If you happen to be a fan of Melodic Hard Rock and you didn’t spend the last ten years channeling your inner Robinson Crusoe on a desert island – chances are that half of the newer additions to your album collection include credits for Alessandro Del Vecchio. Throughout the decade, this Italian multiinstrumentalist, singer, songwriter and producer appeared on the many albums released by the likes of Hardline, Sunstorm, Revolution Saints, Jørn, Bonfire, House Of Lords, Harem Scarem, Ted Poley… Was there anything missing in such a varied and vivid career? Apparently, that one thing was Alessandro’s own band he founded years earlier. Edge Of Forever‘s third album Another Paradise was released in 2009 and we basically haven’t heard from them again… until now. After ten years of hiatus, the renewed and reinvigorated Edge Of Forever finishes 2019 on a very high note with a brand new album Native Soul. But the newest release was just a starting point for a long and candid conversation that had Alessandro Del Vecchio giving insight into his past, present and plans for the future and revealing a lot of his own ‘native soul’.
Alexandra Mrozowska: The first interview we’ve ever done was almost a decade ago, covering the third Edge Of Forever album Another Paradise [out in 2009]. This year’s Native Soul is actually the follow-up to it, so why did it take you such a long time to make another Edge Of Forever album?
Alessandro Del Vecchio: It was that I was very, very happy of the situation of the band and I had this set of songs that I thought were very strong. With such a strong record, I knew I had to somehow wait for the right moment ‘cause these songs deserved for a better line-up and a stronger situation around the band. And that’s the key. So basically I wrote the record in 2016 and as always, I did it very fast. I had everything in mind, the whole vision. From the concept of the record cover to the videos, everything was ready in my head, but I really needed a better band… not as much of a better band in terms of the musicianship, but in terms of being more cohesive and having a different, more organic sound.
AM: Do you think this album would’ve been very different if you’d recorded it two or three years after its predecessor Another Paradise? In what ways?
Alessandro Del Vecchio: Yeah, sure. I think it would’ve been weaker – and honestly not because of the band but because of myself. You see, in these ten years I really took off as a producer, as a singer, as a musician and as a songwriter… and I think the strength of Native Soul right now is all these elements put together. In my opinion, it’s the most powerful and the strongest production I’ve ever done, it’s got the best set of songs that I’ve ever written and it’s my best vocal performance by far. I can say that right now I’m very happy with the results and I wouldn’t change anything. It took so long but we really did a record that we wouldn’t touch anything on. You know, sometimes the record is out and you’ve got this syndrome that you don’t wanna listen to the record anymore because you hear things that you would’ve done differently, you would’ve changed things and all that… Especially when you’re a singer, your sense of judgement is very high – and painful (laughs) But this time it’s different and I’m very confident that this record had to be recorded now.
AM: How would you define your ‘native soul’ and do you think everyone can – and should – rediscover theirs? What’s the message you wanted to pass on to your listeners with this album?
Alessandro Del Vecchio: Well, if you know me as a writer, I always talk about wider concepts than the lyrics themselves. To me, a ‘native soul’ is your true self and obviously in this occasion I talked about my relationship with the Native American spirituality and my connection with Mother Nature, with the environment and animals. It’s an anthem of being who you are. Don’t surrender to your real roots and don’t change that, because you are who you are. I mean, we live in a world where identity has become a luxury. This society and the way we are today… They all want us to look the same, to eat the same, to love the same things and they put us into drawers. We kind of forgot our instinctive nature, our real selves. We forgot our roots. People surrender who they are; they let it go because it’s easier to be who they want us to be, because it doesn’t take any effort. You don’t need nature, you don’t need culture, you don’t need anything because everything is fed to you. You’re just like a sponge and you just soak up whatever comes. And in fact, the whole record and the real message behind it is that. You can’t surrender to your native soul, you can’t surrender to who you are. Just go on and live no matter who you are, no matter what the colour of your skin is, what your religion is, anything really… Just be who you were born to be.
AM: You’ve just mentioned the theme of Native American spirituality that has been used throughout the album. In the video to the title track, you’ve also used some of the imagery associated with this culture. Why have you decided to do so?
