Luca Turilli and the Mathematics of Good and Evil in Metal (in-depth interview)

I had heard and read about Luca being a person for whom spirituality is of utmost importance. It is. Even more I learn about his holistic approach in life, in music, in everything. He is very reflected and interconnecting every aspect into a well-balanced system. I heard about him practising yoga and meditating a lot. But then how can that fit into tour life when you have to cope with the demands of the tight schedules and lack of privacy in the tour bus? As it turns out touring is even after twenty years still a physically demanding task for him. In the beginning, we speak a lot of the demanding time tables, the lack of time to have inspiring conversations with the other musicians of the tour and even more the lack of time for oneself. He even finds the 22 hours off stage of the tour day a waste of time and then he sees himself a lot more a composer than a live musician. But let’s get a bit into history first.

Rhapsody ‘Bypass’ the Metal Community

I wonder if Luca could tell me a bit about how the metal community has evolved over the long time of his career. His reply is a bit surprising: “You know what with Rhapsody – these are particular things. We always were a little bit outside what you call the metal community. Well, if you study the history of Rhapsody, while the metal scene of Italy was concentrated on the middle of Italy, Tuscany, Milano, Emiglia Romana, Bologna, these towns, this was the triangular, no? We were all in Trieste, this town in the Northeast of Italy, near the border with Slovenia and close to Croatia, of course, no? People who go to Croatia they normally cross to my hometown. Trieste. It is a wonderful town because of the sea and the mountains. So we were a little bit isolated. And when we were to send our first demo, no, as Rhapsody, we didn’t even think to send it to where the focus of the metal scene in Italy is. We were in love with these bands like Helloween, melodic and these. We were looking in their CDs, checking the addresses and then we would send it to those addresses. So in a way, we bypassed completely this thing and contacted directly to the record company. We never were in the middle of something, no? I found myself always a big at home, making CDs, driving to Germany, like to Hamburg, lots of driving, making the album, going back home. Trieste is a very quiet town. Very Austrian style. All the people from Italy, they find Trieste a good town to die because there is such a tranquility, totally nothing happens. So the people feel there is not so much fun. But for me, I need the relax of such psychological efforts when I music compose and bla, bla, bla. And then I love to come back to Trieste.

So our singer Fabio, he is the only one you can really speak with about the metal community. I would honestly not know what to say because honestly the only time when I meet a lot of other people from metal is during the festivals. When we play festivals. But if you figure you look at the Rhapsody history, we never played so many festivals. We played, imagine, in 20 years 300 shows only with this one, when we finish this one. We’re around 300 in twenty years. It’s not so much, no?” – “No, indeed not”, I reply to the question I read in his face. “I can tell you about the metal market, of course, but that’s another kind of discussion. But the metal community I will not be able because I didn’t live it”, he explains with a smile.

Rhapsody Fan Culture

Luca Turilli

So I set the focus a little closer, zoom in: “If you look at the fans and the audience of Rhaspody – has the crowd changed?” – “Alora. There are some fans that are the same, exactly like when we started. When I remember the first tour South America it was quite successful. Now with the Rhapsody Reunion band – we went back to South America – it was the same. Same people. Same look. Same attitude. It was great. It was like the time didn’t move forwards. In Europe it is different for example Germany for Rhapsody went really bad. So now I am speaking also a bit about the market. They are mixed together, no! But also the people we see at the shows in Germany, they were usually a bit colder than the South Americans. By tradition. For everybody.” He frowns in an asking manner. I reply with a nod. “Every band would say that, no?” he laughs.  “It is another feeling. And then there are some surprises. Here and there, for example Czech Republic, Hungary!” He repeats with great emphasis: “Hungary and Poland for us were a big surprise. Because in the beginning when we started, when we got successfull and when we went to play there it was not so warm like now. So those nations – they came lately to love the shows of Rhapsody only nowadays. And then also the look of the metal people is different from country to country. For example when you go to Holland you have really normal people at the shows. So you have the children and the old people dressed normally. Not even metal. You could be confused for a different music show. Could be U2. I think it would be exactly the same look. So and then every country has its typical thing. But these are the things I noted most.”

Metal Contaminated – That’s Why Rhapsody Are Different

Speaking of the community anyway it is the perfect moment for my favourite question: “What is metal to you?” – “The best music expressing my heart and soul! Because I don’t like metal alone. I like metal mixed. I like metal contaminated.” I stare blankly at Luca. Contaminated – it sounds so negative. Contaminated? Do you need to spoil it, I wonder when he gets into details. “I never liked metal bands, just metal bands with guitars. I never listen to that. I don’t know bigger bands. I never listen to Judas Priest and bands like these …” I frown, thinking of the support bands of the tour who both name exactly them as one major inspiration. “… style, no? But I came from classical music. And that’s why Rhapsody are different. We’re different and we’re kind of outstanding from the rest. In the end it was nothing new. But it was the mix of elements that made Rhapsody successful. So I come from classical music but I was missing something from classical music, no? Something, that the metal gave, so. The connection between heavy guitars and top under (as you want to see it) classical instruments – this fills my heart and soul because it makes me connect with the mystery of creation. They always ask me why this epic music, no? No, epic? Epic. More epic! More epic?“ – Very easy I think and „Because it is you“, slips my tongue in the moment when Luca says nothing.  „Because”, he continues, “I understood that doing this yoga, meditation, no, doing this I understood that this is music that really connects me with the mystery of creation of life and all that. So, it is what I really feel to express through art.”

