Three Monkeys Online

A Curious, Alternative Magazine

Dark and Bitter – Negramaro in Interview

Negramaro set to conqure the world? So it would seem, starting with a first positive outing for the foreign record label world, during the Italia Wave in London, a kermess dedicated “to the insiders, a show case, in other words our presentation. There were managers from all around Europe, I think, to listen to us and everyone brought their show. The result we obtained seemed good, everybody was appreciative… in short, we believe in it!”. One can't help but notice that the boys have got nerve and optimism, who knows perhaps because of the positive drive of the Italian record label that is behind them, Sugar, belonging to the mythical Caterina Caselli, the ex 'golden bob' inevitably associated with record and film blockbusters in the '60s, and a successful talent-scout since the early '80s (she logged up the 'discovery' or the 're-discovery' andthe international launch of artists such as Pierangelo Bertoli, Franco Fanigliulo, Mauro Pagani, Area, Enrico Ruggeri, Raf, Francesco Baccini, Ornella Vanoni, Paolo Conte, Gianna Nannini, Edoardo Bennato, Paolo Vallesi, Aeroplani Italiani, Gerardina Trovato, Andrea Bocelli, Elisa, Piccola Orchestra Avion Travel, Gazosa).

Ermanno explains how they joined Sugar and how this was a rational choice: “We decided to sign up, to cooperate with a person we consider an artist, that is the person that made it happen for us, Caterina Caselli. It goes without saying that there is a synergy: you put in the row material, then, if there isn't a person to transform it into something usable, because this is a society based on this concept, it is hard to transform a dream born in a garage into a will, a feeling for thousand of people. And so we still use these terms such as 'magic' to find, to justify what then really happens and you don't even have the time to understand, because, when you are on stage, you can't think, you must do only what you feel, because if you think of even only one breath of all that people, you could just as well throw yourself on the floor”. Negramaro therefore did not accept any compromise at the beginning. They fought to affirm their identity and this has played seemingly in their favour: after a first album defined by Ermanno Carlà, as 'hermetic', Negramaro cut their second, Mentre tutto scorre, which came out this year and is already a success, at least in Italy. The album is the result of a project founded “on the empathy that must necessarily develop between those who make music and those who listen to it, in the hope that what is in between is considered as art or anyway an evident manifestation of feelings”, Ermanno explains using some roundabout expressions. Then he admits that there was someone who enormously helped them to achieve what Giuliano and the others had in mind: “We went into the studio with a great producer, Corrado Rustici, who even came to our region, in our rehearsal studio, and understood what was inside Negramaro, in order to take out something good, something original, leaving aside the money issue, as everything is relative: if you have a lot of money, you can put behind yourself a huge mega-screen so that people go like this [mimes a surprised expression, openmouthed]… In the first place, we intended to take this much impulse [signals with his fingers just a few inches], but to the hearts of people, and slowly but surely we are doing it. We really believe in it, because in any case that flow of people to our concerts is out of proportion considering the number of years we've existed, the years this project exists and the promotion that there has been. So, we believe in this phenomenon, because in any case all we are proposing was conceived amongst people and it is only fair that it boomerangs back to people”.

Giuliano Sangiorgi is the creative one in the group, the one who writes the lyrics as we said and the one who proposes to the others poetic and musical visions. We ask him if in music there is space for polemics, politics, and social themes. “I think that social themes come out from a love theme between two people, when there is a singer-songwriter that manages to do it […]. In my opinion, the best political lyrics are those where De Andrè did not express himself politically, to cite a great example. All those that devote themselves to politics and become great writers of their time I think are those that with very few words, that are not actually and patently political, manage to be [political], deep down. Because politics is not really … [leaves unfinished]. The Greek term itself politiké was exactly the art of living, of social issues, nothing else. Here, on the other hand, there is a problem, in Italy, where politics is misunderstood with political parties. Politics exists – as in the fact that we are not closed up in a locked room, but we do live together – so in one way or the other a political life together does exist: political is everything that you live, therefore even a love story, a break-up, … We always do politics”.

WOW, this is not a '90 boys band! Well regimented by a PR who schedule appointments with the press accredited to the festival and that forces them to sit down in a circle instead of having a shower or entertaining the fans who already start to pour into the stadium, but at the same time sensitive and well prepared, tough and dreamers, interpreters of their generation's malaise and hopes.

“Music is a dream for all of us, that is who does not dream with a music, who has not matched a dream with music, a woman with a song, a sad time with a song? Therefore that is the real free territory, a territory of freedom for all of us, which can unite everyone, but not only through music, also through a good book, through art generally speaking. In one way or the other we are stronger with music than with a sculpture or a painting, that are always somehow an élite thing. On the other hand, there are stages that address people; this is the strength. Yes, you still have to pay in for a concert, but there you see people, you see the geniuses of the century leaving their mark, don't you? I think it is the art that's closest to the people […] 'Use me, tear me apart, rip off my soul' [T.'s N.: refrain from Mentre tutto scorre] is not a cool idea, it is something that is inside people, this is what I mean. So when it's played once, it is like if you heard it already millions of times. And this happens, I hope, with meaningful songs and not with the fashionable single. [I hope that] what happens during our concerts is that they sing along each song, not only the single, as for so many others. Thousands of people that sing along form the first to the last song: this is real magic!”

And in fact, a couple of hours later, Negramaro take to the stage and enflame the stadium. But it's not only young girls infatuated that sing along; I think I heard a lady in front of me singing along the refrain from Estate and informing her slightly perplexed husband that “they're the ones that were at the San Remo Festival, they're good, aren't they?” – in Italian, includes song samples

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