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  • Writer's pictureMichael Bugeja


It's been a while since Malta's notorious Brikkuni have performed live. In fact it's been a while since we've heard anything from the band at all, other than the recent posts that they will be giving not one, but two live performances at the prestigious Manoel Theatre at the end of October. Eagerly anticipated for various reasons, among them the fact that Brikkuni, together with pianist and composer Veronique Vella will be joined onstage by a 15-piece orchestra and the equally important fact that the repertoire will consist of new songs written exclusively for this specific occasion, the concert, which is supported by the Malta Arts Fund, is surely one not to be missed, especially because it is another step towards the band's third album, which should see the light of day around February or March next year. In the meantime, here are a few curious facts culled by none other than Mario Vella himself from Brikkuni's colourful scrapbook - enjoy, as there are (hopefully) more to come, but more importantly don't forget to book your tickets folks! For more details, click here.


Frontman Mario Vella started harbouring thoughts of setting up a bonafide Maltese band after stumbling across Fabrizio De Andre’s Anime Salve – the Italian singer-songwriter’s final offering which he’d acquired for free from one Matthew Cuschieri. Cuschieri, a renowned guitarist within indie circles had, at the time, considered Anime Salve a lacklustre album lacking any replay value whatsoever. Little did he know he’d eventually end up saddled with the role of guitarist for Brikkuni - a band that owed its very existence to a CD he discarded.


The Kuntrabanda album launch was a pretty explosive affair and we don’t mean in a musical way. The Bomb Disposal Unit had to be called into action and stop the band midway through its performance due to a bomb scare. What could have descended into a nightmare turned out to be a happy accident that fired up an already engaged crowd and made Brikkuni’s night one to remember for a very long time.


A former Swieqi mayor had taken umbrage at the inclusion of his picture on the band’s debut album packaging. The snapshot in question portrays the subject looking stern and decked out in full Roman regalia during a Good Friday procession. Brikkuni were completely unaware of their subject’s identity upon purchasing reproduction rights from photographer David Pisani. Mario Vella claims he was only drawn to the picture due to "its splendid juxtaposition of the sacred and profane". The subject however, was having none of it. Deeming the band’s moniker Brikkuni (rascals) emblazoned over his picture "highly inappropriate" he proceeded to threaten the band with legal action. A few weeks later this same person made local headlines as one of several councillors charged with bribery and tax evasion. He was found guilty.


Former Brikkuni drummer Michael Galea once threw a table at Mario during a rehearsal after the latter expressed concern about a particular song’s speed. Taken aback by the visceral reaction to such a pedestrian enquiry, the singer demanded an explanation. "I was hangry, alright?!!" was Michael’s curt reply. I'm guessing this story falls under the 'you had to be there to get the real effect' category.


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