Heart of Steel: Interviews

Thy Majestie: Italian Demons On The Crown
Interview With Guitarist Maurizio Malta 
Interview By EvilG, Transcription by Ronnie

Thy Majestie have returned with their second full-length studio album entitled HASTINGS 1066. The sophomore release shows the band furthering the ideas from their last album, THY LASTING POWER, and becoming an overall better sounding band. I was given the opportunity to speak with guitarist Maurizio Malta.

Thy Majestie

Thy Majestie - Hastings 1066I want to first talk about your new album Hastings 1066. I guess you could say that is somewhat a concept album based on the battle of Hastings, between the Saxons and Normans. When you started to write songs for this new album, did you already have this concept in mind?

Well, we wanted to change something for the second album because for the first album we used a fantasy concept. We wanted to use a historical concept that was true. That's why we wrote an album like Hastings 1066.


How much research did you have to do for the album?

We did A LOT of research for this album. It was very hard to get the material on this battle because here in Sicily we don't have a lot of documents about this battle. So when Claudio went to England, he bought books about the battle of Hastings. So it was easier to have some information from this book.


I received a promo CD, so I haven't seen all the lyrics yet, so I was wondering if you could tell me what the focus is in regards to 1066. Are you trying to cover the entire event or have you narrowed it down to specific characters?

We haven't tried to cover the whole event because it is a very large story of history. So we tried to concentrate our focus on the very battle because it is the main theme of the story of England we think.


Have you always been fascinated with these kinds of historical events since you were younger?

Well, we don't have a particular interest in the story of England. We picked this theme because we think England has a very good Medieval history. So that's why we chose to do a concept about this battle. We think that France and England are the best countries in the world for having the best Medieval stories.


I guess a lot of people have asked you, since you come from Italy; you live in a country that also has a deep history. For example, The renowned period of the Roman empire is something a lot of people might expect you to use as an inspiration for some story lines. Is there any reason why you avoided doing that or is it something you might do in the future?

Perhaps in the future we will do a theme like the Roman Empire because it is a theme that is very good for an album. But for this album we chose the Medieval age. The Roman age is previous to the Medieval, and perhaps we will do something on the Romans in the future. If we write an album about the Romans we will need to do A LOT of research.


Thy Majestie

When you look to your music, you obviously have some sections that sound very epic or you could almost say Medieval in sound. So in terms of that actual musical sound, what from in the past has inspired you to create that sound in your music today?

The music of the past is very important for us because we try to get inspiration for our songs and you can see it by listening to the choirs and listening to the folk parts that we have in the album. That's why we try to listen to ancient music and Medieval music.


And do you find that style of music hard to find or is it something that you could find at a typical record store?

It's not too difficult to get ancient songs like that here in Italy.

Where I am we don't have a section where you can find Medieval music.

I know but it's out there. If you search very well you can find something.


How easy or how difficult was it to get the songs together for this album, and was the hardest task incorporating these types of big epic elements and Medieval sounds.

It wasn't too difficult, I have to confess, because when we had this album in mind, we had all our ideas very clear. We tried to do a concept that was very powerful because we are talking about a battle. I have to say that we chose all our songs together because we have all our ideas very clear.


What were the reasons that you ended up having for choosing Mika Jussila to produce the album at the famous Finnvox studio in Finland. Was any of the album recorded at Finnvox or was it just the actual mixing of the album?

At Finnvox we had all the mastering, because we recorded the album in Rome. It was not a choice of ours, it was our producer that chose to master our album at Finnvox.


Was the move to a studio in Finland for mastering the right thing for the band, now that you can look back on it, and is this something you think you would do on a future album?

Well I think mastering at Finnvox was a very good thing because they're very professional. We've listened to other productions from Finnvox and we were very glad to have our album mastered there. But we hope for our next album to have the same mastering at Finnvox.


I wonder, was it difficult to get all the choir and orchestrated parts to fit into the songs, and also for the people who sang in the choirs to get all these things put together?

Well it was not difficult because for the previous album, THE LASTING POWER,  we had the same collaboration of the same singers of the choir. They already knew that we had to do an album, and so they immediately accepted to sing with us.


When you're writing a song, in terms of like a choir being placed over the song, I was wondering do you write the song first and then decide, like "The choir would fit nicely here", or do you base the song more around the original idea of , you want a choir for a certain melody line and then the song gets written around that more so?

Well, firstly we compose the song with in mind the idea of choirs, because the choirs are a part of our songs. So we don't compose any song without the idea of a choir because the choirs are a main part of our songs.


In terms of when you're writing the songs, what kind of musical aspects do you think is the most important to you personally and what kinds of things did you mostly pay attention to from your own perspective for writing and then recording the album?

The first fact is we have to be very personal because we have to distinguish ourselves amongst the other bands of the same style of Heavy Metal. So we try to be more impressive than others. It's only a trial of course, and we hope to get this aim, this goal.


