The last local band that excited me this much was probably Confusione. While they obviously sound different, there's a certain affinity both musically, aesthetically and lyrically: gloomy and noisy hardcore played like there's no tomorrow and deeply rooted in the 80s' italian hardcore tradition. The main thing is that both bands capture perfectly and consciously the disillusion of living here in this age. After the very first listening I immediately knew that I have to interview them. This interview was conducted via email with guitarist Pio around november '10.
Perro: Shall we start as gentlemen with the usual introductions? Who are you? What the hell are you doing? Why?
Pio:First, thanx for doing this interview! Now we can start...who are we? well, we're two sicilian guys, Pio (from Siracusa) and Elio (from Mazara del Vallo). We met at Palermo university around 2004/ 2005 and became close friends and kept in touch. Now we're both back in each of our hometowns. Pio is working as a sound technician for a small audio service and has just started his own little label while waiting to find the strength to do the last three exams to finish his studies. Elio is thinking about quitting uni since he needs to find a job badly! In the meantime, he's writing for a 'zine out of Trieste that deals with metal and old school stuff...Why we do it? Man, that's too complicated, next please...
Perro: You're both coming from a quite isolated area of sicily, where I suppose there's no punk scene at all. What's it like to be a punk so far and isolated from the big cities where there actually is a punk scene? Do you think that such isolation influenced Fogna's sound in any way?
Pio: Well, it is true that in our towns there's no punk scene, but in the end "punk's goal" is something so aboriginal and universal that it doesn't really need a big city or a certain specific place to arise. It needs something else. At the end of the 80s' and at the beginning of the 90s' Siracusa had some kind of scene that gravitated around two or three bands, but we were too young to know about it...honestly, we're not that depressed about being isolated from the scene. Maybe it pushes us to do what we're we're doing and, in the end, there's always someone we can talk with about certain musical/ non musical subjects. Also we're not the kind of guys that go around sporting a mohawk or dressing in a way that might attract attention. To tell the truth we do not give a fuck about being called "punk" or anything else. We do care about going on with our ideas, with whom not only punks might agree but also everyone who's a bit open minded. And obviously if someone agrees with us, well we couldn't be more happy! Of course if we lived in a place with a scene, that would mean gigs and more conversation! Yeah, I guess isolation might have influenced our sound, maybe letting us blend all our different influences that are not limited to punk-hc only. We're addicted to music, ahahahah...
Perro: Fogna started around 2004/05 but the demo came out only in december 2009. So, I guess it's true that you sicilians are all lazy bastards! Bullshit aside, why did it take so long?
Pio: The main reason for such a long delay is due to the difficulty we had in finding the free time in both our schedules to record. And during the recording the belt of the 4 track we were using ripped...sometimes we couldn't find a bloody cable or something else and months went on. The main problem was being able to record but, in the meantime, we wrote enough material to fill at least two eps, we've been productive...we just have to hope that recording time gets shorter and it seems like we've nailed it! Well, I guess there was a bit of laziness in there too, eheheh
Perro: Even if it's quite obvious that you're heavily influenced by early 80s' italian hardcore, you've been able to create your own sound without being a fourth rate clone of this and that band. What were your main influences? 80s' italian hc top five?
Pio: We're very into 80s' italian hc so it's obvious that it influenced us. We're not sure who has had more or less impact on us, all I can say is that bands like Underage, Wretched, Chain Reaction, Eu's arse, Uart Punk and Impact have given us goosebumps tons of times! About the top five, it's impossible to simply write down a list since every release came out in different years and contexts, plus each one has its own peculiarity that makes it unique...so we do prefer to list them in random order: Underage - Africani marocchini terroni; Wretched - In nome del loro potere tutto è stato fatto; Chain Reaction - Gabbie; Impact/ Eu's arse - split; Wretched - La tua morte non aspetta.
Perro: I was immediately impressed by your extremely dirty and gloomy guitar sound. It reminds me of certain dark/ goth sounds, some black metal bands and also japanese noisy bands like Confuse, Gai, Sieg Heil ect...did I hit the mark on this one? Punk/ hc aside, what are the other Fogna influences?
Pio: Eheheh...you're right about dark/ goth and black metal. Postpunk, dark and a certain kind of goth are unquestionably a big influence, along with some kind of black metal as you said before. We don't know too much about japanese noisecore, we know Confuse but we haven't known them for very long. But from what we've heard, it's definitely something worth listening to more. We hope to make up for it pretty soon! To list all our listenings would take a whole page, so I'll just say punk, metal, postpunk and all kind of rock subgenres. To make it even shorter, I'd say anything that can just keep our attention.
Perro: Was the choice of using a drum machine a conscious decision or was more because of a lack of hardcore drummers in your area? A lot of people are against drum machines in punk/ hardcore, saying that it has too much of a cold, unnatural sound for this kind of music. How would you answer to such statement?
