Interview with progressive rock act Victim Of Illusion

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Victim of Illusion was formed back in Turin, Italy in 2010. The progressive rock act consists of Paolo Gurlino on vocals, Piero Giaccone-guitars, synths and programming and Luca Imerito on bass. The band’s sound is quite traditional, in a prog rock sense, the band incorporates the melodic elements of Porcupine Tree and latter-day Marillion, the groove of Tool and the atmospheric stylings of a band like Riverside. I stumbled upon these guys through social media and I’ve been playing their latest album, Invisible Light, a lot recently so I decided to hit them up for an interview. The music is very easy on the ear thanks to the clear mix and production. There are some terrific musical passages and songs throughout the record that highlight the bands competence as both musicians and songwriters. If you are a fan of any of the above bands then I urge you to give these guys a go. I will drop some links to their music at the bottom of the article. Enjoy!

 

Adrian: Many thanks for agreeing to answer my questions.Firstly, was music a big part of your life growing up? Were your family musicians and when did you first decide to pick up an instrument?

(Piero) I’ve always been attracted by music of every kind. I dreamed for my first stereo amplifier and I spent two years saving money to buy my first electric guitar. When I was twelve I played guitar in the school’s big band and started ‘working’ with other musicians, this is where I laid the first brick of my music wall.

At some point I discovered the beautiful 70’s rock bands and I spent months practicing guitar, consuming the Jimi Hendrix, Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple and Van Halen’s cassette albums. I played in a lot of bands and surfed between rock, ambient/experimental, math/post rock, metal, funk and progressive.

Luca was thirteen when his uncle gave him an acoustic guitar and taught him how to play the first chords. Years later, at age of nineteen, some friends were looking for a bassist for their band. From that moment, the bass became his instrument. Many have been the bands he played so far from heavy metal to rock, post rock, pop, progressive rock and so on.

Music is a fixed point in his life and it will ever be.

And the same for Paolo, of course… At the age of fourteen he was so involved that he decided to propose himself for a local radio as a conductor of a metal program.
At first they looked at him with suspicion, then they decided to give him two hours of
programing! He left home with the bus and a bag full of vinyls and cassettes….amazing!
This was the time when he realized that music was a real passion for him.
The next step was to enter in a band as a singer at the age of fifteen and over time he collaborated with several rock, prog, crossover, studio and live bands.

None of us had any musician parents, so we found our way by ourselves 🙂

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Adrian: What is it about progressive music that inspires you? And what are some of the records you listened to growing up that had a big impact on your decision to form this band?

Probably the best inspiration comes from the ability to merge different moods, rhythms, influences and styles in the same album or even a song. Long runs, obsessive repeated licks, airy ambient moments, all together to draw a unique painting…

The Victim Of Illusion’s influencers are mostly in the modern progressive rock/metal area: Porcupine Tree, Steven Wilson, Riverside, O.S.I., The Pineapple Thief, Anathema and so on.

 

Adrian: For newbies, how would you describe prog music to them? What makes Victim of Illusion a progressive band?

It’s simple: keep a random dance song from the 1 billion available on the market. Now put it on a device and play it in reverse. If, after a couple of minutes, you’re still interested in listening, may be you can go to the step number two and try with a prog song… 🙂

Progressive music is something out of schemas. It’s the regaining of the compositional freedom of the classic or jazz music, so you can write a song with 10 verses and no choruses or a 15 minutes instrumental suite with 20 time signature changes. Who cares? It’s prog and you don’t have to be chained into any fashionable 3 min intro-verse-chorus pop-like schema!

We are a progressive band in the way we write, arrange and choose sounds or metrics, we love to experiment with rhythmic joints, acrobatic passages and notes at the boundary of a given song key. At the same time, we work hard on letting the song to flow in a melodic way.

 

Adrian: What are you listening to now? Are there any current bands that you would recommend listening to?

Plenty of.

From Steven Wilson: “The Raven That Refused to Sing (And Other Stories)” and “Hand. Cannot. Erase.”, two masterpieces recorded with awesome musicians like Guthrie Govan and Marco Minnemann.

We highly recommend to listen the UK band Haken, in particular, the album “The Mountain” (but every album they published is worth a listen).

The last album from Pain of Salvation has really a great production, as well as the last record from Leprous.

 

Adrian: Your latest release is an 8-track album called Invisible Light. How does the creation process work with Victim of Illusion? Do the lyrics come first or does the music?

Almost all tracks born in my (Piero) studio. I usually start recording a guitar riff or arpeggio, then I leave it in my hard disk and go with another one. At some point I come back to one of the recorded ideas and I begin to add some extensions and a little bit of arrangement (a synth, a second guitar, a drum rhythm and so on). When the raw track starts to look like a song, I share it with the other band members. While Luca is able to record his bass part at home so he can send the draft when ready, Paolo comes into my studio where we can record the voice lines (basically random words with melody and metrics). Then I add other arrangements and very often the song changes its shape with the new contributions, so it’s a process of re-arranging, recording and sharing.

