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Dragon's Cave
Dragon's Cave - Steve AngarthalMusic is an emotional thing and everybody feels it in a different way. But there are a few albums that not only impress you by good songs, they have a lot more to offer, they kind of touch your musical soul. That was the case with ELEKTRO MOTION and therefore it was a strong desire to get some information from mastermind and multi instrumentalist Steve Angarthal who wrote this impressive album.

 U.B., 18.08.2010

We asked...
 Hello Steve, before we start I would like to thank you for taking the time to answer my questions. You just released an Album with your band Dragon's Cave that is called ELEKTRO MOTION. You did all the songwriting, wrote the lyrics and worked as the producer, played all the guitars and most of the keyboards (plus programming) and did the vocals. After such an effort other musicians would have called it: Steve Angarthal`s Dragon's Cave. You are clearly the mastermind behind the album. Are you such a humble person that you did not want your name in big letters on the cover?

Steve: Well you got it quite right! That was my first idea for the name of this project, but it was both a matter of communication and feeling behind it all. Steve Angarthal's Dragon's cave would have been a bit too complicated for 2010 and a band name, taking care of the value of the people around me, instead of a solo artist was my definite choice!

What would you say, is Dragon's Cave a band or a kind of solo project, or perhaps both?

As I was just saying I see it more as a band project although its debut album relies on a kind of self declaration of who am I as an artist…and I see myself like that; quite clear ideas about song writing and production and happy to have other musicians' intuition to make it better!

While I am talking about your name, Steve Angarthal does not sound Italian at all. Is that your real name or do you use an artist's name like Olaf Thorsen from the band Vision Divine? His real name is Magnani by the way.

I'm Italian and this is my artist name actually, but I always felt like a duality going on inside of me and I always felt half Italian and half English…sometimes when I have to put a signature I have to think if it's the artist or the man who's signing….quite weird isn't it?!

ELEKTRO MOTION contains 16 tracks, more than an hour of playtime. You seem to be very generous with your songs. Any comment on that statement?

Yes I am, and I hope that people will realise that, even though in these years we are facing a kind of paralysis on the awareness of the wealth we are able to get with a very little economical effort.

Dragon's Cave and ELEKTRO MOTION, there is a clear contrast between the name of the band and the album. The Dragon a medieval fantasy beast on one side and a motion caused by electricity on the other. Did you choose that contrast as a kind of symbol for your music, very powerful and energetic on "Time Train" or "So bad", very fragile like "Ghost of the Past" and "A Gift from a Dream"?

YES! The duality or dichotomy theme comes back again you see! The name of the band came before, and it was the name I choose for a section of my website which acted as a kind of musical laboratory where I could put whatever song I was happy with no matter of its style. The album name came after all the music was already written and maybe recorded; I wanted a title that could be a kind of key to read the contents on the CD and that key is the alchemy between emotion and electricity that have always been present in my life and in my music, so in the end I came up with ELEKTRO MOTION.

The song titles "Pearls under Water" and "A Gift from a Dream" almost sound like poetry. Do you try to put a poetry element into the music of the "gentle songs"?

I was always in love with poetry especially on what Wordsworth, Keats or Blake did quite a long time ago!.. there's a part of me that gets raptured in a gentle way and that's my acoustical side; a strong contrast with my rock side…again,… heaven and hell…..!

The song "A Gift from a Dream" is performed by one acoustic guitar only, very unusual for a Rock album. You benefit from your classical guitar education. The song is the last one on ELEKTRO MOTION. To me it's like the sunset of a great album. You sure had something in mind to let the album end with a song that has a very moody atmosphere, please tell us.

"A Gift from a Dream" is a kind of warm regard for the listener shedding light on what music is to me: pure and simple as a nylon guitar with its strings vibrating trying to reach for a spiritual dimension that seems difficult to feel in these hi-tech days….

You did record albums with the band Fire Trails. On the second Fire Trails album THIRD MOON you were composer, arranger and played all guitars. Are you a workaholic?

Maybe! The point is that when I am in the game I really want to take care of everything if I'm allowed to: "Third moon" was that kind of situation, so I dug myself in the studio being to first to come in and the last to leave at night!...

Why did you decide to form your own band? What was the main reason, the wish to have all the freedom to write what ever you want?

The main reason was to have a project that could give me the chance to let people know my music, so the solo project was the carrier and the guys of Dragon's cave the people who could support me.

The songs on ELEKTRO MOTION do cover an extremely wide range from a classic acoustic guitar solo to lightning fast shredder tracks. Is that an expression how wide your musical taste is and how far your songwriting abilities go?

