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Messiah’s Remo Broggi: “When I look out of my living room window towards the valley floor, I see the "gallows hill", which is still called today, where innocent people had to suffer their compulsive deaths”

Interview with Remo Broggi from Messiah
by Lior "Steinmetal" Stein at 07 August 2020, 10:12 PM

The past still lives in the present, and it has various shapes and heads. No matter how far mankind will advance in technological aspects, it has aspects that will take even more time to change, to re-evaluate early perceptions, to escape harsh thought patterns that can't be considered as true or even logical nowadays. Not that is a challenge. Coming back after nearly two and half decades, the Swiss Messiah are still angry and lash out at the very foundation that has been corrupted and abused. Due to the release of their new “Fracmont”, Steinmetal had a chance to talk to guitarist Remo Broggi about the experience surrounding the album, Covid-19 experience and effects, and more… 

Hello Remo, it is an honor to have you for this interview for Metal Temple online Magazine, how has life been treating you sir, especially in these crazy pandemic times?

It is also an honour to be a guest on Metal Temple - thank you very much! Well, current times are crazy as I have family with children, we were directly affected when the schools were closed. I have my own business and have been working from home, all meetings were only digital while the little kids are at home. You can imagine……. And then the band. Fortunately, we just got the recordings for our new album “Fracmont” in the box.

It has been a while since I last heard of the Messiah name in the world of Metal, I am really glad that you guys are back also with a new studio offering and not merely for the sake of performing old classics. How did it feel to get back in the studio, write and record new material?

A mixed feeling - out of joy and a little insecurity, which then very quickly subsided. I personally enjoyed the phase before the start of the studio. Writing new songs, ideas and rehearsing with the band, which took more than a year and it was very exciting.

With a different intention entirely once you made a comeback, what has been motivating you to create new material in the first place?

When we met in the classic "Noise lineup" in January 2018 to decide on a possible reunion, it was my wish to create something new and not just limit ourselves to old material with reunion concerts - as some older bands do. I am very thankful to my band mates that they agreed. The creative side of things is in the foreground for me, even if it is a tightrope walk for such an old band like Messiah. Win or lose. But that is not the most important thing for me, rather, as I said, to create something new. We keep going - no matter what comes.

Even though Messiah has been back in the Metal scene since nearly three years ago, how do you find the current Metal scene, whether locally or on a global scale? How do you find Messiah playing part of this ever growing, and also ever changing, Metal scene?

Well, I was pretty much away from the metal scene the whole time of the silence around Messiah and I don't really know it as it is today.

So far I had a lot of positive experiences at our reunion concerts. It is not as forced as before, less competition between the bands, you work together. And the joy is very big to realize that Messiah has never been forgotten, in all these years, thanks to our loyal fans. Which position Messiah takes and could take in the scene today, I don't know - and we will see. For me, the focus is on the creative and musical work, not on what significance Messiah can take on.

Do you think that even for a band that has a heritage, and considered a name among veteran Metalheads, it is rather hard to stand out due to the vast market of acts nowadays?

I'm sure it is. And Messiah will probably relive the path of the experiences of earlier days. As an old band with a 26 years release break this is again a tightrope walk. We make our music, whether the fans like it or not - that's all. We count on our loyal fans. After all, it was them who never let Messiah fall into oblivion - not the media (sorry). We are proud of that and very grateful to the fans.

After providing an introduction to your intentions with an EP, here comes the true comeback full-length release of “Fracmont”. What can you tell about the album’s title? What does it mean and how do you relate to it?

Messiah have always been influenced by religious and social issues from an atheistic point of view, with some exceptions of course. On the other hand, inspirations on the same subject, which are close to us (and to me personally) today “Fracmont” is the name of the mountain Pilatus here in Switzerland near Lucerne, where I live with my family in a mountain valley north of it.

There is the "Pilatus saga", mysticism about the supposedly final resting place of Pontius Pilate. The story of the title song is based on the story of the beginning of Pontius' birth, the biblical story, the mountain legend and the alleged naming of the mountain Fractus Mons. However, much more is the main theme, what the late medieval catholic influenced rule here on site with this mysticism. The hunt for the fear of the pagan population, which at that time was very much influenced by inhuman machinations and effects of the Catholic Church - which brings us back to the actual Messiah topic.

