Subterráneo Webzine: First of all, thank you for taking your time to answer these questions. For those who don’t know you yet, can you tell us what SELVANS is and how this project started?
Haruspex: Hi. SELVANS was born four years ago from my will of arranging dark tales and atmospheres from different ages of the italian history and folklore.
Subterráneo Webzine: Faunalia is your second full-length album, and compared with Lupercalia, I can see that keyboards and synths have become even more important, and there is a sense of a deeper and more atmospheric texture. It feels like it deepens into traditional italic music. Where is the origin of this evolution?
Haruspex: I was born as a keyboard player so it has been a natural evolution to start from this kind of instruments. Regarding the comparison with Lupercalia: I’m moving throughout different ages of the Italian musical heritage so I think that the reason behind the immediate recognizability of some influences has to be found in the ages they belong. I mean: in Lupercalia there were a lot of ancient roman and etruscan music parts (that could have been mistaken for something from other countries by an uncareful listener!). In Faunalia these influences are ‘closer’ to modern times (without losing their origin, this is really important for me!) and so more recognizable as ‘Italian’.
Subterráneo Webzine: As far as I know, INCHIUVATU were the first band combining black metal and italian traditional music. I can imagine that it has a huge influence in your songs, along with surprising Ennio Morricone styled melodies and several finnish black metal moments. Did you to mix all these elements on purpose or is it the result of your music baggage?
Haruspex: Yes, anything comes randomly in SELVANS. Your words are quite accurate except for when you talk about ‘finnish black metal moments’, simply because there are surely some part ascribable to the other two great black metal traditions (norwegian and swedish) and not just to the finnish, but the ‘non-metal’ parts are the most important! Since I’m a big fan of this genre, acting as a rip-off of a scandinavian black metal band would have been so wrong and stupid in my opinion ‘cause it is obvious that some kind of sonorities are not a part of the aritistic baggage of my country. So, usually, when I’m asked to describe the ‘black metal’ element in our music I always answer that SELVANS is a personal ‘italian way’ of the scandinavian black metal, how it would have sounded if that genere of music was born in my country. Like it was a uchronie, isn’t it?
Subterráneo Webzine: Some parts of Faunalia sound very cinematographic to me. When I listen to “Phersu”, for example, I can’t help but think about classic horror cinema. Was it a source of inspiration or is it just a consecuence of making “dark” music?.
Haruspex: Both of them! That song is influenced by the Italian classic horror movies from 70/80’s… Directors likeArgento, Avati, Bava with all these great soundtracks made by ‘giants’ like Simonetti and GOBLIN, Ortolani and obviously Morricone! These influences will return in SELVANS music in the future ‘cause they represent the way of portraying something ‘sinister’ for how we Italians intend horror, ‘l’orrore‘… You can find this attitude in books, comics, movies and related soundtracks. It’s something ‘cultural’ and I feel deeply connected to that.
Subterráneo Webzine: One of the things I enjoy the most about Faunalia is how powerful and pure traditional instruments sound. When did you start playing them?
Haruspex: I firmly wanted it for my music and I didn’t want to use some crap VST instrument, so I started to practice them in order to use them for my albums.
Subterráneo Webzine: This is a very diverse and complex album. It has a lot of elements that had to be composed and mixed. Can you tell us about the composing proccess?
Haruspex: It was the same for Lupercalia and all SELVANS releases. I write all the music and lyrics for SELVANS, sometimes I use some guitar riffs by Fulguriator (it could be just one for a song for example and from that moment ‘I consider’ that song to be written together with him, I don’t care about ‘credits stuff’…). All I want is that everything in SELVANS goes in the direction I decide, nothing is more important when I start to work in a new release and that’s the attitude that guides all the production of SELVANS works.
Subterráneo Webzine: I mentioned INCHIUVATU before. You counted on some interesting guests, starting with Agghiastru himself, Gianluca Virdis and Mercy from IANVA and Tumulash from FIDES INVERSA. How did those colaborations came to happen? Did you know them before?
Haruspex: Made exception for Agghiastru who I’m gonna meet this week for the first time, I’ve known Tumulash for a couple of years now and I’ve had a large e-mail exchange with Mercy before meeting him and Gianluca at one IANVA. Each of these guestings has its story, I can resume it by saying that I wasn’t looking for some random musicians so that I could use them for frivolous album promotions… The first thing I’ve explained to all of them, regardless of how close they were to me, is that there wouldn’t be any ‘grandiose’ announcement of their involvement like many bands use to do nowadays… I consider it disrespectful for your music and for the artist you’re going to invite on your song. They all have immediately understood this fundament and I’m really proud of their presence on Faunalia.
