Qaanaaq (for Rock Hard #39)

Rock Hard 39Interview was prepared by KREMATOR (Rock Hard #39)

According to all information about you available to me, you function since 2011. How did you five meet and how were your musical beginnings?
In 2011 three brothers with the same great passion for music decided to join their different influences and create a band without any limit or border in mind, to just let the music flows spontaneously in long jams, from which the songs you can listen to today derive. Dario (on guitar), who was already a friend of us, and Enrico (vocals) joined the band at a later time. We have different music backgrounds and thanks to that we can compose songs that cross different genres.

Can you tell us something from the history of the band ?
At the beginning there wasn’t anything planned and defined, we just wanted to have fun mixing together what we liked to listen to and what we looked for in music, like long songs with a progressive structure (a succession of soft and hard moments, or slow and fast) and crossing of different genres. The songs were beginning to take shape by their own, it all happened very naturally, riff by riff. We felt the need for a guitar as a support for the keyboards, and also to give the songs a heavier sound, so we asked Dario to join us. Since the keyboards already fulfill the melodic needs of our sound, we looked for a strong and heavy voice, rough enough to add what we thought our songs lacked in hardness and toughness. We found Enrico thanks to a friend in common and he fitted in the band perfectly with his powerful and deep growl voice.

Who were the founding fathers of your band?
The band was founded by Luca (keyboards), Mattia (bass) and Nicola (drums).

The surname Togni repeats 3 times on the members list, are they brothers?
Yes, we are three brothers!

How did you come up with such name as QAANAAQ?
What does it mean?
Qaanaaq is a name of a city in Greenland. Nicola came up with it because it has a cool sound, it’s a palindrome so it is graphically pleasing and it is linked to a barren and frozen land and that can come as an inspiration for our music.

In my opinion the base of your style is old-school-doom metal. However in your music we can hear many more music genres and sub-genres. Was this mix planned from the beggining or did it come naturally with the development of the band ?
Like we said before, nothing was planned at the beginning. We just mixed what we liked and what we thought that worked good together. Metal music is obviously the main influence, but there’s also a lot of progressive rock since we all like it. We sure wanted to match these two elements, with doom and avant-garde that came naturally in our compositions. There might be other influences that you may found in a single riff or in a particular arrangement: In Untimely at funerals for example you can hear a fusion or acid jazz influence in the middle part, in other songs there are some death metal elements, or at least we were told so by some listeners. It probably depends on what you focus on and on what your musical knowledge is.

Were you genre-wise in the past or did you try to play the same all the time?
Before Qaanaaq, we played in other bands with different genres, from jazz to rock, to extreme metal. With Qaanaaq it was always the same, although the sound evolved in the years.

What would you call your genre ?
It is always hard to answer this question. It is difficult to define music that is a result of a mix of different genres. But you have to when you publish your work, so we came up with Avant-garde/progressive/doom metal, so you can have at least an idea of what you’ll listen if you buy our album. We don’t feel the need to be classified, we just want our music to answer.

Who were your musical idols?
We sure had our music idols in our teenage years, now we have different artists or bands we respect a lot. We have many bands we all like, but everyone of us has its own specific tastes. From Type O Negative to Nine Inch Nails, definitely Tool, but also Dream Theater, Opeth and Carcass, or The Who and Pink Floyd for non metal bands.

What has changed since the birth of the band?
That we’re six years older, haha! Well, we’re definitely more close-knit musically, and we can hear it already in the new compositions we’re currently work on. It is easier to jam together, to work on new ideas.

What bands and musical styles are the closest to individual members?
- Luca’s main references come from Opeth, Candlemass, Satyricon and Prince;
- Mattia loves progressive rock and everything around it, but also the industrial sound of Nine Inch Nails and Korn’s nu metal;
- Nicola listens to metal music mainly, but also to progressive rock bands like Karnivool. The main influence in drumming (not exactly in style but more as an inspiration) comes from artists like Gene Hoglan, Danny Carey and Ted Kirkpatrick, who were innovators in a genre that usually tends to be too close. They have their own distinctive sound that you can always recognize. There’s also the idea “to play as close to the bone as possible” that comes from his blues hero John Campbell;
- Dario loves progressive metal complex structures like Dream Theater does, the heavy rhythm sound of nu metal, Opeth style arrangements and blues/jazz melodies generally speaking. As a guitarist he also admires a lot of virtuoso guitarists. Most of his inspiration comes from artists like Kiko Loureiro, Jeff Loomis, John Petrucci, Andy Timmons, Dimebag Darrell e Brian May.
- Enrico is mainly anchored to 90’s: groove metal from US, UK’s grindcore/death, and a little bit of swedish hardcore! Lately he’s learning more about british death doom, Anathema, Paradise Lost, My Dying Bride

Who is such a fan of PINK FLOYD, that he suggested covering the song High Hopes ? (Very nice one!)
We all like Pink Floyd, but the idea was proposed by Mattia and was quickly approved by everybody, since it was clear it had a good potential. We’re very happy you liked it, we sure like to play it that way!

