Interview with singer/guitarist Andrea "Steve" Biondi
Interview conducted by MetalMike
Date online: October 31, 2014
Tetrarchate is a relatively new Heavy/Thrash Metal band from the unassuming Pesaro Urbino region of Italy. Their debut EP, Symposium of the Tetrarchs, was released in 2014 and displays an above average level of songwriting. Singer/guitarist, and songwriter, Andrea "Steve" Biondi, took a few minutes to let us here at The Metal Crypt know about the history of the band, the EP and video for the song "Scar," and reveals there is much more Tetrarchate music to come. He also waxes philosophical about the music industry and his band's situation in Italy. Read on to learn more of this band that may be in a remote location but is doing much to be heard...
MetalMike: Hey Steve, how are things in Pesaro Urbino?
Steve: Hi Mike. Well, the situation is rather tough, you know, the downturn has struck harshly here, and it still bad, like anywhere else. Personally, I take pleasure from music and friends. Thank you.
MetalMike: Let me start by asking about the name of your band, Tetrarchate; where did that come from and does it have any meaning?
Steve: I came up with the right name for the band in April 2007, if I' m not mistaken. I was searching for something different from the usual heavy metal band names; a moniker that projects power, something people would remember thanks to its evocative concept and strength. "Tetrarchate" fits perfectly because it means "leadership of four." Somebody pointed out that the last four letters of the name are "hate," but that's just a coincidence.
MetalMike: As I said in my review of your EP, Symposium of the Tetrarchs, Italy has produced quite a bit of Power/Symphonic Metal over the years but I'm not familiar with too many Thrash bands from that country. What made you decide on that style? Feel free to school me on other Italian Thrash bands, too! : )
Steve: Sure; Death Mechanism, Endovein, Axen, Maghanat, Vehement, Artkillery, Vexed, S.L.U.G.S., Bothers, Extrema, Methedras, Hyades, Irreverence, Hellstorm, Warmonger, Executioner, Madmaze, Game Over, Ancient Dome just to name a few but, believe me, there are many more. Thrash metal has found fertile soil in Italy. But in the last few years I've less enamored with thrash metal and I feel the quality of Italian thrash metal is generally good but not outstanding. I prefer to focus on two names; Hatework, who mix thrash with Rock 'n' Roll, to good effect, and Urto, who have created a sophisticated and smart style. Why do we play basically Heavy/Thrash metal? Simply put, I loved these two subgenres (and still appreciate them very much) when I formed Tetrarchate so, basically, I just wanted to play the music I loved.
MetalMike: Who were your influences when you were starting Tetrarchate? Before that, what inspired you to pick up the guitar and, eventually, play Heavy Metal?
Steve: I drew my influences from bands like Metal Church, Slayer, Warlord, Morbid Saint, Hades (the U.S. thrashers) and Hallows Eve. It may be difficult to hear these influences in our music, but I feel I owe something to all these bands. Listening to them inspired me to get a guitar and try something on my own. I pursued two aims when forming this band; I wanted to see if I was able to compose good stuff on my own and then, to create our own personal style. I chose heavy metal because, in spite of everything, it's a genre with incredible intensity and it still floors and astonishes me.
MetalMike: Let's talk about your debut EP, Symposium of the Tetrarchs. I'm assuming the title goes along with the band name but perhaps you could explain who the "Tetrarchs" are and why there is a symposium of them? :) Is the EP a concept album?
Steve: Ah, I' m sorry to disappoint you, but there' s no hidden message behind the title. As you may know, a "symposium" was the drinking party that followed the main feast in ancient Greece and Rome but there's no connection with the lyrics or anything. The reason behind this title is the same one behind the band name; it is something different from the standard. This EP is our very first official release and Symposium Of The Tetrarchs is our way to say "here we are." I can also disclose that the title of our first full-length will be enigmatic, the summary of a precise concept I'm developing with my lyrics.
MetalMike: Who writes the songs for Tetrarchate? How long did it take in between your first demo, Onward, and the release of Symposium of the Tetrarchs, to compose the four songs on your EP? Was it material you had already written and just needed to "tighten up" or did you start fresh after Onward?
Steve: Both Nazo (the other guitarist) and I compose music and lyrics, though I' m more prolific. "Genocide" had already been written before "Onward" and the other three songs were composed in the following months (along with other songs). The stuff for this EP was actually written by January 2011. The reason why "Symposium..." was released just three years later is due to a lot of recording problems we ran in to. Finding a good studio, for example. You know, the same hoodoos each band like us has to face, haha! By the way, special thanks to the guys in Nightland, another band from Pesaro (https://www.facebook.com/Nightland). We were able record our EP thanks to them.
