Global Profile: Spotlight on Italian Music-the Pischellis
When you think of Italy’s music scene, most likely the musical artist John Denver would not come up. But one band, The Pischellis, may beg to differ. The two are certainly worlds apart: John Denver, the beloved folk and country singer from the states, sang about the Rocky Mountains while the Pischellis, a rock group from Italy, sings melodies about relationships, life, and their hometown, Rome. But it is with one song, Tornero’ a Roma Nord, where the two worlds come together.
Recently, to the delight of their growing fans, the Pischellis have created their own lyrical adaptation to Denver’s hit Take Ne Home, Country Roads. The rendition is a hit and is quickly making its way up the charts thanks in part to Youtube, concerts and social media. The song is catchy, and has proven once again that music, whether Italian rock or American folk, can cross any boundary.
The Pischellis are composed of four musicians: Matteo, Gianni, Valerio and Emanuele. A years back, these four musicians from Rome became a band through chance meetings at high school and while on their way to a soccer game. It is that kind of “hey, lets put together a band” which makes them all the more charming. Nothing strategically orchestrated under Simon Cowell’s hand. Instead, they are friends who play music together in one of the most famous cities in the world: Rome. How cool is that.
Although Rome for many of us is about grandeur, awe-inspiring art, the Coliseum and the Vatican, it is also for those who live there, such as the Pischellis, a place to call home. I lived there while going to school and remember my apartment near Piazza Sempione, my Friday nights at Gilda’s and going down the Nomentana on bus number 60. I remember well the bars, the pubs where I would have a beer (well, I dont drink but that sounded better). There, I would listen to bands in dark (always dark) smoke filled rooms, mesmerzied by the sounds, and some lead singer who always was sexy in that Rock Singer way.
There is just something so gritty, and authentic about a live band and that was the same feeling I got when listening to the Pischellis. Their lyrics are upbeat, fun and so Romano, the harmony is great, and what’s so wonderful is that you can distinctly hear each instrument. The drums, the bass, the guitar are clear. No remixes or auto tunes. Just good music performed by four Italian guys who play, sing, and by all accounts, look like they are having a great time.
I chatted with the band as we talked about their music, Facebook, John Denver, and how their friendship not just their love of music is the secret to their success.
GL: Welcome to I.K. When I heard Tornero’ a Roma Nord, I have to say my jaw dropped. Here is this band from Roma singing an adaptation of Take me Home, Country Roads. First of all, you know I grew up on John Denver, he was probably one of the greatest musical talents of my generation. However, today, a lot of young people even here in the states, do not know him. How did you hear about John Denver?
The Pischellis: First of all, thanks for all your kind words…. Personally, I love John Denver- his sweet, deep voice and his skills in fingerstyle guitar playing… I heard about him years ago while listening to Take me home, Country Roads, during a scene in an 1980s Italian movie called Holidays in America, and I immediately fell in love with him.
GL: That is one of his greatest hits. So, how did you decide to do these renditions and how did you get this idea? I know you did them with other songs- La isla bonita is now Sei ‘na burina. Moonlight shadow became M’hai lasciato.
The Pischellis: The idea of making these particular renditions came when Matteo, our lead singer, rewrote The Fratellis’ Whistle for the Choir in Roman dialect just for fun. We saw it that it worked, and decided to rewrite all of our favourite songs this way…
GL: Your band name is interesting. The Pischellis. Tell me about what the name means to you.
The Pischellis: Pischello here in Rome means guy… so, once again, we took inspirations from The Fratellis and called ourselves The Pischellis.
GL: Please tell me individually about your musical backgrounds. Are you classically trained or do you play by ear?
The Pischellis: We all started playing our instruments when we were in high school… Matteo and I play guitar, Valerio bass and Emanuele drums….we are all self taught and play by ear.
GL: You said that your favorite band is the Beatles and you seem fascinated by international styles such as brit pop, punk and country. By the way, do Italians like country?
The Pischellis: Country music is not Italians’ favourite! (even the other members of The Pischellis don’t like it that much!) but personally, Im a great fan of country and country-rock music: John Denver, Johnny Cash, The Byrds, Creedence Clearwater Revival… also Italian country/folk artists like Stefano Rosso, Schola Cantorum and Loy & Altomare. We all started listening to The Beatles when we were children, and then we discovered other genres: punk-rock, blues, synth-pop, Brit-pop etc.
GL: So lets talk about Italian music. Who influenced you? Vasco Rossi? Ligabue?
The Pischellis: Our music is merely Anglo-Saxon; we have a sound that is reminiscent of Sixties and Seventies’ garage-pop rock, so it’s not that we were directly influenced by Italian music. But we love Italian singers and bands like Lucio Battisti, Lucio Dalla, Antonello Venditti, Francesco De Gregori, Stadio and Vasco Rossi… Emanuele is also a DJ and he hosts a great Italian music broadcast.
GL: You sing your songs in harmony. There is a connection almost brotherly between you. Where you friends before? Is it true that you represent the four corners of Roma (Roma nord, sud, ovest, est) and if so, how did you meet up?
The Pischellis: Matteo, the lead singer, and I are friends since high school… we started playing and singing Beatles’ songs, we learned how to harmonize by imitating Lennon & McCartney. I’m very happy you mentioned that we have a brotherly connection because I really consider him to be a brother. We formed our first band together when we were twenty, then we decided to make a new band a few years ago, when we met Valerio in a bar in 2013 on our way to see a Roman football match. We started as an acoustic trio, then we turned into a full rock band with Emanuele on drums.
GL: Wonderful. So your band was formed so naturally, just pieced together organically. Last question. Its so hard today to just an artist without having at some point to get involve with Social Media like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram. What do you think about Social Media from an artistic point of view? Do you think legends such as Mina, Bob Dylan, and the Beatles would have loved all that?
The Pischellis: Our band is pretty active on social networks such as Facebook, Instagram and Youtube. Today, social media is fundamental in allowing people to get to know your music even if they haven’t seen you play live. Maybe past legends like the ones you mentioned above wouldn’t need a Facebook page today… especially Old Bob!
Perfetto. Siete stati grandi. Grazie!
For more: https://www.facebook.com/thepischellis/
Many thanks to Katya Marletta, cultural director of LondonOneRadio.
©Gaya Lynn 2016