Isotta Fraschini or Forneria Marconi ?
FRANZ - We liked the idea of a prestigious workshop. We thought it was a good omen for us, because we were used to "make" sounds for other people in the recording studios. The second name "Forneria Marconi" (Marconi's bakery) charmed us because it was "unknown" and it wasn't related to any particular reality. Mauro proposed it because it was the name of a band he joined for a short time many years before and because it was the name of a bakery in Chiari, a small town near Brescia. We thought that "Forneria Marconi" was not bad, but it needed something more. We wanted a name which sounded like " a prestigious workshop" and it should also sound noble. Colombini, Numero Uno artistic director, suggested us to add "Premiata", a word with an old fashioned meaning which was perfect to indicate the handcraft quality of our music (often people forget that a musician works with his hands, exactly as a tailor, a baker or a carpenter). That choice was courageous and later on we discovered its advantages and also few disadvantages.
Deep Purple's guests
|Foreign bands used to tour in
Italy even if the "guest " tradition did not exist yet. PFM started to perform
as "guest star" with "Procol Harum" and with "Yes". After those two experiences
the "guest star" role seemed to take shape in the Italian music outline.
Being a guest star was quite hard, because bands had to be very good and
musicians had to have a cheek to play in front of other bands' audiences.
Musicians should also have a peculiar gladiatorial turn, because nobody
could be sure about what would have happened once the performance had started.
Sometimes it happened that the audience's enthusiasm grew so much that nobody
(even the promoter himself) could control the situation.
FRANZ - Sometimes people were so excited that they could even throw cans, ice creams and …..even stones. Those were hard but lively times! A guest band was lucky when the audience listened to its performance without hissing. And above all instruments had to be safe at the end of the show!
In 1971 PFM performed as opening guest star before Deep Purple's concert in Bologna. That occasion was one of the most important turning points in PFM's career.
FRANZ - \There were about 10.000 people waiting for their favourite hard rock band since the early morning. We were waiting to be introduced to the audience, but Mr. F. Sanavio, the promoter, was very scared and he did not want to go on the stage. He thought our name sounded too strange. Finally we were introduced by one of our roadies who was very brave to face the audience! The audience did not know us and our name sounded really strange, but we tried to perform the best we could. We knew that was a very important opportunity. Once on the stage, we started performing "21st Century schizoid man" (a King Crimson' song) in the dark, because nobody lit the lights on! After few minutes people started to ask themselves which band was performing so skilfully. Everybody thought we were a new, unknown English band. At the end of the show the promoter came on the stage and said: "This is PFM, there will be much talk about them in the future". Maybe he said that because he saw the audience's positive reaction, but he was a good "prophet". We will never forget our "debut in the dark". When we become famous we decide to give the same opportunity to other beginners, such as: Eugenio Finardi, Angelo Branduardi, Arti e Mestieri, Acqua Fragile, Alberto Fortis and even a young Roberto Benigni (a long time before the famous Oscar's night!). They all become famous.... Anyway we used to tell all beginners: "We give you this opportunity, but you have to do the rest and find a way out…alive!"
La carrozza di Hans
FRANCO - This was the first "original" song composed by PFM and performed for our audience. In April 1971, while we were performing in Turin, our record company (Number One) decided our participation to Viareggio Festival (a famous festival dedicated to new trends and vanguard). We had to take part to the contest with an original song. While I was driving from Turin to Milan, I started to compose some music in my mind. My friends were all sleeping and the music came in my mind maybe pushed by rush. I imagined a suite with a melodic refrain. Its structure was quite complex and it took me the whole journey to complete it. When we arrived in Milan, first I drove my friends home then I went home. Once there I took my guitar and I played the music I had in my mind. It took me two hours to "decode" everything and learn it, because my composition was not easy at all! Then I went to bed: I was sure I would have remembered everything in the morning and I was right. The day after we went all to Flavio's place, because we had to work on the song for the contest. My friends were all really surprised and happy when they listened to my composition...we started all together to work immediately. In a few time we enriched it with some improvisation and it become a surprising song that sounded very "natural" in spite of its difficult unisons, its frequent pauses and its "mood" changes., "La Carrozza di Hans" was completed by lyrics which underlined the theme of life's journey. Our song won Viareggio Festival Award.
The Moog's voice
- My favourite song is "Impressioni di Settembre" (September's feelings- in
the English version "The world become the world") because it sounds like a gift
from heaven, because it was something unexpected we received at the right moment.
