Labyrinth (Roberto Tiranti) – By: Lisa R. Rosner

It is no secret how much I admire the golden voice of Labyrinth front man and Italian singer extraordinaire, Roberto Tiranti. I confess that, by the time I discovered Labyrinth, Tiranti was already in the band. They were unknown to me at the time when Fabio Lione, then known as “Joe Terry” was the band’s singer. As much as I love Lione’s voice and the music of Rhapsody of Fire, I can’t imagine anyone else but Tiranti singing for Labyrinth.
Truth is, Roberto Tiranti is my favorite singer. Not just my favorite heavy metal singer, but my. favorite. singer. Period.  In my opinion, no one else delivers the passion and emotion that Tiranti does in his vocals. Whether he is singing and screaming for Labyrinth, or vocalizing with his a cappella quartet, Batti Becchi or whether he is singing in English or his native Italian…his voice is like silk over steel. Strong and powerful, yet also as smooth and sweet as a caress.
Tiranti, along with Labyrinth will be making their U.S.A. debut at the Prog Power metal festival in Atlanta, Georgia on September, 17. This is very exciting news for American Labyrinth fans such as myself. I wouldn’t miss this for the world.
If you have never heard any of Labyrinth’s music, you have been seriously missing out. Don’t deprive yourself any longer. You’ll thank me for it! Labyrinth is definitely one of the best, and yet still sadly overlooked bands out there. While you’re at it, do a search on Roberto Tiranti next time you are on Youtube. You’ll be amazed at how diversified this man truly is when it comes to his music/singing/vocalization. (And on that note, being already familiar with many of his projects, I wasn’t surprised by his answer to # 25.)
If you don’t have their new CD (Return to Heaven Denied part 2: A Midnight Autumn’s Dream) yet, go get it! It is my favorite CD of 2010. LABYRINTH: A truly talented band that deserves so much more recognition.
It was my honor to do this interview with Mr. Tiranti…

1.) What happened with previous members Pier Gonella (guitar) and Mattia Stancioiu (drums)? (Mattia, in particular has been with the band for a long time.)
Roberto – Mat decided to put all his energies in producing and working as a sound engineer; a big waste of talent.  Pier now has many projects. I will sing on his next solo album called “Odyssea” and the songs are really nice.

2.) What made you all decide to ask Olaf Thorsen to re-join the band? What was it like to work with him again after all this time?
R – The idea came from Olaf…..just as a joke! After a gig we did (me and him) in 2008 with the Metal Gang, (a sort of “all stars” band) he asked me: “What do you think about a Return to Heaven Denied part2?” I said: “Are you kidding me?” him: “No!” me: “Well, let’s do it!“ It was very easy and natural to say “ok”.  Andrea Cantarelli (guitar) was very happy too and after a couple of months we started this new adventure.

3.) Some of the reviews I have read for the new CD claim that this is your best release in years and they give almost full credit to Thorsen. How do you and the rest of the band members (including Thorsen) feel about that?
R –  We feel we did a very good job, we wrote all; Olaf, me and Andrea Cantarelli in a relaxed and warm mood. Alessandro Bissa did a great job, Andrea De Paoli is still a great keyboard player, and Sergio Pagnacco is a killer on stage! A fantastic team!

4.) I also think this is the best CD Labyrinth has released in awhile, but I have liked all of them in their own way. I must say that your vocals on this CD are sounding better than ever. Do you do anything special to take care of your voice?
R –  No. I simply try to do my best at adapting my voice to the music. The sound is also very good due to our sound engineer, Giovanni Nebbia!

5.) What was the most challenging part of putting together the new CD?
R – No challenges. It was just a big fun shared with good old friends! We had laughter, wine, good food and music, of course!

6.) Labyrinth has played a lot of festivals lately and been able to support such bands as Iron Maiden, Ozzy Osbourne and Queensryche. How did all of those shows go for you? Would you say they were successful?
R – Absolutely! We found very good audience even if every time we had the terror to be out of place playing before the ‘monsters of heavy metal,’ but everything went ok. With Iron Maiden we were playing for 17,000 metalheads!

7.) Considering the success of the new CD so far, has there been any serious talk about trying to get on a U.S. tour? (Or am I going to have to save up my money to come see you in Italy?)
R – 17th of September 2011 PROG POWER USA in Atlanta! A dream come true! I guess it will be very hard to face a U.S. tour due to the costs, but at the moment we are proud to have the opportunity to play at Prog Power. (Thanks a lot to Glenn!) We are very proud to be there next September. Our first time in the U.S. WOW! Again: A DREAM COME TRUE! We know Prog Power is an important festival, so we will do our best!

8.) If you could do a U.S. tour, who would you most like to tour with?
R – The U.S. is a great country with many fantastic cities, so to satisfy our curiosity and taste we should have more than 100 gigs!

9.) Since Labyrinth has never really considered themselves a “Power Metal” band, how would you personally describe the style of Labyrinth’s music to someone who has never heard you before?
R – Our roots are coming from N.W.O.B.H.M. (New Wave of British Heavy Metal) with Power/Prog influences, and a lot of good melody. Italy means “melody” and we are proud of it! Melodic metal with power/prog influences I guess sounds right.

10.) I know that there are some other bands out there also named Labyrinth, although I believe that you are the most well known of them all. Have you ever had any troubles with any of them regarding the name?
R – We had a discussion on Youtube due to bad words coming from our and their fans. I tried to be a sort of ‘peacemaker’ asking for more respect for them and us.

11.) If you could only pick one..which song off the new CD is your current favorite and why?
R – I cannot take just one song, but if I must…“The Morning’s Call.” Here you can find all the elements that determine the Labyrinth trade mark sound: melody, speed, prog, great keybord work and great riffing.

