Interview RanestRane

"We think Apocalypse Now is an original album and at the same time typically RanestRane"

(October 2022, text and pictures by Henri Strik, edited by Peter Willemsen)

The Italian progressive rock band RanestRane was founded in Rome in 1998. The band released their debut album Nosferatu in 2007. It was based on the cult movie Nosferatu The Vampyre. So far they released six albums all based on movies like The Shining, A Space Odyssey and The Wall. Earlier this year they came out with their seventh album and again it is inspired by another classical movie, namely Francis Ford Coppola's Apocalypse Now. In my opinion Massimo Pomo (guitars), Riccardo Romano (keyboards, harmonium, backing vocals), Maurizio Meo (bass, electric double bass) and Daniele Pomo (drums, percussion, flute, lead and backing vocals) made a new masterpiece with their cinematic version of this movie. For that reason, they call their performances cineconcertos. Of course, Background Magazine wanted to know all the ins and outs of this new release.

L to R: Massimo, Riccardo, Daniele and Maurizio
Who came up with the idea to compose a musical version of Apocalypse Now. Did you have other movies in mind as well?
Massimo Pomo: ”When we got together to realize a new project, each of us proposed titles of movies on which we have personal reflections and with which we identify ourselves for quite a long period. However, I must honestly say that the most interesting ideas and suggestions almost always arise from the ideas that my brother Daniele proposes. He is also the writer of the lyrics and for that reason his feel towards the movie differs from the others band members who only has to deal with the music. From a lyrical point of view, it's Daniele who must find the inspiration to create the lyrics that will match the content of the movie. However, we take the final decision all together, also following the musical intentions of the band.”

What does the movie Apocalypse Now mean to you and the other band members. How many times did you see it?
Maurizio Meo: “I don't remember how many times I saw the movie over the years. When we began to analyze the movie with the other guys there were various collective visions to get a general picture of the story. We focused on the characters in order to divide the music into pieces,
Apocalypse Now on screen
suites and various moments. We listened intensively to the dialogues to highlight the best scenes of the movie. Apocalypse Now is one of the most famous movies about the war in Vietnam. When it was presented in 1979, it hit like a bomb to society. Over time it represented a strong indictment against violence in general and war in particular. This surely is the main reason for our choice. It is the message that RanestRane want to express, but unfortunately with a dramatic coincidence of the current war in Ukraine. In addition to the specific ideological motivations that led to the choice of Apocalypse Now, it was very important for us to watch this great work of art, where photography, images and the colours used could emphasize our music. Also from this point of view Francis Ford Coppola created a true masterpiece.”

I guess you used the original movie instead of the redux version which is almost one hour longer. Did you never thought of doing the longer version?
Maurizio Meo: “We use the original version for various reasons. First of all the duration of the movie. The record is meant to be supportive to the movie. The record company often guides us in our choices. And in any case: even live it would have been very hard to do a performance of three hours and a half, both for us and for the public. Maybe, in the future we could think about using the unused scenes to make a new version, a kind of redux version of RanestRane.”

Why did you use the orange colour for the album cover? Does it have a special meaning?
Daniele Pomo: “For people of our generation the vinyl covers had a great evocative power. It almost always represented the idea of ​​the band. All covers of our previous albums have a deeper meaning, not only for the artwork and images inserted but also for the main colours which very often represent the colours most
Daniele Pomo
used in the movies that inspired us. This time we wanted Apocalypse Now to be something different from our previous albums, not only as far as the compositions and the lyrics are concerned, but also the image of the cover. Recently, most covers of progressive rock albums are often repetitive and often pompous or even violent. We wanted something simple but at the same time a cover with a strong impact: just one single colour and a helicopter as a symbol for the movie. We tried to reproduce in our own way the ideas of albums by Pink Floyd such as the prism for The Dark Side Of The Moon, the cow for Atom Heart Mother or the Yes-album Close To The Edge with only the green colour on the cover. More recently Black Star by David Bowie with a big black star on a black background. We believe that the effect, especially for the vinyl version- that will be due in a few months - will be fantastic.”

