We catch up with The Florentine Camerata and review their re-released EP

I first heard the sounds of The Florentine Camerata two years ago and have absolutely loved them ever since. I distinctly remember watching them play an all-day gig in Camborne in August 2012 and saying to my friend: “I love these guys. They’re awesome!”, and him fervently agreeing with me.

            A year and a half later the band has just re-released their ep “Encryption: Paralysis” (which I was lucky enough to be able to review) whilst working on their new album and recording their new single with Adam Chinner of Freefall recordings. I caught up with Andy and Dan from TFC to find out about the past, the present, and the future.

 

I guess we’ll start from the beginning: How did The Florentine Camerata come to be?

Andy explains, “The whole idea behind starting the band happened after Dan moved to Plymouth. I didn’t really know anyone in the area so I tended to write a lot, stay in and try to network to find some other guys that might dig the music I was writing.”

Dan goes on to say, “Believe it or not but in the short time we’ve been a band we have managed to go through, 5 vocalists, 4 bassists and 3 guitar players! Shortly after the initial rehearsal sessions, I heard Andy was on his way back to Devon from North Wales for good and decided to ask him if he wanted to join on bass. Eventually he ended up on the guitar and I think that’s really when our sound started to shape, we work really well together and complement each other pretty well too. After this point we needed a new bass player and found Naomi Jessney whom stayed with us for a few months before moving to Brighton at which time we got Guy Harp in to take over, now we have Damon Thompson taking control of the low end. We also recently added James Baillie-Hamilton to our roster from melodic death metal band Cryostorm. He’s made a huge impact and is 100% the kind of vocalist and frontman we’ve been searching for since starting the group. People have come and gone but now I believe the current line up is the strongest by far.”

What’s the idea behind the name The Florentine Camerata?

Dan tells us, “The name derives from Florence, Italy to be exact. They were a secret group of aristocrats, artists, writers and musicians that met up to discuss trends in the arts. They wanted to change the way things in the arts were not only done, but thought about too. They made a huge impact on the birth of Opera and a more narrative approach to musical composition. We like the idea of them rebelling against certain rules from their time and just making something that knows no boundaries, you might even call them some of the first true rockstars.”

There’s been a lot of excitement coming from The Florentine camp regarding your new album, how are you feeling about it?

“We are all really excited about it and want to get it out there! The whole thing is now pretty much written except for the usual last minute jiggling around of things and refining tiny parts. We have a few awesome people guesting on the record, people we really look up to as musicians. It’s all go from here!”

What were you trying to do differently with your writing for this album?

“The album is a definite progression from the EP, we’ve been a band for a little longer and have really begun to find our staple sound which we personally don’t think we quite discovered when we released the EP. Songs have taken an even groovier form, a heavier form and somewhat better written song arrangements too! We’re going for a more raw sound on the album, we want it to be well produced but as organic as possible.” 

What was your reaction upon finalising Nutz appearing on it?

 Andy continues: “Dan has known Nutz for a while now, when he first told me, I, and the rest of the band were overwhelmed and very happy that he agreed to appear on one of our songs. Gorod are a huge influence on us, and they truly are giants in the technical death metal scene, so to have the vocalist of one of our favourite bands singing on our single is truly humbling and awesome!” 

What’s your process for writing new material as a band?

“Generally speaking, Dan and I write the bulk of the material. That said, we will always listen and work with ideas from the rest of the band and incorporate them into the songs. The first songs that we wrote we almost entirely written by Dan and myself. That being said, for the album the other guys have given us great riffs and lyrics to work with, and that’s really helped to shape our sound. It’s something that I hope will happen more and more. Our drummer Louis recently came up with a brilliant drum “riff” that we have written a riff to, it sounds brutal as hell, and it’s a refreshing way of coming up with new ideas. Damon and James write for their own bands too, Dystopian Wrath and Cryostorm, and we’ll be using all of the riffs that they write. People who don’t know the band personally won’t know that Damon and James are both brilliant and accomplished guitarists too, so the stuff they come up with is both technical and very catchy! Normally when Dan and I have ideas, we write them down or record them on a phone separately. I then drive to Dan’s and we jam those ideas extensively, getting a rough idea of the layout. I then take all these ideas and write drum and bass tracks to them, using guitar pro software. Once I have a rough draft of the structure, I go back to Dan’s and we play with it more until we are fully satisfied with it. Sometimes this process is fairly fast, other times it can literally take months to get a song we are really happy with. Then we record a demo the song to send to the rest of the band to learn and for James to put vocals over, something that we have recently done for two new songs that we will be playing live in the near future.” 

How do you feel you’ve progressed in the few years you’ve been gigging and writing?