Many bands change their members in thier begginings. It is completely reversed in your band though and you function thogether for 6 years already. How did you accomplish it ?
We think that that’s the case because we’re not a band that is trying to sell something, we’re not a product, we’re just five friends with the same passion for music who decided to play together for fun and to challenge ourselves with something new. We’re growing together, we understand each other better than we did six years ago and we also are closer than we were at the beginning of this experience.

How much time did you need to get the new debut album together?
The album was recorded during all 2015. Since we all have a job and a family we don’t have much free time, so we had to wait to have some spare time to record our parts, then also mixing took a while.

Who writes music and who writes lyrics ?
Most of the riffs are proposed by Luca and some by Mattia, then we work on them together trying to understand if something good can come from them. Also ideas can come from a jam where we can express freely and influence one another. When a song is considered done, it’s Enrico’s turn to write and add the lyrics, usually inspired by the music. Everyone can contribute at any moment in this process and everyone can express his ideas about the material.

Do you compose music at home or at rehearsals ?
Sometimes we come up with ideas at home and propose them during rehearsals, sometimes the ideas come from a jam, there’s not a specific rule about it.Rock Hard 39 qaanaq

How often do you rehears ?
We usually play once per week, more or less.

The new album came out under the Another Side Records. Why did you choose this Ukrainian label and how did you get to cooperate with them ?
When the album was finished, we started looking for a label to publish it. We wrote lots of emails to labels we thought that were in line with our music proposal. Among all the answers, we found that the one from Another Side Records was the best and we’re very happy with our choice. You can tell that what drives them is the passion for music and this is definitely a plus!

How satisfied are you with your new record and what feedback are you getting on it ?
We’re very happy with our album, from the composition to the work of who recorded and produced us. We’re humble, we wanted to just do our best and accept everything that could come out of it, but the answer was only positive and we’re very happy about it!

Would you change something on it, now that it´s almost half a year from it´s release?
There are obviously a few details we’d like to change, a sound here or a volume level there, but it sounds like we wanted it to sound and it’s 100% Qaanaaq so we’re happy with it as it is!

Your debut contains only 5 tracks, I would like to ask you if you have any more songs composed, if yes, why did you choose these 5 to be on the album ?
There were other songs that were almost complete, but that didn’t sound as good as the ones we included in the album, so we left them behind. We think that the album’s length is good as it is.

Your cover artwork seems dark and cold and not only because of the colours used. I assume it is because of your lyrics. So I want to ask what is the main idea behind this album and individual songs?
When Enrico joined the band several songs were already finished and then he wrote them one after another, listening to lo-fi rehearsal recording. He focused on the ideas of the city of Qaanaaq, Greenland, and so were born pieces as “Eskimo’s…” and “Red…”. On the last songs composed, instead, writing at the same time of the development of a track, he has more possibilities to space on several influences, literary, cinematic, or everyday life.
Then the album became more a collection of different song rather than a concept on Greenland.

The album comes out in CD format, however the trend of vinyls is back. Is it your dream to release it in this format as well? If you wanted to do so, is it up to you, or up to the label ?
We didn’t consider to publish the album on vinyl since we’re not vinyls enthusiasts, but we don’t discard the idea for the future.

What is your rating of metal and underground scene in Lombardy in the north of Italy, and in Italy as a state?
The scene in Lombardy (and also in Italy) is a great one, there are lots of cool bands that are as good and as professional as the big names. The mainstream scene is definitely overwhelming, so it is hard to be noticed and to find places to play, that’s for sure.

What style is prefered in individual regions the most?
There’s not a specific genre for every region, you can find the same in the north and in the south of Italy. There are lots of different music styles played everywhere, and also great quality!

Are you planning a tour to support the new album? Where will they be?
We’re not sure yet if we will be able to tour, we’re doing local concerts for now but we booked with Total Metal Concerts & Booking to have a good support and we’ll see where this will lead us.

I have heard that the motto of Lombardy is „Una regione per fare“. Does it mean, that your band will be as active as your region, or will we have to wait for the new album for another 6 years? Haha.
Haha, that’s a good question! We like to add a word to the motto: “Una regione per fare... METAL!” We didn’t start six years ago having in mind to record an album, so maybe this time it’ll take only three, haha. No seriously, we don’t plan our composition, it all comes spontaneously so we don’t know how long will it take to have another record ready, but we’re already working on new material.

Thanks for the interview and we wish you best of luck in the future!
Thank you for your time and attention and thanks also to the readers of Rock Hard! Please let us add that you can follow us on facebook at qaanaaqmetalband. Ciao!

 

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