With his Luca Turilli’s Rhapsody project – now onto their second album Prometheus: Symphonia Ignis Divinus through Nuclear Blast – he is putting out some of the most daring, distinctive and emotionally resonant music to be released under the Power Metal label in years.
Luca Turilli’s music is passionate, powerful and filled with a sort of joyous open-mindedness, and even through the muddy and unreliable medium of an international Skype call it’s clear as Luca enthuses about music, spirituality and his work with the late Sir Christopher Lee that he possesses all of these qualities himself.
Do you think you might ever return to the kind of serial concept stories that you wrote with Rhapsody/Rhapsody Of Fire?
“I cannot guarantee anything, but I prefer writing about different things. There is a mini-concept across the last two albums – there are three titles on this album connected to four titles of the first album, and there will be three on the next album, for example the third part of ‘Michael The Archangel’. I like always to have connections between songs – there is a mini-concept about spiritual evolution and the connection between the past and the future – but I don’t think I will ever release one album devoted to one unique concept only.”
Some internet fans have been calling quite vocally for a sequel to Prophet Of The Last Eclipse (Limb/SPV) to finish that album’s story.
“Oh no! That was a trilogy of albums with one about the past, one about the present and one set in the future – the trilogy is finished, and now with Luca Turilli’s Rhapsody I can do whatever I want; it makes no sense for me to go back to a solo career.”
Some people might take this as an insult, but ever since Italy re-entered Eurovision I can’t help but think that you’d make a great Eurovision entry. Is that something you’d consider doing?
“No, although I think for me that music would be very easy to compose. I started in the world of Heavy Metal, my influences were of course Helloween with Keeper 1 and 2 – incredible albums – bands like Crimson Glory, and guitars players like Yngwie Malmsteen, Marty Friedman, but my potential for composition expands all the time.
“If tomorrow they would ask me to compose music for a musical, I could do it very easily, but for now I like to keep attached to the world of Heavy Metal. It would be very easy for me to leave Rhapsody and focus entirely on music for the entertainment industry, but I would feel the loss of the second element of Rhapsody, this Melodic Metal. Equally, if you restrict me to compose a Heavy Metal song just for guitars, drums and voice I could not do it – for me the best music I can create, to express myself and to give my positive message the most impact is the combination of the cinematic music of the soundtrack and the melodic Metal that I like.”
I was fortunate enough to catch you live in London a few years ago, and one thing that stood out was the sheer joy that came from all of the musicians on the stage, yourself included.
This positivity often seems quite at odds with many other Metal bands, and is sometimes treated as something of a joke by journalists and other musicians. How do you approach that?
“Let me say one thing – of course we transmit a positive message, our music wants to be a hymn to life, so we try to capture that live when we perform. But I must say that we’re really serious about the message, this is really something I don’t laugh about. It is part of my life, and I see it as sort of like a mission, you know?
“Every artist has a responsibility, I think, to speak to the heart of the people. Emotion is a weapon, a weapon that you can use in a positive or negative way. As you speak to the younger people through your music, every artist has the responsibility to spread a positive message – that’s why I’m so against those bands who use the negativity to sell or to impose themselves in the market or whatever. When you move some steps in a spiritual direction you realise that values such as love and respect are the fundamental values on which mankind can have any hope for the future – all the rest leads to destruction.
“The message that I include in my songs, I like to be serious about it. I’m not the typical Metal guy, drinking and smoking, you know – I practise yoga and meditation, I discovered a lot of things about the spiritual world by practicing on myself, not by reading books. When you experiment with your own spirituality, you can really have a wider understanding of what life is all about. There are too many people happy to live exclusively in a material perspective, they find the joy of life in satisfying their own ego, but there is a kind of universal law that means that for every joy you can get from the ego it comes with a negative consequence, but if you really go beyond the ego you reach a point where we are all connected.”
Is this purely a personal journey for you, or do you feel a connection to any formal spiritual or mystical traditions?
“There is a great teaching of the Tibetan monks – when you’re part of nothing, you are really part of everything.”
You’re referring to the Buddhist doctrine of Anatta or “not-self” – that the sense of personal consciousness is a conceit binding us to empty physical attachments.
“When a person says “I am x”, “I am a Christian etc”, they are binding themselves into a single way, but there are lots of different ways of approaching this. I don’t like to limit myself. I came to my position after having some… supernatural experiences that inspired me. In England of course you have a long tradition of spiritualism and spirit mediums.”
Italy does too, but the spiritual or religious conversation in that country is often dominated by the Church. How do you feel that your own spiritual journey relates to your origins in a Catholic country?
“Well, I grew up with very Christian values. When people ask me about the connection with Rhapsody and religion, I always say that I respect the positive values of every religion when they intersect with the Universal values of love, but the problem is when they are in any way contaminated by the ego. When they adapt themselves to the social view – that is something I don’t want to be a part of.
“For me Jesus is one of the great characters of history, he expressed these values of love and respect, but I like to go directly to the primordial spiritual source, and scientists can help by revealing the details of the universe. There is a part where all religious traditions, all science, all metaphysical disciplines come together. In the end, life wins everything.”