Haruspex: Exactly. When the first idea of SELVANS came to my mind, my brother Jonny was supposed to be the lead singer as well as the drum player. Unfortunately, he died in a motorcycle accident during the recording session of SELVANS first EP and I was forced to take the role of singer since the impossibility to find someone worthy of this task.
Subterráneo Webzine: I would like to talk a little bit about the concept surrounding SELVANS. Behind that name lies the etruscan god of forests and boundaries, cognate with roman Silvanus, often named as “Selvans tularia” which means “Selvans of boundaries”. Why did you choose this name? Could it be a metaphor of how you are placed, as a band, inside that boundaries that preserve the historical legacy of your land?
Haruspex: This is a valid interpretation. You know, many italians while creating something like a band, desperately focus on anything “appetiziingf” for the foreign metal business, trying to emulate models from other parts of Europe. I didn’t want this for my band, I wanted to sound and look like what I am: an Italian son of a bitch obsessed with sick tales, sounds and activities from the past. This attitude surely ends up to “confine” us in Italy comparing to the possibilities that we could have had if we would have tried to conform to ‘foreign models’ but it doesn’t matter. Regarding the specific name, it is something really archaic and a perfect ‘starting point’ for this project as a long wandering through the ages, moreover it is related to the Faun figure: the best one to represent my nature and the spirit of this project.
Subterráneo Webzine: Your names Haruspex and Fulguriator both come from the etruscan figures that practiced two of the etrusca disciplina. Is there any message behind the election of these names?
Haruspex: You’ve said that: we are vessels…
Haruspex: I used to wear it during some concerts of the Lupercalia era… I’ve found it in a little stall on the road and I’ve liked it since the first time. Yes, it is linked to that ancient roman wolvish cult.
Subterráneo Webzine: Speaking of masks. Aesthetics play an important role in your concerts. Have the costumes and masks of your shows been there since the beginning?
Subterráneo Webzine: Let’s change the subject. I’m always glad when I find bands that use their own language to sing their songs. It makes the music more authentic and diverse. In this album you don’t sing only in italian but in abruzzese and latin as well. What can you tell us about this?
Haruspex: Yes, our own languages are taking much more space in SELVANS releases and this will continue in the next works. I have a lot of ideas about this topic for the next album, I would like to do something that nobody has risked doing in the past but it is soon to talk about this! For now I can tell you that with Faunalia I’ve noticed that we don’t have to necessarily sing in English to make our concepts understandable by our listeners. This is good ‘cause obviously I feel much more comfortable when I write in Italian.
Subterráneo Webzine: If im not wrong, abruzzese doesn’t have one dialect, but several. There are diferences including grammar and pronunciation, for example. Which one do you use? Did you speak it since you were a child?
Haruspex: Yes, it is the dialect I’ve heard from my grandparents since I was born.
Subterráneo Webzine: Did you write latin parts yourself?
Haruspex: Yes, but I always need a correction by a friend of mine.
Subterráneo Webzine: I think that almost everything we are taught about history is a tool to build a certain national identity, not based in the knowledge of the past, but in the exaltation of basic emotions, which leads to a simple premise: “my ancestors were the bravest” so “my nation is better than the others”. On the other hand, I can feel in SELVANS the need to show different points of view when speaking about the past. Are you trying to avoid that idealizing interpretation of history?
Haruspex: You got the point. I’ve never been comfortable with this strong conviction of people to have the bravest ancestors… Actually, it is something that makes me laugh a lot! I mean, according to this idea all the wars in the past shouldn’t have a winner and a loser but two winners hahaha… This is crazy! The only ‘epic song’ you can find in SELVANS discography is “N.A.F.H.” from our first album, it is a suite about the last hours of a common soldier and there is nothing glorious or valorous in his thoughts, just obscurity, fear and desperation.
Subterráneo Webzine: Italy, as well as Spain and other mediterranean countries, have a vast and beautiful musical heritage, but only a few bands decide to explore that influence in the metal scene. We have instead hundreds of bands playing nordic, oriental or arabic influenced music. This could mean that our bands are overlooking a wonderful source of creativity, but on the other hand, that legacy is somehow preserved from becoming just a commercial trend. What do you think about this?
Haruspex: I’ve partially answered already to this question some lines ago… I can add that, in my opinion, having our cultural heritage exploited and wasted for something ‘without soul’ (like for example certain modern ultra-triggered metal bands) is by far worse than playing nordic influenced music trying to disguise yourself amongst the scandinavians… Sure, you should ask one of them what they think about this! I don’t think that they could be happy of this! [laughs] Anyway… I don’t care, ‘cause nobody of those is a concern for me.
Subterráneo Webzine: Thank you very much for your time. Anything you want to say to our readers?
Haruspex: Thank you! Listen to our dark opus Faunalia… you won’t regret it.