Interview with Sean Worrell of Nero di Marte
Agoraphobic News: Murder Therapy was the prototype of what Nero di Marte is today. Why did you leave that project and decide to form N.D.M. ???
Sean: Actually I see it as a continuation of the same project since me, Francesco and Marco (as well as Andrea when he joined us in 2010) wrote all the music in “both” bands. The reason Murder Therapy doesn’t exist anymore is because the music we were playing was expanding and we didn’t want to be attached to a strictly “death metal” sounding name.
Agoraphobic News: Seems like you really know what you’re doing. Even with 2 albums out, the band’s overall sound is unique. Are you guys educated musicians or do you just go with the flow and play from the heart?
Sean: I think we’ve all received music education to some degree but it doesn’t really directly influence our songwriting as it would in other types of music. Song ideas are thought out by gradually figuring out what you like and don’t like to hear and play, but also by understanding what each person in the band can play to contribute to what you’ve presente
Agoraphobic News: To be honest, I was really skeptical when I heard the song Convergence for the first time. I found vocals too progressive, but in the end I really appreciated them for what they are. And I really think that clean vocals give refreshment to the extreme music like N.D.M.’s Who are your biggest influences vocal-wise??
Sean: Thank you! To be honest we were really considering going fully instrumental before I started trying out singing, one of the reasons being we were tired of having full-on growling and screaming on top of our music. I think of my voice as an extra layer, like an instrument, that follows the music’s dynamics and that can tie everything together with words and meaning. My favorite singer is Nils Frykdahl from SGM/Idiot Flesh/Faun Fables… Sleepytime Gorilla Museum in general really opened up the way I think about music. There are several singers I’ve admired and have listened to since I was a teen… Bjork, Adrian Belew, Mike Patton, are the first that come to mind.
Agoraphobic News: How challenging is it to mix such extreme form of music with high pitched vocals?
Sean: I think the challenge is mixing vocals in moments where there’s a lot going on musically. Less is more of course. I have to cut out my own space but know when to restrain myself from singing too much, but that comes pretty natural since I play guitar and have more of a bird’s-eye view on how the whole song is structured and transitions from one moment to another. I’ve learned that working on or at least thinking about the vocals while the song is still developing is crucial. I didn’t have the chance to do that on our self-titled album because the music was already pretty much completed once I decided to start singing, but definitely worked more on that on Derivae.
Agoraphobic News: Can you name some of your favorite bands?
Sean: As far as bands: King Crimson, Sleepytime Gorilla Museum, Isis, Gorguts, Ulcerate, Virus, Kayo Dot… But I listen to a lot of music that doesn’t really fall into the band category, mostly classical composers (Stravinsky, Scelsi, Penderecki, Schnittke), some jazz I got from my parents (Coltrane, Thelonius Monk, Miles Davis), and various ambient and electronic projects.
Agoraphobic News: Do you play the guitar on a daily basis?
Sean: Not really every day, not unless I’m writing or learning something. I used to have daily workout routines to continuously improve my technique or speed, but I don’t really do that anymore.
Agoraphobic News: Production of both your albums sound great! The listener needs a second or two to recognize your band’s sound. At some point, it reminds me of a more polite version of Ulcerate. How expensive can the production like that be for a young and underground band nowadays????
Sean: Going to the studio isn’t incredibly expensive, Derivae cost about 4000€ to make and Nero di Marte cost even less than that. We try to make smart choices on how to work before we go record as well as when we’re in the studio. Doing a lot of preproduction and know how most things are going to sound before we actually record (though we do leave some things open to a certain degree), saves us so much precious and costly time we can’t afford. It took us about 10 days to record all instruments, and then about a week of mixing/mastering. Riccardo Pasini, the engineer at Studio73, is very talented and understands our music so that really has a lot do with it as well.
Agoraphobic News: Your debut album is not so different than Derivae, but still, the former is nastier and dirtier than the latter, but it seems like your overall music formula hasn’t changed drastically. However, Derivae Is kinda more layered and polished. How important is the feeling of atmosphere for your music???
Sean: There should be a distinction between overall atmosphere of a song/album and atmospheric elements in our music. The overall atmosphere is what can make a song/album coherent and evocative, it is both the glue used to transition between ideas and the time spent on developing them. As far as atmospheric elements… To answer your question I don’t really think about or compartmentalize aspects of our music in any order of importance. Certain kinds of atmospheric elements come about by how an idea evolves, or viceversa maybe we have the suggestion of an atmosphere from where ideas are then generated. The songs on Derivae are more atmospheric compared to our debut probably because we gave them more time to develop and gave ourselves more time to try out new ways of playing and working with new sounds.