Alessandro Del Vecchio: It’s the culture that I relate myself to in a way. I’m not a Native American, but it’s like being a Buddhist and not being Japanese, for example. You still kind of resonate with the same concept. I’m a very spiritual person, but my spirituality is towards nature. To me, Mother Nature and the world are absolutely what I define as divinity. That’s what is God to me; God to me is the sun that rises and gives life to everything. I’ve never found any other spiritual belief or religion, or whatever you’d call it – that was so connected to the circle of life. So I simply talked about myself and the Native American belief towards nature was more like a filter between myself and the world – the way that I could use to describe what I feel. I used that kind of filter just to let the message go through. All the songs on the Native Soul album are somehow related to that and to the Native Americans – all but the opening track “Three Rivers”. In the rest of the songs, there’s always a reference to the Native Americans’ beliefs or something that happened to them or that sort of native pride. It’s always been the flag of the Native American nations before they were betrayed by the whites. It’s like using a Bible to say something if you were a Christian. I just took the concepts that are right for me and worth being used in terms of building and establishing my persona. Then, I translated them into music. In a way, I hope to light a little sparkle in the listeners, so they can really aspire to have more attachment to themselves. So yes, I do hope that they can rediscover their native soul – their inner self – thanks to the songs and the strength that we hopefully delivered through the songs.
AM: Weren’t you a bit afraid of being criticised for using that kind of imagery? With the matter being as sensitive as it is, even the most respectful and aware portrayal of indigenous culture may be misunderstood by some people. I remember a YouTube user who named the Native American reference in the “Native Soul” video the ‘Halloween-esque’ representation of it…
Alessandro Del Vecchio: When you do something like that, you’re always kind of on the radar. Actually, whatever you do nowadays, you’re always gonna be criticised for it because now everybody’s got their own little spot in the world when they can comment and criticise others. And it’s okay; I’ve learnt to detach myself from that. I knew that somebody would come and say ‘Hey, how come that the Italian band is talking about the Native Americans?…” There was a funny comment [on YouTube] when somebody answered to a question like that ‘Well, you’ve never seen a spaghetti western and they were all done in Italy’. And one of the original ideas for the video to “Native Soul” was to shoot it in a spaghetti western site which is in Sardinia – so that it would have been even more direct (laughs) We couldn’t do it ‘cause we weren’t permitted to as the place is now protected by the UNESCO. But… as I said before, you don’t have to be from India to do yoga, or you don’t have to be from Japan to be a Buddhist. It’s whatever you’re related to and whatever makes you feel alive and bright. Other things don’t matter. Spirituality and values are – in my opinion – always universal. There’s just no colour, there’s no country you come from, there’s no status… nothing. If it resonates with you and it makes you a better person, who cares?… If you’re Italian and you try to dress like a Chinese monk for a video, somebody would come and say ‘Oh, you look like a guy dressed in a Halloween costume ‘cause you’re not Chinese’ (laughs) Again, who cares…? To me, the success of bringing the message is more important than criticism ‘cause you will always find somebody who’s against you. Especially nowadays there’s a lot of negativity in those comments… Some people are really picky on things and you’re like ‘Really?… You’re wasting your time to write something like that?… You don’t have anything positive to say or better to do…?’ I mean, firstly it was a bit tough, as you can imagine… I’m Italian and I kinda popped out of nowhere, so everybody was like ‘Well, who’s this guy?’ and so I got more criticism than the other guys. At the beginning it really felt bad, because I was like ‘Well, I’m not doing anything wrong to you. Why are these people so mean?’ Then I realized that it’s the reflection of themselves – it’s not myself. Me, I’m creating things. If they like it, they like it and if they don’t, it’s their perception and not mine. So yeah, obviously I’m aware of critics, but I also filter what they say and who says that – as long as there are people who like what I do. I don’t wanna be liked by everybody. Hopefully, I’m still more liked than disliked and as for now I can say I’m doing a pretty good job because apparently it’s the case (laughs)
AM: Is the new album more of a reflection of your current state of mind and musical inspirations, or rather a conglomerate of sounds and observations that you collected through the years?
