BETWEEN HERE AND AWAKE
MODERN METAL, SYMPHONIC METAL, DEATH METAL WITH POP INFLUENCES… IT CAN BE VERY HARD TO DEFY A BAND'S STYLE SOMETIMES AND THAT SURELY GOES FOR ITALIAN'S REASONS BEHIND. HOWEVER, ON AUGUST 21ST THEY WILL RELEASE THEIR SOPHOMORE ALBUM 'PROJECT M.I.S.T.' VIA SCARLET RECORDS, SO YOU CAN BE YOUR OWN JUDGE ON HOW YOU WOULD LABEL THEM. IN THE MEANTIME, WE HAD AN INTERVIEW WITH REASONS BEHIND’S VOCALIST ELISA BONAFÈ. OF COURSE, WE ASKED HER STUFF ABOUT THE NEW ALBUM, BUT ALSO ABOUT THE BAND'S HISTORY.
The story of REASONS BEHINDS starts in 2010, and two years later you release your first EP ‘Ouverture’. Only one song, ‘1000 Fading Lives’, ends up on your debut album ‘The Alpha Memory’ (2014). Why this particular song and not any other one from the EP?
ELISA: When we decided to record our first EP, we were also writing the songs for ‘The Alpha Memory’ and since it’s a concept album, we couldn’t help but include also ‘1000 Fading Lives‘, because it’s one of the chapters of the story. We could have released an EP with only 4 songs on it instead of 5, but we thought that song was one of our leading and we wanted to make the best impression possible with our debut.
‘The Alpha Memory’ was released on Maple Metal Records in December 2014. It’s now August 2020. Can you fill us in what happened in between?
ELISA: Unfortunately, a lot of bad things happened. First we had line-up issues. Then I suffered some health problems. So we couldn’t promote ‘The Alpha Memory’ as it deserved. We had clear ideas about the band’s future, so we put all our efforts in searching for the right people to complete the line-up once again, but it was really hard. In 2018 we finally had the chance to restart, so we concentrated in writing the new album: if there wasn’t the COVID-19 emergency, we’d release it earlier, but…
You have studied ‘canto lirico’ at the Bologna conservatory. What does that mean?
ELISA: When I started studying singing, I was in my Nightwish phase, so it was natural for me to choose the conservatory. I learned not also ‘canto lirico’ (the style of Tarja Turunen), but also stagecraft, how to perform, music harmony and of course piano. So they made me a more complete artist and this is very important when you are in a band, because you can help more during the songwriting.
Before we get to the new album ‘Project M.I.S.T.’, there’s a significant difference in your singing on ‘The Alpha Memory’ and ‘Project M.I.S.T.’ Was that deliberately done?
ELISA: Yes it was. Our musical style evolved with each release and my singing is part of that style. On ‘Ouverture’ we played symphonic metal with some light electronic influences, so my voice had to be operatic and suit other instruments; on ‘The Alpha Memory’ modern elements became stronger, the melodies more fast-paced and I changed that way. ‘Project: M.I.S.T.’ is a new step in our evolution: everything is more direct, phrasing even more fast, so my vocals had to follow this style change in order to make our sound coherent, because the song comes first.
Another relevant difference between all your 3 releases so far: you have used a different band logo on each one. What’s the story behind that?
ELISA: We were not fully convinced of the first REASONS BEHIND logo, but when we decided to release ‘Ouverture’ we chose not to waste more time to design a new one, because we were eager to show the world our first songs. When we completed ‘The Alpha Memory’ songwriting, we contacted the great Gustavo Sazes (Kamelot, Amaranthe) for the artwork and since we liked also his logo designs, we asked him to reimagine ours so it could fit the artworks itself. When Gabriele (our guitarist and songwriter) described us the concept behind ‘Project: M.I.S.T.’, we all knew our logo was a little bit too old style, so we decided to reinvent it in a futuristic way and so happened to the logotype. We wanted every aspect of the album (even the artwork) merge into a whole vision.
‘Project M.I.S.T.’ will be released on Scarlet Records. A natural, logical and maybe the perfect choice for an Italian band like REASONS BEHIND. Why didn’t you contact them before? And how about Frontiers Music srl? Were they an option as well?
ELISA: Actually, we ‘met’ back in the days when we were about to release ‘The Alpha Memory’, but on that occasion we simply didn’t come to an agreement. When we finally had the ‘Project: M.I.S.T.’ demo in our hands we send it to several Italian and foreign labels, Frontiers included. Scarlet Records’ enthusiasm and ideas for the future of REASONS BEHIND were the ones that convinced us the most, so now we’re with Scarlet Records! It’s a bit strange, because in my CD collection there are many CDs with their label on it.
