Interview Simone Mularoni (Sweet Oblivion):

"I put two hundred percent in every song I write and record"

(November 2019, text by Pedro Bekkers, edited by Peter Willemsen)

Simone Mularoni belongs to the great virtuoso guitar players in the world. For more than ten years he has been the guitar player, producer and songwriter for the Italian prog metal band DGM. In 2019 he teamed up with Geoff Tate, the former singer of Queensr˙che. They called the band Sweet Oblivion and recently they released their excellent eponymous debut album (see review). Background Magazine got the chance to ask Simone Mularoni some questions about the project, amongst others.

Congratulations Simone with the album and the band Sweet Oblivion. I think it's a great album. How did Geoff Tate and you get together?
Simone Mularoni
Simone Mularoni: “Thanks for your kind words! Well, the entire project was planned by Serafino Perugino, the head of Frontiers Records. He wanted to bring back Geoff to a heavier style, mixing the melodic aspect of the old masterpieces from Queensr˙che with the modern and heavy style I play with my most important band DGM. So, he basically asked me if I wanted to jump on this train and write and produce the album. Of course I said yes since Geoff has been one of my heroes from the time I was a teenager.”

Do you see Sweet Oblivion as a one-off project or is the album the start of a new band?
“That's really depending on a number of things: the sales, the overall reaction of the people to the album and our schedules. Geoff and I are always very busy between live gigs and studio productions. Personally, I would be happy to work on another album in a few years!”

Would you tell me something about the concept of the album? Is there any relation between the songs?
“There is no lyrical concept linked to the songs, but all the music has been written following a certain grid. I always had a certain sound and style in mind, so I would say that the main 'concept' of the album is basically the sound and the style. I had some help from a few friends in the writing of the songs and this led to a lot more variety. I'm not a musician who can write on demand, so it's great to have external inputs that I can shape to my taste!”

Geoff Tate

Are there any plans about live shows with Sweet Oblivion?
“There have been some really good offers right after the album came out, but we had to decline them mainly because Geoff is touring a lot with his own band Operation Mindcrime and also with Avantasia. I've been busy in the studio producing other bands so it couldn't work. I really hope that some gigs will happen in the near future!”

Being a guitarist, you participate with many bands like Redemption, Sunstorm and now Sweet Oblivion. How did you become such a requested musician?
“I really don't know! I just play at the best of my abilities and I put two hundred percent in every song I write and record. I just think that the hard work pays off in the end, so I'll go on doing what I love to do: hoping that my work will be appreciated more and more.”

The same goes for being a producer. You have been working on many great productions. What do you prefer most: being a musician or an album producer?
“Good question! I really love both sides equally. Usually when I'm doing only album productions, I begin to miss the live aspect and guitar playing. But it's also the opposite: when I'm out playing with the band or when I'm writing or recording my own stuff, I miss working with other bands in the studio after a while. I'd say it's impossible to choose, both sides are great and rewarding in their own right.”

Regarding DGM, this amazing band has seen many line-up changes. Is the band steady now and working on new material?
“You're right, in the past the band had several line-up changes, but since I joined the band we stayed pretty much stable. I'm playing with the guys since 2008 basically so it's more than ten years with the same line-up! Right now we're finishing writing the follow-up to The Passage that was released in 2016. Recordings will begin early 2020.”

Since the albums recorded by EmpYrios, you are working together with keyboard player Emanuele Casali, who also plays on Sweet Oblivion. What is the magic behind the two of you?
“Oh, that's hard to explain! He basically knows exactly what I like in our songs and I have never told him what to do neither in the choice of the notes nor in the sounds. In addition, we have the same musical taste, so whenever we find ourselves in a song writing session we always get along perfectly. On top of this, Emanuele is a musical genius: he can perfectly play the keyboards, piano, guitar, bass, mandolin and plenty of other instruments, so it's so easy working with him!”

Being a guitarist, you must have your own favourite guitar players. With DGM I heard influences of Pagans Mind's Jorn Viggo Lofstad. Which musicians do you admire and which ones inspired you to create your own musical style?
Jorn Viggo is a real guitar monster and one of my best friends in the music business. I think he's one of the best guitar players of the last two decades. To be honest: I stole a lot of licks from his playing! Well, talking about my early influences... Mmm, I think the musicians whom I listened to the most were surely Yngwie Malmsteen, Ritchie Blackmore, Edward van Halen and Steve Lukather. But also Mike Romeo from Symphony X still is one of my heroes. Nowadays I'm more focused on the song rather than guitar techniques. But still I love the guitar in every aspect!”

I'm always curious to hear you play, so could you tell me something about your future plans?
“The main thing for me now is the upcoming DGM-album. I'm writing and arranging songs since at least one year for this and I'm super excited! I'm in the process of listening to all the parts every day to see if I can change them for the better and improve the album as much as possible. I really hope you'll like it!”

Thank you for your time, Simone.
“You're welcome!”

More info about Sweet Oblivion on the Internet:
       review album 'Sweet Oblivion'

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