Interview: Black Holy Whiskey

Interview: Black Holy Whiskey

- in Written interviews

Black Holy Whiskey is an acoustic Southern Rock band from Italy. In 2016 their first self-titled album was released and in the end of February the second one, My Storm have seen the light. A day before the release we had a nice talk with Jonata (vocal), Marco (guitar) and Matteo (bass) about the band, their music, whiskey, barbecue and how did it happened that the guys from Italy play music, which you expect to hear in Tennessee, Oklahoma or Mississippi.

How are you in these tough days?
: We hold on!

I hope you, your relatives and your friends are doing well and nobody was ill.
: Actually three people out of five in the band had a COVID, thankfully a very light form of COVID.
Jonata: Yeah, light form, not a big problem for us.

However, that’s a shitty situation and I hope you are well now.
: Yeah

How did it happen that the guys from Italy play music, which you expect to hear in Tennessee, Oklahoma or Mississippi?
: It’s a good question! Basically because we definitely love that kind of sound.
Marco: For me it actually started because I love blues and southern influence. One day I was playing acoustic with another singer, a female singer. Jonata and another guitar player (Dani Base), they were there, they see me playing and and they said: “Wow, we know each other since a long time, we’re looking for another acoustic guitar, so do you wanna join us?” – “Yes, of course”. And here we are.
Jonata: We all have a Rock and Metal background. But we also love the Southern acoustic sound, so we put it together and Black Holy Whiskey came out.

The image of, let’s say, men of the South, how much does it consists with you?
: I can say for myself but not only for myself: we all have some country side of our personality. I personally live in a small town near Milano, and I’m a country man. I know it sounds strange because Milano is a big city but there are a lot of countries around us. We like a barbeque, we doing barbeque – well, right now we are not supposed but in a past we did a lot of barbeques and listened to a lot of bluesy music. It’s that kind of genuineness that a Country sound, a Southern sound has, so we love it.
Marco: Basically we’re rednecks and white thrash in our souls.

It’s so strange to hear that from the guys from Italy
Marco: We have another word in Italian to say “redneck”, “terrone” and basically that’s what we are. It’s not a good translate but it’s on the same level.

The crow with the drop, what does it mean?
: It’s a drawing from a very good old friend of mine, who is also a tattoo artist. When we’ve founded a band, it was natural for me to go to him and ask to draw something. I made him listen to our music, to our first demo and said “Write a logo that you see” and that’s what came out. We loved it from the first date, so we keep it.

And the crow drops a drop of what?
Jonata: A drop of Black Holy Whiskey! That’s the essence!

Let’s talk about your new album, ‘My Storm’. A trivial question: what would it be?
Marco: A kick in ass! A very-very strong whiskey shot!
Jonata: It’s something a little bit stronger than the past but in our line, in our music line.

So it will be kinda similar to your previous release?
: It is an evolution of what we’ve done in the past. A kind of a new approach.
Marco: Basically, the first album was written in 70-80% by Jonata and Dani, it was born like an acoustic duo and then they had me, the second guitar, drums and bass. The second one was born together in rehearsal room, playing together, doing live and sharing ideas, so it’s more “band album”.

Your first album was released in 2016 and the second one only now. What was the reason for such a big gap between the releases?
: It’s all my fault! (smiling)

Wait! Don’t put all the blame on you; I’m sure that the guys want to share it too!
: First situation because we’ve decided to get a production. The agreement basically was that producer would give the studio for free and we’ll fill it anytime it’ll be free. At one point it another band started to records there, The Rumjacks and we were waiting.
Jonata: It was a combination of late time for the studio, it must have been available but not only that: personally I took a lot of time to restore my voice because I had some kind of health problems and it took more time than usual. But now we speed up the writing process and we’re working on the third album, so it would not take five or six years for its release!
Matteo: Maybe next summer or next autumn we will go to the studio to record it.
Marco: Hopefully.
Matteo: I also had a crash with my motorcycle when I was ready to record the bass lines so it took me some time to recover as well.

Your first album was recorded only with acoustic guitars, if I remember right. In ‘My Storm’ some electric guitars can be heard. Is there any chance to hear a whole album with electric guitars from Black Holy Whiskey?
: I’m fucking tried, man! But no, basically we will always be an acoustic band. We add a couple of electric moments but all the electric guitars just doubled the acoustic so it just added some difference. But the soul, the spine is and always will be the acoustic.

Were there only electric guitars or it was also the slide guitar?
: it was a slide and now I have an acoustic slide but for the record I’ve used my Gibson Les Paul as a slide guitar. So it was acoustic, Gibson electric and tons of effects. I love effects, man!
Jonata: Maybe one day we will make a special album with a lot of electric and less acoustic.
Marco: Like almost every electric band has an “unplugged” album, we will have our electric one.

Black Holy Whiskey “plugged”?
: Yes, “plugged” album or even “plugged tour”.

All right! Let’s go on! Who writes the lyrics in the band?
: Here I am!

How exactly do you immerse into the atmosphere of southern states?
: I must admit that the lyrics parts are not so “traditionally Southern”. In the lyric part I let myself go, I don’t want to be inside of the very specific atmosphere of the South. Yes, in some songs that came out, like “BBQ Music” from the first album, for example. I just get myself free in the writing process, so it’s not always Southern but it combines with the Southern atmosphere, with the musical parts and the lyrics became a little bit Southern. But between the Southern approach we have a lot of other influences. For example, Marco is the 70s guy!
Marco: Oh, yeah!
Jonata: Dani has a strong 80s Metal background. I personally listen to a lot of 90s music, so we combine very different rock influences in a Southern sound but there is a lot more. So in the lyrics that’s the approach! In the lyrics I think some of them are not Southern at all and the others are very Southern. It’s the approach, like I said.

