Hanna Tsepesh: Ciao Steve and Onofrio! Thanks a lot for accepting this interview and welcome to THE GATES OF METAL! First off all, can you guys tell to us a little bit about ASHENT history and about the band members?
Onofrio: We’re a six-piece active since 2001, born from an idea of me(guitar player) and my brother Gian (bassplayer). Soon we began to work together with our friend Paolo Torresani (keyboard player) and other guys, motivated to develop a personal style that was original and fresh. After two years of experimentation and some changes of line-up, the first important step was the recording of our first official demo, in 2003, a 4-tracks cd that received excellent ratings by dozens of magazines and web-zines throughout Italy and Europe. Then, after other changes of line-up, many gigs in Italy, we realized that it was the right moment to give to light our first album. Since the beginning of 2005, we stabilized the line-up, with Steve Braun as singer, Davide Buso as drummer and Cristiano Bergamo as second guitar player.
So the actual line up worked together since the beginning of 2005 and untill now, we gave to light 2 full-lengths. Flaws of elation is the first one, recorded at the famous New Sin studio (Vision Divine, Labyrinth, Eldritch)and officially out since the end of 2006, promoted and worldwide distribuited by the independent label Lucretia Records (Time machine, Angra).
During these last months we finished the recordings of our 2nd creature, that will be out during 2009!
Steve: However, I can tell you how i met these guys! One day I was searching on the web on some music site looking for music classifieds and I stumbled on to this site called gigmaster.com and I saw an ad looking for a singer to do an album. After 3 months or so of emails and phone calls I flew over to Italy and offered me the position.
Hanna Tsepesh: At the moment, what is your favorite bands or musicians?
Steve: I like tons of different music. I love everything from Stevie Wonder to Slipknot. Lately, I have been listening to All That Remains,Killswitch Engage, Hoobastank, and old Linkin Park.
Onofrio: I like a lot of music and I usually listen to bands that belong to different scenes, also not so close to heavymetal (from pop-music to black metal) .
Focusing my answer only on the present-days metal scene in order to be concise, and saying only few names I could say: Opeth, Devin Townsend, Pain of Salvation, Nevermore, Tomera, italian Novembre. The last “Dark sun” and the last “Texture” cds are 2 great pieces of music!
And also a bunch of great extreme bands like Behemoth, Origin, Decrepith birth, Septic Flesh, Nile.
Hanna Tsepesh: With wich style you guys define ASHENT?
Onofrio: In my opinion, we play a sort of mix where the most important influences come from prog-music, with many techno-thrash elements and some melodic-death references.
We have no points of contact with the classic power-metal scene from Italy or Germany, because our songs have a heavier and darker attitude.
We love to mix huge riffs, odd tempos, persuasive harmonies and great melodies.
Another important aspect to be underlined is that we’re really focused on the song’s structure: we are always careful to create true songs, with recognizable verses and choruses.
So, the songwriting is the aim of our efforts and only later, we work on the arrangements and on the details of the single instruments.
Steve: We pay a lot of attention to having big melodic hooks and memoriable choruses that people can sing along to.
Hanna Tsepesh: Steve, when did you start to sing and why the singing choice? Any singer inspired you to start singing? By the way, do you have singing class? you have a great voice and you sing with a LOT of feeling and passion, in all the album we can feel that!
Steve: Thanks for your kind comments. I have been singing in church and in choir at school since I was 5 or 6. I didn't take it serious until I was a junior in high school. Since then I have been classically trained and I continue to take lessons to this day.
There have been 2 singer that have influenced me the most. First is Tony Harnell (TNT, Westworld) and secondly is Michael Sweet (Stryper) both have amazing ranges and power yet have such sweet tonality in there lower registers.
Hanna Tsepesh: You are very welcome Steve! Onofrio, when did you start to play guitar? Any guitarrist inspired you to start to play?
Onofrio: I started when I was a teenager( probably 13-14 years ago, I can’t remember exactly), following the common passions that a 14teen guy can have: early Megadeth, early Metallica, Dream theater, and also a lot of nineties death metal bands (Death,Cynic,Atheist,Pestilence)
like a 1million guys out there. Then, I started to increase my inspirations, watching out to follow not only famous guitar-players or metal bands but also more composers and song-writers possible, listening to rock, prog from seventies, fusion and so on.
