What is more important, commercial success or artistic integrity? It really all depends on who you ask, but chances are, most would choose the latter of the two. Doing just that for the past two decades, Italy’s Kingcrow is a band that has built on a foundation of musicianship and a fearless approach to change. Inspired by art, music, and poetry, the band has continuously challenged themselves to try something new, and as a result, have molded themselves into an extremely compelling band.
Different than others on the scene, Kingcrow really do not fit in a box, weaving in and out of styles ranging from Alternative Rock to Progressive Rock to everything in between. Best just described as an ambient heavy Rock band, Kingcrow have a refined sound so exciting, it is begging to breakthrough into a broader market.
Recently releasing their new album, The Persistence, they not only have put together a stunning record, but one that should not be ignored. Taking the time to talk about it all, founding Guitarist Diego Cafolla sat down for an interview covering everything from the band’s creative philosophy to the work put into their latest album, plus much more.
CrypticRock.com – Kingcrow is a band which has been hard at work for over twenty years now. Having released seven studio albums, including your most recent, The Persistence, how would you describe the band’s musical journey?
Diego Cafolla – Well, we were very young when we started it (I mean me and my brother Thundra) and we only played in this band, it’s our youth band. We were 14-15 years old at the time, so obviously it was a quite long journey, but I guess it’s very similar to many other musicians. It just happened that we haven’t played in several bands, only in this one, even if me and him are the only original members remaining and a lot of musicians have been part of Kingcrow during the years. It was a long process, not always easy and smooth, but here we are.
CrypticRock.com – Sticking with it has certainly paid off. The band’s sound has certainly progressed through the years. What has inspired the shift in styles over time?
Diego Cafolla – Time. I mean it wasn’t planned or anything, it just happened in the most natural way possible. I think our interest in our forms of music made our music shift and morph constantly and a lot of very different influences were absorbed during the process till nowadays. I think that the fact we are not afraid of sounding a bit unconventional, so we just do whatever we want. I think that should be true for every band, but in fact it isn’t.
Most of the bands out there are afraid of not fitting into an established market. Probably it pays off in the short term since if you play, for example, epic Metal, you have instant access to a lot of magazines and webzines, while it’s more difficult if you play something which covers a wide range of influences and it’s hard to label. Our music can be ambient in one moment, heavy right after and electronic in others.
CrypticRock.com – Exactly, and that is why it is so compelling. The band recently released The Persistence, and this record could be one of your best to date. What was the writing and recording process like for this album?
Diego Cafolla – The writing process was exactly the same as for the last four records. I prepared the demos for all the songs, with all the instruments on it, and then we recorded it in our studio, not big differences. The only thing that was different was the fact that we made a full pre-production this time, with all the definitive sounds etc. It took time, but we wanted to know how the record was going to sound before we started to record the actual album. That’s the only difference.
CrypticRock.com – The end result is excellent. What is interesting about Kingcrow is the ability to file into several sub-genres. Some may call you a Progressive Metal band, others a Hard Rock band with Prog Rock tendencies. Not that titles matter, but how would you classify Kingcrow?
Diego Cafolla – To me, we play a very contaminated kind of Heavy Rock. There’s Metal, ambient music, Progressive Rock, Trip Hop, Alternative Rock in it. It’s a very wide range of influences that are all present in our sound. If I would find a label, I would say Alternative Heavy Prog… but as always, you’d listen to our music yourself to have an idea.
CrypticRock.com – There are certainly a little of different styles mixed in. Another aspect of your music which stands out is the attention to subtle detail. While the average ear may not realize it, it is these subtle textures that set an album apart from others. How important is all of this to you as composers and performers?
Diego Cafolla – Well that’s true, and we spend a lot, I’d say too much, time on very small details when composing and arranging the songs – to the point that the definition of these details take as much time, if not more, than the songwriting. I write very fast and then I get obsessed with these details to the point that you’d constantly hear me in the studio saying, “Mmm, ok, this is very good but what if….” In fact, for me, the most difficult part is understand when to stop refining something and move on to the next thing. So, to answer to your question, for us, these details are not just important, they are crucial.
CrypticRock.com – It certainly shows. The songs of The Persistence paint a very dark, yet beautifully melodic picture. Beyond the music, the lyrics are striking alongside Diego Marchesi’s voice. That in mind, what has Diego’s addition meant to Kingcrow?
Diego Cafolla – I think Diego’s voice fits perfectly the music I write. He got this very emotional way of singing that channel, in a beautiful way, the emotions of the song. Plus, he’s very open when we are recording the vocals. He’s always ready to try different things when he listens to me from the control room saying, “Ok, that was great but what if…” (Laughs)
CrypticRock.com – (Laughs) Well, it is good to see everyone working together so well for the good of the music. You released a music video for the song “Father” just prior to the release of The Persistence. A straight-forward, yet fantastic video, can we expect some more visuals to go along with the album soon?
Diego Cafolla – I’m very happy you liked the video since we (me and Devilnax) made it all by ourselves and it was the first one we ever made. Don’t know if there are going to be more visuals, probably some live footage from the tour.
CrypticRock.com – Alright, well it would be cool to see more music video productions in the future. The band recently wrapped up a European run of shows with Pain of Salvation. Having played shows in the USA in the past, unfortunately the band has not seen much exposure in the North American market. Is that something the band hopes to change with the release of The Persistence?
Diego Cafolla – Well, you always hope to reach a bigger audience, but in the case of North America, it is not as easy as Europe for us since the logistic to play there is quite expensive. Let’s hope in the near future we are going to have more of a chance to bring Kingcrow across the big pond and play there!
CrypticRock.com – That would be great! Judging by the sound and style of Kingcrow, as well as how it has evolved, you seem to have very eclectic influences. Tell us a bit more about your influences.
Diego Cafolla – As I already mentioned, we have tons of different influences. If I have to name bands I would say the following, but there are many, many more: Pink Floyd, Rush, King Crimson, Massive Attack, Radiohead, The Mars Volta, Portishead, Meshuggah, Beatles, Beach Boys, Tori Amos, Bjork, Sigur Ros… I mean I could go on with hundreds of names.
CrypticRock.com – That is a great collection of vastly different artists. Last question. We also cover Horror and Sci-Fi films on CrypticRock. If you are a fan of either or both genres, what are some of your favorites and why?
Diego Cafolla – Well yes, me and my brother are very passionate about Horror movies and Sci-Fi films. I think we both are more into ’70s and ’80s films, stuff like Alien (1979), The Exorcist (1973), The Thing (1982)…stuff like that. Also, all Peter Jackson splatter movies. (Smiles)