Claudio Diprima, Drummer For Thy Majestie
Interviewed by EvilG in Dec. 2000
The first thing I think people need to know about is the band. Please tell me the members that are in the band and what there musical backgrounds are in terms of bands they have been in, and what influences they have! I know this is a lengthy question, but for a new band I think it’s an important one to ask!!
OK. Hi everybody, first of all…Well, we are 6, two guitars, bass, drums, vocals, keyboards. I and Giuseppe Bond? (the keyboard player) founded the band in 1998. Giuseppe already had some songs, in a very medieval style, and upon showing them to me, so we decided to mix the melodies with the aggressive rhythm patterns of power metal style that we both loved. The previous line-up was bass, drums and keyboards ’cause we couldn’t find the right musicians to complete it, but after a long research we got ‘em. We looked for ambitious people who could trust in our project. We found them in Maurizio Malta, Giovanni Santini, Dario Grillo and Dario D’Alessandro. The first song to come up was Under Siege… after a few months we had already composed the songs that would have been shortly thereafter recorded in ‘Perpetual Glory’, our first demo CD, entirely auto-produced, that saw the light at the ‘Circle of Power studios’ – my bedroom!! We just used a PC and some audio-editing software, and the result was pretty decent. We are first of all MetalHeads! Our influences go from pure metal eighties through medieval to classical music. I, Maurizio and Giovanni have grown up by spaghetti and Iron Maiden, Dario D’Alessandro didn’t even know what heavy metal could be before entering the band but now he is freak of Symphony X (and he breaks our balls by playing their bass parts over and over again); Dario Grillo had a band where he played Guns ‘N, Roses and classic AOR songs, he is a great fan of Mark Free (Unruly Child, King Kobra, Signal); Giuseppe loves listening to great movie soundtracks like BraveHeart, Starwars, Joan of Arc etc.
You spell the band name as “Thy Majestie” – do you do that because of the Germany band called “Thy Majesty”?
Our first name was Thy Majesty. You know “Thy” is ancient English, and as we didn’t want people to pronounce in a French way. The word “Majestie” that is ancient too, we got “Majesty”. During the recording sessions in Milan we noticed about a German black metal band called Thy Majesty so we used the previous idea to not create any confusion.
Did the band start out with all these epic, symphonic, folk and opera elements? Or was that added in later?
Our idea was to insert some coral and orchestra parts but hadn’t the means to, we could do it later after having had a budget that allowed it. As for the folk elements the songs were first composed entirely like this, then we added the double bass drums patterns and the heavy electric guitars: that sounded great and so we went on this way.
Where does the band’s non-metal influences come from, and where do the metal influences come from?
The non-metal influences come from Giuseppe’s mind; he loves composing these pieces similar to soundtracks but he has to face our metal heart, that’s how our songs bear.
What other recordings besides “The Lasting Power” is available from Thy Majestie?
Actually, our very first demo was “Swords, Crowns and Shields” that sounds very shitty!! because we were experience-less and had recorded it just as a live session adding then guitar solos and keyboards over recordings: it’s a very rare demo that nobody will never get (it’s too horrible!!) . Joking apart, our album is going to be licensed in South America and perhaps in Japan in these days and will include two bonus tracks called “Hywelbane” and “Facing the Beast.”
How does a metal band get a world class choir or a symphony to take part in the recording of their album? The reason I ask this is because I can’t imagine some metal band strutting into a rehearsal and saying “hey we’re a metal band and we want you to record with us.” Ha! Do they look at you like you are crazy, or is collaboration between metal and non metal musicians for “symphonic metal” more common in Italy???
Power of money makes them slave! We chose to use the contribution of this historical choir for many reasons. We knew we wanted the choirs to spread the maximum possible of power and melody, so we discarded since the starting of the pre-productions the idea of using Dario Grillo’ s and other singers’ voices they just wouldn’t have fit our purposes. What we wanted to avoid as well was the monoliticity of certain kind of choirs you can hear in many productions nowadays, especially the LPs produced in Germany. We wanted more various and opera-style choirs. Since the Massimo Theatre Choir is world-wide known, and they all live in our city, the choice was quite natural. We want to underline the fact that the executive and artistic production of the choirs is by ourselves. The co-operation was really funny in some ways, the best part was seeing the faces of the chorists as they wondered how a contribution like the one they were producing could fit into a music like power metal!!! Basically the elements of the Teatro Massimo opera choir looked at us as very strange persons because they didn’t imagine that heavy metal could have melodic coral parts: they thought that we were a noisy band, they were wrong. And when they looked at the scores they said: “what a beautiful coral part” ; and this sounded as a great compliment from professional musicians like them.
Tell me about the guest musicians that were used for the recording of The Lasting Power.
As I said before they are elements of the choir of Teatro Massimo of Palermo, one of the most important Theatres in Italy and in some songs we used Eva Rondinelli’s collaboration: she is the singer in an Italian gothic metal band called Dakrua.
In the past few years the main style of metal from ITALY that most of the world has been hearing is symphonic/epic power metal. The 2 main bands that come to most people’s mind are Rhapsody and Labyrinth. First – why is it that this style of metal is so popular there and secondly, how do you see Thy Majestie fitting into this scene?
