Interview with Andy Deane, Gopal Metro, Tony Lechmanski and Micah Consylman of Bella Morte
~by Gina Caminiti with introduction by Gina Caminiti and James Bourdette
(photos by Blu)
Among the revival of the underground scene, Bella Morte from Charlottesville, Virginia is one band who has captured my attention at full force. The band formed in 1996, and has three full length albums and an EP behind them. Presently in 2003, they have been hard at work with new material slated for a forthcoming release. When I was approached to do the interview I was more than happy to oblige, as their live performance is definitely not to be missed. After having had the opportunity to get to know a little bit about these four down-to-earth individuals after only a couple of shows, it was quite evident that they are hard working, tour loving and fan appreciating guys, minus the rock star ego's.
Andy: Gopal came up with the name, being the clever one of us. I think that we've stayed true to the atmosphere the name alludes to. Kind of an emotional horror film if you ask me…
Gopal: True 'nuff, you know what I'm saying. Word.
GC: I understand your working on new material, will it be an ep or a full length album? When should we expect to hear the new material? Title?
Andy: The new material should hit shelves this coming spring, though we haven't yet finished label negotiations. We haven't titled the new disc yet, but the name "Distance" has been thrown around a bit. Time will tell! Oh, and it's a full-length.
Gopal: We've also started writing new material for the next DREP. Tony's been coming up with some really good material. Yup. It's true.
GC: Does your new material differ from the last? If so, how?
Andy: Well, for one thing, we're using the very best equipment money can buy on this one and we're in a state of the art studio. It's amazing just how much the tools you use can shape your finished work! It will still be a mixed bag of sounds, but I expect the guitars to be more dominant on this one, mostly because Tony wants to be a rock star and none of us have the power to stop his mighty force. (laughs)
Tony: And don't you forget it!!!
Gopal: Every time you write a song there is new influence. This record has quite a heavy dose of war. We've never really touched on that before, so that's new. And we have definitely experimented with both sound productions quite a bit. It has been a lot of fun, and a huge growth -period for the band. I don't quite know where the final product will stand, but we sure as hell enjoyed creating it.
GC: Will this new work be out on Metropolis Records?
Andy: Ummmm, we think so. We'd love to talk to major labels as well, but we are definitely interested in another Metropolis release as well.
GC: How's it going being on Metropolis ?
Andy: It's been very good thus far. It's a little lonely being one of very few bands not doing EBM on the label, but I think it's cool that they support the diversity of our sound.
Gopal: All the folks at Metropolis rock
Tony: And the other Metropolis bands that we have been played with have been very cool to us.
Gopal: So it has definitely been a good time with them so far.
GC: How far would you like to see Bella Morte go?
Andy: As far as we can! I'd love to turn on the radio and hear our stuff, and I really think it will happen for us if things keep growing the way they have been. The key for us is to stay true to our sound and things will fall into place as they always have.
Tony: I think we will do well, besides, don't forget the mighty force. I'll turn some wheels if I have to! (laughs)
Gopal: Being on the radio or MTV would be pretty cool, as long as we don't have to deal with all the crap that goes with it. I don't think either Andy or Tony would last five minutes on a "Real World" set, but I would love to see it happen. *grins evilly*
Micah: I really think that the only thing that holds a lot of really great underground bands from hitting it big is the production of the album and the right marketing, and I can really say that we will have any good marketing, but the new album has great production so hopefully that will carry us some where.
GC: Does the diversity of each song depend on the members outlooks or the time and period of each album or both?
Andy: I'd say both, definitely. Plus, I'd blame some of it on our attention span, which tends to linger somewhere around that of a three year old. Why do the same style over and over when we have so many influences to choose from?!
Tony: I don't think that we could do just one style of music because we come from such different musical backgrounds. If we tried to do just one thing we would all end up unhappy and there would be no point.
Gopal: I'm trying to convince the guys to do another reggae influenced song. And we have this sort of twenties influenced flapper song coming. And I STILL want to do that Polka number, hehehe.
Micah: I would agree, we are all into such a variety of music that it is next to impossible to keep doing solely one thing.
GC: I've seen Bella Morte perform at least a half dozen times or more, always an unforgettable experience for me. With your incredible stage presence and performance. Andy you went from latex to fake blood, what will you do next?
