A Musical Genius - A Humble Man
Aug 23, 2013 / 6:00 pm
A while back I introduced a very passionate musician through a Review of ‘Charming Grace’. The title fits very well for one Pierpaolo Monti, an Italian multi-talented musician that creates beautiful and stunning musical pictures! Whether it be through his project ‘Shining Line’ or the vehicle of ‘Charming Grace’, whatever Zorro puts his mind to, will be a masterful expression of music. I had the privilege over the Summer to have an in-depth conversation with Pierpaolo, here is that conversation…
Bruce: Let’s talk about your first journey in to music. Was it with the group Shining Line?
Zorro: Hi Bruce! First of all thank you so much for this opportunity, it’s great to be here talking with you! Well, my “long” journey in music starts back in 2000… in that year I won a local contest here in the north of Italy with my first band called Sovversivo, and we recorded as prize the first (very) low budget demo of four tracks. With Sovversivo we used to play a hard ‘n’ heavy style of music with some dark influences, and we reached some good results (for that time), recording two more studio demos in 2002 and 2003, and opening some live events of known metal acts just like Virgin Steele, Omen, Labyrinth and others.
Anyway, in 2005 my love for AOR and melodic rock music was screaming inside me (I’ve always been a fan of this style since the early nineties when I was a kid), so I took the hard decision to leave the band that I founded to pursue a new melodic adventure. In those days I met, in my hometown, my mate Amos, who was part of my “circle” of friends at the times of my teenage years, who was incredibly searchin’ for someone to play together having had some bass guitar lessons in the years before… so in that exact moment the first stone for the creations of Shining Line was laid.
After the recruiting of another friend of mine called Alberto Re on guitar, and after again a non-successful research for a skilled frontman for that style of music, one day I called Amos in the middle of the night sharing him my wish to build an all-star project… he was a little incredulous of what I was saying, but anyway he understood that I was determined to pursue that goal and said “yes” for being my artistic partner in doing it. Unfortunately this didn’t happen with Alberto, ‘cause he was too busy to end his studies at the University, so there was no chance to have him involved in the project even if he gave us his “ok” to use the songs that I penned together with him until that moment. At that point in my mind was clear that I needed a skilled producer to make Shining Line happen: for this reason I made a phone call to my close friend Alessandro Del Vecchio (now known for his international collaborations with some of the most renowned rock and metal artists) who immediately showed his interest in being part of the project. Talking with him we identified in our common friends Mario Percudani (Hungryheart) and Marco D’Andrea (Planethard) the perfect guitar players for the project, so in that moment Shining Line was ready to start for the recordings and later for contacting the various stars that made it the album that we all know. J
Bruce: Pierpaolo, I realise that you are a drummer, however are you a multi-instrumentalist as well? What other instruments do you play?
Zorro: Sincerely I can’t say I’m a multi-instrumentalist; I just have some basic skills of guitars and keyboards that allow me to write the main parts of my songs. The multi-instrumentalists I know are able to play perfectly every single instrument they have… so I must say that I just know how to use the instruments I need in a basic way to write the songs I have in mind.
Bruce: I’m very interested in your musical sense…you have such a vision when it comes to music, certainly displayed within Shining Line and more so with Charming Grace. Has it been difficult to actually bring that vision in to reality?
Zorro: Well, I don’t know what guides my moves when I start to write a song, what I know is that starting from a simple melody I use to develop such a “full song” in my mind, and after that I start to work to “translate” that vision to something real. What is very important to do is choosing the right people to collaborate with when you’re approaching a new song: if you have a guitar line in mind but you’re not able to do it by yourself being very hard to play, you need to explain it to the musician you’re working with who must be able to capture the real essence of your idea to play it in the right way. This is not enough: it’s obvious that your ideas must be part of a mosaic which needs to work with every “tile” combined together, so you have to consider if the “melody” that is rounding in your head in that moment can be arranged in the right way to fit with the rest of the material you completed until that moment: if that doesn’t happen, you need to just record that “idea”, and wait to use it in future on something which is appropriate for that style. ;)
Bruce: You play with the best, and collaborate with the best..do you realise this? (The reason I ask this, is because I don’t think you do, the sense I get from you is that the music is the most important thing)
Zorro: Good question… well, I must say that sometimes I don’t believe again when I see my name in the liner notes of my album together with the ones of legends that I admired since my first listen to their music: Robin Beck, David Forbes, Harry Hess, Michael Shotton, Moon Calhoun, Nick Workman, Michael Voss, Michael Bormann… these are only few names of those who are parts of my two projects, and that I admire since the deepest part of my heart thanks to their music, their voices or their artistic quality… it’s incredible to connect them with my songs and this is the realization of a dream long an entire lifetime!
I passed through very hard moments in my life (grown in the house of my uncles due to health problems of my parents, lost my father when I was 17 from a cancer, and lost my mother last year again from a cancer; ( when things seemed to go better), but music was the friend which always helped me to “go on” when things seemed to be without a solution… the big investment and VERY hard work I did to start Shining Line was my way to pay homage to the same music who showed me a light in each of my darkest moments of the past.
