Vocalist Franscesco Cavalieri and guitarist Claudio Falconcin – Wind Rose
Interviewed by: Anders Sandvall
Thanks to Emil Westerdahl at Inner Wound Recordings for setting up the interview. Thanks to Inner Wound Recordings for the promo pictures of the band.
The Italian folk/power metal act Wind Rose recently released their third album, STONEHYMN, and I hooked up with vocalist Franscesco Cavalieri and guitarist Claudio Falconcini a while back to chat about topics like work on the new album, co-operation with their new, Swedish label Inner Wound Recordings, as well as what the future has in store. If you’re into Wintersun, Turisas, Finntroll, and bands in that genre, you’ll probably enjoy what Wind Rose has to offer. Enjoy.
Hi guys, how are you today? Thanks for taking the time to do this interview with Metal-Rules.com. I thought we could start from the beginning by telling the readers when and where the band first formed? Was it hard to find members to join? Have you had many line-up changes over the years? Do all of the current members live in the same city or are you scattered across Italy?
Francesco: Hey Anders! We are good, thank you! Thanks for taking the time to talk to us.The band found the right chemistry in 2009, with members from different bands and music genres but from nearby cities. The hardest part was not to find a members but to find a motivated ones that will follow you in the journey.
Where does the band name Wind Rose come from and who came up with it? Does the name have any special meaning to the members?
Francesco: We started with a prog metal approch to the music, so the “wind rose” easily gives you the idea that we are be able to “walk” many paths into different kinds of music, mixed together to create something fresh.
What did the media think of your debut album, SHADOWS OF LOTHADRUIN, released in 2012?
Francesco: It was the beginning so, the opinions were split: some webzines said it was great but too much “all-over”, someone said it was bad…Beyond personal taste we can confirm that we hadn’t found the key of our music, our identity.
Francesco: We started with a more progressive approach; later we dove more into power, and now we have finally found our way to a symphonic folk metal genre.
Does the members have any bands or artists in common that have inspired them?
Francesco: We were all inspired by Symphony X, Turisas, Wintersun, Finntroll, and many other bands from different genres and styles. We don’t like to walk just one way, experimenting with a lot of things is the most stimulating thing for an artist.
You did some touring in Italy, how was that? Back in 2013 you were support to both Wintersun and Finntroll; how was that? Did their fans appreciate your music as well? You were also support to Epica at one show in Italy back in 2014, how was it to open for them?
Francesco: We really loved the experiences we had with these international bands. All the venues were great even if we found big differences sometimes in the treatment we received compared to the headliners. You can say it’s usual, but when the difference becomes disrespectful, maybe they should start thinking about what it means for the members of a band to be on tour by themselves without anyone who helps prepare all the stuff,driving or selling the merchandise… 🙂
In 2015 the band released the album WARDENS OF THE WEST WIND, what did fans think of the album and were you happy with the outcome? Do you think the band increased its fanbase with that album?
Francesco: We bet on ourselves and tried to go more into power symphonic and sometimes folk in 2015. WARDENS OF THE WEST WIND was the result of a big change, the real beginning of our music career. Fans really enjoyed that album, but it really can’t be compared to the new one in terms of fame!
Francesco: “The Breed of Durin” was one of the revelations we had in our entire career, it was just an idea and now it’s become a path to follow. Will it be an inspiration for someone in the future? No one knows 🙂
In 2015 you teamed up with Eluveitie and Skalmold on a short European tour and you also joined Ensiferum on the Spanish leg of their tour; how were those tours? Do you have any fun memories to share with us from them?
Claudio: Really a great tour, absolutely the best one so far. One of the funniest things we did on tour with Eluveitie was that we used to do stupid dances during their PA soundcheck, as the sound technician used a really danceable song. See the tour diary on our Youtube channel to find more about this.
That summer you also performed at festivals in Italy, Romania and Czech Republic; how was that and are there any differences in performing at festivals at home in Italy and out in Europe?
Claudio: That was our first summer festivals summer ever, so I can’t hide that it was really a enjoyable time. Not so many differences between Italian festivals and international ones, those were really nice organizations.
Is it correct that the band only did two shows during 2016? Why didn’t the band perform more live?
