Daniele Liverani: The Genius behind the music.
We have all heard rock opera's...we have also heard long rock opera's, but a Triple CD, released over three years? Sounds like an ambitious project. Just who is behind the Genius opera and hear the entire opera's story line.
Let's go right back to the beginning.
Can you tell us a little about your history as a musician?
I started to play piano when I was a child (at 6) attending a local classical school that gave me all the theory and harmonic notions, then I self approached guitar at 16 (1987), applying it all the classical notions.
I learned from classical piano experience. In 1993 (at 22) I won a national contest as Italian best guitar player and I won a paid trip and stage at GIT School in LA.
I stayed there for a long period, attending lessons from many of the biggest guitar player of the scene...it was there that I put together the lineup to record the my first solo project
album 'Viewpoint' that would have been published only later by Elevate records in 1999.
I also studied bass at 24 and drums at 25, I always had a great love for both classic and quality rock metal music and for all the instruments involved in it....
Even if I did many demo tapes and music projects since back in 1987, I can say that my official recording career starts back in 1997 as keyboard player and composer with the first release of my prog-metal band Empty Tremor 'Apocolokyntosys', released in Europe by Pick Up/Risin Sun and in Japan by Fandango records.
Then in 1999 I released by Elevate records my first solo guitar record 'Viewpoint' (recorded during GIT period 1993/1994), a sort of progressive guitar oriented instrumental project with some cool musicians like Julio Mathis at drums, Joey Vera and Ricky Wolking at bass (4 tracks each)...
In early 2000 I recorded and produced for Elevate Records too the second album with my band Empty Tremor, 'Eros & Thanatos'...one of the major efforts with this band!
I also have a second solo instrumental album ready to be released called Daily Trauma since 1999 in my pocket.
This album is the first musical experimentation back in early 1999 after the meeting of me and Dario Ciccioni, the incredible young talented drummer that has been playing also into the 3 episodes of Genius Rock Opera....it's a like a sort of prologue to the 3 episodes of Genius and it contains a lot of idea and basic atmosphere that have been developed and expanded into the full Genius rock opera trilogy production.
I'd say that the meeting and the initial jams with Dario are probably the main reason of the beginning of all my Genius project thread, I felt that I and him would have been able of doing a lot of good and inspired music, our styles, tastes and feeling was so perfect during the creation and the jams!
This 'Daily Trauma' album will be released after the Genius trilogy by Frontiers too...cause it's also very connected with Genius concept.
I also recorded and produced a record with Steve Walsh called 'Khymera' to be released at the beginning of 2003, Also there I played guitar, bass and Keys, Dario Ciccioni (Genius Rock Opera drummer) played drums...
I write sometimes for some Guitar magazines, but unfortunately I have not enough time lately and this is happening not so often at the moment...
Anyway this Genius rock opera trilogy has been basically getting me busy since 1998 in all its phases of creation and preproduction's of story, characters definition, music and lyrics! It's something that I always worked on also during other projects development
(Empty tremor & all the other projects)
At what stage did you think you would like to write such an ambitious piece of work, such as a Rock Opera?
I had this idea back in late 1997, due to a story that I wrote in that period called Daily Trauma (Same title of the instrumental album that has been recorded before the 3 Genius Rock Opera episodes).
I felt that that story would have been very adaptable to a sort of Opera with many singers, and after experimenting a first instrumental step of composition
(Daily Trauma album) I had more that opinion in my mind.
I had been working a lot in creating very progressive and guitar oriented music and I found myself very excited at the idea of writing lyrics and melodies in Empty Tremor band, so I decided to create a more complete and thrilling project where I could challenge myself in writing for many singers together, duets, big choirs and great orchestration, one of my favourite dreams till the years I was studying classical music...so I decided to try to make this dream become true!
What other Rock Opera's influenced you as a musician and writer?
I always loved Jesus Christ Superstar and Cats, even if they are very different type of thing comparing to modern Rock Opera like Avantasia, Ayreon, Nostradamus, and
Genius too...of course, I think that those were the real first steps talking about Rock Opera and Musical production....
I must really be devote to those early musical cause they really created something new about rock and opera production.
