Sylva Malaafter the natural restart

interview with Marco on 10-02-2003

Please give us a short introduction of yourself?
I’m a 27 years old boy and I play guitar in SYLVA MALA. I’m a law student, I love nature, animals, I’m vegetarian. I like artistic expression in writings, paintings, sculpture, cinema and theatre but music is my best lover! It can give me infinite sensations and unique emotions!

Why was the started? Any specific reason?
It all started when finally I met some guys who liked to metal bands and wanted to experience how it could be to play together. To have a band has been a dream from the very first time I picked up my guitar! Just for having fun by raping my young ears.

How was the scene in your area? Other bands you did play in?
The metal scene in our town and around was simply non existent when we started and now the situation has not changed so much even if now there are some very young guys who start to play loud as we like; there were not so many guys playing metal when I was younger! Considering the whole Naples’ district there are some valid metal bands but it’s all still into the deep underground. For a short period I played guitar together with some friends in two bands: Celtic & Neapolitan folk. But it was just for some live shows, after whom I had to leave the bands just to center all my musical efforts and hopes in SYLVA MALA.

And where did you learn the instrument? Lessons or DIY?
When I picked up my classical guitar it was really for the first time ever so I didn’t know anything about playing it! It was a friend of mine, Elisabetta, that soon gave me some basic instructions and teached me first chords. After few days I started to study and practicing on classical guitar method by Mario Gangi. At the same time I met a guy who already played electric guitar with whom I start playing together. So a full DIY disaster! No trainer will ever be directly responsible for my music and tecnique!

What are your influences? Who made you pick up the guitar?
I think it should take several pages and time to mention all my influences: surely metal bands as Edge of Sanity, Satyricon, Death, Slayer together with the first works of In Flames, Dark Tranquillity, Opeth, Emperor, Anathema, My Dying Bride... Surely I’m mostly influenced by bands who are able to mix melody, armony and aggression: in two words, musical intensity. However I think every kind of music I listen to, not just metal, it takes part in my own playing and songwriting style. I must say I’m a big fan of bands like The Dillinger Escape Plan and Converge, too.

Was the current band name the first choice? And why this one?
Yes, absolutely. There were two different proposals before SYLVA MALA but we didn’t like them very much! When I proposed this one they immediately agreed with me it is the best monicker we could ever find! The reason why we chose this one is, first of all, because it belongs to our historycal tradition; then because it’s not a common name for an extreme metal band but original, quite strange name so easy to remember.

Do you think this suits the musical style? Not afraid people think it is a person?
I think a name so dark and mysterious as SYLVA MALA suits perfectly not only to our music but also to our lyrics in which we express positive views of life considering negative sides of it like death or destrucive vulcanic eruptions. What seems to us so definitely negative, it has a positive result indeed! It’s something I’ve learned reflecting both on natural than human events, also thanx to deep personal experiences. It’s true that someone thinks SM it’s a personal name, that’s why we explain in our bio the reason we chose this name, it means Bad Wood in latin language. I remember about a guy who wrote a remark about an excellent review on a German webzine: “Sylvia Saint it’s better!” referring to a famous pornstar! We are not afraid of this!

Where is Naples most famous for? Pizza, soccer team, mafia?
Naples is so famous worldwide for various reasons: it’s beautifully sited on a wonderful gulf and has a sunny warm climate, it has different historical monuments and surely also for tasty food (pizza rules, fuck hamburgers!). On the other side there are also a lot of social problems that belong to whole Southern Italy as unemployment and organized crime. Besides, the soccer team is dealing with a deep crisis.

Was it easy to start the band again after one year pause?
It was a natural restart after an inevitable pause. Almost all in the band had to solve some personal problems. It was time to me to face my innermost fears, insecurity and dark emotions who made me live in a suffering, unreal way. This personal battle needed some months, after whom I ’ve felt ready to restart all my activities with renewed passion and self-consciousness.

Did you had the same musical ideas or changed to something else?
No, my musical ideas had not changed during the stop even if I mostly used to listen to silence and to my inner sensations; I needed to relax so I begun to appreciate more and more the music and voices of such an ingenious artist as Bjork and the indian atmospheres of Estasia. It was the only music I liked to listen in that time.

What did you do to promote your first recordings?
Being the band contact I’ve done personally all the promotional work, helped in the very beginning by Valerio who also cared about our page on Vitaminic, a very useful way to spread underground music worldwide. I’ve mainly searched on the internet for the most interesting and important labels, magazines, webzines and radio shows worldwide to send them a copy of our work. Till now there are about 230 promo copies all around. An hard work but considering the amount of reviews, clicks and downloads on Vitaminic websites, I’m fully satisfied of my work.

Was it easy to got on compilations? Did you contact them or d they you?
Thanx to good exposure both on the web than on traditional press they made us a lot of proposals to take part in various compilation CDs but we chose just the most favourable ones.

How are the reactions for your CD? Pos or neg? Easy to sell it?
Our demo has been positively reviewed everywhere, from excellent to good ratings. Just one of the most popular Italian metal magazines has not published our demo review because of a very low rating, as they said. We had good sellings and trades with bands and labels, a satisfactory result for such a novice band from Southern Italy! An independent label offered us to sign a deal but with we didn’t like their conditions.

Do you notice something of the Etna eruptions? How does this affect people in Italy?
In spite of Vesuvius, Etna shows its activity more often and this make us think about a vesuvian eruption that will be totally destructive. The difference between the tho volcanoes is that Etna is more far from houses and and towns than Vesuvius. So it just make us reflect a little more but we definitely go on living as usual.

How does your live gigs look like? What is the visual eyecatcher?
Four guys who show all their passion playing their instruments as good as they can. We just care about the sound to catch ears more than eyes... at least till now.

Remember your first gig and the feelings/emotions afterwards?
Sure! It was 6 year ago, in February 1997. We played on the street during a protest to reclaim meeting places for young people of our town. Unfortunately things has not changed during these years but I remember our feelings, it was the very first time for a death metal band to play in Torre Annunziata. Our show was really appreciated by audience (they were almost all friends of us!!!) ‘os we played pretty well even if and our drums player, Tony, got very high temperature!

With which band do you want to be on stage in the future?
We just wish to be on stage more and more! If you want me to mention a band I think Rockbitch could fit for us!

Something you wanna say that is important to know?
To all metal-addicted guys: search for quality musical expression into the underground, there are so many bands to discover and support! Read more fanzines, listen more to self produced bands, be sure that your hunger for true metal will be fully satisfied! SUPPORT THE UNDERGROUND!

Last rites?
I really want to express all my gratitude to you Twan for your interest in SYLVA MALA and for giving me the opportunity to answer to your interesting questions to make SM more known in the metal world scene! So thank you very much and all the best wishes for your big website! Stay fucking brutal!
Interviewer: twansibon
Feb 10, 2003

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