The ones who usually surf on Labyrinthmusic.it know the difficulties we have every time we have to make an interview with one of the boys of the band without saying always the same things. We have to do with Labyrinth almost every day and finding the right question- particular if you want- is getting harder and harder, even if it is always a great challenge. Now it is the time to know the new entry Pier Gonella and we gave a sigh of relief: we could ask anything, without thinking if we had already ask a question or another one. We know very few of the Ligurian guitarist and the fans who contacted us through mail want to know as much as possible about Pier. So we have made an interview with Mr. Gonella through mail, to have a complete profile of the axeman. So Pier, let‘s begin with your musician formation: tell us about your escursus..

Good question… so, I learned classic guitar, jazz, theory for several years: I gave the theory and solfeggio exam at the Conservatory and then I learned for 4 years… (suspence)…BASSOON!
I learned the technique almost alone. When I was 17 I began playing everywhere, in many bands, many situations with one target: Going out from the underground. Two years ago I had some depression periods: I began to have approvals, but I could not make the quality jump. Then, luckily, things began to change. First I recorded the guitar for the project Athlantis of Steve Vawamas, I took part to the project of Wild Steel (Shadow of Steel) and then the audition with Labyrinth: I deserved it!

From the interview at the released of “Labyrinth” emerged that you were already in contact with Andrea De Paoli and Roberto Tiranti. Can you explain the backstage of your first meeting?    

Yes! All began when I wrote several songs to form a metal band. I was 22, so 4 or 5 years ago. I recorded some demo-tapes and I started to give them out. Carlo- owner of a centre called “Città della musica”- organized an audition with Tiranti, and he listened to my songs. Roby proposed to sing a couple of tracks and to follow the artistic production, but then he had many engagements (Sons of Thunder tour and in the meanwhile a New Trolls tour) and the thing came to nothing.
Thanks to my demo tapes I had the attentions of Wild Steel, Shadows of Steel singer, who proposed me to record the guitar for his album to which took part also MC. So we went to Lucca in the studio of Frank Andiver. I met Andrea to spend together some evenings and, like with Roby, there was suddenly mutual high esteem.

Labyrinth musical structure has always been one of the most flecked of the Italian and foreigner musical scene. How was to learn and make yours songs so different between them?

It was very easy because I love them all! Yes, they are different between them but they reflect my musical tastes. In the past I listened to much thrash and death, like Slayer and Death…Then I passed to guitarist rock like Satriani, Malmsteen…
So, I am rather eclectic, even if the thread is always Heavy Metal. Also in this there is feeling with the boy: one of the first things Cantarelli told me was that it was fundamental that I liked the songs and so it was!

Your profile says you have the hobby of electronic music. Do you think this music is important for metal?

It is fundamental. When I say that I work on electronic music, people think about commercial dance music. I mean music based on the looking for modern sounds and on the combination between them with more aggressive kind of music, like in the new Labyrinth album. I think electronic is not so different from metal. When I met MC, he gave me a copy of the new album to learn the songs for the audition and I was surprised. What I always wanted to hear in a metal album a heard in Labyrinth: I could not believe it! And not just for keyboards! I told to myself: finally guitar riffs which can be singed like vocal melodies and pad sounds of keyboards which give the guitars particular and riches atmospheres!!
Then the album has cool, clear sounds, which demonstrate well defined pre-production and ideas! This – I take the liberty to tell it- is a lack of several albums, completely created in studio…when you enter the studio you have to know precisely what you want!

What do you think working with Andrea Cantarelli will bring to your conception of six strings?

Andrea is a complete musician and his style is mature: working with him will teach me many things, not just about guitar but musical in general…and this is also for the other of the band!

Would you have some ideas to propose if, ad absurdum, tomorrow the band would begin the pre-production of the “Labyrinth”’s successor?

Sure! I have so many tracks and ideas in the cluster of my hard disk. If in the future I would have the occasion to propose some ideas to write new tracks, I will be glad to do it!
But just one thing at a time: now I have to think about concerts and it is not few. The audition with the guys is just the beginning…the best will be on stage!!!

How many hours do you devote to guitar each day?

Good question! I make a distinction between guitar meant like music in general and guitar like personal study: in the first case I devote all my free time, from 1 to 4 hours each days, weekend included. For music in general I mean working at the computer, recording, having a little private studio. In this case at the present time it is about one hour each day. Recently more than practise I improvise on bases! Another controversy: so many guitar players say they practise 5 hours of technique each day. But who does it really?! After 2 hours my hands are to bits!
At the conservatory they told me: “A musician who learns 2 hours each day for 3 years can become somebody!” Ops… I am digressing!

