Bands like Gojira and Godflesh might be major brand names ‘round these parts, but mention them to your average Metallica-loving broseph and you’re likely to get a squinty-eyed, the-fuck-you-say? half-nod. But Decibel just won’t quit. We dig deeper, danker, darker and dirtier (though rarely fitter or happier) to turn up a few otherwise overlooked gems. While Throw Me a Frickin’ Bone lays it out all hard-copy-like, every Friday the Deciblog brings you the stealthiest bandcampiest demos, EPs, singles, one-offs, full-lengths, and start-up acts that catch our attention with Frickin’ Bone 2.0: Bonin’ the Interhole.
This one’s for you, instrumental power guitar god worshippers. Not sure what the hell you’re doing listening to this kind of technically proficient, turbocharged, cloud-climbing Top Gun-era riff raff when there are perfectly adequate mountains of underplayed amp feces piling up everywhere you turn. On Black Sheep, Signore Marras ed amici serve up sick speed, pretty melodies, and a tone feast that could sate even the most gluttonous guitar guru. There’s no lack of passion or personality on the record, and if you’re into windy vista-gazing, princess-saving or sunset-riding then you should totally jam this shit. Nothing else could make you feel a fraction this heroic… or this Italian. Come to think of it, I was indeed in Italy the last time this insistently sensitive style of metallic rock really lifted me off my feet. You know what they say – when in Rome… SHRED!
[audio:http://www.decibelmagazine.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/09/Francesco-Marras-STRAIGHT-VICTORY.mp3|titles=Francesco Marras - STRAIGHT VICTORY]
How do you feel about Black Sheep, now that it’s done?
I’m very proud, is an important goal in my musical career. I’ve always been a band guitarist and I love it, but with my solo album my guitar can “sing”. I’ve started to work on it about 5 years ago with no pressure, in my free time; after I’ve realized that was arrived the right moment for an entire instrumental album. I like a lot of different kind of music like progressive, hard rock, aor , blues, punk, rock’n’roll, grunge, stoner, etc. , with “Black Sheep” I can take a break from what I usually do with my bands and I’m free to play anything I want.
What was the writing/recording process like for you? How did it compare to your experiences with Screaming Shadows and Black Demons?
There’s not a great difference from what I usually do for my bands, I work in studio every day so the writing/recording process is easy for me. For “Black Sheep” some songs are born with no guitar in my hands, only singing a melody with words, other songs are born from a guitar improvisation or from a guitar lick, etc, anyway, without limits in composition or in musical genre. In every song of my album there’s a chorus and a very strong musical theme, it isn’t only guitar solos and the songs’ structure is similar than a song with the voice. I’ve started to compose my own music in ’98 with Screaming Shadows, in this years my songwriting has grown, no music lesson can teach you what you’ll learn composing your own music, for me is the most important thing for a musician. I create my music with passion not thinking about chords or scales.
What music first caught your attention and made you want to play it yourself?
Obviously the music of Iron Maiden! I’ve listened my first Maiden’s album when I was 8 and it was the day my life changed forever. I love the sound of electric guitar, it’s powerful and strong. Everything I do and I’ve done in music is for Iron Maiden, I really love their music. Sometimes I wonder if Steve Harris and Co. can understand how much they have changed the people’s life with their music.
What musicians have influenced you to become the guitar player you are today?
My style is influenced by a lot of guitarists like Steve Vai, Yngwie Malmsteen, Satriani, Paul Gilbert, Nuno Bettencourt, Kiko Loureiro, Phil Collen, ecc. My favourite guitar player is Adrian Smith and I think that the solo of “Stranger in a strange land” is the best of all times. In “Powerslave” and “Somewhere in time” there are the best Maiden's guitar solos. Write a solo is very important, what happen “under” the melody is as important as the solo, I always prefer simple and functional choices like the Iron Maiden style, with harmonic modulation or time changes.
Do you feel that the style of music on Black Sheep exists in a supportive scene, or is it less popular than other styles of rock/metal?
Maybe is less popular than other styles of rock but it has always had his audience, thanks to artists like Steve Vai and shows like G3. Now that my solo album is finished I can easily do clinics, demonstrations and show cases everywhere, the mail for the bookings is firstname.lastname@example.org
Is music your primary occupation right now, or is it something that you balance with a day job?
I’m working to make the music my first occupation, I teach electric guitar in schools and I do private lessons, I produce some bands of my city in my own studio and I try to play live as much as I can. I really love music and I hope to make it my only occupation.
Have you been playing these songs live? (If so, how have shows been going?)
I've not played yet a whole show with the songs on the album, but I’ve played the acoustic version of two songs as opening during the acoustic show of Mariangela Demurtas (singer of Tristania) in my city and I’ve played the song “Black sheep” with John Macaluso during one of his clinics in Sardinia. The feedback from the audience was very good and on my you tube channel (www.youtube.com/FMGuitarChannel ) you can see the video of all this shows.
Is there a particular type of guitar or set-up that you especially enjoy playing?
I usually play a B.C.Rich ASM Pro that I’m proudly endorser. This guitar have a very comfortable fretboard, with sustain and volume also when it’s plug out, it sounds good and I really like it. I’ve recorded all the guitars and bass in my own recording studio and I’ve used an ENGL tube pre amp, a Marshall 9200 power amp with a 4x12 Marshall cabinet with Celestion speakers. I love the sound of British amps like Marshall. I’m also endorser for : Morley pedals, D’Addario strings and Horizon pickups.
A special thanks to Decibel Magazine for the support! Please visit my site and follow me on the web: www.francescomarras.com. Ciao!