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¬ Wicked Minds (ITA) - Onwards into the 70s!!

Hey guys, first of all please introduce your band to the Metal Coven readers. When and where has Wicked Minds been formed, which of the original members are still on board and what would you say are the most important cornerstones in the band’s carreer so far?

WM: The band started in 1987 as a thrash metal band with the guitar player Lucio Calegari, the drummer Andrea Concarotti and the bass player Enrico Garilli. After some years spent in searching the right sound (4 demo-tapes were released in these years) the band reached a new dimension in 1999. In this year W-Records (Italy) published the first CD, “Return to Uranus” were the band is in form of an hard-trio, mostly influenced by The Jimy Hendrix Experience. I joined the band with my Hammond organ in 2000 and the sound of WM moved to a new dimension, more hard-progressive oriented. In 2003 the band recorded “Crazy technicolor delirium garden” for W-Records and late that year the arrival of the new singer J.C. set the band to its definitive line up. With the new singer we recorded “From the purple skies” for Black Widow Records (Italy) gaining an international exposure and playing live through Europe. In june of 2006 Black Widow Records released “Witchflower”, our new album, and we started for a tour in Europe, playing several gigs and meeting on stage big artists such as Birth Control, UFO, Soft Machine, Wishbone Ash, Siena Root, Colour Haze and many others. In 2007 Herzberg Verlag released our first live album featuring our entire performance at Burg Herzberg 2006.

Last year your new album “Witchflower” has been released by Italian cult label Black Widow Records. If you look back on that album now, how satisfied are you with the overall result? If you had the chance to record that album again with hindsight, is there anything you would have changed? Or would you do everything exactly as you did it the first time?

WM: Witchflower is the first album we have recorded that made us all completely happy! We don’t tell you this because we feel we have done a masterpiece, is not like this, we only think that the record has been recorded and played in the way we had in mind for it, so we wouldn’t change anything, still we are very satisfied with this release!!

In what way does “Witchflower” differ from your previous records? What do you think are the biggest steps ahead that Wicked Minds have made over the last couple of years?

WM: Witchflower is the point of arrival of a way we entered some years ago. When Paolo joined the band in 2000 our music changed and moved towards hard-progressive. The result of the first 3 years of work is “Crazy technicolor delirium garden”. “From the purple skies” came one year later with the new singer JC and some additional track. So we can say that our previous albums contained songs written in different periods of our lifes, with different moods and without a clear idea of what our direction should have been. “Witchflower” has been written and recorded in the last of one year and a half, we knew very well what we wanted to do! We didn’t want to commit any mistake and we knew exactly the things we didn’t like on the older albums, so we worked straight trying to offer something more to our hears. The result is a very various album (every song has its own mood) dominated by the same energy and the same attitude from the beginning through the end, this is the greatest strenght of this work! We have done what we have not been able to do before, writing an album and think about the whole album, not only writing songs and then put them together on a record. Musically this album is much more complex than the previous ones, less psychedelic and less improvising, far more structurated and arranged. We took great care of sounds and we worked for long in studio to have everything as we wanted...this is why we would not change anything on it now!

Your music is heavily inspired by the great Hard Rock legends of the 60s and 70s... which bands of the past are your biggest idols and what does their music mean to you?

WM: We are all great collectors of music, we really love it!!! We know that many people when listen to us think to Deep Purple or Uriah Heep but we know that our sound is more articulated, more complex. We take more inspiration from the underground bands of the ’70 than from the major bands. We can quote Orange Peel, Trip, 2066 & Then, Waterloo, Murphy Blend, Necronomicon, Arzachel, Bram Stoker, Tyburn Tall, Quatermass, Sugarloaf, Hard Stuff and many many others among our greatest influences. Then, of course, we have a touch of DP, UH, Jethro, Yes and many other “big” group of that era but the underground is far more fascinating to us!

How important is it for Wicked Minds, not only to copy these bands, but to add an own note to your sound as well? And what would you say is it, that makes Wicked Minds still sound totally unique and authentic and not just like a bunch of copycats?

WM: In our music you can hear echoes of many bands of the past but we mix different styles all together and the result is something new. In a song you can hear something that reminds DP (for example) mixed with sounds that reminds the italian prog of the ’70, hard guitar on psychedelic lyrics, all these elements are together and the result is something different from the single influences you hear. We are talking about influences, we do not want to sound like anything else, we do not copy no one! Of course when someone hear an overdriven Hammond organ together with a distorted guitar he thinks about DP and UH, this is normal, but if he analyzes the structure of the song, the sounds and other aspects he can discover many other things that makes us different from the other bands!