Your music is hard to put a label on, even with all the existing different metal genres nowadays. On your Facebook page you call it: ‘modern metal meets dance & dubstep music’, but perhaps your official website describes it best: ‘catchy vocals and 90s Eurodance sound blend with modern metal riffing’. Personally, to me it sounds like Amaranthe meets Amberian Dawn. How would you say it in your own words?
ELISA: What you read on our Facebook page and on our official website are just two different ways to label our sound now, so is your ‘Amaranthe meets Amberian Dawn’. It’s often difficult to label a band’s sound, because there may are too many influences to mention and I don’t think people would like to read that you play “a mix of Swedish modern metal with some metalcore inspired breakdown and 90s Eurodance synths, along with dance and dubstep beats and vocals that may shift from 80s/90s pop to industrial music”. Personally, I’d choose what we wrote on our website, because as a first step it can help you decide whether you give us a chance or not: if you’re a blackster or an extreme metal fan, you will know we’re not your type, but if you like Amaranthe or Amberian Dawn, you may try to listen to us and decide by your own.
Obviously, ‘Project M.I.S.T.’ is a concept album. It starts just like ‘The Alpha Memory’ with an instrumental. What stands ‘M.I.S.T.’ for and what is the theme that connects all the tracks on the album?
ELISA: ‘Project: M.I.S.T.’ is a story about a future where people who suffered severe injuries or disease are linked to a machine that helps them healing by making them living a virtual life in an interactive neuro simulation. ‘M.I.S.T.’ is the acronym that identifies that machine and stands for ‘Mind Interlinked Storytelling Technology’. Every track is a chapter of the story and tells a part of it. There’s a reason why the first track is an instrumental one, but I don’t want to spoiler too much, so let’s just say that if you read all lyrics and description of each chapter you can understand the whole plot.
One most remarkable track on the album is ‘Between Here And Awake’. It almost sounds like an instrumental with fragments of you singing in the background. What’s the idea behind this song?
ELISA: Uh, spoiler risk again. 🙂 Despite it being a quite simple track, ‘Between Here And Awake’ is a crucial chapter of the story: when we write a concept album we try to give every track, every word, every solo a meaning. So the fragments you hear in the background are there for a very specific reason and in a particular order… Even the title has a deep connection with what’s happening to the main character… What has just happened in the previous track? If you listen to this one, you may find what we tried to represent…
Why does the Japanese version of ‘Project M.I.S.T.’ have a bonus track ‘Abraham’s Daughter’? Will the rest of the world ever get to hear this track?
ELISA: ‘Abraham’s Daughter’ is a cover we recorded two years ago, we also shot a video inspired by ‘The Hunger Games’ movie franchise, since the song is from its original soundtrack. We chose to add it to the Japanese edition, since we saw that the video (and the band) is not well known there, whereas we received good reaction both from Europe and South America.
You’ve released ‘Binary Stars’ as a video on July 1st. Any plans of taking another track off the album and turn it into a video clip? How about ‘No Dawn To Come’?
ELISA: We’re planning to release some other videos, in order to introduce our new album to the world, and the ballad ‘No Dawn To Come’ will be one of them for sure… but not the very next, that will be out on August 4th. When we shot the video for ‘Binary Stars’, we had an idea for the second video, but it didn’t suit a ballad, so we chose a different song. You’ll see the result very soon…
How are you going to promote the new album with the COVID-19 pandemic still going on and no concerts are likely possible for the rest of 2020?
ELISA: That’s a very good question. Since we probably can’t play live for several months, first of all we’ll rely on some videos then… we’ll find a way to reach our fans. Social networks are powerful ‘tools’ in these pandemic days: you can stream a Q&A session, some acoustic performances and even a whole live gig. I think we’ll try something ‘social oriented’, but we’re still thinking about it.
When REASONS BEHIND play live, are there going to be just you, Gabri, Michele and Andrea on stage and the rest comes from a lot of samples?
ELISA: Yeah, the band is just us, but the only instruments we don’t play live are the keyboards, because Gabriele (who writes also keyboards and beats) can’t play guitar and keyboards at the same time. Apart from that, when we wrote the songs one of our goals was to create something that would keep the same mood and energy when played live. I guess Amaranthe too (and a lot of other bands) don’t have a live keyboard player, it’s a quite common practice. This doesn’t imply we won’t search for additional members in the future, but we feel the current the line-up is stable.