Hi guys! It’s so great to touch base with you! I recently premiered the video for you song “Raw Nerve” at The Big Takeover and just included “Lonely Moon” in my TOP 10 SoundCloud playlist. I’m excited now to find out more about you and what you’re up to these days. To start off, who is in the band and what instruments do you play? Who is the songwriter of the band?
Hi Jen, and thank you so much for the great spotlight offered to us with this interview and the special features at The Big Takeover! CLUSTERSUN are Marco Chisari (lead vocals & bass), Mario Lo Faro (guitars), Piergiorgio Campione (synthesizers & backing vocals), and Andrea Conti (drums). We always write music starting from free jams, and when some interesting sections, riffs, or sometimes just plain sounds come out, then we try to develop the song around these pristine elements, with an equal contribution of all of us. When the structure of the musical part is complete, Marco writes the lyrics. All our creative process is tailored to keep the most spontaneous intentions and is based on the interplay of all four of us.
How would you describe your sound/style?
A mix of shoegaze, psych, post-punk, space-rock, and dream-pop, shaken and delivered at super-loud volumes. But we prefer to say we try to make music that just takes the listener to an otherworldly dimension by creating a space-time suspension.
You released your second album, Surfacing To Breathe, this past May via Seahorse Recordings. What has the ride been like since it came out?
Yeah, the album was released this past May 19th and we are still totally overwhelmed by the amazing feedback coming from both critics and fans. The ride started even before thanks to the single “Raw Nerve”, dropped in April, ahead of the album release, and its trippy music video directed by Samir Kharrat and Adriano Spadaro of Visualazer. It got almost 40,000 views on YouTube in a couple of months!
Also, so many outstanding reviews are coming out every day and the album is selling really well. Speaking of that, we’d love to remind everyone that Surfacing To Breathe is available to purchase on vinyl, CD, and digital formats digital through our BandCamp website and you can also find it on Amazon, Spotify, iTunes, Apple Music, Deezer, and Google Play.
I’m really into your richly textured, dynamic guitar-driven sound. How do you create such a voluminous sonic effect?
Glad to hear that you noticed that! The core of Mario’s guitar sound is based on layering. Apart from the use (and abuse) of fuzzes, delays, reverbs, modulations, and filter, the ‘wall-of-sound’ effect is achieved by stacking different guitar parts with an organ/orchestral strategy: for example, a rhythm chordal work with a massive fuzz is layered upon an overdriven and reverberated track that plays the same pattern on the upper octave, with the inclusion of a soaring lead part. All of them are then sculpted in frequencies and pan-potted in the most effective way. Game done. The great goal was also having at the mix board Alessio Pindinelli (guitar and vocals in La Casa Al Mare) and Fabio Galeone of Wax Recording Studio in Rome. Their work in giving shape to our sonic ideas was simply outstanding (Alessio also co-produced the album with us).
The LP is also filled with restless, emotive vocals and searching lyrics. What are some of the themes that you tackle on this record?
All the lyrics written by Marco are surrounded by a dark atmosphere, with a dream-like sense of melancholy and emotional fragility: fractured love, fears, angst, and trippy hallucinations are the themes evoked in the songs.
How has the music on Surfacing To Breathe evolved from your debut, Out Of Your Ego, which came out in 2013?
With Surfacing To Breathe we tried to raise the sonic bar delivering a more complex and layered mixture of shoegazey reverberations, massive walls of sound, and psychedelic soundscapes. While the debut album had a focus on ethereal and cold atmospheres this one shows a more muscular sound, emphasizing at max the dynamic range. Now there’s more power, grit, and dirt, and in the end we like that the two albums have a different sound approach to the same genre.
What specific bands or genres inspired you when recording your latest album?
Not only for this record, but in general our musical background is a constant source of inspiration for us. We all grew up listening to The Beatles, Pink Floyd, and Velvet Underground; then we fell in love with Slowdive, My Bloody Valentine, Ride, The Jesus And Mary Chain, Swervedriver, Chapterhouse, The Brian Jonestowne Massacre, Spiritualized, Echo & The Bunnymen, Joy Division, New Order, The Cure, Spacemen 3, The Depreciation Guild, Neu!, Can… We could go on for years!
