Hi! “Church of the Scream” is your second full-length album. What differences and similarities can we expect from your debut album?
Hi Stanley and thanks for your interest in ScreaMachine.
I still like our debut album very much because it was pure, joyful anarchy! It was the work of five guys in love with heavy metal, who just wanted to crank their amp up to eleven and play that kind of music that seems almost disappeared from the scene.
To our great surprise, a lot of people out there was as happy as us to hear some good old headbanging tunes, so our motivation was rising to the stars for this second chapter.
Of course, we had the time to grow as a band, to know each other better as musicians and, most important thing, to analyze our debut album and to understand what we like the most in the ScreaMachine sound.
The best tunes of the debut were the starting point for the songwriting of “Church of The Scream”, but there was also a strong will to develop the sound including all our influences, remaining loyal to our style.
“Church of the Scream”, has a better and wider songwriting, a better production and a very rich kind of arrangements. This is ScreaMachine in 2023 and I am so proud of it.
ScreaMachine’s music is often described as a blend of classic heavy metal and modern production. Can you explain how you manage to strike that balance and how you come up with your sound?
At a certain point of my life, I felt the urge to connect back with the influences that introduced me to the heavy metal music when I was a child, like Judas Priest, Accept, but also Exciter, Saxon, Warlord, W.A.S.P. etc., and this urge has become a band named ScreaMachine.
The most important thing, for me and for the guys, is that ScreaMachine should not sound like a tribute band mocking the past, with vintage productions and copycat songs.
ScreaMachine is born from the love for the heavy metal gods, but we want to bring this sound in the new millennium remaining loyal to our roots but, at the same times, taking advantage of the modern technology.
I mean, for example, that we care very much about recording with a modern production (thanks to our guitar player Paolo Campitelli, also the sound engineer of the whole album) with loud guitars and thundering drums, not trying to sound like a NWOBHM LP back in 1982. We already have many masterpieces from that era.
Also talking about the music, of course we’ve our style and our inspirations, but there’s nothing sacred. Every new influence is welcome, as long as our sound remains loyal to the ScreaMachine concept.
“Church of the Scream” features new guitarist Edoardo Taddei. How did he come to join the band, and what does he bring to the table in terms of sound and songwriting?
It’s no secret that Edoardo is becoming one of the most respected and fast rising guitar hero not only here in Italy, but in the whole metal scene.
He’s like a new millennium Jason Becker and, despite to his young age, he has a great knowledge of the classic metal scene, so it’s really easy to work with him because we speak the same language.
We already know him because he lives in Roma and Paolo played some keyboards on his first solo album back in the days, so when our friend Alex left the band to focus on his musical project Kaledon, Edoardo was the first name that came to our minds.
We started our cooperation with the EP “Borderline” in 2022, together with some live show, but of course “Church of The Scream” is his first main release with Screamachine.
His sound and his style is very unique and I think it really shines on our songs.
The songwriting is mainly up to me and Paolo, and Valerio too, but of course he had total freedom to arrange his solo parts, and the kid really did a good work!
You’ve been active in the Italian metal scene for decades through various projects. How has the scene evolved since you first started, and what challenges have you faced along the way?
Well, the Italian scene now is international, and it shows a lot of names, like Fleshgod Apocalypse or Elvenking just to name a few, that are highly respected worldwide.
Back in the ‘90’s, when I released my first official full-length album, the situation was radically different: some bands like Lacuna Coil or Rhapsody were already going strong, but most of the Italian scene was underground and the whole world of metal was just ignoring us, labeling Italy as the land of pizza, mafia, mandolino and, maybe, power metal.
This was so disrespectful to the past of our scene, who was filled of incredible bands like Death SS, Necrodeath and Bulldozer, and so on.
Anyway, right now everything has changed, mainly because of the democracy of internet who’s spreading the music worldwide without focusing on nationality or other stupid prejudices.
Also, the way the Italian bands promote themselves on the scene has changed a lot, and in a better way: I see a lot of skilled kids that are way better than bigger bands, and in some fields, especially death metal, seems to me that we are leaders, not follower.
So proud of that, I really hope that ScreaMachine could be part of this beautiful Italian metal wave.
What can you tell us about the lyrics on “Church of the Scream”? Are there any themes that you explore that are particularly important to you?
