On Monday, February 19th 2018, at Rhapsody Reunion’s live concert at the Orion club in Ciampino (live report here), we had the pleasure to interview Fabio Lione to know more about the tour life and to snatch some of his secrets.
First of all, thank you for this opportunity, it’s a real honor. Many times you explained that, after this tour, the long “Rhapsody” chapter will end. How do you feel about it? What kind of emotions do you feel?
You’re welcome, my pleasure, of course. It’s a weird thing you know, cause well, good or bad, Luca is the one who had the idea, he had always written the lyrics and he’s the founder and main composer, I’ve always been only – let’s put “only” in quotes – the singer between the two founders, the two composers. But yeah, I’ve also written some songs during the years, actually more than those you know, because for example I have written the verse of “Erian’s Mystical Rhymes”, I have written the verse of “Gargoyles Angels of Darkness”, I composed many other songs’ verses; as full songs they credited me – of which people know – “Il Canto del Vento”, “Sea of Fate” and a few more with Rhapsody, except for the period when Luca left Rhapsody of Fire, in which I took care of writing all the lyrics of “Dark Wings of Steel” and “Into the Legend” and I improved or modified a little the vocal lines Staropoli submitted to me. It’s weird because I understand Luca who after so many years – he, who is a composer -, fairly wants to face up to a new life chapter, maybe change the music genre and create something new. I’ve got a bit of this feeling too, since I think that in so many years we said a lot of things and perhaps this is the right moment to end this chapter, at least to me and him; then if others will be willing to continue using this name, they’re welcome. In my opinion, it would be better if, once you do something, you reach a point which is beautiful, rather than thinking of myself singing the same song for twenty people when I’ll be 70. Therefore, since we still have some years to outsmart and we also are willing to, after so long time, try something new, I think it’s right to do it.
The tour earned a great success, above all in South America, where this led you to organize a second leg; do you think you will do the same in Europe?
Well I don’t think so, even though we’re talking about some things like the two French shows, which have been sold out for a month and half now, so it’s a bit stupid to not have fixed four shows in France for example, instead of having six in Germany where we could have safely had four, because this makes you understand that in France, whatever city we would have chosen, we would have had a sold out. But it’s too late, moreover I am in between two fires now, since right after ending this tour with Rhapsody I immediately begin the one with Angra, so there wouldn’t be way to add more dates by now. Maybe we could talk about it later, still I think the whole thing will be gone by then. Anyhow we’re satisfied since we made Japan, Russia, Korea, South America two times with sold out shows also on the second leg, the “70000 Tons of Metal”, summer festivals last year like Vinci and Milan with Epica; therefore it has been a very, very beautiful tour.
Luca has always got a well known passion for electronic music, do you think this feature could have influenced (or maybe it actually did) your music?
Yes, partially yes, just like fantasy influenced it, the passion for movies of a certain kind or epic, or a certain kind of videogames as well, even though this surely in a minor part. Yes, I think so.
For every new part of the tour you add some novelties to your setlists, making your live shows always surprising and innovative this way; during the last dates you sang a masterpiece by Andrea Bocelli, what do you think about this artist? What led you to choose this song?
Yeah, you know, during twenty years you had got the chance to make many albums, many songs that sometimes the group rarely played live, some other times never played, so being this a celebration of more than twenty years of history and a farewell tour, we find it due to change. About Andrea Bocelli, this evening I will tell it during the concert if I will be willing to, I met him. I dedicated the song to my daughter and I accidentally met him in Pisa, and… He was actually leaning on my car, with someone who could have been his wife or someone who was close to him. I was in late, I had to go back home for an interview or something like that, I left my car out of the city walls since inside there’s a limited traffic zone and I came closer and I thought: “But… Nah, it’s not him”. I waited five minutes and then I told him: “Sir Bocelli, this is my car and I would need it” and from there the lady asked me if I were a musician, how was the band, what kind of music it was, we talked for half an hour more or less. So after the first tournée in South America I thought that maybe I could have changed the song I sing with the public and I immediately thought about this one; Luca was so happy and in my opinion it was a good idea.
The public seems to be not willing to let you go at all, you keep being wanted, what do you think about it and how does it make you feel?
Well, according to me, during life it always comes the moment when you need to change or try to; there also are reasons not due to our will honestly, there is a part of Luca’s will and mine, another part is due to some difficulties we have that don’t concern the band or the fans, therefore perhaps it’s the best moment to do it, also because we have always wanted to do something new, Luca and I. Luca and I, only Luca and I. So maybe it’s the right moment to cut to the chase. I’m overjoyed because we have a good public response and you really understand the fans love you, they cared and still care a lot about this band; besides in my case I also did other stuff, so I’m happy now the album I made with Angra is very much appreciated, since I think it’s on a very, very high level. I absolutely don’t mean to criticize anyone, nor the previous albums cause they made three excellent CDs, but according to me this one will be very important for the band’s career. Like it was, in my opinion, “Destination Set to Nowhere” for Vision Divine or many other CDs I made. I have always tried to help the Italian scene in every possible way.
