes of course. The concept behind the cover is connected to the cyberpunk worldview where all the cultures, languages and lifestyles are merging together. We wanted a cover that could represent in some way this idea and infact it is a composition of different visual concepts that express this. The pagoda for china, stars and stripes for usa, japanese words repeating the album title stands for this concept. We actually wanted to have a more complex thing going on but actually we also had to take care of the visual impact so we kept the essential.
Are there some lyrics that are special to you? Tell us something about them.
Victor: All the lyrics are special for me in two different ways. A part of them is connceted to the message we want to send with the album and the cyberpunk inspired concept, what about lyrics of songs such as When i See you Smile and Itís for you are indeed connected to more personal feelings and the theme of true love which is influenced by my personal relationship with my girlfriend that is following and supporting me since even before the band has been founded. I am a really romantic person that belives in true love and these songs are inspired by this.
Where do you get your inspirations from?
Victor: Most of the times regarding lyrics it depends much on the experiences i do in the very moment or day iím writing a song. By the times that the new album has been written we where passign through a fase of intense political changes and especially the theme of international crisis was becoming really strong. What about the cyberpunk themes iíve been reading alot of things in that period and even before and i wanted to make something really inspired by such themes that could also connect to the current events. What about the music itís really hard to say because usually i just get in front of my computer with my guitar and synthesizers and start to write down all that comes up to my mind. There is never a precise intent behind to write a song in a ceratin way, itís more a thing that happen probably in my sub-conscious.
Any plans for some further stuff of "21st Century Slave" (like singles,video, DVD etc.)?
Victor: We are going to shoot a video in September for one song and probably another one by the end of 2009. I also would like to write some new tracks around september or by the end of summer to be featured on some special release or ep. About Dvd weíve got a very nice recording of one of our latest shows that is going to be worked and mounted the upcoming months. We still do not know if weíll release it on a DVD or if weíll just release on the internet for our fans though.
What about the recording process of your new album? Any stories or curiosities to report?
Victor: I can say it has been a really intense period where iíve been spending i do not know how many hours in studio for the album production. It has been a very big challange for me as i wanted to make the best out of it and also make a good use of all the production experiences i did in the latest 2 years, including the use of new tools and gears. After all i can say that even if it has been stressing as always it has been also a very great experience as we could practically live in the studio for like 3 months.
How would you describe your own music?
Victor: Cyberpunk Rock
How do you create your sound? Which equipment do you use?
Victor: I work as producer for the band and for this album iíve written and recorded everything in studio directly as we had the oppotunity to have the studio available for 3 months. I work with my workstation which is a very powerful but also not that expensive nowdays, quad core computer with 2 giga of ram. For the guitar i use a Les paul Gibson and the Ibanez Iceman of La Nuit. For bass Darin has good a Gibson Thunderbird. What about all the rest we have been working with Cubase and a shit load of sofwares for synthesizers and drum programming. Also this time weíve recorded the acoustic drums that has been then matched together with the electronic beats. For guitars we mixed together recordings of a Marshall Jcm 900 and Amplitube that created a good mixture of real and synthetic sound for it. For bass we worked with an ampeg svt3-pro and recordings of vocals has been made with an Akg 414. What is cool of the new technology advancements on music production is that you can manage everything in real time and keep all inside a single project that can be open almost everywhere. We do not used any kind of external rack for example because this way i could also tweak the songs till the very last day also when weíve finished the studio session and i brought by my computer at home. It has been a very good thing to get the best out of the sound.
Please tell us something about the process of songwriting.
Victor: Like for all the other records iíve written all the songs as i also play all the instrument involved and iím the singer and producer of the band. I did like a good amount of demos as usual from which we decided what were elegible to be on the album but iíve to say that as most of the times, we all agreed like instantly about the best songs to record. It is also cause of this that we decided to release an advane EP as we actually had a couple of good songs that could not fit in the album and so we decided to make an extra release. Afterwards when the songs where finished as final recordings we worked together to tweak the sounds and final arrangements togehter to make the song work in a perfect way.
What are your musical influences in your opinion?
Victor: Itís hard to say cause i actually listen to a very big amount of different music from the most soft one to the very extremes, from pop to rock, techno to death metal and classical music. But after all i can say that what influence mostly the sound of Dope Stars Inc. Is my background of music of the 80ís coming from both the rock & metal world and the electronic one.
We'd like to know something about your background in making music. How did you learn to play, what are your experiences and which musicians are your main technical influence?
