Wednesday, August 19, 2015
A Conversation With Tragedian's Gabriele Palermo
During the collapse of The American metal scene in the early 90's, many musicians either quit or went underground. Gabriele J. Palermo, first went to L.A. with a guitar on his back, and a vision of how metal should be. From that wasteland of excess he arrived a few years later in the center of the European Power Metal scene, Germany. He followed his dream and the metal, straight to the heart of it all.
On the eve of a fall tour of Europe, (including opening slot on the Alex Masi tour), Gabriel from the power metal band, Tragedian, is contemplating the state of metal and life as a touring musician. I fired up the Skype machine and dialed in this German based power metal virtuoso.
How is it going?
Going good here. Getting ready for the tour.
How often do you guys jam together?
We actually rehearse about one full day before we leave and then that is it. Because everyone else does all the rehearsals at home. That is the way it is nowadays. We usually play the first chorus and the main riff and then go drinking afterwards. Then we just smooth out the rough edges next day at the sound check and that is it.
Do you ever come across anyone who doesn't hold up their end of the rehearsing?
No. Everybody is well prepared. The keyboard guy plays with one hand and sends texts with his other.
As far as the shows and the tour, how hard is it to get all these gigs lined up?
The problem is getting gigs nowadays. It is sad to say that Europe is where America was after the whole grunge explosion. I am kind of seeing history repeat itself now. 20 years later. Because it doesn't matter who you are. The main factor is that there are too many open air festivals and that just kills the local scene. That is what killed the single gig market. The last six or seven years everyone is putting on a festival. It's a nightmare. The Wacken festival was all about metal. It was pure. I saw overkill there. Now it is like a tourist trap. It almost doesn't seem like it is metal anymore. So organizing the gigs is a lot more hassle. The only advantage we have is that we get to target the non capital cities. We hit the places that people don't really gig. They don't care who comes as long as somebody does. So we do really well there.
How did the tour with Alex Masi come about?
During my time in Los Angeles I met him and took some lessons from him. We ended up hanging out and actually sharing an apartment for years. We get along great right from the beginning. We both love purple and rainbow. It was a crazy constant party for two years. A lot of stuff I do have to credit him with as far as teaching me how to record the guitar. I benefited so much from that time. So the opportunity presented itself to do something together. It is all about timing. We don't play a similar style but the music goes together as a package real well.
What else do you do for income besides touring?
Well it's too late for me to go work in a factory somewhere you know. So I do film scores, independent recording work. A lot of people I know do this. I'm not rich but I'm not poor, I am happy.
What separates this album from the last one?
The first thing is that it is a concept album. It deals with the mystical and the darker side of life. You could compare it to DIO's "Dream Evil". In a darker themed direction. The cover has a Ouija board and things. People will be in for a surprise. The songs have a slightly heavier edge. A touch of Dream Theater meets King Diamond.
I actually got the chance to hear an unpolished demo of one of the songs and it sounded killer.
And that was just the rough mix.
So tell me about the co-producer.
A good friend of mine, Kai Henson that you all know from Gamma Ray and Helloween. He has been a friend for about 12 years. We were party friends and then we started discussing music. I always get invites to his house for barbecues. He brings so much experience. He listened to all our records and pointed out certain things and we started to tweak our sound. He spent a lot of time with the vocalist on this album. With us it was kind of how Bob Rock worked with Metallica. Sometimes he would point out things we needed to turn back or record differently.
Was everyone open to his advice?
Yes. For Kai to be around for as long as he has he obviously knows what he is doing. He is the Godfather of power metal. Everyone had their ears open.
When does the album come out?
I was hoping it would be ready for the tour but there have been issues. Nothing goes according to plan. Kai had a few shows with unisonic. So there were always a few bumps in the road. We are almost totally finished. But looks like the start of 2016.The tour will be wrapped up but we will play a few songs from the new album. Maybe one new one thrown into the set as a teaser. We are considering recording a few shows to do a limited live disc and DVD.
If you're in Europe catch the band on tour.
October 2nd Hamburg, Germany-Markthalle/Marx
October 3rd Amsterdam, Netherlands- The Cave
October 4th Roeslare, Belgium- De Verlichte Geest
October 8th Oslo, Norway- Skuret
October 9th Gothenburg, Sweden- Vasterhus
October 10th Malmo, Sweden-Dr. Feelgood's