The PFM Bonus Interview, Part 2 of 3
Continued from Part One…
Bill Kopp: Tell me about the album’s instrumental opener, “Worlds Beyond.” Are those all real classical instruments, or are there sampled sounds mixed in with it?
Patrick Djivas: Half and half. The difficulty to do that was to have 200 years of music in five minutes, and it had to sound good. And it sounds real, because it is! We have Lucio Fabbri who’s a violin and viola player. So we used those instruments together with sampled ones. When we wrote the music, it was with samples, obviously. They sounded very good, but we felt like, [since] we had a violin player, he had to play on it, because it would’ve been stupid to not do it! He did many overdubs, and it came out like that, really well. It sounds good.
Did you make demos of all of the songs before you made the final versions?
Patrick Djivas: No, these are the demos. They all start from scratch, especially for this album, because we didn’t have any material. We were not supposed to do an album now. We were doing a very important tour in Italy. We did 120 concerts in Italy in 2019 plus another 20 concerts out of Italy, and we were supposed to go on with the Italian tour. [But then the pandemic happened,] “So let’s do an album!”
Franz was coming to my place every day. We were very demanding with ourselves on this job, but we had a lot of time, so it was fine. Instead of making records in less time, it’s weird, but you make records with a lot more time than you used to. [In the past] we’d very rarely go over 10 days to do an album.
So you all worked together in the studio?
Patrick Djivas: Yeah, because we planned everything at my little studio. Marco Sfogli, the guitar player, and the other guys were coming to the studio once in a while, listening to the stuff, taking home whatever we were doing. They were working on it, sending us back whatever they thought would’ve been good to play on it. Then, they would come back, and this was the way we worked until we had most of the stuff ready.
Then, we went to a studio and finished everything. Many things, we kept from my little studio, because it sounded good! For example, almost every bass line was done in my studio. Weirdly, I mean, this is strange because, as an arranger, I was working a lot on everything on the parts for everybody, and the bass lines came very quickly at the beginning, because this is what I do normally. I make a bass line and then, from the bass line, everything else comes out.
Then, after a year, I said, “Okay, now I’m going to do the real bass lines,” but I couldn’t do them anymore! I couldn’t play those lines anymore, because I had spent one year doing everything but playing the bass. So, I said, “’Fuck it! Let’s keep those,” and we kept the first bass lines.
As far as the conceptual idea that holds all the songs together, did that come in the beginning, or was that something that developed after you started having the songs?
Patrick Djivas: The idea for the lyrics and everything started from the beginning. We had a clear idea of what we wanted. The concept was very clear; we knew what we wanted to express. We knew what we wanted to do, then we built everything around it.
Tell me about the inspiration for the concept.
Franz Di Ciccio: I would like to speak with you, but my English is not as fantastic as Patrick’s.
When we saw Blade Runner very many many years ago, we always said, “It’s amazing how this movie sort of saw what was going on.” It’s one of the very few science fiction movies which are exactly [how things are now]. Yeah, Phil Dick wrote the book, and it’s amazing. “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?” is a great thing to think of, because it means so many things. There are so many different meanings behind a sentence like that, and we were very surprised by this way of looking at things. Then, we talked about it when we started to think about the record, and the whole record came out around this phrase, this sentence, because we think that this is what’s happening today. We thought, “Maybe there’s something we should do about this.” And this is the way we’ve thought about the whole thing, and this is the concept of the album. It started with that.
How are the Italian and English lyrics different?
Patrick Djivas: The English version is about the same thing, in a way, but looking at it the American way, looking at it from America. So, it’s a bit different because, obviously, it’s not the same country. It’s not the same way of thinking, and we wanted that, because we are an international group, and we want the audience to understand what we say. So the Italian way of saying things is good for Italy, but the American way of saying the same thing is better for the [English-speaking] audience to understand.
We believe that the power of people is in imagination. You have to use your imagination. You have to use your dreams. It’s difficult nowadays, especially for young people, because they don’t have history behind them. They don’t have experience. They don’t have all those things. The life they live is this one, and there’s something missing in this life. There’s too much influence by technology.