Before their momentous Eurovision victory with Zitti e Buoni, inserting Italian rock again on the world stage and incomes reward from Simon Le Bon and Miley Cyrus; earlier than a baseless accusation of snorting cocaine virtually veered right into a full-blown diplomatic disaster; and earlier than their post-win ping-pong tournament grew to become a twee secondary narrative, the Italian band Måneskin had already raised eyebrows in Rotterdam, this yr’s host metropolis.
After a rehearsal session ended late, says the bassist, Victoria De Angelis, they had been parched – however realised there was no consuming water of their lodge rooms. “We went to the lodge reception, however they stated there was no water round,” De Angelis says. “So we made it into the kitchen and took some.”
Cameras caught them and the next morning the lodge contacted Måneskin’s administration, claiming that the artists had stolen some water and wanted to pay for it. “And, in fact, we did that!” says De Angelis.
“Yeah, we behaved properly!” interjects the guitarist, Thomas Raggi. The band members can barely preserve a straight face whereas telling this anecdote – extra harking back to a summer-school-abroad journey than a music contest that reached 183 million people.
Whereas they admit their guilt within the late-night hydration bust, they’re vexed by the unproven coke-snorting allegations, which had been voiced after cameras picked up Damiano David, the frontman, leaning over a desk. David, who stated he had been clearing up a smashed glass, later took a drug check, which got here again damaging. “I feel that, if somebody will not be significantly good, there’s no purpose to criticise them,” he says. “So I noticed this complete factor as: ‘Oh, Måneskin is just too good, we now have to say he’s snorting.’ I do know it’s not nice to be so self-congratulatory, however, reality is, we carried out very properly and there was one thing they wanted to discredit us.”
“Damiano barely drinks beer,” provides De Angelis.
“Yeah, he’s such a sfigato, a dork: he goes to mattress at 11pm together with his chamomile tea,” says Raggi.
Måneskin – Danish for moonlight, impressed by De Angelis’s half-Danish heritage – had been established in 2015 and had a stint as buskers on the streets of Rome. They got here second within the 2017 sequence of X Issue Italia, their swaggering rock’n’roll slightly overshadowing that yr’s winner. After their debut album, Il Ballo della Vita (The Dance of Life), went triple platinum in Italy, they gained the 2021 version of the Sanremo music competition, whose winner turns into the nation’s Eurovision entrant.
Throughout our dialog, they freely discuss over, full and comment on one another’s solutions like Seinfeld characters, alternating between lighthearted mockery and earnest contemplation, all with creative curiosity and refreshing candour. Whereas they acknowledge how vital Eurovision may be for musicians who don’t sing in English, they are saying they didn’t develop up as followers of the competition.
“We’ve by no means been the largest cult followers,” says David, explaining that, for folks their age – they had been all born between 1999 and 2001 – Eurovision doesn’t have the resonance it has with older generations. After Toto Cutugno’s victory in 1990, its relevance waned in Italy to the purpose that, between 1998 and 2010, the nation didn’t take part.
“What we’ve all the time tried to do isn’t set any preconceived expectations and notions upon ourselves; one may say that neither X Issue nor Sanremo is the precise context for a rock band, however we keep away from such a inflexible mindset. Dwelling in Italy, it’s laborious to get a worldwide viewers, however, when you get the precise alternative, then the music is the one doing the speaking.”
Their second album, 2021’s Teatro D’Ira: Vol 1, cemented their popularity as strong reside entertainers and added a tinge of auteur ambition. The band evoke 70s rock with a splash of turn-of-the-millennium nostalgia, straddling a continuum between Led Zeppelin, Pink Scorching Chili Peppers and Arctic Monkeys in exquisitely tailor-made trousers. They recorded the album reside, and in a secluded rural studio, like so many rock greats earlier than them. “After our first album, after we had been actually younger, we had a second after we stopped and stated: what sort of band can we wish to be?” David says. This soul-searching lasted for 2 years.
“The work does present extra creative maturity,” says Raggi, who says they stopped specializing in David’s soulful vocals and created a way of an entire band enjoying: “Our creative imaginative and prescient is coming into extra and extra sharp focus.” The drummer, Ethan Torchio, seconds Raggi, with a touch of nerdiness. “There was an in-depth technical research of our devices – our high quality leap is because of the truth that we labored very laborious in direction of the identical purpose.”
