Interview with Andrea Marchisio & Stefano Droetto (Sted), Highlord (January 19th, 2006)

The Italian Power Metal band HIGHLORD are about to release a new album, their fifth, by the way. A few days ago I did an interview with singer Andrea Marchisio & guitarist Stefano Droetto (Sted).

Here is the full interview:

Hi, and thanks for doing this interview…
Highlord -
Hi, Peter, and first of all I want to thank YOU and for interviewing us!!!

You are about to release a new album, can you tell me the title and when you expect it to be released?
Highlord -
We are actually in the mastering process of our new album, that we recorded and mixed during the Christmas holidays… which can be a weird way to spend Christmas but hey, we’re always talking about rock’n’roll, aren’t we? The title of the album is ‘Instant Madness’ and it should be released in March/April in Japan by Soundholic, and in May/June in the USA by Mythic Silence Records.

How did you get your name HIGHLORD?
Highlord -
Well, I guess it’s a fantasy-fashioned thing coming from the first period of the band, when all the people involved (I wasn’t in the band at the time) were very much into role-playing games… but I think founding member Sted might answer better than I can. (Sted) yes, it was 1996 and we had to choose a nickname for the band…as you said we were deep into RPG games… especially DragonLance saga novels… so we took that word from one of the rulebooks… That’s all, really!

In what words would you describe the music and moods of HIGHLORD for someone that has not heard you yet?
Highlord -
That can be quite hard… The band at the beginning was very power metal-oriented, but it was able to develop a more personal sound through the years. I think what is rather remarkable in Highlord music is the contrast between heavy, aggressive guitar riffs and fast-paced drum patterns on one hand, and very melodic and “listener-friendly” keyboard riffs and vocal melodies on the other… in a way, I can say that our music is a punch and a caress together, hehehe…

If you should suggest one single song to understand the full HIGHLORD music potential, which title would you choose and why?
Highlord -
This is really personal, but I would bet on one new song, “Orion and Ocean”: thrashy riffs, great vocal arrangements, slow and melancholic parts, and scary growling vocals courtesy of our drummer Luca!

My favourite song by HIGHLORD is “Scarlet Tears”… very, very memorable chorus. Which song is YOUR favourite?
Highlord -
… many of them and even more, it depends on my mood at different moments! But I agree with you, “Scarlet Tears” is probably one of our best songs, but I also love very much “Far from the light of God” and “Back from Hell”.

How is the writing process in the band?
Highlord -
It generally starts with some guitar or keyboard riffs we develop when rehearsing, but sometimes a whole song comes out from a single mind, so all the others have to do is studying their parts from the midi file (that is a working process we use very often) and put the whole together during the rehearsing sessions. Oh, and of course after this the lyrics with the vocal parts come out: when I joined the band, Sted and Alex wrote the lyrics as well, but I managed to find my space in this process through the years!

On this upcoming record, furthermore, we also have a song written by the drummer, together with some lyrics written by me and the bass player. I can say that everybody was involved in the writing process for ‘Instant Madness’!!!

Where does the inspiration for the lyrics come from?
Highlord -
Everything can be a source of inspiration for the lyrics… at the beginning, Highlord was much more into a fantasy/power concept, but the band managed to find its personal identity even from a lyrical point of view. Our songs can be about personal experiences or “philosophical thinking”, ahahah… like looking at ourselves in our mirrors within!!

Do you feel that your sound will evolve in some different direction, in the future, or you will still follow the same path?
Highlord -
I don’t know… this is not for sure, but listen to “Got a price?” on the new cd if you want to know about that! We recently discovered we enjoy very much playing regular hard rock; maybe this side of our sound will be more predominant in our songs…

Which bands from then and from nowadays have their influence on HIGHLORD?
Highlord (Sted)
- hmm… hard to say as each member of the band listen to different kind of music. In my opinion Iron Maiden and Metallica from the past… and maybe Kamelot, Impellitteri or Children of Bodom lately… but I repeat: this is my opinion.

I really like the “Medusa's Coil” cover artwork. How important do you feel it is to have a great cover?
Highlord -
The cover can be more important then the songs in the record! This may sound like bullshit, but I remember when I was a kid and I started listening to heavy metal: I didn’t know many of the bands, I didn’t buy magazines to read the reviews: what do you think made me make my mind up when it was up to choosing a record instead of another? The cover, of course… Heavy metal has always had a strong visual impact; this is one of the elements that make our genre so special…

What are your favourite old and recent bands?
Highlord -
How much space have you got? Ok, I’ll mention just some: Iron Maiden, Metallica, Savatage, Faith no More, Warrior Soul, Primus, Pink Floyd, Van der Graaf Generator, Morbid Angel, Black Crowes, W.A.S.P.: may all the ones I left out forgive me…

Let's speculate - you have been granted a free slot on a tour of your own choice - who would be your ideal touring partners?
Highlord -
Savatage for their musical style, Children of Bodom for their alcoholic pastimes, Cradle of Filth for all the Gothic groupies… (Sted) lol!!! Yes and don’t forget Manowar!!!!!!

Do you have a life philosophy? If yes, what is it?
Highlord -
My life philosophy really changes from day to day, so I might tell you something today and something totally different tomorrow: please, don’t let the world know too much about my incoherence!!!!!

What are you doing besides HIGHLORD, job wise as well as hobbies?
Highlord -
You have to know that nowadays it has become very hard for young people in Italy to find a job; anyway, I’m a sales representative ad interim, who is not exactly what I’d like to be, but it pays me a salary at least… On a happier side, I love listening to music, singing (…), reading, drinking alcohol and having sex! (Sted) hey man! I am working in a fucking call-centre after graduation from University… what should I say???

If someone told you tomorrow that you can't be involved in music anymore, what do you see yourself doing in 5 years from now?
Highlord -
Spending my days in Amsterdam , stumbling from one coffee shop to another… well, I might also give it a chance opening that bar in Puerto Rico

The internet is a very important source for many metal fans – how do you use the internet and how important is it for you and other bands?
Highlord (Sted) -
Oh well…  I just spend 1 or 2 hours a day surfing, reading… writing through the web in search of contacts to help us grow much! Internet is the future guys! It is sure!!!

And how do you feel about the metal scene in general at the moment?
Highlord -
Quite scared… the old bands are all affected by a kind of ‘reunion syndrome’, and it would be naïve not to suspect about the honesty of some of them… The headliners of the great festivals are always famous old bands, the only ones that can gather great crowds… I mean, people, we are the new lymph, but we need you to realize it! We all love and deeply respect such bands as Iron Maiden or Black Sabbath, but the dinosaurs became extinct once already!!!!!!

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?
Highlord -
Girls, drinks, music: rock on forever!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Highlord - Instant Madness (out in March/April 2006)

Last album - "Medusa's Call" available on Arise Records.

Click on the album cover to see more info on Highlord.