Victor: Iíve been starting playing the piano when i was very young, around 7 years old. I took lessons for like 5 years and then i discovered rock music and decided to drop the piano to buy my first guitar. After some years, when i was like 16 i started to have my first bands which were almost group of friends making cover songs of metal and rock. My first real band has been My Sixth Shadow and we did like 2 albums and in the meantime i also founded a Crossover band where i was the singer called Chaos Zero. By the times Chaos Zero split i founded Dope Stars Inc. and after a while i left My Sixth Shadow to focus more on it. Recently i also started a new band, Epochate, with Noras Blake where we make a mix of Industrial Rock with a strong Orchestral Symphonic sould and our first album ĄChronicles of a dying eraĒ has been just released in february this year. To be honest i canít say really which musicians have had some influence on me technically but iíve been also a very hardcore fan of metal music so i was really into metallica, pantera, sepultura, iron maiden, fear factory and many more. Afterwards i started to get alot into electronics, techno, synth pop and dark music but also nu-metal, crossover and hip hop. By the years 2000 i got alot into industrial/ebm which brought me back to my 90ís techno period and have been clubbing and dancing alot during that time. This also has been influencing the way like i am mixing techno industrial beats with rockíníroll and metal elements in the music we do.
What do you think: How will Dope Stars Inc. sound like in let's say five years? Is there a masterplan?
Victor: The masterplan is the same of everyone. To make our music spread worldwide like a virus and especially have the opportunity to play in more and more countries where weíve never been. I think in 5 years, if everything proceed so fast like now, weíll have probably reached all these targets hopefully.
Please name some lately released CDs that you like to listen to at home.
Victor: I barely listen to new albums released nowdays to be honest but iíve been listening to the new of IAMX, Julien-K and Mindless Self Indulgence which are all great bands.
Do you still watch other bands play? Have there been some shows lately that impressed you?
Victor: Not so often because i almsot work everyday besides there is no much interesting shows happening here in Rome actually. The latest show iíve been was Depeche Mode here in Rome and of course when we are touring with other bands and when playing festivals i always love to attend at shows. The last show that iíve been really impressed of has been the one of IAMX at Blackfield festival. They did an amazing job on stage and do very interesting music. Besides they are all very nice guys.
What makes the difference between Dope Stars Inc. and other Industrial Rock/Metal bands?
Victor: Oh well, canít really say but i think the main difference is the fact we are mixing rockíníroll with electronic music while most of all the other bands has either a strong metal influence or just use electronics in a very essential way. Instead what we try to do is to make them co-exist together in an harmonic and balanced way.
We'd like to know something about the underground in your hometown. Are you still in touch? And if so: Where do you hang out? Are there some yet unknown bands that you like?
Victor: Iíve been born in the south but have always been living in Rome. In the past i used to hang out alot for clubbing but the scene nowdays is not much of interest to me anymore. I prefer to spend my time with my very close friends for a private party at home, cinema or going together to a good restourant most of the times. There are alot of new bands in italy whcih are interesting and also working as producer iíve been in touch with alot of them. Iíd suggest the new album of Neon Synthesis, Richard Christ and also you should check out a new band called Hate Inc. for which i will produce the debut album soon and that will be a very interesting one to follow in my opinion.
How important is it for you to play live on stage?
Victor: Itís the most amazing thing that life could give me and probably the most exciting thing that is making me feel alive.
Are there still some bands that you would die to play with?
Victor: Depeche Mode, Metallica, Nine Inch Nails, Rammstein, Zeromancer, Ministry and Rob Zombie.
Please tell us something about further Live activities.
Victor: We are now going to jump in tour in October with Deathstars, Diary of Dreams and The Birthday Massacre, (Into Darkness Festival) and will perform also 3 shows in the Uk in mid november and our first live show in the US on 31 October in Philadelphia. We are also working now to fix more single shows in Scandinavia, Russia, Australia and other countries around Europe.
Still three questions to go. What do you think of Metal web magazins?
Victor: They are usually not nice with us cause of our band image but i think things are a bit changing now and alot of them start to jump this prejudice to take a more deep listen to the music we are doing.
Is there something that you have never been asked but always have been eager to say?
Victor: I love Michael Jackson. He has been the first artist iíve been obsessed to when i was really young. ĄBadĒ is probably the album i been listening as repeat for thousand of times among all the ones he produced. Iíve been feeling damn bad for his recent death.
We are looking forward seeing you in Germany. Best whishes to you all. Any last words?
Victor: We really canít wait to hit germany for a tour in October. It has been a while since the last time and we canít wait to meet you all again!