Are we all heirs of Pink Floyd and Black Sabbath? What a wide debate that could take a whole thesis. A debate in which Italian space doomers Ufomammut could have their word. Far from 60s’ « shiny happy people » , Ufomammut developed a psychedelic music crossing many ways. During our meeting in Glazart late October, we took the opportunity to elucidate the mysteries of the cosmic sphere in which they like to lose themselves including us. Let’s penetrate a few secrets of their chemistry, and perceive that behind the mystical door leading to their music, halfway between mystical love of the 70s’ sound and new age, friendly human beings are being concealed.
Pink Floyd invented Space Rock, Black sabbath invented Doom, are you inventing Space Doom ?
Urlo (bass & vocals): We like Beatles too, so we do Space Pop Doom!
Poia (guitars): [Laughs] Yes, it’s an honor. You just mentioned some of our favorite bands. To explain the music we do to people who don’t know us, we always say it’s just a mix between Black Sabbath and Pink Floyd. Because we have got this heavy part connected to this spacy part. So it’s perfect.
So does Space Doom suit you?
Urlo: Personally I think, I cannot understand the doom thing, because I don’t know what Doom is. There are too many subgenres. space Hard Rock would be ok, but if you think we do Space doom, it’s ok, we trust you.
Are you in any way influenced by psychedelic trends like The 13th Floor Elevator, it seems like you are trying to find a new way, just like them?
Poia: I know the band but I discovered it late. At the beginning of our band, we were influenced by Pink Floyd. They were the best as a psychedelic band. So I really don’t know if we are doing something new, but …yeah, we want to do something new. In our music we ‘re trying to put the best of the past and, let’s say, the best of the present. We have been influenced by other bands like Three five o Seven , Loose ,the early Moto psycho and Monster Magnet, The Melvins, Motorhead. Actually, we have many influences. You said Black Sabbath before, and we said Beatles too. We are connected with Hawkwind, another space rock band.
Urlo: In a way, we have a punk attitude too, because we don’t care about how good we play. We are trying to play as simply as possible.
Vita (drums): Yeah, no solo…
Urlo: Yes, Just because we want to transmit something quickly. Then, we have this strange dilatation. We should say that we are punkadelic. We have influences that go together in a good way.
Vita: We always try to be ourselves, having a personal sound. Of course, everybody’s inspired from the past.
Poia: Our main thing’s that we are not so skilled. So we try to reach the result in the most comfortable way for us : “Ok, I’m not able to do that so maybe I can do this shortcut to get there.” [Laughs]
Urlo: We all agree with the idea of noise, heaviness,disease, psychedelic atmosphere, evilness.
So, you have moved away from the psychedelic of the 60s or India and Kathmandu stuff ? The imagery you use on your sleeves and in your videos comes from mystical Indian?
Urlo: Somehow, the Indian images relate to something that is more magical and mystic. Some parts of our videos like in Lucifer Song are really inspired by Indian things, because one friend of us came back from India with these shots that really reflected the music style we were playing at this time.
Poia: Yeah, this is something like a Mantra, you know, very repetitive. You’re going into a moment of trance or consciousness; just like a way of keeping yourself higher. It’s something related to earth movement, to the spirit from the earth, just the breath of the earth. So it’s very rhythmic.
At the same time, to be honest, we don’t like to be so much “mantric” because we know that sometimes we can be boring. So we have to switch some other parts : “Ok ,we are here but we want to move from here to another side of the music and from there to another level without being all the same.” I know some bands I like, that are doing the same thing, the same volume, from the beginning to the end. And It’s cool but it does not work for us. We prefer to be a little bit in this level then go up, and up, and up, and when you think it’s enough we want to go further. In my influence, this concept has been displayed by Kyuss for Blues for the red Sun for the first song. The very first time I heard this record : “It was just like ok now the groove is going on and it started Oh it’s amazing, totally enormous and then suddenly they doubled the volume. So it’s remained in my instinct, they touched me, because the unexpected is what we look for. We prefer to be more into surprise for the listeners.
Dopesmoker of Sleep is an influence for you?
Poia: It’s one of my favorite band. They were very Sabbath, but the perspective was totally different, even the riffs were Sabbath’s and the solos were just a repetition of what Tommy Iommi did. I like the way the drummer plays because he seems to lose his beat and it makes the music move in a way I had never heard before.
Actually most of your albums are one hour long and this one is almost 1 hour and 40 minutes. Oro was composed as a 2 part saga, don’t you believe that some people could think that you have been too expansive ?
Vita: The new record has different dynamics. It was a big discovery [Laughs]. The same riff had been repeated many times on both records but with different beats or different dynamics.
Poia:It’s a new discovery for us : the dynamic. This mysterious thing.
Do you try to convey some kind of cosmic and intellectual dimension to your music, just the way Pink Floyd did it in the past?