Alessandro Del Vecchio: Well, it’s obviously myself right here and right now. When I wrote the record, I had a feeling that I reached the pinnacle where I could really be myself for once. I could finally go for my vision and avoid making any compromise. It was one of the reasons why it took so long – that I didn’t want to compromise on quality. So I was like, ‘Okay, for once I wanna do a record that is from top to bottom exactly what I want and what I feel, one that is in my mind and my vision. And as I told you, the video [to the title track], the [album] cover… everything was exactly like I visioned it. And if it’s a good record, I’m gonna pat myself on the back ‘cause we did exactly what we had in mind. When we had the first meeting with the new line-up, they got it and we all went for that vision. But it’s also a reflection of everything that I’ve done before, because experience definitely makes you more aware of what works and what doesn’t. That’s why I think it’s my best record to date, one that came out of being very aware of who I am and what the band should sound like. I didn’t go like ‘Oh, I should do a song that sounds like this or that’. And that’s the reason why we have elements on this album that other bands in the AOR or Rock scene don’t have anymore. An example could be the opening track “Three Rivers”. Can you find me a record in the last 15-20 years that starts like that in our genre?
AM: Definitely no (laughs)
Alessandro Del Vecchio: That’s right. But I didn’t care. As soon as I started writing the record, I wanted it to start with a song like that. And this is the only song that I wrote recently – as late as March 29th, so a month before sending the masters to Frontiers. From the beginning of the writing process, it always was ten songs and about that one I was always like, ‘Okay, I’m gonna write it’. I know that when I’m under pressure, there’s always something that comes out and I can channel everything. And finally, the journalist friend of mine who was a photographer in a war zone in Palestine and Israel told me a story of these three soldiers who were guarding the borders of three different countries – Syria, Palestine and Israel. They happened to be friends and they spent many years in this one tiny spot where three rivers meet together. And that’s exactly how the song was born – three rivers and three soldiers that didn’t care about the differences, the distances, the war, the divisions and so on. They became friends. And upon hearing it all I was like ‘Wow, that’s a perfect story’ (laughs) After this discussion, I went to my hotel room and fifteen minutes later, I sent an audio message with a song to my friend. And I was like, ‘Oh my God, thank you very much, I’ve just written a song only thanks to this story’ (laughs) So that’s how “Three Rivers” was born. Fifteen or twenty years ago, I guess I would’ve been more cautious about doing something like that but nowadays I just wanna do the record that I have in mind and I guess it’s the strength of Native Soul actually. It sounds different than other bands. It sounds simply Edge Of Forever and it sounds more Edge Of Forever than ever, so I guess it’s a win.
Certainly the most touching piece on the album is “Take Your Time” [dedicated to the memory of Marcel Jacob, the Swedish musician known from Talisman and collaboration with Yngwie Malmsteen, and Alessandro’s friend and mentor] and I can’t think of more fitting tribute to a deceased friend than this one. Was working on this song a difficult process, or rather a kathartic experience?
Alessandro Del Vecchio: To me, death is just the moment when you let your body go. I’m not really sure what happens next – I think nobody really knows for sure – but I still believe that death is just saying goodbye to one dimension and becoming something else. But obviously, as a human, you can be the most spiritual and the most balanced person in the world and still, death comes as a tragedy. It’s very difficult to be like a Hindu monk and go like, ‘Okay, that person didn’t die and is still around us’. And the song “Take Your Time” is about that. ‘Cause I know that Marcel is still living as he left a legacy in his songs and in what he did for people – the friend he was and the artist he was. So how can you say that he’s dead, when there’s such a legacy behind? But on the other hand, you still wish you could say goodbye to your friend before something like that happens, especially when somebody takes their own life. When we talk about suicide and the feelings one leaves their friends with when they decide to leave the Earth, the feeling is helplessness. You don’t know what to do. You don’t know if you could do or say anything to avoid such a situation. So, I know I should have taken my time to say goodbye to my friend. I couldn’t do it and now I’m left with this deep hole in my soul, and that what my song is about. But I’m also like, ‘You’re still alive and I will always cherish every moment that we spent together’. And the experience was more like, ‘Let me say goodbye to my friend’. It’s painful, ‘cause every time you think about it, it’s always like touching an open wound. But I can’t do anything about it, so I’d better think about what he left to us and what we can do to preserve his legacy. But it is also my way of saying, ‘Okay, I gotta let it go’, because whatever we do and no matter how strong is the pain we feel, it’s not gonna bring them back. So it’s better to celebrate life – even if it’s death that makes us do so – than to think only about departure from this dimension. I guess it’s more like an anathema – trying to put it out so that I can’t feel it inside, and trying to let it go.
