Download Festival brings all kinds of interesting people together, and, on the final day of rock I had the opportunity to catch up with Giovanni Spanó, who plays “Ledoux” in the critically-acclaimed Bat Out of Hell musical. Giovanni is not only an actor, but also plays in a hard rock band by the name of deVience. The group recently released a new single called “Beyond the Bounds” and have several festival dates on the horizon. We cover all of this and more in this deep and informative chat with Giovanni!
This is Damian with PureGrainAudio and I’m chatting with Giovanni who is in the Bat Out of Hell play. How are you today, sir? Are you having a good one?
Giovanni Spanó: I’m having a fantastic day, the sun is shining, awesome bands are playing, you’re interviewing me, you know, what more could I ask for?
Well, you’ve just flattered me, so what can I say?
Spanó: It’s rad mate, the bands that have been playing today have just been blowing my mind. I can’t wait for Ozzy I can’t wait for Marilyn and my boys in Black Veil Brides I’m sure are gonna pull out all the stops and give us a great show as well. So, yeah, it’s rad to be at Download 2018.
We guarantee this deVience tune will make you “Move”.
Awesome. Now the main thing I want to talk about is the Bat Out of Hell play. What character do you play in this?
Spanó: I play Ledoux. Ledoux is the main man of The Lost. Basically, our leader, he runs around and falls in love with this beautiful young lady and that’s basically the story. But, then there’s these guys who are in the background who look after him and they’re his guardians and I’m the main guy that looks after him. So, I run around and beat a few people up and try to rise up against the dictator who wants to overthrow our city and he’s not standing for any of it. It’s a great show, it’s an epic love story, you will laugh, you will cry, you will have a rockin’ night, there’s no stone left unturned, it really is a beautiful piece of theatre, a beautiful piece of music, it’s like a hybrid gig as it were.
Cool. Well, you pretty much answered my next question. I heard the Bat Out of Hell album years ago, when I was little, and I heard it from my parents and I only listened to it again recently when I found out I was going to chat to you. Now, what’s the basic story of it? Although I think you pretty much told me.
Spanó: Well there’s a protagonist called Strat and he’s from a group called The Lost. Now let me say first of all, it’s loosely based on Peter Pan and Romeo and Juliet. Strat being a guy who freezes at the age of 18 as well as myself, Ledoux, which means the twins. We freeze at 18 and everybody envies us, everyone in the city envies us and wants to be us and we’re kinda just having a fun-loving time and we are willing to accept anybody to our way of life.
And then there’s a dictator who doesn’t want to have fun within the city. His daughter who has just turned 18, Strat ends up seeing his daughter in the middle of Falco Square, they fall in love, and low and behold it causes a war between The Lost and Falco, who is the dictator. So, it’s quite relevant to what’s going on right now, I’m not going to say exactly where but you know what I’m talking about people!
I think I know, we won’t go into it.
Spanó: Yes, he’s a pig-headed, arrogant idiot and hopefully we can loosen his mind as it were.
So, when did the idea come about that the play was going to be done?
Spanó: In 1977, no seriously, when Jim Steinman wrote the album, it was originally a concept album for a musical and he brought on board one of the most wonderful signers he’d ever experienced in his life, being Meatloaf, and he used him for the concept album and low and behold it turned out to be one of the biggest-selling albums of all time. But originally it was conserved as a musical. It was written as a musical and to be a play and that’s why it transfers so wonderfully onto stage. It’s just seamless, everything has a rhyme and a reason to happen and Jim Steinman is a legendary writer that you could quite possibly do anything with his writing, so it’s an exciting place to be on stage every single night, it really is.
Why did it take so long from the ‘70s to now?
Spanó: There’s been many different writers and there’s been many different versions of Bat Out of Hell that just weren’t right, they just didn’t sit in the pocket and they just didn’t feel right and being part of the cast, this album has been around since the ‘70s why hasn’t this happened yet? Especially as it was written as a musical and be performed as a show or a play.
So, it’s gone through a massive, massive process and it only came about now that the right person with the right vision being Jay Scheib, who is the director, has made it actually happen by giving Jim Steinman everything he wants, giving Meatloaf everything he wants, giving an audience everything they want, giving a cast everything that they need to work with which is massively difficult, so between Jim and some of the other writers we’ve managed to get it on stage. It’s been a long old process, but perfection takes time and there was no way that a man like Jim Steinman given his writing was going to let anything but perfection on a stage.
It’s had some fantastic reviews from what I’ve heard, and I do plan to see it at some point.
Spanó: It’s on me man, you can come, we can hang out backstage and whatever, you’re more than welcome, dude.
Be sure to also watch deVience’s “Holdin Me Back” music video.
Awesome! You realize I’ll be dropping you a text?
Spanó: You’re taking my number, it would be my pleasure. Yeah, it’s just an amazing show and we’re having a blast at the Dominion Theatre eight times a week, what more could you ask for? It’s grand!
