Italian Rock Noir artistes Belladonna were in London last week to play at the Borderline. Guitarist Dani Macchi spoke to Mark Taylor afterwards about life in Belladonna and about their latest critically acclaimed album 'Shooting Dice With God'.
'Shooting Dice With God' is your fourth album, but it's only now that the UK is starting to take strong notice of Belladonna. Do you think this album is your best to date?
"We are absolutely proud of this album, even though we would not classify any of our four albums in terms of quality as compared to the others: they are all too dear and close to our hearts for us to be able to do that."
You've played a prestigious gig last week at the Borderline in London. What did it mean to you to be playing again in London and what can fans expect from a Belladonna live show?
"Playing a rock show in London is akin to playing a reggae show in Kingston, Jamaica! We can only be proud and thrilled to perform our music in one of the rock capitals of the globe. Whoever comes to one of our shows can expect a totally live performance (no backing tracks, click tracks etc), a selection of songs from all of our albums (we are never sure which ones, we love to change the set list almost at every show) and lots of improvised, jammed sections."
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You had Mishkin Fitzgerald supporting as a special guest. Can you tell us more about her?
"Mishkin is a fabulous artist and we truly love her! She's the prime mover of great Brighton punk cabaret band Birdeatsbaby and she also often performs by herself with just her piano and her wonderful voice."
I believe the first time you played London was at Olympia for the Erotica 07 event where you shared the stage with burlesque artist Dita Von Teese. How was that experience and how important is it mixing art with a live performance?
"Sharing the stage with Dita was very exciting – and even more so sharing the backstage area with her, if truth be known! A live performance is always Art in our opinion, if a band is putting Heart and Soul in the Music."
Belladonna have quite a unique sound, yet most rock bands are categorized into a certain genre of rock music. What genre best suits Belladonna?
"We are thrilled you reckon our sound is somewhat unique – that's the ultimate compliment as far as we are concerned. Thank you very much. When we started the band Luana and I coined the term "rock noir" to self-describe what we were doing musically – so we would not get mistakenly lumped into other genres that are great but that we do not feel we belong to, like goth or Metal – and the term has stuck, and has lead many other bands from all over the world to describe as "rock noir" what they do: a true honour for us!"
According to my dictionary 'Noir' means: "A fiction characterized by cynicism, fatalism and moral ambiguity." Is this what we can find in the lyrics and mood of songs by Belladonna?
"Ambiguity is possibly the key word for us. What is the Truth? Do you think we can ever actually know it or even perceive it? Anything that is hard to define is Life, and whatever is Life is Music, and if Music does not feel ambiguous in mood and meaning it is somewhat non-human and non-alive in our opinion."
Being Italian, how difficult is it to express yourselves fully in English?
"In some ways it's maybe even easier than it would be if we wrote in Italian: English is not our mother tongue so we are not emotionally or culturally attached to the actual words we use. That gives us the freedom and platitude to write whatever comes out of our fantasies with probably less inhibitions than a English native speaker would normally, typically have."
How important is it for foreign bands to sing in English? Rammstein made a success of it by sticking to their native language. Would it be possible for an Italian band to succeed in the same way?
"Yes, of course, in our opinion. Italian music does not truly resonate outside of Italy not because of the language used, but because it is in 99.8% of the cases terribly provincial in style and quite amateurishly put together in craft. The only reason we sing in English is because lyrics are a very crucial ingredient of our musical recipe."
Negramaro, a very popular band in Italy, performed here in the summer as one of the supports to Bruce Springsteen. What other bands from your country can you recommend us to listen to?
"We are personal friends with many other bands and artists here in Italy so we'd lothe to single out just some and neglect all the others: it would not be nice nor fair on our part if we did."
I believe you're bringing out your very own red wine. What is the best dish to compliment this?
"It is a very strong and intense wine (very much as we like Music to be) so it goes well with strong and intense tasting food. Taken by itself it has very strong and intense aphrodisiac effects – you've been warned!"
You collaborated with Michael Nyman who played piano on 'Let There Be Light'. Who would you most like to collaborate with in the future?
"We are actually working on another very special collaboration, a song that we cannot divulge much about at present. Hopefully it'll be released before the Summer."