AM: As a whole, Native Soul seems to be quite a personal album. Do you feel comfortable with opening up on certain personal topics as in the aforementioned “Take Your Time” ?
Alessandro Del Vecchio: Yeah. I would do even more. I’m not new to opening up with my feelings, my beliefs… Another Paradise was basically revolving around a topic of this cathedral that we build with our religions, forgetting about the cathedral that is our planet. That is very personal. Then we have “Strange World”, my song about veganism; a very personal one too. The Revolution Saints’ songs are ninety per cent spiritual songs. People take them for Christian songs and we’ve been classified as a Christian act. I’m not a Christian, but the values and the beliefs that the songs carry are universal. My approach is that I’m kinda tired of seeing music as just a vessel for slogans like ‘I love you, baby’, ‘You broke my heart’ and this and that… It was already enough before Whitesnake’s 1987 (laughs). It was already done and these artists have been doing that better than anybody else. And to me, in 2019, it sounds a little cheesy when you go like, ‘Oh, baby, you broke my heart’ (laughs) That doesn’t work anymore, it’s too old-fashioned and…
AM: …overused, perhaps?
Alessandro Del Vecchio: Yeah. I mean, I’m in my forties now and music is still my game, but I don’t wanna play that way. I want to write meaningful songs and send a message and try to open some doors for people who listen to these songs, so I’m just trying to find a frequency where we can all resonate together. For me, Michael Jackson’s “Earth Song” is still one of the best songs in the world. Because when you have a talent, you have the power. And you can decide to use that power to talk to the people or you can decide not to say anything special. And personally I like meaningful lyrics and stories, that’s who I am. That is not to say I don’t like the good old rock’n’roll with all those clichés like ‘I love you baby’, I still do. I still love it. I also love the lyrics for Bon Jovi’s “Livin’ On A Prayer”, but I just don’t wanna write in such a way anymore because I’m in a different place and I feel more mature. I want to be more meaningful and deep, but still easy on the concepts; I don’t wanna make them difficult. Still, I want to write something that means something for me ‘cause I need to value what I write even more than before.
AM: Is it easy for you as a non-native English speaker to put your thoughts and feelings into a language which is not your own?
Alessandro Del Vecchio: Yeah. You know – you learn. The first lyrics I wrote might not have been exactly perfect, but you learn as you go. If your ideas mean something and you really wanna carry a message, you’ll find the way you learn, to practice. I didn’t go to any writing school. I just had a sense of writing. And with the first two Edge Of Forever records [2004’s Feeding The Fire and 2005’s Let The Demon Rock’n’Roll] I really hit the wall of writing something and then having somebody changing my lyrics. I was like ‘Argh, I don’t like that’. I mean, you put your heart and soul into writing something and then somebody has to put the final touches to it because the message is not exactly clear. So I just practiced and practiced and in three or four years I went from people fixing some of my lyrics to having entire records without any word touched, like Hardline’s Danger Zone or Revolution Saints, where all lyrics are exactly like I wrote them. They’re all those great records with a million views on YouTube and the lyrics written by a non-native English speaker are intact. So I guess you learn with practice, you go through your mistakes and you get better.
AM: Native Soul is a serious album topic-wise but still a positive one with songs such as “Promised Land”. In the face of so many dark things happening and closing this decade on not such a very high note, do you think there’s still hope for this world?
