jazz-rock fusion guitar ace Lelio Padovani returned in 2016
with a 20 minute CD/EP called Waves. Filled with
four solid tracks of fiery jazz-rock power, Waves is the perfect
showcase for Lelio and his wide-ranging, cinematic guitar concepts.
Whats also impressive is that Lelio is playing all the instruments
himself and it sounds like an entire band. Speaking about Waves,
Lelio tells mwe3.com, I always thought about music as
architecture, so I guess the experience of writing for movies just
steered my music even more towards a compositional point of view.
I also love to work with sounds and I love recording and the process
of layering instruments and editing. I love to write instrumental
music and love electric guitars, all kinds of guitars in fact so every
time, I compose I try to balance these two elements. Actually, the
more guitars, the better! All these fretboard pyrotechnics
and hi-tech recording gear would be meaningless without well thought
out compositional ideas and precise execution and theres plenty
of that throughout the Waves CD to which the guitarist adds,
"The mission on this new CD, as with everything I release,
is to write good music, where you can find new details every time
and achieve the best sound quality I can... this is what I look for
in the music I listen to myself." A much welcome return to
form by a 21st century jazz-rock fretboard maestro, on Waves
Lelio Padovani takes the electric guitar in a crossection of bold
and exciting new directions.
mwe3.com presents an interview with
The WAVES Interview
Tell us about your life in Italy. Where are you from in Italy and
where do you live now? What was your early exposure to music?
Lelio Padovani: I was born and live and work in Parma, a small
town in northern Italy. I grew up here, picking up the guitar in my
early teens and I feel so very lucky to be still playing it! At that
time I also began to tinker with bass and drums, and basically any
instrument I could put my hands on. I learned to play almost every
song by The Beatles on the guitar, which was a great way to learn
harmony and form in a modern context. I also loved The Who, especially
their concept albums Tommy and Quadrophenia. Then I
started playing in local bands and writing songs
the last one
I played in, called A2A, was an instrumental prog trio with keyboards
and drums where I played guitar and synth guitar, and we recorded
mwe3: Who are some of your favorite Italian musicians and artists
and is the fusion guitar sound still popular in Italy? I remember
some of the great Italian fusion bands of the late 1970s like Perigeo
and Sensations Fix. Thank you for carrying the sound forward
again with your great new album.
Lelio Padovani: And yes, there were some colossal progressive
bands here in the 1970s like Il Banco, Area, Le Orme, PFM and Pooh
to name but a few that in some way influenced my style and that are
not mainstream anymore nowadays. Other bands that I like would include
Litfiba, Negrita, Subsonica and Matia Bazar, mainly their early works
until the 1990s.
mwe3: I know you also teach guitar. So with all that going
on, how did you manage to find time for such a fine CD as Waves?
When and where was the music written and recorded? What was your
musical mission on Waves? You said you were also influenced
a lot by soundtrack music right especially on the lead off track Time
Traveler, which sounds like a great Sci-Fi theme song. Have
you done movie scores too?
Padovani: I teach guitar and music theory at LAccademia
the music school I founded in 2007 with a fellow guitar player. Managing
the school and teaching is very time consuming, so I wrote all tracks
at home, recording the basic demos, then adding bits and pieces at
home or in the school recording studio when time allowed, evolving
the basics into the finished CD.
The track Sunday is a good example, I had already done
the writing but the track had to be completed with all guitars, so
on a rare open weekend I recorded all missing guitar parts, hence
the title. I always felt my instrumentals would suit well the pictures,
and I had the chance to write a couple of scores in 2008 and 2010
for two Italian indie movies, then in 2014 and 2016 I scored two short
silent movies from the 1910s for a film contest in Italy. You
can find some videos on my Youtube channel, but this music is not
as guitar-centric as in my other works though.
Time Traveler could definitely be a sci-fi theme song!
I guess I had in mind the 1970s British TV series Space:1999
when I wrote the main theme. In that song I added the lead guitar
theme to an out take from a soundtrack. The mission on this new CD,
as with everything I release, is to write good music, where you can
find new details every time and achieve the best sound quality I can...
this is what I look for in the music I listen to myself.
mwe3: I remembered your early music releases so Im glad
you brought us up to date with Waves. How would you compare
it with your other recent and your early releases. What other albums
have you made in recent years following Unknown Evolution and
Chasing The Muse and are your early albums still in print on
CD? What other albums on CD have you made since those early albums?