The main reason, as I was just saying, is the way I feel when I'm making music; I got my own nuances, likes and dislikes and even though I like to express my self in different ways, I'm not in it for the sake of saying "hey, see, I can play everything!". So the wide span I cover on ELEKTRO MOTION is due to the will to let my music be free without labels or boundaries to worry about.

ELEKTRO MOTION was published by the independent label Asgardh Music. I have the feeling that the album, no matter how good it is, is not receiving as much attention as it should have. Was no one of the big labels interested in the album?

You're touching a delicate string! I tried to check the interest of the main labels releasing rock albums, but the answers I got, didn't satisfy me. Maybe it's because this is a very bad time, for what music biz is concerned: you know mp3s and illegal downloads have taken record labels AND artists on their knees... So, instead of giving my hard work away to someone who didn't care that much about my music, I decided to have my Indie label working on it!

Steve, you studied music and composition. I did an interview with the guitarist Michael Angelo Batio lately and he studied music as well and told me that the reason for his studies was the desire to learn as much as possible about music. What were your reasons for studying music?

Music is a form of expression that can be very natural and free (and this is my rock side), but if you fancy to write a symphony, it could be very hard if your basis are only ear and instinct! You need to know how to handle sounds, instruments and whatever you need to know where you are and where you're going. My dream was to make music in the most deep and solid way I could imagine and that is the way I studied for so long: actually I'm still hungry for knowledge because a symphony is not such a distant dream for me!

Batio seems to be obsessed by music in a positive way. I believe the same could be told about you. Do you agree?

Maybe once I could see myself as a "positive obsessed" musician, but nowadays I'm more relaxed about it and music is no more an obsession to me: I just let the times roll and catch the spirit flowing through my music.

John Miles had that fantastic song called "Music", a song with a blend of Rock and classic. I am sure you know that song. The lyrics in that song go: "To live without my music would be impossible to do." Could you imagine leading a life without music?

Well, to be honest I don't know that song. I share Miles point of view, but I learned to feel good as a man before as a musician…

With your music education do you see yourself as a Rock musician with a classical background?

Definitely! But many jazz musicians that know me say that I'm quite a strange rock musician that knows too much to be a rocker!..

Larsen Premoli who played some of the keyboards and piano ("Ghosts of the Past") on the album has a classical music background as well and he played in Fire Trails so you knew him. Two good reasons to get him to join Dragon's Cave. Do you and Larsen have a lot in common?

First he is a very talented musician and not only as a keyboard player, and second we're friends and have shared many years together so we can interact in a very special way!

Did you ever think about writing some songs that have even more classical elements, songs that go in the direction of Symphonic Metal? For example Deep Purple made a live album CONCERTO FOR GROUP AND ORCHESTRA in 1969. John Lord the keyboard player had a classic background and it was his idea. I am absolutely sure you would come up with some smashing tracks that would blow people's mind. You studied composition and arrangement for classical orchestras. If someone can do it it's you.

Thank you! I actually had this as a project I want to bring to life as soon as possible, And my experience with the "Cordis ensemble" where I played with a string orchestra gave me the chance to begin that path. I already have a lot of music composed for that, but I'm waiting to have someone who will be able to support and manage all the musicians and the stuff required for that…

As I mentioned before, you are a songwriter, musician and a producer. You also have an in depth knowledge of the recording studio technique. Therefore you are in complete control from the very first idea for the song until the end of the recording process. Is it important for you to do as much as you can on your own, to create every song exactly as you had the track in mind?

Yes it is, I know that if I have a vision on a song I am able to give shape to it as I am imaging it, but I also like, when I find someone able, to cooperate and see what different personalities can do together!

In what kind of situations do you have ideas for a new song? Do you need to concentrate hard or do some songs come to your mind naturally?

The main situation is "go with the flow" and that could be the case of "Sunny Sky" for instance, which I wrote as you hear it on the record in a very short time: some other time there's an idea on which I work until I find that sparkle that completes the score and "Drifting on" or "Rendez-vous" could be examples for this.

One of the strongest aspects about ELEKTRO MOTION is your songwriting qualities. Does your musical education help you a great deal?

My recipe is melting knowledge and intuition together! I always considered composing and improvising as the most intriguing aspects of making music. Over the years I tried to absorb the most from every artist whose music told me there was something special in it. It's a never ending process of listening, feeling and analyzing that in the end evolves in my attitude on writing songs.

Another thing that comes to my attention when I listen to ELEKTRO MOTION is a kind of warmth in your music. I cannot put my finger on it but you sound different. When you open a good book you can "read between the lines". Listening to your songs I can "hear between the notes". Even when you play with amazing speed it is always there. Are you aware of that special touch? Do you put more "heart" in your music than other musicians?

