It’s the end of an era. Rhapsody, the band for lovers of power metal, swords and sorcery, calls it quits. They don’t just stop though, they’ll come to say bye to everyone in person with a final grand tour.
During their tour, they are visiting Eindhoven for one of these shows. I had the rare opportunity to ask Fabio Lione, lead singer of the band for 20 years, about this final tour, 20 years of Rhapsody and obviously about recording with Sir Christopher Lee (Gandalf and Rhapsody, awesome!).
For me, it all started with ‘Power of the Dragonflame’. The combination of epic metal with a high pace and the drama of grand opera was already much to take in, but add to that the high fantasy themes! It resonated with my love for fantasy and never did I really get the same rush from bands in this genre as from Rhapsody. Maybe younger bands like Twilight Force will take up that torch. But first, we get to say bye. And I got to ask Fabio Lione about all that.
You’re about to embark on the next part of your farewell tour. Any mixed feelings after spending half your life singing your heart out in Rhapsody to leave this all behind?
Well, of course, I have mixed feelings regarding that.. I mean..from one side I’m really happy to celebrate this 20 years of history of the band with the original members and everything is going great between us, with the fans, venues, promoters, managers etc..From the other side we know that this is a Farewell tour and so it will come to an end…
But I’m happy, proud and motivated. This is exactly what the band has to do now. Everyone in the band is feeling great and me and Luca… Well, we want to “close” this chapter in our life ’cause we feel is the right moment to do it. We are ready to create new things and we are sure we both have new challenges to face…hehe…
When iconic bands get together again for one last time, it’s usually after a period of time. You’ve decided though to simply end Rhapsody with a bang. I read elsewhere that talks took place over a year to get things together. It’s a wonderful way to end, but can you take us through how this all came together like this?
We all knew that was an important moment in the history of the band. We had to celebrate 20 years of band history somehow. My relationship with the Rhapsody of Fire members and management was comin’ to an end due to different views we had and we talked a lot regarding this with all the original member and our managers. Not so easy, but after 1 year we were able to manage and make it!!!
So..finally we decided to do it. We received many offers from promoters and in general, the fans showed us that They wanted this!
And you know…the fans are the boss!!! hahaha!
With you having announced your departure and Luca Turilli having left a few years earlier, was there ever a point where you would have considered this impossible? As in, could this have gone differently?
Honestly 6/7 years ago we couldn’t really think that something like this could happen. Everyone walked his “own path”, made a choice and had new great experiences. I’m sure without some troubles we had, internal discussions, legal issues and so on…
Well, things could have been different but I have to say that today I’m really happy that we had all this probably, because we are more wise, stronger and motivated and the relationship between us is fantastic. I can’t really imagine a better way to close this chapter in our life.
You’ve personally always been prolifically active in various side projects, while a part of Rhapsody. You’ve done so much different styles, from Eurobeat to almost operatic projects. Does it make it easier to end something that has been such a huge part of your life because of that? Which projects do you have in mind to continue or to pick up after the final show of this tour?
Not really..in this case we both ( me and Luca) have decided to end this chapter in our life after many years..
This has nothing to do with other side projects or collaborations.
At the moment I have a new great record with the band Angra to promote. Then, as you may know, I have done a record with the Luca Turilli’s Rhapsody singer Alessandro Conti to make clear for the fans that we are friends and we have no problem at all between us. I also have to work on the new Eternal Idol record, both last 2 projects are under Frontiers Records…
Thinkin’ about doing something new with The Vision Divine guys and many other ideas in mind…
You’re playing a show in Eindhoven, which is the main reason I’m asking you these questions now. Was that a location you guys hand-picked or did it just come up? Do you have any special affinity or connection to Eindhoven?
Well, of course, we have someone of our “Team” that lives close to this place..hehe..so probably this has influenced the thing..
Then we had to play in the Netherlands and especially in Eindhoven ’cause we like the place and we always had great reactions from the fans there and we had some good cd sales there!!!
Do you guys have anything special lined-up for these last live shows? Particular songs or maybe special guests?
Of course, we have some “special songs” added to the set-list, but I don’t want now to ruin the surprise, hahaha. I think we will play a good part of both Symphony of Enchanted Lands and Power of the Dragonflame records and we are thinkin’ about some guests at the moment..effects and some surprises on stage!
