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Cristiano Bertocchi (Labyrinth)

Interview with Cristiano Bertocchi from Labyrinth
by Grigoris Chronis at 16 January 2006, 3:05 PM

Hailing from the rather active Italy (metal wise), Labyrinth are one of these bands which in my opinion definitely deserve more recognition. Fine Power Metal twisted with Progressive elements in a quite smart way, filled with passion and love for what they do. If your cappuccino cup is empty, bassist Cristiano Bertocchi is here to fill it up with answers!

Hi Cristiano, greetings from magazine!

Hi guys and thank you all!

First of all, let us focus on Labyrinth: what’s the band’s status at the time? You certainly played lots of gigs during the summer of 2005. Are you through with live performances now? Are you taking some time off or are you already writing new material?

You’re right because we had good shows this year, especially with Dream Theater & Angra in late June. You know they are great musicians and nice persons, so it was a pleasure for us. Also we had a good feeling while on stage and the fans were great!!! Actually we are writing new songs, consequently live acts are temporary stopped.

What’s your impression concerning the upcoming Labyrinth album? Have you (as a band) shaped up a general direction or are you waiting to see where the whole ’thing’ goes during the songwriting/recording process?

We write songs in a natural way, thinking about best melodies, strong guitar riffs and grooves, so our music is a mix of that.

Would you describe yourself as the kind of musician who needs to have everything planned so as to start recording or do you leave things to run for ’themselves’, as soon as you’ve set up the basic factors for a song/album? You see, sometimes bands/artists see their album(s) developing in a somehow different profile than initially assumed.

To get a clear plan it’s the right thing and we work like that, especially during the pre-production as well as in recording sessions. Honestly it happened many times that our musical ideas went in different ways compared to the beginning.

In what level do you contribute to Labyrinth’s compositions? Any lyrical themes?

My musical contribution works between groove sections and riffs composed but I didn’t write lyrics…I mean not yet !

Differentiation is progress, some people say. Labyrinth is a band known for not sticking to the same formula. What should we expect now, in relation to your latest release, Freeman? I like this album very much but have heard different opinions from other Labyrinth fans.

Freeman is a combination of things. We made Thrash ’episodes’ as a soul rage side plus melodies from the heart brave side. Personally, I like this album so much because it’s honest and spontaneous and we are so proud of it. Still, our aim is to write the evolution of Return To Heaven Denied (1998) using all the experience we’ve gained throughout these years!!!

Would you label your music as Progressive Power Metal? Would you label it as anything? Really, do we need ’labels’ in music? I find this convenient at times, since - due to lack of money and free time - a fan can focus at once to bands/albums of his general taste. On the contrary, this ’label’ thing may be the cause for not having the chance to give another band/album a try.

All Labyrinth’s members have different styles but everybody ’comes’ from historical bands like Helloween and Fates Warning and we think that having a label is the most important thing for Heavy Metal bands. But, you know, music is evolution too, so sometimes to have the same balance is not possible.

You’ve been playing with Labyrinth from almost the band’s beginning (1996?). Some characterize Labyrinth as an ’unlucky’ band since they have not yet gained the recognition they deserve. Do you share this feeling?

Yes, I agree 100% because we’ve always had troubles, business wise. That’s why it’s very important to get a direct relation to a record company! I also think that Metal music has changed from a flat condition so my opinion is that ’quality’ went down. But I feel it’s growing up again, with a full force! We are on this frequency!

Really, are you satisfied with your label’s support (Arise)? They seem to be real fans of your music. Still, they’re obviously a smaller label than e.g. Metal Blade.

Metal Blade did a good job for us and they put Labyrinth in the right way . We just did some wrong steps for important decisions. Regarding Arise, they are doing their best…Especially Javi (the chief), who’s a nice guy!

Would you be fond of seeing Labyrinth inking a deal with a major record label? You know: Sony or Warner Bros. Well, there are many examples of artists/bands that signed major deals and then wished they’d stayed with their previous, ’average’ label…

Signing a contract with majors like Sony or Warner Bros would mean moving to a very big business, so as to have a big sense of responsibility for a band… Relations between two parts need a very clear system to work good, otherwise it is not possible to survive!

Back to the summer gigs: the Metalway Festival, a support slot for the Dream Theater / Angra gigs in Italy, many shows of your own. Well, you surely hit the road! What was the feedback from both Labyrinth and non-Labyrinth fans?

We had a very good feedback from the fans. Also, during Metalway Festival, we found a beautiful situation on stage and a perfect feeling with the local crew…you know musicians need good technicians to do their best performance and we got it! The atmosphere was so cool and there were many bands on the bill…Great!

Do you think that the fans were satisfied with the setlist you presented? Did you have any requests for songs you never imagined you’d be asked to perform live?

I think we did a good show (by heart) and the setlist was not so long but cool! It happened that I was requested to play songs like The Right Sign (from 1996’s No Limits) because we had never played this song in our career, so this fan was more interested in techno patterns I guessed! Also in Motala (Sweden) a crazy fan asked me about a cover of Raining Blood (Slayer)!?! Incredible but funny!

Well, only a couple of questions concerning your other occupation(s), besides Labyrinth. I think a few people know about your participation in the Starship Pusher project. Could you supplement some info on this band? I had the chance to ’surf’ to the band’s official site and was surprised to see you’re heading to a completely different direction with Starship Pusher. Even the band’s name brought Hawkwind to my mind (Laughs)!

Yes, Starship Pusher (official website) is a very important project for me because I need to make music in different ways and have an expression on 360 degrees. This is a kind of super-Rock with Black Sabbath and Motorhead influences. Actually we are writing the songs for our first full length!

Cristiano Bertocchi as a solo artist: what are you up to, on your own? Do you have any music already composed?

Yes, I started my speed-melodic solo project’s songwriting some days ago and I’ll be so busy in the next months!

Cristiano, thanks for your answers! Last note: would you give an instant answer to the following Ancient Greek poem’s quote: How would you recognize greed replacing creation in your life?

Looking at myself through my ideals.


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