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MISTHERIA: "Dragon Fire"
MISTHERIA is the name of the rather mysterious classical trained pianist, keyboardist, keytarist, organist (he sure likes his ivory and ebony) and composer of bombastic heavy metal. The Italy/Italian born musician lives in Zagreb/Croatia nowadays and he's been working with the likes of Bruce Dickinson, Neil Zaza and Rob Rock in the past. "Dragon Fire" is his brand new all star cast album in the neo-classical metal genre and release by LionMusic. The CD features the following lead vocalists comprise of John West (Artension/Royal Hunt), Rob Rock (Impellitteri/Solo), Mark Boals (ex Malmsteen/Ring Of Fire/Royal Hunt), Lance King (Balance Of Power) and Titta Tani (ex Astra /Ashent). Quite a pack and we had a quick chat with the man about "Dragon Fire". Here's, Mr. MISTHERIA...
How has the reaction to your latest CD been?
Very good! Song writing and production are really appreciated. Songs are heavy with prog elements, melodic and captivating.
How long did this CD take to make from start to finish, recording-wise?
I started song writing on January 2009, only one song was already written (December 2006, demo version without lyrics), including recordings, mixing and mastering, I completed the album in the day I sent the master to Lion Music, July 13 2010. "Dragon Fire" has been engineered and produced at my "Dragon Cave" studio (Luco, Italy) and at 'Hit Produkcija' Music Production Studios (Zagreb, Croatia) that I own with my girlfriend Ivana Greguric.
What kind of 'sound', production wise, did you have in the back of your mind, prior to entering the studio?
I didn't plan to produce the album by myself, but I knew exactly the 'kind of sound' to achieve. No matter who would have produced "Dragon Fire", the result to be achieved had to be necessarily the one I wanted: powerful and 'in-the-face' Drums; clean, defined, deep-big Bass; natural, straight and warm Vocals, heavy, strong and 'well embedded' Guitars; essential keyboard sounds, full choirs and orchestra, aggressive Hammond and natural Piano.
What kind of input did the producer have during the process?
I produced the album, including editing, mixing and mastering. Thus, I just needed to match the sound playing in my mind with the sound playing from the speakers in the studio. Easy! ;)
And are you pleased with the final outcome? (sound - production wise)
Absolutely yes! "Dragon Fire" sounds like I expected and even better than I thought.
Did the producer (you) use any (weird) experimental miking and/or recording techniques?
Nothing more than standard miking and recording techniques. The most important elements to reach excellent results are: amazing musicians, professional instruments and gear, high-quality miking and recordings, good audio and acoustic knowledge. Fortunately, I could collect all of those elements working with a fantastic team: Rudy Albert at 'Ninth Ring Studios' (New York, USA); Lonnie Park at Park Audio Lab (Dryden, NY, USA) and Ultimate Music (Cortland, NY, USA); Sean Shannon at RedRoom Audio (Orlando, FL, USA); Downtown Sound Studios (Los Angeles, CA USA); Nightmare Records Studios (St. Paul, MN, USA); Bellas Music Studios (IL, USA); The Audio Kitchen (Akron, Ohio, USA); Simon Hammer at High and Low Music (Switzerland).
How did you go on about capturing your 'live sound' in the studio, or perhaps you didn't?
As usually in the Metal, recordings are done track-by-track, therefore the 'live sound' concerns mainly the drums recording sessions. John Macaluso's performance has been recorded at 'Ninth Ring Studios' (New York, USA) engineered by Rudy Albert. Rudy used five overheads to capture the drum set and room sounds. Guitarists used for the most a close mic technique. Generally, in the Metal I don't like so much the 'room' sound, I prefer direct, clean and high-impact sound. Then, I can add reverb tails and create ambiences using the superb CSR Reverbs by IK Multimedia.
Please inform us about your favourite songs and lyrical highlights and why?
The title-track "Dragon Fire" is a song which I've completely written (music, lyrics, melodies) thus represents the album, my sound and which my vision of a Metal album is. Of course, all thirteen tracks are my favorites for different reasons. Singers (John West, Rob Rock, Mark Boals, Titta Tani, Lance King) all did an awesome job regarding lyrics writing. Each song has a proper meaning and atmosphere and I love all of them.
Any overall theme of mood that you're trying to capture while writing songs?
The mood comes from a special moment which gives a sound to my emotions. I never start song writing with lyrics, always with an atmosphere and a concept that I feel and I want to reproduce through sounds and harmonies.
Does your vision for coming up with music get affected at all by time?
Above I mentioned the 'special moment'. This is the right time for me to sit at the Piano and let all my emotions run through my fingers. If I need to think which harmonies and notes put together, it means that is better I do something else? when I just sit and play, without neither having the time to write down what I'm playing, it means that the inspiration is fully loaded and ready to become a song.
Did the record company interfere with anything on your "sound" and songs?
Regarding the song writing, Lion Music likes what I write giving me artistic freedom to go for my real inspiration. This is really important for me. As for the 'sound', if it reflects the company's expectations and standards, I don't have interferences, although some useful suggestions can come, as happened in the last producing steps concerning the final album sound. When the same person, as in my case, writes, records, mix and master the album, at the end ears can lose little bit of focus and neutrality, so a couple of 'fresh ears' are really welcome! :) Thanks to Lars Eric Mattsson and Andy Craven at Lion Music.
Are there any 'crazy' behind the scenes anecdotes from these sessions that you can share with us?
For sure, John Macaluso's approach has been (as always) "crazy" enough: first, he didn't want to get demoed songs for practicing too long time in advance (!), then he entered the studio and recorded whole album in one day? One day! And, honestly, songs are not so easy to memorize and play, but John Mac can do it, he's an incredible "alien" drummer! Also, Alberto Rigoni's job has been similar. He joined 'Dragon Fire' lineup the last, just before to start the mixing sessions ... panic! Well, he recorded a song after another without breathing space! After a few days when he finished, he told that he could not remember neither one song title, neither one song that he recorded (perfectly recorded, I want to point up!). Another funny little anecdote: with Neil Zaza we worked on his guitar parts through Skype ? :)
How would you describe the sound of your new CD to any potential new fan?
"Dragon Fire" is a powerful, direct and melodic Heavy Metal album with Prog and Classical elements, it features stunning musicians and represents the Mistheria's music knowledge and experience up-to-date. Please, let me mention all of them for the top-quality job they did: John West, Rob Rock, Mark Boals, Titta Tani, Lance King (vocals), George Bellas, Roger Staffelbach, Emir Hot, Neil Zaza (guitars). Alberto Rigoni (bass), John Macaluso (drums). Ivana Greguric (Croatian song writer and keyboardist) wrote a great heavy song for the album (The Beast).
Who are your influences and heroes? (music-wise)
My music knowledge is based on Classic music which I studied since I was seven. I graduated at Italian Music Conservatory as Organist and Composer. My "true heroes" are timeless genius: J. S. Bach, F. Chopin, L. V. Beethoven, F. Liszt, A. Vivaldi. They've forged my song writing and playing. Their masterpieces are the summa of Music, nothing better can be written, nevermore!
If there's anything you'd like to add, say, please do:
Thanks to RockUnited.com for this interview. I wish all RU.com readers will enjoy my new album "Dragon Fire" that has been made: All In The Name Of Rock!
Interview by: Urban "Wally" Wallstrom,