|Have you ever wondered how could have been a Lucio Fulci movie with a Black Sabbath soundtrack?
Then you absolutely have to read this interview and to discover Arcana 13, an italian band whose unique concept is mixing doom metal and horror films.
Simone, guitarist and singer of the band, will tell you more about the band's vision and lead you through the dark galleries composing Danza Macabra, first Arcana 13's record...
1. Hi ! Before all, could you please introduce shortly the band: when and with which goals Arcana 13 came to life? Was it obvious till the beginning that you would bring horrific visions from great Italian moviemakers into music, and build a bridge between musical and cinematographic arts?
It all began in the winter of 2013, a bunch of good old friends jamming on Black Sabbath tunes in a stinking rehearsal room, cracking beers open and busting the amps at ear-shattering volumes. Here and there we were laying down some new riffs and recording some stuff on a tape recorder like it was 1974 again. However the magic started when I started to improvise the theme from Goblin’s “Suspiria” in the rehearsals… Being fanatics of the legendary Italian Horror movies of Argento, Fulci, Bava as much as we’re addicted to Black Sabbath and Pentagram the step was really short.2. It seems like the Italian scene always have inclined to dark, esoteric and provocative art with bands like Death SS, Devil Doll, Mortuary Drape, Opera IX… Do you agree with that? How could you explain it?
It’s undeniable yet hard to explain. Maybe so much blood has been spilled on our lands throughout the ages from the Roman Empire up to World War II that the dead are talking through the music and arts? Sounds crazy I know. However take cinema for example, the US has been always ahead in terms of production but no one could ever match the twisted genius of Lucio Fulci, unparalleled. 3. If I got it well, the way of creating music is special and unique for Arcana 13. It seems that you were composing each track from your first album, Danza Macabra, after watching a movie in order to catch and transpose the real essence of terror and to bring it on stage for your coming concerts. Can you tell us more about this process? What are we allowed to expect from an Arcana 13´s live show?
From that “Suspiria” cover we couldn’t help ourselves, we put an old TV screen with a rusty VHS player in the rehearsals and basically jammed while watching those Horror masterpieces, such crazy fun times. Sometimes a specific scene inspired us riffs some others we had a specific atmosphere in mind from a song and we searched for the best film to picture it. Take for example “Land of Revenge” which triggered us this western feeling that ended up to one of the few Lucio Fulci’s western: “Four of the Apocalypse”.
Live wise we wanted of course to retain the same vibe and we’re projecting behind us the same movies, perfectly edited and synced with the music to give the audience a unique Horror Doom experience!4. In order to create a more coherent universe you contacted Enzo Sciotti (who illustrated the posters of Lucio Fulci’s, Dario Argento’s or Lamberto Bava’s most famous masterpieces amongst others) to take care of the wonderful artwork of Danza Macabra. How did this collaboration work? Did you contact some moviemakers too whose movies you´re interpreting on your record? If yes, how did they react to your project, did you have some feedbacks from them?
Getting in touch with Enzo was simply the perfect closure of the magic circle. Once “Danza Macabra” was finished we felt the need to find a special artist to give the album an image. I selected 2-3 contemporary artists whose skills mimicked those vintage illustration that scared us when were kids browsing VHS titles. Among those I also sent a mail to the master himself, without much hope on a serious feedback. Well it turned out that I never heard back from those contemporary artists, while Enzo wrote me back in a matter of hours, completely blown away from our project and vision. It was unbelievable. We gave him a pitch of idea and he did the unthinkable, when we got his first draft it was simply out of this world. The idea of the screaming skull-gi
rl is 100% Enzo’s and it’s already written in history, can’t thank him enough.
Props to Raoul from View from the Coffin as well, the guy that created our logo and the graphic layout of the whole “Danza Macabra” collection, one hell of an artist as much as good friend.
Speaking of directors, most of them are dead at the moment, we’re hunting down Dario Argento, our paths will cross one day or another! 5. You´re probably huge fans of horror films I guess! Could you shortly speak about the movies which inspired the 8 tracks of the album? Except these ones, which other films are your favorites?
We’re fanatics man, haha! “Danza Macabra” opens with one of my personal favorite “Black Sunday” by Mario Bava from 1960, on which we wrote “Dread Ritual”. Barbara Steel is our muse, the Terror Queen!
Second track is “Arcane XIII”, based on a more recent movie “The Arcane Sorcerer” by Pupi Avati, quite an eerie and disturbing one, shot somewhere around our hometown.
Then we have “Land of Revenge”, as stated before we needed to find a western themed movie and our choice was quite obvious with “Four of the Apocalypse” by Lucio Fulci.
Mid-way through the album we did a detour from our Italian Horror trip. The song is “Oblivion Mushroom” and it’s such a psychedelic stoner tune that no other movie than “The Holy Mountain” by Alejandro Jodorowsky. We simply had to do it, that movie is crazy.
Back on track, song number five, “Suspiria” by maestro Dario Argento. This is Goblin’s work and there’s no need to say more: classic!