My chance to ask why Luca used the term contaminated that sounds so negative to me. – „No! Why negative? Contaminated for me all my life was contaminated. You know I listen to all the music that has existed from Adele – she would be one of my favorite singers – to everything else, no? So that’s why I compose. And I am a composer. No, I don’t know but I think – it is my theory – the best composers are the ones that play more instruments because they can express in a different way approaching the composition in different ways and know all the music existing. But there is only one style of music I don’t like that is Blues. Don’t ask me why but I really don’t feel it. I wanted to force myself to like it but there was not possible. So exept for Blues, I love everything. So if you speak about metal, of course, so in this context I would say that in the metal my favorite band is the Myrath.” Luca waits for my reaction. “I have never heard of them. At this point I need to mention two things. First, Scarlet Aura were already warming up the audience and they did so with all their passion and gear – and this more or less right below us in an industrial hall without any sound isolation. Second, I love dialects and Luca has a strong one growing even stronger the more excited he gets. I had heard of Myrath before. Really. But what I heard this moment to me sounded like Miratt – and I somehow Miratt and Myrath would not go together in mind this very moment. But Luca feeds me with some details of his favorite band: “The metal bands that contaminated – and I use that in a absolute not negative way – but is combined with Arabic instruments. Myrath. They’re becoming very, very big now. So there is the metal impact and with folk from Arabia, Morocco, Turkey, Tunesia. It’s very good and they’re becoming super. And then Within Temptation is my favorite band in heavy metal. I don’t like black. I made some songs black, but it’s not my thing because the voices really need to be touching my heart and soul. So in the black that I liked some years ago, now I am not anymore in that.”

It is very interesting to me that he so very strongly relates his music to his deepest emotions. „Oh yäääs“, Luca says with much emphasize in his very authentic Italian dialect.

From Zombie to Human by Meditation

Luca Turilli

“So that it goes back to the inner most of you. And very shortly said: Music is emotion?” – „Yääh, of course. You know music is energy. It’s vibration, no? So especially when you do these meditative things, you start to know this world like you did not before. You were not able to know because you realize that you were living like a zombie, no? But then with the meditation and breathing techniques you typical for India, Nepal, you know, with these you are able to experience new feelings, new emotions and you are able to expand your sight, no? Then also the music, you see it in a different way because it touches you in a different way. So you are very open to everything coming, no? So the music, you live it in a different way.  Then you start feeling the music that really combines with your body as you reject some other music that you feel is just disturbing. We are all different. So different kinds of music. Feel with our body and all that. So absolutely it is your energy that has to be used in a responsible way. So this was always my fight with Rhapsody. We are to transmit a positive method because I came out from my cancer and have my second life. So in a way my usual fate is to music to express this feeling of hope, respect, love, especially love. Because love is the basic of creation, is everything. So in some way this is what I wanted to achieve in music. The rest I don’t care. What they play. What they don’t play. I am don’t even such a good guitar player as the people may think because simply I dont have the time to play, no? But if the people want to think, they may think!” He points out with a questionening smile. I state laughing „I won’t judge because I simply can’t as I am no musician!“  This was all I intended to say. But my thoughts start to wonder and my mouth utters more words. „As I play no instrument myself I won’t judge. I can’t. But then it is so interesting to remain in this.“

 „Tell me!“ Luca says – all ears. In his humble statement on his own guitar skills, I see a good deal of idealism reflected. It is no difference to Luca what people think of him or his skill, he focuses on what he loves to do. Writing music. In a way perhaps naive. But then also idealistic in a business many people say has become very rough. So how important is idealism to Luca?” – „I started this new life. I discover this book really, specific things. Before this I was not interested by it. And then my life changed completely when I discovered this world of meditation like this. So ideally coming from nothing, based on nothing, what I read on the books, what I may believe or what I don’t believe changes everything. Because when you start experimenting and the reality expands because of this phenomenon that before you define as paranormal then it becomes normal because you live into that, no?! It is like you have never fit on this dimension and then not in the other dimension. But in the end it’s all the same but we look at it like another dimension, no? So when you start living like this, what before was looking like strange it becomes normal life. What did you ask me, sorry?” The music is really distracting!  “Ah yah, the idealism”, Luca says way before I can reply! “So in the end the world of idealism doesn’t exist anymore. It exists only in your reality. So it is not anymore an idea but experimenting in this new reality. So it is not idealism like … so you discover that everything is intuition. Everything is made of intuition. And intuition is what relates our self with our higher self. So that’s the basic thing in the end.”