MetalMike: Where do you draw your influences for your lyrics? Are you fans of literature or do you have your own ideas that you incorporate into your lyrics?
Steve: The second mainly, but sometimes I "steal" some quotes from literary works. Definitely, the main source of inspiration for our lyrics is the life we live daily and all the bad things it sets in our path.
MetalMike: How much has Tetrarchate been able to play live? Is there a supportive scene for Thrash Metal in the Pesaro Urbino area? Have you been able to play in many other cities in Italy or even other countries in Europe?
Steve: No, there isn't. Pesaro Urbino is one of the worst places to play heavy metal. There are some bands, but almost no pubs and no audience. Pesaro is still influenced by Rimini (a city about 30 miles north of Pesaro Urbino), the domain of disco music. We played some gigs (fifteen, more or less), but when we played in June of this year (2014), it was the first time after one and a half year's break! We are more inclined to drop playing live and focus more on recording.
MetalMike: Where would you like to play live? Do you have your eyes set on some of the larger European festivals next summer?
Steve: Maybe we will get some better opportunities after our full-length is released next summer. To play in a pub abroad or at a European underground festival would be amazing, of course. We have no specific places or festivals in mind, we just hope to spread our name and receive some good offers. If we could play in a big city, like Milan, I think that would be great as well and would probably be enough for us. My personal dream is to play in Belgium.
MetalMike: You have a video for the song "Scar" that can be easily found on YouTube. What was the experience like filming the video for this song? Is this your first video and do you have plans for more from Symposium of the Tetrarchs?
Steve: It was nice and we still have good memories. It was inside an old cinema in a small and peaceful village in the middle of the Po valley. It was a relaxing experience, even though we were very tired at the end of the shooting day. It was quite a musical holiday, very funny. It's our first video, but there aren't any more planned. The ideas we have had so far are rather weak and then there's the problem of finding the proper song to match them.
MetalMike: There is a lot of symbolism in the video including each band member possessing a horrible facial scar, that even the appearance of a holy man cannot heal, in front of a backdrop flashing images of famous artwork. Can you take us through the "story" of this video and how the imagery is meant to be interpreted?
Steve: I' m very happy you asked this question. When the video was shot, I was deeply impressed by the character of Amfortas, in Wagner's "Parsifal." Amfortas suffers from a wound that can't be healed until a redeemer comes. For a long time I tried to imagine how a simple man could bear such a pain, his thoughts and so on. The meaning of the video is that this plague (and the suffering it holds) is so widespread inside us, inside our minds, that even the most powerful healer or redeemer has to give up. It symbolizes the decay of current times, which has prevailed, and humanity is condemned.
MetalMike: What are your larger plans for Tetrarchate? Do you hope to make this band your career or do you see a future where you balance the band with family/work/school/etc.?
Steve: It would be wonderful to make a career of it, of course, but I think we don't believe that will happen anymore. I' m resigned or, more appropriately, I accept the fact that is something extremely difficult to reach, so I won't be disappointed if it doesn't happen. We have enough stuff written for three full-lengths and our aim is to release them all without suffering too many money problems. It would be great, indeed.
MetalMike: What bands, if they played, say Rome, in the next year would you make sure you had a ticket to see and why?
Steve: I can easily say Metal Church, because that is my favorite band, Void Of Silence, because it would be the last step of their outstanding career and Esoteric, because I' d like to experience their doom metal, which is beyond words.
MetalMike: Thanks for taking some time to let the readers of The Metal Crypt know a bit more about Tetrarchate, Steve, and all the best for the years to come with the band. I'll let you close the interview with anything you think our readers should know that we haven't already covered.
Steve: We all thank you for being interested in us and giving us the chance for an interview. Personally, I thank you for fully catching the sense of our EP and the reasons why we released it. To quote your own words (from my review – Metalmike) "there is nothing original on Symposium of the Tetrarchs but the songwriting is at a level not often heard on a debut EP. I'm not saying Tetrarchate is the next big thing in Thrash but damn if I'm not already anticipating their next effort." That was exactly what I wanted to create and for people to get. Thank you for giving me this satisfaction.
|Other information about Tetrarchate on this site|
|Review: Symposium of the Tetrarchs|
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