SCHONWALD is an Italian duo based in Ravenna. Ale Gismondi and Luca Bandini are now active under the SCHONWALD moniker for several years. They last year released their fourth full length album entitled “Abstraction”. The album has been released on Manic Depression and reveals a fascinating mix between Dark-Wave, Dream-Pop, Post-Punk and Shoegaze. I think it’s one of the best productions from the past year. So here’s an interview with Ale and Luca.
(Courtesy by Inferno Sound Diaries)
Q: Italy has been badly touched by Covid-19 so how did you experience this situation and in, which way did you feel your artistic activities impacted by the pandemic?
Luca: The situation in Italy has been very difficult from the beginning of the pandemic. We were struck not as musicians only, but also regarding our new adventure, we are running for 2 years now a B&B.
Ravenna our hometown is rich of history and art; because of the closing of the boundary, museums, restaurants we had to stop with the B&B and cancel all our gigs in Europe. I can’t hide it was really hard to face this situation. We hope to come-back to normality as soon as possible.
Q: 2020 was also a special year for SCHONWALD as you released your new album “Abstraction”. What can you say about it and how do you look back at the composition and production?
Ale: The process of writing/composition of the new album took a long time. We started working on the first songs at the end of 2018. First Luca started as usual with the structure of drums and rhythmic loops then the bass lines made by synths followed. At that point Luca did a strong work with the guitar lines because at the end of Summer 2019 I got sick and suffered of pneumonia. For this reason we had to stop for several months in order to recovery at best. Finally when I was getting better I decided to record the bass lines and a lot of synths were deleted; we wanted to get a Post-Punk sound that could fit the most as possible to the actual attitude. January 2020 I was able to sing again, but it was really hard for me singing after the illness, that’s why it took so long.
Q: Abstraction” is inspired ‘by esoteric hymns, aesthetic mantras, echoes of savage human nature. It’s called ‘a voyage through introspection of the 21th century’s utopian hopes’. Can you give us more details about the theme(s) and do you see a connection with the dystopian year 2020?
Ale: The main theme is probably the situation I was experiencing or rather the physical and mental disease caused me a serious stress. All of this has left me away from the daily routine for months. The impossibility to go out and have a life. This forced loneliness has brought to the surface a primordial side of my personality that I didn’t know before. As we say here in Italy I had ‘an epiphany’.
Now I only can say that through the pain something unreal can happen, which luckily inspired me; not through a rational way of creating a song, but pushed by an unknown inner strength; something absolutely beautiful though. To me the word abstraction is now a different way of thinking and see things without limits. I let my mind wander freely.
Q: Abstraction” clearly sounds as your darkest opus. What explains and inspires this darkness and what does it say about you own vision and perception of life?
Ale: I definitely agree with you, “Abstraction” is the saddest and darkest album we ever did. In my personal opinion I’m just a little disillusioned about ‘humans’. We realized that we are surrounded by few people who really matter to us.
Lately we prefer spending time with our cat staying at home or in our garden, being immersed among the trees deeply in contact with the heart of nature. Nature has purified minds and souls during the pandemic.
Q: The song “Passion Of Lover” sounds as a wink to BAUHAUS, but was it all about? Do you have favorite songs and are there songs you now would have produced a different way?
Ale: I often wondered if it was appropriate to name the song as the almost homonymous of BAUHAUS. But in the end, I realized, we’d to call it this way because this is our tribute to passion.
Of course we have favorite ones; mine are: “Desert”, “Polar”, “Reflex” and “Echo’s Dream”.
Luca’s favorites are: “No Return” and “Fall Apart”.
Every time we find something that we would have liked to change.
Q: How do you see SCHONWALD evolving as band throughout the years? Do you notice important changes and evolutions and how do you look back at previous releases?
Luca: Looking back from our first album to this late work I can see a progressive change that leads to a greater compositional awareness without changing too much our artistic identity.