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Breznev Fun Club interview with Rocco Lomonaco

June 3, 2014

Breznev Fun Club interview with Rocco Lomonaco

Rocco Lomonaco is a composer and mastermind behind Breznev Fun Club, which is
kind of a mystery to most listeners of avant-prog/RIO. It is hard to describe
and to classify your music into just one genre. Rocco, when did you first get
involved with music and where did you grow up?
 
I started, like many, I believe, at a very young age
to make music with friends. From the very beginning music was not only a great
hobby, then as a teenager I started to think seriously about the music and I
began to study it. I have lived, studied and later worked in Montescaglioso,
Bari, Milan and Frankfurt am Main. The first music I experimented with friends was in Montescaglioso, which is a small town in the region of Basilicata in
southern Italy.
Did you study composition?
Yes. In the second half of the ’80s I began to study composition,
first as a self-taught. Then I followed a course in composition with Franco
Donatoni and for the Computer Music I followed courses with Alvise Vidolin
first and then with Graziano Tisato at the Computing Centre of the University
of Padova in 1994. But basically I’ve never been part of the academic world of
music, and I practised the music along with other artistic and expressive
options. Later I received a few performances by some well-known musicians in
contemporary music festival.
I
had trouble finding more about your band, but I believe you first started with this name already back in the ‘80s. What’s the story behind that and did
you record or release anything? Played any live shows?

I used the
name Breznev Fun Club  for the first time
in the mid-80s in Montescaglioso, and the name began as a joke. Like many
groups, at the beginning we performed many songs by bands that we liked. Then,
from the late ’80s on, we focused on our own compositions. At the time, we played a lot live and we had a great following among the local audience, but out of our
province we were complete strangers. In our country there were no record labels
and we had no outside contact. In the ’90s, with a new line-up, we recorded two
songs, but more into rock genre. The two songs were published in the CD attached to
the book by Augusto Croce “Italian Prog” (2008 – AMS/BTF).  Towards the end of 1996, the group broke up,
but I continued to compose material, and in 1998 some compositions were
performed in concert in Milan at a festival. On that occasion we performed with
the name of Rocco Lomonaco Band, although it was kind of a enlarged meeting of
the Breznev Fun Club. Later I continued to accumulate compositions, some were
of contemporary classical music, others were designed for a possible meeting of
the Breznev Fun Club.
How did the line-up changed? The one
that recorded “L’onda Vertebrata” was consisting also of guest musicians?

