Lugano, Switzerland-based quintet, Dreamshade are wrapping up an intense, four-date tour of South Africa which sees them pummelling local audiences with their melodic, alternative metal, including the brand new single “Question Everything”. Recently, we were able to catch up via email with guitarist and vocalist Fernando “Fella” Di Cicco, and guitarist Luca Magri, to chat about the trek, making money as a band, South African hospitality, and whiskey!
You guys promised you’d be back and now here you are – are you excited about the trip?
Fernando “Fella” Di Cicco: Yeah for sure. We were there in 2014 the last time, it was our first tour of South Africa and since then we knew that we wanted to come back. The audience was amazing!
Luca Magri: That was very special as it was my first tour with Dreamshade and coming back to play a lot of shows as an actual member of the band now, instead of a session man, I’m so excited to get back there!
What do you like about South Africans?
“Fella” A lot of things actually! Really kind! Everyone was really special to us, friendly. We honestly didn’t know what to expect on the first tour that we did there. You’re so different from Europeans and Asian fans – great different and it’s great knowing that we’re coming back.
Luca: And South Africans make a really good whiskey!
What can we expect from the tour?
“Fella” An excellent show! Lots of fun. We pretty much know all the other bands that are playing with us, so it’s going to be great on stage. You can expect a really energetic show.
If you don’t already, you really need to “Question Everything.”
Do you know any of the South African bands that you’ll be playing with?
“Fella” We’ve already played with Red Helen, OneDaySky, Facing The Gallows – we know those guys.
How did the new single title “Question Everything” come about?
“Fella” We were in the studio thinking about doing a new record but then we realised that at 5-minute mark is pretty fast and we thought that maybe we should give fans one single in a shorter period of time. So one single now, then another in a few months, then another a bit later so that our fans keep listening to us.
Luca: That way they can give their whole attention to that actual song, you know, not just their favourites on an album. It’s just the first single that we’re trying as an experiment for that reason.
When will the next single be out?
“Fella” We actually have another one ready. We haven’t announced the release date yet but it’s going to be really soon.
You guys toured a lot in 2017 compared to 2018. Was that to concentrate on your material?
“Fella” This year we actually spent a lot of time writing but also we switched from being under a label to being independent. So it’s taking a lot of time to figure out how to do some moves, you know? We’re working so hard in the studio to be able to come back in 2019 stronger than ever. We’ve just been figuring out a lot of things. We’re building a lot of tours and South Africa was one of the first our tour list. We’re really excited about the new year and our new songs.
The tour poster for Dreamshade’s 2019 South African tour.
There’s been a bit of a difference in your sound – is there a new angle you’re going for in the future?
“Fella” We kind of like “The Gift Of Life” vibe so we’re kind of getting back there a bit but with more stuff.
Luca: Many kinds of music are going to be mixed but production wise we’re going to have a heavier sound.
As the new guy, Luca, is there any pressure filling Rocco’s place on electric guitar?
Luca: Not really – I’ve been with the band for five or six years. I was just in the back. Now it’s just a matter of announcing my role. Nothing has changed for me – I’m just on stage and letting people know me.
Talk us through your 2017 Linkin Park cover of “Lost In The Echo.” Why did you feel the need to do that?
“Fella” So Chester [Bennington] died in 2017. My mom died a little bit earlier than him. While my mom was in hospital, I went with my sister to see Chester’s last show in Milan. That all happened quite suddenly. First my mom. Then Chester. Then “myself” – it was like the shittiest moment in my life. It all came together. I’ve been a fan since I was a kid. Linkin Park’s album Hybrid Theory was the first rock album that I ever bought. I went into the studio and recorded it. Kevin [Cali] joined and listened. It wasn’t part of the plan. We met Mike [Shinoda] and Chester’s wife Talinda listened to it. It was a surprise and we released it because it felt like the right thing to do, to pay homage.
Which bands have you played with that have had an influence on your music?
“Fella” Last year I was on tour with Duchess Power because they needed a guitar player for their tour so I joined. As Dreamshade, we played with Killswitch Engage in Asia a few years ago and that was great – surreal! A lot of bands actually. The Ghost Inside, Arch Enemy, Manowar…
Before you’re off, check out Dreamshade’s tribute to Linkin Park, “Lost In The Echo.”
Do you think that the European scene has developed in the last four years since you started growing?
“Fella” The metal scene? It really depends on the country. Like Switzerland – there’s like no scene at all. But a lot of the bands are touring a lot and that makes me really happy.
Luca: Germany, The Netherlands, the UK – those are probably the biggest scenes for us. They’re growing. A lot of festivals. Switzerland have probably the most music festivals, just not for metal, you know?
Does Dreamshade make money from touring?
“Fella” From touring? Haha! Let’s put it this way – the internet helps you to get your band known around the world and it helps to get concert deals and bookings all over the world. If you’re able to tour most of the year, you’ll be able to make money. We don’t tour all year, so we don’t make that kind of money. Everyone in the band has day jobs to pay the bills.
How important is social media to the band?
Luca: It’s everything. We try to reply to every single message and anyone asking for info, whatever they need. It’s very important. We have a really special relationship with fans and we try to speak to everyone on media.
Where will Dreamshade be in five years?
“Fella” We’ll be a bigger band. We’ll have a new record and we’d like a full US and Canada tour.
Luca: We’d be headlining tours and festivals. Nothing’s going to change – it’s just going to be bigger.
The “Deaf In One Eye” single was released on December 7, 2018, via These Bloody Thieves Records.