I was sitting in my parents' sitting room; my fingers were trying to find their
way on the guitar. I was trying to transpose my thoughts into melody. I wanted
to express the positive feeling of satisfaction and I created the refrain of
this song. "Impressoni di Settembre" was born in that way and it remained the
Franz - "Impressioni di Settembre" was composed starting from a fantastic perception and it was the first song without the traditional refrain, because its refrain was simply musical without words. That refrain was really beautiful, but we had not the proper instrument to perform it. We tried with the guitar, but it sounded too normal. We tried with the flute, but its sound was not enough evocative. The proper instrument was the one we heard in Emerson Lake & Palmer' s "Lucky Man" and it was not available in Italy. That instrument was able to create very new sonorities and its sound was close to keyboards and wind instruments. It sounded like the Earth, the Sky and the Sea and all these elements together. We tried to get some information about it and we discovered that Monzino (the most important instruments' provider in Italy) imported it. It's name was "Moog", the same name as its inventor: Mr. Robert Moog. Moog's sound came from 3 different oscillators which created some waves that could be mixed together. It was also possible to play with some knobs to create a personal sound: high, soft like a clarinet, a flute or a sow. The moog was able to create really charming synthetic sounds and we were all incredibly happy! What happened later sounds like fairy tales. One day, in 1971, we met Mr. Monzino himself at "Milan's Instrument Exposition". He was exposing a Moog prototype, the second existing in the world, because Keith Emerson owned the first one, because it was a gift from Mr. Moog himself. We could not stop looking at the "Moog of our dreams" which was a portable one. That was exactly what we needed so we asked its price to Mr. Monzino..... Unfortunately it was really expensive. It was so expensive that we could not even afford thinking about buying it. I have to tell you something, I am from Abruzzo (a region which is in the centre of Italy) and people from Abruzzo normally are very stubborn!. I told Monzino: "Listen, this instrument could really be the turning point in Italian music outline. If you give it to us, soon you will sell ten of it". I don't know what happened, but Monzino accepted and gave us the moog. We recorded "Impressioni di Settembre" with its sounds and when the single came out it was a great success. The moog's sound was totally new, it could create unexpected images and feelings; it gave us a great advantage because we were considered an original band, a progressive band. Soon after "Impressioni di Settembre" success we decided to record our first LP. Would you like to know how many Moogs were sold in Monzino's shop? More than ten, maybe 100!
|FLAVIO - It is very difficult to explain what happens when someone is in front of an instrument. Everything depends on the way you are feeling and your mood depends on what you were doing few minutes before, on what you ate or on how you slept. This is the best and the funniest thing which happens to a musician. Anyway, when you discover and use a new instrument you are convinced you will receive new ideas from it. The instrument has the incredible power to create some new, incredible music.|
This explains why composers try always to compose
using many different instruments. During my career I was twice in the right
place at the right time. The first time I was in Rimini, playing the Mellotron.
The second one I was in Milano, at Numero Uno's recording studios. My friends
brought me the Moog; they told me it was the only one existing in Italy. That
day PFM's history begun, because our original music became really magic thanks
to the Moog's sonorities. We recorded "Impressioni di Settembre" and "la Carrozza
di Hans". Soon after we started recording our fist LP " Storia di un minuto".
We were in Riccione and one evening we went to "Beggars Opera" concert.
We discovered that they owned a strange instrument which was able to create
incredible sounds. We had already heard it in King Crimson and other English
bands LPs. It sounded like a whole orchestra and we were crazy about it. We
decide to buy it directly from the "Beggars Opera". We had to employ the only
person from their staff who was able to use it end repair it, because the Mellotron
was a very complicate instrument. It was not easy to move daily, as it was like
a recorder with many tapes supported by springs. Its keys could move every tape,
but unfortunately the tapes could tangle very easily every time the Mellotron
was moved. It had to be handled with care and after every movement it had to
be set up otherwise it sounded like an angry marine cow! Every time we had to
move the Mellotron it was problem, it had to be treated like a relic! Anyway
it looked really extraordinary, because it was an enormous woody catafalque!
People could not help looking at it. We used the "magic relic" for the first
time in Rimini, at "L'Altro Mondo" club.
FLAVIO - Since our first live performance we used to leave each other some time to improvise. That night in Riming I improvised with the Mellotron and its magic sonorities touched everybody. Emotion made all us shivering.
Franz - Yes that is true, we all had goose flesh! I have to say that PFM's sound owes a lot to the Mellotron. We discovered many surprised recorded on the tapes: the famous guitar scale from the Beatles' Bungalow Bill on the first key, a hit from The Moody Blues on the second one etc. In "La Carrozza di Hans" we used some violin chords and the final effect was really unbelievable.
|FLAVIO - Insieme al Moog,
il Mellotron è uno degli strumenti che più di ogni altro ha segnato la storia della PFM
e credo anche la mia vita di artista. Non che io rinneghi il pianoforte o la mia prima
fisarmonica, ma con essi ho un rapporto quasi di odio-amore.
Durante la mia infanzia e la mia adolescenza ho passato così tante ore a studiare Bach o Mozart che mi è impossibile dimenticare quei sacrifici, sicuramente ricompensati dalla grande fortuna di potere fare musica tutta la vita, sacrifici che però mi hanno fatto rinunciare ad un sacco di partite di calcio con i miei amici.
"Storia di un Minuto"
Soon after the launch of the first single ("Impressioni
di Settembre" and "La Carrozza di Hans"), PFM recorded its first LP, "Storia
di un Minuto". The band's members decided to perform in studio as they usually
performed live, because they wished to transfer on their LP live show's vigorous
and immediate sound. "Storia di un Minuto" sounded so magically that it become
top seller in a few time.... People seemed to like PFM's music immediateness
and energy. For the first time in Italy a band reached the top LP chart in hit
parades. Music were composed by Franco Mussida, lyrics by Mauro Pagani and arrangements
were done by all PFM's members supervised by Claudio Fabi, the new Numero One
Artistic Director. "La Carrozza di Hans" sounded a little like Crimson's atmosphere,
but all the other songs had very innovative and peculiar sonorities. The most
significant songs were "Dove Quando" (Where and When) with its XVth Century-jazz
atmosphere and "Grazie Davvero" (Thanks a lot) with an exceptional wind instruments
orchestration created by Flavio Premoli. "Impressioni di Settembre" was recorded
with a longer introduction which was added in order to prepare the moog impact
of the refrain. "Celebration" (E' Festa) is the first rock tarantella.
FRANZ - This song represented our music everywhere, because we tried to reclaim Italian popular music language. Finally we recorded our first LP and we really liked it. We succeeded in finding our personal style and even if our music sounded Italian we felt we were ready to compete with the most famous international bands. We could find the right balance mixing synthesisers electronic sounds, ancient mandolas and other unusual instrument's sounds.... And we created pure Italian progressive rock.
