Dominance is a wicked, crushing underground metal band and after I heard their new album called “XX-The Rising Vengeance”? I knew and interview was in order so here is one with drummer Davide Togoni
Where were you born and where did you grow up?
Hello everyone and thanks for the interview! I’m Davide Tognoni, the Dominance's drummer. I was born and grew up in Rolo, a small town of 4000 souls near Reggio Emilia, in northern Italy, in the low lands between the Alps and the river called Po.
What sort of kid were you growing up and did you come from a big family?
I am 40 years old and I don’t remember much of my childhood. Too much time has passed! Ahaha! But I grew up well if now I play death metal! Seriously, I'm an only child, so small family.
Were you into listening to any music at a young age or did that come later on?
I've always loved music, but this has never been a tradition in my family. The first I've listened to probably was the music from popular dance parties. Then at school I started to play at 12, and at 14 I became officially a metalhead!
What did you want to be when you were growing up?
I believe that childhood dreams are fairly common. First step is the super hero, then the fireman or the soccer player, then the doctor or the archaeologist. In the end you realize that you will be fine if you'll find a job . It went like this for me so far.
Now at what point did you discover the wonderful world of heavy metal? What were some of the first metal bands that you heard?
The discovery of heavy metal music was at the high school. I bought "Appetite for Destruction" by Guns N 'Roses, the cover with the cross and the skulls had to be mine! Then the first two albums of Slayer on tape. As I said before, at the high school thanks to a classmate who wanted to get rid of his discography, I opened new horizons: Celtic Frost, Carcass, Deicide, Voivod, Metallica, Cannibal Corpse, Morbid Angel, Cradle of Filth, Bolt Thrower. And then, in 1992, I went with some friends, including Saverio Rossi – Dominance's bass player, at the Monster of Rock in Reggio Emilia: Iron Maiden, Black Sabbath, Megadeth, Testament, Pantera. In that moment I've figured out what I wanted to do.
Now what who or what led to you discovering the world of underground metal? What did you think of this music the first time you heard it? Now what were some of the early underground bands that you heard and are you still a fan of any of those bands these days?
I started very young thanks to metalheads older than me, to go often to concerts in Milan in the 90s. Sepultura, Napalm Death, Entombed, Morbid Angel, Slayer, Suffocation, Machine Head, Meshuggah. Then I knew the Italian underground music movement starting to play along with Dominance. The environment was very exciting since the first time for the great empathy with the audience and for the opportunity to make new friends, an environment in which I've made social relations that in many cases still last today, followed by a large audience and from the musical point of view truly creative and highly qualitative . I remember concerts with Morbus, Natron, Mind Phaser, Rest in Darkness, Angryon, Nefas, Cadaveric Crematorium. The culmination of this period was the release of our first album "Anthems of Ancient Splendour" in 1999.
What was the first underground metal concert that you saw and what are your memories you took from it?
The first were Sepultura in the "Chaos AD" tour in 1993 in Milan and Carcass in 1994 in Correggio in the "Heartwork" tour (here with Italian bands Sadist and Electrocution). Apart from the huge amount of beers, I remember the excitement of seeing live bands I used to listen every day at home. Now they were in front of me. Holy shit!!!
Now did you help form Dominance or did you end up joining them at some point?
I am one of the founding members of Dominance. In 1992 Massimo Baroni (guitar) and I decided to leave the cover band in which we used to play to set up an original death metal project. And in 1995 we formed Dominance along with Saverio Rossi on bass, Mauro Bolognesi on vocals and Alessandro Zanotti on guitar.
What were some of the early practices like? Did you start to write originals right away and did the band members jell pretty much right away and tell me a bit about the other band members?
In the early days, in 1992, Massimo and I have started playing cover. Songs of Sepultura, Death, Metallica, Dismember, just to find the harmony between us. But then we started to compose and play only tracks written by us. Some of the riffs of those period will then be in "Anthems of Ancient Splendour", but the tracks in their final version were arranged by all the band members. Saverio Rossi, bass player since 1995, once playing guitar, then switched to the bass guitar when he joined the band. Besides this he has "worked" live and recordings some tracks for some other trash metal bands of the Italian scene. Massimiliano Marri (vocals) formed his first band in December 1994 and started to sing live for the first time in 1995. He often says that the he feels the same emotions he felt in the first time on stage each and every time he turns to the stage. After twenty-two years, the desire to make music has increased exponentially day by day. Currently, in addition to being the front man of Dominance, plays drums in a band called Stonedrift and sings the songs of his favorite band ever with Unscarred a Pantera tribute band.
