An Interview with Dario of Drakkar
Posted by RiffRaff
After a near ten-year hiatus of releasing full length records Italian power metal band Drakkar have come back in full force with the release of When Lightning Strikes. Complete with a rocking sci-fi narrative the record delivers on every aspect. I was able to catch up with founder and guitarist Dario Beretta and ask him a few questions about the past, present, and future. Check out the interview, and if you have yet to do so, dig into some Drakkar, they kick some major ass! Enjoy! Peace Love and Metal!!!
Your new album When Lightning Strikes is your first full length release since 2002. How did it feel to get into the studio and start recording a new full length after so many years away from record production?
It felt great, really. We had been doing some stuff here and there in the last few years, but not an actual full-length: it was something that we were missing, and it was a blast to hear it take shape, piece after piece, song after song. It really gave us a renewed enthusiasm and a surge of adrenaline we hadn’t felt in a long, long time.
In 2007 you released an E.P. called Classified for all to hear as a free download (To download a copy for yourself, click here). How did that experiment go? Do you feel that giving away free music is necessary for a band to gain an audience in this internet age?
Well in our case it was more like a way to say to people “Hey, we’re still here: the band is alive!”. We had been silent for quite a while up ‘till then so it was a nice way to remind to the fans that we hadn’t disbanded. Also, around that time we were starting to put together the material for When Lightning Strikes and we felt like those particular 4 songs, which in our opinion were good, wouldn’t have been particularly fitting with the style we wanted to pursue for the new album. So releasing them for free was a way to do something with those songs instead of just locking them away in a closet. As for how essential it is, I don’t know… the way I feel it, if you want to have an idea of how a band may sound, nowadays, it’s so easy to find stuff online that discussing if giving something for free or not, online, is almost a moot point.
When Lightning Strikes follows a great science fiction concept and story. Dario, was your narrative inspired directly by any works of musical, cinematic, and written science fiction/fantasy. Do you plan on releasing your story to the public outside of the album? Have you written and/or published any other written works? Who are your favorite science fiction/fantasy authors/books, musicians/albums, directors/films?
There were several inspirations. The story behind the record is meant to be an homage to the classic American science-fiction of the 1950s and 1960s, I’m talking about things like The Day The Earth Stood Still, Star Trek, any of Jack Kirby’s comics, Green Lantern comics… but also with some influences from stuff which is even older, like Superman’s cartoons from the Fleischer brothers’ studio or pulp magazine science-fiction heroes like Flash Gordon and the like. However, the fact that the story is built around a character who is constantly reincarnated and therefore living different lives in different places also gave us the opportunity to touch on other subjects, like historical events (Winter Soldiers, When Lightning Strikes, Salvation all have actual historical events as a backdrop) or more recent books/comics like V for Vendetta from Alan Moore and David Lloyd, on which Revenge Is Done is based. I haven’t thought about publishing the story outside of the record, it would be a huge effort to write an actual book out of it and I simply don’t have the time for that. I have some experience as a writer, but I was a journalist, not a novelist. So the only two stories I published are in the form of concept albums: this one, and Gemini, our second record, which also had a story behind it. As for my favorite writers/shows/movies or anything, there are lots… of course all of those I already pointed out as inspiration for this album, plus many others, like Dan Simmons, Tolkien, George Martin, Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning… the list could go on forever!
Italy is becoming quite well-known for being home to many great power metal bands such as yourselves, Rhapsody, Labyrinth, Elven King, and so on. What do think it is about Italian culture that makes Italy a country apt to put forth so many great power metal bands?
When we started, there was only a handful of Power Metal bands around in Italy, then the whole thing started to become bigger and bigger, in no small part, of course, due to the success of acts like Labyrinth and Rhapsody. As for the reason why there are so many good Power Metal bands here, I don’t actually know, but I suppose that our musical background has something to do with it. Power Metal is a very melodic sub-genre of metal and Italian traditional music is very melody-based. Also the symphonic/neoclassical influences seem to go hand in hand with the many great classical composers of our history, from Vivaldi to Verdi to Puccini and all that. Most of the great Italian Metal, not just Power Metal, is indeed very melodic, in a way or another.
When Lightning Strikes was released with My Kingdom Music. How is that relationship so far? Would you like to continue to work with the label in the future? Have you even started to consider a follow-up to When Lightning Strikes.
So far we’re very satisfied with the work MKM is doing. Great promotion, great distribution and a very collaborative and honest relationship. That’s basically what we were looking for, and we found it with MKM, so we’re very OK and we would surely like to do more stuff with them in the future. As for a new record, I already started writing, I have a lot of material which is taking shape. We aren’t going to let another 10 years pass before putting another record out, that’s for sure. We are on the roll and we want to keep going, we have a lot of lost time behind to make up for.
What are your touring plans for now?
We are doing some shows here in Italy, at the moment, and we’re looking to go to Germany for the end of the year, more or less. We are always available to discuss potential tour dates and stuff. Of course we don’t make a living of music so we always have to be careful and can’t afford to be on long tours and the like, but we try to do as much as possible.
If there is just one thing you want an audience member to take away from a Drakkar live concert, what would it be? (Other than merch, lol)
What we really want is for people to have fun, to take away with them the energy and passion of our performance. If they go home with a smile on their face and if we can help them forget their problems for a couple of hours, we’re happy. The way I see it, the Blind Guardian approach is just great… to try and be like modern bards, telling stories to the audience and taking them into another world for a while. That’s what we always try to do.
What would be your dream tour?
If I could choose any band to go touring with, I’d probably pick Blind Guardian and Rage. I am a huge fan of those bands and I think we would fit well, musically.
What bands are you digging on right now (both metal and non-metal). Any music you’d like to recommend our readers?
I loved the latest albums from Iced Earth, Iron Savior and Rage and I can’t wait for the new Candlemass! Despite the controversy, I also enjoyed the latest Running Wild effort. It has a very nice Thin Lizzy vibe to it. And let me take the chance to invite the readers to listen to more Thin Lizzy. So great, yet so underrated. I would also take the chance to suggest some great but still very underground Italian bands, like Eversin, Red Warlock, Your Tomorrow Alone and Rapid Fire, all great stuff: check them out!
And finally, what is your favorite kind of Italian pizza (I’m a tonno e cipolla, tuna and onions, fan ;) ). Do you prefer the thick Naples style or the thinner crust of the North?
I have several favorites… bacon and green olives being one of them! Thinner crust, if possible. :D
For more Drakkar check out their Facebook page and grab their album, When Lightning Strikes, on many online digital retailers including Itunes and Amazon or grab a hard copy from you favorite local record story or buy directly from My Kingdom Music. You can also check out my review of When Lightning Strikes here.