A tour in South of Italy
PFM's first LP had a great success,
so we decided to start a tour to promote it. This kind of promotion was very
popular in the USA but not in Italy, because bands still used to perform in
Dance Halls. Every Italian promoter did not even know how to start. This kind
of "tradition" did not existed in Italy because singers and bands were used
to perform in clubs, dance halls, dancing or during traditional popular festivals;
the participation to these events did not need any particular organisation....
So we had to "create" our tour from the logistic to the setting. We wanted to
stage a very new show, because "Storia di un Minuto" was a kind of rock opera
which needed a particular setting.
FRANZ - After some time spent discussing, we decided that theatres were the proper venues for our show, because normally they were covered, well equipped and they had a very good acoustic. In few weeks we found many theatres available, especially in the South of Italy. We were very pleased about that, because we were all from the North of Italy and our tour would have been a good occasion to discover a part of Italy we did not know . We were also very glad to bring our music there, because the South of Italy had always been apart from cultural and fashion changes. We started our tour, but soon we realised that our calculations were wrong, because we did not earn enough money. We had a percentage on ticket profit, but it was not enough to cover all our expenses. In spite of this big problem we did not want to stop touring, because we realised that everywhere people were looking forward to listening to our performance. We did not want to deceive anybody, even if sometimes people didn't even know us, but they were simply happy to find someone who cared about them. At that time people all over Italy were yearning for novelties, Italian culture was changing very fast, because there was a continuous and passionate evolution. Anyway, even if our audience was enthusiast we did not earn enough money. Finally we could find a solution to our problem: we decided to perform 2 shows in every theatre, one in the afternoon and one in the evening. The first one was to pay the theatre and the second to get some money for us (not a lot, bur enough for gasoline, food etc.) Now we can say we were the pioneers of Italian rock history, because that tour was a true adventure. For example we hadn't even a contract pattern so we had to copy it from foreign bands!
"Per un Amico- Lake in Rome"
|At the end of 1972 tour, we thought
that our music sounded personal enough to compete with foreign bands, so
we decided to turn our interest towards Europe and to record a new LP. We
were not pushed by presumption; even the Italian promoters who were used
to organise the Italian tour of the most important foreign rock bands supported
our project. Our second LP "Per un Amico" (For a Friend -English version:
"Photos of ghosts") was very successful with our audience even if the critics
were not too favourable. Critics liked too much foreign music and maybe
they could not understand an Italian product which was so peculiar.
FRANZ - Franco Mamone (who was our Manager) promoted Emerson Lake & Palmer Italian tour. One evening, at the end of the show he gave them a tape recorded by us. It contained a mix of covers and songs from Storia di un minuto. Lake flew back to London, but after few days he phoned Franco Mamone because he liked the tape; he decided to come back to Italy and watch our show. On December 20th 1972 he came to Rome and watched the showcase we performed to promote our new LP "Per un Amico". He was enthusiast about us. He performed a song with us! After the show Greg invited us to London in order to sign a contract with Manticore, Emerson Lake & Palmer new Record Company.
FRANZ - At Manticore Record everybody
seemed to like our music very much, the whole staff could not stop flattering
us using many adjectives such as: terrific, unbelievable, great and superb.
Manticore Theatre was also Emerson Lake & Palmer headquarters. Every day each
star from the famous band used to give instructions to his staff. Emerson seemed
very busy, because he was preparing his Hammond organ which needed particular
care and patience. Emerson liked to find new special effects for every show.
In that occasion he was trying to find a way to change the real beautiful organ
with a copy and make it explode at the end of the show. We were astonished because
we did not have enough money to buy our instruments and he could afford to destroy
an organ (even if it was cheap copy) simply to impress our audience.... We also
envied his good staff. Everybody was able to repair an instrument and that skill
could save a show ! We were learning something important about the production
of a show.
Meeting Patrick Djvas
In summer 1973 we were in Italy and we decided
to set up our headquarters in a small villa in Lido di Spina (near Ferrara).
One evening Franz and Mauro decided to go to "L'Altro Mondo" in Rimini, because
they wanted to escape from Lido di Spina calm.
FRANZ - When we entered the club the show had already begun.... We knew everybody because we performed there many times. "Banco del Mutuo Soccorso" were performing. I have to explain something: this band was considered our competitor but we were friends and we liked to play music together, that is why we used to jam together after shows. In that occasion we met Patrick who was not supposed to perform that night. He came late and he did not bring his own bass (this detail in very important because Patrick uses a keyless bass)
FRANZ - Demetrio Stratos (who was an "Area" member as Patrick) convinced Patrick to perform in the jam session they were organising that night; Patrick went to his hotel to pick up his bass and came back to the club right in time to perform the jam . Vittorio and Gianni Nocenzi (from "Banco"), Tofani (from "Area"), Alberto Radius and Elio D'Anna (from "Osanna") were performing. Mauro and me were invited to join them. Since the first measures we understood we had a great feeling with Patrick. After the show, we had dinner together and I asked Patrick to join PFM. It did not take me along time to convince him, especially because Patrick was very interested in PFM's international projects. He joined us and we recorded the third LP "L'Isola di Niente" together (English version: "The world become the world")
PATRICK - The evening I met Mauro and Franz, I went to "L'Altro Mondo" because I wished to spend two hours there. At midnight I was supposed to pick up a beautiful German girl who was working in pub. I was with Demetrio Stratos and he introduced me to Franz and Mauro, even if we had already met somewhere sometimes before. There were many musicians who wished to perform a jam session, so I was asked to play the bass. I did not wanted to perform because my fretless was in the hotel and, above all, I had to meet the German girl. Franz insisted so much (thanks to his typical stubbornness from Abruzzo) and convinced a friend of him to drive me to the hotel and let me pick up my bass. I could not stop him. Our jam session was great. Demetrio was able to sing Rock' n Roll as nobody else! We played many songs such as: Boom Boom, Roll over Beethoven. Franz played drums like a fool, involving me totally. At the end of the show everybody was snapping at everybody's shoulders. We were all very happy. Franz told me: "Come to Chez Vous with us, let's eat something together. (Chez Vous was a famous restaurant where musicians used to go) First I refused because I had to meet the German girl, so I went away. I went to pick up the girl, but I was late and she did not wait for me. So I had to choose: my bed or Chez Vous. Luckily I was not sleepy, so I joined Franz and Mauro who were very happy to see me. Franz made me sit next to him and before I had decided what to eat he asked me: "So, are you going to join us?". That was the only night that I was happy to spend without a girlfriend!