Number six “Blackmaster” is based on another top 5 movies ever of myself: “The Beyond” by Lucio Fulci. Wow, that movie is truly sick and out of this world… Gore, horror and twisted plot changes just like riffs in a Black Sabbath song: because f*ck you, that’s why.
Number seven “ The Holy Cult of Suicide” is based on another Fulci’s masterpiece “City of the Living Dead”… That movie opens up with a priest hanging himself and from there it’s just mayhem, Fulci Lives!
Ending the record we have another Argento masterpiece “Inferno”, on which we wrote our most epic anthem “Hell Behind You”. “The only true mystery is that our very lives are governed by dead people!” Yes!
There’s still plenty to come in terms of other movies and we’re already thinking on the follow ups… won’t spoil anything yet though.6. Let´s talk about music now. You´re playing a kind of mix between doom, stoner and heavy rock with obvious influences from the 70´s and a heavy occult atmosphere. According to you, is this musical combination the best way to personify shivers and dread? Is this kind of music something natural for you, coming from you musical roots and influences, or is that a calculated choice to stick as much as possible to the fantastic universe you want to create?
We all come from different musical backgrounds, and that’s the buty of it. We all share our love for 70s heavy rock as much as the new wave of Doom… From Black Sabbath to Electric Wizard we’re sold! But of course there’s so much in our stereos, from 70s Prog Rock to Black Metal, I think “Danza Macabra” smells of all our influences and listening habits. Is this the best music that goes with Horror? For Arcana 13 hell yes it is. 7. Actually, we´re going through a massive wave of occult heavy doom rock stuff since the past decade with bands like The Devil´s Blood, Oath, Blood Ceremony, Witchcraft, Jex Thoth, Ghost.. Are you not afraid of being seen as opportunists who just wanna follow the new trend? According to you, what makes Arcana 13 different from all these new bands?
There’s a lot going on these days, there’s no doubt in it. But luckily we believe that a good written song st
ands the test of time, internet buzz and whatnot. We love riffs, who doesn’t?! But we love a good catchy tune, a chorus that sticks in your brain for a day. That’s what we strive for in Arcana 13, we make music for ourselves before anyone else, and if a song doesn’t stick in our head it’s a filler, not a killer. Is “Danza Macabra” full of killers? The audience be the judge, we did our best, took all the time we needed to fine tune songs, movies and vision!8. Andrea, musically spoken, Arcana 13 and Void of Sleep, the other band you’re composing, playing and singing for, have a lot of similarities. What are the main differences between the two bands for you? Are they both playing for the same audience or do you think the listeners are different people?
This is Simone speaking, every different musical project of ours is a different world and we compose stuff in the most free way possible. Obviously Arcana 13 and Void of Sleep share some similarities but they’re naturally taking their own path ‘cause they share just one member and it’s really no big deal. We love and support each other and that’s the beauty of it.9. We can obviously feel the influence of the 70‘s in the music as well as in the way you sound: powerful, clean, modern, but retro and nostalgic on the same time. Which bands influence you the most? And which material and production tips do you use to sound this amazing way which fits perfectly to the music?
I already mentioned some quintessential band that influenced us, of course Black Sabbath first and foremost, as well as Pentagram, Saint Vitus, Candlemass and Sleep concerning the old Doom school. Same goes for the newer school of Electric Wizard, Uncle Acid, Witchcraft (one of our favorite), The Sword and Ghost to name a few. This gest melted with 70s prog rock we love like Goblin (of course), Fabio Frizzi, Cressida, Banco del Mutuo Soccorso etc.
One key aspect of DANZA MACABRA was laid down by Arcana 13’s fifth hidden member, Steve from the deathpunk combo Hierophant. He’s a doom & prog freak like us and totally psyched by analogue synthethizers and organs… Once we had 80% of the album ready I did many psych evenings with him laying down nasty sounds over the instrumentals, it was totally magic.
The boss that managed to glue all this together was our good buddy Riccardo Pasini at Studio 73, master of analogue sounds and vintage attitude with a modern feeling. He also produces some boutique pedals and made a special fuzz for this record that we recorded with and also using live!10. What can we wish you for the future? Do you already have some ideas for an upcoming album? And if yes, will you stay into this horrific thematic which sounds and looks like a kind of trademark, or should we expect a totally new inspiration?
We had the vision of Arcana 13 as a multi sense experience and we were able to write those tunes we’re so proud of with aim of those horrific movies. Still there’s plenty to go down this line and also we take pride in “educating” the younger generations that know “Blair Witch Project” and never saw “Suspiria”… Hell no, sir.
For the time being we will concentrate in brining Danza Macabra live as much as possible in situation where it’s well rendered, again: the visual aspect is a key one, as much as the music itself. We did the release party which was a total success and we have already planned some shows in Italy, then it’s time to hit Europe, I guess we’ll see you guys next autumn for sure. 11. Thank you very much for answering my questions! The last word is for you!
Thanks for the sweet interview and thanks to your readers. Have you ever wondered how could have been a Lucio Fulci movie with a Black Sabbath soundtrack? Check out Arcana 13. Doom on!