Jay Rollins talks to Tommy Massara about Extrema’s new frontman and album.
It has been 2.5 years since my first interview with Italy’s metal originators Extrema and they have become a regular on my playlist. Now Headbanging Forever is ready to drop on May 10th, a full-length release titled after the band’s philosophy. Tiziano “Titian” Spigno’s first single with the band, “For the Loved and the Lost,” is a tribute to the many metal musicians who have passed away (try to pick out the quotes and lyrical allusions). Tommy Massara, the band’s founder, took some time to catch up with me:
Thanks Tommy, for answering a few questions for Metalheads Forever. We are always checking out what Extrema is up to.
Thank you Jay, it’s always a pleasure dealing with you, a true Metal ambassador.
Extrema’s last release, The Old School EP, was a collection of old songs that had either been demoed or played live but never made it on those early recordings. Therefore, the writing process was different than a typical album. How did you guys approach song writing for Headbanging Forever?
I started writing the songs for Headbanging Forever back in 2014 right after the end of the European tour as support act for Death Angel. In that same period our long-time drummer Paolo Crimi decided it was time to quit the band and was suddenly replaced by Francesco La Rosa. So, we came up with the idea of the Old School EP because it was too early to start writing music with a new band member. We thought it was much better spending some time playing and recording something old but never released. Then when we felt the time was right, I started to share some of the new music with Francesco. It’s always hard to start writing music with a new band member, but Francesco showed his quality of understanding really fast. When we arrived at that point I started to write as much music possible in my home studio, then sent it out to Francesco and waited for his drum ideas. This has been a really good way to write the songs.
You’ve shared the stage with some iconic acts, are known by all the veteran metal bands that have visited Italy, and you greatly lament the death of Lemmy. Do you think the motif of the latest album stems from your experience in the scene?
As I said, with Lemmy Gone, Rock’n’Roll will never be the same, not the music itself, but the lifestyle and attitude. On the new album, you are absolutely right, we’ve made a long path thru music and experiences that led us today in what is our metal life manifesto, Headbanging Forever. All the songs on the album have been written with that title clearly in mind, we didn’t care too much about what is the request of the market today. We wrote an album that 100% reflects and satisfied what we really are deeply in our heart, Metalheads.
Tommy you chose all flying V guitars for Headbanging Forever. Over the years the legendary shape has seen many incarnations. What era of the V is your personal favourite, and did you do any customization to the guitars on Headbanging Forever to get a certain sound?
My favourite era for Flying V is the 70’s, some beautiful pieces come from that era. Yes, all my Dean s V are equipped with Seymour Duncan’s pick ups and except for my USA model all the others have been upgraded with brand new and high-level electronic parts.
Rock Shots PR states: “In May 2017 the band welcomed the new frontman Tiziano Spigno. Thanks to his entry, EXTREMA can finally release all the creativity repressed in recent years.”
This quote suggests that Gianluca Perotti was causing hang-ups in the band’s progression. Did it come down to creative differences or time constraints?
With Gianluca we shared the thick and thin, we walked a path along 29 years together, we wrote some of our old best tunes, and there was a friendship that bonded us for years but like in most long relationships, at a certain point someone goes toward a different path. This is what happened, he took interest in other things besides the music and so we split. Working on this new album together was impossible.
What do you hope to achieve in 2019 with Tiziano “Titian” Spigno at the forefront?
We think that Headbanging Forever is a really good album, it’s fun to play and listen to. When we parted ways with Gianluca what was clear to me was that the new singer must be totally different, I think we’ve been lucky to find Tiziano. He has brought in new enthusiasm and a different quality, those who have had the chance to see him live has enjoyed the show even better than before. For sure we’re aiming for something higher than in the past, with this new line-up I think we are more international than before. We’ll see.
Extrema – The Making of Headbanging Forever: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ae04gg8CJgk
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