NEONVICE from the United States
Questions: Axel Ricks
Answers: Franco Tempesta & Aldo ‘Valgorth’ Requena
Date: October 26th, 2015
First published on http://www.neonvice.com/blog//interview-if-youre-not-saying-ill-be-back-to-hear-more-after-hearing-flash-back-2029s-new-album-youre-doing-it-wrong
Hey Flash-Back 2029 thanks for being with us on NeonVice! To describe your project to the fans you guys are a musical duo completely dedicated to making music that is inspired completely by the Terminator Universe? How did you guys meet and begin working together?
Hey Axel, thanks to YOU for kindly offering us this interview. That´s correct! I’m the one who writes all the music and Aldo Requena from Hammerblaze Studio is the man in charge of all the artwork (I’ve only designed the logo and cover art of the first single «Judgement Day»).
We got to know each other while working together on another metal project and we’ve become very good partners and friends. It turned out that we were both huge fans of the Terminator franchise (mostly of the first two movies). Later, I decided to write some dark sci-fi tunes purely inspired on that universe and asked him to do the artwork of the second single «T-800 Series» and finally for «The Dark Years» EP.
I always have a blast when he shows me his work, even the first attempts of every artwork. His dark art style works perfectly with the ambiance I like to generate with my music. I’m very proud of working with him!
You have been a musical person for much of your life and started with guitar at a young age. Now you sing in a metal project, produce music for videogames, and even have other synth work that you do. Could you tell us how each experience has helped built this project to be something so successful? What would you be some essentials of how you go about putting a track together?
Music is my life! I just love to constantly produce new music. That’s why I have so many projects going on. I can easily venture from writing heavy metal and orchestral pieces to retro synth music… That’s all the music I love. I never do ANYTHING that doesn’t come directly from my heart. That’s always the most important principle to me.
If you ask me, the best way to put a decent track together is: to follow the melodies you have in your mind. At the right moment, you feel inspired by something and you just let your creativity flows. The best and more natural results appear when you see that the song is being written by itself. You should not try to force things at these stages. Inspiration is also highly important and I always like to find out about the topic I write before composing anything. This step is crucial for me to achieve a more authentic climax to set the mood for a selected theme.
Adding real guitars to your synth work was very important to you. How did you go about recording and what type of guitar do you play? Please tell some of the producers reading about how you were about to achieve such an authentic retro feeling.
I am a guitar player since my 12 years old and I grew up playing hard rock and heavy metal music, so I guess that’s why the ’80s were always in my heart.
I wanted to preserve the real guitars in FLASH-BACK since it´s my main instrument (even for writing music), and I believe they now play a very important role in the project. I like using a lot of synths though, which together with the drum production, are highly important to reach that retro ambient…. but using the guitar to write some melodies gives you a whole different approach than just using keyboards or editing notes in the piano roll with your mouse.
I usually perform the recordings with two electric guitars: an Epiphone Les Paul with standard EMG pickups for the rhythms and some solos, and an old Fender Stratocaster with a humbucker on the bridge which I occasionally use but come in handy to achieve some very cool 80´s sounding solos. The rest of the magic relies on upon wisely use the FX and listen to a lot of 80´s rock bands in my case.
You guys created your artwork for The Dark Years EP inspired by a comic art style. Is there a Terminator comic that I’m not familiar with which brought this idea about?
I would rather leave this question to Aldo Requena himself…
Aldo: Not really. Even though, there are many comic books based on the Terminator franchise, the artwork for «The Dark Years EP» was not based on any. It was an aesthetic decision to embellish the music with a distinctive essence and artistic style — which I think it’s also a consequence of my passion for high-detailed comic book illustrations and working process as a result of combining traditional painting techniques and digital art — However, when Franco introduced me to the concept of Flash-Back and after listening to his dramatic and intense compositions, I knew what kind direction he wanted for the images.
