Monday 18 July 2022

An Interview With TENEBRA

Italian Psych Doom/Stoner Rockers TENEBRA released their new album Moongazer earlier this year. You can read my review here.

Moongazer is a more stirring style of Hard Rock with TENEBRA embracing a more Doomed Out style compared to their debut release. With the Heavy Stoner Rock grooves being more focused here. Though, TENEBRA still find new creative ground for a more vibrant and expansive sound.

I wanted to interview TENEBRA for some time now and I'm pleased to say the band agreed to this excellent interview where we discussed the making of the album, the evolution of their sound and signing with ace UK underground label New Heavy Sounds.

Hi there. How’s it going? Thanks for doing the interview.

Silvia: thank you man! We are stoked to be on Outlaws Of The Sun!

For folks not in the know, can you advise how the band came together where it is today?

Mesca: We started at the end of 2017. Me, Emilio and Claudio had been playing in punk bands for a long time, Silvia was found through an ad on the internet. She was the spark that made Tenebra a serious project.

How would you describe your music in your own words?

Emilio: We don't really like definitions. I like to say that Tenebra is a heavy rock band.

We’re here to talk about your stunning new album Moongazer. What can people expect for this album?

Claudio: I think of Moongazer as a record made up mostly of songs. Sure, there are riffs, solos, atmospheric moments and psychedelic fugues, but the foundation of the LP consists of nine songs with their own verses and choruses that seem very melodic and very catchy to me.

What is the new album all about and why did you call the album Moongazer?

Mesca: The album was recorded and partly written during the pandemic. The record reflects a lot of emotions, but it seems to me that the leitmotif of the music is a sense of anguish and melancholy due to the uncertainties of that period. The moon is the most visible thing at night, it is a landmark in the dark.

Moongazer is quite different to your previous album. With perhaps being more Classic Rock, Doom Rock and Prog Rock on this album. Was that the plan to write and record something different to your debut release?

Emilio: it was not a completely conscious choice. Gen Nero, our first record, collected the first tracks composed by the group, without any attempt at stylistic coherence, they were the songs we had at that time.

For Moongazer there was more work on the tracklist, on the album as a whole. On the influences you mention I am quite in agreement, even if, as Claudio said before, our main goal was to have real songs and not to exaggerate too much with the length of the tracks.

What were the recording sessions like for the new album? Was this a hard album to write and record for?

Silvia: We had recorded a six track demo a second before the lockdowns started! From there the adventure began. We wrote the last three tracks in "smart working", then, when the restrictions eased, we rented a small studio on the hills near Bologna, where Emilio recorded the basic tracks of the songs live with the band. After that, always dodging new restrictions and lockdowns, we recorded the overdubs and vocals between our rehearsal room and Emilio's home studio.

It was a rather fragmented journey, but the various pauses and the possibility of recording on our own, gave us time to think deeply about the arrangements and to enrich the songs with some guests: Bruno Germano (Vacuum Studio, Io Sono Un Cane, Arto), who also mixed the record, played mellotron and slide guitar on Dark and Distant Sky, Frabbo (Chow) sang the backing vocals on Winds Of Change, Giorgio Trombino (Assumption , Bottomless, Becerus) played sax on Space Child, then we had the honor of having the splendid lead guitar of Mr. Gary Lee Conner of the Screaming Trees, on Moon Maiden.

Did you do anything different when recording album compared to your debut?

Claudio: It was a completely different approach. This time it was a member of the band, Emilio, who took care of the recordings, so the concern of studio time was not there. Except for the looming pandemic, everything was more relaxed and peaceful.

Your previous album impressed a lot of people within the Doom/Stoner Rock underground scene. Did the response to that album surprise you both?

Mesca: Well, the band was born with very few pretensions, even if, as I said before, we knew that the songs sounded good and that Silvia's voice was a plus. The small underground success of Gen Nero, a completely DIY album, was certainly an incentive to continue and to commit ourselves more to the project.

New Heavy Sounds are releasing your new album. How did you become involved with that great label?

Silvia: Ged, one of the two NHS bosses, has been following Tenebra since the release of Gen Nero, in fact I think he was one of the first people to buy the LP outside Italy. So let's say it was a long flirt, but when they listened to the Moongazer masters they immediately offered us to release the record for them. And we accepted without hesitation.

Who writes all the lyrics for Tenebra. Is this a group effort or down to certain individuals?

Emilio: Silvia takes care of the vocal lines and the lyrics completely. She is truly talented both as an author and as a performer.

Who and what influenced your lyrics for the new album?

Silvia: My inspiration comes from my boundless passion for underground bands at the turn of the 60s and 70s. My lyrics mainly deal with personal experiences and reasoning, filtered by current events.

The album cover is superb. Who designed the artwork and how much input did you have into the final design?

Claudio: The cover is the work of Marcello Crescenzi who has been a dear friend of ours since the days of the punk scene and in the meantime has become one of the best international illustrators. The illustration arrived well before the sessions for the record started! Marcello only knew the name of the band and the name of the record, so we can safely say that it was his design that inspired the music and not the other way around!

Will you be touring and promoting the new album in the coming months at home or abroad?

Emilio: We have several gigs scheduled between now and early 2023 ... hoping the pandemic won't play any more tricks. For now we will play in Italy, except for a concert in London at the festival organized by New Heavy Sound in October. Indeed, if any booking agents were reading and were interested in organizing some concerts we would be happy to get in touch with them! Ahahaha

How did you get involved with music. Was it a particular album, group or artist that made you want to write and play your own music?

Emilio: Each of us has his own story. As for me, Claudio and Mesca, surely our roots are in the hardcore punk and in the alternative rock of the 80's and 90's, that was the music that made us start playing an instrument and becoming interested in the music scene. . Silvia is a lot younger than us and, paradoxically, she is the one among us who is completely taken by the music of the 60's and 70's.

What is the current state of the Italian Underground Rock/Metal scene. Do you have a local scene that your actively involved with?

Mesca: Italy and especially Bologna have a really lively rock scene. All the bands we share the rehearsal room with are noteworthy: Chow, Horror Vacui, Hyle, Wastecult, Alessandro Baris, Korobu, all great bands you know or will soon hear about. Then I cannot fail to mention Messa, Marnero, Assumption, Bottomless, Stefano Pilia, Hemp, Eye Of The Golem, Superfat Finger Cat, Hyperwulff and surely I forget someone who rocks.

Thanks for doing this interview. Before you go, do you have anything to say to your fans?

Emilio: First of all I want to say thank you again for this great interview. I would also like to thank everyone who bought or downloaded Moongazer, don't stop supporting underground bands and labels!

Words by Steve Howe and TENEBRA

Thanks to Marco at Metaverse PR for arranging this interview and to TENEBRA for doing this interview.

Moongazer is available to buy on CD/DD/Vinyl now via New Heavy Sounds.


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