Now moving on from the play, you’re in your own band as well. What can you tell me about them?
Spanó: We’re a hard rock outfit, the band’s name is deVience, we’ve got an album out at the moment that’s been out for a little while and we just released a new single, called “Beyond the Bounds” #btb. deVience. You know, it kind of marries itself quite seamlessly to this production, Bat Out of Hell, deVience being defiance, they’re a segue to just be a part of each other now, the fans that love deVience, love Bat Out of Hell. The fans that love Bat Out of Hell, love deVience and it’s so beautiful to be part of a music festival every single day.
Every single day I get to wake up and I get to think about deVience or I get to think about Bat Out of Hell, most days both which sometimes can be stressful, but you know it’s great. deVience, though, we’re hard rock, big riffs, big vocals, big beats, it’s groovy so if you think Aerosmith, Guns n’ Roses, Extreme and Alter Bridge had a love child, you get us, it’s kind bizarre but wonderful at the same time, so yeah.
It actually sounds like you’re quite literally living the dream, because let’s be honest, the music industry can be a very fickle place and people that get into it, it’s not necessarily what they expected, but it sounds like you’re turning it on its head and making it what you want it to be.
Spanó: You know what it is, especially with the music industry whether you’ve got £5 in your pocket of £50,000 in your pocket, you can never be a pessimist about life, especially being in the music industry because nothing will get accomplished, nothing will happen overnight, you’ve got to be a realist and you’ve got to look to the future and you’ve got to know what you’re capable off.
I know what I’m capable off and I know what I can achieve, and I know with the people that are amazing around me, like yourself, you can get me there and we can make this happen together. It’s not just a one-person venture, it’s a joint venture between so many people, and music is a family as far as I’m concerned. That’s it, music is a family as far as I’m concerned, so we go forward together and that’s why being at a place like Download 2018 celebrates rock n’ roll music, especially in the UK, the birthplace of rock n’ roll.
It really is, we’ve got the man himself that started it all, playing later today.
Spanó: Exactly, and I cannot wait. I’ll have to squeeze my bum together, it’s gonna get a little embarrassing for me later, because Ozzy is gonna rock! It’s an honour being here representing the show and representing the band, so it’s rad.
So, of course, you’re very busy with the show, so what’s the likelihood we will get to see your band tour?
Spanó: Dude, check the schedule, www.deVience.com, we’re doing Hard Rock Hell, we’re doing Isle of Wight Festival, we’re doing Hair Metal Heaven, we’re doing so many festivals. Download, we were a little bit too late to apply for Download, but you know, but we will be there next year, so you better come in 2019, but yeah, it’s busy.
But , f you believe in something, and you love something and you’re passionate about something then you’ll do it. As long as your lady knows what you’re doing, or you’re many ladies know. I’m sorry ladies, I’m joking I am available. As long as they know what you’re doing, they will understand that you won’t see them for five years.
So, there’s a very strong chance we will see you in 2019 playing one of the stages then?
Spanó: Oh, fuck yeah, can I say that?
Check out the official trailer for the Bat Out of Hell musical.
Come on, this is the radio, well internet, we can get away with what we like. Now, I just wanted to close out on a lighter note, I’ve recently got into the dad jokes as they crack me up, have you got any you might want to tell?
Spanó: Fuck no, I do not have a dad joke [laughs]. It would just be a terrible dad joke, and I’m just a joke running around anyway. I’ll tell you a dad joke actually, I was at the bar just now with my girlfriend, and the guy said what will you ladies be having. That’s exactly just what happened! He was standing here looking at me knowing full well that I’m a dude.
Some people, eh? Well, I’m going to gauge your response to one of my favourite jokes I’ve come across.
Spanó: Okay, go for it.
Did you know, shoes have an afterlife?
Spanó: [laughs] No, I didn’t.
Well, they have soles!
Spanó: Oh, Jesus Christ!
I told you, it’s bad!
Spanó: No, I respect that, dude you’re a legend.
Check out the brand new single “Beyond The Bounds” here.
And you are too, thank you so much. Thank you so much for talking to us today I’m looking forward to next year. Actually, there is one more thing I wanted to ask now that it’s come to me. If it was ever possible for somewhere like Download to put Bat Out of Hell on stage, do you think it could work?
Spanó: This should 100% happen. This crowd would absolutely shit their pants if we did the production here and this is what I spoke to my GM about, and if you’re listening Gillian Stoneman, which I know you will be, this needs to happen in 2019! Bat Out of Hell on the main stage at Download. If we open, would be insane, completely insane. Everyone would go wild for it.
It would, I was thinking to myself, I saw Rock of Ages a few years ago, and I thought to myself, this would be awesome to see on stage.
Spanó: Bat out of Hell compared to Rock of Ages is on a higher level, let’s put it that way.
Thank you so much for talking to us, we will be coming to see the play, I’ve got your number now, so you will be getting a phone call from me and you will be saying, “who is this jackass?”
Spanó: [laughs] You better be my stalker!