(Valerio Caricchio – singer and lyricist): Regarding the lyrics the main goal I set to achieve was to support in the best way possible all the many aspects that the album got musically speaking and tailor a proper different dress for each and every track.
There were no particular themes I was thinking about before the writing process, I just plunged into the songs and let the music do the talking. I wanted to enrich them with the right sounds pronounced by my mouth, the right words and the atmospheres they were evoked to depict.
So, following the wave of a sound become generally heavier and I might say a little bit darker than the debut album, consequently the lyrics had to deal with themes themselves bearers of power and darkness like war, religion, philosophy, inner struggles, without forgetting lighter moments just to have some funny break.
The other important aspect about lyrics is something that I like to think strictly intertwined with my own style: to use words in a deeper way so to describe things without explaining them clearly and in a one-way only. If you want to say that the skies are cloudy you can go for it in a thousand different ways but that one and this is in my opinion what poetry stands for. Lyrics should do the same otherwise would be just a mere description leaving nothing to imagination and then to emotions.
The album artwork features a dark and ominous visual style, reminiscent of a scene from a horror movie or a dark fantasy story. How important do you think the visual representation of an album is in conveying the themes and atmosphere of the music, particularly in the context of dark fantasy?
I’m an old school guy, for me the artwork still matters a lot.
I remember when I was a kid: few money and too many albums to buy. The cover artwork was one of the main reasons for me to choose an album in the music shop.
Just think about the Iron Maiden covers, or Manowar, or Blind Guardian… a good cover could thrill the listener, take him on travel to discover the music and even enrich the music itself.
I know that I’m slightly out of fashion when I say this: right now, most of the music is liquid, digital and listened in playlists, not albums. Most of people don’t even know what they are listening… it’s only an endless flow of sound created around your musical tastes.
Anyway, as long I have the decisional power (and the budget), the artwork will be always an important part of the ScreaMachine project, because it defines the music too.
That’s why, for this second album, we choose to work with Stan W Decker, a visual artist that I love so much for his style, near in a certain way to the early Derek Riggs.
Yes, I would say that we were searching for OUR Derek Riggs and I’m looking forward to work with Stan also in the future.
You’ve mentioned Judas Priest, Metallica, Savatage, and Accept as influences. Are there any other bands or artists that have been influential to you and the sound of ScreaMachine?
My main influences, when I’m writing for ScreaMachine, are the big names of the past like Judas Priest, early Metallica, Maiden, Savatage etc, but if you talk about Francesco Bucci only, there’s a shitload of other music to care about.
Keep in mind that I’m not a teenager anymore, so it’s my tastes in music are various and range to electronic music to reggae, from roots blues to raw black metal, because they reflect the experiences I had in my life.
I started listening to HM in the early ‘90’s with “Kill ’em All” by Metallica, but soon I went crazy about the rising extreme metal music scene. Those were the years of American and European Death Metal masterpieces, I’m thinking about Morbid Angel, Deicide, Dismember, Bolt Thrower and so on, and of the second wave of black metal with bands like Immortal, Darkthrone, Dissection, Mayhem, Burzum, Summoning, that I love so much.
I can’t forget that I spent over 25 years of my “career” in Stormlord, that has a strong relationship with black metal.
On the other hand I’m a bass player and I love this instrument so much, so I’m very interested in ‘60’s jazz, fusion, soul, 70’s funk (for me James Brown is as important as Rob Halford) and so on.
Right now, I try to think only in terms of good music and bad music.
ScreaMachine features experienced musicians from various projects. How does that affect the songwriting and creative process within ScreaMachine?
Well, we’re musicians… virtually every experience we do affect our creative process.
Of course, our previous projects are part of our DNA and I think that, in some way, they are present in the songs of ScreaMachine.
Talking about my stuff, if you listen to the title track of the album or to the last track, “The Epic of Defeat”, featuring Damna from Elvenking on guest vocals, it’s easy to recognize my past in extreme metal, even if now I’m playing a different genre.
This is the thing I love about music: it allows you to express yourself in so many ways and on so many levels.
In a world where music streaming is king, physical media like vinyl records and CDs have seen a resurgence. What are your thoughts on the importance of physical media in the music industry?
