Lee Van Cleef interview
Heavy trio from Naples. Enjoy heavy improvised jams from their Holy Smoke album.
Who’s in Lee Van Cleef and what do you all play? Have you all made any changes to the lineup since you started or is this the original lineup?
Marco: It’s Marco Adamo on guitar, Pietro la Tegola on bass and Guido Minervini on drums. Same lineup from the beginning and probably will be until the end. We are actually three guitarists originally, but fortunately Peter and Guido are two excellent musicians and are able to give their best even on bass and drums. I can’t imagine any different formation.
What do you consider to be your first real exposure to music?
Marco: My first musical memories are related to the music that my father listened to. A lot of blues, jazz… Inti-Illimani and other stuff that for me at the time was very strange. My first contact with the real rock ‘n’ roll was just with the Creedence Clearwater Revival, which is still one of my favorite bands. From then on it was a continuous discovery.
Pietro: I’ve always been involved with music, since I was a child. My mother was listening to a lot of Italian lyrical stuff like Rigoletto, La traviata etc. So I grew up listening to all of those very powerful singers and musicians. When I was in high school I discovered Nirvana and then Iron Maiden and heavy metal. It changed my life forever. I started playing guitar and I just kept trying to make good rock ‘n’ roll music
Guido: The first exposure to music was when I was very young. It was classical music. Then growing up I approached all the other genres.
When and how did you all originally meet?
Marco: We were all part of the same circuit of Neapolitan musicians. We already knew each other, more or less. Me and Guido had known each other for a while. At the time we played in different projects. The underground rock scene in Naples has never been much followed neither by the clubs or by the people, it was a period nobody was really motivated. I remember when we met and we decided to do a project totally for personal purposes, to play music that we liked without giving a fuck about people, locals, labels. Just playing, jamming, recording and releasing online. But we needed a bass player and I contacted Pietro. We had shared the stage with our previous bands. I also knew he played the guitar … but I knew that he listened to our own stuff … and here we are.
When did you decide that you wanted to start writing and performing your own music?
Marco: I always wanted to write and make music that I like most … but for years I have also played things that, even if I liked them, were not 100% what I preferred. I’ve always been the guy who has never learned a solo on the guitar or spent too much time studying other people’s songs … I’ve always preferred to improvise or compose, maybe doing shit stuff … but I find it more stimulating. So at the end we decided to do a project without pretensions but only for personal satisfaction … it was a fantastic thing, and I’m also sure it’s the best situation.
Lee Van Cleef is one of my favourite actors.
Marco: Lee Van Cleef is certainly also one of our favorite actors. I don’t remember exactly how it get out .. but I remember that we did not think twice. It’s a bad motherfucker Lee, one of the first Villain in history. It’s fucking doom. A really nice thing was reading our name under that of Sergio Leone in a bandcamp article that spoke about Italian psychedelic music. Great honor. we have a big school of psych music, prog and it’s cool to contribute with our music, even if minimally.
What’s the songwriting process like?
Marco: At the beginning it was really only made of jams. Banshee is a real jam, but also other riffs were born during jams. For other songs maybe everything was born with a riff that I brought in the studio, but then we have always jammed on it a lot. I believe that this thing is perceived by listening to Holy Smoke. The new things we are writing are a bit different, there are obviously a lot of arrangements born during jam, but the skeleton is a little more ‘song’ oriented.
Can you share some further details how Holy Smokes was recorded and released?
Marco: Holy Smoke has been recorded at the godfather’s studio here in Naples. It was a very simple, linear recording session. Everything was recorded live. We spent 3 full days, we closed ourselves in the studio and we played the songs repeatedly until we were satisfied. When we were contacted by Olaf of White Dwarf we had 2 or 3 jams. He wanted to publish the songs immediately, but we preferred to put someone else in order to get a more complete job. We would never have expected all this feedback, it was really cool.