Pio: The choice of using a drum machine wasn't immediate. When we started we were looking for a drummer but, considering all the trouble we had just being the two of us, we finally opted for it and we enjoyed the final result. I must say that it has been programmed in way that sounds quite similar to drum played by a human being. About having critics for using it, we really didn't get any real complaints. A lot of people didn't even notice it. All we got was just some comments like "yeah man...but with a real drum, it would have been way better". On the other hand, someone else said that it was an interesting choice. If we'll ever get real critics...well, of course eveybody is free to say whatever they want. But since "punk" is supposed to be rules/ stereotypes free and everyone should be free to express in their own way, I wouldn't understand why the hell we shouldn't be free to use a drum machine...
Perro: The demo has just been repressed onto vinyl for Bat Shit Records. Has something being changed (remix, graphics ect...) or basically is it the same thing? Why did they press only 300 copies?
Pio: About the graphics, the inserts of 7" and cd are almost the same, they are just put together in a different way. About the sound, we didn't change anything, obviously vinyl sounds a bit different but I guess it has to do with the format. About the pressing of only 300 copies, we don't know what to say, eheheh. We did 300 on cd, maybe Blaise of BatShit wanted to keep it like that, who knows...
Perro: There's also a new ep in the works titled "specchio della morte". This time you recorded with a real drummer. How has the new member influenced Fogna sound? What can we expect from the new material?
Pio: Lo specchio della morte...eheheh most likely we will change the title and it's gonna be named after one of the tracks, "Paura nella città dei morti viventi" (yeah, exactly like the movie). Yeah, this time there's gonna be a drummer (well, except for a last minute unexpected accident!). His arrival didn't change our sound that much, I can say for sure that he's very good at d-beats and correlated beats. What can you expect? Well, we'd like to know as well, 'coz till it's done anything could happen! I'm just sure that it's gonna be 4 or 5 tunes and that we haven't finished recording it yet, ehehehe
Perro: Your lyrics exude happiness and joy of living from every single letter! In short, they describe perfectly the decay of the boot shaped penisula in the last years. While they do deal with the tipical punk/ hc topics, they're written in an original way and they are free of the usual boring slogans already used a billion times...
Pio: Thanx, we've really appreciated what you just said 'coz we do care a lot about lyrics. We like to use a lot metaphors and allegories since they often are the best way to deal with extensive topics with just few words. The only question is if people get them in the right way or not, but from what you're saying I guess that the messages are arriving at their destination, ehehehe. Great!
Perro: Where does the artwork came from? The booklet is very well done and the graphics taken from a certain medieval iconography fit perfect for Fogna, both musically and lyrically...
Pio: The artwork is a detail of a painting from 1503/ 1504 by artist Hieronymus Bosch, "the Garden of Earthly Delights". The painting is divided into three parts that describe the history of humanity in a provocative way, through the medieval christian doctrine. The image of the artwork is a detail of the lower right side of the the third part of the picture, that should represent hell. About the back cover, the part with the statue (Mazara's satyr) on the cross with some definitions taken out of a dictionary it's a cut'n'paste done by Elio. The skeletons were added later. The inside artwork is a picture that Elio did.
Perro: Have you ever played live as a duo? Now that you have a drummer, are you planning any gigs?
Pio: Eheheheh, you hit a nerve here! We've never played live, we wanted to do a gig as a duo with the drum machine but nothing has happened yet. We're thinking about the possibility of doing some gigs and we'll probably be on stage in four; drum, bass, guitar and vocals. We hope so...we know we'd love it!
Perro: I don't know a lot about sicilian hardcore exept for some recent bands. Some well hidden obscure treasures from the past worth mentioning?
Pio: There were two (sadly) defunct bands out of Messina that kill, one it's well known "Uart Punk" that, if I'm not wrong, should be the only sicilan band that has ever played at Virus squat in Milano. The other band is "Convulsed" that played some kind of thrash/ hardcore. Too bad that they're not active anymore. Still active from the past are Alter-azione from Messina, a great band too! There are many more from the past that unfortunately we only know by name, we'd kill to hear their recorded material but it seems pretty hard to get it...I hope we'll be able to find it someday!!
Perro: I know Fogna is not your only musical project....
Pio: Yes, we're involved in other projects, two of them are still just Elio and Pio. The first is "Vermaio", a very recent project that's still punk hc, but with sounds that are different from Fogna, more raw and crude. A kind of tributo to all the 80s' punkhc. The other is "Jealousy for the Dead", something between Dark Throne and postpunk.
Elio also plays in "Psycopath Witch", something between black and death metal, where he sings and plays bass. "Mercy for the Living" and "June Kills" are two onemanband Pio's projects, the first one is postpunk while the other is some mix of postpunk, rock and noise.
Perro: Thanx for your time! If you want to say something, do it now or shut up forever!!
Pio: Thanx again from the interview! Greetings to: Blaise.B, Skidt Hjerne, The Krushers, Bunker66, Peppino, Filippo, Dario.M, Jen, Antonio.I, Verbero, Leonardo, Suzanne Silver, Religio Mortis, Riccardo, Giammaria and all the PM readers!