Andy: Who knows, we always seem to come up with something. Though I must say, that fake blood at the last NYC show wasn't our idea! A fan threw that on me… I jumped out into the crowd and when I came back onto the stage I was covered in blood! The guys in the band (and half the audience) thought I had hurt myself.
Gopal: I keep trying to convince him to wear a Wendy's uniform. He's a talented server of fries. On second thought, we ALL are talented servers of fries. Maybe Wendy's uniforms are going to be the new band thing? Hmm...
GC: I know you are trying to get a drummer for your live shows, how's that coming along?
Andy: Great! We picked up a fellow named Jordan and we've been practicing long hours! We hope to start showing him off by the first of the year. Jordan's a good guy, and once he described something as "weird like Mars".
Gopal: Jordan rules, he's picking the stuff up, even the stuff we didn't expect him to get, like it was nothing. And his writing style and personality mesh really well in the group. I'm pretty psyched about his being here.
GC: Will you ever go into the direction of having a full time drummer instead of a drum machine?
Andy: Definitely, though we'll always use some electronic sounds and backing tracks. Some of our drum lines require more than two arms and legs, and Jordan doesn't have any extras… yet!
Micah: That is true, that is why we were thinking of selling our old drum machine to buy some new arms and legs on the black market and finding a doctor in Tijuana to sew them on for us.
Gopal: mmm hmm hmm hmmm, I've been working... yes... working in the lab...AAAHH hahahahaha... and I've come up with a plan.... SPIDERS, JORDAN MUST EAT SPIDERS. AHHHH HAH HA HA! The drum spider will live in his head, yess... yessss.... yesssssss.....
GC: Ever think of doing a documentary project with you guys playing live, video's, interviews and interacting with fans? Nothing to fancy, more like a D.I.Y. video project. Something creative and imaginative with some zombies and other creatures thrown in there.
Gopal: That whole MTV/radio/main stream marketing thing, we're working that tip too. "Road Rules: Bella Morte", aww yeah, 2004 baby. WOOO HOOO DAYTONA RULES! Seriously though, we just shot a video for Living Dead with a Mr. Shawn Decker of Synthetic Division fame (I just finished tracking his latest EP, so keep posted folks). Chock full o' cheesy zombies, wonderful cooking recipes and a gruesome death by refrigerator door, yessum it's the greatest. And we're in the works with him for something quite like you described already. If we manage to keep our asses in gear you may actually get to see it some day.
Andy: We've been discussing that for a while now! I think it would be great! Ummm, I'll get on that now. Really.
GC: What's your favorite thing to do when you're not working on new material or touring?
Andy: Watching horror films or writing songs.
Gopal: I am sadly way too attached to my computers. I spend like 10 hours a day sitting in front of the damn things. I learn a lot, and the internet is a wonderful world of goodness, but I can feel my muscles decaying *grins*. I'm also about half way through welding a lovely bedroom set for my girl and I. I've finished a canopy bed, and am halfway through a lamp, with a dresser and a vanity to come. Awww yeah.
Tony: Music. I really don't do much besides playing guitar. I like to watch movies too, but I guess that's about it.
Micah: Writing new songs just for fun, art, boxing, and eating.
GC: What are your likes and dislikes?
Andy: Likes - ghosts, zombies, football, Iron Maiden, Michael Myers. Dislikes - Bitching, squash, TV commercials
Gopal: Likes - Warhammer 40K (yes, I know... ya bastards.). Engineering pretty much anything, with an affinity for audio. Sitting in the dark and listening to the wind (and no matter what Andy, Tony or Micah might say, they like it too). http://www.heavengallery.com/fenslerfilms/index.html (hell yeah).
Dislikes - Getting fucking stuck. Spam. New school Gothic (these kids need more balls!) And the Death Rockers need to quit whining. And Punk needs to go back to it's roots. And Synth Pop needs to go back to Europe. And Country needs to get rid of the "New". And Reggae needs to get rid of the "Rap". And Rap needs to get back into rhythm. And Noise needs less rhythm. And where the hell is Rock and Roll? The Forty Boys, that's where. Damn straight.