Gabriel Cavazzini, start listening to heavy metal at the age of 12 years. Very young he founded his first band called Nhergal, band inspired by the raw sounds of Meshuggah. The band split in 2003, after a album and a series of live around Italy. He graduated from the conservatory in 2001, preferring to play Heavy metal rather than a career as an orchestra musician. After 2003 it is part of numerous projects and collaborations, until the entry into Dominance in 2013, after 3 years off from music. His compositional influences are given by his plays over the years, first of all Death & Schuldiner, Meshuggah, Dimmu Borgir, Behemoth and Sepultura.
Luca "Pell Ach" Alziapiedi, new guitarist who has joined the band in 2015, has grown primarily with Pantera in his ears. He debuted in 1997 as a singer in his first rock/power band although in later years he got closer to bass guitar and electric guitar. After a long break in 2006 he joined as a bass player in a new crossover band called Moth's Circle Flight, with which arrives to open live sets for groups of national and international level as Extrema, Exilia, Guilty Method and Sepultura. Subsequently he passes to the role of lead guitarist. He play and continues to play throughout Italy with this band. In 2015 also he accepts the proposal to join Dominance in the role of rhythm guitarist.
Did the band record any demos or anything before the release of your debut release?
In fact when we went into the studio for the first time at the TMB Rockhouse in S.Damaso (Modena) we recorded 4 tracks with the intention of making a self-produced demo-tape. The result, however, was above our expectations and so we decided to send the recordings to some records labels in Italy and around the world. Between interested labels, we decided for the Lucretia Records International of Milan, which produced in those years, among others, the albums of Angra and Rhapsody. The relationship with this label, however, were closed early because of problems due to the long timeframes required for the release of the debut CD. Lucretia published only one track on a promotional compilation. Meanwhile we went back to the TMB Rockhouse S.Damaso (Modena) to record two other tracks and also intro and outro. After that came the interest of Italian label Scarlet Records and finally in 1999 that we released our debut CD "Anthems of Ancient Splendour".
How did you end up hooking up with Sliptrick Records? Did they pay for the recordings or did the band?
We have recorded the last album "XX: The Rising Vengeance" at Audiocore Music Studio in Fontevivo (PR) during the months of September and October 2015. In November, we sent the recordings to different labels around the world and among the proposals received, we finally decided to negotiate the terms of the license agreement with the Sliptrick Records from USA. We sent essentially the album ready to the label, so the band pay the recordings expense.
What studio did you go to record your debut and were all the songs ready to go when you were ready to enter the studio?
As I said, the debut album "Anthems of Ancient Splendour" released in 1999 by Scarlet Records, was recorded at TMB Rockhouse of Modena, the second "Echoes of Human Decay" released by Kolony Records in 2009 was recorded at Studio73 in Ravenna. The third "XX: The Rising Vengeance" was recorded at Studio Audiocore of Fontevivo (Parma). In all cases the tracks were completed before entering the studio.
How did you come up with the title for your release, “XX-The Rising Vengeance”? How about the artwork for the release?
The last Dominance album, the third, came out twenty years after the band's foundation. The “XX” in the title represents this great achievement. "The Rising Vengeance" instead wants to embody a feeling shared by the character of the band's sound and some of the concepts that appear in the lyrics.
Have you got to play live a lot so far and are there many places to play live as far as where the band is based out of? Do you think you’re a good live band? Who have you shared the stage with?
Sure. In the past we have played live a lot. In the period from 1996 to 2010, playing mostly in Northern Italy, playing songs of the first album made in 1999 and of the second album "Echoes of Human Decay" made in 2009. Dominance are on the scene for more than 20 years. The first official live set dates back to 1996. We remember with pleasure some live exibitions: in Biella in 1999 along with Malevolent Creation, Master and Khrabator, since for the first time, we shared the stage with one of our favorite death metal band. Then in Reggio Emilia in 2004 with the great Suffocation. The two-day festival "Emilian Revenge" in 1999, the show on stage at the "Metal Disorder" in Milan in 2009, the "Kolony Metal Fest" in 2009 with Ahab and In Mourning. And then comes back to the 1997 live at the "Pop Off" in Pescara, with a great audience who for the first time made headbanging and fight for Dominance. And a lot of concerts around Italy, imprinted in our memory.
