An Interview with Misty Morning

Hi there guys, thanks for agreeing to this interview. Would you mind introducing yourselves and the band?

Luke: Hello Perfect Prog. Thanks for the coverage! I'm Luke, Misty Morning's voice and guitar. I'm also the lyricist and main composer of the band. MaxBax (bass and backing vocals) and rejetto (keyboards and electronics) will also answer some questions during this interview. Frankie Insulina was the former drummer in all of our albums but now he's friendly left the band pursuing his own sound tech project. He's still one of our best friends. We've got a brand new member at the drum: Rick Paladins. We're Misty Morning from Italy. Our music is rock oriented with many digressions into metal, doom, psych, prog but also folk and electronics. We define ourselves as heavy rock just because we can't find a better tag. Someone suggested us to call it "drool" but, I don't know why, this tag wasn't liked too much.

Tell me about the Misty Morning beginnings.

At the beginning, there were only Maxbax and me in my room playing Misties proto-songs. It was 1995. Then on 2007 a university colleague of mine, Frankie, joined the band and we could finally start this adventure. We were a doom-stoner band gigging around with our self-produced first EP "Martian Pope". The following year, we released a deluxe edition of "Martian Pope" on Doomanoid Records, a British label. Then we had the chance to perform in U.K. and Ireland. A couple of years later, we realised that we had been changing musical directions towards something more psychedelic. That was also when we gave up on tagging our music. On 2010, rejetto joined the band and we released our 12" red vinyl "Saint Shroom" on Doomanoid. Two sides to show what we were and what we'll be.

2014, "GA.GA.R.IN.". Our first full length without Doomanoid. Someone told us it's a proggish album. We're fine with that. Prog is what I've listened to for a long time. I couldn't say if it's prog as intended these days, but we made it in total freedom for sure :)

There isn’t really a radical difference in the music (from what I can hear) on the three releases you guys have made so far, so I’ll just ask what it was like recording them. What is the process like: do you guys just jam, do you perform based on a rigid structure?

Luke: You're right, there aren't radical differences, there isn't a violent shift to something "completely different". It's our choice. We wanted a progressive, gentle and hidden change to something new without losing our identity. Therefore, if you listen to the three albums carefully, you'll notice this progression to something more open-minded. Just to pick a couple of examples: you won't find electronic beats or folk guitars on "Martian Pope". We used them on "GA.GA.R.IN", though. I'm glad you didn't notice any differences in music, that means we've succeeded in the task to maintain our identity throughout the three albums.

As for the writing process, we follow this “protocol”: I give them the structure of the songs, riffs, vocal lines etc. It ain't a rigid structure, tough. They're very good with the arrangements. We jam and play a lot of times to arrange or adjust all the parts so we arrive really smoothly to the final result that could be very different from what I brought into the rehearsal room the first time. Following a "protocol" doesn't mean we don't jam, on the contrary we do it a lot and we record it. I have got a Hard disk full of our recorded jam sessions! Maybe we'll use'em in the future. In studio, we made a hybrid live recording. We'd have liked to record drums, bass and rhythm guitar together to get "ye olde" live feeling. Then we added keys, solos and vocals. That's the standard process we've used on the three albums, we're very happy with the results and I don't think we'll change it for future releases 'cause we love to work with Elefante Bianco recording studio's technicians. They know exactly how to satisfy all of our musical desires, they're great! Dude wait, we're so used to jam that I almost forgot it: actually the coda on our "Ballo in Fa# min." is completely impromptu in studio! Therefore, we don't have problems to break the schemes sometimes.

Are you satisfied with how “GA.GA.R.IN.” is received?

Luke: I'll be honest: not completely. When we released "GA.GA.R.IN" we were very enthusiast 'cause we thought we had made an album that could maintain our identity nevertheless it was a step forward in our musical progression as I've just said in the previous answer. Therefore, we thought we could satisfy both old and new fans. We were wrong. Lots of old fans haven't kept following us, maybe because we've changed too much, and new ones haven't started, maybe because we haven't had the chance to reach them yet. However, that's only a part of the story. On the other hand, we've had a very enthusiastic reception from prog scene and great reviews from open-minded journalists. So maybe we don't have to start from scratch but we just have to go further from this new interpretation of "GA.GA.R.IN." and keep on exploring new musical boundaries being ourselves and playing what we like without expectations.

Who does the album art? It’s very beautiful.

