SPIRITUAL FRONT

   

The following article was published in N-SPHERE March 2011 issue.

 

To begin with a predictable question: why Rotten Roma Casino? Keeping in mind that the hometown of Spiritual Front is Rome, how do those two elements “rot” and “casinos” blend in your music?

’Cause everything is destined to rot, we can’t accept this fact and we constantly continue to gamble on something vulnerable, decadent, staggering. And for sure, Roma inevitably inspired it, it’s a city full of contrasts.

On a romanticized level, Rome, as a setting, has often been couched in terms of decadence, carnal desires, orgies and so on, and you seem to employ those concepts in your work as well. Would you see Spiritual Front as a project strongly linked to Rome and its surroundings or are you more in favour of “emotions are universal, anything goes for location”?

We are influenced by the place where we live, especially if your family is born and raised there, something remains in your flesh, your culture influences your choices, your way of thinking etc. I can’t say that we are a band that symbolizes Roma but at the same time we are a band that has been scarred by her, her history, her passion, her chaos and elegance is readable on our skin.

Both Armageddon Gigolo and Rotten Rome seem to conceptually follow the same pattern – focusing on quasi–mythical constructions of Italy/Italians. Why do you think that exotic part still appeals to audiences considering the cynical age we live in?

Yes, even because we never tried to fake something or we never tried to be what we aren’t. Exotic? Don’t know if it’s exotic, we just try to express what we are, and often our identity is deeply influenced by the place which gave us a forced birth.

Talking about audiences: after having seen your performance at the Wroclaw Festival in Poland, I was tempted to compare it to some previous gigs in Romania (some people who witnessed them argued that the atmosphere was overall different). Do you feel more “at home” performing in some locations and does your set list mould to that as well?

I can’t understand if you mean better or worse, ahaaha. Anyway, I always try to do my best everywhere, but you have to consider many factors: location, timing, space, mood, tiredness, trips etc… but I usually have fun, I do what I like, rarely have I felt uncomfortable.

There seems to be a blurry line between “performer” and “audience” when one watches your live acts. What role does interaction have in that?

It is a thin one that belongs equally to performer and audience. We have to share emotions.

You seem to be welcoming your listeners to be part of your experiences, in what direction would a good concert go? Would you play more with those elements?

Absolutely, a passionate audience must be part of the show. I love that.

Do you consider your body of work as a carefully constructed narrative or as something linked to your personal experiences? Does creating characters play an important role in the creative process?

Except some movies, which I find extremely stimulating because of their theme linked to my mood, feelings etc., I am always inspired by my life, personal stories, pain, experiences, which give me the hook to go on and write.

While staring at the cover of your album, Spiritual Front could be easily placed in a quasi–urban decadent environment. Do you see your project as closer to city life in a sense?

Chris Askew painted something cool and peculiar, something made especially for us. He illustrated what we needed and what Roma is, what Roma means to us.

In the neofolk/gothic subcultures, forms of fetishism such as BDSM have been used extensively in the past 20 years or more. Do you believe one can really be transgressive while using those elements in their work?

They are usually linked, but I don’t think that many of them are so interested in it, at least… I don’t believe that most of them practice BDSM, I met many people in various sex clubs who never knew what industrial is.

In a sense, BDSM supposes staging scenarios, role–playing and constructing personal codes between people. What is lost when those elements become more or less “public” through music?

Role playing is traceable everywhere, you can see it at work, with friends, in your family in every community, it’s a natural thing. Sexually too, I am very fascinated by this, ’cause 80% of our relations are based on those displays of power.

Do you think some sort of self–censorship/personal boundaries in connection with sexuality should be applied when making music?

It’s a way to express our sexuality. Always. Music is phallic.

In Darkroom Friendship you play with elements such as erasing individuality through orgies, perhaps to the point where bodies without organs and only surfaces are part of the scenery. What’s your take on that?

In a darkroom you can free yourself, sexually free, you can do whatever you want, without caring the social barriers. Sexuality is part of our culture and it is not easy to live free from it. Darkness could give us the possibility to be ourselves without paying attention to the ’form’, to the other one’s identity. I saw people transforming themselves in a darkroom.

