Di Cicco, Dario (Mind Key) (August 2004)

Journey Of A Metal Band

Mind Key - Journey Of A Rough DiamondWith the release of their debut, Journey Of A Rough Diamond, Davide Guidone talks with Italian progressive metal band Mind Key's keyboardist Dario De Cicco.

Davide Guidone: Because it is your first album, maybe it's good for our readers to be introduced to the band. How did all of you come together, what have you done before playing in Mind Key and what do you do apart from playing in the band?

Dario De Cicco: The story of Mind Key started in 1999. After my split from another band, I knew very well what I did expect from music ... During 1998 I jammed with many guitar players, searching for a good one to complete the line-up of my old band. In my opinion, Emanuele [Colella] was the right man to choose. But he was too "prog-rocker" for that band. So, when I left, I immediately searched for any information about that guitarist, because I absolutely wanted to play with him.

I told him what kind of band I imagined. A band with task to melt the sound of great prog metal, bands like Dream Theater, Symphony X, Shadow Gallery, Elegy, Royal Hunt, but with a more song oriented approch. And then I wanted to shake these elements with another kind of rock passion of mine, that was 80's hard rock and fusion. The sound of Whitesnake, Europe, Triumph, Journey, Bad English, House of Lords, but also of Uzeb, Elektric Band, Dave Weckl Band and Dixie Dregs too. Emanuele agreed with me. We began to "create" this sound and then "Secret Dream" (a first version) was born. Thanx to a lot friends of mine that gave me some telephone numbers, we found Eduardo [Schipani] and Francesco [Mormile] to play drums and bass with us. We searched for a singer!

After some months we found Mark Basile. We played "Under A Glass Moon" by Dream Theater. With him. He shocked us. He liked very much our song "Secret Dream" and so we started to play together. When Eduardo left, Mark told us that he knew a great prog-metal drummer named Andrea Stipa. He was very happy to take his place behind "our" drum kit. This line up recorded Welcome To Another Reality demo. In May 2001, the last line-up change happened, when Francesco left the band with Lele Castaldo joining on bass. Before playing in Mind Key, I played in a Heavy Metal band called Exsurge Domine (after known as Silent Field), but I had big musical problems with them and human too, so I left that band. Emanuele only studied guitar, but he didn't play in a band before. Mark, Lele and Andrea played in other band but Mind Key was their first serious project.

DG: What's the idea behind the name Mind Key and Journey Of A Rough Diamond?

DDC: With the name Mind Key, we mean that all depends on the people's mind and all the decisions are due to the choices that we are used to [taking] in the everyday life. The Key explains this idea, like a light inside us, a way out in the ocean of life. And if you noticed, this fact is quoted in the last song, "Waiting For The Answer." The name of the album, instead, is even more autobiographical and would represent our purpose to start an exciting trip in the music industry. At least, we hope it will be exciting!

DG: When I listen to your album, I feel reminded of early Dream Theater, but there are also jazzy parts ("Deep Inside") and parts that sound like straight ahead rock, like "Without Ann" or "Love Remains The Same." What do you consider the main musical influences of the band?

DDC: Of course Dream Theater are one of the main influences in Mind Key's music, and perhaps we should thank them, because if we have written this album, it's also thanks to their music. But our background derives from other musical styles, too. As you recognized, there is a strong fusion influence: Chick Corea Elektric band, or some stuff from Herbie Hancock, Dave Weckl, Dixie Dregs and so on. I love so much the music of Pat Metheny and George Benson. Moreover, I have to list my evident hard rock and AOR influences, like Europe, Toto, Whitesnake, Deep Purple, Journey.

DG: How would you characterize your music?

DDC: It's always hard to give a precise label to all kind of music, but I can declare that our music could be defined as hard rock/metal - prog, with a lot of melodic moments. In every song that we're going to write and [that] we'll write tomorrow, we put no musical boundaries [on it], but we always are interested in looking for a real "song" structure. It was very important for us give a more song approach to Journey Of A Rough Diamond.

DG: To you, what separates your group from the rest of today's prog-metal bands?

