Hi, first off all I just want to congratulate you with your debut album “By The Power Of Thunder”!
Are you satisfied with it?
Steel Seal: Hi Peter, thank you, we are happy that you liked our work, and thanks also to everybody at Powermetal.dk! Yes, we are really satisfied with our debut album, especially because of its high quality standard. Almost each track of the album has been chosen by some listeners as their favourite song: this means that there aren’t any “filler” songs included beside potential hits and all the tracks can count on an upper-grade competitive level, higher than the average of today’s productions, in our opinion… It’s a bit what happened with the records of the ‘70s, where all the songs were good and you could really expect much from a new album!
How did you get your name Steel Seal?
Steel Seal: We chose our name for some specific reasons: first of all, it sounds good in English; secondly, it has a nice meaning in Italian (“sigillo d’acciaio”, signet of steel), that we find very suitable for a metal band; moreover, it had also a good omen purpose ‘cause in our intentions the birth of the band should close, seal, the long time we all had spent in anonymity while working hard to rise from the ranks… and under this regard, we think we can say that it worked!
Who has produced and mixed the album?
Steel Seal: We, the band, for production and our guitarist Marco and the guys at the Outer Sound Studios in Rome, Giuseppe Orlando and Massimiliano Pagliuso, for mixing. We’d like to take the opportunity to thank again Giuseppe and Massimiliano, both members of the Italian band Novembre, for their contribution and hard work: as a result, we think we can say that the album sounds really good and every instrument is well balanced, so one does not overpower the other.
How would you describe your music to any of our readers who may not have heard of you before?
Steel Seal: Our music can be described as a fusion of traditional ‘70s-oriented hard rock and classic ‘80s heavy metal with contemporary neoclassical power metal. Someone wrote that Steel Seal is Rainbow + Dio + Malmsteen, and we think these words can synthesize our style rather well, after all. Anyway, apart from definitions and labelling, our music is surely melodic metal, both in the instrumental parts, guided by expressiveness and taste more than by virtuoso displays, and in the vocals, thought out to merge power and melody, harmony and aggressiveness.
Who has done the cover artwork to your album?
Steel Seal: The Kobra Design studio, our Label Underground Symphony’s graphic artists. They worked on a original concept by our guitarist Marco and came to a very good final result, in our opinion: the cover suggests effectively the idea of an opera prima by a debuting band, symbolized by the man rising from the sea, and combines it very well with the architectural structure, that suggests an idea of classicism in reference to the music, and with the logo of the band, from which everything origins… by the power of thunder!
Are there any songs on the album that are special to you?
Steel Seal: Well, musicians usually say that their songs are all equal to them and they love them all to the same extent, but that’s not true at all: in reality, every one of us has one or more songs that he likes more than the others or he specially loves for some particular reasons… Speaking as a group, we think that between the songs included in our first album, “Sun and Steel” is a bit special to us because it is every inch ours – we mean that we wrote totally original music and lyrics for that song, while the lyrics of the other songs consist in verses by well-known classic British and American poets adapted to flow well with the music.
How long do you need to practice to feel comfortable with your songs before you record them?
Steel Seal: There’s not a general answer, it depends much on what kind of feeling a song give us when we are playing it. There are certain songs who sound perfect since the first time you perform them and others that turn out to be not fully satisfactory ‘cause they are different from what you had in mind when you wrote them and you don’t know exactly why… It’s difficult to explain, you know, it’s a bit like for some reason you couldn’t catch the real spirit of those songs. In this case you have to work hard for a result capable to satisfy, even months, even years sometimes… For instance, we had some already completed songs we didn’t include in By The Power Of Thunder just because of that: we felt we had still to work to make them sound exactly how we wanted to, so they had to wait their turn, eh eh!
Do you feel that your sound will evolve in some different direction, in the future, or you will still follow the same path?
