Francesco Bertolaccini (Bass, Orchestral Arrangements) and Alessandro Petri (Keyboards) reveals how passion can turn into an epic power metal album debut
Havenlights is one of those bands that has proven to be above the circumstances. After a year of recording remotely and separately, they have finally finished their debut album: Songs of Autumn, a totally independent work that will be released in February and shows once again the enormous talent that exists in the underground scene. Francesco Bertolaccini (Bass, Orchestral Arrangements) and Alessandro Petri (Keyboards) tell us about an album that every fan of power metal should not ignore.
You guys got together in 2019 and you’ve finished your debut album, when did you start composing the songs for this full-length?
Some songs were almost written and hidden in our hard disks for a long time, others are pretty fresh and composed during last year specifically for the upcoming album.
Why did you choose to follow the musical path of power metal, what is the main motivation?
We naturally gravitate towards a blend of melodic, fast and heavy songs, and those happen to be the defining characteristics of power metal. We do not want to stick to a genre per se, it just so happens that we like to write songs in that style.
With what song would you like readers to meet the band for the first time?
This is a tough question! We believe this album shows pretty much the two sides of our sound: fast and power metal patterns are mixed and combined with soft and melodic moments. However, we think “Fade Away” could be a good compromise between the heavier and lighter side of our sound, while “Havenlights” shows the full picture of our songwriting.
The song “Havenlights” suggests a lot about the name of the band, however, in your own words, why did you choose that name?
We were looking for a name that would say something about us, about the place we come from and, at the same time, that would match our music and the feelings we want to share. A summer night spent singing and playing at the sea, close to the lighthouse, provided the right atmosphere to come up with this name.
Why did you call the album: Songs of Autumn? How is that title related to the cover?
Autumn is one of the most beautiful moments of the year, and it was a true source of inspiration for us during the composition of the songs. As a result, we think that our songs have a “feeling of autumn-ness” to them.
Many bands struggle to find the right members, how difficult (or easy) was it for you to put together the current lineup?
Before we got together to finish and record these songs, we were stuck for a very long time because we couldn’t find a good singer. Luckily, Linda joined us and put down some incredible vocals in a very short time. Right now, the “missing piece” for us would be a drummer to be able to play live. We’ll see how that evolves, playing live is still an uncertain topic for us.
How were the recording sessions, did you suffer any complications? How long did it take to record everything?
The main complication was due to the pandemic, meeting each other for the recordings was not that easy as it would have been during normal times. The recordings took us almost one year, starting at the end of 2019 and going on until late autumn. However, when we started with the recordings of the first tracks, we were still writing material for the album.
What was the main challenge of making an album with your own resources?
When you’re recording an album as a “side gig”, you run into the issues everyone faces when practicing a hobby: lack of time, lack of money, being unable to find a moment to get everyone together. We had to do most of the work remotely, each on their own time. We could not book any studio time, and everything was recorded in our bedrooms. Just finding a drummer and a studio to record drums in would likely have cost us more than the whole budget we spent on the album.
Have you knocked on the doors of a record label, are you planning to get a contract or you’ll remain independent?
We all have either day jobs or other occupations which would prevent us from sticking to full-blown touring schedules or similar recording contracts, for the moment this is mostly a very fun and rewarding hobby.
We are not against having a record label on principle, but we’ll most likely remain independent for the foreseeable future because it’s just simpler for us.
How was the process of the orchestral arrangements, was it digital or did you have an orchestra?
We wish we had the resources for recording an actual orchestra, but we don’t… Maybe one day! All the orchestral parts were programmed digitally. The process is similar to how other synth/keyboard parts are programmed, with the difference of keeping in mind how a real orchestra would play, as opposed to how a keyboard player would.
In which formats will you release the album; are there any plans for physical copies? Where can people listen to the album?
We plan on making a small batch of physical CDs: depending on what the demand is, we might make more of them. Once the album is released, the album will be available on all major streaming platforms, as well as a digital download from Bandcamp, where you will also be able to order a physical copy.
What role did Pierlorenzo Tessa play in getting the sound you were looking for?
Mixing and mastering are some of the most important steps in making sure a production sounds “polished”. None of us had any experience in audio engineering, so we turned to Pierlorenzo who has professional experience mixing live bands and a small studio to be able to get the sound we were looking for.
Nowadays new Italian power metal bands are emerging, what kind of support do you need to make the leap to the big stages and not remain as a local band?
Publicity, promotion and a complete lineup to play live. Once the whole mess with the pandemic is over, we’ll need to rethink our strategy regarding concerts in order to progress from studio project to 360-degree band.
What is the feeling you go through when you finally see your work materialized in an album? What are your expectations?
We are actually pretty happy with the result, and we look forward to sharing it with the people who will take the time to listen. Seeing your effort materialized in an album is the best gift a musician could have.
We have no big expectations, or ambition, we just want to communicate emotions and feelings with our music. It is just the start of our journey.
How is the scene in Tuscany, are there bands, are there fans, are there musicians who are fanatical of power metal?
Power metal is not very fashionable among bands in Tuscany anymore, even though it still has quite a solid fanbase. Tuscany is the place of origin of some of the most famous Italian power metal bands, like Vision Divine and Labyrinth. Also, Fabio Lione of Angra is from Pisa. We’d really like to see a new resurgence of power metal bands in the local scene!
What are your plans for the rest of the year to promote this new debut album?
We are starting with promoting our album mainly on social networks and online platforms, but we are also thinking of releasing some video clips and/or new material to help with the promotion.
Congratulations on this album and thank you for your time! Any final words for readers?
Big thanks to you and Metal-Rules.com for this opportunity! We hope your readers will enjoy listening to it as much as we enjoyed writing and recording it!