INTERVIEW BY: Claudia @ Jareth's Girl Music
I caught up with the members of Italian, shoegaze band Clustersun, who are currently recording their second album. They are based in Catania, a lovely city on the Eastern coast of Sicily; It sits at the feet of Mount Etna (Europe’s highest active volcano) overlooking the Ionian Sea.
We had a great catch-up chat and in the process we discovered that we are all fans of the movie “Being There”. Read on to find out more about this talented quartet from Italy.
VZN: How did you guys first meet?
CS: Mario, Marco and Piergiorgio were friends from the school/college era. We met Andrea as as a friend of Piergiorgio's girlfriend. She knew we were looking for a drummer and told Andrea to come to meet us at our rehearsal space. We started to jam together and it was magic from the very first moment we met - our family was born.
VZN: Because I'm sure people want to know and I'm also sure you get asked this question a lot: does the name ‘Clustersun' mean any special significance for you?
It has a very psychedelic and spacey flavor, and we love this because we think it fits and describes our music very well. It came out from one of the first jams we recorded at the very beginning of our time together; it was something sounded very much like the Pink Floyd's instrumental "Cluster One" (it's on ‘The Division Bell’, 1994) so we called it ironically "Cluster Sun". Then we thought: "Hey this could be a killer name for the band, but written as one word!" We love it.
VZN: I caught up with you guys, when you were touring the US, where you played some great shows. Now that you are back in Italy, what are you guys up to?
CS: We are recording our second album. We are done with drums, bass and guitar, and just started working on keyboards and synths. We'll end with vocals, and after that we’ll move to mixing and mastering. This is still the middle of the road for us, but we' re very happy of how things are coming out.
We are doing the recordings on our own for the first time here in our home-studio/rehearsal space - in Catania, Italy. We were all born, grew up, and live here. The tracks will then be mixed in Rome at WAX Recording Studio by Alessio Pindinelli (also guitarist in italian shoegaze unit La Casa al Mare) and Fabio Galeone; mastering will be provided by Carl Saff in Chicago.
VZN: What’s inspiring you for this album?
CS: We strongly want to make a record that sounds definitely closer to our live dimension, more full, aggressive, and edgy in comparison to our debut "Out Of Your Ego”, which came out in 2014 for Seahorse Recordings.
VZN: You say “more full”; can you describe how the last record didn’t quite meet that criterion and how your focus to achieve a more full sound on this record actually translates to the recording process for you guys?
The songs and the production on "Out Of Your Ego" were more dreamy and atmospheric (Paolo Messere behind the desk did a stunning job), but now with these new recording we are focused on adding a dirtier and punchier side. That means, in terms of the recording process, more fuzz, more reverb, and more dynamic range.
The songs on this new album came about while we were touring and definitely have a more prominent live/stage attitude; in comparison, the tracks on the first album were born in the studio, so they sound more refined. On each instrument we are also working more with layers, and trying to build a perfect wall of sound
VZN: How did your experience with the audiences on your tour in the US influence the new direction in sound?
Touring in the US was our life's goal as musicians and as people; we had a great time there! It was a pleasure to share the stage with so many great bands (Lazy Queen, Lady, Toy Cannons, Dead Scouts, Panophonic, The One2s, Allora Mis, Overfield, Arlen, Big Mess and many others) and to meet so many interesting people and supporters.
After every gig, people came up to us and kept telling us: "Hey, I listened to you on the album and I thought you were great, but now that I've heard you live, you’re FABULOUS, way better than on cd!" So, we realized that the direction to follow for the new album was to try and replicate, as best as we could, the sound and the atmosphere of a Clustersun's live performance.
VZN: The artwork for your last album was really amazing - it kinda reminds me of that movie “Being There.” How and why did you chose the artist for it?
CS: Glad you liked it and can't agree more about "Being There"! It's another point that connects us with US; all of the artwork for "Out Of Your Ego" was conceived and shot by Brooke DiDonato, a young, and amazingly talented fine art photographer from NYC.
We saw her photos in one of the main Italian newspaper’s website and instantly fell in love with her aesthetics - that reminded us of Storm Thorgerson's covers for Pink Floyd. We quickly wrote to her and we sent her our songs with lyrics, but we were quite skeptical about her interest in working with us on this project. But to our great surprise, she replied just a few hours later, and told us that she was very happy to become part of the team!
We didn't give her any specific direction to follow; we gave her complete freedom of expression - with the only help of the songs and the lyrics to help her. She came out with these five breathtaking shots; her work is of true value to our album!
It was fantastic having the chance to meet her for our first gig in NYC! She's like a little sister and we all love her!
VZN: If you had to describe your music to someone who’s never heard it before, what would you say?
CS: In a more "technical" way, we could say we deliver a special mix of shoegaze, psychedelia, postpunk, and new wave, but the best definition would be just this: our music is a reverberated, fuzzy, dreamy journey into space.
VZN: Who do you all consider your biggest musical influences?
Hundreds of name come to mind: Slowdive, My Bloody Valentine, Ride, Swervedriver, The Jesus And Mary Chain, Cocteau Twins, Echo & The Bunnymen (check out their recent cover of Think I Need It Too), Joy Division, New Order, The Cure, Lush, The sound, Swans, Neu!, Can, PIL, Bauhaus, Spiritualized, Spacemen 3, Loop, Pale Saints…
And more recently A Place To Bury Strangers, The Soft Moon, The XX, DIIV, Black Angels, The Oscillation, Ringo Deathstarr, Hookworms, The Raveonettes, ThePains Of Being Pure At Heart, Ummagma…
We could go on for ages! But everything for us started with Pink Floyd, The Beatles, and The Velvet Underground when we were kids.
VZN: Where do you plan to tour next?
CS: We plan to go back to the US to support our new album - with the help of our American label Custom Made Music and the great Dave Allison. We had so much fun with him during the last US tour, that can't wait to be on the Americans roads again - this time for a longer period too and with more gigs.
We also plan an intense tour in Europe and Italy. It would be great to have a chance to reach the Far East, especially Japan, and/or South America (Mexico, Brazil, Argentina), where we know we have a strong fan base.
Clustersun are: Marco Chisari (lead vocals & bass) | Mario Lo Faro (guitars) | Piergiorgio Campione (keys, synths & backing vocals) | Andrea Conti (drums)
You can catch up with, listen to and purchase their music here: