After amazing the prog metal world with a line of outstanding releases, Italy's Empty Tremor has returned in 2010 with what is possibly their finest effort to date. With a new lineup and a sound that is garunteed to fulfill any prog metal fan's cravings, calling this band essential is an understatement. Sea of Tranquility staff writer Jeff B had an opportunity to catch up with the band about their newest album, Iridium, and their music in general.
SoT: First of all, I just want to congratulate you guys on the release of your new album, Iridium! It was among my favorite 2010 releases (which you can read about in my review). Is there anything special you'd like to share about the album?
Empty Tremor: IRIDIUM has been a great pleasure to do; it's been like betting on ourselves, on this new lineup. We strongly wanted it, we're now all very proud about the result and it's pure joy to read that so many people as you like it.
SoT: Let's start at the very beginning... what are the origins of Empty Tremor? How did it come to be?
ET: Everything started in 1993 when five kids from Mezzano (near Ravenna) decided to form a band. They simply gathered and decided who would play bass, guitars, drums and sing! Aged from 12 to 16, they were playing covers from Metallica, Guns'n'Roses, Pink Floyd and Led Zeppelin. Daniele Liverani (23 years old) started jamming with them, introduced them to progressive and took care of their musical education. After an initial 1995 demo, in 1996 the singer Giò De Luigi joined the group and in 1997 their first album Apocolokyntosys was released. The passion for music of five friends is the base ingredient of every Empty Tremor album.
SoT: What are Empty Tremor's main musical influences?
ET: We must say that when we started we were 99% Dream Theater addicted!
Now we listen to everything, from Steve Vai to Lady Gaga, passing through Dire Straits, Faith no More and Missy Elliot... Rock, soul, hip hop, metal, pop, blues, jazz... We're a collection of genres.
SoT: You've been on many different record labels over the years. What's your experience and thoughts with the recording industry?
ET: We have always been lucky to find people who believe in us, who appreciate our music and work hard to promote it. The music market is getting more and more difficult, but still our passion for what we do is supported by record labels and by great fans!
SoT: Do you believe that the modern age of Internet has helped or hurt the music scene?
ET: I believe that apart from the illegal downloading, Internet is great! A band can reach so many people today... everything is faster, like all these reviews and fan's comments from all over the world in such small time! It's a great showcase of websites and information.
SoT: What's the general consensus among the band on live performances vs. studio recordings?
ET: Unfortunately we're not as present as we would like on the live side.
It's hard to say what will happen, if there'll be an IRIDIUM live tour or not…
We love to play live, it's 100% fun and an unique experience!
In 2000 we opened Malmsteen's concert in Italy and in 2004 we opened every concert of Dream Theater in Italy (the Train of Thought tour).
SoT: What is the writing process in Empty Tremor? Does any single member (or members) do the majority of the writing?
ET: Usually in other groups I've taken part of there was a kind of leader and all the other members tended to follow him... In Empty Tremor you feel like a spell has been cast on the group to create the perfect balance between all members while composing! Every rough idea born from a jam session has been subject to a very thorough process of selection and constructive critic before being finally recorded. Everything has been approved by everyone of us and I think you can clearly hear it. The atmosphere during jam and recording sessions has always been of fun and laughter! IRIDIUM, like Rome, wasn't built in a day... But it has been much more fun!
SoT: When you make music, do you find that technicality or melody is more important?
ET: We play a technically very challenging kind of music, but what's the point of going at light speed if you have nowhere to go or nothing to say? It's a joy to slow down to enjoy the trip! Melody is important, but in progressive you get the freedom to communicate with so many more elements: every solo, riff, pattern, note or hit of each instrument has a lead role in the show!
SoT: Tell me a little bit about your debut album, Apocolokyntosys.
ET: Apocolokyntosys was: The "DREAM"… We lived that experience without the knowledge of what we were going to do. We composed the songs of the album in the way we lived music at that particular time of our life: naturally, spontaneously. Every one of us thought to be lucky to have recorded Apocolokyntosys… and when we read the reviews, it was… a DREAM!
SoT: What about your thoughts on Eros And Thanatos?
ET: Eros & Thanatos has been lived as a path to confirm ourselves that we had chosen the right kind of music. This album has been composed based on advices we received after Apocolokyntosys so we knew where we wanted to go but we didn't know if we were able to do it. We spent more time than the first album on the arrangements and solo parts trying to create songs more easy to listen to without loosing our identity. For the second time we got good reviews from the critics so we had a confirmation about our path!
SoT: The Alien Inside?
ET: Strange album! In 2004 Empty were in a particular personal situation because Liverani was busy with his solo projects, Ruzzi had some personal problems and Giò De Luigi had left the band 3 years before… so we decided to compose an album more rude than the others as the situation allowed it… Fortunately Oliver Hartmann sang the album adding great value to the opera! Fans and critics accept it with enthusiasm… maybe it's the album that describes the band less correctly, but it's the right picture of that moment.
SoT: And finally, Iridium?
ET: Iridium is the most realistic photo of this last Empty Tremor situation… We have grown up; we now are different persons (not only in line-up). We composed Iridium as a painter paints his own self-portrait… full of himself. In every songs, in every riff, in every lyric you can find parts of every one of us and the composing has been easier than the other times as our feeling has improved. We know we played what we like and we know that this is a fortune… But we know that this is also what we can do better!
Iridium has been a sort of challenge because it is the first album without Liverani and Ruzzi… But we have once again found approval from fans and critics about the result of our last work! Another confirmation that we have to play what we like!
SoT: How would you describe Empty Tremor's music as a whole? What message do you try to send through your work?
ET: Our music talks about us, our life experiences, some of our most intimate emotions and dreams. It's like we're "Empty" pipes vibing at our fundamental resonance, then someone listens to our music and starts vibing with it... Like a kind of sympathetic resonance, I believe music can communicate emotions impossible to describe with words.
SoT: Are there currently any plans for future releases?
ET: We already started working on some ideas for our next album... We're enthusiast about the IRIDIUM experience and can't wait to see what comes next!
SoT: Before I close up this interview, is there anything else you'd like to share?
ET: First of all: Thank you, Jeff! We'd like to take the opportunity to send a huge "Thank you!" also to everyone that is enjoying IRIDIUM!
(Click here to read our reviews ofIridium)