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Stefano Venuto (Last Warning)

Interview with Stefano Venuto from Last Warning
by Grigoris Chronis at 08 March 2009, 7:58 PM

Those who are -instead- looking for emotions and good melodies mixed with some genuine Heavy Metal will play it safe with Throughout Time - that said by LAST WARNING's bassist, Stefano Venuto. The Italian sextet's new album is a very good mix of strong melodies and impressive instrumentation, both stepping on a metallic layer. Friends of QUEENSRYCHE, CRIMSON GLORY and FATES WARNING should grab the chance and 'dig' more into this band, I think.

Interview with: Stefano Venuto from LAST WARNING

Hello from! Throughout Time - the band's newest release - surely has the potential to feed the hunger of the Heavy/Prog Metal fan. You've been around for many years so we think you had enough experience in order to transfer well LAST WARNING's aim with this album. How's the feedback so far, first of all?

I would say that the feedback has been very positive. Most of the reviews are positive and it is anyway always very interesting and in a way funny to receive very different opinions regarding our album. Somebody appreciates certain things and somebody else says the exact contrary. My Kingdom Music has been doing a great job in promoting our album. Such an effort is giving great results and we are enthusiast about this, especially if we think that with the previous two albums the promotion was done only partially.

Were you confident enough you had written a good album when you finished the making, or you were anxious how Throughout Time would result in reviews?

After finishing the making, we were quite sure to have a very good product in our hands, a solid one, thanks to powerful and clear sound and valid songs, but we had no idea if it would have been welcomed or not. We have an aloof attitude towards music trends. We write our songs without taking care of what is the major stream on the market.

Being in a new label - My Kingdom Music - did you have any cooperation on how the new album should sound like? Was the deal inked before or after the writing of the album's songs? How did you cooperate with this label, anyway?

We started cooperating with the label after having finished the CD and there obviously was no influence from My Kingdom Music on our writing. Now there's a very good synergy between us and we are working all together in order to promote Throughout Time as much as possible.

Throughout Time - in my ears - has a good balance of the Metal classics and a 'progressive' way of thinking. Do you think this mix shall please classic Metal fans and Prog Metal listeners? Do you fear they both may not be 'fulfilled', claiming there's not enough of their wants in the new album?

To be honest, being labeled as progressive band is in our opinion something confining in a too restricted area. At the very beginning we liked to define ourselves a techno Metal band, that at those times meant writing typical Heavy Metal songs adding a good instrumental technique. Unfortunately, with the arrival of the so called techno music, the term became very tricky and we stopped using it. Only afterward prog entered our sound, but the heavy side or our songs had still a lot of space. I think that those who are looking for an exasperated technicality will be disappointed. Those who are -instead- looking for emotions and good melodies mixed with some genuine Heavy Metal will play it safe with Throughout Time.

It took you so long to release Throughout Time. What were the obstacles in the meantime? Did you consider it was not worth keeping the band, at some time?

After the release of  Under A Spell \[2000] we had two important changes in our lineup: first the singer and then the drummer. These changes took quite some time and slowed down our work. But they did not stop it. So, once the line up was steady, we could start again working hard on the new songs and on our performances. We produced a demo album and after that we did a pre-production of Throughout Time. Then we finally started the actual recording. Once we finished it, we needed a label. Finding a label nowadays is not the easiest thing in the world, so some more time went by. In any case, also in most difficult periods, the life of the band was never in doubt.

Throughout Time features the 'ace' point of strong melodies, in addition. How easy was it to find the right formula for fitting each melody in each song? Who writes the music and - also - who writes the lyrics in LAST WARNING? Do you think you focus a lot on the lyrics themes or it's just as good as it gets to dress up a song?

Well…let's say that at the very beginning the melodies come out very spontaneously. They are then carefully analyzed in order to correct possible mistakes and improved. We than take good care that, together with the lyrics, they are fluent enough. This kind of work is an absolute priority for us. Sometimes it is very hard and complicated to get a satisfactory result.

I am the bass player and also the one who writes the music and the lyrics but each member of the band gives an essential contribution to the final result, adding to the songs personal and extremely beautiful arrangements, able to create our typical sound. I think the lyrics are very important. They are not only words used just for the way they sound. They must be able to communicate something to the listener.

The new album does not sound that 'Italian', to be specific (do not misunderstand this!). The production/mix is of an international level. Did you spend much time into the recordings, more than you initially had scheduled? How stressful was it to come with the desired result?

Throughout Time was recorded in about one month and a half, in three different recording studios. We then mixed it in less then a week, which is quite a short time for a 68-minute album. It is a matter of fact that we subsequently decided to go through it once more. Same thing for the mastering, which was completely and beautifully done again from the very beginning by Alessandro Vanara. Unfortunately, we never have enough time for the recordings, and this is very stressful. I hope in the future we will have the chance to work even harder on the albums, in order to get a result even better than this. We wanted acoustic drum sounds, and we privileged the dynamics of any instrument, in order to add much more colour to our songs. I am very happy that you say that the production/mix is of an international level. This means we did a good job.

