sexta-feira, 21 de abril de 2023

Interview: Federica "Sister" De Boni (White Skull)


Founded in Vicenza, Italy, in the late 80's, White Skull has more than three decades dedicated to Heavy Metal, releasing eleven studio albums, the most recent being "Metal Never Rusts" (2022), which was composed during the period in which they até writing their biography, "The Soul of the Skull", having their songs inspired by the band's history and the love of Metal.  (Versão em português)

To talk a little about the book, the new album and the history of White Skull, we spoke with The front-woman Federica "Sister" De Boni, who although was out of the band for a period (, was together with guitarist and founder Tony Fontò in the first years of the group, recording great albums like "Tales From the North" (99), released worldwide by Nuclear Blast.

Well, put the album to play, check the interview below and feel the Soul of The Skull!

RtM: Hello Federica, thank you for your kindness in granting us this interview for Brazil. Let's start talking about the new album, of course, "Metal Never Rusts", which ended up being composed during the pandemic and inspired by the book about the band that was being written. I mean, after albums talking about Nordic peoples, Rome, Egypt, this one talks about the band and Your love for Metal music.

Federica Sister: As you mentioned already the album is inspired by the book “The Soul of the Skull” which is the recently published band biography. As you can imagine we summarized many years of music and personal backgrounds in some 400 pages.

At the same time the new album was in the pipeline. I thought it would have been perfect to put in lyrics our story to complement the book and express in music our feelings about what has become the driver of our lives.

Right now the book is only available in Italian therefore the album allows all our fans to know about White Skull and our story the way we tell it best: in music.

Each song has several themes threaded in it. That´s how I like to write my songs. We might go into more details further down this interview.

RtM: Well, the title track already shows that the listener will have a great Heavy Metal album to listen, and with the White Skull trademarks. An epic track! Metal never rusts for those who live the style with soul and heart, right? That's what I felt when I heard the song. Tell us more about the title track.

FS: Metal Never Rusts is an open hearted confession and at the same time the celebration of going thru life with the mindset of a Metalhead. I wanted to describe how Metal music is the source of everyday energy, the painkiller when I need one and the person I am. 

RtM: And about the cover art, believe that the warrior on the cover is you, since the album is inspired by the band's history and you are the frontwoman, and when talking about White Skull the first person that comes to mind for the vast majority is you.

FS: Yes, correct. This art cover was really put together last minute with the cover artist.  Once we aggred my warrior image was being put on the front cover I requested individual portraits of my band members to be also added to the booklet.

RtM: There are Very good Voice arrangements, great choruses, i think The voices received an extra Care on this album. I believe you had One of Your best performances.

FS: Thank you Carlos. This time I decided to be direct and maybe less melodic than the previous albums. This in line with the music and the overall album theme. We brought back some of the big choruses we used in "Tales from the North" and Public glory, secret agony however, this time the main voice keeps its identity and definition. 

I am happy with the overall result of the voice arrangements even though, when I listen to the album I can always think of something else I could have recorded. But I guess that is the thing of every musician.

RtM: And about the book? Are there already contacts for launches in other countries?

FS: At this time it will be available in English language. A professional translation would require quite a budget and time we currently don´t have.

RtM: Speaking a little about the songs, "Pay to Play" I imagine that you have been through and also know bands that have gone through situations where opportunities were offered, but at a cost. The citation of the main theme of the movie "Godfather" I think it shows what you think about these situations.

FS: As you noticed the lyrics are pretty straight forward and clearly describing what the typical situation would be. The condemnation is also very clear. Bands should get on the stage for merit but that´s simply not the way this show business works (once known as music business). So bands let´s just write music and watch out for the wolves out there. 

RtM: "Skull on The Closet" is really cool, fast Heavy Metal with melody and great choirs. Tell us a little more about it, and if sometimes it's really better to leave the skulls on The Closet?

FS: "Skull in the Closet" has several topics threaded into the lyrics. First one is TRUST. Our band has gone thru several challenges throughout the years and trust plays a big role in the relationship between the members. Second is SECRETS: who doesn´t have one? And should it be known and by who? Again, sometimes secrets shall just stay in the closet!

Third is CONSPIRACY by a third party. This is actually a story we did not include in the book but I had fun writing the video story with this one in mind! I also added the concept of ETERNITY. In the video the band members are stolen from the world of the living to be forever trapped in this paranormal closet…forever!!!!

RtM: We have a moment of more calm with "Weathering The Storm", which i thought was Chris Boltendahl as a guest on the vocal duet when i have heard it for the first time. Tell us about this song and about the duet.

FS: Chris is actually only singing in duet in Scary Quiet. In Weathering the Storm, I sing with Tony, Valentino and Jo. The song describes the bond within the band members.

RtM: One of my favorites is "Scary Quiet", with its striking riff and chorus, including grandiose choirs. Tell me more about It and the lyrics.