At first, the band began as a trio in the mid-80s, I was playing
the electric guitar, Francesco Gallipoli played keyboards and Mario Ventrelli
played drums, then a little later came Mimmo Nobile on electric bass and then
we added other musicians. In a concert in ’91 we were 12, in addition to the
basic trio, we were joined by 9 other musicians. Here, in 1991, ending the
first period of Breznev Fun Club. In the
mid -90s just me and the drummer were remained of the original group. Meanwhile
they arrived new musicians (Michele Motola on soprano and alto sax, Gianfranco
Menzella on tenor and baritone sax, Gianni Nicastro on electric bass, Rocco
Agatiello on the second electric guitar and Franco Sciscio on vocals). With
this lineup we played many live concerts and recorded two songs. Then, as
already mentioned, the group broke up. Only in 2006 I met again with Franco
Sciscio and we decided to try recording musical material that I had
accumulated over the years combined with his lyrics. In 2008, we recorded a demo
of 16 minutes that we did listen with Matthias Scheller, producer of the record
company AMS/BTF from Milan, who appreciates us a lot. Matthias then proposed to
publish an entire CD. In 2009, with the two historic saxophonists,  M. Motola and G. Menzella and a large group
of new, young musicians, we recorded the first album, with material from the late
’90s. The CD was released in late 2010. In 2011 we won the Darwin-Stratos
Award  as the best progressive record
release in 2010. All the musicians of this new version of the Breznev Fun Club
are professional musicians and for me they are not guests but now part of the
family of the new Breznev Fun Club.
Were you active in any other projects back then?
Yes, I worked on several
projects in different fields of expression.
What can you tell us about the material, that appears on “L’onda Vertebrata”,
that was released four years ago by BTF / AMS label from Milan. Was this brand
new material or a bit older composition from your first formation of the
band?
As I have already
mentioned, it’s all material from the ’90s. Some things have been performed live at
the time, others were left in the drawer for a possible reunion, which at the
time did not happen. The pieces have only a few different orchestration, based on
the instruments I had available in 2008.
Is there a special concept behind this magnificent album? Each composition
seems to have its own theme and atmosphere…
They
are pieces from different periods, and then each group of compositions has its
own personal idea behind it. But the CD does not have a unitary concept.
Usually a band released a Greatest Hits or a collection  after several CDs released. I thought of
making some sort of Greatest Hits CD as the first, with pieces that ironically
no one knew.
What does the name of your band and album refer to? How about the cover
artwork?
As I said, the name was born as a joke, and then it was used
for the group. At the time there was still the Cold War and the Berlin Wall had
not yet fallen, so call a band Breznev Fun Club created some confusion in the
public interpretation, that we liked. The name of the album refers to the
longest piece on the CD, full of surreal lyrics. The cover recalls the
atmosphere of my small town, but the photo does not represent Montescaglioso.
Can we expect a vinyl issue? I’m just curious, because I prefer this format a
lot more. What’s your opinion?
I hope so. I also love vinyl. Maybe in the future we will publish
a vinyl version. It would be nice.
Would you mind telling us about writing process? Maybe a few words behind the
compositions and so on?
It’s a bit complex to explain the various processes of
composition, but I will try to do it with a few simple words. It all starts
with a concept or an idea that I try to translate and organize into audible
sound. I like to start from a very limited material, such as a harmonic
sequence or a melodic series or an
aggregate of  notes  organized in various ways. This basic
material then I will elaborate using various techniques and applying a
continuous but not subsequent variation.
However, I have a plan and I decide where is the start and where I’m going, but
I’ll leave that in the middle of the path there is a good dose of unexpected.
1986

I
believe that music isn’t the only art you’re involved with, am I right?
It ‘s true. I
have studied and I teach art and I’m an artist who works primarily in the field
of contemporary art. The music is the other side of my creativity. I do not see
the two arts opposing but complementary. At certain times, I work more with visual
art, at other times it is the music that absorbs me more, as at this time.
Is
the band still active? What are some future plans?
The band, which is now almost an orchestra, is alive and well and
we are now working on the second CD. I started in 2011 to record half of the
CD, then a number of drawbacks have slowed down the completion. This summer I
will be back in the studio to finally record the other half. The CD will be
released by Marcello Marinone of Altrock Production from Milan.
Did you do any touring? If so what line-up and where?

1988
The last concert dates back to 1998, with a line-up of two electric
and classical guitars, electric bass, trumpet, two saxophones, drums and
percussion. Some of the songs are on “L’onda vertebrata.” After the
second CD, I will organize a live touring band to propose a selection of the
two CDs.
1988
What are you currently working on?
I am currently working on the second CD of the Breznev Fun Club.
I’m also completing several projects in the visual arts and then I hope to work
with some unfinished orchestral works.
What would you say inspired you the most or maybe what are some artists, that
influenced you back when you were younger and what are you currently listening
to?
I love so many
different artists, from The Beach Boys to classical composers of the twentieth
century, and I think that each of them may have left a trace on me. Anyway, I
hope to develop my own voice and draw a small sign on the beach of life.
Thank you for taking your time. Would you like to share anything else with
us?
First of all I want
to thank you for this great interview, and then I hope to give you some other
“good vibrations” in the near future. 
Ciao from Breznev Fun Club.
Interview made by Klemen Breznikar/2014
© Copyright http://psychedelicbaby.blogspot.com/2014
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