Interview: Simone Fiorletta

Guglielmo Malusardi: Here we are with your third release. You're one musician that comes up with titles for good reasons (and not just you need it to title each song), so let's start with the meaning of "When Reality Is Nothing".

Simone Fiorletta: You know when you're listening to tracks you're particularly linked to, and while listening to them you start travelling through memories, or unexplored places? Well, that's it! I mean this kind of sensation exactly, the power of music carrying one above the everyday reality.

Referring to each track individually, I can tell you that the one entitled "Thanks" is to express my gratitude to my parents. "My Brother", as you can easily guess, was inspired by my brother. "Dance In The City" was composed thinking of all of the times you go out purely for enjoyment. "I Believe In You" was written while my girlfriend was preparing for her thesis and I wanted to show her my support. Her life inspired me on another song, entitled "Loneliness In Your Eyes". I wrote this track when she was having a bad time due to a bereavement. On "Laura", I imagined what my girlfriend would be like if she was a song. "Oh No, Once Again?" is the follow up to "Brawl in A Saloon" (from the album "My Secret Diary"), you know the typical saloon fights you see in the comical movies, don't you!? "Ehy...What's Up?" was composed thinking of the times you see one of your friends particularly happy and instinctively say, "Hey! What have you been up to?"; Finally, I wrote the song titled "Like a Bird" in reference to birds' flight, which is liberating from everything and everyone, as if in that moment you're living and directing you own dream.

Guglielmo Malusardi: Tell us about the creation process, when did you start to compose tracks?

Simone Fiorletta: I started after a few gigs in a trio called "Surfing With Joe", a Satriani cover band. After this experience, I felt the need to write new material for a solo album, which was last October. Since I teach at music school (called Music Station) in the afternoon, I could only work on it in the mornings; despite that the album was ready in a very short time.

Guglielmo Malusardi: When was the composition process completed?

Simone Fiorletta: It was completed towards the end of January, so about four months after I began writing; in fact we started the recordings around mid-February.

Guglielmo Malusardi: How did you compose, using piano, guitar, or both?

Simone Fiorletta: I like to compose instinctively. First of all, I imagine a theme to follow up, as if I was writing a story, using my guitar instead of a pen, and from that point on, it's all about improvisation leading me to find a way to express that concept in music. When I become aware that I'm on the right path, I can start to work, concentrating on certain harmonic passages and the musical arrangement of the track. While working on the tracks, I also program the rhythm parts for bass and the drums, just to give a baisc structure to the piece. However, I don't expect my musicians to follow the parts I wrote; in fact I'm very open to any kind of suggestions, letting everyone participate in their own way.

Guglielmo Malusardi: When you finally gave the music to your musicians, was it pretty flushed out, or did they contribute, adding their own ideas?

Simone Fiorletta: I work on the arrangements during the writing phase. When I deliver the demos to the musicians, in my opinion the tracks are ready, but I am still open to their suggestions. I always listen to their ideas, and if I think that their observations are useful, I modify the tracks according to their suggestions. I'm obviously referring to the bass, keyboards and drum parts, because the guitar parts are all written and arranged by me.

Guglielmo Malusardi: Let's introduce the "When Reality Is Nothing" band members.

Simone Fiorletta: With pleasure. My good friend Andrea De Paoli (Labyrinth) is on the keyboards, as always. Andrea and I will be working together on a few projects; we get on very well, probably because we are very good friends. Matteo Raggi is on the bass guitar, and Marco Aiello on drums. He is a very talented guy and I think he'll become very well-known.

Guglielmo Malusardi: Any special guests?

Simone Fiorletta: First of all... Neil Zaza! It has really been a great honor for me to have him as a guest. Neil is a guitarist that I've admired for years, so it is really exciting to have a solo of his on my album. Among the other guests playing an active role on this album, I also had the pleasure working with Mistheria, a keyboardist who is well-known because of his various collaborations, for example, with Bruce Dickinson (Iron Maiden).

Also two members of my progressive metal band Moonlight Comedy are playing on two of the tracks, Armando Pizzuti and Valerio D'Anna. And, finally, Fabrizio Auri played the drums on the opening track .

Guglielmo Malusardi: You told me you got a big role in this cd ...How it was in terms of feeling and work?

Simone Fiorletta: As on all of my solo albums, I personally handle most aspects of their realization. I am the only composer and arranger, and at the same time, I also am my own sound technician (engineer). In fact, I mixed and mastered the whole work, which allowed me to "create" the right sounds for each individual song. I admit this gives me great satisfaction. It is my assurance that prior to the songs being released, I am absolutely certain that the album will exactly sound the way I had imagined.

Guglielmo Malusardi: Where did you record the tracks?

Simone Fiorletta: The drum parts were recorded by Sandro Assante in his "BlabLab", keybord tracks by Andrea De Paoli in his studio, "MD Sound Studio", and I recorded the bass and guitars parts in my own studio, "S.F. Digital Studio".

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Guglielmo Malusardi: Let's list your "weapons of mass distortion".