A promotional tour in USA
Franz - We begun in Ottawa and then we went on touring in New Jersey. The first thing we learned was the rank of the different artists in the show business hierarchy. If you think about a grand prix control grid, you will understand what I mean. The top of the bill is in Pole Position, the second rank belongs to the special guest, in third rank there is the opening act and in forth rank there is normally a local band. The last in the ranking is, unfortunately, the first one performing. We were the special guests, the strange, exotic, special, band which used to perform peculiar rock music using guitars, accordion, violin, but also sintetyzers. Our rhythm was powerful and sanguine. Mr. Frank Barsalona helped us entering in the American Rock business. Where was he from? Guess! His relatives were Italians, but he was born in the USA. He became our American promoter. As many other people from the show business, he used to live near by New York. His home was really big, situated in a beautiful park full of plants. There was a swimming pool outdoors and a big terrace on piles, which fell sheer to the Hudson River.
1974- At the airport
FRANCO - LDuring the American tour I had the opportunity to measure my adaptability in a different country and to a different way of living. That period was extremely funny but also deceiving. During our first tour in 1974, one day we flew to New York. When we landed I thought about emigrants, about the way they meet their relatives coming from Italy when they arrive at the airport. I decided to "live" for real this sensation making a big joke to our manager, Franco Mamone. I went out the arrival gate and I waited for my friends in the big waiting room, when they came out from the arrival gate I run towards Franco Mamone screaming "Fernandooooo" with the typical Italian emphasis, keeping my arms opened. Everybody looked at me, but I went on running and I embraced Franco Mamone who was laughing because he was asking himself "who's Fernando?". That was our first joke in the USA.
FRANCO We were at Roxy Club in LA. I remarked a young man who was part of the staff and seemed very kind. One evening at the end of the show, we decided to leave our stuff in the club's warehouse and go to sleep. The morning after we received a phone call from the club's owner who told us that our stuff and the young man had disappeared… I have always been fatalist, but what happened was really hard to bear. I was stolen a Les Paul Gold (1969) a 3 Pickup 335 (the one I used to record Antaloma) and two Ovation. Patrick's two basses were stolen too (the famous fretless of the jam session in Rimini and a new Rickenbacker ) Fortunately Mr. Carlos Santana helped me, because he lent me one of his guitars when we had to perform as special guest in his show the night after.
Premiata Associates Inc.
PFM decided to tour in the USA because its LP "Photos
of Ghosts" had much success in the American hit parade (it also won the Japanese
critics award as the best album of the year). In Melody Maker's hit parade PFM
was higher than Supertramp and Eagles.
Franz - In the USA a band or a single singer could not perform without being in corporation because every American musician belongs to a labour union which takes care about his rights.
|If a foreign musician wants to work in the USA he has to pay a fee to compensate the local musicians for the lack of employment. In simple words we had to pay taxes, but we could not do it as simple persons, we had to create a corporation. So we went to Grand Rapid, a town near Niagara Falls and we found the Premiata Associates Inc.|
Each one of us had his own share and a certificate. It was very funny for us, we thought we were living in a Rock' n Roll wonderland!
Reportage Tour U.S.A.
Cook-Live in USA
FRANZ - Our fist American tour was very successful. Our band performed better live, in fact even if "The world become the world" sounded perfect, maybe it was a little too cold and slightly over-careful. When we performed live many things were different and our audience (who liked to follow us, especially on the West Coast and in LA where a band could perform live every evening in a different club without leaving the city) seemed to like our shows. At that time we were the "Opening Act", that is to say we were the first band performing on stage, and our music was really appreciated. We tried to do our best whenever we performed live, because we wanted to go on in our career and also because the stage was the only place where we could really express ourselves. We had problems to transfer our energy on records, but on the stage we were like wild beasts! In that period we were really in good form…a rocker can be compared to a sportsman and good form is really important. Our energetic behaviour on stage was really appreciated because American Music marketing is based on promotional tours. Our American promoter suggested us to record a live LP. We were so happy that we could not believe it! Since the beginning of our story we always wanted to record a live LP but in Italy that was not possible. Few days later we recorded four concerts with the support of a mobile studio. Two long sound checks and two real live shows (one performed in NY Central Park and one in Toronto) gave life to "Cook" (which was launched in Italy entitled "Live in USA").
