I always admire women who love death metal, and this incredible singer I’ve had the pleasure of interviewing is definitely one of them. I chatted at the Summer Crock Fest with Veronica from Fleshgod Apocalypse, and here’s what we discussed about.
|Hi Veronica, how are you doing these days?
|Very well. Hot, but very good. Thank you very much.
|I think it’s, first of all, very good to come back and do some good live shows after these difficult years. You still released something during the pandemic, which wasn’t that easy, though, I guess.
|So it was relatively easy for us to get together because we all live in the same area anyway, except for our new drummer, Eugene Ryabchenko (he lives in Austria). But still, logistically, it was quite easy because we, in addition to a band, are also very close friends outside, so we always have dinners. Of course, when there were red zones, we stayed at home; however, we always tried to keep our social pages a little bit active. We also did a lot of live streams; Francesco Paoli, the singer, had done the Saturday Night Lockdown. They were basically these live streams where he would chat with guests: Cristina Scabbia, Simone Simons, the drummer from At The Gates, Dino Cazares… I mean, quite a lot of important people: they are also friends outside of work and wonderful people that we met along the way. So we kept ourselves active a little bit to not go crazy because we had to do something that was kind of attached and related to the music anyway. So this was an outlet, and we precisely decided to record then what was the cover song before even our single “No.” We had a lot of fun with it. Of course, we couldn’t wait for it to be over. Because to come back then to rehearse, to write together, to see each other again, even just going for a pizza was incredible. I am an extremely empathetic person and very fragile, just emotionally. It was very traumatic; in a sense, it’s kind of hard to explain, it was difficult. We came back from the UK tour, and the next week we were in lockdown, so it was like a cold shower. There was no light at the end of the tunnel. To come back after almost three years on stage was incredible because then we came back in a big way to festivals, of course. So thousands, tens of thousands of people screaming our name, singing our songs. To come back to this reality was wonderful, but before I went on stage, I had a panic attack just because I said, “But so it can be done? Is this a real thing?” We were locked in for three years, and now we’re returning to doing what we like, with the people we like, for the people we like. So it’s been incredible, and we’re still getting used to it again. Even people stop us and ask, “Can we take a picture? Can I have an autograph, please?”… I don’t take it for granted.
|What was your favourite game when you were a child?
|Hide-and-seek was the most highly rated. I was lucky enough to have been born in a country area, just a few kilometres from the historic centre of my little town, Todi, in the province of Perugia. I grew up in this building with five families. All five families had at least one child my age, so we went to kindergarten, elementary, and middle school together. From the first to the last day of summer vacation always under the house playing hide-and-seek and then cards because I’m old at heart. I was already playing cards when I was 12 years old, it’s wonderful. I still enjoy it. So briscola (a typical italian game cards, ed) with friends of the same age was another game.
|Internet has had a big impact on the music world. In your opinion, has it been more of a positive or negative thing?
|Surely it has done more good because internet has allowed people even in the far reaches of the earth to be able to know and come to know bands. I’m speaking not only as a musician of a band that talks about the internet that made people discover their band to, I don’t know, an Indonesian guy who lives in a remote village in Bandung. But I tell you, so many kids started playing instruments because of/thanks to the internet. With online tutorials, the human contact between teacher and student may have been lost a little bit. It has increased exponentially the number of people who buy a musical instrument or maybe subscribe to Spotify since they may not be able to buy the record because they live in places with no record stores. People come to your concerts and have you sign an instrument that they have never played live. Maybe they have been playing it for ten years; however, they don’t have a band, or they don’t have a way to make a band. But they have been playing your songs in their bedrooms thanks to the internet. These are realities that unfortunately exist: so many people, even from the third world, who may have saved money their whole lives to buy a guitar or a bass, the rise of the internet is important. Then you see these human machines that sound impressive, but they lack soul when they play. And that to me is kind of, let’s say, the other side of the coin, that the internet standardizes the playing a little bit. I had the overwhelming good fortune to have music teachers who did it for passion more than for the money, and they gave me many, many emotions. They taught me so much to understand, even to pick up, and to be a little more empathetic. Then I have a little more sympathetic character, maybe so I pick up things differently. But if you maybe always stay in the house, you play the sheet music you download from the internet, you watch the video tutorial of the guy in Hong Kong… I’m playing a song – I feel an emotion, but you don’t necessarily feel the same because it’s just this lack of contact between teacher and student. If you want to put it on the scale, it’s more pros than cons.