In faithful homage to «The Terminator» film, we wanted the art to be as real as possible, whether was using a black and white illustration or reproducing a full-color piece (photorealistic or not). This would allow us to explore different design areas without limits and to provide to the audience new visual connections with the music and film. The «T-800 Series single» artwork is aggressive, grim, and direct, while on «The Dark Years EP» the tone is darker, emotive, and stronger. There is also a somber and gloomy feeling on the film that is intended to be transmitted on this release. The Terminator saga is not just a story about traveling in time and fighting cyber-entities, but about love and human sacrifice and how the inner-will can overcome adversity. We try to evoke those emotions using our musical and painting skills respectively. It’s also a good chance to have fun with a very entertaining project! The guy is brilliant and extremely talented, and this venture offers me a bridge to re-explore (and recreate) a world that I love. Of course, I was on board as soon as he told me about his Flash-Back machine.
Darksynth and horror synth seems to be close to your heart and you do an excellent job at producing it so with that in mind what do you hope to achieve in your music career? Are you here to bring back the 80’s?
Many thanks for your kind words! I guess the ’80s will always have a nostalgic place in our hearts. It was a decade of magical flicks and great music. It’s an endless source of inspiration for me. But it´s not the only influence on my music, I also like to explore variations with industrial and metal elements too. You can even find some orchestral instruments on a couple of tracks. If something helps to evoke that “post-apocalyptic mood” on the listener I would never hesitate on using it.
I believe that’s the only way to create something original and not sound like any other thousand artists on the scene.
Since you do vocals with other projects might we see you dabble in that aspect of things in the future with this or your other synth project?
I doubt it. The only styles I’ve been singing from the start are hard rock and metal. So I’ve trained my voice for that specific genre. But maybe, someday… if I find the correct track to do it.
Which tracks were your favorite to produce? What sort of things do you struggle with when producing the track and did any of the tracks in the EP come out less-than-perfect in your opinion?
The Dark Years was one of my favorites to produce. I immediately knew that the synth melody in it, repeating itself through the entire track and sounded like if it was a dark distorted guitar, was perfect to get that «ending titles» mood. Then when I recorded the real guitar solo I was so immersed in it that I love the first takes. A couple of days later, I change the mics of my guitar and I decided to record that solo again, but it was not the same. So I finally kept the first takes.
Another track that I wrote in a few hours was Squad Patrol 1984. On this one, I wanted to evoke that dark ambiance from the ’80s but still to recreate the streets of 1984 from The Terminator. I believe I’ve reached that goal. The guitar work on it has remarks of heavy metal as well.
Mixing and mastering are always a hard process and they are both critical to achieving a competitive result. You need to spend a lot of time testing things out and learning by trial and error. Since every track needs a whole different process than each other, you never stop learning new techniques. I try to dedicate all the possible time to every single tune. I would never release anything that sounds weak or without proper production.
What is something that you could share about the Terminator Universe that you think a normal fan might not know? What part or aspect of the films is your favorite? Do you identify with a specific theme or concept of the story which you would share with us?
Franco: Well, I’m a big fan of the first two films and I especially like the darkness of the first one. Most of the action scenes were filmed at night which led to tight filming schedules before sunrise. This detail was so important to get that violent and melancholic feeling throughout the whole movie. It was a genius decision in my opinion.
The soundtrack by Brad Fiedel is brilliant and I took a lot of inspiration from it. You will find a couple of homages hidden in some tracks from my EP too.
Aldo: It was very interesting to discover that the interrogation scene with Kyle Reese at the police station was also the result of Michael Biehn’s idea. He told Cameron “let me just improvise and talk right to the camera on this scene”. The result is a memorable and serious point in the movie, in my opinion. I also love the part when he introduces himself to Sarah, what his mission is, etc. I can relate to the emotion of isolation of that character.
Thanks for being with us! Any final thoughts, my friend?
All I can say is, Thanks! Especially for being so interested in this project since the very beginning and giving me your feedback all the time. And of course for this very cool interview too.
To all cyborgs out there: if you are a Terminator fan or just a Darksynth enthusiast you can´t miss this release!
The Dark Years EP is already available at https://flash-back.bandcamp.com
Join us if you want to live!