Lelio Padovani: After Chasing The Muse I wrote the soundtracks
we were talking about earlier. Some songs were left out of the first
movie soundtrack, so I released them on a six-track CD titled Electronic,
which is still in print. In between that and Waves theres
also an acoustic instrumental cover of Inverse Midas,
a song by the English band Mansun from their fantastic pop/progressive
album Six, released on a covers compilation CD for their first
fans convention, and you can find it on my Soundcloud page. I think
Waves is my best work so far, even though the best album will
always be the next one. It is an ever-evolving process... Every new
recording gets a little better
I cant wait to begin recording
again! I just love it.
Did Waves set out to be very melodic and more compositional
as opposed to straight riffing or shredding? It sounds like you gave
the content of these tracks a lot of thought. Tell us about the title
track Waves as you mention in the liner notes that its
experimental and that it was inspired by Rhys Chatham. What else can
you tell us about Rhys and how you approached the title track? What
other composers are among your favorites?
Lelio Padovani: I always thought about music as architecture,
so I guess the experience of writing for pictures just steered my
music even more towards a compositional point of view. I also love
to work with sounds and I love recording and the process of layering
instruments and editing. So, yes, I always put much effort into writing
and arranging every track. The first 97 percent is always relatively
easy, its that final 3 percent that requires the most effort!
I love to write instrumental music and love electric guitars, all
kinds of guitars in fact, so every time I compose I try to balance
these two elements. Actually, the more guitars, the better! Rhys Chatham
is a contemporary composer who uses electric guitars like string instruments
in a classical orchestra, grouping them in sections where the guitars
are restrung, usually with several strings tuned in unisons. I played
in one of his concertos in Milan some time ago performing An angel
moves too fast to see, one of his symphonies written for 100 guitars,
drums and bass, and I was most fascinated with that sound, which I
can only describe as an electric wave of sound. You see, composing
and guitars! I knew sooner or later I had to incorporate it into my
So, on Waves the accompaniment is made with just
30 guitars playing together, and all guitars were tuned to a single
note and played one by one. It was also my first project to feature
more than 100 recorded tracks. You can listen to the Wave
in the song coda, while there were just two guitars playing
the lead parts in the main themes. I thought this experiment could
be the title of the entire project, as it could also refer to the
electromagnetic waves and of course sound waves we live into.
Other composers that influence my music, but may not be recognized,
are Philip Glass, the minimalist composer I discovered on his soundtrack
for the beautiful movie Koyaanisqatsi by Godfrey Reggio, Glenn
Branca, who also works with electric guitars and Jean-Michel Jarre
for his use of synthesizers. Then theres J.S. Bach, who I love
for his approach to composition, which I find architectural, revealing
a strong structure. Of course I draw inspiration from a number of
artists, bands and guitar players. My fave shredders are George Lynch,
Joe Satriani and Eric Johnson. There would be hundreds more from my
ever growing collection
in general guitar driven music always
catches my ear. A couple of current bands I enjoy are Cymbals Eat
Guitars and St. Vincent.
Tell us about your work teaching music at LAccademia and how
do you balance your role teaching with that of guitarist and composer?
Do you also play other sessions or concerts with other musicians?
Seems like theres a number of fine musicians on the musical
directors of your school. Is that like the Berklee of Italy?
Lelio Padovani: Teaching is a fantastic job in nurturing the
new generations of players and giving them my experience, and working
with young people keeps things fresh. Teaching also means I have to
be an example for my students so I always try to be up to date with
the new players, techniques and equipment and have practice time as
often as I can. Time is always tight, though! Its hard to maintain
a resemblance of a social life sometimes.
As a session player I occasionally do studio work and played live
with some local artists and bands. This is another part of my job
I find very rewarding in the exchange of ideas with the artists and
producers and is a nice relief from being in control of everything.
When me and my guitar pal Nicola Denti founded the school we were,
of course, inspired by the great international schools. We are now
actually partners with ICMP, a big music school in London, and in
a network with a series of schools worldwide and we always try to
adopt their best practices to be able to offer the best education
to our students. The size of Italy and our town means that our size
and numbers are way smaller
So Berklee, at least for
now, remains an inspiration. Our teachers are all professionals and,
most importantly, working musicians, so we wanted to have the best
ones around here.
mwe3: You list the guitars you recorded Waves with in
the excellent CD packaging so what else is new for you in the guitar
and gear world? Did you have a one go-to guitar on Waves? The
guitar sound on Waves is heavily processed, which is amazing
so tell us about your favorite effects, synths and amps you use on
the CD and in other settings? Were different guitars mixed together
on the same track? I love the synth sound on Waves too
For example on Sunday, how did you mix the guitars? Its
one of the great fusion tracks of the year.