The range of songs on “Witchflower” are pretty broad and diverse. There’s straight forward rockers like “Through My Love”, epic art rock numbers “Scorpio Odyssey”, enchanting ballads like “Burning Tree”, fragile instrumentals like “The Court Of The Satyr” and proggy twisters like “Here Comes The King”, just to name a few... seems like Wicked Minds just don’t wanna fit into any category, do they?

WM: This is not a choice, is that we really love many different things! We try to write songs that give us the “right” vibration, don’t matter if it’s a hard song or a ballad! When we hear that “vibe” we know we have done something good. Then we spend lot of time working on sounds and composition and the result is always something different from what we had in mind at the beginning. This is why we have so many different moods on the same album. The good thing is that every song, even if it brings its own atmosphere, has a strong relation with the others, every song is in WM style and this let us do what we want, without thinking about genres or style. It’s quite hard to explain...

Are there any songs on “Witchflower” which have any special importance for you? If so, which ones are they?

WM: “A child and a mirror” and “Black capricorn fire” are the two songs we love more because when we hear to them we can hardly recognise ourself ;-) !!! “Here comes the king” and “Scorpio odyssey” are other tunes we love because on the record they sound great and we are always happy when we manage to put on record all our energy! But every tune of this album has its own particoular story and every song is, in some way, important for us! This is another thing that never happened to us before!

The album closes with a brilliant cover version of Deep Purple’s “Soldier Of Fortune”. Why have you chosen especially this song as a cover and what was it like to record your own version of such a legendary Hard Rock classic?

WM: Black Widow wanted us to play this song on the record because they thought we could have done a good version. We didn’t want to make the same mistake we did covering Gypsy on From the purple skies, we didn’t want to play that song same as the original and we tried to add something of our sound and attitude. The version you hear on the album is not very different from the original but you can hear our way of playing that tune, this is why, after the recordings, we felt happy about this song and decided to use it for closing the album.

What other cover songs do Wicked Minds play, for example on your older albums or at your live gigs?

WM: On “From the purple skies” we covered two songs, Gypsy, mentioned above, and Forever my queen by Pentagram. We recorded the Uriah Heep song when J.C. entered the band. We needed a song to be recorded to show the new singer skillness to Black Widow guys before the releasing of the album and so we choose a track we all love a lot. The result was very good but the song is exactly the same as the orignial, this is why we consider it a mistake now, we didn’t add anything of our style to it! Then we choose a Pentagram cover because Lucio loves that band and because we felt that song as the right one. We make a personal version of that tune, adding Hammond and very acid Moog and the result was very good!! These are the only covers we have recorded even if during our live shows it could happen that we play Might just take your life, War pigs or Fire and Water, just to have the people happy and some fun on stage...

Where has “Witchflower” been recorded? What equipment have you used and what kinda sound did you want to create?

WM: Witchflower has been recorded at Elfo Recording Studio, near Piacenza, in the nothern of Italy. Is a wonderful studio with a very large room were we can play alltogether, with a great sound. Alberto, the sound engeneer, is a friend of us and he knows very well how to make everything sound in the right way, we had a very magical period in studio at the end of 2005 while we were recording that album! We used a lot of stuff!!! We brought to studio all our equipment, Hammond and Leslie, DW drums, a couple of Marshall stacks, a Fender Bassman amplifier, a lot of synthesizers (ARP, Moog, Waldorf, Wersi, Roland), electric pianos, Mellotron and other string ensembles, a wall piano was in the studio......Paolo was in the middle of pentagon of keyboards, the room was full of stuff, it has been great!!! Then we recorded everything through an analog tape recorder and then passed everything on PC. We made the mixes using only analog outboards and then we mastered everything again on tape, the result was great!!! We heard the songs in every passage and still, in the end, when we heard it finished we watched and we all thought: “shit! This is what we always wanted to have!” has been a great moment!! What we wanted to have when we entered the studio was a modern analog sound. We use almost only vintage equipment, not because it’s cool, just because you cannot find anything that sounds better than the real thing!! But we didn’t want the album to sound like a 1970 one, we wanted to have those instrumental voices with nowadays quality and dynamic, this is why we worked both on analog and digital machines. At the end the result was very pleasing to us!

One thing that I really like about “Witchflower”, apart from the wonderful music, is the amazing artwork!! Whose idea was it to use this picture, by whom has it been created and in what way is that beautiful girl on the cover connected to the lyrics/message of the album?

