France would seem like an odd choice for a country to be a breeding ground of fantasy tinged symphonic progressive metal, but ideed it is with the release of The Fall of An Empire from Fairyland. Filled with sweeping, grandiose keyboards, shredding guitar work, powerhouse rhythms, and powerful vocals, The Fall of An Empire is a perfect release for anyone who adores the works of bands like Kamelot, Symphony X, and Rhapsody of Fire. Keyboard player/songwriter/composer Philippe Giordana recently had a chance to speak with Sea of Tranquility Publisher Pete Pardo about the exciting new album.
Read on for the full interview!
Sea of Tranquility: This is the band's second album-can you talk a little about how the group formed?
Philippe Giordana: Fairyland was formed in 1998 when Willdric Lievin (our ex-drummer) told me about his will to create a symphonic metal band. I had a few songs that I had written for personal purposes, so we ganged together as Fantasy. Tom Cesario joined us a week or so later, and we recorded a first demo: "Tribute to Universe", then another one "Realm of Wonders". After that, and due to personal problems with Willdric, Tom left the band and we changed our name to Fantasia. In the process of home-recording our first album, we secured a deal both with Intromental Management, which are our management team (can I say -hi Claus and Lars !) , and NTS records for a worldwide distribution. We then had a complete line up, including Anthony Parker (ex Heavenly) and Elisa C Martin (ex dark moor, Dreamaker). Of Wars In Osyrhia, our first album, was released in early 2003 under the name Fairyland. We toured in France and Sweden with Sonata Arctica during summer 2003, and after the tour, Anthony and I decided to get rid of Willdric, who was becomin impossible to work with. Elisa left the band in early 2004 to concentrate on her own project, Dreamaker, and NTS went out of business. We secured a new line up, with Max Leclercq on the lead vocals, Pierre-Emmanuel "Piwee" Desfray on the drums, and...Tom Cesario again on the guitars and bass. With this new line up and our second album already recorded in "demo style", we secured a new deal with Napalm records. The Fall Of An Empire is now available in Japan and Europe, and will be out in the States in January 2007.
SoT: There are obvious musical references to bands like Symphony X, Blind Guardian, Stratovarius, Rhapsody, etc-what are some of the bands musical influences, both past and present?
Philippe: I can only tell my own influences. There's a bit of everything, but mainly, Blind Guardian, Symphony X, Mike Oldfield, Malicorne, movie sound tracks...and no Stratovarius. I never really hooked up with their music. That's one of those personal things I guess...
SoT: The new CD "Fall of an Empire" is a pretty bombastic & grandiose project. Can you talk a bit about the idea behind the storyline of the album, and how long it took to put together both lyrically and musically?
Philippe: Thanks for the compliment! The concept behind TFOAE (and OWIO, as it were), is only a short part of a much longer concept: Osyrhia. This big concept takes place over 6000 years, whereas the 2 first albums, and the next one, only deal with 500 years or so of that story. TFOAE tells the failure of the armies of the Light in the decisive battle against the legions of Cenos, resulting in the enslavement of the people of Osyrhia. All the lyrics right now are inspired by this story. I usually cut the story in key moments and then try to visualize it as a movie sequence. I automatically have this kind of soundtrack coming, and all I have to do is convert it to metal. All In all, the writing process for TFOAE took about 6 to 8 months, but I was not on it all day...
SoT: There are a lot of dense orchestrations and arrangements on the album. Were these songs written or mapped out on keyboards first, or guitars?
Philippe: All the songs are written on keyboard. I don't play that much guitar, so I wouldn't be able to compose on one. Fortunately, Tom and Anthony are really good guitar players, and they are greatly responsible for the general power of the album. Sometimes they play what I have in mind, sometimes they just come up with their own stuff, and it always fits with the layers of keyboard arrangements.
SoT: Does the band play much live?
Philippe: Of course. We just love playing live. We haven't had much opportunities these past 3 years, since we wanted to concentrate on preparing the release of the second album, but a tour is coming up, and we are really eager to play!
SoT: How hard is it to recreate these type of songs in a live environment?
Philippe: Not as difficult as it would seem. We use some samplers for specific parts that need all the layers of keyboards and backing vocals, but all in all, we could play without them. Tom and I do the backing vocals on stage anyway, and I always have at least 3 keyboards to render most of the arrangements. We tried in rehearsal, and our music doesn't really lose it's essence. But honestly, the key factor with samples is the sound engineer. get a good one, you'll sound great. take a lame one, you're dead!
SoT: The CD has some great cover art-who worked on this for you?
Philippe: The cover artwork and booklet illustrations were done by Gonzalo "Genzo" Ordonez Arias, at first a Fairyland fan from Chile who became a good friend. We worked together on the cover design for about 3 months, thinking every little detail, from armor parts to the creatures' looks. then Genzo did the final drawing in a bit less than a week. he also did some nice drawings for the booklet, where each member of the band is represented in the spirit of the cover. As I was working on the concept, he also did some illustrations of the main characters, two of which you can find in the booklet as well: Eldanie Uellė and Cenos.
SoT: What parts of the world so far have garnered the most success for you so far? Europe ? South America ? Japan ? US? How has reaction been to the new CD so far?
Philippe: I think we're doing pretty good in Japan. The CD has just been released in Europe, and the US release is in early January,so we'll wait a bit before saying anything else. All in all, the reactions are really positive, more than we expected. We still find a few bad reviews, often done by people who don't like this style of metal anyway, but on the other hand, the majority of reviews I've found on the net or from paper magazines are really encouraging.
SoT: If you could do a packaged tour with two other bands, who would they be?
Philippe: mmmmhhh...Kamelot and Leaves' Eyes? (laughs) Sorry, we are actually going on tour with these two bands in March/April 2007. I'm really excited about the idea of playing with Kamelot, which is one of my favorite bands. We already did a venue with them in 2003, during our tour with Sonata Arctica, and the guys were really nice. I think it's going to be a great tour. My choice for 2 bands to play with would be Kamelot and Blind Guardian. THAT would be awesome, but hey, Leaves' Eyes are great too...
SoT: What's next in the immediate future of Fairyland?
Philippe: First of all, the tour. We will promote this new album as best as we can. Then I guess I'll have to go back to the working table and start the creation of our 3rd album. I have a few ideas already, and it would be really cool to have something to release by the end of 2007 or early 2008.
SoT: Sounds like a plan-best of luck to you!
Philippe: Thanks for the cool interview. Take care!
(Click here to read our review of The Fall of An Empire)