4th Dimension (en)

A very long (lasted about 45 minutes) skype interview with 4th Dimension's singer, Andrea Bicego, who looks very proud of his work, but realistic and honest too. Their new album, Dispelling the Veil of Illusions, was released a few months ago on Power Prog records.

interview 4th DimensionCan you introduce the band and its history ?
The band was founded by Talete, who is a keyboard player, and by myself in 2005, a long time back. But I always say that the real start, the real beginning of the band was in 2008 when we released our first demo, which was a three-track demo. The main song was "The Sun in My Life" which was afterward re-recorded and was a different track for the first album "The White Path to Rebirth" in 2011. Afterward then, the real breakthrough was the meeting with Alex Lucatti, who is the keyboard player in Vision Divine. It was kind of strange, because I was looking for a first studio where we could record our first album and by chance I got to talk to Alessio's girlfriend back then who was White Skull's singer. She told me to get in touch with Alessio, and I did that. While we were talking he listened to a couple of demo tracks we had and he asked me, and I was interested in having the debut album produced by him. So I had my debut album produced by Vision Divine, well (laughs). And of course we say we were interested, and that was the beginning of all. We recorded in 2010 the first album in a studio in Ibiza, and also in Livorno, which is in Tuscany, and he produced the whole album, he mixed it, and he gave us really a big helping hand in trying to help our songs in the best fashion, that was a great work for us, he was really you know, in an ease back then. We tried to put everything we had in mind in the songs, and we didn't have to choose between what was really important and what wasn't. It helped us, and a lot of artists, who have a minimum of experience knows that, and it was great. Afterward, we made a tour with Sonata Arctica in 2011 and Labyrinth, and it was a two weeks tour. We toured around Europe, in Switzerland, in Germany, in Austria, Italy of course, Slovenia, Czech Republic, Hungary, Slovakia, Belgium. And it was really a great experience with really one of those moments you can really not forget. I'll always remember the first time I set my foot on a stage, in front of a big crowd and I was so scared (laughs) I couldn't believe I was there. But anyway it was a great experience. We learned a lot from Labyrinth and Sonata Arctica and also talking to these famous musicians, and see what was their approach to our music was helpful for us. And it really helped us when we got back and we started composing the songs for the second album Dispelling the Veil of Illusions. We understood that this tour was helpful because we had a better idea about what our songs should be like. And so we started recording songs far shorter, more powerful, something which was to be more helpful while playing those songs live. And then we are now in 2014, the second album is out, we're having really good reviews from all around the world. And we're trying to see if another tour is possible, we shall see, maybe in 2015, we shall see. You know we all wish to go on tour again, it's something every musician would like to do, to go on tour because it's like a dream to come true. You feel like … very happy, that's great.

Why can't you go on tour right now for Dispelling the Veil of Illusions ?
Because it's really an expensive matter, it's really really expensive, hum I have to say, in the beginning, when we toured first time in 2011, we were given this possibility, this chance, and we couldn't refuse, because that was a dream. But it was really expensive for us, and we bored the consequences of expense for a couple of years afterward (laughs). So it wasn't an easy matter. And now that we now it is required to do another tour, we also know that we can't afford say "ok, let's go" and put 10 000 euros on the table and say "ok, let's pay". It's not so easy, we all have jobs, and some of us do not have a proper job, just something to do on the weekends, but not a real job. And it's not easy to invest so much money, so we will try to see if something changes and the opportunity turns out but I'm not sure we're going to do another tour, at the moment at least. We hope so, I hope so, but you know it's not a matter of I would like to, it's a matter of we can afford or not to do another tour. That's the problem : money. Everything is money, cash (laughs).

You talked about Sonata Arctica, some people may think you're just a copy of Sonata Arctica or Stratovarius, what do you answer to these people ?
Well, I believe that we have a component which reminds people of that particular sounds, Finnish sounds, so … ok Sonata Arctica, so … ok Timo Tolkki's bands in general, also Dream Theater, also some kinds of Freedom Call sound, but also Rhapsody of Fire or Labyrinth, we have a lot of influences, maybe also Kamelot and Nightwish, I can quote and say a lot of different bands. It is true because we grown up listening to lot of different music, and this kind of bands belong to our tastes, our life, Sonata Arctica at least, some songs, some albums, it's the same with Stratovarius and Freedom Call. But I also say that between the first album and the new one we tried to do something different, to put something which is our part, our own contribution to power metal. Yeah there are songs like Quantum Leap or Angel's Call which are far from being original, I know that, but I can also say that songs like Everlasting from the first album, or White Logic on the new one. These are songs that you cannot hear everywhere, I believe they have their own original approach. Yeah we are a power metal band, we play symphonic power metal but we have tried to do something different. We're still trying to evolve ; I don't think we have arrived to reach the goal. You know, we are walking along a white path, and we try to dispel the illusions there are (laughs) to find our own sound, our own identity. We're trying to do that, I believe we're on a good approach, because we know when we do something good, and we know when we do something that it's good but could be better. So I believe that on the third album, this kind of evolution will be even more present, even more important. So, let's see, we will see what happen !

