Interview with vocalist Fabio Lione, Rhapsody of Fire (September 27th 2006)

The band formerly known as Rhapsody has due to some legal implications changed their name to Rhapsody of Fire and the first album after the change “Triumph or Agony” will be released late September. To learn a bit more about the new album and other stuff we’ve put a few questions together for them.

“Triumph or Agony” will be released shortly and is the first album since your name change; do you also see this as a new beginning for the band?
Fabio Lione – 
Well we can say that, I mean, I don’t think that the name thing it was something so important people will always know that we are Rhapsody anyway, but I have to say that we talked and agree to do something - some changes also in the music and I think people can see that. The new CD it’s more mature - an evolution for the band, but of course you can still feel our style. What I like most is the variety and the fact that we have different kind of songs…  

What do you consider to be biggest different between “Triumph or Agony” and “Symphony of Enchanted Lands II”? I think you have returned a bit to your roots and have put more emphasis on melody and harmonies.
Fabio Lione –
I agree - Symphony part 2 it’s more orchestral, our real film score metal album!!! On “Triumph or Agony” we did a great work - we have a great sound and the songs are more direct (except for the last song of 16minutes - the “film score metal” song of the CD!)I like the fact that the 2 albums are different…  

If you should choose one song, which represents the essence of Rhapsody of Fire on the new album, which one would that be and why? I would pick "The Mystic Prophecy of the Demon Knight”, which I think captures your style in one song pretty good…
Fabio Lione –
Perfect!!! I agree - in this song we have almost everything - different styles, different kind of lines, tempos and atmospheres.  

On your new album you’ve included one the simplest songs you ever written: “Silent Dream”. Did you start out with that intention or was it just something that happened?
Fabio Lione –
Well of course it was our intention - I mean simple doesn’t mean bad it’s just another type of Rhapsody of fire song. A little more commercial, we can say. I think its right for a band to try to compose many songs in many directions, don’t worry we are not Rhapsody of pop!!! He he...  

“Il Canto del Vento” is in Italian, who came up with that idea? And how important is your Italian roots?
Fabio Lione –
Me. I have to say that “Il Canto del Vento” it’s the first complete song that I written for this band. Originally I created the song for my solo CD, but then the guys liked it a lot and we decided have it on “Triumph or Agony”. I think it’s very important for us to have the possibility to express ourselves also in our native language. The Italian language is really more “hot”, sweet and especially for ballads it’s perfect!!! I also think that our style – well probably we couldn’t have this style without being Italians. This opera touch, classical, Celtic, folk combined to the rock music…

Your music has always had strong connections to soundtrack music and Tolkien, and some even call your music Tolkien Metal. But how does that make you feel? And how do you fell the term Tolkien Metal fits your music?
Fabio Lione –
Mmm - usually I don’t like to talk about definitions, I mean, I just love music! If I like a song doesn’t matter which style it is. I think we have a strong connection with fantasy themes and also Tolkien. We just do the best we can to write and give to our fans the best, then if people are happy talkin’ about “Tolkien metal” – well then I am happy too…

Fantasy stories have always been a big part of your lyrically concept – the opening intro made me think of Galadriel and Tolkien immediately, but what direction does the story go this time, and is it another concept album?
Fabio Lione –
Yes, it is. It’s the second part of the new saga (the Dark Secret Saga) - a part more dramatically and darker. It’s not a coincidence that also the cover of the CD. This time it’s different…

You are signed to Joey DeMaio’s Magic Circle Music label, and the album will be released by SPV. How did you get signed to his label and why the change from Limb Music, who did a great job for you early on in your career?
Fabio Lione –
We were just at the end of the contract with Limb and we didn’t have particular problems at that time, but we thought to look somewhere else to try also with different people. Joey shared some time with Staropoli and then with the rest of us and he make us an offer.  He was connected to SPV (that was also involved with Limb) so we decide to change and see. We don’t have anything against Limb – he is a person that we have to thanks a lot for all that he did., but we felt ready to try and reach another level…

You (Luca Turilli & Alex Staropoli) have produced the album your selves, did you ever consider using an outside producer for this project, or do you feel comfortably enough with your songs to do it yourselves?
Fabio Lione –
No - until now we didn’t think about that. We just feel happy and satisfied with our music and what we do…

At the end of November you will embark on a tour as special guests on the European Manowar tour. This must be like a dream come true?
Fabio Lione –
Well as you may know the tour is postponed. We’ll go on tour in March - together with Manowar and I’m sure will be a great experience for us. We’ll probably also do some summer festivals together - after that we’ll go on tour as headliners…

Will you at a later stage be going out on tour on your own supporting this great new album? And if so who would be an ideal support act?
Fabio Lione –
We will do it in the end of next year. We think to reach many places. I don’t know about a support act - we’ll see. We have plenty of time…

Tell us a bit about the cover artwork; compared to some of your previous ones it’s rather simple?
Who created it and is there a story behind it?

Fabio Lione –
This time the cover artwork it’s done by Jeff Easley, he worked on "Dungeon & Dragons" and we thought he was the right person for us. The new cover looks different and we wanted that. I agree it’s quite simple, but perfect for what we wanted.  About the image - well… we are in the Darkunor caverns and new prophecies are close to happen...

Let’s play an association game, please tell us your first spontaneous thoughts about the following key words:

Howard Shore
Fabio Lione –
Mmm... I don’t know - maybe The river of Howard (who is??? He he...) (He is the Lord of the Rings soundtracks composer, Kenn)

J.R.R. Tolkien
Fabio Lione –
An old man he he (An old dead man, Kenn)

Fabio Lione –

The Italian metal scene
Fabio Lione –
Naaaaaaaaaa -  not a real scene, just some few good bands…

Italy winning the World Cup 2006 (Soccer)
Fabio Lione –
Italy was just the one that made it because the others were bad!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

What do you consider to be the biggest accomplishment for you and Rhapsody of Fire, not necessarily sales wise? What are the strengths and where can Rhapsody of Fire improve?
Fabio Lione –
To reach the heart of the people with a positive message and give to them some hours of beautiful music out of the stress of the society. I think we are lucky ’cause we are unique - our sound it’s just our sound, no one can copy or imitate us. I don’t see any band that is able to compose so different songs with so many elements, styles, atmospheres and I also talk about the vocals -various and complex.
Improve??? Well I think this band could reach many people. We are not just a heavy metal band, you know, it’s just a matter of points of view for someone. We could improve some things for one, for others we might be a completely different thing We just play our music and as long as people like our music we’ll be happy. The important is to do it in the best way you can…

I was wondering – could you name an album, person or event that has had a huge influence on your life - and why?
Fabio Lione –
Personally the Monsters of Rock - I think in ’90 (with Whitesnake and Aerosmith). THIS CONCERT CHANGED MY LIFE. Europe and Skid Row ’cause I started to sing along with these bands.
For the band - I think: Europe, Crimson Glory, Manowar, Iron Maiden, Helloween, Malmsteen and Dio are big influences for us…

Which album(s) have put a big smile on you face and has made you bang your head in 2006?
Fabio Lione –
Mmm to be honest; no one…

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?
Fabio Lione
– I have to thanks all our fans and I hope to see a lot of them on tour soon!! Gloria Perpetua.

Interviewed by Kenn Jensen

Rhapsody of Fire - Triumph or Agony

Album available on SPV.

For more info on Rhapsody of Fire - click on the album cover.