Soul Secret was founded in 2004 thanks to Lucio Grilli (bass guitar), Antonio Mocerino (drums) and Antonio Vittozzi (guitar) and one year later the band recorded a demo called “Never Care About Tomorrow”. Over the following years there were a couple of personnel changes until the band reached a musical balance with the addition of Luca Di Gennaro (keyboards) and Michele Serpico (vocals). The band started writing songs together and so “Flowing Portraits”, their debut album was born. The mastering was done by Karl Groom (Threshold) and the vocals were recorded by ex-Mind Key singer Mark Basile due to illness of Michele Serpico. So, let’s see what Lucio, the bass player has got to say….
Lucio, could you please tell something about the history of Soul Secret so far?
“Yes, of course. The band was founded in the summer of 2004 when my friend Antonio Vittozzi – we had already played in another band together – and I decided to begin a musical adventure, starting from searching the missing elements and playing some progressive covers. Early on we felt the need to express ourselves through our own music even with a different line up. Because we have had already lots of musicians before finally arriving with our actual line up. In 2005 we recorded a home made demo which contains a rough version of “Inner War” and an unreleased song called “Eternal Lights”. All this happened before Luca Di Gennaro joined the band. When he became a member of the band we had already started to arrange some ideas for what should be the debut album. With his friendship and musical collaboration everything was much easier, and in the course of a year we finished to compose `Flowing Portraits`. The recording sessions for that CD started in Napoli in April 2007 and they were completed in July of that same year. The rest is history, ha..ha…”
`Flowing Portraits` is the name of your debut album, could you elaborate on that title a bit, please?
“We have chosen that title for our debut album to create a parallelism between the lyrics and the album title. In fact the lyrics on this album have been run off as images in continuous motion. We also had other ideas, but this convinced us all. When I proposed the title I shouted: “This is definitely the right title, I have finally found it!”.
So, lyrics are important for Soul Secret, who writes them and what are they about then?
“All the lyrics on our debut CD have been written by our singer Michele Serpico. Together with him we have improved and sometimes personalized the lyrics when someone of us felt to be more involved in a particular text. We are dealing with fantastic settings, almost dreamy atmospheres. We thought that it was the right thing for this album set against the concreteness of the music. So something more introspective and less obvious in the lyrics.”
You mentioned the singer Michele Serpico, but ex-Mind Key singer did the vocal parts on the album. So who is the lead singer of Soul Secret nowadays?
“Mark Basile is not our lead singer, after recording the album we took different paths. Every vocal arrangement on the album was composed by Michele but due to health problems just before the recording sessions he could not sing on “Flowing Portraits”. Mark however has done a great job and we wish him the best for the future.”
How are the songs written within the band?
“Well, there is not a precise method on how we write the tracks. Usually one of us has got a basic idea and proposes it to the other guys in the band. Then we try to arrange and develop this idea by improvising and rehearsing it till everybody likes it. The funniest thing is agreeing 4 different guys to conceive an idea for a song, but this is also one of the beauties of playing in a band. However, most ideas come from Antonio Vittozzi and Luca and then the rhythm section try to complete the work.”
What are your musical influences, if you have any of course….
“Well, I love listening to music; it is my favourite thing to do. Every moment during the day I try to listen to music. I like AOR, seventies and eighties hard rock and rock, but I also listen to heavy and progressive metal. Sometimes I listen to fusion, piano music and Italian songwriters. I think that everything I listen to contributes to enhance my musical background. A radical change in my way of conceiving music was about 12 years ago when I listened to Toto’s “Hold The Line” for the first time. I was totally struck by that song! This had nothing to do with the disgusting music I had always listened to, ha ha…. Ever since I started playing the bass guitar and my life changed. Since then bands like Toto, Queen, Metallic and Dream Theater have become my biggest inspiration.”
Speaking of DT, if a critic would say that Soul Secret sounds too much like Dream Theater, would you regard that as a compliment, or not?
“I think that progressive metal bands always have something of DT and other great bands of that genre, especially when you are a young band. When years pass and when the right dose of experience comes along every band develops their own style. DT has influenced entire generations of musicians with its innovative way of making music and us too, of course, there is no denying there. However, we have tried to be ourselves as much as possible. But the music we have listened to in the past has influenced us but I do not completely agree with the fact that we sound like DT. We obviously would take the positive side of the comparison and there is nothing simpler than labelling a band as a DT clone, but I think that every band has its own style, so…”
Whose idea was it to start the song “Tears Of Kalliroe” with that long orchestral overture?
“When we started to compose that song we wanted to close the album in the best possible way, but we did not realise that the song lasted more than 17 minutes!! The idea of an orchestral overture came from Luca and was supported by the rest of the band because there are many themes in the songs and we considered it the right thing to do to start with this orchestral introduction of the song. At the beginning we were quite doubtful about this song, we thought it could be boring because of its length, but now we are very happy to know that many prog lovers love this song.”
Then, on the other hand there is the rather boring acoustic track “Regrets”, or do you disagree with me on that one?
“I firmly disagree, ha ha… I think “Regrets” is the right song at the right place. I love this song; it is a ballad with a very particular meaning for me. Every time I listen to it, it gives me something new. Obviously, it is far from the metal setting of the rest of the album, but it is beautiful for this too, it breaks the flow for some minutes before returning to the last epic song. So, you think it is boring??”
Yes, but I do not like acoustic songs at all!! How did you come into contact with Karl Groom (Threshold) and how big was his influence on the album?
“Well, after the end of the recording sessions we needed someone to master the album. Thanks to our manager Davide (Guidone, MK) we came into contact with Karl Groom at the end of 2007. We of course knew his work with Arena, Pendragon and Threshold and we thought that he was the right man for the job. His presence on “Flowing Portraits” has improved the album and we’ve to thank Karl for his great work and for his professionalism. We hope to team up with him more often in the future.”
You signed a contract with Prog Rock Records, how did that happen?
“When “Flowing Portraits” was definitely completed we began a precious collaboration with Davide Guidone who became our manager. Together with him we decided to send promo copies of our album to some labels. We were extremely happy when we found out that Prog Rock Records were interested in us. We would like to thank Shawn Gordon for this great opportunity and we hope that we can repay his trust.”
What are the ambitions of Soul Secret?
“We are scheduling a tour at this moment together with our manager Davide. But at the same time we are working on new material and 2 songs of the new album are already completed. “Flowing Portraits” is only the beginning for us, we have lots of new and fresh ideas for new songs and we want to play live for an audience. Let’s hope that all goes well, stay tuned and thanks for the interview!”
Interview by Martien Koolen,
(c) 2008 RockUnited.Com, 31 May