By the way, do you see an evolution between The White Path to Rebirth and Dispelling the Veil of Illusions ?
Yes, I really see an evolution. I believe that The White Path was more classic. I wouldn't say … flat. But that was one of those albums that was quite predictable, it's like you can find all the sorts of clichés you shall find on power metal albums. So the bass drums, high-pitched vocals and these really airy choruses like Angel's Call. It was so predictable. I still like this album, I'm really fond of this album, because it was our first effort of our music, and I still believe that it has good songs in it, like Consigned to the Wind, which is one of my favorites, or Winter's Gone, or Everlasting, but the new one is surely a step forward, both on the on technical level, I mean the production, it's better mixed, better mastered, it has a stronger sound. I like the sound better, it's more … raw, less polished. And I like that, I like the power of songs like The Watchtower, White Logic, when the guitar and the drums starts and you have a good basic feeling, I like that. But also it's a step forward, when we talked about songwriting, and so we had a couple of songs like Kingdom of Thyne Illusions or Quantum Leap, which are more classic, also Circle in the Ice, but we had also Watchtower and White Logic, Extraworld, which are something different for us. We tried to give the new songs a different approach, more modern songs, with more electronics for example, but also structures. We tried to do something different inside the songs. Take White Logic : it's a guitar oriented song, but with some arpeges from th
interview 4th Dimensione keyboard there, some electronics, but also the spanish guitar solo in the middle section, that is something quite unexpected inside the song. So we tried to do this kind of things, without really changing our sound, so it's still power metal, it's still us, with something more inside the songs, and I like that.

You first album lasted about 53 minutes, and the new one is around 40, is that because this time you chose what were the real good ideas and what to put on the album ?
The difference in the lenght between the two albums is due mainly to the fact that we tried to shorten songs on the new one because shorter songs are more suitable to be played live. So when we play Consigned to the Wind, which is about seven minutes long, it's more difficult to reach the listener, to have his attention for seven minutes, it's not easy. It's far easier when you have four minutes and you have a song which develops itself in four minutes. So we tried to do that, it was a precise choice. And I believe it works, because we've played about six shows so far with the new album in Italy, and I have to say that songs like Extraworld, or Kingdom of Thyne Illusions really really rock. And songs like Consigned to the Wind, which we love to play, but we see that the reaction of the fans is different, so it's better to have songs like Extraworld and Kingdom which are shorter but have a more energy when you play live, it's easier to catch people's attention, so we tried to do that when we composed the new album. Also Circle in the Ice, because it has a kind of groove in the middle section, this riffs, it helps in turn on people during the shows.

On the first album you shared the vocals two times, with Melody Castellari and Fabio Lione. How was it ?
I actually never met Melody in person, we talked, we exchanged mails, spoke by phone, but we never actually met in person. She lives in Emily Romania, so it was not easy to meet, but I was really happy about duet because Melody's father was a really good Italian composer, he died last year unfortunately. He was a composer for cartoon songs, but also he did Italian popular songs so I was really fond of his music. When I got the news by his daughter, Melody, who is also a singer, I listened to her performances in some musicals and said "I want to do that, I want to get in touch with her, and try to see if she's ok for a duet, and she was really really nice. And even if we never met, I'm really proud of this duet. I think she was the right person to interpret Everlasting, which is a very particular song, I'm really fond of this song, it's important for me, on personal views. Well, about Fabio Lione it's a complete different matter, because he's Vision Divine's singer, he lives in Pisa and he's of course Alessio Lucatti's friend and so the session recording of the album was in Pisa, so as he lives in Pisa it was really easy to have him in studio. So we actually met a lot of times and it was fun to be in the studio to record A New Dimension with him. I really learned a lot, during the recording studio sessions, because he is a very professional singer, he is so instinctive, he is a great performer also in the studio. He is not one of those singer, who need auto-tunes to … you know. He is really a wonderful singer and he just tried a couple of times his parts, his vocal lines of A New Dimension, and we recorded it. He didn't need one hour, two hours, three hours, no, he just tried a couple of times and said "ok, let's do it" and we were done with it, it was really amazing. He is also a beautiful person, I had the chance to meet him a lot of times afterward, recently, and he is a great person, I like him very much as a person, not only as a singer.

