An Interview with Ufomammut
Malleus Rock Art Lab have been exploring the soul of the visual arts since a decade now and Supernatural Cat Records have been spreading hyper-heavy psyched out tunes for the same period. Recently, the core of those two art-entities, the mighty Ufomammut, released the first part of their magnus opus, ORO, entittled Opus Primum and since we're midway before the second part Opus Alter being released, I thought it would be really interesting to contact the band for a bit more info on their art projects and have a glimpse in their forthcoming future plans.
Greetings! First of all, congratulations for the magnificent ORO: Opus Primum, which made the high anticipation for the second part of the album, ORO: Opus Alter, even more intense. Are you satisfied with the reception it received from fans and music press alike?
Thanks a lot. We're very happy about the first part and the reaction of people. We were a little worried about splitting the record in 2 parts, but now We're 100% sure it's been a great idea.
As already stated above, ORO is going to have a dual status and although, I suppose this happened because of the total running time of it, I think it's a bit of a risky move, because the two parts of the album are going to be released with several months in between them and given that the main musical ideas were already presented in its first part are you worried that the thrill of the second part might be a little lessen by this? What helped you in making this decision?
We decided to split it because of its length and because we are not fans of double albums. You never focus on the entire work. Considering Oro is musically various (as You'll notice once You'll listen to part 2) we thought it could be good to give time to elaborate the first half and then to have the second to complete it and listen to it in its entirety.
Your previous album, Eve, was a one song album splitted in five parts. Your new offering is one album split in two parts. Are there any similarities in the writing process of these two albums and how did you decide to split the parts of ORO the way you did?
We worked in a different way, this time we started with the idea of doing something that had to be totally different from Eve and we developed an idea of dynamics and layers. Then we worked on it little by little and we focused on 10 main movements. Once the album was ready we decided to split it in 2 parts of 5 movements each. And they're quite different even if linked by a main theme.
I believe that the sinister atmosphere of Eve was teasing my sentiments whenever I was listening to it and now, I believe that the first part of ORO is disturbing my mind every time I listen to it. So, was it your intention to create that kind of atmospheres or it just happened naturally? And what's going to happen on Opus Alter? Shall I prepare myself to listen to it while waiting in the hall of a mental institution or something like that, just in case?
Our music comes naturally from our minds, probably there's a problem? :-)
The musicianship of Oro: Opus Primum is quiet dense, but most of its tunes are based on repetition. How do you guys manage to drone without being tedious? Is this because you built parts on other parts or this is just a result out of jamming?
We like to grow little by little, to play the same riff and make it change, layering it till it cannot become bigger anymore. It's difficult to answer to these questions cause everything comes easily for us, I mean, there's not a rule to follow.
How much do you add to a song after it's frame is finalised? There are many extra sounds and lots of noise in your music and I was wondering how much of it do you layer afterwards and is this something planned beforehand or not?
Again, not a rule. We add till we think it's done. Some are fat songs (full of fx and sounds), some are more empty.
It's the third consecutive time that you record together with Lorenzo Stecconi and I suppose you're pleased with his work. How much does he effect the final shape of your sound?
Lorenzo is a friend, first of all. And this is the most important thing cause it helps a lot. He has a lot of suggestions and he's very very present in the recording sessions. We can say he's an element in the band. And we are lucky to have another guy with us since about 10 years. He's a sonic terrorist an he's our sound engineer Ciccio.
How was the recording process of ORO: Opus Primum in general? Are you totally satisfied with it or if given the chance, you'd make any changes on the final result? Is Opus Alter also recorded or not yet? If not, what's left to be done in order for it to take it's final shape?
We recorded all together, cause as we said Oro is a single track. And we're very happy with the final result.
Is there anything you might want to share with the public regarding Opus Alter's progress? Is everything going according to your timeline or are there any conflicts in it?
Just wait some months. Think about when we play live and we keep a feedback before starting again to play. This is the same thing. Just a little longer...
Is there any specific concept behind ORO? I'm asking because its stunning artwork is full of small details. Are there any hidden messages in it? For example, just to name a few of what I noticed in it, why is the letter R in the word ORO, double and why there are four eyes in the face of the lady in it?
