ThisIsNotAScene’s own Ian Girle takes some time to chat with Davide (guitarist & songwriter) of Italy’s MirrorMaze. Sparked but Ian’s recent impression of their debut LP, “Walkabout”, the natural course was to get a hold of the band and find out how they captured this chemistry on a premier release.
Congratulations on the release of “Walkabout”; it’s a seriously good album. Did it end up being exactly as you anticipated or were there any changes during the recording process?
Hi Ian! Thank you for your nice words about our debut! I hope it’s clear we tried to do our best. So.. about the recordings.. we recorded all the definitive instrumental parts in just few months at the end of 2009 (after we made lots of instrumental demos of the songs before) and then the only changes and remakes, while we were preparing all the things for the mix and mastering process, were in lyrics and singing parts where Fabio D’Amore helped us to create a better develop of it with more pathos accuracy on details.
How have the personnel changes affected the band?
As many time happens to the bands, we had lots of changes of members before we found our right line up. I think that we are finally arrived in 2011 to the MirrorMaze’s sound… All of us are perfect in the role we actually have.. we all play good, we have lots of live experience and we have a musical chemistry within the band because of our common influences.. So that’s perfect right now!
What was it like to work with Ray Alder and how did that collaboration come about?
To work with a legend like Ray was great! I’m still surprised that he really sang for us! The collaboration with him came out from Fabio (our singer) who was in contact with Nick van Dyke (Redemption’s guitarist, band where Ray also sings). It needed just few e-mail to start this collaboration and after 2 weeks we had the amazing Ray Alder on one of the highlights of the album called “Deeper Signs” and we are still really proud of it. I personally think that he and his singing surely add something beautiful to the entire album.
I recently reviewed another Italian band (Pulseve) for ThisIsNotAScene. They were quite different to Mirrormaze but both bands are really good. Is the music scene in Italy a healthy one at the moment?
Mmm… good question man. I think that everywhere in Italy, like the rest of the world, there are thousands of good musicians with good songs and ideas that could really become someone one day, but not only or particularly in Italy… and ”healthy”… maybe it’s not the right word to use when we talk about music in Italy these times, because here there’s not a real scene where you can promote your music and do it the right way…Every musician here, mostly in the rock/metal scene, try to have a lucky strike by going to other countries..So…good musicians without opportunities, this is the sad truth of our country.
What is the story behind the striking cover art?
We choose Gustavo Sazes for our artwork because of his awesome technique in doing pictures and covers, always between real and abstract, he represent his own thoughts and ideas in amazing ways every time. Our cover is clearly a human face in between all possible thoughts, memories and expectations for the future made up by Gustavo using much gaudy colors as usual, the pic on the left of a woman hand to hand with her son, the mirrors on the right that begins to the bottom and ends in the upper side of the cover (an evident recall to our band’s name), the theme of the walkabout journey (“walkabout” is the aboriginal trip through the dark forest to discover ourself) represented by the rails… I think that he made an awesome job and I couldn’t image a better cover for our debut.
Your music has a foot in melodic metal, and another in prog. The combination of the two has produced some excellent songs and a sound that is very much Mirrormaze. Was it your intention to do this, or has the sound developed over time and building on this very concept, the album features 9 strong songs. How do you approach the writing process – is there a main songwriter/songwriting team, or does each band member contribute ideas?
I’m really glad to hear it from you, you are the first one that understand the mix of alternative/ melodic metal with progressive stile and then appreciate the originality of MirrorMaze. Really nice to know that you found a different sound as usual prog band. I tell you the truth… being the songwriter and inspired not only by prog bands like Dream Theater, Symphony X, and Fates Warning but also by more alternative bands like Alterbridge (one of my favorite with DT), Audioslave, and Nickelback; I can say the mix of these music style came out without thinking too much and without look for a particular effect; maybe it could seem this way but it’s not the case. The music came out like you can ear now on ‘Walkabout”…It’s obvious that some tracks needed more time to be defined and finished like ‘Lost in a Belief’ and others less like ‘Earn your answers’… but can you imagine that the basic track of ‘Deeper signs’ was written in just and afternoon? I think that is the most beautiful song (along with ‘Broken Soul’) in the album, and yet the easiest to write to me… so this is just the beauty to compose: let you carry and move by your music without try to create something that isn’t truly yours. So… I don’t believe, especially in these days, to have created a new style of music and maybe tomorrow other bands starts to follow me… absolutely not, but surely something that could make MirrorMaze music just different from other prog band, identifying our sound with this little kind of innovation.
The decision to employ Staffan Karlsson to mix the album has clearly paid off; how did you go about identifying who you would work with?
We decided to make a debut that should be well made under all the points of view and could sounds good for years too, so it was clear that the mix and mastering process should have been done by a great tech like the amazing Staffan Karlsson. With his curriculum (who worked with Stevie Wonder, Nathan East, Earth Wind & Fire, Roxette and Firewind) he was the first of our list. It was great to work with him for lots of reasons… the most important to me is that he did lots of remakes and mix of the songs as many times as we wanted until we felt that it sounded good for our tastes.
You have been playing some dates in Italy recently. Do you have any plans for a wider European tour? In short whats next for Mirrormaze?
We’re ready to play as much as possible and to make a supporting tour. We have some offers that we are evaluating… at the end of the summer we’ll have a clearer idea of what we could do the next season and we’ll announce it to our fans! Last time we were the openers for one of the most important Italian power metal band: Labyrinth! It was great and the people were enthusiastic! For the moment there’s a guy who finds us these kind of gigs but we are looking for a more serious booking agency or a promoter that help us to play our music. Obviously in the mean while we continue to create songs for the second album! Thanks to Ian Girle for the interview and to all the readers of ThisIsNotAScene! All the best.
Davide Penna & MirrorMaze