Frankfurt, May 2017 – Interview
– Original English version –
– Deutsche Fassung hier! –
The first time we came across THE BLUES AGAINST YOUTH was in 2010, when the one-man band from Italy was part of a rather unusual line-up at Frankfurter Raumstation (see below for further details). Almost seven years later, TBAY graced our shores again with his guitar, bass drum and hi-hat, the jingle ring as well as a whistle that emits duck sounds when blown. This time round the gig was at the Dreikönigskeller. After the show, we asked the artist to answer some questions for us. Which he was more than happy to do – and if you would like to listen to his current album while reading the interview, just click on this arrow:
Most of our readers won’t be familiar with you yet. Could you briefly introduce yourself please? Where are you from and how did you get into music?
Hello! My name is Gianni and The Blues Against Youth is my one man band project. I’ve been performing like this since 2009, touring extensively in Europe and releasing records. I was born and raised in Rome, Italy and I’ve been based in Turin since three years ago. When I was 10 my uncle gave me his acoustic guitar and taught me some chords just to get started, also he turned me on to 60s and 70s rock/blues music by copying his LPs onto tape cassettes (yes it was 1991!). And I loved that shit.
You refer to yourself and your music as a ‚Country Rock Primitive One Man Experiment‘. What are your favourite bands and who’s inspired you?
Too many to list! Hank Williams along with other country-bluegrass-music goldmines like David Allan Coe, Townes Van Zandt, and Doc Watson have inspired me a lot. I’m also a fan of pre and post –war blues, Robert Johnson, Skip James, Henry Thomas, Big Bill Broonzy, King Solomon and Lightning Hopkins just to name a few… Also I’m into 60’s psychedelia and 70s rock and folk: Grandfunk Railroad, 13th Floor Elevators, Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin, The Byrds, Tim Hardin, John Fahey, Dave Van Ronk… Besides those ones I can really appreciate more extreme music projects, meaning punk-hardcore-noise-metal stuff, such as Today Is The Day, The Melvins, The Jesus Lizard and many others. As long as there’s guts in it, I’m gonna like it, no matter the genre. In general I’m a record junky and constantly looking for second hand LPs. Record Stores in all Europe are an easy target to satisfy this penchant o’mine.
Your logo as well as the bass drum you use at your gigs features an animal head with horns, a real eye catcher. What kind of animal is it and what’s the story behind it?
The ones from the logo are Ibexes, the one on the bassdrum is a deer. Horned animals are a recurring theme in my lifetime. The shining deer lamp is a present from my friends at Forte Prenestino in Rome, a squatted 16th century fortress near the place I lived. A few years later I found out that deer head was a telepathic message from Captain Beefheart whose “Shiny Beast” album is definitely my favourite, and its front-cover shows a painting by him depicting a deer-headed human figure. Jokes aside, talking about horned ones, Lucifer, the light-bearer, is still one of my heroes.
And what’s the deal with the name ‚The Blues against Youth‘ you gave your ‚one-man band‘?
As a comparatively young artist, you already have three album releases and several singles under your belt. Was it easy for you to find record labels despite your unconventional musical style?
I would say it was neither easy nor hard. The more I pursued my way, the more I got in touch with people who wanted to make something with me. Just like how happened with you guys. I believe we’re all a part of something out there and we can just make it live and grow through our passion and commitment. It’s an energy thing. And lots of kilometres.
It takes a lot of guts to go on stage on your own and to play music alone. How do you prepare for your gigs and what do you do about stage fright?
Thanks. Something I might call it “fright” I’ve only experienced once, at my very first gig in my high school, back in 1995. I remember that my legs were actually shaking, but at the same time I loved to be on that stage. Since then there have been 20 years of performances in many countries of the world and I’m not really scared of it anymore, I know I can do it and I always enjoy it. Even if the sound is crappy and the crowd is not particularly attentive, I know I’m gonna pull it off. I don’t think it’s about guts, for me is more like “this is what I do, I like it and I’m gonna deal with it”.
You come across as an easy-going person to have a laugh with, but then again also as someone who carries a heavy burden, something that’s reflected in your music. How would you explain these two contrasting aspects?
Everybody has good and bad times, music is my way of becoming sublime, fighting my demons and turning the bad energies into something that makes me feel good. Sure thing it’s a heavy burden to carry, it’s the “Burden Of Dreams” as your compatriot Werner Herzog might call it…
My mind is that place. When it gets quiet, songs and lyrics suddenly come up. I don’t force it.
You’ve decided to go for English lyrics in your songs, why is that?
First and foremost I want to be understood by my public, and also because most of the music I’ve listened to is sung in English.
On your tours, you get to travel and see all sorts of places. Do you see yourself more as an Italian, a European or a cosmopolitan?
Interesting question… It depends on the situations, on who I hang out with, and on my homesickness level while on tour. I’d tend to say cosmopolitan, and …Roman! I’ll keep thinking about it, thanks for the hint.
The first time we saw you in Frankfurt in 2010 was your gig with the pretty loopy US band THE BULEMICS. Have you gigged with any other punk acts and how is your music received by the punk scene?
Ahah… the one with the Bulemics was a kind of baptism of blood for me. They actually showed me what the most violent and deranged side of rock’n’roll is all about, that’s why I’m grateful to them and I’ll never forget it. A few years later I toured with my buddies from Antares, best punk-rock band from Italy. The punk scene generally likes me, especially if I don’t complain about missing monitors on stage.
What’s the craziest thing that ever happened to you while on tour? Just some anecdote please…
The craziest things all happened with the Bulemics of course. The shows at the Pit’s in Kortrijk and at Dynamo in Zurich are clear examples of how an apparently nice situation can suddenly turn into the most over-the-top thing you’ve ever experienced! I won’t tell the story because it belongs to that moment and to our memories. Compared to those ones I can’t mention, all other anecdotes would appear too futile.
Yes sure! In the latest time I’ve been jamming with other musicians. And my new album will be a three-piece band recording. You will hear about that very soon.
We’re nearing the end of the interview. Is there anything you’d like to say to our readers as a farewell message?
I wanna say thanks for your interview and for the great evening at Dreikönigskeller in Frankfurt. That place rules! To all your readers I wanna say keep going to the shows, buying records, supporting music and culture and record stores (greetings to Martin at Memphis Records btw!) , keep it real and people will notice and possibly join forces! Also keep pushing The Blues Against Youth, whatever it means to you! Ciao!
Gianni, thanks a lot for the interview!
Interview: Stefan & Kai
Photos (taken on 7th April, 2017 at Dreikönigskeller, Frankfurt): Kai