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An Interview with Alessandro Papotto of Periferia Del Mondo
by Carsten Busch

Carsten> Can you tell us something about the history of Periferia Del Mondo: how did  the band get together, where did the musicians come from etc.?

Alessandro> The first idea began in 1996 and was called “Balance” to mean our first intention to make a music between pop and no-business rock.. I’m a classic musician with a few experience of progressive rock with my former group Nodo Gordiano (cover-band of King Crimson) where I sang and played saxophones, flute and keyboards. Bass player Claudio Braico is a noble soul lost in music of Cream and Le Orme while guitar player Max G.B. Tommasi loves classic rock and progressive, but also likes to listen to new stuff like Dream Theatre. We have been  playing rock progressive songs of Genesis, Yes, PFM (and we also tried some Gentle Giant too, obtaining terrible results) but we also wrote about ten rock songs recorded in a demo with my friend drummer Tony Zito of Nodo Gordiano. This demo-recording was presented with the new name of the band, “Periferia Del Mondo” (Suburbs Of the World), which comes from the opinion we have of our country, Italy. A country where a musician is too rarely seen as a professional who only wants to communicate something with his playing.
Periferia Del Mondo made his first out in the winter of 1997, in a small club in Ciampino    (Rome). In many music clubs of Rome we played our songs like “Leave your daily”, “The ghost in the shell”, “In ogni luogo, in ogni tempo” and some of  PFM.
It was very difficult for me to play all those instruments and sing too, so we looked for a good keyboards player and we found Bruno Vegliante. Bruno came along with new sounds (maybe it would be more correct to say ancient sounds, given his vintage iper-setup). This provoked a change in our composing; new songs were written and recorded, such as “L’Infedele”,       “Brand-Y” and “Meltèmi”. All of them are influenced by the new line-up in their structure and sounds, moving to a much progressive style.
During summer 1999 we played at the IV award “Demetrio Stratos Tribute”, in Reggio Emilia. We awarded the second prize playing “L’infedele”, “Meltèmi”, “Brand-Y” and “Arbeit Macht Frei” as an omage to AREA. The evening was recorded, and a CD produced and distributed by Mellow Records of Milano: “Omaggio a Demetrio Stratos” (Mellow Records MMP 377).
In the spring 2000 our first album was issued: “In ogni luogo, in ogni tempo” (Comet/Akarma Records AK 3001). It was recorded both on CD and LP, produced and distributed by Comet/Akarma Records of La Spezia thanks to Giorgio and Enrico Mangora.
In this time the band acquires a new musician, the violin player Alberto D’Annibale, another friend of mine coming from symphonic orchestra. Thanks to his sensitivity and classical technique, he completed the band in the best way.

Carsten> Periferia Del Mondo seems to be the first 'living' (i.e. still active) band on the fantastic Akarma label - specialised in excellent reissues. I think, however, that your music fits in perfectly with the rest of their catalogue. How did you get in contact with Akarma and how are things working out for you?

Alessandro> We have been looking for a serious label for a long time, but we only had to deal with “little labels with little working intentions”. A Bruno’s friend with a CD store near Rome Giorgio Meloni told us about a serious label specialised in seventies bands reissues. Producer Giorgio Mangora immediately send to me some reissues of Area, Oregon and others, so we saw that the artwork of this label was very good. Giorgio was really happy to publish our material because he felt in it the passion of seventies prog-rock bands. We are happy too because Giorgio and his brother Enrico didn’t make problems about our music and accepted our songs as we had recorded them. Then the way of working of Comet/Akarma was really active with national and international distribution and promotion.

Carsten> Your album is housed in a wonderful coverpainting. Can you tell us about the painting, the artist and thoughts behind it?

Alessandro> The idea of “Città morta” (Dead city), the picture of russian Eugene Berman (St. Petersburg 1899 – Rome 1972), is an idea of Giorgio Mangora, who sent to me a copy of the original painting. This painter had designed theatre sets for operas and ballets and he was already well known for his sources like the Italian Renaissance (see the paints “Rome”, “Venice”, “Bologne”) and visionary images (the most known is “Medusa”). We liked so much “Città Morta” because its desolate landscape of imperial ruins seems like a world’s outskirt, a “periferia del mondo scenery”. Again we like the idea to use a serious painting for the album cover: Tony and I had already used the painting Giorgio De Chirico’s “Canto d’amore” (Love song) for the cover of  Nodo Gordiano. Last, there is a sentence of Berman that fits to us too, even if in another context: “It’s impossible to classify me in a well-defined category, Neo-Romantic, Neo-Classicist, Surrealist; all these appellations are at the same time true and false. Since Art is made of a thousand possibilities and contradictions, one ought to abstain from the easy and general tendency to catalogue” - Eugene Berman.
 