Urlo: It’s not only music that we do. We try to involve all the aspect of things, going from how we present our music on stage : so we have projections and we are considering the projections like the fourth members of Ufomammut. So it’s not only listening to music, it’s something more.
Poia: Yes, it involves more sense. Talking about intellectual dimension sometimes freezes me, because when I listen to intellectual thing, this seems too arty, too hype. We like ignorant music as well. So we don’t want to say we are very clever, we did a concept album divided in two parts, we just put a lot a volume inside it. We just like to be fiery, with very disturbing sounds. So it’s just a mixture of what we would like to be, very clever and intellectual at the same time but in the end, we are just animals trying to play music. This is a new cleverness [Laughs]. We don’t pretend to be intellectuals…
Urlo: or musicians. [Laughs]
Poia: This is the punk attitude, I would say.[Laughs]
The imagery you use in your sleeves and in your videos comes from artistic collective Malleus, which you are a member of, how do you make this work? Did this collaboration start on Lucifer songs album? Is this one of the multiple ways you approach music?
Poia: We started with our first record Godlike snake which was out on an Italian label and for which we made our own videos. We like to cure every side of our music. It comes from the music but it expands through the visuals. Lu is the third member of Malleus, she’s responsible for the video behind us, when we play. She‘s done a great work since our record Lucifer Songs. Nowadays, the videos are outstanding, adding more depth to the music.
Urlo: We would be nothing without projections ! [Laughs]
Poia: And we have another really important person : Ciccio. He’s our sound guy, we trust him 100 %.
In each and every music videos from Oro, an ‘alchemical’ woman appears, are you obsessed by this character who was already there on Idolum and of course Eve? Is this woman a metaphor of the expansion of knowledge?
Poia: Can be !
Urlo: It’s more the beauty. In this album, there are two images of the women. One with horns with different eyes, one with the third eye the awakening eye. And the second woman in the second part, she is blinded by tears, with a third eye on her head. She represents the discovering of knowledge, the different movements of the alchemical process. And in all our albums, there are still female figures starting from Godlike Snake, with the cover of a female organ.
We haven’t really read books about this, we’re quite ignorant, The main thing about alchemical mistresses is that they are quite into our knowledge… So we explore this, to create our own vision of the alchemical research for gold.
Poia: Alchemists were the first scientists. They applied the right process, maybe they didn’t reach the truth but the movement of the brain which is very important for the knowledge of the humanity. They based the model for scientists for chemistry. They approached what we don’t know. Before it was related to the religion, to God who wanted this, and they wanted to know more about that, they wanted to apply a primitive scientific progression. It’s just like when you wake up after a dream and you try to find a key to understand what has just happened. Or just when you were born, very little, just a child, and you discovered the world by yourself. You want to experiment and maybe your conclusions are different. Maybe you think the sun is going around the earth. But little by little you understand the truth. It’s just like the attitude of the first scientists to understand the truth in my opinion.
You have chosen some more chilling, dark concepts, which is rather uncommon from bands from the south of Europe. How did you get to that?
Poia: It’s just a matter of what we would like to be or to do. Because we set apart from rock’n’roll, sex and drugs. The moment we are on stage we try to be something else, something out of this world. There are other attitudes that I love, like AC/DC’s, Motörhead’s or Fu Manchu’s; they are more down-to-earth, they are more breathing the air of physic things, more into a normal story of men.
Could you tell us more about the Italian Stoner scene: Black Rainbow, Stoner Kebab which all seem very Rock’n’Roll to my reckon?
Urlo: To be honest, I don’t listen to stoner rock that much so I think in Italy there are good scenes and good bands like Morkobot, Incoming Cerebral Overdrive that played with us tonight. Stoner Kebab are good as well. But I don’t know about the idea of a real scene.
Ciccio: Probably in the indie rock but it’s not really a scene it’s just: « Oh, we have played together last time and blabla… »
Poia: Many bands play this psychedelic rock inspired more or less by Kyuss because Kyuss has been considered too much as the paradigm of the sound. So I listen to many bands with the same sound as Kyuss’s. I think Kyuss is a unique band, but leave them where they are, do not pretend to be the next Kyuss. They are still there. It’s ok if you play as a cover band but you want to do something new, find your own sound because it’s your voice. Sometime it’s better to try to avoid to be too much into a scene (band) because it’s better if you try to speak with your own voice.
To finish, I have got only two more questions, silly questions!
Ciccio: Ok and the answers are no and Japan! [Laughs]
Have you used some Latin titles because of your Italian origin ?
Poia: Japan !
Urlo: Japan, yes
Poia: Being famous in Japan is our main goal and we need latin titles for that! [Laughs]
Ok! So do you make music because musicians are so much sexier than normal people ?
Urlo: We play because it’s the only thing we can do. Not because we want to be sexy, we are not that sexy…
Ciccio, Poia, Urlo : Big in Japan !