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My Refuge's Mauro Paietta: "The phrase “Enough is Enough” is perfect to describe my thoughts from last year. At a certain point I decided to stop waiting for something to change without facing a revolution!"

Interview with Mauro Paietta from My Refuge
by Lior "Steinmetal" Stein at 10 April 2021, 9:38 PM

Is this a classic case of out of the dark and into the light? It could be referred to as such, however, like every band or project out there, the passion of one can conquer all, not letting go, always trying to keep the fire alive. To say that it works like magic every time would be a wrong assumption, however, it is important to at least try. My Refuge, led by Mauro Paietta, was closer to disbandment than continue. Maruo's perseverance kept it alive and it actually mutated into a different being than before. With the release of the new album, “The Anger Is Never Over”, it turned out to be more than a story of yet another phoenix. Steinmetal had a talk with Paietta about the experience, the new album, turning things around and more…

Hello Mauro, it is a sheer delight to have you for this interview for Metal Temple online Magazine, how have you been doing sir?

Hi Lior, thanks for this interview, I'm fine thanks, despite this surreal moment due to Covid 19! I hope you are well too!

This chaotic year with the Covid-19 pandemic surely has been taking its toll, and where Europe is concerned, at least a major part of 2021 is expected to be no less but the same as 2020. How have you been dealing with the situation? Would you say that you got the hang of staying more home than outside?

It is a crazy situation; no one would ever have thought that we would experience a pandemic. Luckily I was fine. I spent a lot of time at home like everyone else, I missed going out, having a beer with friends and traveling, but I reacted, I played, composed, recorded, technology and the internet helped me not to isolate myself. I have devoted myself a lot to music of course. However, I learned to appreciate health more, and that everything is possible, and this thought also involved the whole My Refuge project.

I remember listening to your debut album back in 2015, when you were signed to the sub-label of Scarlet Records, Bakerteam Records. The album turned out to be quite good, and really a stepping stone to continue from. However, and even though you became quite active on the stages, there was no new material released up until this year. Would you say that the live scene consumed you in a way that you didn’t feel the need to come up with new songs?

Thank you, I remember Metal Temple's review with great pleasure. After the release of A Matter Of Supremacy the lineup changed with the separation from our previous singer, but we had immediately found a good stability, we did concerts, promoted the record and started writing new songs, the idea was to release a new album in 2018.

Unfortunately then several problems began, personal issues that took us away from the priority of the project, several ideas that we did not materialize, I myself had a serious accident in 2018, I was in intensive care for a month and for several months I could not play, then the decision of Valerio (drummer) and then Simone (guitar) to leave the band, which were very hard hits, I have always been the main composer of the band but they were important figures within the organization of the band. We auditioned new musicians but the necessary feeling was not created and it always seemed that we were stuck, we had the same 5-6 songs that could not be completed. For example, there are 7 versions of the song Last To Die that is present in the new album. I was tired of that situation and in 2019 I thought the band was really going to end.

Last year, you decided that enough is enough due to various lineup changes, which has been a phenomenon, more of a curse, for plenty of bands out there, and turned My Refuge into an international project. So just for a clearer understanding, did My Refuge stop being an actual band and a live entity?

The phrase “Enough is Enough” is perfect to describe my thoughts from last year. At a certain point I decided to stop waiting for something to change without facing a revolution! I had to take over the reins of my band again. Becoming an international project was a choice but everything developed naturally.

I absolutely don't think My Refuge has stopped being a live entity, however impossible it seems now. The evolution of My Refuge is not over, I met new musicians and some who participated in the record would be willing to play live, but above all as mentioned earlier this year has taught me that nothing is impossible!

I know that the overall reason was lineup changes, but since many bands have been dealing with the same issue, was your decision based on an own personal ultimatum such as either break it up or make it something else?

No, it was not an ultimatum, the band was falling to pieces and a revolution was necessary, I spoke openly to my band mates and they said to me: "You are right, we can only tell you to do what you feel and we thank you for how much done so far”, all of them still contributed to collaborate on “The Anger Is Never Over”. With the exception of our first singer, I maintained good relations with everyone, indeed, Simone (guitar) is still one of my closest friends.