What are your biggest inspirations?
: It’s always starts from guitar riff idea. I start to write after I hear a guitar riff of guitar idea. Very rough but I always get myself inspired from the guitar.

So with the lyrics you are inspired from the music itself. Does the music always come first?
: 90% of the time

Musically, guys, what are your biggest inspirations?
: I think, the biggest inspiration for me was Zakk Wilde‘s Pride&Glory album. I mean, my “southern birth” came all from it. That album opened a Pandora’s Box for me.
Jonata: Also Pantera are very Southern. With a different sound, of course. And Down!
Matteo: Nola is one of the best albums from last years.

And what about classic Southern Rock like Lynyrd Skynyrd or The Outlaws?
: That’s basic! I came from 70s, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Creedence Clearwater Revival for me, all that stuff came from the south.

If we’re talking about lyrics, religious motives in your songs, is it just a literary device or something more?
: We’re not religious at all. In one new song I wrote about Jesus in a very symbolic way, it’s a metaphor, but we’re not religious at all. On the first album there was a song “Amen” also, but the word “amen” just represents a very strange way to say “it’s ok, let it go”, it’s not the religious meaning of the word.

Tell me your secret: where did you get your rocking chair?
: I got it from very old grandmother, not mine. I’ve bought it some years ago from a very old man. I’ve found it on the internet but I discovered in a house of grandmother that was selling it, and I run because this rocking chair must be mine, so I’ve took it and right now I’m on it.

Do you always carry it with you?
: In all our gigs. It is somehow weird but it works.

How hard is it to sit on a chair during the gig?
: It’s very comfortable!

I’m pretty sure but your music is full of drive and I guess it’s pretty hard to sit at the gig, when you play, when you sing your songs.
: Not for me because it’s a lot of years I also in another project and in rehearsal room I always sit. So for me sitting is normal. In this band I also chose to sit at the gig. That’s because I want people to focus on what they hear and people also remember it because when you do what others are not expect to do, they keep it in mind that “lack of action”.

Wait! During the gig in Kyiv, was it this chair?
: No! I can’t take this chair to Kyiv but the guys from Supernova, they found a chair for me. It was a great thing, it was really appreciated.

As far as I remember, Ukraine was your first international gig.
: Yes, it was.

So how did it happen that you choose Ukraine?
: We didn’t choose Ukraine, Ukraine choose us! We still don’t know how did it happen because Matteo started to post a video. We don’t know what happened to Facebook that time, maybe some kind of virus but it posted this videoclip every day for like a month and we started to get feedbacks. After that we’ve found out that one guy was completely freaked out with our music and opened the page on VK, so it started from there. After that I wrote to some agencies, sent some e-mails and we found Supernova, met Larisa and there we go. It was pretty casual and it was amazing.

What do you remember from the gig and from your visit to Ukraine?
: I remember going out with Dani, other guitar player in the airport because we wanted to smoke a cigarette so bad. So we went out and people started to scream. They were screaming, talking in Ukrainian and it was a little weird for us because for the first time people were screaming on police and other people made some noise. We freaked out, smoked in one shot and we went out. After that we found the most amazing people

I’m sorry, but we are, the Mediterranean guys (Droll lives in Israel now), I think we are regular to hear the screams outside, we’re pretty loud.
: Yes but in Italy we understand when people screaming to each other and there we didn’t know what to expect, so there we were freaked out but after that we had amazing time, Ukrainians are amazing people. Especially the first day, when we were without internet and without money because we didn’t collect the money before leaving, we said we will withdraw in in Kyiv. So we found three or four people, they add us a lot, they made us feel welcome as soon as we go to Kyiv and that’s my main impression from Ukraine and Kyiv as well.
Jonata: It was a wonderful gig! The people, I was really impressed by the people reaction! They made us understand how they like our music, we didn’t believe that. They gave us the best feedback they can give. It was much appreciated. We look forward to come back one day, maybe when this shitty virus will end up. And beside the gig I personally lost myself in a street market one day near our hotel. I ate some Ukrainian food, talked to some people and it was great! It was very genuine so I totally like it.

All right, a couple of short and maybe trivial questions: whiskey or bourbon?
: Bourbon! Always bourbon!
Matteo: Bourbon!
Marco: Whatever they put me. I’m not too peaky about it.
Jonata: We choose whiskey when the bourbon is over!

A dinner in a restaurant or barbeque?
: A barbeque in restaurant!

A barbeque with a wine?
: Most of time we have a barbeque with beer but if there is some wine, why not?

Wine before the bourbon or after the bourbon?
: Before!
Matteo: Before!
Marco: Before! If you start with a bourbon, you gonna be dead at first barbeque so start with a wine.

Yeah, you always need to increase it, not to decrease.
: Right, I think it’s an international rule of drinking.
Jonata: It’s a first rule: always go up.

Allright! And another one: what do you guys think, will the South rise again?
: We hope so, the genuine part of the South, yeah.

And the last one: what didn’t I asked you, although I’ve should?
When the album will come out! (this interview was made on February, 25, a day before the release). The album will be released on February, 26 and you can find it on Spotify and every streaming platform.

Black Holy Whiskey:

My Storm on Spotify

All photos were taken from the band’s Facebook page


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