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Mirko Olivo (Ancestral)

Interview with Mirko Olivo from Ancestral
by Grigoris Chronis at 14 September 2007, 2:57 PM

Half Italian bands are, indeed, very good while the other half sound rather boring. Thankfully, ANCESTRAL belong to 'case A' and their debut album, The Ancient Curse, surely is a notable piece of European Power/Epic Metal music. The band's singer, Mirko Olivo, was rather willing to have a little chat with the mag for your pleasure.

Hello from magazine! Can we have - for a start - a short bio of ANCESTRAL?

Hello to everybody. The band was born in 1999. The first lineup was composed by me on vocals, Alex Olivo on guitars, Domiziano Mendolia on bass and Massimiliano Mendolia on drums. In the beginning we used the keyboards (played by myself) in our songs, but with the entrance of guitarist Leonardo Fasitta (in February of 1999) the band decided to eliminate them in order to create a heavier sound. In Januray 2000 we entered the Riff Raff studios in Marsala (TP) to record our first demo CD called Travel In A Forgotten Time which received a large success in Italy and abroad, especially in Japan and Germany.

After one year, we came back with a new demo CD called Breed Of Chosens that continued the concept of the first release. Breed of Chosens is, from our point of view, a more mature work than the first one and - in fact - it received an excellent response around the world. After many months of hard work and many lineup problems (Leonardo Fasitta gets out of the band but he’s replaced by Giovan Battista Ferrantello), we finally released (February 2005) a new promo CD called The Walls of Troy. Thanks to it, ANCESTRAL signed deal with the historic Italian label Underground Symphony. The result of this collaboration is The Ancient Curse.

I see. How did you decide to form ANCESTRAL and what was the motive for you to work on this kind of Metal music?

The reason is very simple: we love this kind of Metal. There’s not any kind of business involved in it.

So, whichs band would you describe as being your main influences in the ANCESTRAL sound?

The bands that inspire our music are a lot! Of course the NWOBHM with IRON MAIDEN, but also BLIND GUARDIAN, GAMMA RAY, HELLOWEEN, ICED EARTH, ANTHRAX, ANNIHILATOR, HELSTAR, NUCLEAR SYMPHONY and many others.    

What’s the feedback so far for The Ancient Curse? Are the fans of the specific genre happy with this release? Furthermore, did you have good reviews in mags for the time being?

The fans of this kind of Metal  have really appreciated our proposal and it’s possible to discover it just having a look at our site’s guestbook or reading comments on MySpace. We are very glad for this answer to our music. Until now, we have had very flattering reviews that have surprised us even if we think that our album is a valid work.    

Really, how experienced are ANCESTRAL onstage? Have you done enough gigs already? Have you supported any ‘big’ band so far in Italy? In addition, have you played so far in another country?

We have a fairly good experience on stage (remember that we started in 1999), although in the south of Italy is very difficult to organize gigs or festivals. In 2002 we played with VISION DIVINE at Dominus Metal Festival. Actually, we are working with our manager Chiara Pellegrini to organize an Italian tour to support The Ancient Curse live this autumn and we are waiting for some confirmation from promoters. So far, we have not played in other countries but we will play in Germany in Headbangers Open Air festival in July 2008.

In many songs in The Ancient Curse you did achieve to make me wondering in other times, places etc. Who’s behind the lyrics? How important do you think are lyrics in a song? Do you feel Metal fans should give more interest to a song’s lyrics?

I wrote the lyrics together with my brother, Alex. I think the lyrics are the completion of the music but people often do not read them. This isn’t necessarily a wrong thing.  Metal fans often need to hear many times the songs for understanding them and then, if they like the songs, they will long for knowing the music and the authors more deeply by reading the lyrics. After all, you can only hear the music or you can live the complete atmosphere of the song by reading the lyrics. I wrote this lyrics because I want to communicate my experience and my feelings; reading them it’s a personal choice.

What’s your inspiration when writing music? The 21st century, literature, humans? What?

It’s difficult to say. Every situation, every book, every legend may be a source of inspiration for us. Personally, I read a lot of fantasy books and I love the mythology of every people as I  like their history. These reading makes me travel with my mind and from this travel we come back with our songs.  

Have you started working on a second full-length album already? Will you preserve the same line-up for the recordings of your sophomore album?

Our next release will be created by the same line-up. We have just started the composition of the new songs and we hope to complete the next album within 2009.

Do you want ANCESTRAL to reach the status of other Italian bands even if you have to ’alter’ your sound/style to a more mainstream ’path’? Or you are dedicated to perform this kind of Metal music? Really, how would you describe ’evolution’ or ’progression’ in a Metal band? You know, these are rather weird words…

This is a very difficult question. I think that evolution (or progression) must be a natural path for a band; it is connected with the growth of each individual in the band. Evolution should not be searched only to follow a trend or for money. For answering to your question, ANCESTRAL will follow its way, whatever it may be.     

Would you like to take part in a Metal tribute album? Do you have any bands in mind? To extend: which non-Metal artist/song you can imagine you’d like to record a heavy cover?

Of course we would like! Personally, among Metal bands I would like to take part to a tribute to IRON MAIDEN or BLIND GURADIAN. About a tribute to a non-Metal artist: we have already done that! In our album you can find THE BEATLES’ cover of Eleanor Rigby!

Do you usually perform cover songs in your gigs?

We usually play some IRON MAIDEN or JUDAS PRIEST cover.  

Thanks a lot for your time to do this interview! We wish all the best to ANCESTRAL in the future!

Thanks to you Greg and to Metal Temple for this interview. Hail to every Metal brother. Stay tuned for other news from ANCESTRAL!


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