Right, that was my next question actually. I was going to say there is quite a massive global resurgence of bands in the Traditional/Classic and Power Metal genres. So I was wondering what qualities would set Thy Majestie apart from, or ahead of, the rest of the pack?

I think Thy Majestie will offer something that would be very new above the other bands because for example if you listen to Rhapsody they are very Hollywood Metal and I think we are, yes Medieval and impressive too. There's a couple of very good aspects that we think is very important for our style of music. Even if we aren't going to challenge any bands, because we don't want to challenge anyone. My English is not very good, I hope you understand me.

I do actually. You study English in university or something don't you?

Well I'm studying lots of foreign languages with a specialization in english.

So how many languages do you speak?

Two. I speak English and French, and of course Italian, and I'm learning German.


Again you mentioned Rhapsody. I find a lot of people unfairly, on the surface listen to the two bands and say "Oh...Thy Majestie sound like Rhapsody." If you listen a little deeper there's a lot of things that set you apart and you're obviously your own band. I was wondering what do you think? Do you get tired of people saying you sound like Rhapsody? What would you say to somebody who says that kind of thing?

Rhapsody I think are a very good reality of our days. What we are trying to do is to be different from them because Rhapsody mainly play very fast parts, and some things you cannot appreciate because they are very fast. We are trying to do a different kind of thing; to be fast, but not as fast as them. Because when you play very fast you cannot hear all the elements of the songs. Another thing that is very different is the fact that we use progressive parts in our kind of music, just like Symphony X or Dream Theatre or other progressive bands, Shadow Gallery.


I also think your choir parts sound a lot different from Rhapsody's.


Do you think choirs are one of the main elements that set you apart as well?

Well, choirs are surely a very good feature of ours because I don't think Rhapsody use very many choirs.

Not as much as you guys do, that's for sure.

We are trying to do something that is very similar to opera style.


Related to the question I asked a minute ago -  With so many bands coming out that play Power Metal, or melodic metal these days, do you think there is enough of a market of fans out there who are hungry for this style of metal for a band like Thy Majestie to sustain itself from those people?

Well I think today, Power/Melodic Metal is very wide spread in the world. But what a band has got to try is to be different because if you don't try to be different the risk is that you don't sell many copies of your album. And today, fortunately, this kind of music is very wide spread, and someone can say such and such band is similar to that band. So if you don't try to be different, you run the risk of not selling anything.


The Japanese version of your new album had a cover of Stryper's- "In God We Trust." I was wondering, out of all the possible metal songs you could have covered, why did you pick Stryper?

Well, we were born listening to glam music, and to the heavy metal of the eighties. So we think that Stryper are a very good example of the kind of music that was played in the eighties. We like the song so much because it is a very great song, very powerful and impressive. So that's why we chose that song.


Have you learned or played live or planned to record any other band's songs to cover?

No no, never.


So what bands have most influenced you? And what bands have you been listening to yourself these days?

Very good question. We don't have a particular influence. Surely for the first album it was Rhapsody for our main inspiration. But today we are trying to do something that is very similar to Symphony X especially and Shadow Gallery,  but it's going to be personal. If you only copy other bands it isn't original, so we took the influences but tried to make it very personal.

And what I've been listening to lately....I like most of all Symphony X, especially their last album V. Other ones are Stratovarious, of course Iron Maiden, and old bands like Metallica, and also Shadow Gallery, Kamelot. These are the main bands I listen to.


Do you still listen to the bands you grew up with in the eighties?

Yes of course. I listen to bands like GnR, L.A. Guns, and for example, do you know John Norum? The guitarist from Europe?

Oh yes yes.

He is a very good guitar player, and I always listen to his albums.

Right, He was with Dokken recently, until he quit or was fired or something. Does Thy Majestie have any tour plans? And do you play very much around your home city?

We don't have any plans at the moment because it isn't up to us. It is up to our producer. We tried to have a tour in January with Kamelot but we couldn't do it because we had to do a recording session of Hastings 1066. But in the future we hope to get a tour going, especially in Europe, and Canada, why not?? (laughs) This summer we had some concerts, and the last one we had was with Vision Divine on the 28th of August.


How receptive is your local scene to Thy Majestie? Are you well received at home?

Our local situation for Heavy Metal is very good because in Italy we have very good bands, but unfortunately, our country is not a good place to listen to Heavy Metal because people don't know Heavy Metal bands. But what Italian heavy metal bands try to do is try to have concerts and albums played outside Italy. Especially in Germany, Norway, Sweden and Denmark.


So where have you found most fans of Thy Majestie are from?

Especially from Europe, north of Italy and Brazil.


Cool. And what is your opinion on the local metal scene where you are? Do you think it's a healthy scene or do you think it needs a lot of work?

I think Italy needs to work a lot to reach the level of listening of Germany or even France and Spain. For example, in Spain people listen to many bands of Heavy Metal. But, in Italy we have good Heavy Metal bands but they don't spread out.


Also related to your new album, I was wondering and also hoping that perhaps you would be planning to do a video for one of the songs.

It would be great! (laughs) But this too does not depend on us.

Has there been any talk of maybe doing one or is it something that hasn't been discussed?

We haven't talked about it with our producer, but it is a dream of ours so we are going to talk to him about this project.


Cool! You're signed to Scarlet Records which is kind of a small record label. I was wondering, you signed with them for what - two albums?

For 3 albums....

For 3 is it? OK, so you're signed up for one more with them. Have you thought about looking for a larger label or are you happy with the situation you're in right now?

Well we were happy with it but we are trying to get a contract that is better than the one we have. Scarlet is a good label for Italy, but we are trying to spread out so we cannot stay with them.


I've read on your web site that Limb Music was interested in the band.

Yes yes, Limb Music was interested in us but we would have to extinguish the contract with Scarlet first.


How do you think Hastings 1066 compares to your previous album?

The Lasting Power This one is very different than the previous one. In this album we have more than the first and we are more progressive. We chose a better sound that would be a particular feature for Thy Majestie. Even in the lyrics of the songs we are very different, more major I think.


So how does it feel to have recorded what many people would say, even I myself, one of the very best epic/power metal type albums of this entire year?

hahahaha Do you really think so?

Definitely, definitely.

Well...ummmmmm ....So am I famous?? hahaha

Hahahah Well it depends on what that means, but to me I guess you are in some way.

I can say first of all thank you! And thank you everybody who appreciates our albums. Well....how do I feel....I feel the same. I'm a normal boy and don't consider myself a star.


Do you have dreams of one day making your entire living and your entire career just playing music?

I hope so. My plans are to play solo albums. But we hope to carry on with Thy Majestie and spread out world-wide.


You just mentioned that you would like to do a solo album; is that something you've already begun working on?

It's a project I have in mind. I don't have anything ready.


And would that be a different style of music than Thy Majestie?

Surely, surely. My favourite style of music is Symphony X and Stratovarius so I want to try to unite these two kinds of music. I know they are very different but I am trying to do it.

I figured you were going to say a cross between Stratovarious and Dire Straits.

Dire Straits?

I know they are one of your favourite bands.

Yes yes. Dire Straits were my first love but they're not Heavy Metal unfortunately. [No]. And I play with a pick so I don't play with my right hand without the pick as Mark Knopfer did.


Related to your guitar playing, could you perhaps give me a bit of information on the types of guitars and the types of effects that you use? Also your amps, what type of gear you use.

Maurizio MaltaFor the guitars we use two kinds, two guitars. An ESP and a seven string Ibanez guitar. We didn't use any effects except for the solos where we used a delay and a reverb. For the Amp we used an Engle amp. You know them?

No I haven't heard of those.

They are from Germany and are very similar to Messa Boogie. Very powerful.

And do you use the same amp and set-up live as you would in the studio?

Yes, the same because we don't use too many effects. Just for the solos, a little reverb and a little delay.


Right, sure. And how long have you been playing guitar anyway?

Nine years.

Well you're pretty good for only nine years. 

Thank you.

That's not very long really, considering. Was that your first instrument or did you play another one before that?

No, my first instrument was guitar.


Maurizio MaltaDo you also play acoustic guitar or anything, or just electric?

Well sometimes I play acoustic, but the acoustic guitar on our album was recorded by the singer. He's very good at playing acoustic guitar.

I also hear that he's hoping to do a solo album as well.

Yes. I will have to surely learn to play an acoustic guitar but I don't like it very much. I like the electric ones, I think they are easier to play.

I depends on the music you're playing I guess.

Yes of course.


Last question about your new album - I was wondering if you could tell me about some of the songs on here and what you would pick to be as some of your favourite songs, and why you would pick them?

Well my favourite songs surely are two, "Demons on the Crown" which is the last song, and "Echoes of War" because they are very much in the style that I'd like to play on my solo album. That's why I like them. They are very powerful and very various in the lyrics and in the song writing. I like them for another reason, because for them I played one of my best solos.

And from your previous album, what songs would you pick out that still today you really like to play?

There are many songs from the first album that I like. First of all, "Under Siege" is my favourite song from the previous album, but I like "Time to Battle" and "Durnovaria" because I played it with acoustic guitar.


Is there any other news happening with the band that you would like me to let people know about?

We don't have any news except the fact that we want to play live for some important festivals like Wacken Open Air festival in Germany. It is a very good festival and we aim to play there.

Do you hope to play there next summer or what?

We hope. It always does not depend on us.


So I'd like to thank you for taking the time to speak with me.

My thanks go to you.


All the best of luck with the release of your album. I believe it comes out very soon at the end of September.

Yes, the 30th of September. Thank you.

Official Site: www.thymajestie.com

Order their CD THE LASTING POWER here.

An older interview with Thy Majestie in Metal Rules.

Thy Majestie CD Reviews
- Hastings 1066
- Hastings 1066
- The Lasting Power

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