I've listened and enjoyed also to all the newer operas like Avantasia, Ayreon and Nostradamus...that I consider great masterpieces and big efforts that has given to metal music a great quality music...
Anyway I'd say that Genius Style is not near to any of these Operas, I basically tried to create something original and to experiment as many styles as possible inside Genius music...I tried to use different styles of music according to the story requirements point to point...and also there's a lot of progressive influences inside.
How long has the entire process taken?
It has taken more that 4 years to create the 4 hours of music (3 episodes) and complete the first episode also with guest singers lyrics recording..
Tell us about the story of Genius....
Genius is a rock opera trilogy that will include a total of 33 songs
(11 for each episode).
Even if the total duration of the Opera is about 4 hours of music for 3 CD, the whole story concept refers to a dream experienced by the main character 'Genius' that lasts only 10 minutes!
It's known that dreams are often creating a time-stretch effect in our minds, so that a 10 minutes long dream can be remembered as a day long story...
In fact, these 10 minutes of Genius' dream has been described in 4 hour of music!
But we are not talking about a regular dream like all humans have always experienced...
In this 10 minutes Genius goes too far and discovers for the first time
all the secrets of human's dream creation...
At 7 o' clock of a typical Monday morning (exactly the 20 of December 1999), his alarm clock near the bed starts to ring as usual.
While he's slowly getting awaken, listening to the sound of his old clock, he finds out that its bells are playing a strange but repetitive sequence of beats.
Genius is a smart heavy metal drummer and suddenly starts to imagine that strange sequence played on a snare drum...as a drum fill.
While his imagination is following that pattern he feels very strange and falls asleep again, feeling like attracted from his pillow.
After few seconds he starts to dream and he finds himself in front of a big golden gate, suspended in the air, where 2 woman's (Doorkeepers) seemed
to be waiting for him.
Initially he doesn't understand if what's going on is only the result of his dreaming or if what he's experiencing is something much more important...
Then he slowly realizes that this strange dream has connected his mind
with an alternative reality...
Genius has been attracted and wrongly admitted for a sum of casual circumstances into a strange and apparently nonsense parallel dimension.
Later he'll discover that that place is an alternative world where human dreams are created and conducted.
To best enjoy this opera you should have a brief explanation of some basic concepts of this alternative dreams creation world:
This parallel dimension is organized in many kingdoms, one for each
Each kingdom is ruled by a King.
The whole group of the kingdoms is called Dream League and is leaded by the supreme Main dream, the most powerful character...
The Kings involved in this first episodes are King McChaos (European dreams kingdom) and King Wild Tribe (African dreams kingdom).
Each time that a human starts to sleep an entity called 'Twinspirit' is created for him by the Dream League and sent into one of these kingdoms (depending of the continent where the human dreamer lives).
An ID number is assigned to this Twinspirit to be recognized from all the others.
This number is also the ID number of the dream that will be conducted by the twinspirit.
In fact, when Genius gets caught into that dimension, is identified with ID n.33 by the doorkeepers, and wrongly exchanged by a regular Twinspirit.
This 'Twinspirit' is responsible for the conduction of his assigned human dream fantasies.
His existence starts when his human owner starts to sleep and ends at his awake.
Its duty is to create all the fantasies that his assigned human will dream about during his sleeping session, using a sort of multimedia equipment that is provided to him by the Dream League.
At the end of his life (the end of the dream) he sends to his human owner mind all the memories of the dream that he has recorded into a multimedia support build inside him, of course if he has time to do this transmission.
If the human awake is very fast sometimes this can't happen.
That's why sometimes dreams are not remembered by the humans...
All these Twinspirits are created and sent into a sort of dream's factory, fully equipped with consoles ready to be used for the dream's conduction.
This place is called ''Twinspirt Land'...
Each kingdom has its 'Twinspirit Land' where all the twinspirit can perform their job during their short life.
So...Genius is actually dreaming and laying in his bed that morning for those intense 10 minutes... but during that unusual dream he has the chance of entering that unknown alternative world and meet the Twinspirit that is conducting his dream (his ID is n.32 in fact it's been created just right before Genius arrival,right after he started to
sleep and to dream).