Over the years, and it appears that nothing really changed, Messiah’s attitude has been strongly against everything that is regarded to religion, displaying the controversies of the religious establishment and what it represents. In your point of view, how come we fail to understand, or better said evade, from addressing that impact of religion nowadays? Do you believe that it still has that powerful hold over people, especially with the advancement of technology?

One could write a book of several hundred pages about it. I think that many modern people are now self-determined and have found their very personal, uncontrolled and not power-controlled inner form of belief in many cultures and countries where religious freedom is possible. The Catholic Church is experiencing a migration in the modern world, unfortunately remaining in medieval and inhuman systems and destroying itself in this modern world.

Then there are other forms of religion, which are more political, which produce impossible inhuman excesses. Blatantly with the medieval systems, which can even function as mainstream in our modern youth culture. But this is only possible with the modern digitalized world, which should make you think a lot. And the digitalized world reaches everyone, including the disadvantaged, the marginalized and those in developing countries. The system is the same as it was in the Middle Ages - a modern digital crusade, so to speak.

But in my opinion, it is actually nothing new, more likely an evolutionary error in the formation phase of the human individual. The primitive people of primeval times basically practiced exactly the same thing in a cruel way towards their own human existence, some still do today. This is the human being, completely opposite to the animal world.

On what main issues of criticism towards religion are you dealing exactly on “Fracmont”, what has been aching you most that you felt the need to lash out and confront through the album?

The Lucerne city authorities at Fracmont, blocked the access to the valley and Lake Pilatus, where the final resting place of Pontius Pilate is said to be located. Storms, bad harvests, animal epidemics - the plague was attributed to this mysticism. Infallible people who disturbed the "Pilatus spirit" were punished in a cruel way. A more political action against the then widespread pagan population.

I live here on the spot in the valley that was closed at that time. The political coat of arms of the community still bears witness to this today and shows a gate closure. That inspired me - not only the Pilatus saga, but also what the catholic city government organized from it in the Middle Ages. When I look out of my living room window towards the valley floor, I see the "gallows hill", which is still called today, where innocent people had to suffer their compulsive deaths.

As a follower of Messiah’s early 90s album mainly, in particular, “Choir Of Horrors” and “Rotten Perish”, there is a lot to compare with “Fracmont”, yet it would appear that steps forward were made in the music, as it felt richer, and somewhat challenging. How would you say Messiah made progress in its music development?

I'm afraid I can't judge that. Today our music simply sounds the way it is. There was no orientation on the very old material, nor on the material of the 90s Noise albums. We just do what comes out of us, totally uninfluenced. Whether it is progress, I don't know. But it doesn't matter, it's just the way it is. We are very curious what the fans will say about our new album.

Do you regard “Fracmont” as it is may as well serve as a turning point for Messiah in its comeback and of course with a view forward to further projects in the future?

No, not at all. Messiah is merely a river of creation. No matter what the outcome will be. We'll stand by that. We enjoy being part of the scene, selling records, playing concerts and partying with our fans. Messiah is neither vital nor a commercial necessity for us. We simply exist or not, that's all.

What would you say were the main influences that came through you guys within the songwriting phase of the album?

In the beginning there were simply "song titles without a deep background" and my riff ideas and rough arrangements. The whole thing developed step by step. The religious aspects, astrophysical interests etc. contributed later to the elaboration.

You referred to the songwriting chapter of “Fracmont” as an open process, which means that you probably had various of directions coming and going until sealing the rightful one for you. What can you tell of the dilemmas that rose while in the studio? Were there thoughts to walk a different path from the Messiah most Metalheads know and admire?

“Fracmont” was my first songwriting at the end of 2018, not knowing what comes after that. What came, were more riff and song ideas at home. Then the phase with the band together in the practice room, which was very constructive. A continuous process of all band members, where never a "dilemma" came up. Should we have thought about what the Metalheads know and admire or expect from us? We would have lost from the very beginning.