Alessandro Del Vecchio: Sure. Until there’s one human being alive and there’s life breathed into the body, there’s hope. I mean, I guess we had darker times – way darker times than nowadays. At least we don’t have a world war going on… We have many bad things, but the ratio of death and life is still a little bit towards life… Still, we also have Africa, we have immigration, we have climate change, we have animals, we have tyrants, Russia, Korea, all those bad things that shouldn’t exist anymore. But I think we’re slowly learning from the past and I don’t wanna be negative. I still have – hopefully – half of my life to live and we’re still here. It rather makes a difference to me how you react. I mean, there are bad things and there are good ones. My way of reacting – which doesn’t mean it’s a good way of reacting but mine – is being aware of what happens in the world, but also of the fact that our century is still on. There’s still the good and we have to preserve all the good. If we only talk about the bad and we only point out what’s bad in this world, we’re not changing anything. We’re just saying what it is – we’re not saying what it can be and what it will be. So probably I’m more romantic and I just wanna be positive. I just wanna be like, ‘Yeah, we’ve got children dying – what we can do is being aware of that and reacting to that’. Unfortunately, I’m in Italy and my mission is to create art. Without music and without art, that would be a very dark period because there would be no escape from reality. So I think I was kind of made and programmed to created a diversity to the bad and to the negative… Because otherwise I think we all should just give up our lives, dreams, passions and commitments and just go to Syria and take every child by the hand and stop this mess. But would it change everything? I don’t know, because we would still have other problems. So I think we have to be aware, but we have to be positive too and we still have to enjoy the moment because we could be gone. And we’d better give sense to our existence. And we’re lucky enough to be born in good times – I mean, we are, because we weren’t deported, we weren’t killed and we weren’t exploited. Our grandparents saw that all. I think others saw that too and they probably learnt something, so we’re in a better position. We’d better cherish that and protect that. Also, to me positivity is also like a whirlpool. The more positive actions, the more positivity around. We can’t just talk about the bad and the dark – it doesn’t make a solution. That would make everybody gloomy and we would feel doomed – and I don’t think we are. I really hope and I really work hard for a brighter future, and I think you can too.
AM: You’ve already mentioned your song called “Strange World” which appeared on YouTube and many may have actually thought it will be included on Native Soul too. Why didn’t it make it onto the album?
Alessandro Del Vecchio: It wasn’t included, because that song was born out of necessity. I needed to put that one out but I don’t think it would fit with Native Soul because that is more like, ‘Okay, that’s what we do to the world. That’s what we do to the animals.’ I don’t give any turnout of that, I’m just saying, ‘That’s what we do and we do this and this… what a strange world we live in. We should be celebrating life and we just keep on bringing death, disaster and desperation to everything.’ This song was meant to be like that, but it wouldn’t work alongside the concept of Native Soul where I’m bringing a different message. “Strange World” is on a different, deeper level than other songs and I didn’t want to be that explicit on the album as in that song. It’s a different kind of song and it’s too direct for Edge Of Forever which has always been more like a metaphore in terms of message. That song is myself, not Edge Of Forever. “Strange World” is Alessandro Del Vecchio and I didn’t want to be just the face of the band and be like, ‘Okay, I’m vegan so the whole band image goes vegan’. But the song is still there, it’s like it should be and it talks about that side of myself that is not the band thing, but more of a personal thing.
AM: The Edge Of Forever line-up being renewed, what did each of the musicians bring into the band?
Alessandro Del Vecchio: Nik [Mazzucconi, the bass player of Edge Of Forever] is the only member left from the Another Paradise era, and in my opinion he’s simply one of the best Rock musicians that I’ve ever worked with and an amazing bass player. And when I talked to Marco Di Salvia [Edge Of Forever’s current drummer] and Aldo Lonobile [Edge Of Forever’s current guitar player], I didn’t treat it as auditions. I knew that Aldo and Marco will bring what I needed. You know, Aldo is known for being a Metal guitarist, but he’s actually more of a Hard Rock/Blues guitarist and I wanted to have that. And I remember that when I was close to making a decision, I was like ‘Aldo is the right guy and he’s got that sound’. What he also brought is very positive, vital attitude; he’s one of the most Zen people I know. He’s so focused, he’s never loud but grateful and calm instead, and he’s got great working attitude. So apart from the great sound, he’s also brought that to the band. And Marco brought a completely different – a kind of modern – way of thinking about drums for the songs. You could have always expected that kind of Cozy Powell-esque thing from Edge Of Forever, which is great, but I wanted to go beyond that. I didn’t wanna be still the same old Classic Rock band, I wanted to sound more upbeat – in that sense – and Marco’s the eclectic drummer. He’s not only a Metal drummer – he can play Jazz, he can play Soul, he can play Funky and he can play Death Metal, and I needed that. I needed that from all the guys in the band – something more than just playing my songs, which is great. But I needed new blood for the songs and honestly, they totally overpassed my expectations. I was blown away. When I heard Marco playing the songs, I finally felt that they were going to be complete. But when we laid the guitars I was like, ‘Ahh, that’s so good!’ ‘Cause I can see Edge Of Forever going more towards hard melodic Southern Rock, like the last Lynyrd Skynyrd records or the band Tangier… Those had the kind of a Bluesy spirit that we lost along the way and we become more like a class Metal band than a Classic Rock/Blues/Southern Rock band. I wanted to have that. I wanted to have more riffs and a different approach and the guys definitely brought that.