12.) Judging by fan feed-back, which song off the new album seems to be most popular overall?
R – I really don’t know. I guess it is  just a matter of tastes. Someone likes the ‘traditional’ style on “A Chance” or “To Where We Belong” while someone else likes “In This Void”, (a song that I really like too).

13.) I know that you have problems with the way the music business is run there in Italy. Tell some more about that. Have you ever considered relocating?
R –  In the whole world, the music biz is deep in trouble. Italy is a little country so the troubles are heavier. In heavy metal, here in italy, it is also hard to stay alive because of the mentality. Everything coming from other countries is great and there is a sort  of discrimination if you are Italian. For many, if you are Italian, you’re not able to play heavy metal.

14.) Any plans to make a new video for any of the new songs?
R – A friend of ours, Daniele Farina, a very talented video maker is working on “Sailors of  Time”. He will try to produce a good video, mixing live shoots with some studio sessions.

15.) What about any  plans to make a Labyrinth DVD in the future? (Like with videos, live performances and behind-the-scenes footage/interviews, etc. I know I would love to see that!!)
R – Not at the moment, but we’ll think about a live DVD when we have a good tour.

16.) What is next for Labyrinth right now? What are some future plans and ideas that you may have?
R – A new album a.s.a.p.! We already wrote some good ideas.

17.) I see that you still play bass guitar on the CD, but not live. Any special reason for that?

R – I just want to put all my energies in singing. I love playing bass but I have other situations/opportunities to do that.

18.) Is Olaf Thorsen back with Labyrinth permanently? What about Sergio Pagnacco and Alessandro Bissa?
R – Olaf is here to stay! He is really happy to be again in the band….in his band. Of course we are really happy too. Alessandro and Sergio are two great human beings and really good musicians too, we could not ask for more than this. As you know, Sergio is the bass player of Vanexa, one of the best (and underrated) Italian heavy metal bands, born in 1979. I played with them from 1990 to 1995 (I was really young) and now I’m proud to have Sergio in the band. He deserves all this!

19.) Do you feel your current label is doing a good job for Labyrinth? Or are you seeking a bigger label that is more well known world-wide?
R –  Our label (Scarlet Records) and our agents (Live Nations) are doing a great  job. They’ve honored all that they told us from the beginning of this new chapter or our lives. I don’t know what will happen tomorrow, I’m just sure this is a good teamwork  

20.) Is there any new Labyrinth merchandise that will soon be available to the fans (like shirts, etc.)? Will you be selling any at Prog Power?
R – Yeah! We will have the new merchandise in less than a week.

21.) I noticed that the songs on the new CD flow much like on the first Return to Heaven Denied. Was that intentional or did it just happen like that?
R –  Our intent was to have a Return to Heaven Denied par t 2 and we did it! I guess this is a really good sequel with some echoes from the past mixed with who we are today!

22.) Now for a few personal questions about just you….How is your solo project coming along? Are you still working on that? What can you tell us about it so far?
R – The songs are still a sort of “work in progress.“ I’m proud of this new material. It is not heavy metal, but I think you will appreciate it!

23.) Tell about any other projects/bands you are working with at this time.
R – 999 tribute to the Police. We are a trio as the original band was, but we are not a copy of them. We love to play their songs at our best but without “acting” or dressing like them….it’s a matter of dignity.  A new band was born last summer: SAINTS OR SINNERS. It has me (bass/vocals), Olaf Thorsen, Alessio Lucatti (Vision Divine) and Umberto Giampaoli on drums. Sometimes we also  have Fabio Lione as a guest. We play hard rock from the 70’s/80’s and we have a lot of fun! I also founded a vocal quartet; total a cappella called Batti-Becchi. We sing music from renaissance to modern times.

24.) I was always curious how you came to be a part of the musical I Dieci Comandamenti. Is that also how you met Irene Fornaciari? (I think that musical was amazing!)
R – It was a great experience. A friend of mine told me to face the auditions for that musical. You know the rest of the story and the best part was I found Irene there. The show was amazing but too expansive to exist onstage for more than six months. I have to say that Italy is not the best place for music biz.

25.) I am also a fan of Rhapsody of Fire and Fabio Lione. I think he is a great singer and I love to see the two of you sing together in Metal Gang. But I wondered if it bothers you at all that he is credited as “The Voice of Italian Metal?” (Like I said, I think he is great, but you are just the best to me!) Is Metal Gang still active?
R – Fabio is definitely  “The Voice of Italian Metal.” I’m happy for him, he deserves all the best because of his talent. I’m not a heavy metal singer…BOOOOOOOOOOOOM! (Ehehehe..believe me, I’m not kidding.) I’m just a singer who loves too much the music to close himself inside a flock of just one style. Labyrinth is a strong part of my way to sing and I’m proud of it. Metal Gang is not active at the moment but as I told you before Saints or Sinners  are on the road!

26.) Your ability to hit those high notes is amazing! I have never heard anyone else do that quite like you can. When and how did you discover that you could do that with your voice?
R – Thanks Lisa! Ian Gillan was my strongest inspiration. More than 20 years ago I tried to sing his songs, so I found out I could handle my voice also in that direction. I have sung Deep Purple songs with Ian Paice many times from 1999 to today. Could you imagine how exiting that is for me?

27.) Do you still teach/do vocal coaching? Where do you teach and how do you find the time for it?
R – At the moment my first occupation is teaching. I do that more or less 35 hours every week. I really like it.
I have good students but sometimes I’d like to teach less and play more my music…but this is the “Italian situation”…no place and care for music.

28.) Any closing comments? Anything you would like to tell readers about you and Labyrinth?
R – Thanks a lot to all the readers and to you Lisa! You are a precious and sweet friend to me….see ya at Prog Power! Ciao!