Interview with EMANUELE BODO

Interview with EMANUELE BODO

This past March, Italian guitarist Emanuele Bodo released his debut album “Unsafe Places,” which is a fine collection of songs for everyone who is into instrumental guitar-oriented prog metal. We had a chance to ask Emanuele a few questions about his work, guitar gear, and more.

Let’s kick off this interview with a talk about your debut album “Unsafe Places”. What can you tell me about the creative and recording phases for this record?

Well thanks for the interview! I must say that the creative phase of Unsafe Places has been particularly stimulating from both a musical and a personal point of view.

Musically I tried, as far as possible, never trivial or obvious harmonic solutions in order to create a sound that is often restless, sometimes dissonant, other times very melodic that best represents the idea I had in mind. I applied the same idea to the rhythm part: I wanted to experience a lot, as a big fan of modern progressive, of odd times also very difficult and a many rhythmic scompositions often helped by my drummer Mattia Garimanno.
The registration phase was quite long, about 2 months. first of all we worked on the global sound we wanted to get; then the real recording phase began in the Ænima Recordings studios where we recorded all the drums; while I recorded the guitars tracks in my personal studio in a completely analogical way. After, Carlo Ferri recorded the bass tracks on the definitive drum and guitar tracks and finally Davide Cristofoli has given an important symphonic and orchestral character to the record.

Unsafe Places

How would you describe your initial exposure to music?

My passion for music came relatively late but in a definitely irrepressible way! My family has never heard much music and my approach to it has been completely random. I have always been a very introverted boy and, in that delicate adolescent phase, I found refuge in music… Pop and rock at first, in Italy mainstream rock is very commercial and light, then in the following years decidedly heavier!

How did you get into playing guitar?

Everything happened thanks to a lucky coincidence.. When I was twelve more or less, I had recently stopped playing tennis at a competitive level and at that time a small detachment of an important Italian academy of modern music, was about to open not far from my town.. My parents enrolled me at this academy just to let me try some new interest and never thought that music would become my reason for living… From that moment thanks to a motivating teachers and also because I had already formed a cover band with my friends, with which we acted as an opening to band of guys older than us, I immediately began to seriously study and, at sixteen, I already had clear ideas: in one way or another, I would become a professional musician!

Did you start to listen to music differently once you discovered guitar?

Of course the instrument has greatly influenced my kind of musical listening. initially, I believe it is an almost obligatory path for the great majority of guitarists, we tend to look for the type of music where the guitar is the absolute protagonist.

Then with the musical maturation I give more weight to the composition and to the music generally and less to the instrument with which it is performed. At least in my case it was so.

Who were some of your early guitar influences?

My first guitar idols were surely the guitar heroes of the 80s and 90s. I can mention in the neoclassical field Yngwie Malmsteen, Marty Friedman and Jason Becker, then of course Joe Satriani and Steve Vai; In the more progressive area my greatest inspiration has always been John Petrucci and Dream Theater. As for the jazz / fusion, Frank Gambale, Bireli Lagreene, Greg Howe and the unreachable Allan holdsworth. Then there are the historical metal bands like Metallica and Iron Maiden, with whom I have always enjoyed playing their covers since I was a kid and groups a bit more “extreme” like Meshuggah or Opeth. In the last years I really like Animals as leaders, periphery, intervals, plini and Jason Richardson.

Tell me about your guitar technique.

I have always given much importance to obtaining a good technique of both the left hand and the right hand. I believe that to be able to express oneself at its best it is essential to have an excellent technical background. It is then up to the individual musician to decide how to exploit it. In the early years I gave a lot to achieve good speed and cleanliness at the expense of other more important basic techniques that I then had to perfect in the following years. But I believe that it is not entirely wrong, for that kind of stuff we are more inclined up to the age of twenty I could say. Of course, after, they must be perfected and constantly improved. Basically I use a lot of alternate picking, sweep picking and the tremolo bar to make long notes more expressive. Then, depending on the context, I like to vary with legato and tapping on more fusion oriented harmonies…

What guitars are in your connection?

