Interview 26 March 2017.
Nestled in a cosy corner of an Irish pub in Tufnell Park, DREAMSHADE members Kevin Calì (vocals), Fernando ‘Fella’ Di Cicco (guitar) and Gian-Andrea Costa (bass) are relaxed with pints of Guinness and are excited for their first ever London show. Conversing with friends and their old vocalist (who later provided guest vocals during their set), the guys were in high spirits and excitedly chatting about their European shows and their world tour for latest album Vibrant.
First UK tour, first time in London, what has taken you so long to come over here?!
Fella: It’s actually not really easy to come to the UK for a Swiss band. Actually nothing is easy for a Swiss band. We never really had a good proposal from the UK before, so this is the first time we’ve had a nice tour set for this part of the world.
Gian: For us it’s very good because much of the music we listen to comes from England, it’s a special country for music, especially rock and metal music. So it is a good place to be invited for a Swiss band who come from a very small city like Lugano which is where we come from, so it is a great pleasure to be here.
Yeah I was going to ask, because over here we’re not familiar with many Swiss bands, is there a scene over there and where do you fit in that?
Fella: There is one. But first of all Switzerland is a special country because it’s kinda divided in the middle, it’s not really united. Mostly because the language changes along the way. The northern part is really influenced by the Germans, they speak German. The western part is influenced by the French. We are from the south, we’re influenced by and speak Italian. So we live in the same country but we don’t really share the same music scene. We’re kinda divided but there is a music scene. It’s quite good, not really big obviously because it’s a small country but there are cities like Zurich which is in the centre of Switzerland which is pretty good. The clubs are also small, it’s a small country so you can’t expect 10,000 people for a show.
Gian: We get a lot of Summer festivals and open airs, it’s kinda a tradition. I think it’s the country in Europe with the most open airs during the summer.
Gian: Yeah it’s crazy, you can believe that! Every weekend during the summer and even during the week there are some open airs at the same time as other countries. It’s crazy for us Swiss people, it is usual for us to do an open air in the summer.
So how many are you playing this summer?
All: We don’t know yet!
Gian: We don’t know but we will have some festivals of course. And bands from all over the world come to Switzerland to play a festival. The biggest ones always come to Switzerland.
I did not know that!
Fella: The summer is actually really good.
Kevin: Also with the weather it’s usually pretty good which is good for festivals.
Gian: Traditionally you have the Montreux Jazz Festival which is the biggest in the world. So yeah, it is a special country for festivals.
Fella: For festivals yeah. [laughs]
So you were saying about the British bands that you’re into. Are there any British bands in particular that are your favourites or influences?
Fella: Yeah, from the classic ones like GENESIS and er…
Gian: THE POLICE.
Fella: THE POLICE definitely. STING.
Gian: ECHO AND THE BUNNYMEN, we’re big fans of British music in general.
Fella: Yeah we’re big fans of the rock style. But also the newer bands, even more heavy like ARCHITECTS, or LOWER THAN ATLANTIS, DON BROCO…
Kevin: BRING ME THE HORIZON. They’re really, really good. I mean, I could name like, a thousand groups.
Gian: Yeah, we like many! Many good bands here.
Fella: Especially for rock, but also for rap. I like some rap artists, there’s this guy called P MONEY. I don’t know where he’s from [London], but he’s really good. And also some female rap artists.
I remember you saying when you brought out Vibrant you wanted to get your rap and hip-hop love into that.
Fella: Yeah we’re really into that, especially the three of us.
Gian: I used to listen to Italian rap because it’s easy for the words and language you know.
Fella: It sounds good actually, the Italian language fits really well.
Gian: That’s why personally, I don’t listen to a lot of British hip-hop, or British rap…
Kevin: Or American.
Gian: Yeah we’re big fans of Italian rap and it’s come out in our music.
Would you add more into later records?
Fella: We can’t really tell. When it happened we did it with some songs like You Don’t Wanna Go and Sleep Alone, but we were just like, fucking around.
And it works!
Fella: [laughs] Yes, exactly! It was like I cannot think of anything else that fits on this particular piece. It’s just small pieces, here and there and it sounded good to us.
Gian: Because we love hip-hop music, also the hip-hop culture, but we are quite far away from that being in a rock band. But for Vibrant we asked a friend of ours to dj and do real scratches on the album because I was thinking if we were doing something with hip-hop then we’d do it in the real way. We wanted a real dj with real turntables to do the scratch sounds.
It does work on Vibrant! So, how are you enjoying the UK then?
Fella: I love it, I’ve already been here a few times before.
Kevin: It’s really, really good.
Are you enjoying the breakfasts? (The band had been uploading photos of their English breakfasts on social media during their tour)
Gian: Absolutely yes!
Fella: I’ve actually had too much so I really need to stop, because otherwise my cholesterol levels will go… [laughs]
Gian: Each morning since the beginning of tour we have been eating just English breakfasts…
Fella: It’s too many eggs, it’s too much!
You can never have too many eggs!
