Plan De Fuga's first official album, In a minute was released back in 2010, but the Italian rock band had existed long before that. There's no crazy story as to how this band got together - like most bands, they started out as a bunch of friends who hung out and decided to give music a shot. Taking the D.I.Y. approach and learning to produce and record their own music, they have worked hard to make music that has attracted the attention of not only the home crowds, but also of audiences far and wide. Singing in both English and Italian, their music rocks hard with a grungy alternative twist for extra flavour, but this is one band that isn't afraid to slip in a dash of pop to spice things up either. Michael Bugeja catches up with singer and guitarist Filippo De Paoli ahead of the band’s performance at this year's Rock The South Festival.
What was the reason you released your first album long after the band had first formed?
We played many long rehearsal sessions before our sound started to take shape, after which we recorded a demo and went on to perform extensively around Italy and abroad.Our priority was, and still is, to write good songs and tour as much as possible. We learned to produce and record our own music, and we've got this far without any outside help. Eventually, we felt we needed to choose whether to do this for fun or make a career of being an artist, so we decided to look for a label, and here we are.
An Italian band with a Spanish name that started out singing in English; there's certainly an international flavour about you...
We grew up listening to a different music from all over the world, so musical contamination, blending different styles has always interested us. There's a certain beauty in a mixture that transcends geographical borders, and we also believe that cultural blending is the goal humanity should aim for. Plan de fuga means 'escape plan', which represents our intention of living diversity as the most precious characteristic of the human being and of music too. We started to sing in Italian too more recently as we've always wanted to communicate our ideas concerning Italy’s social and political situation. Only a small proportion of people in Italy understand English well enough to immediately get the true gist of our songs from radio airplay, so to counter that we chose to change the language.
How difficult was it to break out of a local music scene and gain national and international recognition?
We believe that being somehow different from other bands, trying to bring our own sound to the Italian scene helped us get noticed, the rest is up to believing in one's self and hard work. We work a lot to achieve our goals, and music is one of the hardest jobs around. We became quite popular in Italy thanks to our first single Twice,which was picked up by several radios, among them one big Italian rock network. That helped our booking agency to find us gigs all over the country. We've never wanted to be part of the Italian mainstream, preferring to keep our music free from any trend and our lyrics argumentative. This makes everything much harder, but that's how we are and we want to be.
What do you feel are the primary factors that make Plan De Fuga's songs so appealing to a wide audience?
We often tell our audience during a concert that we play insubordinate pop rock. Our sound is a mixture between English and American pop rock, North European independent rock with Southern Italian melodies. Our records are pretty diverse too, there's something for all tastes, but the main characteristic is a melodramatic mood...typical Italian perhaps!We don't follow trends or imitate, we don't wink at a world rather than another, we just play our songs the best we can, that's it. The quality and intensity of music are not determining factors in the music business these days, but fortunately there's still people looking for them.
Which scenario truly captures what the band is about- in the studio or onstage, and what would you say have the band's crowning moments been to date?
We've always been a live band first, but we try to write serious music that can linger on in the heart of the listener. The best moments are always on tour. Touring the States and sharing our music with great musicians and with seasoned audiences was a blessing.We don't dream of massive crowds; we want to experience music as a way to see the world and learn more about ourselves and others. If we could add something to Italian music it would be very great, as Italy as a country is not too open to change. A moment that is definitely memorable for us was the Heineken Jammin' festival, where we played in front of 8,000 people. However, a gig we played to just 10 people in Memphis is just as special to us as Jeff Buckley had played on the same stage in the past and, getting to jam with Andy Rourke (The Smiths) onstage in Manhattan was also awesome; all different aspects of the same magic.
Does your upcoming new album tie in with last year's Fase1, and is there a concept behind both albums?
Yes, there is a concept. We have an urge to communicate our thoughts, so there will be subversive lyrics addressing Western society, but not only. The main single in Italian will be called You will kill me, and it's about love. The new album will be aggressive, but like Fase 1 it will feature melodies and sounds coming from our inner world.For the first time in our career we're working with a producer, Giovanni Ferrario (PJ Harvey, Scisma, Morgan) for two songs, which will help us experience the thrill of expert ears working on our music.
What are you most looking forward to when you perform in Malta?
I lived for ten years in Malta Street in my town, and I promised myself I’d visit the island one day, so I'm happy that this opportunity has presented itself, thanks to the festival organizers. I want to see the island, talk to people, see how they react to our performance, and possibly come back again. Marcello (bass player and co-writer) and I have a side-project called The Rebel which mixes reggae and rock - we call it 'Hard Reggae', so I was obviously pleased when I saw that the venue is called Zion. I'm looking forward to a lively Maltese audience to play to, and as we say in Italy, 'we promise fireworks'..see you there!
Plan De Fuga are performing on Saturday, April 16, the second day of the Rock The South Festival which will be held at Zion in Marsacala.
This article was first published in The Malta Independent On Sunday (10 April 2016)