Paolo: I have done the cover and I’m really glad that you like it, it took me 6 months of work, more than once I thought to leave up everything and find someone doing it instead of me!!! I wanted to have a cover related to the title, so witch and flowers, but I wanted a cool witch, not an old one ;-) !!!! So I found that photo on a old catalogue of the ’70 and thought it would have been perfect! I worked on that image adding the flowers and playing with colors till I reached what I was looking for! The funny thing is that a couple months after the record has been released a woman passed in front of Black Widow’s shop in Genova and recognize herself in the cover!!! She entered the shop and she explained to the guys that she was an actress working for some Fulci’s movies in the ’70 and that the photo on the cover was taken from a photo session she had before one of these movies, we didn’t know this!!!! Anyway, after the first moment of panic, she was completely happy about this thing and the guys gave her some copies of the!!! I think we will have a very very special thank to her on the next record, she has been really kind!!!

Not only the artwork is simply brilliant, but also the rest of the package... digipack, 16 pages fullcolor booklet, bonus DVD, etc... everything’s of highest quality!! What do you think about Black Widow’s work in this point? Are you happy with their work and effort?

WM: Yes, we are completely happy with them!!! They have entirely produced the album and they have done a very good job! They gave us the opportunity of entering the studio for a month so that we have worked quietly paying attention to every aspect of the session, without their help this album has never sounded so good!!! Then they have moved very well for promotion and distribution, absolutely we are happy with them!!

How have the reactions on “Witchflower” been so far? Did all the fans and reviewers like it and did they give you a lot of positive feedback? Or have you also been confronted with some rather critical words?

WM: We have had only good feedback from the album!! We didn’t expected to have such a good response, both from people and from magazines! Lots of reviews and interviews has been done and it seems that everyone who listened to it had liked it!!! For people interested we have a blog with all the reviews related to Witchflower, The only critics we have received comes from some italian listeners who would like us to sing in an ever ending story, all the italian bands that sings in other leanguages has to face this aspect...anyway, all this people will be happy with the italian prog tribute so everything should be fine at the end ;-) !!!

Have Wicked Minds already started to write songs for the followup to “Witchflower”? If so, can you already name us some songtitles and give us some more info on some of the songs?

WM: Currently we are in studio recording the album....but it will be something very different: we are recording a tribute to the italian progressive music of the ’70, we will play only covers and we will feature many guests from the original bands, everything singed in italian! Witchflower has been a kind of point of arrival for us and we wanted to front something new and different before entering the studio and recording new stuff. The album should be out next autumn and then we will enter the studio again for the recordings of our real new album...we can’t tell you titles yet but it will be a suite, we have written almost everything of the music, we all think is a very good project! In these days we are closing another work in studio, a psychedelic intrumental jam we have recorded for our first label, W-Records, and that will be released under the name of “Orange shading starlight”. Is something different from WM, much more on the psychedelic side, but it sounds great!!! It will be released only in vynil. And, of course, our first live album has been released since a couple of weeks and will be out in 2LP too for june, so we are keeping ourselves very busy in this period ;-) !!!

What kinda music do you personally listen to in your free time? Are there for example any newcomer bands, which you enjoy a lot and which you’d like to recommend to our readers?

WM: Everyone of us has his personal taste in music, so we cover a wide range of genres!! Of course we listen almost everything coming from the ’60 and ’70, we really love those years!!! But we listen to new bands too...some examples....Siena Root, Wolfmother, Audioslave, Dollhouse and many many others, it seems there are many interesting bands around today!!!!

Is there any Wicked Minds merchandise availible? If so, what items do you have in stock and where can they be ordered?

WM: T-shirts are out of stock at the moment but when the italian prog album will be ready for sure we will have them availables again on our site,, under “wicked shop” section. Here you can find all our records and some of the records related to band members (like The Link Quartet, J.C. Band and some other stuff). There will be no other merchendise but there will be “value” packages for albums (like CD bundles and something like this), let’s check out the site from time to time!!!

Thanks a lot for the answers!! Keep up the fantastic work with Wicked Minds & who knows, maybe we’ll meet one day at ne of your concerts... it would surely be cool to see WM live one day!! If there’s anything left to say, feel free to do so now... All the best & See you, Tobi

WM: Tobi, many many many thanx to you for this wonderful talk, we all hope to meet you one day at one of our shows, for sure you will be our guest!!!!!! And a great thanx to all the people who had followed us during these years, stay tuned and you’ll get more...soon!!!


Homepage: (Band)

Fragen: April 2007 by Tobi
: April 2007 by Paolo & Wicked Minds