New romanticism, neofolk and a shade of jazzy rockin’ tunes introduced us to Grave Closure’s music. An Italian/UK duo that made its first release earlier this year, Luca Ascari and David Antony Rogers looked carefully into their crafts and offered us a complete and ambitious release of 13 tracks. An electronic experimentalist (Luca) and a poet/ singer/song writer (David) put their coordinates to meet at one point, the Noir Acoustic Neo Folk edge. This is what they explained to us when we asked them about a few things. Enjoy!
How did it all start with Grave Closure, and what are the duties of each member in the band?
David Antony Rogers: We contacted each other via a music website early 2015 and Luca sent me 4 instrumentals. I enjoyed the challenge of writing a song around an instrumental and came up with our 1st song ‘My Pity Lover’. After that we both agreed to do an album, since we both liked the sound we had together. Luca does the Instrumental and I write the song and sing it. It’s a format that works.
Luca Ascari: I agree with David, just adding that in addition to singing and writing songs, David, being a songwriter, a composer and a poet, often adds his instruments or effects to our songs. Generally, as The X Artist name I played many styles of music (Electronic, Industrial, Dark, Orchestral /Noise) etc. —often with female vocalists. My last idea was to make a different project with male singing that included many different styles to match the important vocalist that I found in David.
Grave Closure have recently released their first LP, ‘Lenses’. But what about all that led to this? Can you give us a short account of your career in music so far?
David Antony Rogers: Before we contacted I was writing songs and would put them up online for free download. I had lost faith in the music industry and had given up playing live many years ago. But music is part of me and this gave me some expression. Working with Luca has helped me find focus.
Luca Ascari: Thank you, David for the kind words. As I said before, music is a part of me, I started playing guitar at The Academy Jazz High School at the age of 14. Then I started to learn and play other instruments. My career is very long. Shortly, in the ‘80s I started with bands playing the new sound of the rising New Wave with many live shows. In 2000, I played live with other bands (Brazil Tribal Music, Chillout). Then, I created my recording studio where my projects and albums are born with the collaboration of a team of musicians from many parts of the world who often collaborated in my project as The X. A year ago, I wrote a contemporary dark opera, (screenplay, music, background video and direction by me) that was played in various Italian theaters. Then, in 2015, we made Grave Closure.
‘Lenses’ is a very well-arranged album in which one can detect many different elements (neofolk-ambient-dark wave-shoegazing indie-jazzy tunes). How do you manage to put all your ideas together? What is the composing procedure you follow?
David Antony Rogers: When Luca sends me an instrumental I will construct and edit a song as I record. This process of song writing enables me to allow the song to grow and develop within the instrumental, as opposed to laying an already constructed song on top. I then send Luca my demo, the separate vocals and any additions I might have made. Then he does the editing and the final arrangement to produce the master.
Luca Ascari: I confirm what David says. As far as inspiration is concerned, I’m a musicologist, an expert on music from Classical, Jazz, Progressive, Minimal etc., to contemporary music. I read many music magazines and I listen to and download a lot of new music. So, it becomes easy to have an inspiration to make a new song with contemporary and ‘old’ sounds.
We listen to various instruments and channels in your music but the band consists of only two members. Do you work on it alone (using DAW’s and midis) or do you host guest musicians in the studio?
David Antony Rogers: I will add some sequences of my acoustic guitar, banjo and electric guitar, ukulele. If I wish to add trumpet, orchestra strings or grand piano I tend to use a computer program for that and pick the individual notes and chords out as part of the creative process. In short, I initially I use a Boss-BR-900 8 track home recording studio to create my first demo. I will then transfer to the computer for editing.
Luca Ascari: At present, we don’t need guest musicians in the studio. Maybe soon we’ll have the help of a musician from my team from UK for a couple of new songs. I think with David we are very close and we have a good musical understanding helping us to make the songs better.
How would you describe your art and where do your influences come from?
David Antony Rogers: My art is when something feels right, seems natural and familiar, but has never existed before. Influences? To be myself, as much as possible, is hard enough with so many influences around. I know I sound like David Bowie; I put that down to having a similar accent.