Tony: Likes - Iron Maiden was a good one. Guitars, listening to music, going to shows. Dislikes - Andy, Gopal, Micah
Micah: Likes- horror, CNN, Johnny Cash, activity. Dislikes- The Golden Girls, Hank Williams Jr., The Disney Channel
GC: What's your best dream and your worst nightmare?
Andy: Best Dream - Existing with a few friends in a world dominated by zombies. Shooting 'em and stuff. Worst Dream - A six hour N'Sync concert.
Gopal: Best Dream - "Tales from the Flat Earth" or "Book of the New Sun". I'd fucking love to live in either place. And yes, I'm a dork... Screw you. *grins*. Worst - um... watching my friends and family die slow and painful deaths, then having to brush all their teeth, one at a time, with a little Big Bird shaped tooth brush? Sure, why not?
Tony: Best dream - I kind of live it right now. Worst- Do you know who Kathy Griffen is? I suppose conversation with her would suck because she gets on my last damn nerve.
Micah: Best- A Zombie Dream I had two nights
ago that Bella Morte was a zombie movie and that we were all undead and
rocking out in a house on a cliff, that a whole car full of "Know
What You Did Last Summer" kids came in, and we ate them.
GC: What's your favorite scent?
Andy: woman-scent (laughs)
Gopal: Well, woman-scent's pretty nice, as long as it's Beth's. I'm not too fond of fried chicken though. I am a fan of Frankincense, old churches rule (that's the building, not the chicken), and roses. Yup, I'm the only one in the band that still calls myself Gothic.
Tony: fried chicken
Micah: Not Andy's ass.
GC: Favorite past time?
Andy: Watching horror films, reading Rue Morgue magazine, hangin' with the cats
Gopal: reading sci-fi or fantasy. Playing video games. And I'm getting pretty heavily back into the Yoga Sutras. I had a damn fine youth.
Tony: As I said, I love films and going to shows, and in fact I'm going to see Billy Idol tonight!
Micah: music, art, being active, eating, crapping.
GC: What do you like best about touring?
Andy: All of the great people we run into along the way. We have friends all over the country which makes things so much more fun!
Gopal: I think we're all in pretty much the same state of mind there. Tour rules, it's nice to keep moving as long as you really take the time to enjoy it.
Tony: I will have to agree with Andy, we meet so many cool people and get to see a lot of great places.
Micah: getting to see the country. And sleeping in a van.
GC: Roses and Wine or Pretzels and Beer?
Andy: Ummm… I don't think I qualify for this event.
Gopal: Roses and Beer, definitely Roses and Beer.
Tony: If I had to pick one I would say pretzels and beer. Roses and wine are too nice and classy and I don't know much about that. I'm not all that nice and I definitely have no class.
Micah: Twister and cheerwine
GC: What is your best childhood memory?
Andy: Just hanging out with my dad. Great guy that dad of mine.
Gopal: I have a lot of pretty kick ass childhood memories. I was raised in a fairly secluded environment, and it bred good things (at least not counting me). I love the hell out of my family and have a ton of good memories with them. Christmas was always cool.
Micah: discovering that you can get scrambled porn on hotel cable.
GC: Most memorable musical event you have been to?
Andy: Iron Maiden concert this year! That, or my first GWAR show when I was 15 or 16. Or maybe the first punk show I ever saw which featured a great local act called Hedonistic Cravings (RIP).
Gopal: I dug the hell out of Neubauten, and Eek-A-Mouse puts on a hell of show. Most memorable though? I don't know, I don't go out enough. C8 was pretty damn rad. For a good show though, check out the Cruxshadows or The Last Dance. Both can be quite a good time!
Tony: Iron Maiden and Poison… That's right, POISON!
Micah: Probably the first time I saw Morbid Angel.
GC: Favorite quote?
Andy: "When hell is full, the dead will walk the earth." -Dawn of the Dead
Gopal: "Philosophy will not satisfy us. We can not reach the goal by mere words alone. Without action, nothing can be achieved." - Swami Satchidananda
Tony: " I don't give a fuck, I'm the hucklebuck" -Hucklebuck
Micah: " There is a Chorus in hell...and
that is the sound of razors slashing flesh" -Hellraiser
Belle Morte: http://www.bellamorte.com
Special thanks to Mike V. of Hidden Sanctuary http://www.hiddensanctuary.com