Tommy Talamanca is known to most for being the guitarist/keyboardist of the historic death metal band Sadist, (we remind you that the new album will be released May 20th on Agonia Records). In parallel to his activity as a musician, he has been managing for about twenty years the prestigious Nadir Music Studios in Genoa, where he has collaborated, over the years, both as producer/arranger and as sound engineer and session player, with important artists. In 2013 he released his first solo album "Na Zapad", an elegant mix of instrumental rock, progressive and world music. "Atopia" (Nadir Music/Believe) already reviewed here, his new album, featuring singer and vocal coach Gloria Rossi, was released on 21 January.
Here is what Tommy told us about this new album.
Hi Tommy and welcome to Rockers And Other Animals.
First of all, congratulations on the new album, I find it interesting with its exploration of different genres. Your new album "Atopia" was released a few days ago by Nadir Music, an evocative work that ranges from hard rock to new age through prog like your previous album "Na Zapad". Is this way of composing born from the need to let yourself be carried away or is it more a sort of liberating action?
Tommy: In the last two years I have written a lot of music, a lot of it was not suitable for Sadist, but in my opinion it was interesting anyway, and I wanted to propose it.
The variability in "Atopia" is pronounced but each track seems to be a natural progression, and you also have Gloria Rossi on vocals, which undoubtedly enriches the work. From your point of view as a musician, how important do you think a sung track is rather than an entirely musical album?
Tommy: For me there is not much difference between writing music and writing music for a singer. In the end, I just try to write good music. Context makes a difference. If I write music for Sadist, I know there will be a guy who will scream and scream all over the place: this will define my harmonic and melodic choices, but, still, I will want to write a good song!
Is the title "Atopia" to be understood as 'non-place'? Why did you choose this title?
Tommy: the title itself well explains the philosophy underlying this work. From my point of view the musician is a stateless person, a wanderer who travels aimlessly. The composition itself is the journey, and there is no point of arrival.
How was this album born?
Tommy: I wrote most of the album while I was writing the new Sadist album. Although writing two such different albums at the same time may seem very strange, it was very useful for me: if I had a good idea that I couldn't use for one project, it ended up on the other, and vice versa.
There are two Sadist covers, 'Fog' and 'Holy', which are very different from the original versions, why did you choose these two songs?
Tommy: “Fog”, originally on the fourth Sadist album, is one of my favourite Sadist song, even if it is not a very well known song. My intention was to give a second life to a good song that didn't have the success I think it deserved. About “Holy”, from the album “Crust”, it was a great instrumental track and I thought it would be interesting to propose it with the addition of the voice.
"Grace In Heaven' has echoes of the new wave, you are an experimenter and in "Atopia" you give us another taste of your versatility. How do you manage to balance your sophisticated flair with an accessible musicality?
Tommy: I work in a recording studio as an engineer, producer and arranger. Most of the time, I arrange music for pop singers, I'm used to separating the composition phase from the arrangement phase. I consider composition and arrangement to be two very different phases in the field of musical creation.
You are a guitarist, keyboardist, producer, arranger, sound engineer and you manage the Nadir Music Studios for about 20 years. A very respectable career but what is the role in which you are most comfortable, if any in particular?
Tommy: I love my job, and I love to do different things, depending on the project I work on. I believe that if I had to always do the same job without ever changing, I would end up going crazy.
The last question and I can't not ask you about Sadist. You have released the details of the new album "Firescorched", which will be released on May 20th on Agonia Records, can you tell us something about it?
Tommy: “Firescorched” is fast, heavy and aggressive, completely the opposite of my solo album. I think it's one of the most aggressive records we've made in several years now.
Thanking you for this interview, I give you the space to add what you like and what I may not have asked you for.
Tommy: to all Sadist fans who will listen to “Atopia”: don't worry, “Firescorched” will not disappoint you, it's going to be incredibly heavy!