We had a chance to catch up with PENTESILEA ROAD mastermind Vito F. Mainolfi to talk about the band’s self-titled debut studio album.
Pentesilea Road was released on February 26 and can be checked on Bandcamp here.
Interview reads as follows.
Hello Vito! I hope you are really fine! Do you have the same fire for music now as you did when you started playing?
Hello, thanks all good here, I hope you guys are doing well! Yeah, why not? I still like to make music, record and play. I don’t think I’ll ever get tired of it!
How does the creative process work in Pentesilea Road?
The first album was supposed to my solo album, so I actually created the whole thing on my own. The next one will have a very different approach: the whole band will work on it, and it will be a full collaboration.
Regarding my way of working during composition, I let the mood take the lead: in some cases, I start from a guitar riff, in some other cases from piano…
I do like the fusion between different musical styles and in general the wide dynamic within the sound. I do like to describe it as post-progressive. Although not everyone might agree, prog and some post-rock are constantly recurring within the album. Probably post+progressive would have been a better fit but, whatever it is, I hope it will sound distinctive and interesting enough.
Your new homonymous album was a nice surprise! Are you planning another album to be out after soon?
Thanks, appreciated your words! Indeed, we are currently working on the next album with the rest of the band. I don’t have a clear timeline yet; we hope to release something year though!
Regarding the first PR album, actually it came as a surprise for many people…we have been releasing as independent and we did not prepare the ground for release: we basically just pushed it out, which is a nice thing on being off-label, however it comes with its downside, as being out of the mainstream channels doesn’t help in reaching out people.
Regarding next move, we are currently working on the next album. We’ve got quite a lot of new material, but it will take some time to get it sorted out and arranged properly. Ideally, next year we might come with the new one, but we like to work off pressure, so no deadlines…
Do you treat the writing process like a full-time job, or do you have a different method?
Actually no. Although all my band mates are professional musicians, I do something else in life, so I’m pretty busy with the rest. I do work on music whenever I can and, most important, whenever I like to do it. Not having defined time boundary helps a lot in getting nice inspiration, I believe.
Do you find writing easy and natural or is it a process you have to break down technically?
Well, in general I proceed quite instinctively: I like to play over something I have in my head and build the rest around it. From there I start then to refine, by removing, cutting adding…it’s a very long process of refinement until I found the result I like. I don’t like to plan very much; music is beauty and instinct. However, with this album we will follow a slightly different approach…the good thing is that it won’t just be me in the creation and arrangement phase. I think it will definitely sound very interesting!
Do you hear the other parts, instruments, of the song when you are writing?
For this first album, definitely yes. I basically drawn down all instruments for the demos…I like to play with different instruments, even when it’s not my main one. So, the answer is: yes, for the parts I am creating by myself, I draft down all instruments. However, for the new one the approach will be different, as the other guys will also contribute in the creative process!
What inspires you to write music?
Virtually anything: it can be everyday life, a book, a movie…I try to reproduce the mood within the music, in PR. In general, I don’t like to plan on how it should sound, how long the songs should be and so on…I let the feeling take the lead. I mean, we always try to make music, instead of planning what listeners and reviewer should be thinking; I’m not a big fan of the streamlined productions, as there are too many bands and labels producing music for “alimentary” reasons. We try to have an extra step in introspection and let it drive the musicality. Not sure we always achieve the result, but we try hard…
How would you think you would have sounded if you were a band in the 70s?
Hard to reply: for sure more analogic, less distorted…probably a bit more natural. The technology advance changed the game massively: few decades ago, you had to spend a lot of studio hours with other band members, while nowadays the creative process can be potentially handled by a single person. I think this is one of the main reasons for many of recent productions sound quite flat…
Are there any new artists (not necessary musicians) that you find interesting?
Musically, I am finding interesting some bands that have an unconventional approach to music arrangement…I am not only thinking to the usual big names, as Pain of Salvation and Opeth, but think to Leprous and Riverside for example. I think there will be always some ground for musical innovation and, yes, there are some great bands out there. I am more concerned, however, with the massification of the musical process…there are far too many bands sounding very flat and similar, especially when it comes after some specific commercial requirements. That’s hard to listen, to be honest.
Do you have a process of writing lyrics or this comes natural?
Very natural…I like to get it from anywhere, virtually from any thoughts.
From the point of view of the lyrics, Pentesilea Road is a rather steep project. There’s a clear philosophy behind the lyrics: PR is an act of dissidence and protest against the new world has been imposed on us. Globalization, surveillance capitalism, ruthless erosion of what were the most basic elements of the life we were used to know, are constantly being de facto imposed. PR is an invitation to never give up in thinking and keep fighting the intimidatory power of politically correct. The whole album is loosely, metaphorically autobiographic and I’m truly convinced the lyrics are not secondary to the music itself: its full enjoyment requires reading the lines.
Why do you think people play music today?
Because it’s probably the most beautiful way of communicating things. I mean, there’s a really great beauty in it. This is, at least, the way I see it…in our case it’s all driven by passion, that’s it!
Thank you for taking the time about this unique interview! Metal on!
Thanks a lot for your time and the giving us the opportunity to have a talk about it. All the best guys.