Steel Seal: Generally speaking, we’ll surely still follow the same path ‘cause we are and will always be a melodic metal band, no doubt – and after all, we always admired artists like Motorhead, AC/DC, Black Sabbath, Y.J. Malmsteen and the other metal rockers who demonstrated a constant continuity of style through the years. That said, within the field of melodic metal we could choose to develop our neoclassical-power side more than the hard rock-oriented one, or vice versa. Under this regard much will depend on our partnership with DC Cooper: we all hope that it could go on also in the future or even that he could end up by becoming a permanent member of the band, but there’s nothing certain yet at the moment… We’ll wait and see what happens.
What tasks presently lie ahead for Steel Seal?
Steel Seal: First of all, surely to promote our album as much as we can, and unfortunately it’s not so simple: in fact, no one of the four of us – not including DC, obviously - is a full-time musician (in Italy it’s hard to earn your living on music only, you know…) and we all exercise other activities, so we haven’t much time for tours and concerts. For this reason, we have to find other ways to draw attention on our work and promotional opportunities like this interview are particularly important to us. And secondly, to start working on the new material for our second full-length: we have just recorded the backing tracks for 10 new songs, they’re still rough and unaccomplished but they already work like a charm… We are sure that the final result will be fantastic, maybe even better than By The Power Of Thunder!
Let's speculate - you have been granted a free slot on a tour of your own choice - who would be your ideal touring partners?
Steel Seal: We’d really like to tour with Heaven and Hell as their opening band: it would be great, they are real masters of Metal and some of our favourite musicians of ever… we are sure that there would be so much to learn while touring with them! Or, as an alternative, it would be fine touring with other Italian bands to support Italian power metal through the world: we think that groups like Rhapsody of Fire, Labyrinth, Vision Divine, Domine, Skylark, White Skull, Thy Majestie and, obviously, Steel Seal are in no way inferior to the world-wide most accomplished power metal bands and it would be really nice if we could prove it all together.
What albums have you been listening to lately?
Steel Seal: Two albums each: Helloween – Gambling With the Devil; Primal Fear – New Religion; Gamma Ray – Land of the Free 2; Black Sabbath – The Dio Years; Dream Theater – Systematic Chaos; Kamelot – Ghost Opera; Symphony X – Paradise Lost; Saxon – The Inner Sanctum.
What albums or bands do you believe have had the greatest impact on the history of Hard Rock and Metal?
Steel Seal: Uhmm, that’s a good question… let’s try to answer: Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple and Rainbow in the ‘70s; Black Sabbath with Ronnie Dio and Tony Martin, Iron Maiden and Van Halen in the ‘80s; Metallica, Y.J. Malmsteen and German power metal (Helloween, Blind Guardian, Gamma Ray, Iron Savior, Primal Fear…) in the ‘90s; Stratovarius and Dream Theater in the present decade… plus some bands that remained reference points through the years like AC/DC, Motorhead and Scorpions… and sorry if we forgot someone!
I thank you very much for participating in this interview and sharing this information and your thoughts with us - these last lines are entirely for you. Any final words you would like to round off with - a tip, a recommendation or a thought for the future?
Steel Seal: A bit more of self-promotion, in the first place: don’t forget to take a look at our website www.steel-seal.com and at our slideshow promo clip on Youtube! And then, an invitation to all the hard-and-heavy fans from all around the world: please don’t make use of illegal music! When you make an illegal copy of a CD, download music files from unauthorized sites or buy pirated albums you’re depriving musicians and Labels of their just reward. Would you like if someone else could enjoy the fruits of your work for free? I really don’t think so... Remember, there aren’t only superstars and majors, the great majority of Metal musicians work for independent Labels and both musicians and Labels can count on sales only to go on, so please don’t help to kill your favourite music! OK, Peter, we think that’s all; thank you again and thanks to Powermetal.dk for giving us this chance to make ourselves known. Keep on with your great work!
Interviewed by Peter Laursen