I noticed that lately you collaborate a lot with many bands also, you join a lot of collaborations.
I like to collaborate with other bands because I like the idea to help people or young bands, I also started making something in Spanish because it’s beautiful to try doing different things, to sing in other languages. This is what I like, lately I’m starting to be… Not disappointed, but I’ve been trying to make the Italian scene grow my whole life, I don’t mean to tear into anyone, but at the end… Athena, Labyrinth, Vision Divine, Hollow Haze, Eternal Idol, Rhapsody, I’m surely forgetting some, I did at least seven bands in Italy, I helped or contributed or made the first album and then left, for example in the first Labyrinth’s CD I wrote all the vocal melodies and all the lyrics, the previous name was Morbid Vision, then “someone” changed it into Labyrinth. I’m happy because I did a lot of beautiful things and I’m sorry to note that no one else did the same, sometimes it’s easier to arrive when something is already started rather than start it yourself, but I’m satisfied, also because I could land into American realities like Kamelot or Angra.
Your career has been very conspicuous, rich of important experiences and events, you managed to obtain a great success. At the beginning of your band’s history, would you have expected to get so high and for so long?
Maybe not so much, but we knew we had got something unique, a winning offer, fresh and original, we knew that. But clearly you couldn’t know which level you would have reached, you couldn’t know if one day you would have had Christopher Lee as narrator. He also gifted me a burned CDr with eleven opera songs he sung when he was young, he wasn’t a professional singer, but I believe he gave me an invaluable rarity, perhaps someone else in my place would go on eBay to sell it to the fans, c’mon a young Christopher Lee singing eleven opera songs, woah… But this proves we had a good relationship, it hasn’t been only a working one, we were intimate friends and we used to joke. I didn’t spend many days with him, only four days in the studio, Luca and Alex might have spent a few more days with him, but a really nice harmony was born.
You have played at 70000 Tons of Metal lately, surely the most particular metal festival currently existing. How does it feel to play on a ship? How’s the atmosphere?
It’s incredible, I mean in my case it was the fifth time, almost half of the people are more or less the same every year so in my case I might know some people there and I was all right cause the environment is wonderful, but I have to remember the sensation a person might feel the first time – or the second – going there which is something unique; the atmosphere is joyful, all of the fans aren’t intrusive, they’re respectful, therefore everyone is fine, both the artists and the fans. It’s like a vacation with fourty/sixty bands, with music playing from the ship’s radios so even during breakfast you listen to metal music (said while growling to give the impression), so someone might think: “How is it even possible, you drink a coffee in the morning and you’ve got this music in the ears”; then it’s beautiful there’s this stage over the pool outside, the stage inside the theater and two more places with fair stages and it’s also beautiful that each band plays two times. So if, for example, you couldn’t see a band on Monday because you drank too much, you were sleeping or you were attending another concert, no problem, they will play again on Wednesday. This is a very beautiful thing, it’s surely unique.
During “Symphony of Enchanted Lands” there’s Nicoletta Rosellini duetting with you, you did the same with Anna Fiori, a Mexican singer; is it something you will carry on for the whole tour, taking a local singer for each date, or it will be limited to the Italian shows? How did you have the idea?
There actually is the idea, Luca and I discussed it, he’s a bit busy with other stuff so he delegated this task to me, I mean if I know someone who’s trustworthy or a friend… Nicoletta has been a dear friend of mine for a long time now, she’s a very good singer and being she Italian I found it perfect; the same is for Anna Fiori, I’m her friend and she’s an excellent singer so I thought it would have been nice. Of course it will be doable in the dates when it’s possible, depending on the availability of the person, if in every country the right person comes up to my mind and if this person is available.
Could you tell us how does it feel to live dividing between private and musical life? Is there any specific advice you would give to those who are reaching that point of their careers when they must start dealing with this?