DDC: I believe that what I told you in the last answer is the main difference between us and the other prog metal bands around. Our scope is giving the possibility to the audience to sing our songs, even if there are some very complex sections, that are the trademark of prog music. And maybe I have to add jazz and melodic rock are some characteristics that are difficult to find in the prog genre. If you noticed, many bands of this genre are used to using this "technique": in the same song some melodies seems like coming from a song and some instrumental parts coming from another one. We don't like this "cut & stick" trail that many bands do.

DG: How did it happen that you teamed up with Frontiers Records and how does the cooperation work out? I also know that you'll perform with Dream Theater on the 6th of July...

DDC: Well, first of all, we are very satisfied with Frontiers' work, and there aren't the right words to explain the great job they are doing in promoting our music. You know that next month we'll play [a] supporting [role to] Dream Theater in the forthcoming Italian Summer Tour. [Which happened in July -ed.] This is a dream come true for us and I think that it's very difficult for a newcoming band to have this work help. The story of our partnership is very particular!! One day I decided to let them listen to our demo. So, the staff told me to wait so Serafino Perugino, Frontiers' boss, could have [a listen] to it. But after a couple of months I [got to know] Mario de Riso, Frontiers marketing director. I knew that he worked on a label, but I thought that he was employed by a major one. During a Christmas night party, I asked him which was the label where he worked and he told me that it was Frontiers. I knew their productions very well and told him that I was a fan of their bands like Ten, first of all, Giant, Millenium. I didn't tell him that I left our demo at Via Gonzaga (Frontiers address), but Mario told me that he heard speaking of a good band that Serafino Perugino wanted to sign, and the band was Mind Key!! He became astonished when he knew that Mind Key was my band and me much more than him. So a couple of days after, I called Serafino and the rest is story. About the gig with Dream Theater, it's like a dream come true; the band of John Petrucci and Mike Portnoy has always been my favourite in the prog metal [genre], and with Iron Maiden, is the one I prefer in the metal world. It'll be a great chance for us, and we hope to give our best on the stage [they played terrific - Davide].

DG: What will you expect from your debut?

DDC: The first thing we'd like is good feedback from music fans and specialized press. We hope to capture the attention of the widest audience ever possible.

DG: Are you currently working on album number 2? What would you try to improve considering the experiences of making the debut? What are your plans for the future?

DDC: Yes, we are working on the sophomore release, we have ready two pieces and some others are at good point. They will be very different than our first ones. Of course we'll try to take the best from the experience we had by this album.

DG: What's your favourite song on the album and why?

DDC: My favourite songs are "Love Remains The Same" and "Waiting For The Answer" because they demonstrate all the trademarks of the band, and represent the path that we want to take ("Love Remains The Same") and that one from [where] we started ("Waiting For The Answer"). But I'm very satisfied with the Journey... album.

DG: Today melodic rock/metal has become more popular again than it has been in a long time, since the 90s. Would you say Mind Key can benefit from that?

DDC: I guess it's absolutely so, because as I told you before, our music is very influenced by some fantastic bands that are the story of this genre. And we are also helped some new shining stars like Pride Of Lions, Ten, and Seventh Key. Also in the metal world by bands like Masterplan.

But I think that prog-metal is in good health thanx to bands like Symphony X, Ark, Pain Of Salvation, and surely Dream Theater. I don't like the last album Train Of Thought very much, but I saw the last Rome concert in February and I was astonished: three hours of concert, fantastic track-list. James LaBrie sang like never before I heard .... GREAT!!!!!!!

DG: Thank you for the interview. And keep in touch.

DDC: Bye Davide, thank you for this opportunity!

[Disclaimer: Either at the time this was first published, or subsequently, Davide became the band's manager - ed. Mar 2007]

Welcome To Another Reality (demo) (2000)
Journey Of A Rough Diamond (2004)
Pulse For A Graveheart (2009)

Habemus Poland - Live Katowice (DVD) (2006)

Added: August 1st 2004
Interviewer: Davide Guidone

Artist website: www.mindkey.it
Hits: 1488
Language: english

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