I had several guitars, even important ones, over the years but I sold them all when I became an endorser of Ego Guitar by Marconi Lab! If you’ve never heard about it, take a look at www.egoguitar.com. I am currently using two “Ego Super” seven strings, one with a fixed bridge and one with tremolo, both with fanned frets. Then I have a six string that I use mainly in other contexts like recording sessions, teaching, etc..

With the advancement of the technology and amp/effect simulation, do you still use pedals?

I’m not a big lover of digital simulations especially if we talk about distortions, although I often use them for necessity, so I remain faithful to the analog sound more than the pedals from tube heads. Although I have recently been able to test some MXR pedals that I found very good. Instead, I have a good relationship with all the digital effects but I still use them in small quantities. So talking about chorus, delay, reverb etc.. I prefer them in simulated versions.

In your opinion, what are the three skills that every guitarist must bring to perfection?

First of all music theory. I know a lot of good guitarists but they don’t get the desired results just because of the lack of music theory knowledge. Then good mastery of bending/vibrato and and finally the most important thing: timing!

Back to music, what were the biggest challenges you faced as a guitarist when making “Unsafe Places”?

Certainly the memorization of all the parts was a considerable challenge! In “Unsafe Places” there are songs with very complex structures full of modulations and time changes, so in the compositional phase I never proceeded further until I had memorized every previous part. During the recordings, the challenge was to make the double tracking of the tighter rhythm parts extremely precise without having to do too much editing work later. Same speech as regards the most technically difficult sections, I preferred to play and play them several times until I was fully satisfied rather than going to edit them afterwards.

How do you go about channeling inspiration into writing?

To compose these pieces of music I started from invented or real stories and tried to transpose them into music. More details I could introduce into the story and more the composition became longer and articulated.

I can give two characteristic examples. For the opening track of the album “Black Dunes” I imagined a journey on a distant planet dominated by the wind and whose surface is a desert of black sand. After that, a lot of more details can come to mind while you are listening to the song. The beauty of music is that everyone is free to interpret them based on their emotions.

The other example is taken from real life and concerns the last song of the album: “Chernobyl”. In this composition I wanted to retrace minute by minute the facts that led to the bigger nuclear accident of the history. So I have extensively documented myself through various documentaries about the events and literally set to music the events and moods that occurred immediately before and after the tragedy.

Tell me about your guitar rig you use for recording your material.

Of course! I used a Ego Super by Marconi Lab 7 string tuned one step down for practically the entire album, except for some rhythms parts where I further lowered the tuning of the last string to the low E (like a drop E eight string). About the amp, I made everything with mesa boogie mark V 25 with a 2×12 cabinet with jensen custom speaker recorded with sm 57 + sennheiser e609. Every effect were instead added during the mixing phase directly in the studio by vst.

What are your five favourite pieces of gear in 2019, and why?

Well surely one of my inseparable Ego Super by Marconi Lab, I get on very well with headless guitars, and in particular these have a precise intonation and I never have detuning problems. The mini head 6505 by Peavey, a low budget gear for a rhythm sound that stands out in the mix like no other; The Boogie Mark V 25, a beast for my lead guitar part; the 5150 MXR pedal, an overdrive with a lot of gain like few others that sounds good in combination with any amp or even directly only with an impulse response. Finally a surprise for the bass sound: the Alpha Omega Darkglass, used lately by my bass player Carlo Ferri for live performances is really very complete and allows you to get a lot of tones.

What other dragons are you looking forward to slaying?

There are important news regarding the gigs; we are going to start with a series of events called “Modern Prog Night” where we will present “Unsafe Places” along with two other amazing instrumental-prog bands from Italy: Asymmetric Universe and The Giant Baba.

While I’m busy with the recording of Errant Shadow’s new album, the symphonic metal band in which I have the honor of playing. The first single “Errant Knight” has just come out and I was very pleased with the new sound of the band.

Immediately afterwards I want to record several video playthroughs both from Unsafe Places and Errant Shadow and in 2020 I will also be present on the guitar on a couple of other productions by Ænima Recordings. So I have to use every weapon at my disposal to kill all these dragons!

“Unsafe Places” is out now; stream it on Bandcamp. Follow Emanuele on Facebook.