2019 was also the year of a new Hardline album. How would you sum up your collaboration with Johnny Gioeli so far?
Alessandro Del Vecchio: It’s certainly a blessing. Actually, I gotta give kudos to Johnny and to Serafino [Perugino, Frontiers Records President and Owner] because when we started, Hardline was basically disbanded. And Serafino only knew me from Edge Of Forever but has never worked with me before. Frontiers distributed Edge Of Forever, but we were never signed to them. So kudos to both of them for believing in this young punk from Italy (laughs) If I think what “Fever Dreams” has done to my career, it’s unbelievable. You know, it was such a fast, distinctive and natural session to write that song… then it came out and it became like an anthem for the fans of the band, and it brought the band back from nowhere to the unexpected… And we’re still today, we’re still here. With maybe one hundred gigs behind us, Johnny and I have done more with Hardline than what Hardline has done in the past before we started working together. We did festivals, we did lots of shows and we’re a better live band than what we are in the studio. Onstage is where the band really flourishes and where we have the most fun. And no matter what the ups and downs of our business are, we still love what we do. We still want to pride ourselves on the records we do, and after three records I have to say it’s a blessing.
AM: You were instrumental to Hardline’s return. Did it take long before you felt a permament part of the band?
Alessandro Del Vecchio: Well, before we did the videos and were out with that line-up I was like, ‘Okay, it’s just a record and it will be gone. We will do a record and we don’t know what happens’. But I guess we’ve become more of a band when we started touring together – around 2014/2015. That was when we started to see the potential of what we were doing. Obviously, the band was coming out of a situation when they were one of many signings to MCA, dropped by the major later on only to exist in the underground and then trying to move on again and trying to reinvent themselves. So, when we started again, I think Johnny was a little… well, in such a situation when it’s very easy to become very cautious. But then we started to play live, and it became pretty evident that we were doing something good. I still remember one of our first shows that was at the first Frontiers Rock Festival and the reaction of the crowd. As long as we played the classics – like “Hot Cherie”, “Dr. Love” and “Takin’ Me Down” – it was obvious that people were gonna freak out to such a historical record [Hardline’s 1992 debut album Double Eclipse]. But when we started to play new songs… We played “Fever Dreams” and I couldn’t believe my ears. All people were clapping and jumping and dancing – thirty five thousand people! And I was like, ‘Wow, so we’re really doing it, we’re doing something good’. It was the same the first time that we played Sweden Rock. I guess it generally took something like two or three years for all of us to feel we’re on the right path. It took a little long, but you know – sometimes you need to go through the odds, get out and do what you have to do.
AM: Back in the days of the Danger Zone album, was it challenging to you to keep the unique vibe Hardline had especially on their first album while at the same time opening up a new chapter in the band’s history?
Alessandro Del Vecchio: You know, we’re lucky in a way, because everything that Johnny sings will always sound like Hardline. I think the trademark of the Hardline’s sound is mostly Johnny’s voice. And well, to me Double Eclipse is a masterpiece. It’s like becoming the member of Deep Purple who has to match Machine Head every time. But also, it’s in the past. And to me, Danger Zone is also the record that sounds less Double Eclipse that the rest that we’ve done together. And funnily enough Life – our last record – was the one that we didn’t want to sound like Double Eclipse at all. And it turned out that we sound more like it when we totally don’t want to! So I guess that what we decided as a band is just to go on. Hardline is one of those bands people will always remember with that sort of nostalgic feeling and thinking about it, they will always think about Double Eclipse. But it’s already been many years since Hardline became something else. You’re gonna take it or whatever. It’s like people complaining that Arnel Pineda sings in Journey and he’s been the longest tenured singer of the band. Or Steve Morse, who has done more records with Deep Purple than Ritchie Blackmore. Some people still live in the past and it’s okay, that’s a part of the band’s past too, that’s a part of the legacy. But the band sometimes becomes something else and right now, Hardline is something else.