You have a new song out…
Marco: Yes ESKAOH is part of those new pieces that I was talking about. Composed almost a year ago, the first of the new series. As usual we recorded it in our studio and without thinking too much we put it online and people liked it. Surely it will be part of the new album. We will record it better. More than one person asked us why we wanted to kill hippies. In reality we do not want to kill anyone, especially hippies. As we have repeatedly explained, it was a provocation. Here in Naples, the old hippies are the ones who spend their time counting the money, keeping their children locked up at home because it’s ‘dangerous’ outside, they are radical chic, they are part of the elite. So they became anti-hippies. It’s just a provocation, no fear.
Who is behind the artwork?
Marco: The Holy Smoke artwork was made by Robin Gnista. He did an incredible job, a beautiful concept. We gave him absolute freedom. A lot of people told us that the main reason for listening to the album for the first time was the artwork. We will always be grateful to him. At the time we were even more unknown than now. Many artists did not answer either … Robin was available immediately.
Who are some of your personal favorite bands that you’ve had a chance to play with over the past few years?
Marco: Well several amazing bands, starting with the Deville a few years ago here in Naples. In Poland we had the opportunity to share the stage with Acid King, Elder, Giöbia, Sasquatch and many others. We were lucky to have shared a lot of gigs with our friends Tuna de Tierra who have just come out with their new album. They are also from Naples. In April we will play with Electric Octopus, Mythic Sunship … maybe something with the Electric Moon…
What are some future plans?
Marco: In April we will be on the road to make some gigs around Europe. We are trying to do everything by ourselves, without booking agency behind us, without other people … mainly without paying for visibility. This makes everything more difficult .. but we did it and we are proud of this. We will be in Austria, Germany, and Poland. I’m not saying that we are not interested in collaborations … but as long as these are real partnerships and not just money things. There are a lot of like-minded people and we are in touch with them. So we will do this tour in Europe. We also have other gigs confirmed. In any case we should enter the studio as soon as possible to record the new album, we have some music to share!
Let’s end this interview with some of your favourite albums. Have you found something new lately you would like to recommend to our readers?
Marco: It’s a very difficult question. I’ll tell you some… The first that come to my mind are CCR – Cosmo’s Factory, Mad Season – Above, Fabrizio De Andrè – Creuza de ma, Sleep – Holy Mountain Toad –Toad Black Sabbath – Master Of Reality, Roky Erickson & The Aliens – The Evil One, Neil Young – Harvest. Latest bands that impressed me are definitely the new Crypt Trip album! I recommend it to everybody! The last of Samsara Blues Experiment, all the stuff that kicked out the King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard, in particular Flying Microtonal Banana, which is an absolute masterpiece. And I’m really curious to listen to the new Earthless that I think will be quite different from their previous works. Right now I’m listening to the new track they have posted “Black Heaven” … crazy stuff dude!
Pietro: I would say every Sabbath record until Heaven And Hell (but I love the Tony Martin period as well); a lot of NWOBHM records, including the works of Maiden, Judas Priest and Saxon. I was also addicted with hair/glam metal, loving many 80’s guitar heroes like Malmsteen, Zakk Wylde, Van Halen etc. My personal record list could be pretty infinite! I also love southern rock, early psychedelic rock music and of course a lot of blues. From Robert Johnson to Billy Gibbons. I would like to recommend especially one band, speaking of “new” music: Spidergawd from Norway. Their album Spidergawd IV is for me one of the best rock ‘n’ roll records of the last ten years. A true masterpiece, full of catchy melodies and heavy riffs, with a great songwriting and a lot of tributes to the Godfathers of heavy music. I also recommend you to listen to Black Snake Moan, an Italian young artist who plays a fantastic mix of blues and psychedelia, using only his guitar, a bottleneck, his voice, a kick and a charlie (and he plays all this stuff at the same time!). I discovered him a few weeks ago and I can’t stop listening to his album!
Guido: My favorite records are Blood Sugar Sex Magik by Red Hot Chili Peppers, debut by Rage Against the Machine, Ænima by Tool and From the Sounds Inside by John Frusciante. Right now I enjoy Alabama Shakes, Mac Demarco and Anderson Paak.
Thank you. Last word is yours.
Thanks to It’s Psychedelic Baby Magazine for the interview and all the work. You’re doing a lot of work for music and bands. Greetings to all the people who support us, come to Naples on vacation and smoke only good stuff.
– Klemen Breznikar
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