America the beautiful!

Welcome 2016! January came, and just like last year, I found myself in the United States of America. This time, I wasn’t alone – drummer Alessandro Inolti, who has recently joined EchoTest, flew out with me. Direct flight to Philadelphia, very smooth (thank goodness). Julie Slick kidnapped us as soon as the plane landed, and we all went to Cambridge Sound Studios, where most of the subsequent days would be spent, putting together the new EchoTest album. We were also excited to be on the bill of the epic Julie’s 30th Birthday Bash at the Ardmore Music Hall, just outside of Philly.

Weather wasn’t as freezing as last year. Some days were colder than the others. We survived a snow blizzard, which actually happened – as a matter of fact, we got snowed in (last year’s blizzard, we all felt it was a hoax… and basically messed up our touring plans!). So, this time the snow poured down for real. I think I had never seen that much snow in my whole life! I joked with guitarist Tim Motzer (I was once again staying at his beautiful house in Fishtown) that we only meet in cold weather. That’s a tradition that we must not interrupt.

All in all, it was a very productive and fun stay. The album is now in the final stages of mixing (again, we have Todd Macaughey on board for mixing and additional production), but there’s no rush, absolutely no rush, in releasing this. “Le Fil Rouge” is still very fresh, and we want to promote it more. But – we have been playing (and practicing) some of the new songs live on stage, and we will play them again (and better!) during the upcoming concerts in Italy (yes, we’re planning a small tour of Italy in March. Keep an eye out on the Appearances page, info will come soon), so you will get fresh stuff anyway!

I finally got to spend some time with Mike Visser, who sang “The Drift” on “Le Fil Rouge”. We first rehearsed in his space in Brooklyn, New York, for a couple of days. Then we had him come to Philadelphia to record with us in the studio. We were immediate brothers. So many jokes… me and Alessandro obviously taught him nasty words in Italian. Mike was very receptive, I must say! We really bonded a lot. He is heavily featured on the new album – he had great ideas for the songs. Impressive performances and melodies. I have always loved the idea of having different singers on a record, and this new one will have WAY more vocals than our previous efforts. Actually, almost all of the songs (8 out of 10) have vocals. Different guests, too. We had amazing friends and musicians stopping by the studio to contribute (they also brought food and drinks. It was wonderful). By the way, Alessandro absolutely nailed the drum parts. It was extremely fun and inspiring to watch him behind the drum kit. He’s a very passionate and motivated player. Also, he makes my life so much easier on stage! I love playing with drummers that I can trust. I look forward to playing more with him in the future.

I feel this album is very much Julie’s baby, in the sense that I wrote less than usual – she had so many powerful ideas, that I just didn’t want to stop the flow. I had great fun arranging my parts, finding the right sounds for the tunes, channeling my inner voice on the bass. And of course, I wrote some of the lyrics on the record – I’m enjoying writing lyrics more than ever.

So, these are very exciting and busy times. I have many things in the works. At the moment, I’m not playing much, as I’m working on the Italian dates for EchoTest in March – which means spending many hours at the computer, sending e-mails, making phone calls, looking for venues and trying to make everyone happy. To be honest, I find this “booking agent” thing to be tiring and horribly time consuming, but in the end it will be worth it. Mike Visser will join us for the shows, too – all the way from Brooklyn. I think this will be his first time in Italy. Oh, boy.

Next week, I will spend a couple of days in Verona to work with Andrea Gastaldello on our Fifteen Strange Seconds album. It’s coming together nicely. More news on that as well, very soon.

Julie is currently on tour with the Adrian Belew Power Trio. Me and Alessandro went to see them in Rome, a few days ago. It was brilliant – well, I had no doubts about it. Ade is on top form, so you should not miss this show. It was great to chat with him – we traded jokes about our last names getting brutalized around the world. In the photo attached to this post, EchoTest with uncle Adrian.

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