Cook is a word very close to PFM way of living and playing music. During the period spent in USA we used to live in small flats and we cooked our meals, first of all because the taste of our food was better, secondly because we saved money (restaurants were very expensive). Our cooking became a powerful propaganda vehicle for Italian Culture. One day, while we were eating fusilli (a kind of short pasta) we had the idea for the presentation of our LP. We organised everything very quickly. We invited everybody in a Restaurant. Mussida and I were the cooks and Patrick was the Maitre who had to welcome our guests, because he could speak many languages. Mauro and Flavio had to present all the promotional material (biographies etc…) The soundtrack was, obviously, "Cook". Our guests could taste two Italian specialities: our music and cooking. "Cook" was launched while we started our second American Tour and it reached the Hot 100. We were really enthusiasts and we come back to Europe to start our third tour in England.
We became an important band, because by that time
we started to perform live concerts in the most famous American Rock Temples
such as Madison Square Garden, in New York, Felt Forum in Los Angeles and Philadelphia
FRANZ - One day, while we were performing "Celebration" - which is a tarantella - we started to play the famous "Funiculì Funiculà" melody - which is a traditional Italian tarantella-. We can say that "Funiculì Funiculà" was suitable to "Celebration" as Parmigiano cheese on Macaroni, that is to say we played it at the right moment. That particular show was an apotheosis. Mr. Barsalona was really satisfied about us...maybe because he was from South of Italy (probably from Puglia region) and he could not help to be moved by "Funicuì Funiculà" melody. He became our pygmalion in the USA and thanks to his support we could perform in many different venues and important occasions.
FRANZ - At that time, we took part to Charlotte Speedyway Festival, which was the most important rock festival of that period. Charlotte was in Carolina and for this reason we had to take the airbus from NY and after 3 or 4 stops we landed in the closest airport near Charlotte. A car was waiting for us (I have to say that the American organisation was always impeccable) and drove us directly to the hotel. We had only some time to have a shower then we had to rush on the hotel's roof where an helicopter was waiting for us. I was shocked and enthusiast, I had never flown by helicopter and it was like being in a movie. In few words we were sitting in a plexiglas shell and we could see everything beneath us. We took off and after 5 or 10 minutes we were above Charlotte's auto-drome. We saw something incredible. Even if we had already attended important festivals and we had already performed with the most important bands, (such as: Beach Boys and Santana), we were not prepared to that kind of sight: the auto-drome was enormous and it was half filled with people. There were about 250.000 people. The helicopter landed in the middle of the grass and we went directly on stage. We made a short sound check and then we started our performance. It was late in the afternoon, but we were the first band performing, because we were not so popular (yet!) in that particular area. We performed one of our most beautiful shows and, as usually, we decided to end our performance playing "Celebration" with a special apocalyptic conclusion called "Poseidon". Our audience was into ecstasies, we received many ovations and a storm of cheering. The festival should have lasted about 12 hours. The most important guests were: Emerson Lake & Palmer, Allman Brothers Band, Beach Boys, Claimax Blues Band, Steppen Wolf, Black Oaks Arkansas and many others. There was the typical great events atmosphere, the same as in Woodstock; you could see every kind of people, many colours and cultures. I was really impressed by the stage's organisation. There were two stages built on rails. While a band was performing on one stage another one was getting ready on the other stage. At the end of each show, the stages passed on and a new band started its performance. Maybe nowadays this kind of idea does not seem very "innovative", but 20-25 years ago it was something incredible, especially for us, because we were used to Italian rock festivals, where everything was prepared at the last minute.
FRANZ - When a band is not requested anymore as "Special Guest" it means that it is getting successful. When a band is in this position, the situation is difficult and maybe dangerous, because everything can happen, it is up to the show business. Anyway, in this case it is very helpful to have a good manager. It the manager is powerful, he can "impose" his "product". Our manager was able to "impose" us making an agreement with Dee Antony, Peter Frampton's manager. Few weeks later we started a tour with Peter Frampton. Sometimes PFM was the special guest and sometime Frampton was the special guest. We went on touring for about 3 months, then we stopped. The tour should have last for at least one year and then we should have launched a live LP. That is what happened to Peter Frampton. The LP "Frampton comes alive" sold about 25 millions of copies. Maybe we could have done the same, but turning points never give you counterchecks and a second chance. To make a long story short, I will explain you why we decided to give up after three months spent touring. We were close to Christmas time and Flavio wanted to celebrate Christmas with his family. Franco and Mauro wanted to go back too, even if they were not totally convinced. On the contrary, Patrick and me, we wanted to stay, because we were like gypsies. I liked that kind of life and Patrick too. We were really excited to try new ways of living and to have many opportunities in our career. We were a band and for this reason we had to consider everybody's needs and feelings, so we could not help arguing. The first time we argued we were in NY, while we were swimming in the hotel's swimming pool. I remember I told Flavio: " I will drown you: you will be forced to stay here in America!" Now I can tell I was joking, but at that time I thought about that for real. We got angry for some time, but we were a band and we were linked. In a band there are particular links and balances, which are submitted to the need of staying together. We are five on stage and we have to live in harmony. That is why we decided to go back home…. Let's say this: Christmas won! We told each other that what could not happen in that moment could have happened later…. We were convinced to go back to USA very soon… Nowadays I do not regret our choice. We were young, we used to argue and to make friends again, to play and do silly things all together…. However Flavio was lucky that day in the swimming pool but me too, because we were swimming while we were arguing, and we could not touch the bottom…. and I could not swim well... yet!.
