TOMMY VITALY – Special Interview
On today’s interview I have the privilage to meet a virtous guitarrist and teacher from Italy: Tommy Vitaly, compositor and creator of the power metal band Seven Gates. After two albums recorded, he decided to make a solo project: Just Me, in which he played along with many known musicians from around the world. The album was a great success and today he share details about his new project titled: Hanging Rock. With no more introduction to make, I invited you to meet the man behind this words.
ZEPHYR: Hi Tommy! Is a great honor to interview you. Thanks for accepting and dedicate from your time to share with us your musical work.
TOMMY: Hi Zhepyr! Thank you very much for inviting me with this interview! It’s a real pleasure!
ZEPHYR: In my point of view Italy produces a rich melodic Power Metal, beautiful lyrics and excellent quality. To start this interview I have to ask you: What’s the secret? Is in the food? … hahahaha
TOMMY: AHAH! Yes, we have nice food like pasta and pizza!Ahah!But I think we are strong with melodic power metal because we have an old tradition in melodies.Melodramma and opera were born here in Italy, so I think we are familiar with melodic music and power metal is one of the most melodic kind of heavy metal.So I guess this is a natural thing for the italian metal musicians.
ZEPHYR: What drives you to study music?
TOMMY: It was a natural process.I was into music when I was 6 or 7 years old, because my parents were into classical music and I used to listen to it, even if I couldn’ realize what it actually was! Later I discovered heavy metal with Iron Maiden, and I started playing electric guitar.Music is inside of me, and it SO beautiful for me to study it!
ZEPHYR: Which musicians or bands inspired you in the very beginning and on today’s days?
TOMMY: As I said before I started with Iron Maiden when I was about 15. I think Maiden, Metallica, Manowar and Helloween were my first inspirations when I started. Beside these great bands I was influenced by Beethoven, Chopin and many other classical composers. Today things haven’t changed a lot. Believe me, during the years I listened to many many bands and many different styles of metal, hard rock, power metal, trash metal, industrial metal, gothic metal etc……but when I compose my songs, inspiration goes back to ,my roots, to the classic heavy/power metal!
ZEPHYR: Which was the 1st song you played in guitar?
TOMMY: I can still remember it! I was 15 and I was back from the music store with my very first guitar ( a “Vester” Strato style guitar), and I was so excited, but actually I couldn’t play anything with! I didn’t even know how to tune the guitar and which notes were on the frets and strings! I was playing it randomly!ahaha! But I discovered 4 notes that, played togheter, were forming the “Smoke on the Water” main riff! That riff was my first riff!
ZEPHYR: How has your style as a guitarist evolved over the years?
TOMMY: It has evolved as I grew old. When I was young I liked to play the songs of my favourite bands, without caring about the cleaning of the execution, the sound, the technique.Later, studying classical music, I began to understand that technical skills and clean executions were a “must” to reach a higher step as guitar player.So I began to practice and study the instrument,instead of only playing my favourite songs.Then comes the time when the only thing you want is play fast!ahahah!and now I am more focused on expression while playing, the vibrato,sound, bending etc….
ZEPHYR: When you compare the early days of the metal scene with today’s one, what do you feel has changed for the better and/or worse?
TOMMY: During the early days heavy metal was a kind of music for a few people, today it has arrived to masses.This can be good or not…I don’t know. But times today have changed, and inspiration too. About the early days I love the anger that bands had during that times, and the “few but good bands” scene. It was hard to get a record deal if you were not a super band! About today I like the technical skills of the musicians, but I don’t like the lack of GOOD inspiration! There are too many bands making full albums and too many record labels working just for asking money to the bands….and NOT making money WITH the bands!
ZEPHYR: How did you first become a part of Seven Gates?
TOMMY: Well, I was the founder of Seven Gates at the end of the 90s, together with Paolo (the ex drummer).We started as power metal cover band, then we began to write our own music.I quitted SevenGates at the end of 2010.
ZEPHYR: Most of Seven Gates songs are composed by you. How does the songwriting process work with the band?
TOMMY: Yes, I wrote most of the music for SevenGates. Usually I had the full idea of the song, and I recorded it on my computer, with midi drums and keyboards.Then I used to send it to my band mates via email, and then everyone putted his contribution to the music as arrangments.Usually I use to write before the music ,and then the lyrics. But sometimes it can be the opposite.
ZEPHYR: Do you have a favorite Seven Gates song to play live?
TOMMY: Mmmmm….let me think……..I guess “Message to the stars” or “Lords of the night”.
ZEPHYR: Talk about your gear: guitars, amps, effects, etc.