Was it difficult to transform the movie images into musical parts?
Maurizio Meo: “Well, like I said, before starting to write the songs, we saw the film several times together and often even alone, focusing on the various scenes. This helped us to carefully analyse the rhythmic time signatures of the movie and the emotions that particular scenes wanted to convey. We had to transfer the scenes into musical emotions and dividing the small episodes and the multiple stories within the film. For us, working this way is very important: transforming a scene or trying to enrich a picture with our music is a bit like trying to illuminate a famous painting or sculpture, trying to emphasise its beauty. In this case, particular attention was needed to how the light affects every shade of colour, every surface, every curve, every corner and every detail. And that's exactly what we try to do with our music!”

The original cinema version of Apocalypse Now lasts 213 minutes and therefore it would have been normal if you would have come up with a trilogy again. Why did you decide to do the whole movie in almost eighty minutes?
Massimo Pomo: “Therefore we had different reasons. First of all: after many years of touring we noticed that a complete cineconcept approach certainly worked during our live performance, but it was less functional when listeners tried to follow our story at home or in the car! Especially the long original dialogues appeared to be to difficult to follow. So, we simply shortened the production time of the album as much as possible after two difficult years due to the pandemic. If we wouldn't have done this, the realisation times would have been much longer. We have selected the essential scenes and we removed, in our opinion, some scenes that would not disturb the essential story of the movie.”

At the start of the cineconcertos you used Richard Wagner's Ride Of The Valkyries, which is also used in the original movie. Why did you use it for the album?
Riccardo Romano: “We always promise ourselves not to use original musical parts of the movies we choose in our own music. But indeed, sometimes we listen to the original music and try to deviate from it as much as possible. Obviously in that particular scene, the attack with the helicopters, Wagner's music is extremely powerful and fits perfectly in. It's no coincidence that this is one of the many iconic scenes of the movie. We tried to compose some very different musical pieces, and so we wrote a strong progressive suite to detach ourselves from the original idea.”
Massimo Pomo Maurizio Meo Riccardo Romano

Are you satisfied with the end result?
Daniele Pomo: “We are very satisfied with the final result! We think Apocalypse Now is an original album and at the same time typically RanestRane. The sound is more direct and aggressive also due to the theme of the movie, but the melodic aspect that distinguishes us from our 'sound souls' are always present. As far as the lyrics are concerned, we sometimes draw inspiration from Joseph Conrad's book Heart Of Darkness (1902). That book was also an inspiration for Francis Ford Coppola. However, we used a more current and direct language, in order to follow precisely the dialogues and the spirit of the movie. We also used the English language, not that frequently though, but we thought that it could help listeners to listen to the album in an American way!”

How do fans and the press judge the album?
Daniele Pomo: “Sales of the albums are great and most reviews are excellent too; we couldn't be more satisfied about it. Our fans enjoyed the album very much and during our live gigs the audiences are very much involved. We are still at the beginning of the Apocalypse Now-tour and we are looking forward to play the coming months and next year all over Europe. We already have several confirmed concerts in the Netherlands, Denmark, Germany, Poland and of course in Italy.”

What are your future plans and which movie might be next?
Riccardo Romano: “We already started to compose a new opera. For now, we can only say that we feel extremely inspired, we have chosen an uncompromising theme. A story that we felt we need to tell, obviously again in combination with an arthouse film. I think it will be in some ways a return to the origins. We want to write a very emotional album. It will be a work that deals with themes on a human scale, something that will deeply touch everyone's heart.”

Thank you all for answering my questions and I wish the band every success in the future!
“Thanks, Henri. It was our pleasure.”


More info about Ranestrane on the Internet:

       review album 'A Space Odyssey Part Two H.A.L.' (2015)
       review album 'Monolith In Rome - A Space Odyssey Live' (2015)
       review album 'A Space Odyssey, Final Part - Starchild' (2018)
       review album 'The Wall' (2020)
       review album 'Apocalypse Now' (2022)

       review concert 6-Dec-2015, De Pul, Uden (NL)
       review concert 10-Mar-2017, Parktheater, Alphen a/d Rijn (NL)
       review concert 19-oct-2018, Parkvilla Theater, Alphen a/d Rijn (NL)

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