I give my self completely to music when I play, and that was always this way! When I play live I sincerely don't care if I play in front of thousands or a few people, when the music starts it's just magic flowing!... The way I'm allowed to be! And when recording time comes I always want that what a listener hears is not just a sequence of tones, but there MUST be something special able to touch your soul inside: sometimes it can be difficult when you have to manage complicated passages, but I love that challenge!

Becoming a good musician means to work hard and to practice a lot for years. One thing you cannot learn is talent. God must have been very generous when he gave you talent. Are you grateful for that or do you think that you are not gifted more than other good musicians and your superior skills are the result of more ambition?

I became aware of my gift slowly in life but I'm definitely grateful to God for this,…I'm just waiting for Lady luck to give a little bit more gasoline to my wallet! know!

Today the situation is very complicated for musicians and in some cases even frustrating. The labels are very shy when new bands want a record deal. They stick to bands with a big name and hardly ever give a new group a chance. Money makes the world go round, is a popular saying. Do you think that it's a real shame that many labels are interested more in making money instead of supporting good bands?

No! If they can't make money, how can musician keep on recording music and make a living through it? I think that the record label monster is a scapegoat that people supporting the net technologies and the mad concept that music has to be free had used. It's true that in these days many record labels are on a downfall, but if you see the difference between the sells of 1986 and 2010 you can also know why everything is stuck! I think that this trend of relying only on established artists is the consequence of this hard time; I can't blame them but I wish that they could take some more risk on new artists as well!

When I saw the cover of ELEKTRO MOTION with that dragon for the first time and noticed that your band comes from Italy I expected a Rhapsody Of Fire clone. To my pleasant surprise Dragon's Cave is different. Don't get me wrong I like Rhapsody Of Fire. What is your point of view on Rhapsody and their guitarist Luca Turilli?

I don't like it that much even though everything they do is high end; honestly I never saw them as something special apart from the fact that they use always a hundred musicians on their record.

Dragon's Cave has lots of power but never lacks a superb melodic quality within the songs. Most other bands cannot blend power with a good melody. Do you concentrate on this aspect when you write the songs?

Music has to reach the listener, take his/her hands and make his/her soul fly: melody is the most powerful thing I know to make this happen!

As a guitarist who did influence you most? Did you listen to Satriani or Vai a lot? Or did you prefer Malmsteen? I believe all of them had some influence when I listen to your album.

My first love was Blackmore, then came Malmsteen and then Satriani and finally Vai. Everyone of them has been a great source of inspiration for me, I enjoyed their music, learned the most I could from their records and I still love to listen to them.

Malmsteen is a fan of the famous German composer Bach. Do you like some of the composers that lived a few hundred years ago?

I was always in love with classical music; especially Renaissance and Baroque periods. So Bach, Telemann , Vivaldi or Mozart had impressed very important fingerprints in my mind and soul with their music: I hope my music could do for other people at least half of what their music did to me!

Since 2000 you are endorsed by Molinelli guitars from Milan. Italy has a long tradition in making string instruments. What makes Molinelli the guitar company you prefer?

They have a very high skill on building guitars and basses, and they also listen to what a musician is expecting from their instruments and they always give life to very special and unique guitars!

On the video for the song "Drifting on" I realised that you use a guitar with 24 frets and a scalloped fretboard like the Fender Malmsteen Signature. The scalloped fretboard has less friction for vibratos and bendings but needs a careful touch. Too much pressure with the finger and the string goes out of tune. Why did you choose such a guitar? Was it made especially for you? Would you like to have a Steve Angarthal Signature guitar or perhaps you already have one?

The reason why I choose that kind of instrument is that is dangerous and able to give a very wide range of expression in terms of intonation and vibration: like riding a wild horse! The guitar I use is actually a Steve Angarthal Signature guitar made by Molinelli for Loud guitars.

Steve, beside all the work that I mentioned above you also have the job as a teacher in a school for audio engineering. Could you please tell us in some details what you teach?

I'm into teaching from a long time. I teached audio engineering at SAE in Milan between 96 and 2000. After that experience I concentrated on guitar and became a guitar teacher in two important schools here in Milan; "Rock TV school" and "BDM". Teaching to me is a very pleasing experience and all my pupils are happy with the work we do together!

Well, that's all for now Steve. Thank you for your patience and most of all for an album that is amazing. I wish you good luck and all the success you deserve.

It's been a pleasure and thanks to you and your kind attention!

¬ Dragon's Cave
¬ 18.08.2010 deu | eng

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