Why have you chosen the track as your opening song for the album? Should it be regarded as an “introduction” for what there is to follow?

I just wanted to bet on something different, ’shocking’ in a way, test my audience, but people always want the ’classics’, everything which goes out from the railway is banned… The alternative scene is more conservative than it seems.

You’ve often described your music as “nihilistic suicidal pop” – what “dies” in the creative process? Do you think music should be an output for self–destructive tendencies, and to what extent can it be nihilistic?

Nihilist ’cause we don’t believe in prefabricated truths, political truths, sexual truths etc. Suicide is an affirmation of life itself, I don’t blame those who choose suicide. Also, these two terms are contrasting and extreme in a way: suicide and pop!

Kiss The Girls and Make Them Die, My Erotic Sacrifice and others, a lot of songs focusing on Lustmord on this album. Why the interest in the love/death dichotomy?

Sex contains a sort of inner death, and vice versa. Sex: that there is a defined beginning and an end, a sensual destruction of ’ourselves’, a sort of constant sense of conquest, a never–ending hot war.

Is the portrayed sexual murder victim mostly masculine or feminine? What role does gender play in it?

Roles suck, our middle class catholic culture forces us to choose this or that truth. We contain both: masculine and feminine sides, it could be stupid to think that we are just one thing, blame those who proclaim themselves 100% hetero or ’pure’ male or female. They are dangerous!!!

Sad almost a Winner has been considered relatively controversial so far. How was it received in Italy?

Controversial if you are afraid of those themes, or if you are afraid of those kinds of emotions. Well, it’s not a daily theme, that’s true, but we feel displaced just when we face something that could touch ourselves deeply.

Would you argue that Italy is still to an extent homophobic, keeping in mind some conservative political views there?

I don’t think Italy is homophobic, well, it depends on the place, the community you meet. Basically, it is a catholic country, you can easily imagine how false people are, but it’s enough to say that here transsexuals have tons of unexpected customers, politicians are frequently victims of transsexual scandal… and cocaine too. This is Italy, the surface counts a lot.

The video for Sad Almost a Winner seems to reconstruct the narrative of Fassbinder’s Faustrecht der Freiheit, and by doing so re–appropriating some concepts employed there. While the film focused on a completely different social context, love still remains to a certain degree a commodity. What were you trying to recreate in your video?

The cruelty and the blindness of our senses do not know labels like hetero or gay or lesbians. What I wanted to show is the inner evil that belongs to the human being, and yea… that certain degree of commodity, the horrible stupid social laws that regulate everything, even the feeling and the relation between people and lovers.

Another two important elements in your music: Catholicism and German boys in uniforms. Simply display of fetishism on both, how much irony is involved in playing with those stereotypes?

Through irony we have the chance to analyze several elements even the ’ultraclassic’ stereotypes such as Catholicism and German boys in uniform. I can say that I am attracted to these elements, they are open to many interpretations, dramatic or funny jokes, to discuss etc., etc.

Would you consider yourselves influenced by the Catholic background from Italy?

Absolutely so. Even if you are atheist or Satanist, you have to consider the fact that you are born in a real ancient unstoppable Catholic mechanism, something that started more than 2000 years ago, and you can’t ignore it. Ok, you don’t want to follow any Catholic rule but you have to surrender to the fact that this is a huge Catholic world. It influenced me a lot, at least I like it, it gives me the chance to analyze the clashes inside of me in a better and refined way.

Another triptych: Jesus, Hellvis and rock’n’roll. The rock’n’roll phenomenon is more or less American. Why the appeal for it and how can it be appropriated in a European context?

They have been great superstars, the lead millions of people somewhere and they both lived in open range countries. I think that such a great personalities don’t belong to any specific land.

Besides a couple of Spiritual Front videos, Solo Buio Visual Factories also produced a recent Ordo Rosarius Equilibrio clip, namely A SONG 4 HATE & DEVOTION. Are any musical/visual collaborations with ORE planned for the near future?

Who knows. We are good friends, life is still long.

How about the next Spiritual Front ones, what will follow Rotten Roma Casino?

Another evergreen album named I live through you which is based on the lover transfer concept.

questions & photo by Diana Daia

Full article here.