Claudio: Yes, correct! We were really busy composing STONEHYMN, whose result was worth the wait 😉
The new album STONEHYMN
How long have you worked on the material comprising STONEHYMN?
Claudio: Almost two years, from March 2015 to December 2016.
Why did it take so long to get the album ready for release?
Claudio: The composition was a really difficult one, we wanted each song to be at its best. The preparation of the new stage costumes also took a lot of time, we had to wait for them to be ready before we could take the band’s pictures and shoot the video clip.
Who in the band writes the material and what are the lyrics about this time?
Claudio: Federico (mostly) and me write the music, with the help of Francesco when it comes to the assemby of the various pieces. Most of the lyrics are written by Francesco, with my help for some tracks. This time the lyrics are mainly about the Native American tribes and Tolkien’s Dwarves.
Claudio: Yes, of course; democracy and freedom of speech are the basis of a working team in our opinion. Every decision is taken with the approval of the majority of the band.
The bio says that you successfully tried to emphasize the most appreciated aspects of your previous release such as the powerful choral parts and fierce down tuned riffs. Do you think managed to do that?
Claudio: Yes, we were successful. “The Breed of Durin” was the most loved song in the Wardens album so we decided to concentrate on the folk side of our songwriting and I think this came to be a real success.
Where does the name STONEHYMN come from?
Claudio: Each song in the album is a stone hymn, because all the stories we are telling are set in landscapes where the rocks dominate the scenery (the mountains in Middle-Earth and the canyons in Western America). So it’s like these stories are being told by the stones.
Well known artist Jan Yrlund made the art work; are you happy it?
Claudio: Jan brought his magical touch to an idea we previously had imagined. The initial idea was to represent something in 2 dimensions with no perspective, something more modern and original but with the same subjects. Later, when we saw Jan’s previous works we decided to represent it in 3D with the main symbols of the album: the totem representing the Native Americans and the mountain representing the Dwarves.
Claudio: Yes of course; I think we have found our own style and sound that will be kept also in the albums to come.
Do you think the older fans are going to like the music on STONEHYMN?
Claudio: Yes they will, we are still the same band playing basically the same music but with a more flok touch!
The bio states that your music ought to appeal fans of Wintersun, Blind Guardian and Turisas, what do you think?
Claudio: Those bands are our main influences; Wintersun fans will probably be able to like our music too because of the complexity of the compositions; Turisas fans will follow us because of the Battle inspired branch of metal and Blind Guardian fans will like our music for the fantasy themed songs and for the massive vocal choirs.
Personally I think your music leans more towards the veins of Twilight Force and Turisas with the folk power metal influences.
Claudio: Completely agree with you on the Turisas frontier, partially agree on the Twilight Force one, as they are a classic power vocal-wise metal band, which is good but not our actual target.
Why did the band choose to take on stage clothes? Do the outfits add to the Wind Rose experience for the fans?
Claudio: We decided to dress up like this to make people understand immediately what our music is about and to make people get involved in the stories we are telling.
The lyric video to “The Wolves’ Call” has been clicked over 9,000 times, are you happy with the response?
Claudio: The views are actually 80,000 now, so we are happier now than previously 🙂
Why did you chose “The Wolves’ Call” to be the first song out?
Claudio: This decision came from the label; I think they decided this one because it’s powerful, not so long and a strong example of our music.
The Wolves’ Call [OFFICIAL LYRIC VIDEO]
Were there any songs that didn’t made it on to the final edition of the album?
Claudio: Yes of course. We will break them into parts that will be rearranged and used for the next albums.
What are the longest songs “The Returning Race” (7.36) and “Dance of Fire” (7.00) about?
Claudio: “The Returning Race” is about the Dwarves on their journey to Erebor; in this song they are in Mirkwood forest, an arcane place that’s playing some tricks on their minds, so that they feel like they are dancing around a fire with all the creatures of the wood. “Dance of Fire is about a Native American tribe fighting against the conquerors.
Keyboard player Federico Meranda also keeps track of the orchestration, is it hard for him to do both?
Claudio: Federico and me are keeping track of the orchestraition and yes, it’s a long and tricky duty but the result is as much satisfying so we keep putting so much effort on it.
The reviews I read of the STONEHYMN are all positive, does the band care about reviews and what critics are writing about your work?
