When I got their latest album "The armies of bitterness", Italy's very own Evolution So Far just blew me away. Their energetic yet melodic Hardcore is just great and reason enough to do an interview with them...
Hey Francesco, how are you at the moment and what would you do right now if you wouldn't sit in front of your computer answering my questions? Any introduction to start this interview off with?
Francesco: Hi, I’m Francesco and I play bass and write lyrics for Evolution So Far. If I wouldn’t be here answering your questions, I guess I would just be laying on my bed, listening to music and hating this hot, hot, hot August morning.
First off, let me say that I like your latest record "The armies of bitterness" a lot. As it was released a few months back, what do you think about it in retrospect? Are you still satisfied with it and how have been the reactions by fans/press alike?
Francesco: Thank you, I’m glad you liked our record. Yes, we’re still satisfied with it… of course if we would have to record it right now, we ‘d change a couple of things and leave out a couple of songs we don’t like anymore, but I think it’s a good thing, it’s a reason to write better songs, and that’s what keeps a band going. The reactions have been great so far, a lot better than what we expected.
I would say that you evolved a lot since the release of the split with For I Am Blind, I think you sound more mature and powerful now, what was the most important thing for this evolution, playing shows with many different bands such as Hot Water Music, Shelter etc.?
Francesco: Playin’ live and supporting great bands like these was definitely a great chance to learn and grow. I think we also focused more on the kind of sound that we really want to have, we gained a clearer perspective on what we really wanna do as a band, and we got a little better at playin’ our instruments... just a little.
Talking about shows, did you do a full tour in the past or more or less single shows on the weekends? With which bands would you like to play and why?
Francesco: We were never able to leave for more than a couple of weeks in a row… you know, it’s pretty hard to do a long tour when you’ve got jobs and university and all of that stuff… I hope we’ll have the chance to leave for a month next year, it’s what we’re working for. About the bands, right now I would love to play with Good Riddance and Paint It Black.
The title of "The armies of bitterness" was inspired by John Steibeck's novel "The grapes of wrath". Who came up with the idea of choosing that title and what's the connection between the record and the book?
Francesco: We all love that book, and we felt that the title was near to our feelings and to the mood of the album. “ every one a drum major leading a parade of hurts, marching with our bitterness. And some day—the armies of bitterness will all be going the same way. And they’ll all walk together and there’ll be a dead terror from it. ” It’s a strong image, desperate people in terrible times, but still not resigned.
Sometimes I feel reminded to bands like Strike Anywhere when I listen to the record (don't get me wrong, I don't think your copying them like some other bands (no names here, hehe)), not only because of the music and the vocals but also because I think you also have a strong political influence in your lyrics. Would you agree? Who comes up with the lyrics and what do the other guys in the band think about them, do they agree or is there also some disagreement at times?
Francesco: Yes, there’s a strong political influence in our lyrics, and also a lot of pessimism and negativity. I would really like to have something more positive to say, but now it just wouldn’t be honest. I think that the political, social and cultural situation we’re living in is nothing but a paranoid nightmare, and I don’t feel that good about myself neither . Alessandro and I wrote all of the lyrics, but the other guys agree with our points of view, so no problem at all with that.
On "The armies..." there's also this sample from "Reservoir Dogs", one of my favourite movies. Who came up with that idea and what do you think about both volumes of "Kill Bill" (I love them!)?
Francesco: I can’t remember who came up with the idea, but that sample fits well with the lyrics of the song. I love "Kill Bill" too, Tarantino showed all his talent again, switching easily from a lot of different styles and demonstrating that he can do just anything he wants. And, as usual, there’s a great storyboard.
The song "Aversion therapy" also starts with a sample, but I didn't recognize it. So what can you tell me about that one?
Francesco: It’s from the BBC radio version of Douglas Adams’ “Hitch hiker’s guide to the galaxy”. By the way, the name of the band is inspired on that book. Also the sample before “a short account on the universe” was taken by that show. And the one before “don’t worry and love the bomb” is Charles Bukowski reading one of his poems, “The tragedy of the leaves”.
If I am right you're from La Spezia? According to the info sheet that came with the record La Spezia was one of the cities where Hardcore was very strong in the 80s. I was wondering what you think about the Hardcore scene in La Spezia back then and nowadays and how you got invloved in Hardcore there?
Francesco: The HC scene was really strong in the 80s, we had a great band like Fall Out releasing probably the best European 7” ever, “Criminal World”. In the 90’s, we had a lot of cool punk rock and pop punk, but not that much hardcore. Nowadays, there are a lot of active bands here, and HC is slowly coming back. Personally, I got involved in HC through older friends and political activism, and going to shows at La Skaletta Rock Club, a cool place here in La Spezia.
And what about the Hardcore scene in Italy as a whole? Do you think it's rather good or bad? Are you in contact with other bands and what about the mutual support between bands?
Francesco: The HC scene is really fragmented, and sometimes I see a frustrating lack of meaning and consciousness. Anyway, there’s some great band and great people, like Kafka, Tear Me Down, Downright, Coffee Shower, Nitrojuice, La Crisi and Flop Down.
I almost forgot to ask you some questions about the history of Evolution So Far! Even though this question is often a bit boring for bands it's very interesting to me, haha! So how did you guys come together and when, have there been any line up changes so far etc.?
Francesco: We formed during the summer of 2001, but we were all friends from a long time and some of us used to play together in other bands. We only had one line-up change, a couple of months ago: Manuel (guitar) felt that he couldn’t no longer face his personal obligations AND the band’s ones, so he left e.s.f.. We already have a new guitar player, Kei, and we’re really happy about him.
What are you doing besides the band, are you studying, do you have jobs?
Francesco: Germano, Kei and I are students, Matteo is a ship-yard workman and Alessandro is a Call Center operator.
What do you think about the Italian team during this year's European Soccer Championship in Portugal, haha? Well, maybe I should laugh that much because the German team wasn't really better. But at least the coach of the Greek team is from Germany :-)
Francesco: Sorry, it may sound strange for an Italian but I don’t care about soccer at all… I don’t even know exactly how our team behaved. (Well, our two teams didn't leave the best impression so to speak... - Stefan)
"The armies of bitterness" was recorded in September 2003, so did you already write some new songs? In which direction do they go and when will you record them?
Francesco: We wrote like 4 or 5 new songs, and we’re thinking about releasing a 7” early next year. The new songs are bit more aggressive, we’re listening a lot to Black Flag and Born Against, and I think that’s the reason.
Do you think it is harder for Italian Hardcore bands to get the attention they deserve compared to bands from other countries?
Francesco: I don’t know… in other countries, like Germany and Holland, you definitely have more chances to play live, tour and get heard, but the Italian Hardcore “tradition” is very strong and well known, so I guess in the end it isn’t a lot harder.
I guess we're at the end of this interview, did you like it and do you have anything to add?
Francesco: Thank you for your interest in us and for the interview. Take care and love the bombs.