AM: These days, Hardline is something else indeed – not only musically, but also personally. I guess we could actually call it an Italian band now, especially with Johnny’s origins taken into consideration. Was recruiting new band members – essentially, your friends and past and present collaborators – up to your suggestions or was it up to Johnny and the label?
Alessandro Del Vecchio: Well, it was my suggestion and decision that was both Johnny’s and mine, basically. We wanted well for the band, so we chose the musicians that we thought we good, no matter where they came from. It turned out that we had to make a choice between being an international and an Italian band with Johnny on vocals and the latter worked, so we didn’t think twice. We just did what we had to do for the band’s sake.
AM: Between the release of the two Edge Of Forever albums we’ve been discussing for quite a while, you’ve been working hard to stay who I‘ve always dubbed the busiest producer and musician in the world. What were the highlights of this decade for you professionally?
Alessandro Del Vecchio: Oh, for sure Another Paradise was a beginning of something different for me, because that’s when I started to be in the front line more – being a producer as well as a songwriter. I wrote most of the songs and all the lyrics for this album, I recorded it, arranged it and produced it, then I mixed it… all but mastering, which Michael Voss did. But I did everything else and that was the first record that I was totally on the front line for. Then for sure Shining Line was a pinnacle, because at the same time as I was doing Another Paradise we started doing Shining Line and that was more like my door to the world, like saying, ‘Okay, this guy’s not just producing himself, he’s also producing somebody else’. Then of course Hardline and Revolution Saints. I still feel blessed that we’re at our third record with Revolution Saints and I’m still part of the team, the driving force behind it, main writer and producer… So yes, these four records have been my top moments for these ten years.
AM: Out of all the songs you’ve ever written, can you think of any that you’d name the most important to you?
Alessandro Del Vecchio: Well, the most important to me is probably “Way To The Sun” by Revolution Saints. That song’s kind of sums me up as a writer. It’s not a typical AOR song, it’s more ‘out-of-the-box’ kind of thing with the elements of The Eagles and Styx… and the lyrics are totally myself. I still feel humbled that I could sing a song like that, that I could write and produce it, that I could play and record it – and work with Doug Aldrich [ex-Whitesnake, ex-Dio, The Dead Daisies], Jack Blades [Night Ranger, Damn Yankees, Shaw Blades] and Deen Castronovo [ex-Hardline, ex-Journey etc.]. And Neal Schon [Journey] played a guitar solo on that. I don’t think I could’ve ever imagined being there, in that moment, with a song of mine. So I guess yeah, “Way To The Sun” is the most important song to myself.
AM: This year, a guilty pleasure for many of us rockers was Mötley Crüe’s biopic The Dirt which showed a lot of their excessive lifestyle back in the ‘80s. However, those who know you also know that you prefer quite a different lifestyle. Was it a conscious decision to pursue it? Have you ever been fascinated or tempted by the so-called “rock’n’roll” lifestyle when you were a kid?
Alessandro Del Vecchio: Well, I’ve never decided to be like that. I just don’t like being out of control. To me, alcohol, drugs and such an excessive lifestyle don’t give you control and don’t make you free – and I want to be free to be myself. That means that I have to exploit myself a hundred per cent and I want to control that, and every of my actions as well. I’ve never liked that kind of bohemian feeling which is not who I am. So I haven’t decided to be like that, I’ve just never been attracted. I’m not attracted to it that much that I don’t even like the taste of alcohol, the smell of cigarettes, the smell of marijuana… I don’t like it. But I like the rock’n’roll fairy tale. I saw The Dirt the day it came out and to me it’s funny in a way, and also like a little pathetic, because it seems that the message is that the music is secondary to all the excess. But it’s a part of the history of rock’n’roll. And you know, one of my favourite bands are The Beatles and the records that I love of them are those when they dropped acid from the morning to the morning after and they wrote so many great songs then. I guess that this is my vision and it works for me, and I’m not judgemental to somebody else if something different works for them. I mean, if you’re Nikki Sixx and you can write such great songs being a heroin addict – it’s okay. I’m not gonna buy it, I’m not gonna endorse it, but if it works for you and you can still do something good with it – it’s okay. You know, sometimes I look at it and I’m afraid a bit. I try to be far from it, but I’ve always been like that. I’ve always been a misfit being among misfits and I was one in almost every band in my past, so it’s okay.