“I’ve been writing, or at least trying to write technical death metal for years now, but I believe that I’ve come further in the last 3 years with this band than I have in the other 7 years before that. When I joined the band, the music we wrote was very different to that which we write now. Working with Dan is very easy and a lot of fun. We both listen to each other’s ideas and play well with each other; an essential part of any bands functionality. I feel that the riffs in our new songs are more mature and complex, as are the lyrics we write. It could be said that we have a progressive sound, and that is certainly something that is a more recent development. We listen to a great deal of progressive bands, and of course that will have an effect on our writing style. At the offset, we tried to mix technical riffs with groove and melody. As the years have passed we feel our ability to blend these three elements into well structured and well written songs has greatly improved, as one would hope! We are constantly striving to get better and better, both as musicians and songwriters and it hasn’t taken long for Dan and I to really know how the other person works. I feel that the music we write now IS our sound, and thankfully it’s not taken too long to forge”.

How do you feel about the new and improved version of “Encryption: Paralysis”?

“When we first released Encryption: Paralysis in mid 2012 we were very happy with it. It received good reviews from various websites and zines, and we have gigged those songs many times; Ambivalence is probably our best loved song. When James joined after we parted ways with our previous vocalist Gav, I think he put forward the idea of re-releasing the EP with his take on the vocal parts, and we were more than happy to let him do that. After a short time of recording and mixing early this year, he showed us what he had done, and what we heard made us very pleased to say the least. We’ve heard nothing but praise for his delivery on the EP, as one would hope! We really loved the EP that we released back then, and we are delighted with the new version now”.

At what point did you decide you wanted to re-record it with James on the vocals and a new mix?

“I can’t pinpoint an exact date or time when we decided, but if memory serves, the idea came about whilst we were on tour with Bloodshot Dawn and Gotsu Totsu Kotsu. Our existing copies of the EP were selling well on tour, and we made the decision around then to re-record the vocals. Like I said in the previous question, I think it was James’ idea, but don’t quote me on that! Adam McKay Smith did the original mix, and James has kept all of his work in there, adding a few layers and tweaking a few things here and there.” 

What hopes have you got for 2014?

“The next Gig we have is supporting Svart Crown, the largest band we’ve played with to date, and we’re really excited for that. After we have Nutz’s vocal recordings back we will be releasing the Single and shooting an accompanying video. All while this is happening we are writing and demo-ing material for our debut album. I can tell you now that we are very close to finishing the writing process. All that remains to do is to demo songs, teach the rest of the band their parts, rehearse and then we’ll be ready to record. I don’t want to set a date, but I can imagine that we will be hitting the studio again autumn this year. Our hopes? Gain more fans, gig further afield with great bands and put out a killer debut album!

Thanks!” 

Encryption: Paralysis

            I loved the initial version of “Encryption: Paralysis” that Florentine released but, upon hearing they would be re-releasing it with James Baillie-Hamilton on vocals, I was excited: I’ve been a fan of both The Florentine Camerata and Cryostorm for years and am all too aware of how powerful James’ voice is. He does not disappoint in these tracks in the slightest: his strong, guttural vocals are consistent the entire way through and perfectly fit the way the tracks were written.

            The first track “Architects of Destruction” throws the listener into a delicious chaos comprised of skilful drumming from Louis Cornish, masterful guitar riffs from Dan Baker and Andy Prowse, crucial bass lines from Damon Thompson and authoritative screams and growls from James. This track is filled with energy and game – changing beats, which keep the listener engaged.

            The next track “Into Obscurity” is my favourite. The introduction to is perfect: it hints at the energy this song is going to include, without giving too much away until the track kicks in with unrelenting intensity at thirty seconds in.  The dynamic changes in pitch that James brings to the track showcase how talented he is, meanwhile, Louis’ stable, but far from basic, beats serve to show exactly how capable he is as a drummer. This track is a fantastic example of contemporary death metal with enticing guitar solos and thrilling break downs.

            The final track is “Ambivalence”. It’s slower and heavier than its two predecessors but this is in no way detrimental. In fact, these elements make is a great song to end on. The deeper growls from James, the tight hooks from Dan and Andy, the mighty bass from Damon and the ever-impressive drumming from Louis all combines to make this track beastly and to leave the listener wanting more.

             This ep is clearly the work of talented individuals and I cannot wait to see if they deliver the same standards on their album (I know what I’d put my money on though!).

The Florentine Camerata are:

James Baillie-Hamilton – Vocals Damon Thompson- Bass Dan Baker – Guitar Andy Prowse – Guitar Louis Cornish – Drums

Interview and Review by:

Eileen Bate

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