… Putting Naked Feet In The River

To me this is some kind of a mathematical approach to see life and the world. Define your own reality by your own parameters. In mathematics you have the liberty to define your starting point equaling here the term reality and so in the end everything falls back on this definition. “Yes, yes”, he replies exited and smiling. „But anyway the universe is based on mathematics like 1 + 1 = 2 and so on”, he says smiling excitedly.

Checking out my questions I mumble half loud and more to myself. „That’s great, I love this“, and Luca agrees as I can read easily in his happy face.

Luca Turilli

 “Speaking of your creative energy as we did before, what would be the perfect setting to maximize your creative output?” – “I really have really to stay outside in Mother Nature, no?! That is what I was feeling already before I was asking why I would I have so much attraction from Mother Earth? Mother Nature? And then I got this call lately. But since the very beginning when we started with Rhaspody even not having experienced of these extra realities, I was in love already by a single river. I was crying looking at the sunshine. So when I experience these, when I am alone, I have to be also far from the energies of the other people, no? That’s why me, I don’t like the mass of people. I also studies psychology of the mass, anthropology, so I realize very soon why I didn’t like to be part of the mass. I never liked to go to the stadium even if I like soccer, for example, just because of the attitude. When the mass combines together, no, how the psychology of the mass acts, so no, I hate that! So this is also why after one months of touring I have to isolate myself completely to return again the energy. It is very important and through Mother Nature, the energy of the trees, of the river, putting your naked feet in the river. You really feel the connection and the energy coming in one moment and you are totally shaking, goosebumps, and then you have all the shakra opening, something that the people really… before when you dont know about these things, when you just read books, are you so ‚ähm yoah‘ but you have to experiment through all the people that are interested. When they feel that their life it is not so special, no? Because they are just materialists and that’s the reason why and then they start asking themselves, no where can I find these extra things? In the alcohol? no! In the drugs? No! In the spiritual realms. No. It is no religion. It is no religion. Religion is trying to fit those spiritual things and to categorize them into something. But spirituality is the universe. It is the creation. This is the superior spirituality, no? So this is the receipt for the people who have problems and many people that I know they were able really to find in this to regenerate. And before they were totallly destroying themselves. And suddenly discover the power of light.”

To me it sounds – to sum it up – experiencing the energy there is – simply in yourself.” – “Absolutely.”

The Problem of The Duality

“And you must be very open to see it yourself.” – “Very important.” He pauses for some time. “And you know the greatest thing that I discovered it is witness by all this spiritual culture: that you never have to devide between good and evil. Because you learn that we are everything together, no? We have to love even our dark side. Because in this way we don’t create the duality. Because when we do create the duality, the energy of the good and the energy of the evil become even more stronger … [Luca claps his fists together to illustrate the energy resulting from good and evil] … when this clashes against each other this generates the social wars. Everything. The problems. When you asset your dark side, you don’t say, ‘I am the good, you are the evil.’ Then when you apprehend this then you give an order to the chaos that is inside you. And when you know the evil that is inside you, you can be a murderer, you can be a pedophile, you have to be sincere to yourself, no! Because we are everything. And so when you know yourself this is the first step to start evolving. You start knowing yourself. But how do you want to make things speak to other people when you don’t even know about yourself? Now, this is the big thing. No, many people speak, priests speak in ever whatever sects you will hear in all sects, every kind of sects coming up ‘this is good, this is bad!’ No, these people really make me sad. Well, I don’t care, but, no! Like this you see that they’re really on the wrong side. They get the people because they push on their weakness.”

While Luca’s thoughts have wandered to pseudo-religious brainwash I notice that his holistic approach in life and spirituality resembles his approach in music of combining the brightness of symphonic music with the dark, often considered even evil metal music. “Yes!”

“You put it together to have one complete thing …” – “Yeah, absolute.”

“… that lives from the contrast of its elements.” – “No, absolutely. Well, the ‘saga’ of Rhapsody it’s all about this. The ‘saga’ was very successful for Rhapsody. Everything is based on this saga because this was main character called Dargor, that was really born as an evil guy. He didn’t even know about the good because he was educated in that style, no? Some is the genetics. Some is the education. Part is the social context. Like this you are made of everything. And so this Dargor knows his dark side and is able to asset it. Then starts the evolution, no? So we are all evolving into something. It is very important to know about your own dark side. In the Saga of Rhapsody this is all expressed very clearly, I think.”