You're also with 4th Dimension part of what we call "melodic power metal" with bands like Rhapsody, Labyrinth, Derdian, Vision Divine, so what do you think of this scene ?
Well, I have to say, I'm not really much into power metal this last years. I play in a power metal band, but you know I'm not following this scenes as I used to do in the past. I'm more into other kind of music at the moment. But of course, you said it, these bands, Secret Sphere, White Skull, Domine, (Trick or Treat ?) yeah, but they belong to the next generation. The first bands were Rhapsody, Labyrinth, Vision Divine, and Elvenking … They all began to play between the mid 90s or the end of the 90s. And we owe a lot to these bands, because they paved the way for the actual Italian scene, the current Italian scene. Bands like Trick or Treat, or 4th Dimension, or every band you find now like that came afterward, after 2000. So we belong to the second generation of power metal bands, not to the first one, and we owe a lot to the other bands we talked about before. And I have to say, this new generation of power metal bands is really cool, there are a lot of particularly good bands, I would like to say for example Kalidia, they're from Tuscany, and they're really really cool. I'm a friend of Nicoletta, their singer, and their album is really good. And also we have lot of really good cool band, so it's not easy to emerge, because there are lot of new bands all over the world, and the Italian scene is really active, is alive, the flame is alive, we have a really good company here !

The White Path to rebirth was released on a small italian label, Crash and Burn, and your second one is released on Power Prog. So how did that happen ?
It was … the fact we've changed was a natural thing, it has to happen, because our deal with Crash and Burn expired back in 2012. And so afterward we were left free to look around and see if we could find another deal. I tried to get in touch with no Italian labels because we wanted to try something different, and a German label gave us something more, and power prog records isn't a big label, it's still a small one. But it's very hard to take care of the promotion, the distribution of the records, and with Power Prog that was excellent, you check on Nuclear Blast, on Suedish distribution labels, the album is everywhere, on Amazon, in physical and digital. At the moment I'm quite satisfied of Power Prog, but I'm doing a lot of promotion by my own because I think that little bands like us need to do a card, to have their music well spread, everywhere, so I try to get in touch with webzines, with magazines, and try to get reviews and interviews as many as possible as I can. I can't complain right now.

On Dispelling the Veil of Illusions four out of the five members have written music, how do you process on composing ?
On the White Path to Rebirth, that was mainly composed by Talete and myself. The new one is more a team work. Which does not mean that we composed the songs all together, but there are more songwriters. I wrote a couple of songs, three songs, Talete wrote couple of songs too. Stefano our bass player turned out to be a really good songwriter, and composed both the single, Dissonant Hearts, which are two really melodic songs, but also the final ballad Away. And then we also had the contribution of Michele, the guitarist. He's not a songwriter, but sometimes he comes with some good riffs and so the main idea for Watchtower was his. So at the moment, we have four members of the band composing songs, who bring ideas and this is good because, I believe it helps us to be less predictable and we have different minds at work when we try to arrange the songs, and it gives something different each song to the other. I don't believe that we have to songs that completely looks like the same. Every song are different from the other, we don't have fillers, at least I believe we don't have fill
interview 4th Dimensioners, we do not also have songs equal, we don't have two songs that sounds all the same, everyone is particular in some way.

Sometimes your voice reminds me a lot of Hansi Kürsch of Blind Guardian, is that wanted ?
Well, well, well (laughs) … I have to say that when The White Path was released, so it was three years ago, lot of people wrote that my vocals reminds them some of Andre Matos, from Angra (laughs). That's true too, but it wasn't wanted because I've never been a fan of Angra. But I have also to say that I'm a big big fan of Blind Guardian, and so when you tell me I remind you some of Hansi Kürsch … it's wanted (laughs). It's totally wanted, especially on White Logic, it is one of the songs I wrote all by myself and I felt the need to sing a different way. I like to be more raw, more edgy on vocals. I like also to be clean, but sometimes I'm a bit tired of being too clean and I like to try something different. On White Logic I tried to sing more aggressive and to combine, at the beginning when it's all clear, and the choruses when I want to be more aggressive. And my ideal was to sound a bit like Hansi Kürsch, so yeah your guess is right. I like his vocals, I like to play and sing like that. Not all songs, but I believe that on the third album you'll find more songs with aggressive vocals, maybe even more than what I did on this one. So it's something that I came up with in a natural way, it's not something forced, I like to play more aggressive. Sometimes I force myself when I have to be too clean, I can't help my voice for doing some Helloween stuff, I do not feel like Kotipelto or Kiske. I love those voices, but this is not my own, my vocals have to be different, because my natural gift is different. I have to be a bit more edgy, and I like that. In fact I'm in midway, I'm not as edgy as Hansi, I'm not as clean as Kiske or Kotipelto, I have to be somewhere in the middle. We shall see what happens in the future, I'm curious myself about what I'm going to do, so we shall see, it depends on what kind of music we'll play. I've already written a couple of songs which turned out to be pretty aggressive, a bit hard, on the guitar … and I believe that the vocals on those songs will be more aggressive than ever, so we shall see what happens with the other ones because I know, I'm the one aggressive, and other people in the band, like for example Talete used to compose very melodic stuff and so I shall be more melodic though. So we shall see what happens, it's too early now !