This meeting creates a sort of incredible paradox...He's dreaming of being exactly there, in front of his assigned Twinspirit that can't believe to see his human owner in front of him! It's from that meeting that Genius will understand what's going on...and also the reason why he was been attracted and admitted there.
The strange repetitive sequence of beats that his clock is casually ringing that morning is exactly the same sequence that all the newborn twinspirits usually uses to knock on the gate of the European Kingdom as a sort of password to be admitted!
Being a drummer, Genius starts to dream of snare hits that follows that clock sequence and this sound arrives to the European Kingdom Doorkeepers that exchange it as a newborn Twinspirit knocking at their Gates...
As soon as the Doorkeepers open the kingdom gates, and attract Genius a
magic link between reality and that alternative dreams creation world is activated.
Genius sleeping mind is attracted and captured into a Twinspirit entity identified as n.33, starting to link his dreaming to that parallel dimension and experiencing everything exactly like a regular Twinspirit!
He is really looking like a Twinspirit, but the problem is that he's not a real Twinspirit with built in experience on how to conduct dreams of a Human.
There is no dreaming human assigned to a Twinspirit ID n.33!
He's only the mind of a dreaming human into a Twinspirit entity that doesn't know anything about how to conduct a dream and how that world was working!
Soon as Genius would be arrived at his console in the Twinspirit Land this would be noticed from someone.
Nothing would be appearing into his console, and into the console of his assigned Twinspirit n.32 there would have been the exact view of his eyes!
This dreams dimension was born at the same time of human appearance in
the real world, but has progressed a lot faster and has reached a level of evolution up to 100 times higher, so it's easy for every entity of that dimension to enter into human reality if it would have wanted.
As opposite, it would be Impossible for a human in normal circumstances
to enter their dimension...
But one of the main rules of Dream League is that all humans must be kept unaware of this mechanism and of this dreams dimension, to prevent safety and privacy of dreams...could you imagine if all humans could know how to get into that alternative world and interact with their twinspirit like Genius is doing?
Every human could have been entering that place and maybe learn to
conduct their dreams by them self!
The Dream League secrets and prestige would have been violated forever!
When the Twinspirit n.32 realizes that the entity he has near to him is not a real Twinspirit but the mind projection of his human owner 'Genius' that is dreaming
of being there into a looking like twinspirit, he knows that many problems would happen into the European Dream Kingdom (and especially to its king: Mc Chaos King) if this was discovered.
What is happening is strictly prohibited and very dangerous and the European king would be considered responsible for this crime and charged with severe punishments.
Genius is braking a basic rule with it's presence in that place!
Even if his Twinspirt knows that what is going on is something not allowed he could not avoid himself to conduct the dream of his owner...and his owner is dreaming of being there in that moment!
Genius is obviously discovered.
Twinspirit n.32 suddenly becomes wanted by the Dream Leage Force (The
police of the Dream League).
They need to terminate him before he would have the chance to pass the
dream memories to Genius at his awake, so that he would have not remembered that particular Dream and reveal to the whole humanity what he has learnt about dreams creation process and especially how to enter in!
All the dangerous adventures caused by the presence of Genius into this dreams creation world..., the meeting with his assigned twinspirit n.32..., the friendship they developed during their adventures.
The anger of the kings of all the Dream's kingdoms and especially of their supreme leader Mr. Maindream against King Mc Chaos, that is considered responsible for the dangerous crime of having allowed a human into his European Dreams kingdom..., the research of a solution to all these troubles by Genius and his Twinspirit n.32...
These will be the main thrilling content of all the Genius trilogy...
Was the story impossible to tell in just one set of songs?
Definitely impossible...., I would have been impossible to give the right space to all the events and to allow the music to flow without too much hurry..., I must say that it was difficult also with 3 Episode to complete the story concept with the right feel! :)
Are parts 2 & 3 written yet?
Yes, everything is written and already recorded except the lyrics of part 2 and 3....
I wanted to have the same sound in all the 3 episodes so I did the production of all the 4 hours of music, so that the sound will be respected also in the next episodes...musicians change their maturity and sound during the years and this would have been hearable if the production was divided and separated into different and distant periods.