Luke: Thank you so much. Ver Eversum Art Lab did it. They and I have developed the concept and finally they painted this amazing piece of art. We spent a lot of time thinking about cover that wasn't so obviously related to Yuri Gagarin's face. I analysed the title track background story instead. A space mission to trigger human relations and intellectual rebirth. I worked around that. I imagined a mission logo full of alchemical and ancient symbolism for the front cover and the "first contact" for the inner sleeve. We'd also have liked a proper space station for the mission and Ver Eversum came out with the star trekstar warsnautilus shell form on the back cover. You can read the whole story in the liner notes of the booklet. We're really satisfied with the result! We worked together also for "Saint Shroom" album art cover. They seems to understand quite well my mind travels and can translate them on canvas. We, Misty Morning, think that artworks, lyrics and music have the same value and importance on a production. They're not only details but work together to set the imagery, messages and deepness of Misty Morning. They help the listeners to get fully immersed in our world, into the Misty Morning experience. That's what we'd like to recreate when we play live (if the venue allows us) using video projections and props. Images, words and music, that's how a show should be. Like the big acts of the seventies. We're quite proggish in this way.

Your song titles, in general, seem to be as sweeping and adventurous as your music and album art. I think it works well to set the mood. Is this intentional, or do you guys just throw random names on, based on what sounds cool.

Luke: I've always loved playing with words. I've always had this attraction and maybe that's why I became a linguist. Words choice has never been random. Actually, every word, both in the titles and in the lyrics, has been pondered. I spend lots of time on lyrics, choosing a single word rather than another and sometimes I throw entire lyrics away just because I know that there has to be a better way to say something or because there is a topic which deserves more attention. I also like filling the lyrics with symbols, hidden messages and references taken from literature, culture, art, science and everything that could attract and inspire me. Always intentionally. Misty Morning lyrics are some sort of webs that listeners could try to decode to discover the inner messages. Obviously, listeners don't have to and can just follow the flow of the stories and think how cool the words sound.

How do you describe the music you create?

Luke: Describing our music with a category is not easy, 'cause we don't fit quite well in a precise subcategory and using a general one is too vague to get the idea. I said "heavy rock" suits quite well but if I could explain better, I'd prefer to describe it as a rock oriented music hugely contaminated by a wide variety of other genres and subgenres without limitations. It could be defined as Prog in its original form. Therefore, we don't spare any weirdness but we're also focused on melody, the most difficult thing to build on but also the most satisfactory. So you could find heavy riffage or martial rhythm in our music but the quest for melody remains one of our priorities. Quite proggish, isn't it?

I'd like to quote rejetto who said in an interview: "our music is genuine, we'd hate to sound like a cover band.

We also want every song to be peculiar, not just a variation exercise."

It's really a quite accurate description. If I might say, we see rock as the canvas where we add different layers, colours and styles to try getting unique works. So we started as a doom stoner band, then we were defined as "doom'n'roll" but now we are "this". No premeditation, just natural progression. And you know what?! During the last rehearsals, I've felt that the process won't stop here.

What sort of music are you guys into, what influences you all? Don’t spare us any details!

MaxBax: My basic influences come from hard rock music, especially from the 70s. I remember the first album I’ve listened to was Europe's The Final Countdown and the first album I’ve bought was Innuendo from Queen! Then Pink Floyd, Black Sabbath, Ac/Dc, Iron Maiden and millions of other bands. Now I listen to a lot of music from many different genres. If the music is similar to my moods or a band hits me and lights my interest...then it's good music to me. It doesn't matter if it’s from pop music or heavy metal or prog or blah blah blah...I can say that this does not happen with music as hip hop, reggae, ska and maybe some other musical styles that now I don't remember.

Rejetto: I started with classics of metal and I still listen to them a lot. Since I was 17, I've been totally into avant-garde like Mr Bungle, Secretc Chiefs 3, Zappa, Kōenji Hyakkei, so necessarily also prog bands like King Crimson, Magma, Aksak Maboul. But I like rock in general when it sounds very personal, like Shellac, Motorpsycho, Swans. Include electronic, early Jarre, Kraftwerk, early Das Ich, Blectum From Blechdom. I have a good collection of folk music from around the world, Mongolian, Ethiopian, Indian. And Bach and Beethoven, but this list is going way too long.

Luke: As you can see, each of us has different musical tastes. As for me, I've changed a lot of times during the years. I’ve been into Queen, gone crazy for thrash, death and black metal but also power and heavy metal. Then, when I thought seriously to form a band, Cathedral was my favourite. Calling me a huge fan was an euphemism. During that period, I was into Type O Negative too. When we started playing doom-stoner, I listened to Sleep and lots of small underground acts. However, my recent years' soundtrack is completely different! At first The Beatles have opened my mind and then Mastodon's "Crack the Skye" has led my musical tastes to discover the world of Prog (what a weird link!). I went crazy for Rush, Genesis and King Crimson. Every day I discover and love Prog classics such as Yes, Gentle Giant or the hundreds of Rock Progressivo Italiano’s bands, Area among others. However, I’ve just opened the Pandora’s box and I won’t stop here.

