Interview: Fabrizio Leo

Guglielmo Malusardi: So, once again you teamed up with the great rhythm section of the Citriniti brothers?

Fabrizio Leo: Yes, we have decided to keep working together with a new album, but different in style and technique than the previous one.

Guglielmo Malusardi: When was this project started?

Fabrizio Leo: We began about a year ago, and slowly but surely we assembled the fruits of our worst nightmares (laughs out loud) and I was busy for several months, because of the difficulty of the compositions.

Guglielmo Malusardi: Who composed the music?

Fabrizio Leo: Danilo and Domenico wrote the rhythm parts and compositions, while I took care of the melody and arrangements.

Guglielmo Malusardi: Just after one listening, it appeared the brothers didn't take any prisoners.

Fabrizio Leo: Yes, you can recognize the unique style of Citriniti brothers very quickly, at first listen!

Guglielmo Malusardi: How much time did it take to record the guitar parts?

Fabrizio Leo: As I mentioned previously, It took very long time. Every one of us is pretty busy, you know how that goes, and last but not surely least, it's hellish stuff to play over!

Guglielmo Malusardi: How did you work on it?

Fabrizio Leo: By working on different tracks at the same time, jumping from one idea to another. I've been striving, for some time, to not focus on solos alone, and give more attention to the rhythm, putting in the proper gothic-horror atmosphere.

Guglielmo Malusardi: Describe your recording gear.

Fabrizio Leo: I simply used a Boss digital pedal (GT6), Ibanez guitars (Andy Timmons and Steve Vai signature models), D'Addario and Ernie Ball strings and Ibanez picks. I recorded everything on the Mac using Digital Performer software, in my home studio.

Guglielmo Malusardi: It's amazing listening to how you can be melodic, even in a musical situation as intricate as the Citriniti brothers'.

Fabrizio Leo: It's been very difficult working on parts already written by others, especially if they have a different way of composing music than you do. Usually when I work on my own compositions, I immediately follow my instincts, putting down ideas quickly that come from inspiration - without following any set pattern.

Guglielmo Malusardi: Knowing you, I think you pretty much improvised all the solos, correct?

Fabrizio Leo: You're wrong this time! On this record I worked out all the solos to the smallest details. I tried to improvise on a few pieces, but quickly saw that with very intricate music, I preferred to think about what to do before starting. And, of course, in a different way than our previous album.

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Guglielmo Malusardi: How do you typically set up to get your sound?

Fabrizio Leo: I tried to maintain a similar sound for the rhythms and the solos on all the songs, but I used special effects on a few tracks. Rhythm parts were distorted, but without delay and reverb. I used a stereo delay within Digital Performer for some guitar solos.

Guglielmo Malusardi: Do you have a favorite time during the day to record?

Fabrizio Leo: I like to record early in the morning, when I feel my mind is clearest.

Guglielmo Malusardi: It's evident from the artwork and the song titles, that you have a love of horror movies.

Fabrizio Leo: Yes, we love horror movies. I also am a passionate collector and own over 1400 DVD and VHS horror and thriller films. My favorites are those by the British studio Hammer Productions.

About Joe Spinell, the final effect on the first track ("Mannequin") is taken from his last trailer "Maniac 2". But because of his death it wasn't published because it wasn't completed - what a pity! So we had the idea to remember him through our album. Joe was a great actor and his maniacal madness on most of his movies has inspired us a lot, musically and humanly! So be careful, we could kill you! (laughs)

Guglielmo Malusardi: But then the CD was titled simply "Citriniti Feat. Fabrizio Leo".

Fabrizio Leo: It was called "Shock" before it came out (like the cult movie by Mario Bava), but the titles and the cover did change several times. We tired of considering new names all the time, so we decided to not put anything. Despite that, a self-titled album should never miss!

Guglielmo Malusardi: Which song took you the longest time to put down the guitars, and which one the shortest?

Fabrizio Leo: They were all complex, and I spent a lot of time on each of them. Maybe the one that took the most time was "Shock", especially the rhythm parts.

Guglielmo Malusardi: As we already discussed, this is not easy listening music at all. How have the fans welcomed the new release?

Fabrizio Leo: Well, our fans reacted positively for sure! In particular, and I don't know whether to say it with regret for the Italians, being Italian, but our music is highly regarded by USA and Japanese fans. Japanese fans love our stuff the most and I want to say to them, "Domo arigatou gozaimasu!" We're selling hundreds of copies there, perhaps because of our complex arrangements - and I am sincerely proud about that!

Guglielmo Malusardi: During the recording, you were playing live and recording with international Italian pop star Eros Ramazzotti. Pretty different stuff from Citriniti. Was a sort of Doctor Jekyl/Mr.Hide situation?

Fabrizio Leo: I love all kinds of music, and music is my job. So I have to be able to adapt myself to different situations with the same dedication to my passion. I think this is a true of any professional musician. Naturally, rock music will remains my favorite kind of music, and will always be in my heart!

Guglielmo Malusardi: At times did you find yourself playing "Citriniti style" with Eros and a more "Eros style" with Citriniti?

Fabrizio Leo: No,it's never happened to me. I usually try to keep within the style of the kind of music that I'm playing for, except when I'm given some free space, so I can show the great "rock bad attitude" from the inside of my musical heart!

Guglielmo Malusardi: Is this a great time for you musically?

Fabrizio Leo: Yes, things are improving, and I've had many good opportunities come my way in these last two years. I'm having chances to play with several Italian pop artists (Ron, Tazenda, Mango) and I'm currently touring with Eros Ramazzotti and Fiorella Mannoia.

Guglielmo Malusardi: After your acclaimed debut "Cutaway", guitar fans are waiting for the the follow up. Any thoughts?

Fabrizio Leo: In November I hope to begin to work on my new instrumental album - I have many ideas in mind right now. One of the tracks is already done, and everybody can watch me play it live in the studio. This is the link . It's called "Mr Malusardi", dedicated to a dear friend of mine. I think you know what I'm saying (laugh).

Guglielmo Malusardi: Let's close the interview with your future projects.

Fabrizio Leo: Sorry, I don't really like to talk about future plans. I prefer to talk about them when they are sure things. For the moment, I can only say that I should begin work on my next album soon.

About future collaboration with the Citriniti brothers, we are receiving offers to play live, but with my schedule it makes it difficult to do so. So Domenico and Danilo are already playing clinics and live as a duo in their area to promote our CD.

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Two years after their first release for Shrapnel Records, "Between The Music And Latitude", the fantastic three has teamed up again. The Italian rhythm section of Danilo and Domenico Citriniti composed ultrathick musical structures, allowing guitarist Fabrizio Leo to dazzle with his magic notes. This time the atmosphere reflects their common passion for horror and thriller movies, as one can easily grasp by glancing at the graphics and song titles. Using every single free hour possible from his ultra-busy schedule playing guitar for such pop stars as Eros Ramazzaotti, Fabrizio recently completed the guitar work for the new album. Their music may not be for everybody, but it is greatly anticipated by their rabid fans, and all listeners that love technical playing and intricate structures.

Guglielmo Malusardi once again met up with Leo, in an all-guitar conversation.