Mindkey, one of the best Italian prog metal of this moment, will be playing in The Netherlands soon. As their debut album was released a year ago I have a talk with keyboard player Dario De Cicco about the momentarily situation of the band and their upcoming live gigs. (29 September – Total Music Schiedam and 30 September Prog Power, Baarlo, both in The Netherlands)

Martien: What have you been doing the last few months?

Hi Martien. Well, the last few months were very busy. We have done a lot of gigs in south Italy and we finally have entered the studio for the pre-production of our second album. We have recorded some stuff: 5-6 tracks are arranged and recorded for a training session, but we have more than ¾ of a full-length album at the moment.

Martien: The debut album is now one year old, how do you reflect upon it now?

After a year of reviews & gigs, we are still satisfied about the album. The crowd at our live shows was always enthusiastic about our songs and we’ll never stop to thank our “fans”. You are amazing guys.

Martien: What was good, what did you like especially and what could have been better done?

I think there are some songs that really sound “fresh”, really cool like “Deep Inside”, “Love Remains the Same”, “Secret Dream” and “Lord of the Flies”. But I also think that songs like “Memory Calling” and “World of Illusion” are too “old style” for the actual Mind Key of Mind Key. I think as well that “Journey…” mixing and mastering could have done better than the final result. But I’m really sure that we’ll solve those problems for next album.

Martien: How did you deal with all the great reviews you got all over the world.

Well, it’s difficult for us to answer….I only can say that we are so happy that our work was appreciated by people and musical critics all over the world. However, if I have to answer, I say…Yes, we agree…Ha, Ha, Ha!!!

Martien: Did you expect this and by the way were there also bad reviews and how did you feel about those?

We were satisfied about our work, but not too much to expect this enthusiasm. About bad reviews I think that’s right to think differently, but it often happened that bad critics about “Journey…” were some useless argument. Certainly someone can dislike our work, but we shall be happy if they don’t give us only some sterile words….But it usually happened.

Martien: Have you been working on new material already, if so could you tell something about that, what can we expect?

As I told you before, We have 5-6 tracks arranged and recorded for a training session, but we have more than ¾ of a full-length album at the moment. It’s more different stuff than our first album. We are so enthusiastic. We are defining our trademarks. The tracks sound more “Mind Key” than the past…New tracks contain many influences without losing original roots. But I’m sure that our new album will make us maturer.

Martien: Are the band members still the same, no changes?

So and so. As I think you know, Mark Basile is out of the band for musical matters. We still are good friends but all of us wish to change our musical future. He’s a great singer and he’s carrying on to sing in a rock band in the genre of Nickelback, The Rasmus etc. We have done the “Tour of a Rough Diamond” with another great singer named Aurelio Fierro jr. He’s a session man that we found in Naples seeking in some pubs. But we are not sure that he will be our new singer. Aurelio still is a session-singer and we have heard a young boy very strong that really rocked us. Time will tell... We'll inform the fans very soon.

Martien: How did the live gigs go, tell something about the best and the worst gig, please.

Surely The best gig was the concert in the role of Supporting Act of Dream Theater in last Italian Summer Tour. It has been a dream came true for us. Dream Theater is the band that pushed thousands and us bands to play this music. The gig was really great, the crowd asked us many autographs and photos and it was also an honour for us to know “those majesties” Dream Theater. It was one of happiest moment of our life.

Martien: Was Frontiers Records happy with the sales of the debut album? Were you?

They are really surprised about the results of selling. We are happy too, but maybe we expect something more about their distribution. Many people have written me to ask where they could found our album. Especially in Italy. Maybe something has to do better.

Martien: Could you tell something about the name of the band?

With the name Mind Key, we mean that all depends on the people’s mind and all the decisions are due to the choices that we are used to take in the every day life. The Key explains this idea, like a light inside us, a way out in the ocean of life. And if you noticed, this fact is quoted in the last song of “Journey..”, “Waiting For The Answer”. The name of the album, instead, is even more autobiographic and would represent our purpose to start an exciting trip in the music industry. At least, we hope it will be exciting!

Martien: How is the Italian progressive rock scene at the moment?

The prog-metal Market was becoming “overcrowded”…And in Italy too.This is the bad side of Prog Metal.”Images & Words” is not only the masterwork of a great BAND, but a kind of sickness too.Too many bands were influenced by that album. This fact isn’t good for our genre because most of those are not so good. I think there are a lot of great bands which had given a great contribution to take Prog Metal higher and higher.... Fortunately, bands like Vanden Plas, Threshold, Symphony X, Pain of Salvation are the “Nobility” of this genre. They had influenced our music, of course! But Also Pagan’s Mind and Evergrey. In Italy the band that I prefer are Vision Divine & Eldritch.

Martien: What can the Dutch fans expect on the Prog power festival?

A great rock show, I hope. We introduce also some new songs from our upcoming album. Two of those we are usually playing live since two months. This songs are called “Eye of a Stranger” and “Now Until forever”, but we’ll play also other new tracks in Holland. We hope that you like that.

Martien: How do you feel about the fact that still lots of people call you the Italian Dream Theater?

Really?! It always an honour to be put near genius like Dream Theater, but we hope to that Mind Key will be remembered as soon as possible like Mind Key, not like Italian Dreamers…But as I told before, we are really proud about that!

Martien: Any last words/comments for the Dutch fans?

You are great guys. Holland is the country where Mind Key has more respected and we are so proud. Dutch fans often write me and give us a lot of congratulations. We love you. We are ready to play rock in your great nation. We’ll also play at Prog Power Festival and also a full time show (2 hour) at Total Music in Schiedam (near Rotterdam); our European Tour will begin the last week of September touching German, Holland, Austria, maybe Switzerland and, of course, Italy. See you soon on stage.

Martien: I am really looking forward to see/hear you play live in Holland, till then and thanks for the answers.

Thank you Martien for this very interesting interview. See you in Holland. Stay metal!! Cheers.

by Martien Koolen
(c) 2005 www.rockunited.com