TOMMY: Ok, about guitars : Fender Stratocaster american reissue vintage 70, Fender Stratocaster YJM Usa, Schecter Hellraiser, Epiphone Chet Atkins classical guitar. About amps: Engl Fireball, Marshall 1987x Plexi. About effects: Dod 308 overdrive, Dod 250, Mi Audio Crunch Box, Boss NS2, TcElectronic G-Sharp processor. About mics: 1 Shure Sm57, 1 Sennheiser, 1 Samson.
ZEPHYR: Your 1st solo album “Just Me” has been well received by the public. Songs like: Fly High, Touch the Sky and Storm of Fire; I considered musical jewels in Power Metal. How does it feel have all the support given to this album?
TOMMY: It feels great.I knew I had a good album while I was recording it, but I was afraid of the feedback, because it is mostly an instrumental album, and today it is a risk to publish an instrumental album!It is difficult to sell vocal albums…more difficult is to sell instrumental ones!But after the release of the album I discovered a lot of people enjoying the album, and the press feedback was very good too!I was very surprised by all these positive things going on with my album!All this support is very important for me, because it gives me strenght to carry on and hold tight with my music!
ZEPHYR: Tell us more about the working experience in “Just Me“ with special guests like: Thomas Vikström (Candlemass, Stormwind, Therion, Mehida), Andrea ‘Tower’ Torricini (Taringa, Killing Touch) y Rhino (former Manowar, HolyHell).
TOMMY: It was a great, great experience!I had the HONOUR to work with some of my favourite musicians!About Andrea “Tower” Torricini, well, we are friends since we were young boys!So it was quite “regular” to have him on bass.About Rhino, he used to play in one of my favourite bands ever, MANOWAR, so I added him on myspace many years ago, and we started sharing messages there.When I was looking for a drummer for my first solo album, I tried to ask him, and he was excited about it!and I could not believe it!About Thomas, Mats Leven introduced him to me, because Mats was meant to sing on the album, but he could not do it, so he suggested to me Thomas. Vitalij Kurprij was another great honour for me…..I was his fan for many years during the conservatory years.
ZEPHYR: Many of us are waiting for your 2nd musical project “Hanging Rock“. This album will follow the same “Just Me” musical format or will be completely different?
TOMMY: It will always have the Tommy Vitaly trademark sound, power/heavy metal with a neoclassical touch,But this time it will be mostly a vocal album.Only 2 instrumental tracks will be on “Hanging Rock”.The songs will sound very heavy metal and power metal, mixed togheter, and the instrumental ones will be neoclassical, but this doesn’t mean I will play fast just for playing fast!
ZEPHYR: What are some of the lessons that you learned from your first album that you applied to this new album?
TOMMY: I will try to have a better drums and guitar sound, and to mix it in a better way. The mix in “Just me” was very good, and Frank Andiver did the best he could for make it sound great, because the raw sounds were “so so”.
ZEPHYR: I’m very excited about your website’s news of the Japanese guitarist Norifumi Shima from Concerto Moon will be one of the guest musicians. Can you detail a bit more about the other guest musicians?
TOMMY: Yes! Norifumi will play 2 guitar solos on one song!I already have his solos, and believe me, they sound great!On this album I have many many very special guests! Especially singers! Almost like Avantasia! Ahah!In a few time I will announce all the guests, but for now I can name Zak Stevens (ex Savatage,CircleIICircle,TSO), Carsten Schulz (Evidence One, Domain, Iron Mask), and keyboard player Ferdy Doernberg (Axel Rudi Pell, Helloween, etc..) will duel with Norifumi with the keyboard solos!Other 4 amazing singers will be announced soon! Rhino will be always on drums and Andrea on bass.
ZEPHYR: Tell me about your life as a music teacher and your instructional videos for “Reign-licks” website. Will you be making any more videos eventually?
TOMMY: I have 6 video for the reign-licks website, where I show some of my guitar licks and I have some students here in my city. I love to make guitar videos, even if it takes too much time!Sure I will try to film a video for one track of the new album, and I have an idea for a special video to download for the first 50 fans who will buy the album!
ZEPHYR: How can fans gain access to your music? Any website links.
TOMMY: Fans can get in touch with me through my website: www.tommyvitaly.com or my official facebook page www.facebook.com/pages/Tommy-Vitaly-Official/104024963022448. You can write me too at firstname.lastname@example.org! I reply to all the emails!
ZEPHYR: Is there anything else you’d like to share?
TOMMY: I would like to thank you for this great interview and for helping me to promote my music!My biggest thanks go ,as always, to my fans and supporters! I could not make it without them! Stay tuned, for the new album will kick asses! Stay Metal…ALWAYS!
ZEPHYR: Thanks Tommy for share your time in this interview and let us enjoy your music. Hugs and success!!^^