|FRANZ - We stayed in Japan for about 15 or 20 days, but we were very busy with concerts, interviews and TV shows. If we were surprised about American way of life, can you imagine what happened in Japan? At that time I was very fond with Japanese culture, because I played Karate. Patrick too liked martial arts. Until 1978, moreover, I used to play drums wearing a Kimono, because kimonos were very comfortable. During our tour all over the world, I bought many kimonos, especially in Chinatown, in San Francisco, in London's Kensington Market and somewhere else. As everybody knows, all kimonos are decorated with signs, which are almost incomprehensible. Every time I bought a Kimono, I tried to get information about the meaning of each sign. I used to ask: "Sorry, what is written on....". The sellers (who were generally Japanese, Chinese or Asiatic) used to answer me: "Oh, it means happiness, happiness". I discovered happiness was the basic subject, even if sometimes someone told me the signs meant: "many wishes" or "spring garden" or "lotus blossom"... There were always very nice meanings and I was glad to buy a kimono whose meaning I was fully aware, because each time I wore a kimono I carried a message. Once in Japan I asked myself: " What do I do? Am I going to play drums in Japan wearing a kimono? Why not, that is my look, and if I do not wear it what am I going to wear?". So, I decided to wear one of my kimonos.|
That night we were in Tokyo. At the end of the first drum solo performance I saw some fans (all boys) clapping enthusiastically and who were supporting me very hard. I told myself "That's great, they like me and my drumming". Sometimes I glanced at them and rolled very hard...and they could not stop clapping. At the end of the show our audience was into ecstasies, it was a great success. After the show, even if I was very tired I asked our interpreter some information about the excited group of fans who seemed to like me. At the beginning he could not understand what I was talking about. I told him: "You know, that group of boys, those who were standing there, at the bottom, on the left. Those who seemed to support me very hard." "Oh, yes, that group of people. You are their idol!" " But why", I asked " Because of your kimono" " My kimono? What do you mean?" " Because the writing on your kimono means -Tokyo Firemen -. That kimono is one of their uniform and those guys were all Tokyo firemen!".
The Bass flies
|FRANZ - During our Japanese tour many things happened, but the most incredible incident happened to Patrick. It happened during our last concert in Tokyo. The audience was into ecstasies and everybody asked us to perform one last song, then another one and another one. People did not want to go away, so we decided to play "Poseidon", a special piece we used to play at the end of particularly beautiful shows. "Poseidon" was a chord mix, which grew to reach some kind of sonorous ecstasy. It was an apotheosis, a monumental performance. We were all very excited, because that was the second consecutive show in that city and it was sold out as the first one. We had our local fan club, we had won a gold record,. In few words our show was a complete success.|
The atmosphere was very excited. Suddenly, at Poseidon climax Patrick decided to launch his bass in the air. Once the bass came back, he tried to take it in his hands, but he could not see it because he was dazzled by spots. So the bass felt down, on the stage ground. Patrick did not move for few seconds, because at that time a bass was quite expensive (about 3 millions of Italian Liras, that is to say a lot of money!). He said: "I don't care". He took the bass and launched it on the audience. That was the end of the show. Once in our dressing room, we noted that Patrick was a bit thoughtful thinking about the lost bass. Suddenly two security guys entered our dressing room and told Patrick "Listen, there is a boy outside... he is waiting.... Someone is taking him away..." "But, what happened?" asked Patrick. "Well.... In a certain sense we have found your bass" "Ah, that's good. Do you mind to take it here?" "No, we are sorry, but you have to come outside because that boy doesn't want to leave it" "Oh, why don't you take him here? We could talk!" said Patrick "Oh, no, he is in the ambulance. If you want your bass, you will have to come with us outside". What happened is quite easy to explain: the bass hit that boy on his head and hurt him. Once outside we saw the guy hanging the bass in his hands. He was hanging to it as a mussel on the rock! When Patrick saw him he decided to give him the bass, because he deserved it!
At the Royal Albert Hall
- I am not sure... Shall I believe it? Tonight we are performing at the Royal
Albert Hall, the Opera's temple where sometimes rock bands are allowed to play.
We have been dreaming about it since Cream's "Last concert album" period, when
Eric Clapton, Jake Bruce and Ginger Baker said good-bye to their fans. That
day we spent almost all the afternoon with Michel Pergolani and a photographer
friend of him. We took some pictures of me playing Mr. Hide in Central Park,
while my friends were trying to ride Prince Albert equestrian monument.
FRANZ - Inside the Royal Albert Hall is really smart. We started the sound check as usual. First of all keyboards, because Flavio is always a little impatient: he cannot stand waiting and at five o'clock he wants to have his tea. Anyway, that day I was a little bit anxious too and I could not stay far from my drums. Flavio was playing his moog. That day was Albinoni turn. Suddenly we heard some strange noises and everything stopped. Somebody was coming. There were strange people who looked very English. They were not roadies; they were different, dressed up very well. Mark, a guy from our staff came towards us really excited: "The Queen is here, the Queen is here". I looked at him and I asked in perfect roadie English: "Fuck you, what's happening"? "The Queen Mother is here", answered him "She is visiting the Royal Albert Hall and she is coming here!" Our roadies were all excited. Their faces were incredibly different. They seemed even polite, but with rock aplomb. They looked like college students during an inspection. I thought they also looked like redeemed pirates. I had never seen a Queen before and when I saw her I thought: "She is really made of flesh and bones". The Queen Mother is a very pleasing lady who had difficulties in extricating herself from the overwhelming attentions required by Royal etiquette. The Queen came close to us and asked Flavio Premoli what he was playing. Flavio answered very politely: "It's Albinoni, Madam". "I love Italian musicians" answered the Queen, "Are you Italian?" One of the roadies answered: "They are the Italian top rock band". I understood at once and I felt a growing happiness, so I went closer to the group, just two steps from Mary Elisabeth. "I was walking around the Royal Albert Hall, when I heard this beautiful music which guided me here," said the Queen Mother. Flavio started to play Albinoni's Adagio in a very soft way and the Queen Mother seemed to be ravished. All the dignitaries seemed to be surprised, happy and proud at the same time about the Queen's democratic gesture. Some photographer started to take pictures. In a certain sense we can say that was the Queen Mother first rock concert. We asked the photographer to have some pictures.... We still have them!