Oro is full of symbols and meanings: it means gold in italian, it's a palyndrome word, OR means “pray” in hebrew too. The main theme is inspired by alchemy and the search for philosopher stone and the eyes of the lady are opening to see the Truth. We could go on in explaining all the different sides of the concept, but the last thing we want to say is that it deals with the path of knowledge...Every listener can give its own personal meaning.
Speaking of the once again absolutely great artwork that complements perfectly your music and considering that in our days more and more people are listening to music through digital formats, how hard was the decision for you to put so much talent and energy in making it so special? Don't get me wrong here, I firmly believe that the artwork (and lyrics) are -almost- equally important to an album as the music it contains, but I think I don't represent the majority. So, what's your point of view on this?
We totally agree with you. At least we could establish a small fanclub of artwork :-) We have great respect for music and his true fans, like if it was a religion. Visual side has always been a natural and essential choice for representing to our idea of music. If someone thinks that this is not related to music, we don't care at all.
What's your opinion in the digital formats of music? I know we're in the 21st century and this is somewhat a logical continuation, but with the rise of internet, more music was/is discovered and not always in legal ways. So, does this help the music industry & the musicians especially or the harm it does is bigger than the help it offers in your opinion?
The free flowing of music through the net is useful and important: you can easily listen to music coming from everywhere. We know, there is too much crap around, but if you discover some gems, well...you want to know more. True listeners want to physically touch the music. They want the cd or , better, the vynil. It's a ritual. And they want to go to a concert too, like a mass.
Your visual alter ego, if I may call it like this, Malleus Rock Art Lab, are responsible for the visual aspects of Ufomammut, but also creates posters and artwork for other artists and I'd like to know what's harder, to create the artwork for your own music or for other artists, and why? Also, are there any specific terms regarding the choice of the artists you work for/and with? I'm asking this because as far as I know, Malleus works on film's posters and also for non metal or heavy music related, artists.
As Ufomammut we like to explore our extremes. So we like heavy music, but not only. As Malleus, we are very open minded and we are interested in the “soul” of the music. we don't care about the genre. And we have different interests: we always put the same effort in creating for Ufomammut, for other musicians, for a book, for a movie.
What is the process of Ufomammut's artwork making? I know that Poia and Urlo are also the two thirds of Ufomammut and Malleus and so I was wondering what's Vita's effect on the artwork and also, how big is Lu's effect in Ufomammut given that she's the one to blame for the astonishing visual aspect of the band? Would it be safe to state that she's the unofficial fourth member of the band?
Yes, that's true: we can easily say that visuals Lu creates for Ufomammut, are fundamental for describing music soundscapes. As we said, we'd like to add to the list of band members Ciccio, our live soundlord and Lorenzo, responsible for our sound on the records.
Ufomammut was given birth back in 1999 and if I'm not mistaken Malleus was born a couple of years later. How strong are the bonds of their relationship and if sometime in the (very far, I hope) future, one of those entities seize to exist, the other one will continue to live or not?
Both born from Poia and Urlo that are 2/3 of them. They came out naturally, evolving from the common interests of these entities and music is the main link. They're our lives, so hopefully they'll last enough...
What are the main sources of inspiration for Malleus and what are the main musical influences of Ufomammut?
A lot and coming from so many different fields and situation it could get too long...
How would you guys describe your music to someone who had never before listened not even a single tune of yours?
Don't know... Better to listen... We think that psych acid hard heavy sludge punk rock could work, but not sure...
Is the music you create and the music of the bands that belong to Supernatural Cat roster the music you enjoy listening the most? If not, what do you enjoy to listen to? Do you have any guilty musical pleasure that you might want to unbosom?
We've different tastes in music and some main bands in common, from the Beatles to Pink Floyd, Black Sabbath and Led Zeppelin and so on... Then Vita is an old school metal head while Poia and Urlo listen to different things from folk to metal to country and so on...
Now that Supernatural Cat Records is mentioned, can you tell us a bit more about it? What was the main reason that you created a record label and given by the small and purely Italic roster of it, is this label a matter of friends or are you interested in cooperating with other bands also? If yes, what's your criteria of choice?
