Davide Tiso is the guitarist for Italian Progressive Metal band Ephel Duath. Interview November 22, 2013.
Davide Tiso Interview
1. What’s new in the world of Ephel Duath?
Ephel Duath is about to release a new album, “Hemmed By Light, Shaped By Darkness”, eight new songs, more than 50 minutes of new music. I started working on these new songs right after we recorded 2012 EP “On Death and Cosmos”. From the second half of 2011 and the whole 2012, I did nothing but writing new music for the band.
I’m very, very proud of this album. I did my best to put together some meaningful pieces of music, I got an exceptional line up performing the songs and one of the best extreme metal producer out there working at my side. The album’s artwork is absolutely gorgeous and so are the formats and packaging available. I’m very satisfied by the way everything turned out.
2. How was it recording the upcoming album, “Hemmed By Light, Shaped By Darkness”?
In “Hemmed By light, Shaped By Darkness” I wanted to focus my attention mainly on the intensity and the architectural aspects of the songs. The album has a marked trip-like nature and each piece has a specific identity and vibe. This is the album where I immersed my attention inward the most, both lyrics and music are introspective, cerebral and contorted to say the least. The writing process followed all steps the I’m used to deal with when I compose for Ephel Duath: one piece at the time, one note at the time, working and crafting riffs and structures patiently on my guitars. The final tracklist follows the same chronological order I composed the song into. The recording process took more time than what we expected, almost 5 months on and off, I personally went back and forth to Mana Recording Studios in Florida thrice. Tracking wasn’t the issue, I personally had some tuning issues that daily slowed us down but when it was time to perform I was well ready and I recorded some of my best performances to date. The real problem was another: this was the most difficult ED’s album to mix and master. There were so many different details to deal with and make shine on their own, hundreds for each song, and, thanks to Erik Rutan’s patience and support, we had the chance to not rush anything in the whole process. We finished working with no real deadlines just the will to make the best album we possibly could.
3. Any tour dates slated to support of the new album?
We just started booking an April/May 2014 European tour with a great experimental metal band from Italy as main support. I can’t reveal the name yet. We had some good offers to play in the US too and we are planning a summer tour on the East Coast and Canada, hopefully we’ll get to play on the West Coast too. For updates and more info about ED shows please check facebook.com/ephelduathofficial.
4. What are you currently endorsing, etc.
I don’t have any official endorsement, but since ten years I’ve been using handmade 7 strings guitars made in Milan, Italy, by a small company called Jacaranda. For what concern amplifiers, during my career I’ve been using a lot of different brands and models. Recently I’ve been recording with ENGL and MESA, but for many years I’ve been recording and playing live with a combination between a Fender (Hot Rod Deluxe), and Orange or Marshall.
5. What would be some of the craziest stuff you’ve seen on the road?
I never experienced much craziness being on the road with ED, for a band this size, being on the road mostly means to work hard and focus to get to the next city without too many complications and rested enough to play a decent show. I do remember some randomly bizarre encounters though. This one probably beat them all… I guess we were somewhere in East Germany, a young couple was talking to our singer and, I don’t know how, the conversation got into the strange conditions the girl was experiencing since she was born: terror about seeing male bare feet and people eating bananas. Some people are really something else. Well, guess what, our drummer got out the dressing room wearing flip flops and eating a damn banana. As soon as he approached the group, the girl started screaming and she run out of the venue while the poor boyfriend bolted after her to calm her down leaving my singer and drummer looking at each other with their mouths hanging open. When those two told me the story I couldn’t believe my ears.
6. What were your earliest influences in life?
My main influences when I started playing guitar were Metallica’s “Ride the Lightning” and “Master of Puppets” and Megadeth’s “Rust in Peace”. Among these albums there were specific songs or just riffs that marked me forever. The opening riff of ‘Orion’ from Master of Puppets might be my favorite metal riff of all times. It still gives me chills. The trip-like structure of ‘Call of Ktulu’ from Ride the Lightning opened my mind as a young guitar player and made me realize that, since the very beginning of my career, I was into moody, darker and adventurous pieces of music. Marty Friedman’s solo in ‘Tornado of Souls’ is still my favorite solo out there and I air guitar it for more than 15 years. The taste, the feel, the expressivity, the vibe of that piece is absolutely mind blowing. Good luck to any guitar player out there to create something of that caliber.