PATRICK - Once the Queen Mother had left one of the photographer told me: "I am Norlin's photographer. Norlin is the company, which owns Gibson. I think my company will be interested in your pictures with the Queen Mother". At the beginning I could not understand, but few seconds later I realised that I was wearing a Gibson promotional T-shirt. He asked me my telephone number and he told me he would have planned everything. Some days later I met Mr. David Leed from Norlin. He was very tall and he had red hair. He offered me a sponsorship from Gibson. He told me they wanted to put my face in Gibson's catalogue and that they would have given me plenty of instruments. I accepted and I thanked in secret the Queen Mother. I used Gibson basses for some years, until I changed for Music Man. Twelve years later, while I was visiting Milan's Instrument Exposition, I saw Mr. David Lee visiting Monzino's stand. I recognised him at once because he was the tallest... I wanted to say hello to him, but I thought that maybe he would have not recognised me...and I did not want to say, "Do you remember? A long time ago..." Suddenly David surprised me crying " Hey Patrick! Hi! How are you? Please come here". I tried to look normal, even if I was surprised. We went to sit in a small sitting room behind the stand. We started to talk about the past and we had a nice time. He told me he had become Norlin Europe General Director. After a while I was too curious and I had to ask him: "How could you recognise me so quickly after so many years, my face is quite common". He answered smiling: "Would you like to know how? Well, I will tell you. Do you remember your picture with the Queen Mother? Well we tried to get Buckingham Palace's authorisation to use it for advertisements, but, as you can imagine, it was not possible. We had to give up the idea, but that picture was so good that I decided to make an enlargement 1 metre X 2 metres and I hang it in my office, in front of my desk. Dear Patrick, the Queen Mother and you are the first persons I see every morning! This is why I have recognised you at once!"
Lanzetti e Chocolate Kings
At the end
of our American tour, many unsolved problems emerged. First of all we decided
to solve definitely the leading singer problem.
FRANZ - we were interested in Ivan Graziani, but he was a song writer and singer, he had to go on his way. Later, in fact, he had a brilliant career. We found the perfect applicant in Bernardo Lanzetti who lived for a while in the USA and was able to sing in Italian and in English. In our opinion he was perfect for us. Lanzetti joined PFM while we were working on a new project: "Chocolate Kings". At that time Mauro Pagani seemed to have difficulties in writing lyrics. We used to write lyrics were directly in English, because Italian language does not suit rock music. Native language was a serious problem for Italian musicians. English language had many monosyllabic words, which are suitable for rock rhythmic accents. Have you ever asked yourself why in Italy there is such an ancient melodic music tradition? Because of our language. Furthermore, Bernardo had never sung in Italian. Our new LP was appreciated in our Country, but not immediately, because of its English lyrics. It was also very appreciated in England and many other European Countries. In USA, on the contrary, PFM received many critics, mostly from the ideological point of view. "Chocolate Kings" was not a political manifesto, but a critical consideration about USA. Few time later we started our Japanese tour.
FRANCO - In the USA you cannot help having a car. Otherwise you are paralysed. One evening we slept in a hotel, which did not provide any room service. It was a day off. We were playing cards. Suddenly, at eleven PM we were hungry. We had no car, but we knew there was a drive in fast food close to our hotel. I decided to become a rumbling Cadillac and I started to queue with Bernardo. The other drivers looked at me in a strange way. Once arrived in front of the cashier I went on making Cadillac noises with my mouth and we tried to look like if we were sitting on car seats. We were smiling and the cashier, who was nice and young, started to laugh. She allowed us to have pizza and coke, then we left keeping rumbling…
A funny trick to Frank Zappa
FRANZ - We decided to realise "Passpartù" English version. We thought about that when we were told that Frank Zappa was in London: if he could write our lyrics it would have been great. We met Frank during our long stay in California for Jet Lag project and we become friends. He liked our band and we liked him. Frank invited us to his rehearsal. That invitation meant he appreciated us from the musical point of view. I bought a ticket and I flew to London. I met Frank in his hotel room. At that time he was performing live around the world. He used to record his live concerts. Frank thought us to record our live concerts in order to listen to them afterwards, because it is always very interesting, especially for those bands which like improvisation. When I met Frank, I showed him Passpartù's Italian lyrics written by Gianfranco Manfredi. Lyrics were ironic and surrealist and they told very strange stories, such as: "The cubic table's knights" instead the round table. I must confess that we were not entirely satisfied about them. I explained Frank that I wanted him to co-operate with us because we wished to add something more and something really crazy, as he was used to do in his music, to our new LP. He agreed and asked me to show and explain what we had already done. I started translating "The cubic table's knights". Suddenly Frank looked at me in a strange way and asked: "Cubic? Wasn't it round?" "Yes", I said," but here we have an ironic transposition of the story". He looked at me for a few seconds then he said, " Yes, I see, are you sure?". My explanation was getting difficult. I thought, "Maybe he thinks I am crazy. And if Frank Zappa thinks I am crazy it is really a serious problem". I went on explaining and translating another song; I was told that song was about blues. It sounded like a blues, but its lyrics were quite obscure to me. It said something like: "Tonight blues' big spirit is here with us. Halifax is not dead". I remember when we heard it for the first time we asked Marfredi who was Halifax and he answered he was someone from Louisiana who was considered the blues inventor and he was considered a myth. We were persuaded about Halifax's importance in American Music History. I told Frank about Halifax. " And we also have a great music, a blues" "Oh, I love blues, and what's the story?" Frank looked happy. "So, it is about Halifax, you know?" I answered very excited " The story of what?" "Halifax", I insisted "You know...." And I told him the story translating from Italian into English: When I reached the most important part I tried to underline the key concept: "Halifax is not dead, Halifax is alive". I looked (and I was) very touched. " Are you sure he is not dead?", asked me Frank. " Yes", I said " Halifax is not dead because Blues lives on!" Frank looked at me, but he did not understand. I Insisted: "Blues lives because every night Halifax is alive". Frank looked at me very strangely. It was clear he could not understand. So I told him: "You know, Halifax, the man who invented blues, the blues creator!" Frank asked: " Hali...what? I have never heard of him. Nobody invented blues. Blues was born by itself". I was astonished and embarrassed.... But fortunately after few seconds we stated to laugh! By the way our project did not work. Frank was too busy and our schedules did not suit. We should have waited about six months, but, unfortunately, we could not afford that, or maybe we thought we could not. Once back to Italy we had to change our plans and think about what to do. Halifax had left us and our future seemed to be full of uncertainties.