Claudio: Yes of course we care about the reviews; we read them all and try to take advantage from them in order to improve our music in the following works. We’re happy that almost all of them were really good this time.
Dance of Fire [OFFICIAL AUDIO]
Compared to the other two albums the band have released how would you rate STONEHYMN? Is it your best album so far?
Claudio: Yes, it’s our best album so far. It’s the first time we are happy like this, but I can bet we will be even happier with the next albums!
With the thought that English isn’t the first language for you Franscesco, I think you do a great job. Is it hard to sing on another language than your own?
Francesco: The language needs to be improved and it requires a lot of work, so I basically trained myself singing and just talking with another language people to improve my pronunciation. It was a slow and uphill walk to become a singer and not an Italian spaghetti singer 🙂
When it comes to the vocals are you self-taught or classically trained?
Francesco: I learned classically in a school, then I moved to a famous Opera teacher in Florence, Patrizia Morandini, to learn more about Opera.
Francesco: My music life guru is Russel Allen for sure, he shines in every song/genre you put him. Very interesting and motivational.
Can you play any instruments?
Francesco: I tried to learn many instruments but the only one that gives me satisfaction is my voice.
Are you guys happy with the outcome of STONEHYMN?
Francesco: We are really happy for the outstanding results we had with this new album, and we hope to be able to tour Europe and US really soon to meet all the people who supports us every day.
I know that the album was recorded in two studios – Studio Magnitudo and Wind Rose Studio, why did you choose to do it at two places?
Claudio: Because we are able to record everything on our own, except for the drums; to record drums a good room and a set of expensive microphones is needed, so we prefer to rent a studio for 2/3 days.
Where are the studios located and is Wind Rose Studio your rehearsal place?
Claudio: The studio and the rehearsal room are in the same place, and they’re located in Casciana Terme (Pisa), a town surrounded by the typical Tuscanian hills.
Which parts was recorded in the different studios?
Claudio: Drums at Studi Magnitudo, all the rest at Wind Rose Studio.
Who produced the album and who are they?
Claudio: The executive producer is the chief of our label Inner Wound Recordings.
Were any members part of the mixing/mastering process? It was done by Simone Mularoni in Domination Studio, where is the studio located?
Claudio: We didn’t take part in the mixing and mastering sessions as they’ve been done by Simone himself, we only listened the result and told him what to be changed. Domination Studio is placed in San Marino, a little state in central-eastern Italy.
Mularoni also did the mastering/mixing on the previous album, what made you return to Mularoni once again?
Claudio: We really liked the final master of the WARDENS album, it’s modern, powerful and professional. We also like the way he works, if the band wants some changes to be made he doesn’t hesitate to make them happen in a fast and pratical way.
Label and management
Was it hard to land a record deal?
Claudio: Not really. I already got in touch with the chief of Inner Wound Recordings to ask for a collaboration for the previous albums; when I introduced him our new work STONEHYMN and our plans he was interested and we signed the deal about 1 year before the album’s release.
Did you send out demos to labels and introduced yourself and your music?
Claudio: Yes of course, this is part of a musician’s job!
Claudio: Scarlet and Bakerteam Records are basically the same label; I respect them but I don’t like how they work and promote bands, they prefer to release a large amount of albums without a direct contact with the musicians. We also wanted to move our asses away from Italy, the land of broken dreams.
Who own the legal rights to your old albums today?
Claudio: The rights of the previous albums are still held by Scarlet and Bakerteam records.
I saw that it’s possible to buy the first and second album through your website but is it possible to buy them in stores as well?
Claudio: I think that the only copies of SHADOWS and WARDENS available are the ones in my closet, waiting to be bought in our store!
Your new label is the Swedish Inner Wound Recordings, what made you sign with them and are you happy with the work the label have put into the album and the band so far?
Claudio: I am really happy of our new label Inner Wound Recordings, we signed to them because I really liked their policies and their ideas about promoting the bands. Inner Wound is something we really needed and I am sure they will be a strong foundation of our career.
What are the differences between working with your old labels and now with IWR?
Claudio: The main difference is that we are planning all the band’s things together; their help is fundamental as we are still young in the music business. It’s really a pleasure to work with them as every decision is made after a long discussion about all the options available.