For me, Rhapsody really hit home with ‘Power of the Dragonflame’, since it was out when I started listening to this music… Nothing quite had that epic sound and I never really managed to find any band that came close to Rhapsody (recently I found Twilight Force impressive though). What do you think, made you guys stand out for many listeners in the realm of power metal?
The general reaction when Power of the Dragonflame was absolutely great! For sure is one of the most important records we have done, I agree with you. Personally, I think ‘Symphony’ was our first big “hit” in the realm of power metal music. Of course, I have to mention the unique ‘Legendary Tales’ and all the other works we have done, with a special mention also for ‘The Frozen Tears of Angels’ and ‘Symphony part 2’.
Anyway thanks for what you are saying! I also think the band Rhapsody created and represents something unique and a very special band for this kind of music.
An added value to me was the fantasy elements in the lyrics of Rhapsody, which completely match with the sound. Its been clear that Luca Turilli has had a big hand in that, but even after he left these themes kept popping up. Where did you guys draw these influences from?
As you said the “fantasy” elements in the lyrics are a big part of the Rhapsody main concept, idea and essence and this matches perfectly with the sound of the band! Luca was the main guy behind this, the Saga and most of the lyrics we had in the past. I
also wrote few lyrics in the past for the band and I wrote all lyrics regarding the last two Rhapsody of Fire records thinking about the message we always wanted to give to our fans and these “fantasy” elements that are really connected with the music.
In the end, I think its something natural for us to think about these topics and write this way for the band. The original main band Rhapsody is extremely connected with fantasy elements as probably we are fascinated by stories, movies, video games or legends.
After 20 years, what memories or moments do you look back upon most fondly and what would you most like people to remember Rhapsody for?
Mmm..not so easy to answer. Hahaha! I’ll make a simple list of events that I think are important for the band.
- Reactions after the Legendary Tales record release
- First headliner tour of the band
- Real orchestra parts in the songs
- Positive messages that we wanted to communicate to our fans through our lyrics
- Rhapsody in the Italian charts for the first time
- Collaboration with Sir Christopher Lee
- The Frozen Tears of Angels record and Tour!!! Amazing time…
- First time in Japan and China and Latin America and well..everywhere!
- Every “cheesy” videoclip we made! Hahaha…
- This Last Final Big Tour we are making! Because we are having really a great great time and we would like to thanks all our fans for that!!!
I want to ask you one specific thing: what was it like to record together with Christopher Lee? I mean, that was a match made in power-metal-heaven.
Was absolutely a dream. I mean, something unrepeatable and extraordinary. This mas was a legend, he had a very good sense of humor, he spoke 9 languages perfectly! I remember very well that I was talking with him in Italian and I was actually surprised at how good his Italian was…
Then in the studio, we had some “Great” and “Funny” time! Mr. Lee telling me “why I do I have to use these things ( headphones) to sing!? I just sing in the air, in the room and you can take the sound!” It was a great job for me, to let him understand the right tone, the right time for the song etcetera. Also recording him when he had the right breath while he was singing. I want you to remember that I was recording and singing with him when he was 84!!! One of the best experiences of my life indeed…
Will your show in Madrid really be the last for Rhapsody?
I think so. I mean, at the moment we don’t have in mind to continue and we don’t have more shows programmed.
There’s this one question, that I have been asking bands from around the globe for a long time and I really hope you will answer it too: If you had to describe Rhapsody as a dish, a type of food if you will, what would it be and why?
Hahaha!!! That’s fantastic! I really like this. Hm… I think a “four seasons pizza” because you have all in one. Various types of food and things in the same pizza!
Like Rhapsody’s music, that has many different elements in it (metal, progressive, classic music, medieval, celtic, pop, folk, etc. elements…)
or ” Pasta mari e monti”, which means ” with seafood and mushrooms”.
Any final words for Rhapsody fans who’ve loved your works for all these years?
We have to thank you all!!! Really…without you this band couldn’t exist…
We want to have a special tour and share some great moments with all our fans with nice surprises, great songs and amazing atmosphere!!!
See you all soon on tour my friends!!!
Ciao from Fabio, Luca, Alex, Patrice and Dodo!!!