It’s Saturday lunchtime in the Italian capital Rome and Italian psychedelic grunge three-piece Verdena are about to start an afternoon of press ahead of their upcoming European headline tour supporting their new album, Volevo Magia. Be sure to check out the band online here: https://www.verdena.com.
Roll the clock back to just over twelve hours earlier and barely fifteen minutes drive from the hotel the band is now sat in; the three-piece performed a sense-battering show in front of over nine thousand hardcore fans at the Palazzo dello Sport, a Colloseum-like sports venue. After soaking up this ninety-minute performance, the crowd took the electrifying atmosphere into the street, which made you realize that, while the Italian band might largely be an unknown entity outside their home nation, witnessing the band on their home turf was something quite special.
“We have sung in Italian for the last twenty years. That is who we are and it has worked very well.”
In our latest Cover Story feature, drummer Luca Ferrari starts by explaining how, although the lockdown had a similarly devastating effect on the entertainment scene in Italy, they didn’t necessarily see this as a fresh start for the band. “A lot of bands struggled with tours being cancelled, and some of the venues didn’t survive,” explains the drummer, “but once we were able to get back into the studio, we started to produce things quite quickly.”
Bassist Roberta agrees, adding, “We produced about six or seven songs in a month.”
When asked if the gap between Volevo Magia and their previous release, 2015’s ambitious two-volume project, Endkadenz, was compounded by the pandemic, the drummer admits, “It always takes us a long time to prepare for a record anyway, usually a minimum of three years.”
Talk turns to the record, which, again, sees vocalist (and brother of drummer Luca), Alberto, sing in his native tongue. While this hasn’t hindered the careers of some bands, Rammstein being a prime example, the pair also don’t see Verdena changing this any time soon. “We have sung in Italian for the last twenty years,” states Luca, “that is who we are, and it has worked very well.”
Considering the question for a few moments, the drummer points out that “many non-English speaking singers do not have perfect pronunciation, and this is not a problem. I feel like to sing in English now would be like starting all over again.”
Moving onto their upcoming seventh album, the title of which translates into I Wanted Magic, I ask how, if at all, the psychedelic visuals used in the previous night’s show fitted in with the themes on the album. “The visuals used at the show were the first time we had done something like that,” explains Ferrari, “usually we don’t play venues where we have space to do that, and anyway, it would not work outdoors at festivals in the daylight.”
The bassist continues, “Alberto writes the lyrics so the songs are about his life and his experiences even if it is not obvious. They are not really a story as such; they are more based on the images coming out of his mind.”
“I saw a flyer for one of their concerts and it said that they were a punk rock band so I went along and I didn’t like them as it was not punk rock it was grunge.”
Using the enforced break during lockdown to concentrate on other projects, the vocalist on his band, whose name translates into “I Hate My Village,” the bassist time with her three children, and the drummer with two projects, Animatronic and Dunk, talk turns to a film score the band produced for the movie America Latina released last year.
“It was a nice experience and interesting and a different way to write music,” explains Roberta, “we were much freer because, in this case, we could write without any limits as the songs did not have to be just five minutes long with a beginning, a middle, and an end.”
A project that clearly triggered the band’s creative juices, the bassist continues, “It was also interesting because we weren’t shown the images of the movie before we wrote the soundtrack. They were actually filming the movie while we were writing the soundtrack, so it was a very short time to turn it around. We were in contact with the directors by text and video calls.
Sometimes we would interpret the requirements because they would say that this is the topic, just develop it in a darker way, and we would interpret it in a different way to what they were expecting.”
Our conversation turns to the dynamics of the band that released their debut album in 1999 and how the bassist ended up joining the two brothers. Firstly the drummer reveals his love of both Soundgarden and Syd Barrett before the bassist reveals how she was a metal fan listening to “bands like Slayer and Metallica… anything that sounds like a crash!”
For a moment, the pair look at each other and break out into a joint laugh as they recall how they met with Roberta picking up a story that has clearly amused them.
“I saw a flyer for one of their concerts, and it said that they were a punk rock band, so I went along, and I didn’t like them as it was not punk rock, It was grunge,” the bassist tells us with a smile breaking out as she adds, “I told them that what they did was not punk rock, it was grunge. I was a teenager, and I told them to fuck off.”
For most people, that would be the end of that, but not in this case, “we saw each other again at a secondary school concert, and I remember they rocked even though their genre was not something I used to listen to. One day I had a message that their bassist was not coming to rehearsal. I knew their songs by heart, and it was simple for me. They told me to get my bass and come down.”
Roberta pauses and laughs as she states, “I did, and twenty-five years later, I’m still here.”
This brings us nicely to the present day, the new album, and their upcoming European tour, with Luca discussing the priorities for the band. “It’s a big deal for us to tour Europe,” he explains, “we have never really thought about America, but we would love to do it as we grew up listening to a lot of American bands and music.”
As our time wraps up, I wonder how the band would convince a non-Italian-speaking music fan to attend one of the upcoming shows. For Roberta, the answer is quite simple.
“I grew up listening to non-Italian singing bands without necessarily understanding the lyrics. While this might not be a nice thing to say, but the lyrics came after for me, so the language should not be a problem. Of course, if you want to translate the words, you can, but, for me, the music should define itself. Music is universal.”
Verdena will release their new album, Volevo Magia, on April 28th, and you can pre-order your copy here.
04/22 – Ljubljana – Kino Siska
04/24 – Munich – Backstage
04/25 – Berlin – Hole
04/26 – Cologne – MTC (300)
04/27 – Bruxelles La Madeleine
04/29 – London – Shepherd’s Bush Empire
04/30 – Paris – La Maroquinerie
05/01 – Zurich – Papiersaal