|What’s the strangest place you’ve ever played a concert?
|Le Petit Bain in Paris. Because it’s a very small boat, even though it’s a full-fledged venue inside. But when the audience does the wall of death, circle pit, or moshpit, the boat moves, and you’re there saying, “Oh my God.” But on the other side, the 70,000 Tons of Metal was twice the best experience of my life, just because of the concept. I’m not a cruise fanatic; I’m not too fond of the concept of cruising. But you go, and honestly, you get paid to do your life’s work in a wonderful setting where all these people are paying for the ticket. But I would gladly go, even as a customer, if I had the money and the means to go. Because there’s no backstage, and so you go to see Nightwish, Floor Jansen is walking in front of you and having breakfast with you, you know? Then, of course, the ones that are a little more reserved are more in the cabin. We met Blind Guardian. We’ve had dinner with Lacuna Coil and met Cristina Scabbia on a cruise. We are best friends. Hi, Cristina! Epica, great friends. Then you catch up with people you haven’t seen for so many years with whom you might be touring. Great experience!
|Do you think it’s harder to be a woman in the metal world?
|It happened to go to places on Earth where women are not considered equal to men, so either you don’t get considered (which I prefer), or you just get treated extremely poorly, musically speaking. When you are on tour, if you happen to be lucky enough to have a girl on tour, 99% she’s a badass, a great one; you are in for a treat because not everybody accepts to make a life like that. On the road, life is really heavy, much heavier than one could ever imagine, and you support each other. But really, it’s not like there’s this need to support each other because the only support we need is for toilets. Of course, the alpha male who goes on tour says, “Whatever, we’re only males anyway, so I’m going to the women’s bathroom”…just kidding. However, in a sense, I never had a way to integrate or maybe assert myself as a woman, I have to be honest. I also had a really, really amazing group happen to me. I consider myself lucky because those guys with whom I share so much of my life are brothers. I’ve been interviewed with Francesco a couple of times, and it’s not long that I do interviews because I’ve always been a little afraid of the thought that people had about a soprano in a death metal band. So I’ve always thought that the standard death metal listener goes to hear Cannibal Corpse, and as soon as there’s a female on stage, it’s a heresy! One person who gave me the confidence I now have was Corpsegrinder from Cannibal Corpse, who came to hear us once in Berlin. They were playing the next day, they had parked the tour bus, they came to hear us, and he sent Webster to buy our records and T-shirts. At the time I was at the merch stand, we went out afterwards, and they were behind it and Corpsegrinder, who was still sober. So he was really in full possession of his faculties. He hugged me, and he said, “This is the coolest thing I ever wanted to see” And I said, “I have like all your records, I’ve been a fan of yours since I was a little girl” because I grew up with grindcore and deathcore, I liked really heavy stuff. I told him I was so afraid of his judgment. And he replied, “Are you kidding? I mean, it’s well done, it’s beautiful. You’re beautiful and good, so get your shit together because there’s a need to make this stand in metal.” I said from there, “Maybe if someone who’s been doing this for 30 years, which understands something about it, let’s give him some credit.”
|Wow! How would you sell hot chocolate in the summer in Florida?
|I’d gift a glass of fresh lemonade to the first person who buys chocolate!
|Thank you for taking the time to do this interview! Would you like to add anything else to FemMetal readers?
|Go to concerts now that you can, and buy merchandise. Support the bands now that you can show off your t-shirts at the concerts and have fun. Don’t do drug, but if you do, don’t drive. Always be nice to each toher. This is more a death metal thing.