interview with Valar Morghulis

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What are your names? / Who plays what? / How old are you?

Hey! We are:

Lorenzo Pagani – Guitar, 26 years old

Luca Mapelli – Guitar, growl and backing vocals, 26 years old

Roberto Banfi – Bass, scream and clean vocals, 34 years old

Valerio Villa – Drums, 23 years old

Sam – Lead vocals, 23 years old

Have any of you played in other bands? Yes, all of us, and from different backgrounds. Our bass player, Rob, was until recently singer in a hard rock band, the Heartless; our guitarist Lorenzo played in a death metal band that also covered Amon Amarth; Luca played in a few hard ‘n’ heavy bands, while Valerio and Sam experienced different bands ranging from alternative rock to tougher metal. Now it’s just Valar Morghulis for all of us.

Have you had other previous members? No, we've always had this line-up.

Where are you from? Italy, from the surroundings of Milan.

What year did the band form? End 2016… It was probably October 31st: the perfect day to form a metal band!

What's your style of genre? It's pretty hard to define. We opted for a "darkened” or “extreme” epic metal, but we have been labelled in many ways. We have some epic-themed songs, but darkness and strife are always there, and there is no happy ending. We combine melodic lead vocals and guitar lines with some more extreme features, like screaming, growl, heavy riffing and some blast-beat.

How often and where do you rehearse? Once per week, in a studio with several rehearsal rooms. Sometimes more than once per week, especially if we are working on new stuff or there is a show in sight.

Do you have other interests of work outside the band? Apart from our regular work, we all have also other interests – although it’s not easy to fit them all in the schedule! In particular, Rob and Lorenzo share a passion for martial arts, and Lorenzo is also a swordsman.

Are you looking for a booking agency, and what are your thoughts around that? Yes, we are looking for one. It's important to have the right contacts if you want to only focus on playing and nothing else. The underground scenario requires musicians to be also: graphic artists, event organizers, lawyers...

Are you looking for a label, and what are your thoughts around that? We are not actively looking for that at the moment. We will probably stay independent unless we find a GOOD label, one that invests time and money, not one that only requires that from you.

What are your songs about? A major topic of our songs is death, with the set of feelings associated with it. Sure, death is “the usual stuff” when it comes to metal, but for us it's not about plain death: we place it within a context that makes sense of it and gets it to different meanings; we often relate it to a life of strife, be it physical (such as war and battle) or metaphorical. The influence of genres such as black and viking metal is evident in our lyrics, but we mold it so that it fits our own way. We play with history and fantasy: we have a song, “Darvulia”, about the servant of Erzsebeth Bathory; then we have the fantasy version, “Dreadfort”, about Bolton’s fortress of torture in A Song of Ice and Fire saga; we have “Broken Eagle”, a song about the historical Battle of Teutoburg, and “To the Walls”, about an imaginary last-stand ending in death. Then we sing about nightmares, “Devil’s Dreams”, myth, or the life of strife and relieving death in the cold oceans “Where the blackfish dwell”.

Who does the composing and writes the lyrics? The music usually starts from guitars (Lorenzo, Luca) and bass (Rob); then everyone joins in. Early lyrics were mostly from Luca, but then more came from our singers Sam and Rob; there is also one lyric “A Love and Battle Song”, that we wrote all together.

Do you start with the music or the lyrics? It depends from case to case. We start with one, then we find something that fits in, both in terms of metric and atmosphere.

Have you done any covers live? In the beginning we usually played a couple of covers (from Manowar and Ensiferum), then one, soon none. It depends on the time we have, but the bulk of our shows is always made of our own songs, because that is what we feel and what we want to spread. We hope to write the covers of tomorrow!

What language do you sing in? English. It's easy to fit in the music and is understood by most, useful if you want your message to get through.

What ages are most of your concert attendants? Usually, 20 - 30 years old is the age.

Have you had to cancel a gig? No, but we played without our bassist Rob once, since he was sick. It was hard but we were tough; we informed our fans in advance and they still came and were great in supporting us even more than usual!

Where do you plan to gig the coming year? We hope to spread more around Italy and, if we are lucky, get a few dates abroad, possibly in Eastern or Northern Europe.

When did you start to sell merchandise, and what do you have for sale? We don't have merchandise for sale yet, but t-shirts are underway and will soon be out for sale!

What do you think about people downloading music instead of buying records now a days? The important thing is that they support the bands somehow: buying single songs instead of the entire album if it's cheaper, attending gigs, supporting musicians on social networks. Online music is a great opportunity for everyone to listen to a huge amount of music, but then we all have to contribute to the success of the music scene.

How do you think the music industry have changed because of this? It opened the music market to independent artists. This has pros and cons. The pros are that everybody can listen to many different new songs by talented artists that were previously unknown. The cons is that it’s hard for each artist to emerge when there are thousands of others and such an amount of music to listen to: you still need a budget to access a broader market and to promote yourself (this is what a label should be for); and you have to pay attention to copyright stuff as individual. Labels make less money out of CDs but they can distribute music while saving the physical production costs.

What do you think of my work? It's great! It's important to make underground bands a little less underground and to give to the audience some fresh stuff. And it’s always interesting to read about other bands like us from all over the world on your page.

Is it easier to find inspiration from older bands, or bands that are more active today? It depends from the genre you play and from person to person. Some of the most active bands today are often the oldest! But there are also many talented new bands around, also from our area.

What have been your biggest obstacles? To reconcile music with the job everyone has.

Do you have any new material? We’ve just finished composing “Broken Eagle”, our song about the Battle of Teutoburg, and now we are bent on a new one about the myth of Hades and Persephone, called “Queen of Hades”. With this material we plan to record our first full-length album around spring 2019.

What advice would you give other bands or artists? The economic payoff may come or not, but the basis for everything is that you feel and are satisfied with what you do and write, so screw the rest… AND KICK ASS!

What are your web sites? You can follow us on Facebook, Instagram and Youtube, and listen to our stuff on Youtube, Spotify or Google/Apple Music. Here’s the links:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/valarmorghulisepicmetal/ Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/valar_morghulis_epicmetal/ Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCCXJJzj3awXPScQqpaZBzkg Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/artist/41KNSiLEswgDUqajdn0fr6

Google Play: https://play.google.com/store/music/album/Valar_Morghulis_The_Origins?id=Bkfwrm23gkrdcc6zjs4rteessk4&hl=en

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