The last step is the writing and recording of the final lyrics.

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Adrian: What is the concept behind the new record, Invisible Light?

Invisible Light’ is the third album from the band. With this latest work, I think we reached a sort of ‘maturity’.
Starting with the message behind, our listeners already know that we often speak about the illusion that surrounds us every day. The ‘fake’ is becoming more important than the ‘real’ and we’re involved every day in tons of useless inputs.
The ‘invisible light’ is the boundary between a real dream and an illusion. We want back our real dreams, replacing the illusion that someone implanted us in order to hide our real identity.

 

Adrian: This is your third release now. Does the song writing process get any easier?

We can’t describe it as ‘easier’ at all, it’s not like to find a good formula and repeat it forever.

It’s just…different. The writing process is really complex and highly dependent on the inspiration moment, mood, available time and a lot of other elements.

I think every album has a different story, but lately we spent more time in the arranging process, so the starting idea looks like a bit more ‘produced’ than the first two albums.

At the end, probably, writing is as easy or hard as the first song of the first album.

 

Adrian: How do you think you have developed as a band since the first record, What Senses Blow Away?

We did some choices… The first EP was just a home-made experiment and at the beginning we focussed more on the live shows than the recordings. Then we understood to work better as a studio band and so we put almost all our efforts in the recordings.

We engineered the production process in order to don’t lose the final goal in each step. First of all, we worked on recording good quality pre-produced tracks so the mix engineer is able to have a really good idea of the final result we want. Then we bought/rent high quality gear for the recordings. As for the drums, we hired a young talented italian drummer and we recorded the drum tracks in a class A studio. All guitar and bass tracks were reamped by our mix engineer in his studio with top amps, cabs, mics and preamplifiers.

So yes, we focussed more on the final product, but we also worked hard in the marketing activity, and we’re able to say that we’ll appear in the October issue of Prog Magazine UK and we’re very proud for that!

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Adrian: Invisible Light feels like a very focussed record. 8 tracks, with most running at around 6 to 7 minutes in length. I find some prog bands are guilty of having too much going on with their songs. With Invisible Light, there is no unnecessary noodling, everything is there for a reason.

You got the point. Each song is a composition, an ensemble of merged moments, a trip (if you want to call it in this way?). And if you go for a trip, maybe you would find some time to stop by to watch something, or just sit in some place to admire the landscape. So we don’t really care about the song’s length, it’s more about where the song is able to drive the listener, how far or in which other dimension.

A lot of friends and/or fans are telling us that this is becoming their favourite in-car album. They love to listen to it while traveling, probably they can ideally travel between emotions other than places, probably they can find a new reason to travel.

 

Adrian: I want to ask about the track Hollow Man from Invisible Light. The other songs, for the most part, appear to be quite reflective whereas this track has an almost angry feel, particularly in regard to the lyrics. Is it a look at celebrity culture?

Hollow Man talks about the nowadays cult of appearing, showing the new fashion object or discredit others as in a funny game. It’s the non-culture of not to be.

Instead of investing in themselves (I mean with more culture, sports, music, arts, etc), people seem more attracted by the surface of things, and follow the mass is much easier than be different, it takes less effort and could be more comfortable in a certain way.

Internet has amplified this ‘way to live’, and in some decades we’ll see a lot of people who spent most of their lives watching cats videos or posting futile things, of course with the last ‘must have’ full of optional device!

We think that our life is empty by default, and it’s up to us to fill and feed it with all the emotions we can capture in each single moment…

 

Adrian: What has the reaction been like to the record so far? Do you have any live dates planned?

Reading the messages we have received, it seems that our listeners are enjoying the new album and this is just awesome. Furthermore, we were contacted by some magazines, blogs and radios that asked us for sharing some interviews or letting them play our new album, so we’re really satisfied by the overall feedback.

We’ve not planned any live dates at the moment. We’re from Italy but our listeners are mostly located outside our country (U.S. and U.K.), so it’s not so easy to plan a live date We’re getting in contact with a booking agency that could be able to help us with this task.

 

Adrian: What else do you guys have planned for the rest of 2017 and beyond?

Live shows, interviews and more presence on YouTube, to start.
We’ll publish lyrics videos of a couple of songs from the last album and we’ll organize some live events on YouTube.
We had some requests about t-shirts and merchandising in general, so probably we’ll set up an online store.
We’ve been contacted by some web radios and podcasts, asking us for a live interview. We’re more than happy to join the fellow hosts and, as always, we’ll share the interviews in our Twitter and Facebook channels!

Huge thanks to Piero for answering my questions. If you like prog rock then please check the band out. Their latest release, Invisible Light, in particular, is a ripper!

 

You can find Victim of Illusion here: Official website – http://victimofillusion.wixsite.com/victimofillusion

On Twitter @VictimOfIllusio

On Facebook Victim of Illusion

On Bandcamp – https://victimofillusion.bandcamp.com/

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