Lelio Padovani: Santa gave me a nice Fender Telecaster Elite
guitar, which Im playing often to get to know it better, and
plan to record it soon! I love all guitars I own. I regret having
to keep them in their cases and not playing them enough as they are
all like old friends
each with their own personality.
The amp rig is rack mounted: I have a MESA/Boogie Triaxis which I
love for its versatility, a Digitech multi-effects unit and a Rocktron
Velocity power amp. Cabinets are either a Brunetti 2x12 with Jensen
speakers or the classic Marshall 4x12 with Celestions. I know rack-mounted
equipment is definitely out of fashion in guitar-land but I just like
the sounds and Ive used this equipment for a long time both
live and in the studio without a glitch.
On the CD I also used the Ik Multimedia Amplitube 3 software, which
recreates digitally amps and pedals, which I used for mixing live/real
guitars with fake/electronic ones.
bass was a Yamaha BB 605 5-string. I always have a good time playing
bass though its not my main instrument! This was recorded direct
through a Radial J48 DI, then re-amped to add some grit to the sound.
All keyboards were soft synths, recreating in software some great
keyboards from the past. I used in particular the Roland 8.v by Arturia,
impOSCar by GForce and PPG by Waldorf, often mixed with Logics
EXS sampler. Instead of using a single keyboard and manipulating with
it equalization, I usually layered many different keyboards, split
by octaves, with slightly different sounds to achieve a bigger overall
tone. For example on Sunday I recorded the accompaniment
with 9 soft synths playing simultaneously in various combinations:
a cello sample for the lowest octave, three instances of EXS sampler
for the mids, and three instances of GForce String Machine plus two
EXS for the highs. Im giving away a secret here!
Guitars on Sunday are the main lead and a couple ones
more playing in harmony in small spots. In the mix, I tried to convey
the feeling of a lazy, sleepy afternoon. The issue with mixing instrumentals
is to keep the main leads forward without overpowering the rest of
the arrangement. What I do is add some delay to the leads to make
them sit better in the mix, and try to have a consistent
mwe3: What was your recording setup like and how did you get
such a clean sound on the Waves CD? Tell us who else helped
you with the mixing, the sound, mastering and the album artwork, which
is also excellent. Its so great sounding its hard to believe
its all you! How did you record and mix in the drum sound?
Lelio Padovani: My recording setup was pretty basic, centered
around a 2008 MacBook pro running Logic 9 and an Apogee Duet interface,
which I like for its transparency. Basically, on every track I tried
to keep the lowest noise floor going to the converters to get the
recording as clean as I could even from my simple setup. I recorded
and mixed the album myself using Logic and Universal Audio plug ins.
The mastering was done by Fausto Tinello at Studio Tartini5 (www.tartini5.it),
the school recording studio, and the artwork was done by Andrea Scarfone,
with pictures by Samuel Alexander Acevedo.
The drums are actually samples by this Swedish company called Toontrack.
For budgetary and time reasons I could not record a real drummer as
much as I would have liked it. I find the samples and ambiences to
be very good sounding. The programming takes time of course to achieve
a convincing drumming performance out of a machine but my experience
on the drums helps a lot on that. I used some reverbs from Universal
Audio, especially the 224 reverb.
Waves really left me wanting to hear more of your new music
so what else are you planning in 2017? I hope theres a full
length in the works and what kind of style and sound are looking for
next? Waves Pt.2?
Lelio Padovani: Well I always record new ideas, so Id
like to have a full length new album out in a couple of years. I would
like to expand on the idea of using multiple guitars instead of keyboards
for the accompaniment, and recording more acoustic guitars in my works.
I also would like to explore the Roland GR guitar synth that I have
lying in a corner of my studio. Its a very powerful machine
I played both live and in the studio with A2A. I would like to collaborate
with a singer, maybe form an instrumental band
I am never short
of ideas and plans! Ill definitely keep you updated.