The group credit the success of Zitti e Buoni to a mixture of Italian language and a mainstream sound that was straightforward for anglophone listeners to acclimatise to. “Zitti e Buoni is a extremely previous music of ours,” says David. “It’s certainly one of our first tracks in Italian and it was utterly totally different – it was an acoustic ballad with simply voice and guitar, however we couldn’t provide you with a convincing refrain.” Then, after a couple of years, they revived it, due to a riff Raggi composed. “Pssssh! Magic occurred,” says David.
The English-language anthem I Wanna Be Your Slave – which, like Zitti e Buoni, is within the UK High 30 – was a slow-burner, too. “Damiano as soon as despatched an audio notice to our group chat the place he stated: ‘Hey, try this banger I got here up with on the piano.’ I used to be hanging out with Thomas, and we stated: that seems like shit,” says De Angelis.
It took a piece journey to London, throughout which they transferred it to the bass and utilized distortion, for it to click on. “My audio notice was certainly dangerous,” David says. “However my bandmates, as artists, ought to have had a minimal of creativeness.”
The facility ballad Vent’Anni (20 Years), which begins with the disclaimer: “I’m solely 20, so don’t be stunned if I tend for drama,” is a meditation on being true to your self and your legacy. “Vent’Anni is one other facet of us: we’re younger, we speak about our lived expertise. There’s rage, anger, aggression, however there’s extra reflective and intimate components,” says David.
Coraline – my private favorite – combines their signature rock with the poetic imagery of the Italian singer-songwriter custom, a tribute to the Italian cantautori. What begins off as an outline of a lady with hair “like crimson roses” and “copper wires” is a research of a personality who continues to be a toddler however, in the end, carries the world on her shoulders. “She desires the ocean, however is afraid of water, however possibly the ocean is inside her / Every phrase is an axe, a lower on her again.”
Måneskin’s success has been framed as an oddity – in Italy and at Eurovision – as a result of they’re a rock band, slightly than a pop act. Are expertise exhibits not the realm of stiff, songbird-like performers? And is Eurovision not the sector of Abba-like bubblegum high-camp?
True, the one rock group to win Eurovision beforehand was the Finnish orc-cosplay band Lordi, in 2006, with the magnificent spectacle of Hard Rock Hallelujah. However rock entries have been a Eurovision staple since 1956, when Freddy Quinn introduced the rock’n’roll music So Geht Das Jede Nacht. By sporting metallic-leather glam-rock-inspired unitards with slight fetish parts, designed by Etro, and by utilizing a set that forged imposing shadows on the backdrop, Måneskin delighted audiences with a efficiency that was energetic and elegant, demonstrating that not each Eurovision entry must be camp to be memorable.
Plus, whereas English audiences are largely unaware, there’s an Italian rock custom, from the band Premiata Forneria Marconi within the 70s to artists who’ve loved regular mainstream success for the reason that 80s, comparable to Vasco Rossi and Gianna Nannini.
In 1979, the prog-rocker turned singer-songwriter Ivano Fossati, who penned a number of the most artistically refined songs for Italian divas (do your self a favour and hearken to Danza), launched La Mia Banda Suona Il Rock. It’s a rock music that has had an enormous important, business and cultural influence in Italy (and makes for an ideal drunken karaoke quantity). The lyrics reward music, particularly rock, because the conduit of common communication: “It seeps into partitions, it breaches doorways and, ultimately, it tells you that your soul will not be useless.” Måneskin are consistent with this ethos, straddling the road between actuality and escapism. “Music is a manner for us to precise a full vary of feelings,” says Raggi. “The stage is like your magic field, the place you are able to do something you need, since you’re 100% free, and you possibly can specific your self for what you truly are.”
Måneskin acknowledge that their foundations lie in English-language acts, such because the aforementioned Chili Peppers and Led Zeppelin, plus REM and, within the case of Torchio, “lots of prog rock”. Nonetheless, De Angelis highlights 80s and 90s Italian rock bands, comparable to Marlene Kuntz, whose songs mix noise rock and the Italian singer-songwriter custom; Verdena, who draw from grunge; and the alt-rock band Afterhours. “Certain, the pop-indie-trap dominance in Italy is plain, however then alongside got here Måneskin,” says De Angelis. “There’s a brand new dominance now!” David says.
They’ve already offered out most dates in Italian live performance halls for his or her 2021-22 tour and are reserving appearances at main European festivals, comparable to Rock am Ring in Germany. Rolling Stone Italia has remarked that, when singing in Italian, they threat being large fish in a small pond, whereas, in English, they threat being goldfish within the ocean. However, they’re clearly adapting to the brand new ecosystem.