Malleus created S.C. to help Ufomammut in producing its own music. Then, during the years, we started in finding out some very cool and original bands like Morkobot, Lento, ICO and Ovo we'd loved to produce and help a little to come out. A band has to be filled by soul, hey need to give us something and it's difficult to explain in words.
I'm sorry for this, because although this interview is mainly about Ufomammut, I can not resist to ask you about the project in which Urlo and Poia are participating. I'm talking about Farwest Zombee. Shall we expect something from them in the near future? If yes, would you be kind enough to share some details about this really interesting project and its works?
FWZ is a project born from Urlo in the last years and it involves Poia of Ufomammut, Lorenzer and Fede of Lento and Stefano of the mighty I.C.O. All the tracks are recorded, just need to find the time to mix and master. Maybe we'll see some other guys involved and hopefully it'll come out before the end of 2012.
Back to Ufomammut now, all of the band's albums were released by Supernatural Cat and so is going to be the lp version of ORO, although that the album's going to be released by Neurot Recordings also. Can you please tell us a bit more about this collaboration? How did it all started?
We just enlarged our families. We have similar ideas, attitudes and tastes. So when Steve kept in touch, everything came naturally.
Did this interplay had any effect in your art generally? Are you satisfied with the job of Neurot Recordings regarding ORO and is there any contract in force between you two for more albums?
Totally happy, we couldn't ask for more. Future... Don't like to think about it, present is already quite complicated.
There were a mini tour promoting ORO last April and as far as I know there are a few shows already confirmed in Europe for the coming summer. Shall we expect an extensive tour before the release of Opus Alter? And is there any chance of enjoying you playing live in my homeland, Greece, sometime in the coming months?
At the moment we are trying to move around northern Europe for the next October, just after the release of Opus Alter. We cannot say more than this, but we'll obviously like to play in Greece. Hope this will be possible soon.
Speaking of Greece, I suppose you know about the financial crisis and as far as I know, Italy is having some serious problems also. What do you think of this? Do you believe it's something that can be solved if sanity prevails or is another hint that the scheduled for the coming December, end of the world, is approaching?
End of the world, we don't believe to it. Maybe end of a certain way of playing with virtual money. Mankind will survive to the bank dictatorship...
And back to music. Are you familiar with any of the bands of the growing greek heavy scene and do you have any good recommendations from the Italian heavy music scene that we should check out?
We don't know too much about greek heavy scene, just tell us some names. We will do the same with some italian bands like Incoming Cerebral Overdrive, Morkobot and Ovo. :-)
Do you prefer playing live in small dark venues where your visuals can really add something to the whole experience or you enjoy the most playing in the big arenas of festivals? And considering that your show is accompanied by visuals, how do you manage to make the magic happen when playing in a festival where the timeline of appearances is more strict?
We must say that, for many reasons, we prefer to play in front of people :-) We don't care if we are in a small club, or at a big festival. We put a lot on stage and we have it back multiplied from our people.
Numerous live appearances and live shows in the most famous of music festivals, you've been creating music for quiet a while now and for the same amount of time you've been spreading the magic of your visual art through Malleus. Also, you've created your own successful record label and lately you're working with the mighty Neurot Recordings. Do you still have any unfulfilled dreams and is there any incomplete ambitions regarding you and your various art related projects?
Our ambition is going on own way, focusing more and more for the next step. We don't consider the results as satisfactory like the road followed for reaching to them.
Knowing that live appearances are going to take place in the summer months and that the second piece of ORO is going to be released early this autumn, what's your long term future plans regarding Ufomammut? And do you have any specific plans for the future, regarding the works of Malleus and Supernatural Cat Records?
Unfortunately, they are secret plans. Even for us :-)
That's all by me folks. Thank you very much for this interview, I really appreciate it. The epilogue is yours.
It's been a honor, hope to meet you all soon, in the cradle of our civilisation.
Malleus Rock Art Lab: Official Website
Supernatural Cat Records: Official Website
Neurot Recordings: Official Website