Few years after, I got into black metal and my main inspiration were Emperor and their claustrophobic and layered songs. Again it was a matter of mood and vibe. I wasn’t into the philosophy of that genre, I was into the desolation, desperation and boldness that black metal was bringing to the table.
7. What would be some of your main influences today?
These days I mainly listen to music as a listener more than as a musician: I feel that what inspires me to pick up my guitar and compose isn’t necessary another band anymore but something more intimate, eradicated in my head. As a music listener I love different kind of metal/rock music. In the technical metal department I spend most of my time with Gorguts, Obscura, Suffocation and Death, of course. For what concern slower tempo and doom I feel like mentioning Evoken, The Melvins, Cult of Luna, Isis, Neurosis, Ufomammut, YOB, Mammifer. In terms of black metal, I love what Deathspell Omega and Dodecahedron are doing. Instrumental music: Zu above all, but also Zombi, Pelican, Red Sparowes, Russian Circles, Animals as Leaders. Other metal bands heavily in rotation in my ipod are Cattle Decapitation, Envy, Napalm Death, Baroness, Converge and Black Dahlia Murder. Closing this list, I’m crazy for Black Sabbath with Dio on vocals and the band Heaven and Hell.
8. What could we find interesting in your music collection at home?
Dozens of demo tape from all over the world. When Ephel Duath started I got into tape trading and I finally felt to be part of a community, it was a fantastic period that I remember with immense joy and nostalgia. I got in contact with people from all over the world that had my same passion for music. Hundreds of weirdos like me that every week were exchanging long handwritten letters and tons of demo tapes. Asia, Oceania, Scandinavia, Europe, South America, Africa, US, I was getting packages from everywhere. Then the internet happened and fucked everything up.
9. Could you describe what goes on in a day in your life as a musician?
When I’m composing an album I literally spend as much time as I can working on the songs, both at my guitar and recording pre-productions at my home studio. I’m usually completely absorbed by music and when I’m in the middle of composing a piece I’m literally in an altered state of mind, even when I’m not necessary playing: I get most of the structures and arrangements ideas when I’m doing extra-musical activities, my mind keeps being with my songs no matter what I’m doing. Sometime I purposely get pissed off at something just to get a specific mood out of a riff, sometime I need to drink, sometime I shout and cry composing a part. Lunch and dinners get all messed up because of composing schedules, the whole day becomes often an appendix of a song. The day after, if I’m off from work, the process restarts.
When the album is ready to be recorded I spend most of time rehearsing the songs to squeeze out the best performances possible once in studio. Same thing happen when I’m about to leave for a tour.
Right before and after the album comes out I mostly deal all day with interviews, photo sessions and other promotional activities.
10. Where do you see music going in 100 years from now?
When I work on new material for Ephel Duath I aim to use music notes to walk myself and the occasional listener to the place I hide in my head. This band might be the most truthful tool I found to open up and reveal my inner self. Being this course of action so intimate, I often feel I should not even share Ephel Duath’s music with people. Not every listener out there feels like entering in someone else troubled mindset just for the purpose of listening a piece of music. Some people just want to listen music to be entertained, not to be challenged and how can I really blame them? I am so protective of Ephel Duath because I frankly don’t see its music like a way of communicate with people but my own personal vehicle to come to terms with myself.
“Hemmed By Light, shaped By Darkness” is the album where I most successfully shut down that wall that protects me from the external. This is the album where I blindly immersed myself in my head the most, without even try to filter my words and my music for fear of revealing too much. With each new album, I’m not trying to gain a wider public, I’m trying to express myself more and more and this is probably what Ephel Duath should keep aiming for the next 100 years too.
Extra questions with Davide Tiso from Ephel Duath
Life without music would be – Not a life
Favorite movie – “The Fountain” by Darren Aronofsky
Favorite sport – Air drumming
Favorite food – Octopus stew
Favorite drink – Bloody Mary
Favorite saying – “Fear is a natural reaction to moving closer to the truth”
Favorite car – A black 1970 Boss Mustang 302
Favorite book – The Master and Margarita
Favorite band – Gorguts
CD or Vinyl – Vinyl
Star Wars or Star Trek – Star Wars
PC or Mac – Mac