VIRTUAL SYMMETRY are back with a live album/DVD combo. Answers by producers Valerio Villa (Guitars) and Mark Bravi (Keyboards) Anders Ekdahl ©2018
Back in the 80s when I first got into heavy metal I was told that I had to own the “Made In Japan” live album by Deep Purple simply because it was the greatest live album of them all. So I bought it and to be honest I couldn’t figure out what was so great about it. And ever since then I have been wondering what is so great about live albums. Can you please enlighten me about the greatness of live albums?
-Sure! Live Albums are something way different from Studio Albums because they show a real image of the whole band for what all of its members are in terms of performance, interaction with the audience and feel while playing. Other than this, the amount of energy you feel while watching a live show is impossible to be felt through a studio album and this is a very special ingredient to make such a product a special experience, even if it contains tracks you may already have heard before.
What is a great live show to you? When do you feel that you have given the audience everything that you have?
-A great live show is a mix of many elements which go over music itself, putting the synergy of the band itself under the spotlight and enriching it with light games, on-screen animations synced to the music, an ad-hoc scenography, special guests, and breaking the monotony of a studio recorded album with surprise elements like solos and variations to the tracks, making every single live show a unique experience. We all agree on giving the audience all the band has when we are aware the show has been perfectly programmed before going on stage with nothing casual and when we know each one of us has played at the maximum, seeing the crowd excited for what you have given them.
Something I often wonder is how do you know that the gig you are recording will end up being a great gig? Did you intend to just record one single gig and then leave it all to serendipity that everything would turn out great?
-Well, we always try to give even more than what we can every night we play, to make every show as perfect as possible, it’s what we aim for. XLive Premiere wasn’t even meant to be recorded to make a BluRay, we wanted to have a video of the first complete live show for us, to be able to see it from the point of view of the audience and see what could be fixed or changed, but it turned out to be such a great performance that we decided to edit the shots and mix the recordings to make an integral video out of it. Being it the first ever show of this kind for us, it also has a very intimate meaning.
When you record a gig how tempting is it to go in and correct mistakes? How true to the reality are you when you record a live album?
– When you first hear what has been played in a live show, the temptation of going back and make some live variations as close as possible to the studio versions can appear, but hearing it a second time makes you feel that what has been played live has a different emotional impact even on ourselves. In this case we decided to release the show as it was in that evening, also because our idea is that, if a live show has been performed in a specific way, to record again some sections just because they don’t match the original tracks makes no sense. What came out naturally from the whole band makes everything more real to all the listeners.
You also filmed the gig. What kind of visual treat will this concert film offer me as a viewer?
– This show, as this word suggests, includes various elements which are not only musical or set by our playing abilities. This one gives at least a 50% more than the other albums, it is way more energic, it has a full video playing in the background which changes as we change what we play, there is a cool light show, we play exclusive solos and there are some cool guests, like a sax player and a special appearance of a couple of dancers. It is a mixture of all kinds of art.
What is the Swiss live audience like? Where have you experienced the greatest crowd so far?
-The swiss audience is mixed, our shows have been played in the Italian part of Switzerland, this means many participants aren’t actually swiss, but they all are very focused and attracted to the show and this makes us proud of what we give them and they return us in terms of energy.
The greatest crowd we had was in Rome and Barletta (Southern Italy) in 2015, when we played alongside the colossi Dream Theater and Evergrey, reaching around 2500 people in total.
You have one album and one EP behind you. How do you feel that you as a band have progressed over the years?
– Well, being a progressive band, to always progress is in our veins! We actually are very happy to be where we are today after just two years from the release of our debut album, we went from having no released songs to having 2 CDs for a total of 2 hours of music and a full live show built on what we created and what we wish to give to our audience. We think we have grown a lot both artistically and in the managerial side of things, starting from the beginning with a way higher target than the “emerging band” standards, which we still have today.
How did you pick the art work for the live album? What did it have to have and what did it not have to have?
-The artwork for XLive Premiere has been entirely created by the graphic artist who made the graphics for our two releases, Message from Eternity and X-GATE Suite, Gustavo Sazes, who also worked for Epica, Arch Enemy, Amaranthe, James LaBrie and many more. We just told him we wished to have something that fused the two previous artworks and the photos taken in the location the BluRay was shot in… and that is about it!
What is it like to have people you never met liking your music and singing along to it at gigs?
-It is a unique huge emotion, we receive weekly messages from people we don’t know from all across the world thanking us for the music and excitedly commenting our videos and posts on our social medias and meet new people in each and every live show we make. Most of the time we ask ourselves how all of them got to listen to our music in the first place so far away from us!!
What lies in the future?
-We are now promoting the new live show with videos taken from XLive Premiere and short clips from our latest live show in occasion of the Bohemian Rhapsody movie at the Plaza Cinema in Mendrisio (Switzerland) and we are writing our third album since the beginning of 2018. We still can’t say much about it, but we can surely say we pushed ourselves way further than where we were in our first releases, experimenting with new sonorities and styles, but keeping our cinematic vibe, typical of the composition and production of our tracks… you will hear something crazy from us, let us tell you. Other than this we are scheduling some live shows in 2019, hoping to bring our XLive Experience in as many places as possible!