Interview date

February 2007


Yann G


Hi Daniele, thanks a lot for accepting this interview for the french metal webzine http://www.auxportesdumetal.com/.
First of all, can you please present yourself as a musician (your biography and your career) ?

I started to play piano when I was a child (at 6) attending a local classical school that gave me all the theory and armonic notions, then I selfapproached guitar at 16 (1987), applying it all the classical notions I learned from classical piano experience. In 1993 (at 22) I won a national contest as Italian best guitar player and I won a payed trip and stage at GIT school in LA. I stayed there for a long period, attending lessons from many of the biggest guitar player of the scene...it was there that I put togheter the lineup to record the my first solo project album 'Viewpoint' that would have been pubblisched only later by Elevate records in 1999.
I also studied bass at 24 and drums at 25, I always had a great love for both classic and quality rock metal music and for all the instruments involved in it.... Even if I did many demo tapes and music projects since back in 1987, I can say that my official recording career starts back in 1997 as keyboard player and composer with the first release of my progmetal band Empty Tremor 'Apocolokyntosys', released in europe by Pick Up/Risin Sun and in Japan by Fandango records. Then in 1999 I released by Elevate records my first solo guitar record 'Viewpoint' (recorded during GIT period 1993/1994), a sort of progressive guitar oriented instrumental project with some cool musicians like Julio Mathis at drums, Joey Vera and ricky Wolking at bass (4 tracks each)...In early 2000 I recorded and produced for Elevate Records too the second album with my band Empty Tremor, 'Eros & Thanatos'...one of the major efforts with this band!
I also have released a second solo instrumenta album called Daily Trauma in 2004 by Frontiers records.
This album is the first musical experimentation back in early 1999 after the meeting of me and Dario Ciccioni, the incredible young talented drummer that has been playing also into the 3 episodes of Genius Rock Opera....it's a like a sort of prologue to the 3 episodes of Genius and it contains a lot of idea and basic athmosphere that have been developed and expanded into the full Genius rock opera trilogy production.
I'd say that the meeting and the initial jams with Dario are probably the main reason of the beginning of all my Genius project thred, I felt that I and him would have been able of doing a lot of good and inspired music, our styles, tastes and feeling was so perfect during the creation and the jams!
I also recorded and produced a record with Steve Walsh called 'Khymera' to be released at the beginning of 2003, Also there I played guitar, bass and Keys, Dario Ciccioni (Genius Rock Opera drummer) played drums, and another album under this moniker called "A new promise".
I write sometimes for some Guitar magazines, but unfortunately I have not enough time lately and this is happening not so often at the moment...
Anyway the Genius rock opera trilogy has been basically getting me busy since 1998 in all its phases of creation and preproductions of story, characters definition, music and lirycs! It's something that I always worked on also during other projects developent (Empty tremor, Khymera & all the other projects)

The third part of your metal opera trilogy is being released in February. Can you please tell us more about the story and the concept developed in this trilogy ?

Well, as all the ideas that you're gonna work on for lots of years, the concept was inspired to me by a little detail....the sound of an old mechanical ring of a clock....:) I head a strange and irregular beat sequence in its ring sounds and from there I started to create a sort of story that would be connected to this cool sound....I started to think that this sequence of beats could have been a sort of special password to be admitted into a parallel dimension....than I come up with the 'Dreams factory dimension' idea....and I started to create all the characters and an amazing adventure that could run through these basic elements...
The concept describes a sort of mind trip in a parallel dimension of the main character Genius. He casually discovers the way to be admitted into the dreams creation world (the strange irregular beat of his clock was equal to the beat sequence for being admitted in that dimension, used by the newborn twinspirits), where all the dreams are being conducted by a sort of organization (Dream League) that takes care of creating human fantasies during their sleeping time. Every time that a human starts to dream, in this parallel dimension a twinspirit is created for conducting his dreams and fantasies and once the human awakes this twinspirit is terminated. Genius (Mark Boals), being admitted into this realm while he was dreaming, has the chance of meeting his assigned twinspirit (Daniel Gildenlow), creating a sort of paradox that would cause serious problems to the whole dreams world safety...
The whole trilogy is then running around all the adventure that Genius and his assigned Twinspirit32 will be experiencing during all the duration of the Genius' dream. Actually, the story concept I used for 'Genius' trilogy was written by me many years ago. The original name of this story is 'Daily Trauma' and it's a short book that I wrote back in 1997. I love to write fantastic stories, not typical sword and horses fantasy concepts, I prefer pretty much futuristic stories, I've always been fascinated by alternative reality concepts and human subconscious ...
Gradually I developed that 'Daily Trauma' little book story.
I added more details, more concepts and story events...and I started to think that it would have probably worked for some kind of music project too...
So as a first natural step I composed, with the help of my friend great drummer gear Dario Ciccioni, some instrumental music that followed the events of the story.
I created a lot of melodies and ideas that would have been used and developed also in the later trilogy.
The result of this first step of creation on 'Daily Trauma' story was an instrumental album of 18 songs.
All the songs were strictly connected to the story , even if it was all instrumental music.
I have the produced this album with that music and I called it 'Daily Trauma' too.
I wanted to have everything in my hands in terms of sound and so I decided to play Guitars, bass and keys.
Dario Ciccioni played drums (same team situation of Genius Trilogy...)
Daily Trauma album is a sort of instrumental soundtrack idea, to be listened while listening the story that would have been inserted in the booklet.
The style is heavy and modern but in many points is very various and includes many styles..
That sort of album/book has never been released till May 2004, when Frontiers released it as a bonus release togheter with episode 2 "In search of the little prince".
I've always been attracted by big classic operas of the great past composer.
Infact later I thought that the 'Daily Trauma' story would have worked great also for a more complete Rock Opera with many singers...and I started to push myself more far and started to write down a complete music and lyrics score of an opera in 3 episodes that followed the same concept , where the character would take the voices of the singers and a narrative part would be acted by a storyteller voice over during the album...So here's how 'Genius' trilogy is born.
I decided to call the opera 'Genius' cause 'Daily Trauma' was already the name of my book that I wrote down in 1997 and also the name of the instrumental album i already recored.
I wanted to keep separated the 2 stuff...anyway Genius is the main character of 'Daily Trauma' and I also thought that it was a smarter name for a opera....
So basically we have a story written in 1997, an instrumental album never released recorded in 1998 and then I started in 1999 to work at a 3 album rock opera trilogy.

How would you compare this album to the 2 first ones ? What are the main differences ?

I think this album is in the same vein of the other 2 episodes basically...Maybe this is the more balanced in terms of styles mixture...the first was a little more progressive and the second a little more power in my opinion.

If you had to classify this album in one category of metal, which one would you choose ?

I'd say definitely melodic prog metal.

You have a lot of special guests on this album. Can you please present them ? For each of them, how did you know them ?

Basically I just contacted them by the internet, and also Frontiers records helped me a lot to contact them of course.
This is the same of course for all the guests af all 3 episodes.
In this episode 3 we have DC Cooper as main character Genius, Daniel Gildenlow of Pain Of Salvation as Twinspirit32, then we have Andrea Datwyler of Lunatica as 'Kokeshi doll', Jorn Lande as Apikor, Toby Hitchcock as Senator Jeramus, and Eric Martin as Mr.Nico.

For the recording of this Vol.3, did you all meet physically with your guests in the same studio ? Or did you exchange files ?

It would have been to expensive to cover all the cost of flying every one here in Italy.
Basically everyone has chosen a personal producer for the Vocals and recorded into their usual studios locally in their town, I was very happy with this choice cause everyone of them knew the right person to work with....
I sent away all the music, the lirics and charts and I followed all the recording via internet talking with producers, and giving the final ok and my directives on the recording from my studio here in italy....
I decided to give very much freedom to the guest singers, everyone would have had the possibility of expressing his style into the character....
When I got back all the vocals tacks it took me months to edit and join everything! Every duet had to be perfect and every vocal part would have been in the right place...
I made some postproduction decisions on how and what use or not of the material and versions the singers gave me, but I had a GREAT material to choose on and it was so great time for me!

