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Daniel Liverani (Khymera)

Interview with Daniel Liverani from Khymera
by Yiannis Zervos at 05 May 2008, 11:28 PM

Daniele Liverani is one the most busy musicians in Italy, with a lot of bands and projects on his 'plate', from Prog to AOR and back. Daniele speaks to Metal Temple about KHYMERA's latest release, The Greatest Wonder, TWINSPIRITS, the Genius Rock Opera and for his brand new 'Prog' project COSMICS. Better late than never, Daniele!

Daniele, first of all, congratulations on The Greatest Wonder, great job man.

Thanks  a lot! Really appreciate your kind words!

You seem to be busy lately. From TWINSPIRITS’ Prog Metal to the AOR/Hard Rock of KHYMERA, which of these two projects is closer to your musical tastes?

Well, actually there’s also the COSMICS quartet that is going to be released on 18th of April for Lion Music! I’ve good different sides of my musical expression and it’s different ways of expressing myself. My real inspiration comes from progressive music of course, so TWINSPIRITS and COCMICS and Genius and what I did with EMPTY TREMOR and my guitar solo records are more close to my vision of music.

This KHYMERA thing, is something different for me, I don’t take care of the song writing, that is done by the Martin brothers in the UK, and I’m more like a producer/arranger here. But I have to say that my style is very much present into the KHYMERA records, even if it’s a different style of music. Also, I’ve always listened as a fan to this AOR straight Rock music, and now I have a chance of arranging, playing and experience it with a band; that’s a great experience!

On the first KHYMERA album, you worked with the famous Steve Walsh, how did this collaboration come up?

Steve Walsh came in touch with me when he appeared as a guest on my Genius Rock Opera Episode 1, singing the role of King Wild Tribe in the song My Pride, duetting with John Wetton (actually 2 Prog Rock monsters, hehe!), and after that he seemed to be positive about a further collaboration with me as producer, and that’s why KHYMERA started…as a studio project between me and Steve, and Dario Ciccioni on drums. I was playing keys guitars and bass on that album, it was more a studio project than what the KHYMERA band becomed today.

Initially he seemed to be very interested in this KHYMERA project and did a great job on the first album, but after the release he seemed to take some distance from the project and his participation to the promotion of the album was very cold and distant…and at times didn’t happen…I don’t know exactly why, but this is what happened…

Dennis Ward is a well known bass player in the Hard Rock circles, but I could never think that he could handle lead vocals so well. Who had the idea of Dennis singing for KHYMERA?

These problems with Steve lead us to the decision of changing the lead singer for KHYMERA lineup. So we decided to search for another singer. Me and Frontiers Records made some brainstorming to see who could have been the right singer for this project. I knew that Dennis had been doing great choirs for his productions since many years, and so together with Frontiers’ staff we thought to give him some songs of the new KHYMERA album to test his potential on this project. The result was outstanding and also he was very happy to sing in this record, so we decided for Dennis to be new lead singer of KHYMERA. So, basically, that’s how it went and how Dennis became a stable member of KHYMERA. It’s been a great surprise for all of us, he’s a great singer.

The HOUSE OF LORDS Martin brothers did a magnificent job on the songwriting part. Did they come to you with these songs and ask you to make the arrangements and the production? What was their involvement in The Greatest Wonder, besides songwriting?

Actually, the did the songwriting and then I had the maximum freedom in terms of arrangements and adjustment to the band’s style. Actually every member of KHYMERA had this freedom. I just provided us the demos of an initial basic version of the songs, and we started to develop them to what you can hear on the record.

How much time did it take you to record and mix The Greatest Wonder? What are the difficulties and the set backs you encountered during this process?

It took 3 months overall, especially lots of time for the post-production and the keyboards arrangements that has been done as the ultimate step. I think keyboards are very important in this style of music, to find the right sounds is crucial to let the songs fly.

Did you have from the beginning in your mind the 80’s AOR style of arranging the songs and the sound you wanted to recreate? Or did you follow the nature of each song separately?

Well, I have to say that I didn’t started with a particular sound in my mind to recreate, and this is also what happened to the other two KHYMERA records. You know, the songs are so AOR-oriented that it was not necessary to select some sounds for giving them the orientation, the songs already were so AOR-oriented! Anyway, I used lots of sounds that I also use in my other progressive bands, and I’m sure that who is listening to my other project will recognize the typical sounds of my music.

Probably I have a taste that is 80’s oriented, since I come from the 80’s actually as influences being 38 years old (hehe), and it was natural to select the right sounds for the songs, but they are the same I use for my personal music also pretty much.

I can distinguish a Progressive-mania among the virtuoso musicians these days. Do you thing that is easier to arrange/play music for a Hard Rock band, or for a Progressive one?

I think it’s a different approach, but it’s always difficult to arrange music in a good way, whatever style it is. I know what you mean with Progressive mania, I mean, it’s easy to switch on the instruments and play thousands of notes and changing thousand of presets and sounds, but it’s very difficult to choose the  right notes and the right sounds that really makes the songs take off and say what they have to say emotionally. I think it’s a process that you can learn through the years and the records you’ve done, it takes a lot of experience and passion, it’s like a sort of inner path that step by step leads you to the right balance that allows you to be a good arranger, in my opinion.

