Guitarist and composer Fabrizio La Piana was born in Catania in Italy, but he lives in Amsterdam. The musician has recently completed work on his debut album titled ‘Almond and Coffee,’ and in an interview below he shares what was it like working on this record. He also tells us about his white Suhr stratocaster, gear, growing up in Catania, and more.
Almond and Coffee was recently released. How did it come about?
I wrote some of the songs during the course of time and i have refined the music by playing them with different people/settings. I booked the studio for one day only and my goal was to have the finished drums but things went well enough there for me to decide to keep the material as we playied as much as possible to have something that sounds a bit like a live in the studio. Then I just releaseD it through CDBaby, they would take care of distribution on the Internet but also physical copies if you ask for.
What was the vision that propelled Almond and Coffee and what made this the right time to pursue that vision?
I wrote this album in total freedom, not thinking of trying to please any particular type of audience. I wanted this album to be a picture of who I am and what are my musical tastes and influences at the moment.
What was the creative chemistry for Almond and Coffee like?
Bassist Bernhard Hollinger and drummer Niels Voskuil are well rounded musicians. They learn songs incredibly fast and having a jazz background but being capable of playing in many different styles; they gave an amazing contribution to this album. Playing with them feels very easy and natural and i love the sound they have on their instrument.
Speaking of the album’s creative process, provide some insight into it.
I start by noodling around with the guitar, then if I find a sound or an intro riff that feels interesting to me I try to develop it further by jammng on it. Usually that leeds to a finished song that I write on a sheet paper and bring it to the musicians. When we play it the first time I listen to how they play it and how they feel about it. I am open to their suggestions and I am willing to try different grooves and forms. Once the songs are rehearsed I play them live and record them.
Do you have in plan to promote this music live; is there a tour planned down the road?
At the moment I am working on a couple of promotional gigs here in Amsterdam and I hope in the near future to be able to organize some other shows around. Italy would be nice…
Almond and Coffee is described as a blend of Progressive Rock and Jazz. What is it that in your opinion is necessary to make a record be progressive?
In my view “progressive” is a label that can include a lot of very different syles of music, just like the word “fusion.” When I call something progressive it could be anything in between Led Zeppelin and Dream Theater, and in the same time fusion for me could be Weather Report or Cynic. About my album, I think it’s jazz because of the improvised solos and some harmonies. It’s rock because of the sounds and riffs, but if people want to call it jazz rock or fusion or progressive, it is all fine for me. I don’t care too much about genre labelling. I actually like to cross these borders every time I feel the need to.
I’ve seen on your promo photos that you are playing Suhr guitars. What in particular made you gravitate towards this brand?
I am into strats for a long time, and I have owned many of them. Suhr guitars are generally well balanced all around instruments; they stay in tune pretty well and the white one I have used for this album is my favourite guitar ever.
Tell me about the gear that you used to record this album.
As mentioned, I have used the white Suhr on all songs, a Maxon overdrive pedal and a Fender Hot Rod Deluxe into a Palmer PDI03 to the studio console desk. Reverbs and delys were added later in the mix.
Did growing up in Catania in any way have impact on you to being a musician?
In Catania there are cafes/pubs or events where bands can perform. Back when I was a kid, club owners were pretty open to any style of music. My friends and bandmates back then were into prog metal and we were able to perform our original songs at quite a few events. That has been my first band and have had a huge inpact on me willing to do become a musician.
Visit Fabrizio’s website here where you can order your copy of ‘Almond and Coffee.’