On experiencing ‘It’s time to hear’ for the first time, the warm embrace of it’s sweeping grandeur and haunting imagery had me gladly and willingly sealing my “Faustian Pact” with Sonic Jesus.
A pact that the intervening 18 months has rewarded with two spellbinding live performances, at Eindhoven Psych Lab last year and the London launch party for ‘Neither Virtue Nor Anger‘ this year – a debut album that ranks among the best of the very best.
It was with great pleasure that the opportunity to have a chat with Marco Baldassari, lyrical poet of the band presented itself, here are the fruits of that conversation;
Chr: Tell me about that “eureka moment” when you and Tiziano realised you had the DNA for Sonic Jesus?
SJ: When Tiziano wrote one of his first songs, I wrote for him the lyrics. When it was finished …. oh my dear, this is Eureka! The name of this song was ‘Monkey on my back’.
Chr: Cool! Two questions this time if I may by way of a literary couplet… First, in relation to the above – was the Burroughs’ quote a catalyst for the song or did it fit the part as a later addition?
SJ: The homage to William Burroughs is posthumous, the song was born before the words. The fulminant riff created by Tiziano reminded me a rifle shot. During that time I had just finished reading ‘Junkie’. William Burroughs has never been so balanced in his writing, (it was the first and last time), and so it was this riff: instantaneous, balanced and powerful. As well as words from a sermon’s spit. For me ‘Monkey on my back’ is a love song that describes how a “priest” may die and travel in the endless white light. I’m happy when I think that MOMB is a tribute to the Priest.
Chr: Second – Some time back, you posted this poignant quote from ‘The Merchant of Venice’, “The man that hath no music in himself, Nor is not moved with concord of sweet sounds, Is fit for treasons, stratagems, and spoils. The motions of his spirit are dull as night, And his affections dark as Erebus. Let no such man be trusted. Mark the music”. Do you believe, as I do, that the key to humanity’s transcendence lies in a deeper connection with “the arts”?
SJ: Art is the highest expression in that it brings man closer to the unconscious and it makes people conscious. The awareness is the forgotten origin by man and the man who doesn’t accept the arts deprives itself of himself. I think that the human being is actually the key to transcendence, but the fear of tomorrow destroys what we live today and this makes us filthy pigs.
Chr: I am put in mind of the Buckminster Fuller quote, “The true business of people should be to go back to school and think about whatever it was they were thinking about, before somebody came along and told them they had to earn a living”. Is it fair to say that the passionate optimism of Sonic Jesus, reflects the hope that the esoteric can save “spaceship earth” by helping inform the exoteric?
SJ: I am not optimistic about humanity but I try to be optimistic about myself, I seek serenity and I’m trying to tell myself a wrong story that brings me to the truth. Esotericism is based on knowledge of what is concealed, you want to pray or you want the truth? Sonic Jesus expresses freedom in its form and the shape is determined by the man who listens, we try to get closer to our truth and this truth can be yours but essentially we don’t care.
Chr: How easy was it to find Simone, Giuseppe and Fabio – they seem the perfect live expression for what you and Tiziano conjure in the studio?
SJ: I’m Sonic Jesus, Tiziano is Sonic Jesus and Simone is Sonic Jesus. But everyone can be a part of this movement… Here the doors are open and never closed. But you need to know, it is difficult to find people who have the same vision of life, we give time to people to understand who we are, but if they don’t understand they are forced to go on. Fabio and Giuseppe didn’t understand this spirit and now each of them will continue on his way. Remember, it’s easy to tell a child what must be said but we don’t want this, we want the curious children. We are sorry but this will give us a new impetus. After the summer the project will start with new guys.
Chr: For me the words have always been an integral part of the music, what I have seen of your words leaves me wanting to see more, particularly given the heavy distortion on the vocals. Was the omission of the lyrics intentional, to allow each listener their own interpretation?
SJ: Initially Tiziano was ashamed of listening to his voice and his English pronunciation, but on the other hand we have always enjoyed the voice with effects. The voice for us it is an instrument. We are not native English speakers and in the beginning my writing and his pronunciation was too stoned. It seems logical for us to keep everything hidden however, I think the words will become a new discovery for those who will be curious. Everything can be interpreted but the words are alive.
Chr: I think you are both unnecessarily cautious about your English and your lyrics! The fact that you communicate so profoundly and effectively in what is not your mother-tongue, is truly fantastic.
Chr: I was reminded of this quote by Blake the other day, “the true method of knowledge is experiment” – would you say that this essentially defines your self-trained approach to making music?
SJ: William Blake is the touch of divinity, for Blake the experience and the imagination are the university of the man. Well, we are essentially self-taught, the sound takes us inside the vortex and when we are inside of it we feel alive. In music we found our drug and we replaced the old experiences with the new, but we thank the old experiences for all the life. We are pleased to have seen our experiences transformed in knowledge but our experiment is just beginning.
Chr: How did it feel to play the Release Party in Rome?
SJ: Rome : Like any gigs but with more people to talk to after the show. We don’t like to talk after the shows.
Chr: Haha! Did it feel any more special though, in terms of maybe proving your point?
SJ: Yes this is special, but we don’t like it.
Chr: Have you had the chance to enjoy all that the release of ‘Neither Virtue Nor Anger’ has brought, has it sunk in?
SJ: We haven’t absorbed completely NVNA, now we look at it like a son and we’re seeing it grow. We are proud of it.
Chr: And so you should be. When you reach a certain age, you think you won’t hear anything that special again – I am glad you have proved me wrong!
SJ: I don t want to prove you wrong, but I want to say to myself that I’m still not right. The times speak to me.
Chr: And finally, What’s Next???
SJ: The nearest future is the release of a new split for Fuzz Club, it will be a surprise inside a surprise !!!!!
Chr: Thank you so much for taking the time out to answer these questions, the suspense of this “surprise” will prove a sweet endurance…