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The Ragnarøkkr’s of Asgard

The Ragnarøkkr’s of Asgard

The Ragnarøkkr’s of Asgard

Meet Asgard, a compelling long-running band whose exciting folk/progressive rock compositions are absolutely wondrous to behold.  Ragnarøkkr is Asgard’s 6th full-length release – now available from Pride & Joy Music and produced by the one and only Roland Grapow of Helloween and Masterplan infamy.  Asgard unveil a world of magic and intrigue that will stun the senses and set the imagination in flight.  Highwire Daze caught up with Albert Ambrosi (keyboards, flute, backing vocals) and Andrea Gottoli (guitars) to discover the grand and unique tapestries of the Ragnarøkkrs from the almighty Asgard!  Read on…

Introduce yourself, tell me what you do in Asgard, and how long the band has been together.
Albert: I play Keys, Flute and backing vocals.

Andrea: I’m guitarist and do backing vocals too.

Albert: The band Asgard exists since 1986, I founded it as I was a student. After that we changed several line-ups. The current one is together since May 2016.

Where is the band based out of and what is the local music scene like there?
Andrea: Currently three member of the band are living in Trient in the very north of Italy and the other two in south Germany.

Albert: Trient/South Tirol is our “operation-base”, there is our rehearsal room.

Andrea: Music scene here is quite closed. Most of slots for live-acts are taken by cover bands, the chances to play live for a band with its own material are few, unless you play certain genres. There are some places where you can listen to rock or metal bands, but they’ve becoming a rarity.

How did you wind up signing with Pride & Joy Music?
Andrea: Once the album was ready, we immediately started searching for a label. Pride & Joy Music was one of the first to answer us and immediately gave a huge support.

Albert: With Pride & Joy we had since the beginning a good feeling: they took time to listen our music and to answer us peronally.

Is there any overall story or concept behind the Ragnarøkkr album title?
Andrea: Absolutely yes. It’s incredible how many things we have in common with northern mythology, probably most of us just “forgot” them. The Ragnarøkkr reflect many ideas which we can find on ancient books and these themes are extraordinarily contemporary. Concepts as life and death, rebirth and cyclic nature are strong in the Ragnarøkkr and we tried to handle with them giving our audience a motivation to think about.

How does Ragnarøkkr compare to the previous Asgard releases?
Albert: The sound is much more heavier. Actually this is the powerful sound I always wanted to have with Asgard, since the beginning. Unfortunately our former label saw in us an “Italian” band, and Italians have to be melodic,you know; so when we were in the recording studio they always gave instruction to the personnel there to mix us as melodical as possible!

Select two songs from Ragnarøkkr and what inspired the lyrics.
Albert: The track Kali-Yuga is inspired from a sentence of Chinese philosoph Lao-Tze: about 3000 years ago he said: “the caterpillar calls “end of the world”, what the rest of the world calls “butterfly”. What a perfect (and poetical) example for radical differences of point of views at the one side, and cyclical flow of nature at the other side!

Another track I would like to mention is Danse Macabre, because it’s very up-to-date. As I wrote it never could imagine that a Corona Virus had to come. The song handles with the terrible epidemics of black pest during the middle-ages in Europe. The final message of this song is that the illness in our minds is even worst than the deadly one in our bodys.

What has it been like to release a new album in the middle of a pandemic?
Andrea: The decision of this release was far beyond the pandemic. It’s a shame for the whole music scene but at the same time music could be a moment of relax and a relief.

Albert: Now people have more time to listen to music, not only to “consume” it.

What was it like working with Roland Grapow of Helloween and Masterplan and what did he contribute to the overall recording process?
Andrea: As we started working on the new material, Albert told us that this time the sound should be heavier than the previous works. Roland has turned the sound exactly in the right direction. He helped us a lot in the recording studio, giving us advices and showing himself as a very professional guy.

Who did the cover art for Ragnarøkkr and how much influence did you have on it?
Albert: Our singer Franco realized the cover. He works as professional designer. I just told him the basic idea beyond it.

What could one expect from a live Asgard show?
Albert: Our live shows are theatrical and we try to transmit the audience an atmosphere like “out of time-out of space.” I think people go to live shows because they want to see and to feel something, not only to hear the music they already listened at home.

If Asgard could open for any band either now or from the past, who would it be and why?
Andrea: Being a huge fan of Iron Maiden I could not choose any other band. In my opinion they are pioneers of some of the sounds we are all now used to; and their shows are amazing, it’s like going to the theatre. I saw them 5 or 6 times, share the same stage would be an honour.

Albert: There are several bands I would love to open for: Queensryche from the age with Chris De Garmo and Geoff Tate: they were unique! Current bands: Iced Earth, Fejd, Deadrisen for instance. I think the kind of audience of these bands (who I love) would find Asgard interesting.

What do you think has kept Asgard going strong since 1986?
Albert: The big love and passion for music!

Are you currently involved with any other bands or projects outside of Asgard?
Andrea: Most of us are working on parallel projects, but during these years we managed to balance all the different works.

Albert: I am not involved in any other projekt: Asgard takes all my energies!

What’s up next for Asgard?
Albert: We don’t know. We would like to play some gigs in the future. Let’s see how are the reactions to Ragnarøkkr. I suppose it depends on them.

Any final words of wisdom?
Albert: Thanks a lot to all people who helped and supported us in the past and currently! Sometimes is touching to see how much our fans love Asgard… Thank You guys!

Albert Ambrosi: Keyboards, Flute, Backing Vocals
Franco Violo: Lead Vocals
Andrea Gottoli: Guitars
Kikko Rebeschini Sambugaro: Drums, Percussions
Paolo Scandolo: Bass

(Interview by Ken Morton)

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