Now, I’m completely into Steven Wilson and all the new wave of more or less famous Prog bands like Between the Buried and Me, Leprous, Bigelf and more. Nevertheless, I don’t have problems to admit that I appreciate some pop and rock bands like Foo Fighters and Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds.

I'd like to wrap up with the weirdest band on my favourites: Tokusatsu or better 特撮! A Japanese band that I've been into for a long time! Got all of their cds/dvds and their singer, Otsuki Kenji, is great!

Does Misty Morning have a new album planned for the near future?

Luke: Yep, we're working on a new EP we're going to release before the end of this year. With the new drummer, we can keep exploring new borders of music. We've just added an extreme metal blast beat with growling parts on a new songs but another one is a very intimate ballad with clean singing, just saying. So we're continuing to widen our limits and having lots of fun! I can't say too much about the new album but it's about a very famous Japanese theme. We've already left some clues around our websites and I think that trained eyes have already understood what it is all about. I can say that it's not a theme easily associated with rock or metal. It's a theme with a very fundamentalist fandom, including ourselves. So it's really challenging 'cause we're on the risk threshold of disappointing both Misties and "new album's theme"’s fans (lol). Of course, with a risky theme we're also pushing to the Misties musical limits: we love the challenges!

What does the future look like in general for the band? Any tours?

Luke: No tour planned but we'd love to! Just occasional gigs in Italy. We're working on the new EP so after that release, we'll be fully concentrated on planning "GA.GA.R.IN." and new one’s promotional tour. We're ready to leave to any countries in the world! So bands and venues, if you're interested, get in touch :)

What sort of equipment do you guys use to play live and in the studio?

Luke: In studio we've always recorded with ye olde gear. I love Gibson and old Epiphone (when it was top class) guitars. In particular I've got an old Epiphone SG that our technicians love! It has a very fat low-end sound that it's perfect for rhythm sections. No distortion pedals, we spend a lot of time in studio merging Marshall and Mesa Boogie amplifiers' sounds to get the distortion we like instead. As for the Fxs, I use a MXR phase90mod, DDelay 7 and a Space Echo. Finally a Dime Wah pedal and an EA Double Muff for the big occasions. Same pedal board at the gigs but through a Marshall JCM800 head. I'd like to spend a word about D-tuned strings from the Italian company gallistrings: they're amazing, best strings I've ever played in 20 years!

MaxBax: In our first albums (Pope and Shroom) I played a Gibson EB0 bass, while in “GA.GA.R.IN.” I played a handmade bass we used to call “Tezenis”. Now I've changed again. Currently I play an Epiphone Thunderbird Classic IV Pro alpine white with Gibson TB humbuckers. My pedalboard is almost entirely made-up of guitar effects, except for a Dunlop cry baby bass pedal. Other pedals are: Electro Harmonix little Big Muff pedal - T Rex Moller overdrive/boost pedal - Marshall RG1 Regenerator - Modtone vintage analog delay and of course, TC electronics polytune tuner pedal.

Rejetto: I currently use an m-audio axiom 61 attached to a laptop running Reaper and a bunch of free VST.

I think I’m about done with my questions: is there anything you guys would like to add?

Luke: First of all, I’d like to thank you for this interview and the readers who have read so far. Then I’d like to thank all the people who spent some time to listen to our works. We are very happy to see people interested in our music, that's the most important thing for us. We’d like to say to people who like our albums that to make them we spent all the money we could. Actually every album costs for us thousands euros and to be honest, what we spend is always more than what we earn. We don't expect to earn a living from this, but please help us to pay the costs. If you like it and also have the chance, consider supporting us. How? Well, you could simply buy our music, but if you have better ideas let us know. :)

To conclude, I must ask: is Misty Morning a fan of dogs?

Luke: What?!? Maybe I got ya! I've just goggled "misty morning dogs" and a "misty morning kennel" facebook page popped up! Anyway, I love dogs but I prefer cats, they're more independent. But please don't tell me about homonyms, we still have some issues with a reggae band that had the brilliant idea to add a "the" before "misty morning". Results: total mess with social networks and digital downloads. And if you're thinking about it: No, I'm not a fan of Bob Marley!

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