Agoraphobic News: How do you see the musical industry today?
Sean: On one hand I see the industry in a panic because bands and labels don’t know how to market their music, resorting to gimmicks and sensationalism to grab people’s attention. On the other hand I also see bands taking more control and beng more conscious of all aspects of their art in the underground. The way most people listen and interact with music has changed because today’s more popular mediums have transformed music into nothing more than a commodity - but I’m not saying that buying physical copies of music is “better”. The internet and digitalization of music has in many ways democratized everything and there’s no easy solution. I don’t know how you can change people’s perception of music on a massive scale. But there could be more efficient ways of helping developing artists by using already existing digital platforms. From a band’s perspective, think if Spotify worked a little more like Bandcamp (or viceversa), where artists get their fair share for streaming/downloading/purchasing physical copies of music. Current Spotify streaming royalties are totally unfair: if a person listens to only a handful of bands during the course of a month why should the revenue from his subscription or generated from the ads he views be redistributed to all spotify artists, instead of supporting those few bands he actually listened to? Here is a very well known but interesting article on the subject:
Agoraphobic News: Are you happy with the overall band’s recognition both by the record label and fans??
Sean: I feel very humbled by the fact people are interested in our music. The only thing I wish is we could tour more than what we’ve done up to now.
Agoraphobic News: What was the turning point for N.D.M. ?
Sean: I would say us changing name, getting signed to Prosthetic and releasing Nero Di Marte. It felt like the many different things we were working on for years were finally converging into that album’s release.
Agoraphobic News: How well received is metal music in Italy? Is there any metal music TV shows?
Sean: I don’t watch Italian television at all but I think there’s only 1 cable TV channel, Rock TV, that broadcasts mainstream rock and some metal. Mainstream metal is received like everywhere else, there is no real hostility towards the genre, though most Italians who listen to big and famous metal bands are not very curious about the underground scene.
Agoraphobic News: How does the Vatican react to this form of music? I guess that they don’t like black metal xD
Sean: Some parts of Italy (mainly the south) are known for religious figures complaining about metal concerts and music, but I don’t think this happens very often anymore. I think being catholic has become a formality for many people in Italy, a cultural status. I don’t see why the Vatican itself is against this music today, the current pope is very progressive on many social issues (not on everything of course)! I read he used to go to rock concerts when he was young.
Agoraphobic News: Italians are better known for their various cultural differences on a local level. Is music exceeding these boundaries? I know that north and south don’t get along so well…
Sean: To some level, yes music breaks down these cultural differences. But I would say the south of Italy gets way less concerts than we do up in the north, so they’re less familiar with new bands and styles, which really is an extension of a problem Italy has with music as a whole. On a more human level, I live in a university city, Bologna, which has a massive influx of students from the south… I may be wrong, but I do not sense much hostility between north and south here among young people.
Agoraphobic News: Was touring with Gorguts a big challenge for N.D.M. ??
Sean: It was a challenge because of the horrible weather conditions combined with the crazy long 10+ hour drives we had to do a couple of days, as well as it being our first time playing in another continent, but everything worked out and it was such a humbling experience for us. The guys in Gorguts were so kind and generous to us, always making sure everything was ok and helping us out. They are truly an inspiration both on a human and musical level.
Agoraphobic News: How do you see Italy’s fashion trends and stuff like that?
Sean: I really ignore that type of stuff.
Agoraphobic News: Who is the main song writer in the band?
Sean: It is a collaborative effort and usually everyone writes his own parts. It starts with me, Francesco or Andrea presenting a bulk of ideas, or maybe a particular atmosphere or some riff(s). There are moments in which one of us might have more of an idea on how the song could work, so this person acts like a sort of temporary director for the band, not really commanding or saying what a person should play, but by suggesting certain ideas and having the other players understand what you are proposing. It’s important to have a playful and positive attitude while writing, as there are no right and wrong ideas. Having big egos is out of the question. The only true question one must ask themselves while composing, alone or with others, is: “does this music move me?”.
Agoraphobic News: When are we going to hear a brand new N.D.M. record??
Sean: We’re working on several new songs, but I’ve got nothing to announce right now… First we have to see where the music takes us. We’d like to record next year for sure, but our priority at the moment is presenting Derivae in a live setting in Europe and North America.
Agoraphobic News: Tony Soprano or Vito Corleone?
Sean: Haven’t seen The Sopranos, so Corleone!
Agoraphobic News: Last question is stupid as always – Is eating pizza and pastas with ketchup an act of blasphemy in Italy??
Sean: Putting ketchup on pasta and pizza is barbaric – our restraint to do so should be what separates humans from animals hahaha!