I don’t know about CD’s, but vinyls are coming back for sure!
It’s a good thing, even if we’re talking about a little part of the market that affects in no way the underground bands that will never have a chance to live with their music. And this is such a pity because, even if people think that only art matters, it’s also important to have the time and the chance to care about the art. To develop it, to dedicate to it. And it’s harder to do that when you are working your ass of on many other “normal” works just because you can’t count on music for your daily support.
I’m not talking about ScreaMachine, that is such a young and small band who’s living just on our passion, of course, but also about some friends of mine that are professional musicians and are suffering so much for this choice.
The return of the vinyl, together with the merchandising, could be a good way to support the band, to show some love and to persuade the music labels to produce more young bands. Because the listeners should keep in mind that music labels are not charities.
The physical media is also a different way to listen to the album. No rush, no confusion, you have to care about what you are listening to, maybe taking your time, reading the lyrics, listening to the music over and over again to dig deeper on the work of the artist.
This is very difficult when it comes to streaming services, and not only for the young, but for me too. It could happen that, every now and then, I discover a band with a lot of albums, and I really don’t know where to start because there’s just too much music available. Usually I start from playlist of a greatest hits, but that’s a pity because I’m losing the experience of listening to one single album to follow the track that the artist has built for me.
I’ve to say that I was not liking many of my favorite albums at the first listen. It took me some time to understand them, and I did it because I’ve spent some money on these LP’s, so I was giving a value to them and I was respecting them enough to listen to it several times before discarding it.
Most of the time, with digital music if you’re not interested in the first 20 seconds, you skip it.
Just imagine what damage this attitude is to the music of Manilla Road, Virgin Steele, or even Pink Floyd (that of course has a name that demands respect from the listener), or to the work of musicians like us, who spent years in the making of an album.
You’ve released your music through Frontiers Music Srl. What has it been like working with that label, and how has it helped you as a band?
How could I be happier? Frontiers Music is one of the most interesting and respected labels on the scene, they go most of the big names of hard rock, despite this they still have the balls to bet on new bands like ScreaMachine and I thank them so much for this chance.
The way they promote the album and support the band is so professional and dedicated that I can’t imagine a better label for us right now.
Is there any band that you would like to share the stage with that you haven’t already?
We still have a long road in front of us and we still need to play on so many stages and with so many bands…
Even after all these years, every time I play with a band, small or big, I’m still very curious about it and, if I see something that works really well, I take inspiration from it.
So, every show with every musician is an interesting experience for us, but if I have to tell just one name, of course I would call the Metal Gods, Judas Priest.
ScreaMachine’s music has a very high-energy, fist-pumping quality to it. How do you keep that energy up when you’re recording in the studio or performing live?
Lemmy said that if it’s too loud, you are too old. For us is never loud enough, so we pump until the amps blow. That’s when we know that we’re doing a good job.
“Church of the Scream” features ten brand-new songs. How do you approach the process of selecting which songs will make it onto the album and which ones won’t?
Balancing is the secret. I don’t like albums that have few good singles, and the rest is a filler.
Of course, you can’t write all singles, because it’s ok to have more complex songs, more experimental etc., but the most important thing to me is to have a track list where you are able to recognize every song. Every song must have its own personality and charisma, in that way you will not bother the listener and yourself too.
We work a lot on this goal in order to find the soul of the song, and when we feel that it has something that is worth the listen, it’s included on the album. On the other side, if it sounds just ok, with good riffs and good melodies, but it lacks “the fire”, we prefer to move forward, maybe taking the best part of that song and working them in a different way, creating something new or just putting them in our archive.
What’s next for ScreaMachine after the release of “Church of the Scream”? Do you have any plans for new music or touring that you can share with us? Thank you!
We want to go on the stage and play very loud everywhere, nothing else matters. The first date will be here in Rome in few weeks, then we’re arranging more shows in Italy from September on, then we’ll see.
Thank you very much for having ScreaMachine here.
I hope that your listeners will support our music, because there’s a big need to bang our heads with a shot of pure Loud Heavy Metal Music in these troubled times.
You can discover everything about ScreaMachine following these links:
Official shop/merchandising: https://screamachine.bandcamp.com/
Official website: www.screamachineband.com
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