IWR is a smaller label, what’s the pros with working with a smaller label?
Claudio: They are a small label, but their name will spread out in the future because their work is really excellent. In my opinion it’s better to be one of the peak bands in a indipendent label more than being a drop in a ocean full of bigger bands.
Are there any plans on releasing STONEHYMN on vinyl?
Claudio: Yes we are talking about this but nothing is for sure!
Except Europe and North America where the album is released by IWR who is in charge of releasing it world wide?
Claudio: I am not that into music business but I think that our direct distribution companies are handling the albums to third parties in order to spread the copies also in the territories that are not directly managed by our label’s distro. By the way don’t take me so seriously about this, you should ask this question to the manager of our label 🙂
What are your opinions regarding downloading and streaming music? Many bands think that the streaming services are killing the record industry and that people aren’t buying physical albums anymore.
Claudio: I think that services like Spotify are a great thing for musicians. In my opinion physical CDs will not exist in the future, compact discs are an old device which will be remembered as we now remember cassettes. Streamed music will gain strength more and more, as internet connections are becoming faster each passing year. I listen tons of new music everyday, I’d spend something like 500€ per month if I bought every album I listen to; so I decided to pay the artists indirectly via Spotify.
Are you currently working with any booking agency?
Claudio: Yes we are working with a Germany based agency called Redback Promotion.
Past present and future
What can you tell us about the video to “To Erebor” that until now got 12,000 clicks on YouTube?
Claudio: It’s 430,000 now! We are really glad of how it worked out. We never had imagined it could score this lot of views in such a short time; we probably did the right video in the right moment. We are hoping to reach one million views before the end of the year!
To Erebor [OFFICIAL MUSIC VIDEO]
Are there plans on shooting videos to any the other songs from the album?
Claudio: Yes we are talking about a possible video of the song “The Returning Race” but everything still needs to be argued.
The band’s website isn’t that informative, why? Where’s information about the band members, live pictures, promopictures, written info about the band. Right now it’s mostly a web shop.
Claudio: I think it has everything a new visitor needs to know about the band. For the photos and videos nothing is better than Facebook. Many people (me included) use social networks to get information about the bands.
The band is active on Facebook, instagram and YouTube etc., is it important for you to be reachable and active online?
Claudio: I think that being active on socials is not only important, but it’s the only thing that really matters nowadays, unless you are a band really well known yet.
Do you get a lot of mail from fans? What’s the most common question you get from fans?
Claudio: Yes we do, at the moment the most common question is “When are you coming to the U.S.?”, so we are trying to make it happen soon.
When you’re hosting the release party are you going to perform live?
Claudio: Yes of course we did, there’s a live stream of the whole concert on our Facebook page!
I saw that the band is going to perform at the Masters Of Rock festival in the Czech Republic this summer, are you excited?
Claudio: Yes we are, also because we will play on the main stage right before Heidevolk, those will be crazy times!
Claudio: Yes, we will play the Bloodstock festival in England in August.
Is the band big enough to go out as a headline act?
Claudio: We are now trying to book some headline shows to see how many people we are able to get, let’s see!
Are there any plans on taking the band on tour a little further up north in Europe?
Claudio: Yes we are working on it. We have a show booked in the Netherlands on November 4th and we are trying to add some shows more in the days after.
Are you happy with what the band have achieved so far? What have been the most fun you have experienced together with the band during these years?
Claudio: Yes we are happy but I think the best still has to come. We all have in common the thing that we like to imagine funny things and act like they’re really happening, so basically when we are on tour or in the studio we feel like we are actors in a funny comic show.
What would you like to say to the ones who haven’t heard the music of Wind Rose yet? Could you give them three reasons why they should buy STONE HYMN?
Claudio: People should listen to STONEHYMN if they want to take a 47-minute long journey to distant and legendary lands. I think the album is capable of making people dive completely into the stories we are telling, it’s more like a movie played inside the listener’s head more than a simple album.
Well, before I leave you do you have any words of wisdom to share with fans and readers?
Claudio: Yes of course, I wanted to say “Baruk Khazâd!”.
Thanks for taking the time making the interview, I wish you and the band all the best in the future! 🙂
Claudio: Thanks for having us.