Fella: [laughs] Oh you can! When your heart stops beating…[Gian laughs]…that’s when you know!
Gian: But you know, we love beers, we love music, we love pubs, so the UK is perfect for us.
And we’re here in an Irish pub! You’re going to have to come back soon.
Kevin: We hope so.
So, you have quite a strong presence on social media and you’re in touch with fans. The DREAMSHADE community is so tight knit, how much does that fan community mean to you as a band?
Fella: I think we build that up, because we had a hard time in the beginning to come out and reach people. Actually the audience has always been the most important part of the project, because we really felt that everyone we could reach, even playing at smaller shows , like with five people in the front row, that was really good because we could actually get to them and they were so happy to see us and meet us, to talk with us, to say what they think about the music. That’s what really matters to us, when someone else can recognise what you’re doing is actually good and you’re doing the right thing. We may not be the most famous band in the world , but it’s really good because they feel like us when we play. So we’re really into this community style, social media managing and it’s working really good.
As it’s your first UK tour, how has the turn out been for each show?
Fella: It depends on the night, depends on the city. The last show we did in Derby…
Kevin: Last night in Derby was really good.
Yeah? Was that the best one so far?
Fella: Yeah because of the quality of the people.
Gian: Yeah everybody knew all the songs, a lot of sing alongs…
Fella: It’s really good for us, especially for the Vibrant songs because they’re new. It was surprising to see some of the songs we didn’t really push, actually people knew and were singing.
Gian: It’s really interesting because the song Sleep Alone…it’s quite strange for us because we don’t understand how important it is for people yet, but yesterday we saw many of the crowd singing it. It’s interesting because we love that song, it’s one of my favourites.
Fella: Also You Don’t Wanna Go was really surprising.
Gian: It was a nice place to test songs yesterday.
Fella: That’s so true, that’s so true. Manchester was really good too.
That’s always a really good city for music.
Fella: Yeah it was on a Tuesday so we didn’t really expect a lot of people, but the quality of the people like for Derby, everyone knew all the songs we played and that’s what really matters to us because we don’t want to have singles here and there and everyone knows the singles but for the whole set they’re not really having fun. But most of the people yesterday who we met [in Derby] told us they’re really into the albums. They’re in love with the albums, not just the songs and that’s what really matters to us because we really put a lot of effort in each song and they’re really different from each other, and the album shapes…that’s what’s really important to us.
Yeah, when you released a couple of tracks off Vibrant early, there was a lot of people like “are there gonna be any heavy songs”…
Gian: Yeah it’s a very different album, to listen to it and we also had some fun looking through the comments…
Kevin: It was funny…
Gian: For the people saying “oh no, where’s the heavy parts” on Youtube, and we’d think, wait, next week we’ll release another song and this will be heavy enough. So for us it was quite fun.
Fella: It was even funnier that most of the people that were commenting like “ah, this sucks, it’s too soft, it’s too rock, it’s too pop”…it is really pop actually haha. It was really funny to see those people commenting on the first song releases like You Don’t Wanna Go, which is really pop…they fell in love with the album. After they were like “ah, this is shit I’m never listening to DREAMSHADE again”. Then the album drops. You’ve got to see the album as a piece of art, not just the song. That’s our way. Maybe we’re doing everything wrong, whatever…[laughs]. We like it that way, so…
Gian: We love dynamics, we don’t believe in a kind of music where the beginning is the same as the end…
Fella: Same bpm, same notes…
Gian: This is also because the lyrics are quite different. There are different moods on the album, there are songs that are really positive in a certain way, there are personal stories about our families, and you can’t see all the songs in the same way…
Kevin: Yes [claps] makes no sense.
Fella: Just to be metal. It makes no sense.
I mean, even on The Gift Of Life [previous album] and Vibrant, each song does have its own sound. I get that. Maybe Vibrant is a bit heavier emotionally?
Fella: That’s nice that you’ve noticed that. You know, the average metal listener is maybe looking for something, so then they find the bands that they like. But if you’re giving yourself through music, then you just need the right people to get it. It’s very difficult. But when they do, they’re hooked because they really enjoy what they’re listening to and they can see themselves through the lyrics and the mood of the songs and the ambiance, whatever. That makes sense for us.
So, after the UK tour, is there anywhere you haven’t played yet that you want to play?
Fella: Australia…United States…
Haven’t you played the United States yet?!
Fella: Ah actually yes, we’ve played there before, but never toured…not even Canada, Brazil or South America. South America would be really good…
Every band, their fans are like “come to Brazil!”…
Fella: It’s a really big audience!
It’s a big country!
Fella: It’s a big country, a lot of people, but especially a lot of rock, a lot of punk rock. And metal. A lot. A lot of festivals like Rock In Rio.
Gian: We also know we have fans down there, we continue to receive proposals for gigs there. We just have to arrange the right time, the right moment, it’s all organisation with all the tours. But we just wait for that. We’re almost ready to do that.
Guys, thank you for you time, enjoy the rest of the tour and your breakfasts!