Shari Black Velvet: You play fast, heavy metal with memorable choruses. What feelings do you get when you are with your four bandmates and you are creating or working on songs/music?
Daniele Amato: Excitement! Every time we rehearse or play a gig the excitement is there. Being the main songwriter, we normally just practice and arrange the song in our rehearsal space, instead of writing it from scratch all together, but I think excitement and fun are the right words. We just want our songs to be kick ass, have great melodies, great riffs, and if you're not having fun, it doesn't work. You can't fake that.
SBV: You have a five track EP out called ‘Drowning’. One review said it ‘hints at greatness but is a few paces short’. What are your thoughts on the EP yourself?
DA: Honestly, I agree with the review dude. Don't get me wrong, I am proud, we're all proud of 'Drowning', but especially now that we've got almost all the songs for album number 1 written, we can definitely hear that the new stuff is more... more! It's more mature, it has better melodies, better riffs, better vocal lines. It's a natural progression; I still like 'Drowning' and probably always will, we put 110% of us into it, we still enjoy playing those songs at every gig, but I certainly get the reviewer's point.
SBV: Which shows that you’ve played most stand out in your memory?
DA: Well, every show has been unique in its own, negative or positive. Playing New Year's Eve was awesome, we played the New Age Club which is probably in the top three music clubs of the country, and had a blast... especially after our set (by the way, one of the worst gigs we've ever done. No sound at all on stage). You know, dressing room fridge, drunken madness, and we even caught a snowfall after midnight, so it was definitely worth. On the downside, we recently played a big metalcore festival, and we were really ignored by a lot of people just because we don't play macho core; that seems to happen a lot in Italy.
SBV: On vocalist Kla’s MySpace page she says she reads books to escape from reality as she feels constantly stressed. Do you become stressed with the band, and does Kla feeling stressed affect the band in any way? What do YOU do to de-stress?
DA: I'm probably the least stressed person in the world, haha. I have problems and issues like everybody, but I have a really childlike attitude; I manage to be like 'oh whatever, let's sleep on it! Let's play guitar! Everything will be fine'. So no, the band doesn't stress me at all... is it boring to take care of all the business? Yeah, sometimes, but it's not stressful, not one bit. Regarding Kla, I think she de-stresses herself pretty well by creating kick ass vocal lines, and that's it.
SBV: How long have you played guitar for and why did you initially choose the guitar?
DA: I've been playing guitar for ten years now, I started in September '99, right after my birthday. I chose guitar because I was a huge Metallica fan, and Kirk and James were really my heroes at the time. Furthermost, as Steve Vai puts it, the guitar is the coolest instrument around, let's face it. It doesn't get any cooler. If you play any instrument you'll be 'wow', but if you play guitar you'll be like 'that's badass, dude!'.
SBV: You also work as a guitar teacher in a music shop/school. How many people do you teach and what sort of things do you teach them? How often have you been teaching guitar to others?
DA: I have a total of 20 students, right now, ranging from little kids to teenagers and grown up men. I teach at every level, basic to pro, so I get the little girl who wants to learn chords so she can strum Amy McDonald's ‘This Is The Life’, but I also get the kid who want to be a serious shredder. I have no problem teaching four chords, and I have no problem teaching kids how to go ballistic speed as well, so my range is pretty wide. I started teaching a couple of years ago to a friend, just to make a few bucks since I was really broke, and then I got so lucky I had this job in the school.
SBV: Is there anything you would like to be taught?
DA: A lot of things, actually! I'd like to be taught Swedish, Russian and Latin, and how to play violin. And how to be a better guitarist, haha.
SBV: You think Machine Head’s ‘The Blackening’ is the best record ever. Why?
DA: Well, that was something I thought in 2007, but I think it still applies, being Machine Head my favourite band. That record is just massive, it has excellent lyrics, excellent music... it's just a kick ass metal album for the '00s.
SBV: You listen to all sorts of music – anything from Avril Lavigne to extreme black metal. What do you think of people who only like one small genre of music and how did your taste in music get so wide?
DA: I don't wanna judge others, but being really strict about music genres is really childish to me. And it can get pretty ridiculous if you ask me; I personally know a lot of metalheads that won't listen to pop music just for the sake of it, even if some of the stuff you hear in pop is heavier than some so-called metal. How retarded is that? Obviously, I prefer some genres over others, but if you look at my iPod you'll see a lot of pop music, a lot of jazz music... basically anything my ears tell me is good, I'll listen. It's been that way since I grew up.
SBV: You list Rob Flynn as a hero. Why?
DA: Apart from being Machine Head frontman, I always admired how he struggled to keep the band going on, even when things weren't looking good at all. That kind of determination and stubborness is what makes him a hero, to me. If you read some of his lyrics you'll really get it, like 'Imperium' or 'Wipe The Tears', that's something I can really identify with.
SBV: Do you have any heroes outside of music?
DA: There are a couple of writers and movie directors, but I wouldn't call them heroes... But my girlfriend is surely a hero, since she has to put up with my shit, haha.
SBV: You’ve been vegetarian for a year. What’s it like for a vegetarian in Italy? You have great food such as pizza and pasta – so is it easy to find vegetarian food?
DA: Being a vegetarian in Italy is... ok, I guess. We have great food, but we also have a strong 'meat culture', which is something that really sickens me, always glorifying those mountains of dead flesh... We have stuff like veggie burgers, veggie meatballs, tofu or seitan, so that's cool, and pizza, of course! Being not a vegan, I have no problems with pizza and that happens to be my favourite food anyway... pizza with french fries, you should really try that! But we don't have all the cruelty free goodies that you have, or the US have.
SBV: Do you know many other vegetarians and what made you become vegetarian?
DA: Actually, I don't know any vegetarians at all. Maybe some of my friends on Facebook are, but I'm not really sure. I started getting interested in the Peta guys a few years ago (I still have the stickers they sent me at the time, the 'I am not a nugget' one is still on my guitar case). I was always keen on animals, always thought they are way better than human beings, so one year ago I decided to do that and go veg. So it was not from night to day... it was all the reading on the net, all the disgusting stuff I kept seeing at dinner tables, including knowing that there is some kind of sliced ham made from the head of the poor pig. I mean, the head, how sick is that? Do we really need to do that?
SBV: If you were stuck on an island surrounded by an ocean, what would you eat?
DA: Tropical fruit would probably save my day! Bananas, mangos... even lime! Hey, I could slice a few limes and drink it with ocean water, pretending it's mojito. I'd probably die the morning after, but at least I would die thinking I drank myself to death with mojitos! How cool is that?
SBV: You have a song called ‘This Time I’m Holding On’. As you get older, what do you most want to hold on to, that you have at the moment?
DA: There are few things I want to hold on to, I'm a pretty simple guy. My girlfriend, music, the band... well, my health of course, and that's it. Give me a guitar, a few CDs, my girl, and I'll be ok forever. No need for cars, sports or anything else.
Visit www.myspace.com/anoceanbetweenus1 for more info.