LAST WARNING is a mystique name for a band. Does it refer to something specific? Do you have the same name all these years? You've been around fro many years, right? How was LAST WARNING formed in the first place? Were you playing with other bands at the time?

The name LAST WARNING comes for the title of a very old song of ours. We thought it was perfect as a name for the band. If I remember it correctly it was ' 87 or ' 88, we were very young, we did not know yet about the existence of a great band called FATES WARNING. So, the assonance with their name is absolutely unintentional. The band has more or less always been the same, with the same group of friends. We have been playing together for more than 20 years now…

Do you have enough leftovers from the sessions for Throughout Time or you used all the songs written? How did you choose what's in or out for an album anyway? Do you all vote?

There are no songs which were excluded from Throughout Time but there are a lot of very good ideas kept aside, which will be taken into consideration for the next album. The thing is that when a riff or a melody does not convince us 100%, we work together to find the best way to solve the problem. We do it in a quite democratic way, and this works most of the times. When we do not succeed in finding a solution that suits our needs, we just leave the material aside. Sometimes it becomes very useful for future songs.

The great artwork adds to the album's value! Who came up with this idea and who designed it? Did you have any other alternatives that you eventually rejected?

The artwork was done by Claudio Bergamin, a very interesting and peculiar artist with a great talent. He had this image in his archive. It immediately impressed us because it perfectly symbolized the meaning of our CD, which tells stories inspired and developed in different periods of time. Slightly changing both the image and our logo, which we decided to renew after a very long period, the cover was ready and everybody was very satisfied with the result. Before we chose this image we examined a great number of covers by different artists, some of them also famous ones, without finding what we were looking for. Then My Kingdom Music introduced us to Claudio's work, which, as I said, we immediately loved. In our opinion a good artwork definitively adds a great value and professionalism to the album.

What's up with touring at the time, in order to promote Throughout Time? Have you lined up any dates yet? Any summer festivals? Is it easy for you to get on the road, in regards to your daily occupations (jobs, families etc)?

We will try to promote the CD live as much as we can, in order to let people listen to our music. It is not easy to organize both the dates and our daily occupations, but it is going to be a great pleasure to succeed in doing so.

Do you focus a lot on your gear when recording/playing live? Do you support the opinion that only the appropriate gear can reveal music's magic as wanted? On the other hand, other people say that only by playing with just a cable/cord and an amplifier someone can see if the music is good (no effects etc).

You know, most of the times our songs come out from acoustic guitars or from the piano, so that you do not have a wall of sound that could hide their defects. Only after we analyzed the acoustic version we go on with the electric instruments. At that point the gear becomes extremely important in order to obtain very good sound and to emphasize each instrument. You have to think that we are six: if we used rough sounds the final effect would be a mess. This always happens when the music is very complex, like ours. In any case, at the end of day, it is a matter of an instrument, a cable, an amplifier and little more. The real challenge is to find the right sound, a sound for each instrument that can mix with the others. Things are completely different when talking about a recording studio, where having the chance to use a very good gear really makes the difference. A difference that you will then listen on the album.

If you had to bring some bands as LAST WARNING's influences, who will that be? I read for a couple of bands in your website and I totally agree, for a start. Did any of your beloved bands let you down recently with non-satisfactory albums or pale 'gig' performances?

Each member of Last Warning brings in the arrangements his musical influences, which are very diverse, but which then find a common meeting-point in our sound. As far as I am concerned, I started listening to PINK FLOYD. Then, during the 80s and the 90s, I used to listen to American bands. I loved albums such as Rage For Order by QUEENSRYCHE, which I consider the milestone of the genre, and Operation Mindcrime, the absolute masterpiece by the band of Seattle. I loved the Canadian RUSH, the real fathers of Prog Metal, but I can also mention: CRIMSON GLORY, WATCHTOWER, with Control And Resistance, ANNIHILATOR, with Never Neverland. I then discovered FATES WARNING, who I think influenced me a lot. Last but not least, DREAM THEATER definitively play a big role in the entire story. With Images And Words they immensely influenced the entire genre.

I recently went to the shows of QUEENSRYCHE, DREAM THEATER, RUSH and FATES WARNING and I have to say that they are immense bands; they are always worth the price of the ticket. Maybe DREAM THEATER let me a little bit down with their latest release but I hope that with the next album, which seems \[it] will come out in a few months, they will go back to the heights we know.

LAST WARNING's aim for the future? Years pass by and there are many bands/labels around now. What's your manifest as a band?

We would like to come out with a new album in a quite short period. I am writing new songs and at the moment I have about 50 minutes of music ready at a song writing level. I obviously have to work on it together with the band, until we get to the final result. We would also like to play live as much as we can. I think Last Warning still have a lot to say in the future.

Thanks a lot for the time to do this interview. Hope Throughout Time gets the recognition it deserves.

Thank you very much for the interest shown in our album, and thank you for all your very nice questions!


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