Carsten> How would you describe your music and what inspirations and influences?

Alessandro> As I said the music of Periferia Del Mondo is a cocktail of different styles: progressive, psychedelic, funky, jazz rock, hard rock and, in some cases pop rock too.                  It represents an important aspect of our work because every member of the band contributes to the writing and arrangements. We’re obviously influenced first by progressive monsters like King Crimson, Yes, Genesis, Gentle Giant, Dream Theatre, Kansas and also Banco, PFM, Area and Arti & Mestieri. But we never want to copy their music, we only want to learn their lesson and use it to make songs with good melodic features and non banal arrangements.

Carsten> You are a member of Banco, next to being in Periferia Del Mondo - also the CD features some other Banco members. How is the relation between these bands an where are your priorities?

Alessandro> I’ve played with Rodolfo Maltese and his INDACO in 1998. Then Rodolfo, Francesco Di Giacomo e Vittorio Nocenzi of BANCO wrote a comment for my first group Nodo Gordiano. Later we played together for the Italian television in 1999. In the same year I asked to Francesco and Rodolfo to sing and play on my first album with Periferia Del Mondo “In ogni luogo, in ogni tempo” and they asked to me to play my wind instruments with BANCO. So we were really proud to record our album’s first song "L'Infedele” featuring of the lead voice and the lead guitar of Banco del Mutuo Soccorso. Proving a kind of friendship that goes beyond common professional interests, Francesco and Rudy also helped us during the mixing, and they took part as special guests in the concert of presentation of our new album at Memphis Belle in Roma on April 19, 2000. During that concert we could not avoid some tributes to the big bands of the 70’s: we played not only "La Conquista della Posizione Eretta" of BANCO, but also "Arbeit Macht Frei" of AREA with Luca Sapio, their new singer.
I’m also very proud to play with BANCO, in these two years I make a lot of gigs all around the world with them: in California, in Mexico, in Brazil, in Pennsylvania, in Panama and of course in Italy. I’m first happy because I’m playing with a group that I love since I was sixteen, one of the best progressive rock group bands to me. The relation between BANCO and Periferia Del Mondo is really good: in fact our second album (is going to be out in march 2002) will feature the big “keys man” Vittorio Nocenzi, who play a keyboards solo on a song together with Mauro Pagani of PFM. For me the work with BANCO is really important but I want also make something good with my friends and my music in Periferia Del Mondo. Then is not very difficult carry on both these activities and others I have, like a jazz duo with guitarist Massimo Alviti, a classic trio with Alberto D’Annibale of PDM, my music schools in Rome, etc.

Carsten> How were the reactions on the album so far? I haven't read any reviews in prog magazines so far (beats me why - regarding the quality of the material)!

Alessandro> We know that our first album have good reviews in the entire world. Italian prog-magazines Arlequins, Paperlate MusicBox and Wonderous Stories say only good words for us but also Mexican Eufonia, French Prog-résiste, English Freak Emporium, American Laser’s Edge, Background Magazine of course and many others. Unfortunately all of them classify our music in the way they most like, and try to compare us to several rock bands of the seventies. We hope that our second album will be seen as a more personal.

Carsten> Future work? Possibilities to see Periferia Del Mondo live?

Alessandro> As I said we are now recording our second album, once again supported by Giorgio and Enrico Mangora of Comet/Akarma Records. We think it will contain 11 or 12 tracks, with many different styles, and really different also from our first work. Actually, it is going to be more funky and jazz-rock, with a lot of collaborations from the classic world also, like a strings quartet or lyrical voices.  Special guests of this new album that will probably be released in March 2002 are Mauro Pagani of PFM (and his violin), Vittorio Nocenzi of BANCO (and his keyboards), Alessandro Corsi of Balletto di Bronzo (and his bass) and Luca Sapio with his voice remembering Demetrio Stratos. We hope to do a great work. We’re working to contracts gigs in Italy to promote our new songs while about abroad gigs we are ready to accept every kind of proposals. Thank you of all from all members of Periferia Del Mondo.

Rome 21 October 2001