Perhaps because the historical Italian musical background is fulfilled by lots classical musician like Niccol? Paganini, Giuseppe Verdi, Vincenzo Bellini, Puccini and so on so we Italians have this kind of music in the DNA! Joking apart, this could be an explanation but I think that basically all the Italians are romantic people and the melodic metal is the best we can do. About Thy Majestie’s fitting in the scene we hope to be popular as well as Rhapsody and Labyrinth and to represent Italian metal in the world. It will be a hard task because the scene is over populated but we hope we have made a good product.
Is this style of metal more popular within Italy than the rest of Europe?
In Italy this style is very popular, but I think in Germany is more. But in the whole Europe is well known especially in Spain, France and Sweden.
Are other styles of metal as popular within Italy?
There are lots of black metal bands in the Italian scene, but we don’t know much about them ’cause it’s not the style we follow. And nu-metal is growing up fluently, but we think it’s just a fucking fashion like Grunge was some years ago.
When I first listened to your CD “The Lasting Power” I immediately heard a Rhapsody influence. Do you get tired of people telling you that you sound like Rhapsody? Do you claim them as an influence?
I knew that this question would have arrived! First of all we love Rhapsody’s style, but we think that everyone that compares us to them didn’t listen carefully to our album: we aimed to achieve a less studied and more metallic style that we think is more passional; then they are more baroque than us. We have a more medieval sound, we guess, furthermore we are all friends and we read in the magazines that they cannot stand each other we get surprised. If you first listen to The Lasting Power it’s easy to think that we are squire of Rhapsody cause we use like them a lot of trumpets, horns and choirs (and in this case too there are some differences because we use polyphonic choirs in spite of their monophonic ones) but we believe that similar elements stop here. We basically play power metal in spite of them that often play in a soundtrack style . I think our approach to metal is nearer to Blind Guardian than Rhapsody .
Since I do not have the lyric sheet with my copy of “The Lasting Power” can you give me a brief rundown on what the storyline is to this album? I know it is the tale of the battle of good over evil…but beyond that?
The concept was written by me and Dario Grillo and was freely inspired by “The Swords of Shannara” by Terry Brooks . For further information please go to our web site www.thymajestie.com; there you’ll find all the story and the lyrics.
Since you like Terry Brooks what do you think of other authors in this genre? The great J.R.R. Tolkien and David Eddings for example? Who in the band is the biggest fan of these stories?
Well I think that J.R.R. Tolkien is the leader of fantasy genre. Everyone who loves this kind of books knows Tolkien. I know him after I have listened Blind Guardian (my favorite band). And so I went on reading all his works. It’s strange how the most hardened metalheads (like me) love this kind of authors, it become a faith like the faith in heavy metal. I don’t know Eddings, but I can talk about another author that I like very much: Bernard Cornwell. He did an epic saga of Excalibur. He is great! I and Dario D’Alessandro (the bassist) are the biggest (I think the only… ) fans of these stories. Dario has a big collection of these books, he is also a big fan of role playing like Magic.
I really like the cover art – can you describe what scene from the album it is depicting?
The cover concept was entirely drawn and painted by Giuseppe Bond? (our keyboard player), and shows the final struggle between Arter (the Good) and Draita (the Evil). That ends with Thy Majestie victory (we hope).
Does being surrounded by history such as the Zisa (castle built in the 12th century) in Palermo influence your mindset and thus lyrics?
Absolutely not. We are rather inspired by the historical English background, the true Middle Age stood there! In fact, in our site you’ll find British castles ’cause we love them.
Tell me a bit about life in Palermo – is there a decent metal scene? What other bands are from Palermo and do many “major” bands tour there?
Here nobody plays heavy metal, there is some bands but unsigned. There is not a true musical culture in general; the bands aim to play just covers of the other famous bands and there is not any spring for playing their own songs. We have never seen any major band here (as for heavy metal ), we are abandoned. They stop at Rome without coming down here in the south of Italy. Only Iron Maiden came a couple of times in Sicily but not in Palermo.
Has Thy Majestie played live or toured in Italy or Europe? If so what places – if not then do you plan to tour?
Due to the fact that this is the first album we haven’t played on tour yet, just some live date here in Palermo. We are planning the promoting tour of “The Lasting Power” for this spring (we hope) .The last word is of our band manager .
What are your plans for the immediate future?
A tour for the spring, and we are now arranging the new album that will be recorded (we always hope) after summertime 2001.
You mentioned you were hoping to do a tour starting in the spring of 2001 – are you looking at playing any of the big European festivals? (ie. WACKEN OPEN AIR in Germany??)
I really don’t know, like I said before our band manager Stefano Longhi decides all, and in this moment we don’t what he’s thinking to do. Yes that would be great! Playing in Wacken Open Air festival, a dream that comes true. But I think it can’t be possible now. But the hope is the last to die!
Has any writings or plans been made for the next Thy Majestie CD?
The songs for the new album are whole composed. We’ll argue about a historical theme: The battle of Hastings in 1066. We’ll abandon the fantasy theme instead for history. And our sound is getting stiffer, fading the use of trumpets and happy parts.
If there is any other information or news on the band that you’d like me to pass along, PLEASE let me know!!
Well, nothing that I haven’t said you before in this interview, anyway I’ll keep you informed! Thank you very much for Thy attention, and Metal for ever!
Thy Webpage: www.thymajestie.com