New Zealand is Heaven on Earth

I get back to the sources of creativity. I read in an earlier interview that Luca admires the beauty of landscape and highlighted it as such a source. I wonder what type of landscapes he prefers. I remember Trieste to be set in rather dry and rocky area. Is it that? “Or is there a type of landscape you love most?” – “Yeah, New Zealand, if you speak about landscapes.” I nod. “For example New Zealand is my heart and soul. When I went there, wow. I said ‘Wow! Wooow, I will have to finish my days in that!’ Because it seems really heaven, no? What could find ever better? No criminality. So you feel this bad energy is very far from you. A lot of nature by person. So a lot of square meters per person. So the nature is able to filter all this negative energy. And in the end you can really breathe this atmosphere of … I don’t know how to say? It is like heaven on Earth. This is why I was inspired to write new songs for Rhapsody when I came back from New Zealand. It was to the place where they shot ‘The Lord of the Rings’, of course. And to sit there in the real landscapes part of the movie by Peter Jackson, it was amazing. You were feeling the same emotions. It was really amazing.” Luca is very taken by this memory.

“You seem to be a very empathic person?” – “Yäää, of course.”

“Perhaps it is too private?” I look at Luca and hesitate if there is a signal of stopping. There isn’t. “Is it hard for you to shut off again? Many empathic persons have really hard times to shut off again, to protect themselves. I mean they soak up all the emotions that surround them and then find it hard to switch off that mode in order to protect themselves.” – “Yeah, yeah. Absolutely. Oh my God, of course” and now he is really excited. “The first moment when you discover these extra realities – you know this phenomenon. You know you are in the world of the spirit. So there are new things, you see new things that before you were not seeing. You feel new things in your body that before you were not perceiving. So the first thing is that you are in a new world. And when you are in a new world like in this material life, these material demons, let’s call them demons. When you are the spiritual world you have the spiritual demons. So you have to protect yourself. Because otherwise you get bombarded like all these emotions, these energies that sometimes is not so great, no? So, yes, you need to learn techniques, also taught by Tibetan maestros and these like the breathing power to build a kind of armor around yourself. And through this you can defend yourself from this. But you have to practice every day. And I notice that, for example, when I am on tour and I am not able to practice my yoga continually exercise which is very powerful yoga. Don’t think about the yoga like this gym exercise that we have in the western culture. Speaking about the real yoga, no. And it’s very dangerous and you have to face it in a very good, particular way. When you make this yoga continually, for example, and you don’t make it for a month you really feel not in equilibrium because you really feel so good when you do it. That so now when here and I cannot do it because I am on a tour bus, this makes me suffer. So I can’t wait to be back home and restart. And then you need always like one week to ten days to go back to the original state. That is why I told you I need one week. I need to reprise. Probably some people they need one month.”

Luca Turilli doesn’t mean anything to me

Luca Turilli

Time keeps running, the TM signals. Final question, then. A short one, I hope. And fail. Dorian Grey. What would Luca do? Destroy the picture or go for immortality?” He asks me to remind him on some details of the story which I do. With Grey’s fate in mind, “then the answer is very easy. To destroy, of course. Destroy. Destroy. I realize that we are really nothing. Like Luca Turilli doesn’t mean anything to me. Not anything. I even hate him. Because he gets disassociated from me by the time, no? Luca Turilli became some entity that is there but far from me, no? Sometimes the people see me, what is not part of me. So that is my name but I don’t feel it’s mine. It’s very particular and it’s really what you say, no. And so I notice that the best is really to destroy everything, even destroy your ego in some way. Because the ego is causing the problem. The ego is very good because it makes us human. But the ego interpreted in the right way. But if you don’t control it, it is like the evil. If you don’t control it tends to expand in you and it can escape out of your control. So when you’re able to control the ego that is base of every serious meditation that is based from concentration right and not to avoid even your mind can lie to you, no. So with this you really reach what is called your higher self. Call it what you want, no? Spiritual inside. Your soul. Or whatever. So absolutely. You have to destroy everything. Because what we have here is really made to enjoy experience but is a way to avoid. So we need to make a hell lot of mistakes and we make mistakes every day”, he says laughing, “I did all my life, thousands of mistakes. But then after the mistakes there is this great moment of every mistake is a new experience and like this leading to something. And you feel it when you’re on the spiritual side. Unless when you’re very material or when you think that you find satisfaction in the alcohol or these kind of things … oh yes, I want to destroy everything around me. I want soon to disappear, not to exist to anyone, but just for me, and my soul, and my evolution.”

I thank him several times and Luca, he thanks me. This was very inspiring. Really. There are many parts of the interview I will think of quite many times in the weeks and months to come.

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Luca Turilli and the Mathematics of Good and Evil in Metal (in-depth interview)

About The Author
- "It has always been this way!" - I heard this phrase too often and it became the best reason for me to make it (whatever it is) my own way.

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