A Means To No End, the latest album from Italian progressive metal band Destrage is out very soon. We had a chat with guitarist Ralph Guido Salati to hear all about it as well as his thoughts on Brexit, progressive rock and its best albums and the bands touring plans.
Your new album A Means To No End is out soon. How did the recording of the album go?
The recording session went pretty smooth since we had very clear in mind where to go with the arrangements and sound direction.
I’m not so sure if is a matter of experience or because we worked very close one to each other on the writing process, but for sure this album came very naturally and that seemed to be already in the air waiting for us to discover it instead of creating it but of course it absorbed us a lot.
What made you choose that title for the album?
We opted for this title cause it perfectly pictures what this record is. It has no purpose, it’s music end in itself and this is how art should be. When you define the end to a mean, you cut off a part of the fascination and beauty to music. Art should comes from heart and not from mind. So to preserve this record from math and rational intricate superstructure we made us lead ourselves by our guts and from being right there and right in that moment. So A Means To No End is actually the snapshot of that moment of our five lives together.
This is your fourth album. How do you feel your sound has developed since your debut album?
Our sound changed a lot album by album. For Urban Being and The King Is Fat n Old we weren’t that conscious about our music should’ve sound. Listen to those two albums makes me think of a cute girl dressed in the wrong way. With Are You Kidding Me? No. we moved more towards the sound we had in mind for Destrage, but still we were a bit far. With A Means To No Ends production I can say we found the sound we wanted and I can finally taste all of the arrangement details, all of the background layers which give a wider dimension to songs. To me this record sounds honest and true.
There is even more of a catchy and melodic nature to your music on this album, was that something that you wanted to capture with A Means To No End?
As I said, everything came very natural and we didn’t decide any direction before starting the making of this album. I agree, there is a prominent melodic side in our music today compared to our first releases. But it came out from all of the jams we made together.We are different people from 10 years ago and this is what we felt to express musically in this moment which is straight influenced by what we experience in our lifetimes.
You are still very much a very progressive band. Is it difficult striving to be more progressive as you go on?
As a huge progressive fan of bands like King Crimson, Yes, Genesis, Pink Floyd, Gentle Giant, Dream Theater, Porcupine Tree and Haken, I’m very thankful for this question. We never wanted to show off any technical or musical ability in our composition, we were simply focused on incorporating all of our tricks into songs, trying to put technique to use in melody and groove. I don’t know if we succeed ahah, anyway mostly of the odd parts and progressive sections come from mine and Fede’s backgrounds.
What are some of the subjects you tackle on songs on the album?
Don’t Stare At The Edge faces the theme of fear as an emotion that paralyzes. The point is that we need to embrace fear because sometimes to be scared is more pleasant than to feel safe. The Flight uses the V formation in a swallow flocks as metaphor for an efficient and fair way to organize men and society. Swallows have no leading roles during the migration and seems to behave more like a whole instead of aiming to prevail on the others. So the question is: could it be that same for humans? Maybe this is just utopian. Symphony Of The Ego speaks about people who love to feel always self-centered in any situation.
Can you tell us a bit about the cover to the album?
The cover has been created by this young talented english artist Eva Bowan. She caught Paolo’s attention at first who showed us some of her works and we all thought that her style could’ve fits perfectly with the mood of the album. We suggested the subject of the child in black and white which was originally a Mat’s idea. That cover hasn’t a symbolic meaning, but it works pretty good with the title and to me the black and white flavour represents that moment in our lives.
What has the reaction to the album been like so far?
I usually try to not focus on expectations of others on my music, maybe that’s because I’m scared like hell to be paralyzed or because I prefer to concentrate more on the value my music has for my self since it is like a son of mine which I’ll love it anyway. Apart from that it seems like there’s a strong expectation and the reaction seems mainly positive.
How are things going on Metal Blade records?
We couldn’t be happier to be part of Metal Blade family, all the crew is fantastic.
Who are some of the bands that have influenced Destrage?
In random order, here’s some of the biggest influences from the beginning to nowdays: Pantera, Lamb Of God, Soilwork, Nevermore, Porcupine Tree, Sikth, Protest The Hero, Alice In Chains, Pink Floyd, Kvelertak, The Prodigy, Extreme, Foo Fighters, Queens Of The Stone Age, Dillinger Escape Plan, And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead and hundreds of others.
Will you be touring in support of the album?
We’re currently working on it. At the moment only the Italian tour is planned from November to February, and the Japanese tour in December. You can find all of the news and upcoming shows on our website and social media.
Will you make it over to the UK?
We really want to come back to UK as soon as possible. We had a blast touring with Sikth last year.
Do you think the recent developments that the UK has gone through will affect bands like yourselves touring in the future?
It may have some negative consequences for bands coming outside the UK as much as for UK bands touring abroad, but I think there are pros and cons on Brexit and a large part of the pros comes from an nonexistent political european community. But it is just my opinion. Anyway closing the borders of a country cannot be a positive solution, never.
You played at the Bloodstock Festival last year. How was that experience?
Bloodstock is an amazing festival, we had a great feedback from the audience and we really loved the atmosphere and of course for us it was an onor to be part of that bill.
Have you played many of the big festivals?
Yes, we took part in other big festivals like Heineken Jammin Festival and Home Festival in Italy, With Full Force and Euroblast in Germany.
What is a Destrage live show like?
It’s a party!
Who would you love to tour with?
Since Dillinger announced their last album and their last tour, could be great to be aboard on that tour. But definitely would be amazing to tour with all of the bands I listed above.
What have been some of the highlights in Destrages career so far?
Signing with Metal Blade was definitely the biggest highlight, as well as touring Japan for the third time in five years.
What is the heavy music scene like in your home country of Italy at the moment? Are there any bands you would like to recommend to us?
The are lots of good bands in Italy but it’s hard to tell you about the following, cause the Italian audience is warm but non-constant. Put an eye on Flashgod Apocalypse, Empyrios, OneLegMan, Extrema, Despite Exile, Noise Trail Immersion and Diffracture. I also produced the Diffracture debut album: Oneiros.
What are your favourite progressive albums of all time?
Pink Floyd – Wish You Where Here (1975)Pink Floyd – Animals (1977)
King Crimson – In The Court Of The Crimson King (1969)
King Crimson – Red (1974)
Yes – Fragile (1971)
PFM – Per Un Amico (1972)
New Trolls – Concerto Grosso Per I New Trolls (1971)
Banco Del Mutuo Soccorso – Darwin! (1972)
Dream Theatre – Awake (1994)
Symphony X – The Divine Wings Of Tragedy (1997)
Freeze Warning – A Pleasant Shade of Grey (1997)
Pain Of Salvation – The Perfect Element (2000)
Porcupine Tree – Fear Of A Blank Planet (2007)
Contortionist – Languages (2014)
Protest The Hero – Scurrilous (2011)
Karnivool – Themata (2005)
Sikth – Death Of A Dead Way (2006) Shadow Gallery – Legacy (2001)
I can’t cut more to this list, rather I would add tons of others.