I found a strong connection on both musical and philosophical levels to the duo of “Children Of Faith and “Morte Al Dente”. Both have that connection to the religious way of life from a young age, abuse and brainwashing. How would you say the musical elements captured that essence of the abuse of innocence?

The theme was very much influenced by the same in the composition and later arrangement with the band. The personal feelings about a terrible theme can have a very strong influence on one's own music in its manifestation. Even more profound are the lyrics to the song "My Flesh-Your Soul", the more intelligent approach of the theme of the same name of our song "Ballad Of Jesus" (not musical) from the 90s. Censored in Scandinavia at that time, scorned as tasteless in the press. At that time in the 90s, the theme was still rampant in catholic institutions, but it is still a terrible fact today.

However, it has now been published in the media. What is more tasteless? Abusing children or reporting about it in the form of art? At that time, I only felt sorry for the media, and were closer to the subject, exactly what we despised and reported on - perhaps in a somewhat unfortunate form. Nobody really understood the bridge, I am not talking about the musical change to the techno metal groove, but about the topic. We deliberately made it so provocative in order to get attention. “My Flesh-Your Soul” would be a great live song from the riffing and the arrangement and the drums. But the theme is so terrible that I don't really want to play it live - because there is really nothing to celebrate here. With such thoughts I occupy myself.

Perhaps the album’s finest, at least on my bill, “Dein Wille Geschehe”, or translated as “Your Will Be Done” or something of a sort. It harbors the amazing fusion of Thrash and Death Metal in their old school variations, like looking back to the early 90s right in the face. However, it also amplifies a kind of atmosphere that is uncanny. Was it for you a stronger spark of the old days? How do you find this track in overall?

You speak from my heart. It's a tough one, actually. It's not that easy to classify. Some will like it, some will hate it. I'm aware of that. For me personally, this song reflects more Messiah than ever before. Sure, easy to say as a composer of it. In my opinion this song has a very special atmosphere, which I also, admittedly, was looking for. Like many things on “Fracmomt”. But as I said, the listeners will decide, we can't do more than what we feel to present you - it's up to you.

For the moment it is not possible to do live shows, following the restriction due to Covid-19. How have been you adjusting to the situation as a band? Have you tried pursuing other ways to promote “Fracmont”, perhaps even playing live stream shows?

We're a little bit hard on the subject within the band at the moment, because not everybody agrees on how we deal with it. Some promoters just postpone it to next year, that's no problem for us. But our album release party is now also postponed to next year. Unfortunately, I and another band member cannot stand to do club shows for personal reasons and the risks (quarantine) associated with it. The situation makes it inventive, people react out of necessity - let's see what will happen.

How do you think that the future will look when it comes to stepping out of the pandemic into a newfound normality? Do you think that the music market will readjust itself to new standards?

No idea what the music market is all about. Certainly a lot is already changing. What worries me more is the social change - especially if it can be justified rationally. As a father of two small children 6 and 9 years old, I wonder what they will have in store. In the education within the family, society and at school, the children are taught that when you greet them, you look at each other and shake hands. And now the shaking hands no longer works. It may be banal, but it is nevertheless formative for children at a certain age. They take it on board and shape our future. I observe this with my own children. Disinfecting hands, washing them, can become a mania. Unfortunately, we're directly affected by a Covid 19 death in the neighborhood. But I'm not so sure if this person would have died of "normal influenza".

A "newly discovered normality" will certainly not correspond to the normality we knew until early spring 2020. How we / I deal with this, I do not know yet - and it is not over yet.

Any plans that were made for 2021 or you preferred to rather wait for developments near the end of 2020?

Yes, we have a lot of things planned for 2021, just promo wise delayed because of the unfortunate situation. Well, you do something new after 26 years - and then this happens, Live sucks sometimes. But we remain positive.

Remo, it has been awesome, I thank you so much for your time for this interview. You made an awesome comeback and I can’t wait to hear more new material from you guys.

You are welcome - we of Messiah thank you for allowing us to be your guests. Thank you for the compliments - we will see what the future brings. Be assured that we will continue. Best wishes to all readers of METAL TEMPLE - thrashing greetings from Switzerland!
 



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