FRANZ -In 1979, for the first time, we thought about giving up the band. I was very worried because PFM was everything to me. I thought that through PFM's experience we become professional musicians. That is why I invented Rembrandt Theory. One evening we were sitting all together trying to find a solution. Suddenly I said: "Hey guys, listen to me, I have something to say. We started in 1970 and now we are in 1979. We have made many things together, we are experienced good musicians and we still have a great potentiality. I think we should compare our music to Rembrandt's pictures. I mean that our music is like Rembrandt's masterpieces, it owns an intrinsic beauty and its own value. We cannot forget that our music is appreciated for this. We have this skill: we are able to play wonderful concerts, to improvise and create new music. We have to follow our way, as Rembrandt did. He would have never thrown away his brushes". I did not want to throw away my sticks! It was a long speech, but it worked. I do not know why, but the comparison worked, even if it was a little bit forced. Thanks to Rembrandt theory we decide to start with a new tour in Italy because we were convinced that our audience's love and support would have given us the right energy we needed. We would have understood what to do thanks to our audience. It was a good idea because during that tour we met Fabrizio De Andrè.
Fabrizio De André
FRANZ - In my opinion among the Italian song writers and singers, Fabrizio De André is the one who was able to inspire his songs with poetry. We have been known Fabrizio for a long time, because we worked together some years before. When we met him during a concert in Sardinia, I suggested him the idea to work together on a project. In the USA authors and bands are used to work together and I was sure that we could have worked very well with Fabrizio. We could offer something totally new to the Italian Audience, an artistic co-operation where the author and the band would have influenced each other. We explained our project to Fabrizio, but at the beginning he was not enthusiast: "Hey, you play too loud", he said " No, we can suit each other" I answered "You come here with all your watts and you kill me" " Listen", said Franco, picking up his guitar, "In my opinion Il Pescatore (The Fisherman) should be performed in this way, more joyful, more funky" and he started to play some chords. Fabrizio listened to Franco smiling: "And drums? He (Me…) plays loudly! I don't know....". Finally we convinced him, even if it took some time. Maybe we succeeded because he could feel that we were very close to each other, he could feel our unity. Fabrizio was quite scared about the tour, because normally he is shy and he does not like facing the audience every day, travelling with other people etc. But we told him he could trust us: we would have co-operated and, above all, we would have been sympathetic. We all agreed shaking our hands. We chose about 30 songs and we shared equally our work. This strategy was invented to keep the whole style of each song. For example Patrick had to work on those songs which sounded a little bit French, because he had lived in France and he was able to arrange them properly. Franco chose those songs that would have let him show his skill and familiarity with the guitar. Flavio, who was very learned, had to work on particularly difficult songs which, needed more complex arrangements. A month later we were ready. We created something new and strange, where Fabrizio's poetic lyrics and clean melodic songs were mixed with a dreaming musicality, something full with images, inventions and coup de theatre. Everything worked perfectly, every song sounded different, new and "completed". Lyrics and arrangements were in constant communication and in perfect balance. Fabrizio's warm and sensual voice seemed to be exalted instead of being covered. The show looked (and sounded) like a watercolour picture, because voice and music were softly mixed together. Anyway, sometimes PFM's musical energy could explode. Everybody was really satisfied, even our audience seemed to like that strange co-operation; I say strange because, at that time, PFM and Fabrizio De Andrè represented two musical realities which were completely different and maybe incompatible. Anyway the project worked and showed everybody that bands and song writers could work together and improve each other's musical experience. TOP
La lezione di De Andrè
FRANZ - The experience with Fabrizio taught us the importance of lyrics. In fact, each time he started singing the audience used to sing and clap because everybody could recognise each song. Lyrics tell stories, they are about personal or poetic subjects and for this reason they live longer. Let me tell you something: in my life I have performed more than 2000 drum solos, but nobody can remember them. My fans maybe can remember my energy, my strength and vigour, but none of them can sing one of my drum solos. If someone would like to live again one of my drum solos he would have to listen to a record. On the contrary, everybody can sing a song. This experience made us think about the leading singer role in our band. We needed a front man, someone who was able to establish a direct relationship with our audience. But, above all, we needed new songs which could have been remembered.