Bruce: Both Shining Line and Charming Grace are similar…but they do possess differences…would you like to explain?
Zorro: Yes, Shining Line and Charming Grace are similar if we take them from the side of the melodic approach, but they are different in three main elements if we analyze them carefully: sound, production, and conception.
Talking about sound, Shining Line was born to be an “Arena Rock” AOR sound, arranged in a very “guitar-oriented” way if compared to Charming Grace, which were built to explore a more mature and pure AOR sound completed by pop/westcoast elements. From the production side, Shining Line had behind the skilled work of my very talented friend Alessandro Del Vecchio, who put his magic touch to translate in music the idea that was rounding in my head of a bombastic all-star project with songs developed to sound in an “anthemic” way. Charming Grace it’s been instead “self-produced” by my mate Dave Rox and me, this because I wanted to try personally the experience of working behind an album as co-producer to understand if I was able to realize an important thing like this. Last but not least, the conception: Shining Line can be described as a “classic” all-star project born by the backbone composed by me and my mate Amos, while Charming Grace sees the addition of Dave Rox as main member and main singer of the entire project, who were chosen appositely to duet with a different singer in each song of the cd to build the first melodic rock album ever composed only by vocal duets.
Bruce: It is rare that a drummer/percussionist is also a songwriter! Where do you get your inspiration?
Zorro: Yes, I must say that I agree with you on this… but strange things are usual in these days… don’t you think? (laughs) Regarding my inspiration, I take it from the things I meet and “breathe” in the life of every single day: feelings, emotions, movies, music, and everything that “shakes” my heart and mind… there are so many exciting things in this life and world, even if they’re not always “positive”… sometimes they make you meditating on what the future will be able to reserve to all of us.
Bruce: By the songs that I have heard from you, you have a deep understanding and respect for the craft…what is dearer to your heart, writing for other Artists, or writing for a musical project that you are involved in?
Zorro: The thing which is dearest to my heart is having BIG respect to the music I want to do: as I said before I’m eternally grateful to it for having been my “life line” in the darkest periods of my life. I do my best every single time I start to work on a new song, it doesn’t matter if it’s for my personal projects or for someone else: I love the deep and true meaning of the word “collaboration”, which represents for me the key to create cool music… without collaboration, in fact, no Shining Line or Charming Grace could have been really possible!
Bruce: You started Charming Grace, Pierpaolo, why? Was it an empty space needing to be filled?
Zorro: Charming Grace was born for the big need to explore deeper the pure AOR sound, which represents in a some way “the other side of me”. Actually Charming Grace represents for me a very important memory of my life, ‘cause the works on it started when my mother was again here with me, and ended with the last touches when she was already passed away after a bad and hard battle against cancer. My song “Through The Stars” is dedicated to her, who was an appreciated local poet here in Italy in her lifetime, and for this surely the “guilty” for putting in me the “gene” and love of writing.
Bruce: It must be difficult in piloting two extraordinary groups, how do you surmount the challenges?
Zorro: I can say that the major difficulties must be faced along the recording sessions of the projects, ‘cause once finished you just need to take care of things just like promotions, feedbacks with the fans and so on in a more relaxed way… but when you are in the heat of the works and you have a schedule to respect, sometimes things become very hard! Imagine me… with a daily job which keeps me away from home for almost 13/14 hours (included some weekends), it’s very hard to find the time to work on music at the end of the day… sometimes I find myself to edit drums or working on other things in the middle of the night, having the alarm clock sounding at 6.30 am… I can assure you that is very hard sometimes and that should be impossible to do without a true love toward music!
Bruce: So, what is next…a new Shining Line record?
Zorro: Who can say that! I have tons of ideas in my mind, and I don’t know where to start! LOL! Anyway… I’d love to do a new Shining Line record… but actually there are things which don’t allow me to do it…First of all, Shining Line is a hard “bandwagon” (told in a “figurate” way) to move, especially after the amazing feedback we received from fans and critics after our debut cd… everybody expect from us another amazing line-up and a bombastic production, but this sadly needs a main fundamental thing: money. Actually, after the loss of my mother, I’m passing through a very delicate moment from the economic side, so I’m not in the position of making another big investment as needed for a great second Shining Line album. Secondly, I don’t absolutely want to do the error of making a more “economic” second chapter living on the “resonance” obtained with the debut album: fans want the best from us for the second release, and I’ll come back with the Shining Line moniker only when I’ll be sure to have all the things needed to give them the huge line-up and music that they expect from us… all or nothing!
Bruce: It has been a privilege talking with you, Pierpaolo, thank you so much for this Interview.
Zorro: The privilege is mine Bruce… there is always something magic when you do an interview with someone who loves music in the same way you do, and that feels “that” fire burning inside… you’re one of those Bruce, so the pleasure was absolutely mine! I hope this is just the first of many great talks to have together!
Thanks from the bottom of my heart for this opportunity, my best greetings from Italy to all the kind readers of Castanet.net! Please come to meet us at our official websites www.shiningline.com and www.charminggraceaor.com , there you’ll find all the way to come in contact with us just like email contacts, official Facebook pages and so on! Keep On Rockin’!
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