FS: "Scary Quiet" is about the Pandemic and the “silence” that followed up. Caged up within the walls of our houses we missed our loud and powerful music. 

While mixing the album Chris Boltendahl offered to participate to a song and he picked this one. We are really grateful for Chris friendship and co-production of this album. 

RtM: About the partnership with Boltendahl, it has been going on for a long time, with him producing "Tales from The North", and also had an influence on the closing of the contract with the label ROAR! Tell us more about these partnerships, with Boltendahl, and this most recent one with ROAR! which I believe has been very positive, with good publicity, production of very cool videos.

FS: Indeed, Tony has maintained a close contact with Chris throughout the years. Lately this lead to the contract with the label ROAR. We were very much looking for a label with an international presence and are really pleased to see how it is still growing and recruiting excellent bands.

RtM: I got to know the band through the album "Tales from The North", and it and "Public Glory, Secret Agony" I believe were the works that took White Skull to another level and to a larger audience. Tell us a little about how important these two albums are to you.

FS: "Tales from the North" brought us to Nuclear Blast. Back then this was the Olympus of Metal.

With such visibility our band was known in many countries. Soon after we released "Public Glory Secret Agony", but this time under Udo Dirkschneider label.

Those were indeed the years when White Skull hit the highest success. 

RtM: I believe that this period was quite remarkable for you in terms of recognition, opportunities for concerts and festivals. Tell us about that period and what facts you consider most remarkable.

FS: We were constantly rehearsing, performing and writing new songs. We toured with Grave Digger and participated in big festivals. It didn't last long for me as I decided to leave no long after the release of PGSA. Actually the band enjoyed the success of those albums for quite a while. Well, to be true, I guess White Skull is still recognized and measured against those albums to these days. 

RtM: You had to part ways with White Skull in 2000, it must have been hard to leave the band, at a time coming off two highly praised albums. The band continued, but many fans missed Your voice and presence fronting White Skull.
FS: It came to a point where I could not keep up with everything. Work, family and the band. All very demanding. We had two great albums but the results were not up to my expectations or where I wished for a better say. Some disagreements with the band created some distance between us and helped my decision to go. I did like Gus' voice and singing style however I do understand the feeling of a fan.   

RtM: How was life in the USA, you lived in Georgia, didn't you? Was it difficult to adapt? What things did you miss the most?
FS: Yes, I lived in Georgia USA for almost seven years. Life was different but good. Not much metal scene though! I was living in the south of the country with lots of space around me. I loved the nature but in the long term I really felt the solitude and missed writing music. 

RtM: A few years later you returned to Italy and the band. Tell us how that resumption was, and about the composition of the "Under This Flag" album. I think that with the partnership of years with Tony Fontò, it must have flowed naturally Your Return to activities with The Band.
FS: I was making arrangements for my return to Italy when I received an email informing me that White Skull singer had left. The band was looking for a new singer and It would have taken many months before I actually would have returned to Italy.

Tony and me had some conversations and figured out a way to work on the new album from the distance. So we wrote the music and the lyrics of Under this Flag. Upon my return we were ready to record and I was back behind the microphone.  

RtM: How was the return to the stage? During the period in the USA, did you manage to do something related to music?
FS: While in the States I did not have any music project. After ten years I thought it would have been hard to be on stage but it wasn´t as bad as I thought. For sure I needed to practice to have my voice back in shape. These screams are not as easy as they sound.

RtM: And talking more about your personal preferences, tell us how your beginning in music was, who were your main influences and encouragers. How was your first experience with a band and on stage?
FS: I started to play in a band when I was fifteen. We were playing cover songs and writing some ourselves. My first idols were Blackie Lawless, Alice Cooper, Ronnie James Dio and Dee Snider. 
On stage it is always scary. Oh well at least the first song is until the adrenaline kicks in. I had my first gig in front of my town people. Lots of friends there and actually that was when one member of White Skull spotted me and later asked me to go for a trial with them.

RtM: Besides Metal, is there any other musical style that you like to listen to? Some songs and artists that might surprise us?
FS: I have a wide spectrum of music preferences. It goes from Black Metal to Industrial Metal. From Michael Jackson to Andrea Bocelli. But bottom line I appreciate great voices and good songs. 
Music shall not be subject of prejudice. 

RtM: Federica, thanks for The interview, once again congratulations for the album, we hope to see you on the road!
FS: Thank you all for the nice chat and enjoy our new album "Metal never Rusts"

Interview by: Carlos Garcia
Photos: White Skull archives

White Skull is:
Federica "Sister" De Boni - Vocals
Tony "Mad" Fontò - Guitars

Valentino Francavilla – Lead Guitar

Alexandros Muscio – Keyboards

Jo Raddi – Bass

Alex Mantiero – Drums

White Skull Linktree

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