I can see you have by your side Tommy Ermolli and Dario Ciccioni once more. Does the fact that you are from Italy and you speak the same language make easier the communication with them? Or do you think that they just know your musical vision and you trust them?

Of course, we are also friends and we are used to stay together a lot, so that helps to get more in tune mentally and also musically. The main reason why I started to collaborate with them is absolutely musical, I do think that they are great talents and I really wanted them to join my musical path, being very close to my musical view. It’s not a matter of language or geographical position…today it’s not a problem to work in distance anymore…even if, I think that being able to work in person is actually better for the music, but it’s not always possible.

Daniele, you seem to be 100% dedicated to your music. Do you have any free time? Do you watch football (calcio)? Do you have any hobbies or surf the Internet?

Yeah! I pretty much spend all my time working on my music bands/project, and that’s why sometimes I’m late with  the interviews answer! Sorry! I have other interests of course, I like to relax sometimes and do all things that all people do, just normal stuff, I’m not a lot into football though…I prefer athletic sports actually.

How do you feel about people that download your music instead of buying your CDs? Do you think Internet and downloading is a way to increase your popularity by making your music accessible to more people? Or do you think that your work is been stolen in a way?

Internet has been a revolution for all of us, and in my case has been the key that allowed me to reach my musical dreams for sure…but illegal download is killing the market on the other side, I don’t really know what’s going to happen but the problem of piracy is very big and critical for labels I think. Labels and artists are dealing with very low sales and therefore budgets for producing albums and this is getting worse year by year. Fortunately, new technology has been offering equipment that can get good results at low budget, you can work in distance thanks to Internet fast connection, these aspects have made possible low budget even in big projects that couldn’t have been realized in different circumstances. It’s a very tricky situation, Internet is a huge help in promotion and contacts, but really can lower down your sales 10 times or more…Let’s see what will happen, I hope that more consciousness will rise in music lovers and piracy will lower down a little bit, to let many artist and labels survive.

What are your future plans for KHYMERA? Do you have tour plans or live performances in Europe for the summer?

We are definitely working for setting up some shows around Europe, let’s see what will happen, we are really excited to the idea of playing live as a real unit.

Besides KHYMERA and TWINSPIRITS do you have any other projects on the side that you contribute your knowledge as a musician?

Yeah, I’ve been writing/recording and producing  an instrumental concept album called The Cosmic Year for a new instrumental experimental line up called COSMICS, that features Virgil Donati on drums, Rufus Philpot on bass, and again Tommy Ermolli on guitars, and me on Keys… It’s gonna be out in spring for Lion Music Finland as well. This is a very conceptual visionary music, I’ve always had in my mind to write a concept about universe evolution where only music could recreate the feel of the different era that have been happening from Big Bang to now. Anyway, you have all the info about the concept at the myspace site:

In the musicians’ circle there is a rumor that pianists and keyboardists need a score in front of them, in order to play a single note. Do you agree with that or do you believe that this is just bad words from non-classical education musicians?

I come from the classics, being a classical piano trained guy, but I don’t need the scores to play actually. At times it can be tricky to remember all the parts, and I’m sure that it would help to have scores like Jordan Rudes is doing for example, but at the moment with some rehearsal I can do without it. Of course, when the repertoire becomes very big it’s almost impossible to remember all the songs, especially if you change setlist every night in the tours. There are some piano/keyboard players that really can’t play a note without a score in front of them, or can’t improvise a single phrase, that’s probably the worse thing that classical training can cause, but fortunately I’ve been jumping out of that mentality soon after I started to play and write progressive music.

The Prog Metal opera Genius Trilogy made quit a fuzz in the Rock and Metal world. What can you say about this part of your work?

It’s been a big part of my artistic life, and I think it’s going to be one of the highlights. I have a lot of new ideas in my mind that I’m already developing but I think that Genius will remain one of the biggest efforts of my life, it’s gonna be very difficult to do something more big and more majestic in my opinion… It took almost 8 years from the conception to the release of the last episode and - really - I can’t explain how much time and dedication it took to get all done. But I’m so proud and happy about the result and it’s going to be something that I will always be watching as a great dream come true, and I feel lucky about this.

What will happen to TWINSPIRITS after the release of The Music That Will Heal The World ? Do you have any plans for a new TWINSPITITS album in the near future?

Yes, of course, we are actually recording the second album right in this period. It’s gonna be a concept also, and I think it’s coming out a great album, the band is really grown and it will be a big step ahead for it, in my opinion, so stay tuned!

Daniele, is there anything else you want to say to your fans and to our readers?

Well, thank you for reading this interview, and thank you for hopefully checking out my music, always believe in your dreams! Never surrender!

Thank you for your time!

Thank you for you patience waiting the answers! Up to the next interview!


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