We also adore contemporary acts like Ringo Deathstarr, A Place To Bury Strangers, Cheathas, Minor Victories, Flyying Colours, Pinkshinyultrablast, Nothing, Beach House, The KVB, Eagulls, Spectres, Preoccupations, The Black Angels, The Oscillation…
You’re based out of Catania in Sicily and have performed in Italy and parts of the US. Will you be touring in support of Surfacing To Breathe?
After the first dates of this month, we’ll keep on touring to support the album with gigs in Italy and Europe through autumn and winter, and we hope to play some festivals too. Also, we should be coming back to play in the US in spring 2018.
How has your geographical location affected your music? What hurdles have you had to face as an Italian band who wants to break through in the US and the UK?
We love our hometown and country so much, but we have to say that many things would have been a lot easier if we had lived in the northern part of Italy or in the middle of Europe. Logistics is the main concern when you have to plan a tour and your travel starts from an isle in the Mediterranean Sea. Also, making music like shoegaze and psych in Italy is not so simple, because even the indie/alternative crowd and press seem more interested in poppier/lighter acts.
Despite that, we can see that there’s a lot of appreciation abroad for the so- called “italo-gaze” scene that features stunning acts like La Casa al Mare, Rev Rev Rev, Stella Diana, Novanta, Electric Floor, In Her Eye, My Invisible Friend, Be Forest, Soviet Soviet, Brothers In Law, Sonic Jesus, The Gluts, Arirang, Klam, Bialogard, Kimono Lights, Good Morning Finch, Weird., Leave The Planet, Jambox, The Yellow Traffic Light, 86Sandals, Purple Got Me Slow Mo, The Mystic Morning, Huge Molasses Tank Explodes, Human Colonies, Tiger! Shit! Tiger! Tiger!, and Pipe’s Not Dead - just to name a few!
What made you all want to start a band and how did you all get together? Were you friends before you formed Clustersun?
Everything started in 2013 just as a mutual enjoyment between four longtime friends who were shoegaze/psych/wave-addicted. We were used to spending hours jamming at super-loud volumes and making this a more ‘serious’ thing was a definite and welcome plus.
Speaking of your band’s name, where does it come from? It conjures up images of a dense and brilliant orb that actually does translate into your sound. I guess that’s what you were going for?
At the very beginning, after a few weeks spent drenching melodies with fuzz and reverb, we had yet another bunch of song drafts and started thinking of giving a name to our project. One of these first drafts was called ‘Cluster Sun’, mainly because it had a section reminiscent of Pink Floyd’s instrumental track “Cluster One” (Changing the title that way was a joke and a tribute at the same time), so when we talked about the band’s name all of us agreed that this one could work perfectly, but written as one word: it has a kind of trippy, spacey vibe and we instantly thought it could represent really well the music and the aesthetics we intended to deliver.
You contributed a song to the just-released For The Love Of Chris Tressler compilation, which pays tribute to the passionate music enthusiast and promoter of the shoegaze genre who passed away earlier this year. How did you end up on this amazing comp put out by DKFM Shoegaze on Bandcamp?
We are so glad and honored to be part of this! Chris was one of the first people who pushed and supported our music from the very beginning, with sincere and genuine enthusiasm, and his help was something that we could never forget. We knew him only in the virtual world, but every time we chatted, it was like talking with a long-time friend. His passion for music was something so strong and powerful and the love that came from so many bands all over the world, after his sad passing, says it all about how wonderful a human being he was.
When the idea of honoring Chris with a compilation came out, we were so happy to contribute with “Event Horizon”, a song taken from Surfacing To Breathe that we thought could have been a Chris favorite, but let us say that all the tracks are simply cracking. All of this was made possible thanks to the amazing dedication of the awesome Krissy Vanderwoude and Jonathan Sellers, with the support of Greg Wilson and Amber Crain at legendary DKFM Shoegaze radio: No words to say how strong the love and respect is for them and all the bands and people involved.