Simone Fiorletta: It's not that I want to necessarily advertise my endorsements, but the sound I produce comes out exactly from their products. That means that the sound you hear is made by a Rash guitar, a very good guitar with a "bird's eye-maple" neck, a light poplar body and Di Marzio pick-up; D'orazio strings, Brunetti amp, which are the best Italian amps in the world, and InTune plectrums to play all of that.

Guglielmo Malusardi: Time to describe each song on the album from the mouth of the composer.

Simone Fiorletta: Well, I can say that in this album you can find ballads, acoustic tracks and rock tracks shredded to the wall. For example, both "Dance In The City" and "Ehy...What's Up?" are rock tracks with hard rock influences in the rhythm and solo parts. Other tracks, like "My Brother" and "Like a Bird" I can say are more powerful rock tracks; more powerful, yet at the same time melodic rock. "Loneliness In Your Eyes" is a ballad expressing sad and aggressive feelings, and so on. However, I invite you to listen to the disc.

Guglielmo Malusardi: I thought the intro/outro to "Thanx" was very good. Was it a spontaneous addition, or did you plan it out in advance?

Simone Fiorletta: I assure you that almost the entire album simply took on life spontaneously. In fact, if it wasn't so, it would never have been completed in four months. So went the intro/outro to "Thanks".

Guglielmo Malusardi: Also, the intro in track 3, "Dance In The City", is funny, where somebody is tuning a radio in search of good music...

Simone Fiorletta: Yes, I wanted to represent the usual things you do and hear when you're in your car, just before leaving your home. I don't know if you noticed (well, surely you did) that the songs played on the car radio are "My Brother" (track 2), "Thanks" (track 1), and a part of "Dance In The City" (track 3), just before the radio is turned off... it's funny isn't it?

Guglielmo Malusardi: In terms of originality you really hit a high note with "Oh No, Once Again?"

Simone Fiorletta: I don't like to write songs under the banner of virtuosity, that can easily bore non-musician listeners. I think I found the right balance on tracks like "Oh No, Once Again?" where the music is inspired by those funny saloon fights you see in certain movies. It basically is a blues groove played at a quiet high speed (about 170 bpm, if I remember) with arpeggios made of semi-quavers, and so on... but as a result, it is a funny track; it makes you smile when you hear it.

Guglielmo Malusardi: Third solo release for you. What have you learned during these past few years?

Simone Fiorletta: I have become (and I'm still becoming) more careful about all the steps you should consider to make a good album, more fluent tracks and more painstaking details.

It is also true that I composed my first solo album when I was 22, so one is bound to make changes or improvements in the later works, because they're influenced more by my personal experiences than my musical ones. As I previously mentioned, my music comes up from my experiences, and from my life in general, and that's why my latest works are more mature than the ones I composed when I was 22. Do you know what I mean?

I mentioned before that I serve as my own engineer, so I can tell you that on this album there's an improvement in the sound.

Guglielmo Malusardi: Talking about graphics, another great job by Armando (Pizzuti, bass player with Moonlight Comedy, and graphic artist). Did you discuss the concept together, or did you let him do the entire job?

Simone Fiorletta: Armando has always been my personal designer, and I blindly trust him. When I came up with the title of my disc, I communicated it to him, letting him create the graphics. However, it always is up to me to decide if the graphics are good or there is something that needs alteration, but this happens very rarely,

Guglielmo Malusardi: Speaking of your band, Moonlight Comedy, how is it going?

Simone Fiorletta: With Moonlight Comedy, we're just finishing composing on the last track of our next album, so we'll probably start recording it by the end of the year, so look for release in 2010.

Guglielmo Malusardi: Do you have an unrealized "musical dream" you are thinking about?

Simone Fiorletta: Yes, I'd like to open a concert for the great Joe Satriani. I'll let you know once I have done it, OK?

Guglielmo Malusardi: OK, last question. What projects do you have lined up to close out 2009 and anticipate for 2010?

Simone Fiorletta: As I previously mentioned, I'll probably start the recordings with Moonlight Comedy within the end of the year, A few months ago I also started working on another progressive album, with a regular band and different singers. I can mention the fact that there are a lot of big names involved, but I don't want to reveal more just yet.

One thing that I want to strive to do, and which I'm working on little by little, is to personally produce some bands I consider interesting, so I can introduce them to certain labels I am directly linked to. To get updates on how this is going, I suggest you visit my web site. or my myspace page. I also invite you to write me, and it will be a pleasure to answer your e-mails.

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Just short of two years after his last solo album "Parallel Worlds", we caught up with Simone Fiorletta, probably the tallest Italian guitar player, and certainly one of the most appreciated and active ones. Once again, through the Lion Music label, owned by that God-blessed man named Lars Eric Mattsson, Simone has just released his third solo album, called "When Reality Is Nothing".

Interviewer Guglielmo Malusardi cornered Fiorletta, digging into the making of the album, and discussing more interesting stuff, including his band Moonlight Comedy..