The project seemed finished, I put it on standby for a few months and started collaborating with other bands, but I felt incomplete and dissatisfied due to the stop of My Refuge. One day I saw a video on YouTube of a Russian singer singing covers of songs by Scorpions, Helloween, Bonfire … and I said to myself "wow, he would be the perfect singer for My Refuge", I had never contacted a foreign singer for a collaboration, I did not know how to do and what to propose, the curious thing is that that Russian singer refused for lack of time, but this opened up the idea of an international project to me, which then became concrete!

With bright ideas in your mind, along with a slowly emerging project lineup from various countries and continents, with South America starring as your main area for the choice of vocalists, you are set to release the sophomore album, “The Anger Is Never Over”, signed to a new label, Pride & Joy Music. What can you tell about your overall state of mind with this rather challenging project behind you so to speak and the album about to be out?

The work was very, very challenging, in less than a year I composed the new songs, I arranged them, wrote the lyrics, contacted all the musicians, recorded, sent to two studios for mixing and mastering, contacted the record companies, created The videos and now the album is out on April 23 … it seems impossible, but all the work was fluid, natural, challenging but very smooth, everything worked, the energy flowed naturally, so I am convinced that it is was the right choice!

I am very excited for this new record, also for the signing with Pride & Joy Music, I wanted to change label, several labels were interested, it means that The Anger Is Never Over has good potential, but the offer of Pride & Joy Music is the one that convinced me the most, I'm very happy with the choice! I love power metal which originates in Germany, so signing and working with a German label is very cool!

Both the album’s artwork and a rather pessimistic title as “The Anger Is Never Over”, it appeared to be that you went quite an ordeal up to the point where you remained unsettled in a way. Is there a relation between the two, your mental state so to say and the title? What has caused you to become a person with a lasting anger?

Ha ha, it may seem like I'm pessimistic and full of anger, but that's not the case at all! The record could be called “My Refuge is not Over”, or “Music is Never Over”, it demonstrates the will not to stop, always carry on! Anger for me means something that must fuel a reaction to improve and react.

Our first EP as a band was “Living in Anger” and I wanted to keep a continuity with the word Anger. But there are other reasons … more curious and fun, the city where I was born and which was the headquarters of My Refuge is called Angera, I wanted to play with words with the country where I was born!

Regarding the cover, it is a photo, the angel on the cover is my girlfriend, Michela. She is a doctor, and in this period she has faced the medical emergency with commitment and dedication, she fell ill with Covid 19 and recovered and returned to work, she never gives up, the will to carry on, to never give up is the constant message of My Refuge.

Even within the anguish and the rather negative overall feeling that is generated through the album, in your view, is there a sign of hope that might take the experience forward and end it on a positive note?

Absolutely yes! My thought is to never lose hope, never give up and always react, even if sometimes it is difficult! Even if it is necessary to revolutionize everything as I did with My Refuge!

Some songs are melancholy, true, but the message in many songs is to react, not to give up. Immortal Fire talks about the accident I had in 2018, about the pain I felt, but also about the will to react. War in Heaven talks about the chaos that led to the birth of the new My Refuge, as well as After Ten Years, so hope and positivity are present, they must always be present in the life of each of us!

My Refuge involved a substantial number of musicians, which I assume that each has his or her approach in regards to their use of their abilities as musicians. How were you able to reach a common ground with the musicians in regards to your vision of “The Anger Is Never Over”? Would you say that you also mixed other ideas of those same individuals and implemented in the songwriting?

The choice of musicians, especially the singers, required a long research, I have seen hundreds of videos of singers from all over the world! I imagined those voices on my songs, listened to their projects and evaluated if we could get along. Then when I contacted them I tried to know their musical vision, and not only, however I did not want simple performers, but someone who heard those songs and gave them a new imprint, I asked everyone to interpret, modify melody and lyrics if necessary. The composition was still mine, so despite the 11 different voices the record has a cohesive and compact base and does not sound like a compilation.

At first I noticed that your comfort zone within the Power Metal spectrum remained solid and intact, however, you were also trying to break out and capture other aspects of Metal music with a few traditional vibes up to the point where I listened to a semi-Thrash Metal tune. How would you say that the songwriting process of this record made you explore, enhance your abilities as a songwriter?

My Refuge has strong roots in power and classic metal, but as you have noticed there are many influences and nuances in the band's sound. I will never play metalcore or jazz, but I do not disdain any influence from other musical genres, and involving many musicians and guests has opened new horizons and a desire to experiment. Also if you asked me my favorite records I would mention Painkiller or Keeper of the seven keys but also Symbolic by Death or Gaia by Mago De Oz, I have never closed myself on a single musical genre.