In a recent interview, Toby Hitchcock told us he was very proud to have participated into the Genius project. Did you listen to the latest Pride Of Lions ? If yes, what do you think of it ?

I definitely like and listen to all Pride of lions albums, it's a great band and delivers greaty quality and emotional music, that's why I and and Frontiers wanted to have Toby in the cast..

Can you please tell us more about your influences and the CDs you love ?

I come from the early ninety sceene basically...I love Dream Theater of course and they are probably my best influence.
They I've listened a lot to all Mike Varney virtuosos production in late eighties, early nienties...I think that period was one of the most interesting moment for players, at that time most of the talents that still runs the scene have borned.
Then I listen to all the classics of rock of course, and also to classica music as well.

Is this third volume the end of your trilogy ? If yes, what kind of projects do you plan in the future ?

Yes, this is definitely the last episode of the Genius Saga.
I have to tell you that some chances has happened lately in my musical career.
After 3 albums that I consider in a very special way and I really enjoyed working on , I left EMPTY TREMOR band some months ago, to concentrate on new musical adventures that I'm going to work on in 2007 with Frontiers and other labels as well.
It's been a difficult choice, but I had so many projects going on in my musical life lately and I just had to decide what to do, since I had no time for everything.
I felt my collaboration with Empty Tremor was arrived at the end and that was more interested in other musical plans, and I decided then to concentrate on my own music basically since I really like the writing process more the all the other aspects, and let the guys of Empty Tremor go on for their path...
best of luck to them!
For 2007 in fact, after the last Genius episode release in February, I have a new release titled 'The Music That Will Heal The World' planned for June by Lion Music.
It's the debut album of a new killer line up that I put together lately called TWINSPIRITS, that includes italian talents that has been working with me for some of my past production like Dario Ciccioni(Khymera), Tommy Ermolli(Khymera), the talented newcomer bass player Alberto Rigoni from Italy, and a killer and incredibly versatile singer from Denmark called Soren Adamsen.
With this line up I intend to continue the thread of my solo song writing similar to the Genius' style into a more band oriented stable line up situation, so that I can play my music more live finally....that's why the name of the band is TWINSPIRITS, which is one of the main character of the Genius Rock Opera (handled by Daniel Gildenlow).
Anyway, this new band is not a continuation of Genius' concept ,to be clear, the style is similar since I write and produce the songs , but it's a completely a new situation that has started and will record and play live albums in the future as a 'real band' oriented situation, and not only a studio project.
Also I have new instrumental album titled "The Cosmic Year" under the moniker of COSMICS scheduled for 2007 winter with Lion Music, with Virgil Donati on Drums, Tommy Ermolli at the guitars, and Rufus Philpot on bass, and I am already producing another KHYMERA album with Dennis Ward on vocals and same lineup basically, that is going to be released in the future by Frontiers records as usual...So as you can see I' like to keep me busy.

It must be very difficult to organise a tour for this kind of album. Am I right ? Or do you plan to tour with Genius ?

It will be of course difficult to create a show with all the original Genius guest singers, It would really be another dream come true for me!
Anyway I'm prepared to put togheter a reduced cast and a band and I'll definitely tour if the sales will be good enough to get the interest of the businnes in having Genius on stage....

Aren't you afraid that a CD containing 80 minutes of complex and electic music (progressive, speed, AOR ...) could be too much complex and annoying for the auditor ?

Well actually I had different responces about this issue, some consider the variety of styles as a strong point that could reach more fans and create more variation inside the music and the events of the story...some others that prefer one single style doesnt' thinks like this....well...I just wrote what I thought was necessary for developing the story and the concept of the events, so what you hear is what I had in my mind...I'ts very honest and sincere, with no commercial choices.

If you had to convince the french fans to buy this Vol.3, what would you tell them ?

I think that the performances alone of the singers worth the buying of the album, and then I think that one strong point to clearify is that the Genius rock opera needs to be listened for a while to get the real potential, it's not a single listening product in my opinion.

Thanks a lot for all your time and good luck for the promotion of Genius !

Thanks a lot to you for your time and support, Daniele Liverani!