John Toolan was very impressed with “Oro: Opus Primum”, by Italian psychedelic doom/postcore outfit Ufomammut. Reason enough to have a friendly chat with all three members, namely Urlo, Poia and Vira. They all answered John’s questions on the latest album, Supernatural Cat, working with Neurot and discovering new music…
As I mentioned in my review for TINAS many of the tracks on “Oro: Opus Primum” are dense with sound, how much of that is predetermined and how much is layered upon afterwards?
Urlo: We give a fundamental importance to our sound. We love to layer our music, making it grow and grow seeing how far we can go. “ORO” was born from the idea of riffing and riffing on the riffs, creating different parts and sounds from the same riffs, adding and expanding.
Poia: In the beginning of the process of song composition, we use only drums, bass and guitar. Then little by little, the song became “hungry”, it needs to became bigger, it needs more sounds.
The electronics and the sampled vocal add a sinister almost menacing feel to some of the tracks, is it your intention to create that particular atmosphere, or is it the product of what naturally come out of an Ufomammut session?
Poia: This menacing vibe has always been peculiar in our music. This makes our evil side more hearable, a sort of natural reaction to the fact we are good and boring guys in our regular lives.
Urlo: It’s the natural result of our sessions and “home studying”. I must admit I love to think about our music as an evil epic piece. Something disturbing and making You feel something is gonna happen in Your mind.
Vita: All our songs were born from a session in our rehearsal room, nothing is planned, what we play comes from our hearts. That’s our way to write music.
Much of what I hear on the latest album is built upon repetition, which, far from becoming tedious, makes for an exciting sound. What are your major influences in this class of music?
Urlo: This was the main goal. The major influence is a sample I found years ago (and I think we use it in ‘Idolum’) saying: “repetition: heavy metal sound”. We want to create soundscapes, something you can can sink in.
Poia: We have many influences, coming from different bands and different artists, let’s say from Pink Floyd to Morricone . For instance Ravel‘s “Bolero” is still the perfect example of growing of an identical and repetitive theme. In our personal travel, we are trying to take inspiration from what we have already done and pushing that to new unexplored limits.
Vita: Ufomammut’s sound is very psychedelic, and psychedelic music has many repeated parts thatdrive your mind in a virtual trip.
What helped inform your decision to release “Oro” (Opus Alter and Opus Primum) as two distinct albums and not one long cohesive piece?
Poia: Quentin Tarantino helped a lot.
Urlo: First of all we don’t like double albums. They’re always too long to focus on them in their entirety.So we preferred to split the record in 2 parts, like Tarantino did for “Kill Bill”.
Moreover, we love, during our gigs, to keep the tension with long pauses, feedbacks. We like to think the months between the 2 records will be the same, a very very long feedback…
Vita: We’ve started to work on it thinking about a long track like we did with “Eve”, but at the end we noticed that that track was too long for a single album. So we thought was a good idea to split it in two parts with two different releases.
The band has been together since 1999, a reasonably long time compared with many other bands, how do you think your sound has evolved over that time?
Vita: We take many inspirations from our previews albums, from the way to compose music to how to work in studio. We only have more experience than before, maybe we know exactly what sound we want also trying not to play the same “song” like many band do.
Urlo: I don’t know. I was a scanty bass player when we started and I still am… I changed some amps, but I still have the same bass and distortion. And I still love to have a huge sound. But, like everything, getting older, our sounds has gotten wiser…
Poia: The main elements are the same of our first records. We discovered new tricks for mixing them in the most effective way, trying to dramatically improve dynamics. This progress has been possible thanks to Lorenzer and Ciccio, our sound guys respectively in the recording studio and live.
It is always fascinating to discover new music, particularly from other parts of the world. Do you have any recommendations for other Italian bands who are taking your interest at the moment?
Urlo: Poia and me are members of Malleus and we run Supernatural Cat, a record label. We love to work with our bands, we consider totally unique. So I can suggest that you to check for Morkobot and for Incoming Cerebral Overdrive (they’ll be on tour with us in April!), then OvO and these days I’m listening a lot to TONS, very cool band. Then I like The Secret a lot and Zu.
And I suggest to listen to some of the old Italian progressive bands from the Seventies like Area, Le Orme, New Trolls and more…
Vita: There are many interesting italian rock bands, specially from seventies, but the problem is there is not a real rock culture in Italy. So sometime it happens Italians do not listen to those bands because they think the good music comes only from other countries.. And that’s not true..
Your artwork and album packaging is strikingly visual and complements the music perfectly, but do you have concerns that now a greater number of people are downloading mp3 and FLAC files that this element could be compromised?
Vita: If you really are a music fan you still buy records and CDs even if you can find whatever you want/need downloading from web. I don’t think internet killed the music business but it gives you a chance to get what you really want.
Urlo: As I said before, we run a record label and we’ve never got problems in selling records. I must say that the more they’re limited the more the people are involved. I think downloading music is important because with all the crap around it’s a form of democracy, You can listen and decide when I like a record I must have it. And like me, lots of other people. So, if the cover and artwork is cool it’s way better!
Poia: We are absolutely not against the flowing of the music through the net, since it’s the best way to spread the music all over the world. But we consider all of the record as a unique, whole piece, music and artwork together…so if you like the music and you don’t have the artwork in your hands, well, it’s a different thing. Something is missing.
Ufomammut live appears to be enhanced with a visual display that becomes part of the overall “event”. How does that transfer to playing festival dates where you are more limited in how you can build up the “experience”?
Urlo: Well, don’t know, ask the people! We use visuals (Lu of Malleus is the master!) and we consider them as a member of the band. When we don’t have visuals we like to play in red lights, quite dark. It’s important to focus on the music and feel there’s not a stage, we give the people and they give us back.
Poia: It depends on the festival. Like for the artwork on the records, visuals during the concert are really important for Ufomammut, but we always try to do our best in every situation.
Vita: Visual makes our gigs, like a 360° show, but, as you said, sometime we do not have the chance to have it. Visuals are totally important for us but i think Ufomammut is not that bad without projections…
How important to you are internet social media sites such as Twitter and Facebook in helping you to spread your music to those who otherwise may not have the opportunity to hear it?
Urlo: We use them. Once there were pigeons, then messengers, then the press came and finally internet. These things are the evolution of communication. Use them carefully, though…
Vita: Sometimes it is good and sometimes it isn’t, because every band can put their own music on internet, so you can discover good stuff but also a lot of bad music…
You manage your own label Supernatural Cat Records, so why did you make the decision to release your music on Neurot?
Urlo: Because when we met Steve we understood it was just a broadening and widening of a family. Similar ideas, feelings and souls. We still realize the vinyl version with Supernatural Cat.
Poia:We felt it was the right choice for Ufomammut, in this moment. It’s like to see our band from a different point of view.
Vita: Since we met Steve he seemed very interested to the Ufomammut world, and he’s also a musician so he knows well what means making and playing music. Collaborating with Neurot for us is a new thrilling experience.
Are you still on the lookout for new bands who may be suitable for Supernatural Cat Records, and what process do you go through to find appropriate artists?
Urlo: Sure. We love bands with a personality, trying to give something You don’t expect.
Poia: First step: the music. It has to be different and honest. Natural or better…“supernatural”:-) Then, if we like the music, we have to discover if the “players” are on our same wavelength too, at a musical and human level.