Can you talk about your instruments?

Live with Labyrinth I will use Mesa Boogie Triple Rectifier and a Brunetti Dual Cab speaker. For now any effects, I try to have few pedaliers and cables. The guitars I use are an Ibanex Ex and an Esp M2 custom. I also have a Pre Ada mp-1, a Mesa fifty fifty and other things I use in studio.

I always considered this question banal but in this case- looking at your underground past- it could be interesting: what do you think about the Italian scene?

If I have to be critic, in Italy there are many respectful bands but also many underground situations that, I think, difficulty will emerge. When in Italy there is a band which works, people think “If they succeeded, we can too”. This could be possible, but if they succeeded is because they stood out because of many things.
As I said talking about keyboards, in Italy there are not new ideas and good arrangements: people repeat things already don and with not adequate productions, so they remain in the underground. In my opinion being original does not mean to invent something in particular, just changing an arrangement and the tracks becomes another one and it is necessary to go to the studio with clear ideas. Thanks to Labyrinth (I am referring to the formation with Mr. Thorsen) and other bands, Italy gained dignity in the international metal scene.

On the fingers of one hand, who do you think are the most valid guitarists (not only metal)?

Stated in advance that the most valid or good guitarist in general does not exist, I answer with my opinion: Satriani and Malmsteen are the ones who taught me the most. And not for their technique. Many think Yngwie is the most fast and cold, but I think the contrary: he is one of the most expressive I have ever heard. As fast as him there are several others, and in fact they remain underground. Of Satriani I love first of all the compositions, see the eternal album ‘The Extremist’.

When you will be on stage, everyone will be watching at you, because many fans want to know “who took the place of Olaf Thorsen”. What do you reply to these fans?

The only thing I want to say is that is not purely by chance. I know the difficulties and the responsibility of my role, but the guys of the band chose me and few know I always gave myself to leave the musical underground. Now that I have this chance I will give myself to Labyrinth!!!

You seemed to everyone (me included) a very reserved (perhaps shy?) boy: how could you define Pier Gonella?

Mmmm, I don’t know! Surely a cool boy,  eheheheh ! Joking apart, it is true, I am very reserved, but over all in the musical field: often in the backstage (and not just there)there is a sort of walkdown of the musicians who parade proud to be there to play, both for amateurs and for professional musicians. This thing always bothered me. So I prefer stay on my own, recording my tracks alone. Basically I am a cheerful boy, extremely modest. I hate the presumption and then there is 100 % agreement with Labyrinth: their simplicity and their humility are the first things stroke me. We play to make listen to our music, not to show us.
It could seem obvious, but I assure you that I had to do with many musicians who were not worth a brass farthing and talking to them seemed to talk with God. Since ‘Return to Heaven Denied’ was released, I heard so many things about Labyrinth: recommended, presumptuous…and now that I play with them I can say that this is just shit!!! I don’t know why in Italy there is always shit on Italian band!!!
I am digressing again, he he !!

With which of your five fellows do you have more feeling?

I cannot answer “everybody”, it would be banal!
If I have to choose, I say that now I have more feeling with Cantarelli, but just because we are the guitarists and we have to divide the parts, the harmonization, and so on, so we have to work more with him. The thing which stroke us all the day of the audition is that since the first track we played with complete tranquillity, it could seemed that we had been playing together for several months. This is a good sign…

You are the third Labyrinth coming from Liguria. Many artists have your origin, so we can say that Liguria is a fertile region for musical talent: is it because of the pesto? J

Noooo, I don’t like so much pesto, ah ah! It’s surely for other causes !!! I am just joking… I do not know, it is sure that in Liguria there are many good musicians, but in the other regions is the same. I think that Ligurian musical scene is not one of the best ones, as regards for places and occasions to make the quality jump!

I already made this question to Andrea Cantarelli (let’s skip his answer! J ): you meet the Genie and he says you have three wishes… 

-          serenity and tranquillity I did not find during my 26 years

-          a very big aquarium, as big as a room, full of tropical fishes

-          another Genie, a female Genie perhaps, with three other wishes…

And as often happens, to you the last word…

Ehm, so… yes…eehh… I thank Roberto and Andrea to have given me the chance to make the audition with Labyrinth! As Mc called me, he told: “I talked with Roberto and we want to give you this change because you deserve it, for the musician and the person you are!” Then I thank Labyrinth to have taken me with them, the manager Fabrizio “Ozzy” Giruzzi for the excellent work he is doing for the band, the S.O.T. Staff and the Labyrinth fans: I promise I will not disappoint your expectations, I have many emotions to spit and… on stage I will be a storm!!!