AM: With Christmas and the New Year’s Eve approaching, what were your favourite 2019 releases? Which albums you’d name your top 3?
Alessandro Del Vecchio: Well, I love the last album by Tedeschi Trucks Band [Signs] and they’re probably my favourite band since a few years. It’s rootsy, bluesy, Southern jam rock thing, it’s unique and I love it. In our genre, I really like the new Eclipse record…
AM: Absolutely! Paradigm‘s one of the best 2019 albums, hands down.
Alessandro Del Vecchio: Yeah. It’s something I wouldn’t be able to do ‘cause to me it sounds like a Pop record with distorted guitars. It’s very far from what I wanted to be as a musician and it’s probably the reason why I like it – ‘cause it’s something different from what I do. Plus, I couldn’t stop humming all the songs… You play one song and you know it. It’s very well-crafted and it’s really something. They’re friends and I don’t wanna see them as competitors, but that’s a very tough act to beat. They just do everything right, they keep on working very hard, so kudos to them. The best band in the genre, way better than anybody else. They found a formula, they stick to it and people love them. I’m very happy for them. Also, I really love the new King Of Hearts album. It’s a great return and a true statement of why these five guys are the best musicians in the world and my brotherly friend Bruce Gaitsch shines like a guitar God. If you’re looking for true craftsmanship and stellar performances, that is the record you want to hear and want to fall in love with!
AM: As the current decade is also soon about to end, we look back to mourn over the loss of legends such as Ronnie James Dio, Jon Lord, Lemmy or David Bowie, but we also don’t forget the new promising acts who established themselves in the music industry within the last ten years. In general, were the 2010s good period for rock music in your opinion?
Alessandro Del Vecchio: To my mind, it’s been a great period. I mean, think about the ‘90s when everything was dead. We’ll always be better than that as we already touched the bottom then. We hit rock bottom back then and whoever is complaining about the current situation in rock’n’roll, they should be thrown back to the ‘90s. There was even no way to get this kind of records then! But in spite of the ever-changing music business, rock’n’roll has been stable and it’s proved to have longevity that other genres don’t. We still have kind of sub-major, but still kind of mainstream bands like Rival Sons and Greta Van Fleet… And you know, people will always complain, but I don’t care. To me, if there’s a rock’n’roll band out there doing their thing, that’s good (laughs). If they become famous, I’m happy. So to me, it’s been a very good decade.
AM: What do you think is the future of Rock music?
Alessandro Del Vecchio: I don’t know. I’m probably too old to think about the renovation of the genre, but I guess we will always have the sort of Classic Rock that will be mashed with the new elements for the new tastes. Nowadays, you can still do music like Elvis and still sound actual and contemporary, so I guess our mission is to make something that’s enjoyable and that’s reflective of the times. It doesn’t have to be too much in the past because these records had already been done. We just gotta be ourselves and write great music. I mean, as long as we have great songs, there’s gonna be good rock’n’roll.
AM: And what does the future hold in store for you, Edge Of Forever and your other projects?
Alessandro Del Vecchio: The plans for Edge Of Forever is to play as much as we can, to do a new record in two-year span and to be on the road as much as we can. Finally I feel like doing it with the band. I feel stronger than ever with such a better act and I don’t wanna miss this opportunity, so our plan is to play live. We already have shows in line, we’ll work hard to do as many shows as we can, to get on to the next records and then get on the road again. We have good 6 years in front of us that we planned and we want to make it right. My plan is just to be Edge Of Forever and do Edge Of Forever and Hardline and Jorn – the only things that really mean something to me. I mean, I don’t want to be the hired guy forever. If it turns out like that, it’s okay, I love it. I still love it. But I want to establish Edge Of Forever as much as I can. That’s for sure. That’s my goal.
AM: Any last words?
Alessandro Del Vecchio: Thank you for the support!