The live show is the most important event for a band. On stage you have to give everything. And you have to create a relationship with the audience. A relationship that is founded together with the music you make out from the speakers, a metal ratio, sweat, speed, melody and violence. We have always tried to convey that. With the new "XX: The Rising Vengeance" we are devoting more attention than in the past to the preparation of the live shows, we will reserve some important news for the next shows.
If you had to pick 3 cover tunes to do, what songs would they be and why?
Difficult question because three songs are very few. And every member of the band most likely would give a different answer.
1. Heartwork - Carcass (1993). Great album from the beginning to the end of one of my favorite bands ever.
2. Night's Blood (1995) because I think that "Storm of the Light's Bane" by Dissection was a fundamental disc between the influences of the bande in its beginnings.
3. Symbolic - Death (1995) Unique, unattainable, especially about the great Chuck Schuldiner.
But then three are too few.
What are your thoughts on the underground these days?
We really don’t like to judge other underground band or generally the scene. Our job is to play, then there is someone involved in reviewing and judging. In general I think that valuations on the Italian Death Metal scene should start from two considerations. On one side it is certainly true that for a band playing Death Metal in Italy is more difficult to emerge from what happens in other countries (take for instance Germany and Northern Europe in general, and of course the US) where extreme musical traditions are more prevalent and rooted. On the other side, however, the only solution is to roll up your sleeves, play and try to propose something original and personal, not limited to emulation of the masters. Are many, in fact, the bands who complain of not being able to emerge but then the reasons does not depend in many cases by nationality, but by the type of musical style. Especially in the US exists among young people a great tradition of the musical art studio;often happens that you listen to the debut CD of an unknown band and you're shocked by the musical technique and by the young age of the musicians. On this front, we have a lot to learn. As I said before, however, we prefer to take this issue from a general point of view, not judging other bands. To each his own role: we play death metal, some others will judge.
How did you come up with the band’s name and did you know that there was a band named Dominance way back in the early 90’s? (They were the band Anvil Bitch when they changed there name and only released a demo and now they are back and called Anvil Bitch)
Another one? Doing research we discovered a thrash metal band in USA called Dominance, dissolved before Dominance’s birth, and an eponymous band in Israel, dissolved as well. (no the one you talked about is the one I was talking about as well-chris)
For some who have not heard the band, what would you describe your sound as?
The Sound of Dominance has changed a lot over the years. The three albums are very different from each other, because of the different guitarists and of the new singer. Although Dominance has maintained a personal sound identity. In this last album, we worked hard to characterize the most violent sounds and melodies, creating a mix of technical and fast riffs, the most majestic parts, and melancholic and deep melodies. The drumming takes in this release a counted more direct supporting the bass and guitars.
Also the vocal lines have a very important role. Massimiliano Marri, our new singer, put at least three different styles that blend together: the more guttural growl, one scream clearly inspired by Meshuggah and Pantera, and more melodic parts that reach high notes! Even the new lyrics are inserted in the evolution of the band's musical style, treating current issues through figurative and introspective themes. Finally, there was a lot of work also in the production studio: we wanted a clearer sound than ever before, but at the same time more powerful and granitic! The first album "Anthems of Ancient Slpendour" released for Scarlet Records in 1999 was oriented on a Nordic sound, with influences from the Swedish scene of those years. The second "Echoes of Human Decay" kept elements of the first, and associated them to a more brutal sound that looked to the North American school. The new "XX: the Vengeance Rising" marks a further evolution of the Dominance’s musical style, characterized in the past by intricately stylistic constructions , give way to a more squared and straightforward attitude, ready for the impact on stage. Essentially the influences founded in the first two albums, plus those arising from the musical experiences of the two new guitarists and new singer, recipe for a heterogeneous album that actualize the DOMINANCE sound, even within the continuity with the original characteristics of the band.
Horns up for the interview, any last words to wrap this up?
First of all, thank you for this space for the interview. After so many years, and some difficulties, Dominance are back again with the new "XX: The Rising Vengeance". We want to thank all those who follow us for a long time and continue to support us , and all those who already have the album in their hands, ahaha! We hope to meet you soon under the stage to share with us the passion for music and for the death metal! We will do our part ,and you?
Interview by Chris Forbes