Eeehh, it’s weighty, I have to say it’s a particular question, because… Well, there’s something I must admit , during the years my private life has been affected a lot by this, I mean, I have never had many friends, I almost lost those few I had when I started making music, cause of course you never see them, you’re always on tour, many years pass, then people start families and change their job or city; therefore I would particularly suggest to follow the passion you have but keeping your feet stuck to the ground, I mean, without sacrificing the private life too much, health and so on. I’m living a period in which actually, objectively, this year to me is going to be… Someone else would call it a nightmare, I realize I haven’t got a life anymore, for some years now, yes. I mean, I’ve got it, but it’s a life that maybe some former friends, an acquaintance or a musician a bit less famous, would say: “hey, you’re enjoying it!”, I wouldn’t agree, actually. It’s very beautiful when you do it once, twice, thrice, but when you do it one hundred and twenty-five times, for twenty years, it’s not the very same thing. Then when perhaps you’ve got a little daughter, like in my case she’s four years old, and you know you can’t see her often… But you know, this is what I’ve always liked to do, so I’m at stake and I do it. I suggest to anyone to follow their passion, but if anyone could keep the relationship with his friends, acquaintances, have a family, a wife or a girlfriend with whom really share the life, all of this going on making music on a serious level, that would be an ideal situation. I certainly realize it’s not so easy to reconcile all of these things at times. I’m not married, so… I mean, I’ve got a huge regret, which at the moment is to not be able to see my daughter often and I will try to make up for it as soon as possible. There’s the need to have a person who understands and who isn’t affected by it or who doesn’t think who knows what, at your side; because if you don’t live and know some realities, you can imagine anything.
What would you suggest, instead, to those who are willing to make music their job?
To be original. To find their own way, history shows that you don’t need to be technically a monster, you don’t need to be extraordinary, for example Black Sabbath’s guitarist once said: “I had got the best singer in the world and the worst singer on the world, but both were unique”; he was clearly talking about Dio and Ozzy and he’s right, sometimes you don’t need to be a technical and beauty or skill monster, an Ozzy for example, with his particular voice, is a unique personality and this was his luck, but he certainly isn’t an incredible singer in terms of technique, you can’t even say he’s a Brad Pitt. So according to me, what’s really important is to find a personal way, to play, to sing or to write songs, what unfortunately today… you know, many ask me for lessons, workshops, which I have never done; I had got only one student, just because this guy begged me for two months – I was young -, but after a couple of lessons I said him: “Sorry, I’ve got no patience”. What I don’t like is that today everyone does it; now this is my opinion – and if you report it I will receive many criticisms but I don’t care: there’s time to teach, you can do it at sixty years old, sixty-five, if you do it earlier it means you’re a failed musician. This is my opinion. Because you need to teach since your musical career isn’t going properly well, I would see myself teaching at sixty/sixty-five years old, but not when you’re thirty years old. Besides the question of getting fourty or fifty euros from a young boy for a period, that might be convenient, perhaps someone pulls up the salary this way; in my case, I don’t either want to get fourty/fifty euros from a young person or be a teacher at thirty or fourty, if I will be willing to, perhaps I will do it when I’ll be sixty, when I will have got even more experience and and way more things to teach. By this, I don’t mean to slate who does it, it’s just that there’s the trend to make the school nowadays, to be a teacher, everyone’s good and everyone’s a teacher, then you see they may teach the technique, yes, but you see those artists, singers or musicians who are kind of similar one to another. I mean, they learned how to play, they learned how to sing, but they haven’t got their own identity; so as my mother says: “Meh, all those who sing your kind of music sound the same to me” and she’s not totally wrong, because they learned a singing style, a head voice in falsetto which is not really a true voice to reach very high notes obviously, because this way you struggle less, it’s easier and you sweat less, c’mon, and you last longer. Then the 90% of Power singers doesn’t sing with a full voice, you should have got a bit… Massive genetics, but this buries the colours and resonances and sound of the real voice, so falso-falsetto (from falso > fake) because only some resonances of the voice last, not all of them. Real voice is thicker, it has got a lot of colours, so obviously with the real voice you can be more expressive, less with falsetto. Then clearly ten singers who sing in the same modern way, very shrill and so on, they’re very agile and good, they get less tired, but the tones get similar and they might appear, sound all identical; so my mother, being ignorant, is right.
So will you teach in the future, don’t you know it? You don’t disdain it but not even appreciate it that much?
Maybe, when I will be old enough I could do it, I would like to, but I would have to find someone who I like, not teaching in a serial way, only one apprentice maybe, but someone who’s promising. For example I took only ten lessons in my entire life, during 1993. Once every month. From a certain Bruce Borrini who was the only person teaching me something opera-like and I saw he cared a lot about it since he never asked me for money. After the first lesson, he said me I wouldn’t have had to pay his lessons anymore; that he may have had fourty students thanks to me it’s a different story, but he evidently was glad to spend that hour and half with me. On top of the hill, I used to go with my motor-scooter and it has been a beautiful experience.