What about the musicians involved? Did you have a wish list?
Basically I submitted my idea to all labels of the world heavy metal scene...Frontiers records liked the concept and the overall project planning I exposed to them.
So they offered my to work with them to build up a great Genius project giving me the possibility of choosing the cast from a list of over 30 great singers that were already working with Frontiers...you could imagine my emotion!
It was a great time to deal with all those singers for the casting...probably the best part of the production!
But I also had some wish in terms of singers, I wanted to include some singers that was not in the Frontiers list, Oliver Hartmann and Danilel Gildenlow and the great Midnight were contacted by me directly.
I knew that anyone else would have singed their parts better, and so searched them and I asked them to join the cast and after having listened to the preproduction demo they accepted and Frontiers was happy too with this!
To have Midnight back on the scene again is a dream come true form me...and even more in reason of the fact that he sings my lyrics! He's still a great voice and interpretation like at Crimson Glory times!
Are there more artists to come with Parts 2 and 3?
Surely, We are just thinking about the new singers to involve in the next episodes for the new characters that will appear...expect some big surprises!
Obviously not everyone could be with you in the studio - how complicated did this make the recording process?
Basically everyone has chosen a personal producer for the Vocals and recorded into their usual studios locally in their town, I was very happy with this choice cause everyone of them knew the right person to work with and some of them are also very good producers as well...
It was pretty a lot of time and work to make everything work fine, decide all the formats and speaking to all the producers has taken so much time, and also some problems have happened....but nothing too major!
I sent away all the music, the lyrics and charts and I followed all the recording via internet giving the final ok and my suggestion on the recording
from my studio here in Italy....
I decided to give very much freedom to the guest singers; everyone would have had the possibility of expressing his style into the character....
When I got back all the vocals tracks it took me months to edit and join everything! Every duet had to be perfect and every vocal part would have been in the right place...
The choirs have been done great! Chris Boltendahl has managed to put together the same team of Grave Digger for the chorus and they did a huge work!!!
I made some postproduction decisions on how and what use or not of the material and versions the singers gave me, but I had a GREAT material to choose on and it was so great time for me!!
The production quality sounds great - are you happy with the result about to be released?
I must say that I'm very happy with the production quality, and this is something very difficult to reach for a producer/Artist....
I usually have always some things that don't satisfies me after the mix is completed, happened with all my previous records, but this time I must say that everything seems to be perfect...maybe if you ask me this next year I'll have something to say to you!!
Anyway I put so much time and effort to make this disk sound well and I think that this has paid off...
What other music has influenced your career?
All classic music and classical operas surely....Rock and metal artist that have influenced me very much are Van halen, Malmsteen, Jason Becker and Marty Friedman, Dream Theater have been my best influences...
What are some of your favourite releases in the last couple of years?
Dream Theater 'Scenes from a memory', as I've already told the operas form Sammet, Kotzev and Lucassen...., I liked a lot also 'Superheros' form Paul Gilbert's Racer X, they were my best inspiration to the guitar back in late eighties...
And aside from Genius, are you working on any other projects? Or is it 100% Genius?!!
The music of Genius is almost completed, I only have to plan the singers and the vocals recording for Episode 2 and 3.
I'm doing a lot of promotion for Genius of course, but this is not my only project...absolutely not...hehe, I'm currently working also at the 3rd album with my band Empty Tremor, and also I'm doing a project with Steve Walsh of Kansas called
'Khymera' where I play Guitar Bass and Keys (like in Genius Opera), Dario Ciccioni is playing drums also here, and Joe Vana/Thom Griffin are doing the backing Vocals.....Pretty busy....not? :)
Anything you would like to add in Daniele?
It was great for me to hear my lyrics singed by such great singers, I hope that you all will share with me this incredible emotion....
I hope you'll come to my web site www.geniusrockopera.com and let me know your opinions on this first episode and share with me your comments....you'll make me happy!!!
All my music efforts are for you! I hope you'll like this opera and you'll get great emotions listening to it!
Thanks for your time and best of luck with the project.