Luca Ascari: As I said before, my music influence is derived from my listening. It is not a song or a loop that gives me the start for new track; it’s an inspiration that I feel inside me not easy to describe. And it’s only mine and David’s. I have not yet found an album similar to Grave Closure in music and music culture. Many artists often follow the same line, not different inspirations. I can listen to a suite by Rachmaninov and find some notes that give me the inspiration to start a new song.
Grave Closure is a gothic name, how did you decide on it, and where does inspiration come from as far as lyrics are concerned?
David Antony Rogers: That’s me. We had tried so many names and in final desperation I tried an online anagram program. It was not a true anagram of our names, but the name Grave Closure popped up and I thought, hey that’s good. At least it did not suggest that we are a rock band but I am not too sure if we are Gothic either. For me, Lucas’s instrumentals are operatic and avant garde, theatrical. This inspires me to write emotive passionate songs on subjects related to the tragic side of the human experience. It is of no coincidence that the song ‘Nothing’ was inspired by a funeral I attended for my father in law. This early song seemed to set precedence in doing songs about death. A new constellation was about my rabbit that died around that time too.
Luca Ascari: The choice of name is David’s. Using anagrams he found a different band name also easy to remember. As you said, it can sound like a name of a Gothic band but sometimes create songs that remind this style. However, our songs talk about real life and its problems; they don’t talk about dark fantasy and bloody monsters, but situations where each of us can be found inside.
‘Lenses’ includes 13 tracks, a pretty ambitious work that needs to be spread. How are you going to promote it?
David Antony Rogers: I think Luca can answer that better than I can. I assumed that a 13-track album was a generous album, especially as it is cheaper to buy as a whole than the individual tracks. I think we actually did 15 tracks and edited it down to 13 and that’s why the 13 tracks are there.
Luca Ascari: We really believe in ‘Lenses’ because it’s an ambitious and different project. I agree with David that it is better to buy the whole album rather than the individual tracks so as to understand better the meaning of it. About promotion, we’re working on it. Other magazines have written interesting reviews about us. We promote on the web: on Facebook, in many music groups, on YouTube, etc., but our true intent is looking for a serious label to produce and sell our music.
Do you feel better working on stage or in the comfort and safety of a studio?
David Antony Rogers: I prefer working from studio. I do not think we are a live band. We live in two different countries and send music to each other via the net. Both Luca and I have played live in the past, we have the experience. I would like to explore music further with GC as it is. One day I would like to do a Chill Out album with atmospheric deep and poetic lyrics. No doubt that with CG it will be different. I also want to explore the concept of ‘Listenable’.
Luca Ascari: As I said, years ago I played many times on stage. I understand the comfort and safety of a studio, but talking about the stage, I have ideas that are different from David’s. Sure, we live in two different countries, but I know many professional musicians in the UK and Italy who certainly could be part of the band for a live show. Then I could go to the UK to prepare and try the songs together for the concert soundcheck, etc. Also, in Italy, it is possible to play on stage in underground places. Anyway, working in a studio is quieter, but you don’t feel the adrenaline of working on stage. Attending a concert and listening to an album of a band like ours are two very different emotions.
Can you share with us your current playlists?
David Antony Rogers: The last albums that I bought and listening to in my vehicle are Beirut album ‘No No No’, and Mutual Benefit album ‘Love’s Crushing Diamond’.
Luca Ascari: Talking by playlist to now I really love Rome from Belgium (‘Flower From Exile’), Scott Walker + Sunn O))) (‘Soused’), Jozef Van Wissem & Jim Jarmusch (‘The Mystery Of Heaven’), Chelsea Wolfe (‘Abyss’), Heroin And Your Veins, Anna Calvi (‘Strange Weather’), The Brian Jonestown Massacre…
What about the band’s future plans?
David Antony Rogers: We are in the process of making a second album. There is also a new video coming out called ‘Depression’.
Luca Ascari: Yes, we are in the process of making a second album and the video for ‘Depression’ is ready to be released.
Thank you very much for the interview, you can add anything you like…
David Antony Rogers: Thank you for the interview, there have been some really good questions and it has been a pleasure.
Luca Ascari: Many thanks for this interesting interview!