So you did write new material for a next album ?
We don't have finished songs, but we have a lot of ideas we'll soon start arranging this ideas, everyone of us is songwriting by itself. I listened to some of the ideas from Stefano for example, he has three songs right now, and one of these is more like Symphony X, it's really technical, there are lot of guitars and riffs, it's really different from everything we've recorded so far. And also some of my ideas are really different of what we recorded in the past so the new album will surely be another step forward, it's not going to be something equal, with White Path or Dispelling. It's going to be another step in the evolution path. I'm looking forward to it.

When I'm listenning to Dispelling, I don't have the feeling that I'm listenning to a band that released only two albums, so do you or the other members worked in other projects in the past ?
4th Dimension is the main project. But we … sometimes … spend time doing other things ; at the moment for example, Stefano and I are working on an acoustic project, but we're not going to write songs for this project, it's just playing songs, like Kotipelto and Jani did. So we're going to play some collaborations of metal and other stuff in pubs, something we will do to try to play in a different way. And this particular project gave me the idea also to record some of our stuff, 4th Dimension's stuff in acoustic, so we will probably re-record some of our songs in acoustic, in the near future. I can't tell you much more right now, because it's sort of a secret project (laughs), and I cannot give you more information. We would like to release a single, or an EP in the following months on a digital promote. So not a CD but just digital. Not with new songs, we're not going to put new songs, but to publish old material, from back 2008, and also something which was left out from the Dispelling sessions. We have a couple of songs which should have been used on bonus tracks, but actually never released in Japan, because the album wasn't released in Japan. We have also some different versions of some album songs, we might also add some acoustic songs. We'll try to see if this is worthy spending time in it, and if people are interested in this project. It's not something which everybody will be interested in, it's something that maybe fans will appreciate, die-hard fans. Once again we shall see what happens, I think in the following three or four months there will be something, some news published ...

I saw you were in another project, called Concordea, so what about it ?
In the latest months, I recorded many songs for different projects. Concordea was one of these projects, I recorded the four tracks of their debut EP, and by the way, the vocals were recorded in the same studio than where I recorded vocals for the new album. I enjoyed singing those songs, it was nice, but I'm not part of Concordea anymore ; I mean, they asked me to try and save their songs. It was a really long process, because at the beginning the songs were in Russian, and they had to translate and adapt the lyrics. It wasn't easy in the beginning and in the end I'm pretty disatisfied, it's not my best performance ever. I was not in the best conditions when recording those songs. On the whole that was not bad, the songs are good, but my vocals could have been better. I also recorded a song for another project called Harmonium, the songs is called "Battlestorm" it's a duet between me and an other singer, you can hear the final version on youtube. It was nice, I like the song, it's something between Viking metal and Dragonforce, so it's epic like Viking metal, but it's fast like Dragonforce, it is a really nice song. And I actually recorded an other song which is still an unknown project, still to be released so I can't tell you anything. It's going to be released in the following months maybe by Christmas, I don't know, I don't have any precise information, it's something really fresh. It's power metal, I would say in Rhapsody style but it's really phantasy metal, really catchy, I really enjoyed this project, but I don't have the right to give information, it's not mine, I've been asked to keep silent in a way (laughs).

This is the end of the interview, if you have something special to say to spirit-of-metal readers …
Well, first of all, thank you Baptiste, I know you liked the album, and I appreciate you liked the album. And I also appreciate you give us the opportunity of an interview, it's very important for us, because interviews are the best mean we have to spread our voice, and to have the defense. All the things that you read in reviews we can't answer, so interviews are the best mean for us to answer. And I would like to say thank you to the other people for reading this interview, and I watch our videos, you can hear the album in full streaming, just go to the website of our own label, powerprog.net, and if you want to get the CDs, go to bandcamp and you'll find signed CDs on request. So if you want to support us, you can do it that way. So thank you very much, and I hope you'll like the album !
Interview done by LeLoupArctique

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