What form of lessons learned from the past did you implement on the new record within the songwriting and recording process?

The writing process is always evolving, usually it comes from the guitar or from a melody and the guitar is the protagonist, but in this case it was sometimes born from the voice. For example, Memories was born thinking about how I could write a song for Andra's voice (Ariadna Chitu, lead vocals on Memories). I had seen her video of youtube, I wrote the song and only after that I contacted her to ask her if she would like to collaborate! I also wrote that song with a midi piano played very badly by me, then Katarina Gubanova, a Ukrainian pianist, recorded it, it was the first time I wrote a song on the piano and for a female voice. In the end I didn't play anything on that track … I only added the guitars in the final mix.

Regarding the recording phase, I was able to experiment with new solutions, new sounds, keyboards and synths, but the final sound is thanks to Christian Ice who took care of the final mix and Andrea De Bernardi of the mastering phase.

Back to the recruiting of the vocalists in question, you brought in amazing talents that made this record sound larger than life. However, when it comes to sales pitches, it has been rather common for such project lineups to recruit known names in the Metal scene in order to sell a record better. Nonetheless, it seemed to me that you didn’t mind that, am I correct?

Involving famous names would have been easier, it would certainly have attracted more attention immediately, I know some singers of bands in the Italian and foreign power scene, but the risk was to have just performers, and a project that sounds like many others.

I wanted those who collaborated to be involved and enthusiastic, so some of the names chosen are totally unknown, but with great talent and deserves much more visibility. Maybe in the next album I will take away the satisfaction of having a famous guest, but not more than one!

Trust me that it was hard for me to select a song, or songs, to ask about from the record, as each with its own personality had quite an impact. Let’s take “Winterland”, one of the album’s heaviest and speedier tunes, which also presented the amazing R.A. Voltaire (Ravenous), I found it to be quite addictive. What is your take on this track?

Do you want to know something curious? Winterland is the first song I wrote in my life over 20 years ago!

I was 15 and had been playing for a few months, I had recorded a very rough demo version with one of my first bands but then that song was forgotten. When I composed the songs of the new album I decided to take it back and give it new life, with new arrangements.

I am very attached to this song, my life as a guitarist and composer started from there, so it was chosen as the first single I think it's a good song, a lot of power in the Running Wild and Blind Guardian style, R.A. Voltaire did a great vocal work, his style is very epic and manages to exploit low tones of the voice, a cross between Hansi Kursch and the more refined Joakim Brodén. I'm sure his band Ravenous EH will be talking about themselves with the next album.

Another one that I would like to focus on is the Epic driven tune, which is no less heavy than the previous, “Last To Die”, featuring the young Fernando Neri’s great pipes. Is there a connection to the fall of the Roman Empire? What can you tell about this song’s creation process?

I wanted to create an epic song, with Manowar-style influences, less fast, heavier than power, the song has undergone many changes as I said before there are even seven versions before reaching the final one.

About the lyrics are not about the Roman Empire, it is about the pain of the loss of a loved one and the regrets of not being able to say what one felt before the loss.

Also in this case I am very satisfied with the work of the singer Fernando Neri and he managed to interpret the song very well.

When it comes to the future of My Refuge, would you say that you will try to use most of the lineup of this record for the next release? Have you had thoughts of actually making this project an Opera oriented Metal similar to Avantasia or Empires Of Eden?

At the moment I would like to give continuity to the project with almost all the musicians and singers who participated in The Anger Is Never Over, it will depend on the style of the songs but at least half of the singers will be reconfirmed. For sure it will be a different record, I learned to know the musicians and their voices better. The idea of a Metal Opera is a concrete possibility, I would like to write a suite in which all singers sing, and I do not exclude a concept.

So what is in store for My Refuge for the coming year?

Due to the Pandemic and the current lineup of My Refuge, playing live will be very difficult, so I will concentrate on writing the new material, I really like composing, I write a lot and I already have different material, if I were forced to release a new record it would be ready in a month, but as I said the new record will be something different, I want to improve myself and not repeat the same solution.

I would also like to record some covers with some of the singers and publish them on YouTube, in the meantime see what the response that The Anger Is Never Over will have.

Mauro, I would like to thank you for this interview for your time. You made an excellent effort for this record and the end result proved that there is a need for more. Cheers sir

Thanks Lior for the interview and for the support you give us musicians, it's very important!


 



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