Hanna Tsepesh: Talking about your album “ Flaws of Elation”, in my honest opinion you have an excellent album here!! All the band for me have a lot of talent, i like a lot the melody and the riffs are fantastic and also the voice is amazing( like a said before)! I must say, that i love the musics “ Mhysteric” and “ Silent Remedy” the melody of this two songs are beautiful! Congratulations for all of ASHENT band you made a great work here! But, for the people who don’t know yet your album can you speak a little bit about it?
Onofrio:Thank you so much for your compliments! We appreciate a lot that you like our songs, and believe me, I think that we won't disappoint you also with the material that will be out in the next future. We are all big listeners of music, and this versatility finds space, in many ways, in our compositions. Flaws of Elation has been thought and composed, with the purpose to have 10 songs of refined prog and great impact with an original mixture of energy, catchy melodies and shredding arrangements!
Steve: Thank you for your compliments. Flaws of Elation is an album that we are all extremely proud of. We have all put a little bit of ourselves both heart and soul in the compositions.
Hanna Tsepesh: Don’t need to thank me i said the truth and i am sure that i will not stay disappointed with the future albums because for me this band will be big in the future! How was to record in studio? All the things were ready? Was difficult for the band to recording all the stuff?
Steve: Recording went quite smoothly I must say. It was a little frustrating for me because I couldn't understand everything that was being talked about because I don't speak Italian very well at all. The guys all speak English but when talking to each other they speak Italian of course. It really was an awesome experience to record there and truly solidified us as a family.
Onofrio: Sincerely, the recording of Flaws of Elation was so calm and relaxed.
We hadn’t any type of problems or drawbacks and in 3 weeks the abum was completely recorded and mixed. First of all, we’re musicians with a good experience.
Besides, everything was well rehearsed before the entering in the studio, using also home – recordings in order to fix in a better way ideas and arrangements.
Hanna Tsepesh: “Flaws Of Elation” is a cool name! Why do you give this name? Any reasons?
Onofrio:Yes, there’s a reason. "Flaws of Elation" it is a technical term used in the slang of the photography art and it means a wrong visualization of an image, caused from a series of problems (to much brightness, mistakes in the printing process and so on). Metaphorically, we want to allude to the wrong realization and development of the human-kind, of the wrong image that men created about themselves, swallowed by the alienation and the consequent loss of awareness and individuality; the perverse and avoided relationship with the death and the folly of the war.
Hanna Tsepesh: That is very interesting!! It was a dificult journey for the band? In Italy do you guys have some kind of support ( labels/festivals/
metal bares to play/etc.)?
Steve: I think the hardest thing for us is that I live in the US. I try to travel to Italy every couple of months but I wish we could be together all the time.
Onofrio: Flaws of elation received an excellent reception , considering reviews, feedback from fans and the amount of the sold copies (especially in Germany and Usa), so we can say to have a good follow-up and an enough good support.
The result has been so good that, the cd is still disposable in the digital version ( on I-tunes for example) and it seems to be still really appreciated also if it’s almost 2 years old!
We had a good support from our label, we did good solid live performances after that the cd came out, even if it is very difficult to play in the big festivals, because they are dominated by the usual great names, and there’s always not so much space for emergent bands like us!
Hanna Tsepesh: At the moment do you guys have concerts? Can you say some dates/places?
Steve: Right now we don't have anything sure set in stone. We are in the middle of negotating with a few labels for our new cd and want to get that tied up before the end of the year but we will keep you posted.
Hanna Tsepesh: Last question, do you like to say anything for the portuguese metalheads out there?
Steve: Please stay up to date on what's happening with us on our myspace page.
Hanna Tsepesh: Thanks a lot for your answers!THE GATES OF METAL wish you all the best with the “Flaws Of Elation” album and good luck for your future gigs!!Hope to see you guys here very soon…
Onofrio: Thank you so much! Stay in tune, because you'll have soon new Ashent's
Steve:Thanks for your support and we Love You All!
Hanna Tsepesh: Don’t need to thank! We are very glad to help ASHENT!
By: Hanna Tsepesh