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Marco De Francesco Interview


JOE MCGURK discusses his new solo album "The Elements" (Lion Music 2015)


1) Wind (The Calming Violence)
2) Fire (The Pain and Beauty)
3) Water (The Graceful Stranger)
4) Earth (The Aging Wisdom)
5) Elements (For Guitar and Orchestra)
6) Movement II - Requiem/Lacrymosa
7) Movement III - Grand Finale

Please tell me a little bit about your musical background, your main influences and what you have been doing prior to this release.
I started off in classical music when I was younger, playing cello to a high level and for a local orchestra.  I was always being told off by the conductor for not following the score and changing bits that I thought would sound more interesting which ultimately led to a desire to create my own music.  At college the cello was swapped for a guitar and gradually heavy metal music became more of an interest without ever losing the classical grounding.  After trying things out in a few bands throughout college and university, I eventually co-formed progressive metal band ‘Opposing Motion’ in 2005 upon meeting drummer Kevin Deplanche (also featuring in ‘Elements’).  Once the line-up was completed for Opposing Motion (Ludo Desa on vocals and David Deplanche on bass) we followed up a successful EP with a full length debut album released through Lion Music in 2013 and are due to complete album number 2 this year.  Regarding influences, there are many guitarists from different genres that I like from Michael Romeo, Marty Friedman, and Jason Becker through to Al Di Meola, Paco De Lucia and many classical greats.  
Please describe your new album "The Elements" (Lion Music).
A guitar driven concept album merging together many neoclassical, progressive, classical and flamenco influences and techniques to portray the elements (Earth, Wind, Fire and Water).
It is the kind of album I have always dreamed of doing, bringing together all my influences and really stretching my technical and creative ability.  I knew early on that I wanted to work with a top producer to mix and master the tracks and have always been a huge fan of the sound that Dennis Ward brings so it was a great experience to work with him on the album and to hear the sound take shape.
Please tell me something about each song on the album.
1)      Wind (The Calming Violence)
This is the longest track on the album, comfortable exceeding the 8 minute mark.  It portrays the calming, unpredictable and yet violent nature of the element with a common classical theme linking together violently paced guitars and fast solos all with a strong orchestral backdrop.
2)      Fire (The Pain and Beauty)
This opens with an adaptation from Mozart’s Dies Irae before going into its own theme and is the most neoclassical track on the album.  Again there is a strong orchestral influence and it is a fast unrelenting track with nice moments to portray the enigma of fire.  The solo section in this track is my favourite on the album.
3)      Water (The Graceful Stranger)
This is the first breather for the album after 2 fairly intense tracks.  Out of all of the elements this seemed the easiest one to portray as a calming force and the track is completely classical guitar with orchestra.
4)      Earth (The Aging Wisdom)
Probably the most violent and fast track as out of all the elements I saw this as the most damaged.  The softer sections towards the end represent the age and hidden wisdom below all of the scars.
5)      Elements (For Guitar and Orchestra)
This is the first part of three movements and builds from classical into electric with orchestra providing a building backdrop.
6)      Movement II – Requiem/Lacrymosa
This is heavily influenced by Augustin Barrios but is completely original.  It is a personal favourite and would love to play this with a full orchestra one day.
7)      Movement III – Grand Finale
The final movement and back to electrics for some neoclassical fun.  A track that brings all of the elements back together in more ways than one.
Please tell me what equipment you used to record this album. (and live if you do that).
I use ESP (LTD Series) electrics (1 STD, 1 Detuned) and a handmade Bellido Spanish Guitar with shadow pick-ups, Ernie ball strings and a Boss GT10 effects rack.
Do you plan to play this music live
As this album also features Kevin Deplanche on drums, it would make more sense to merge with Opposing Motion live shows to give Ludo a breather on vocals.

Please tell me about your band OPPOSING MOTION, how long you have been together and what you have been up to, also any future plans….
We formed in 2005 but didn’t get a stable line up until 2009.  The following year we released an EP that featured in magazines and ezines worldwide as well as making 2 cover mount CDS for bestselling music magazines.  In 2012 we recorded a full length album (Laws of Motion) which was released by Lion Music in 2013 and received a wave of fantastic reviews and publicity.  We are now working hard to record our second album with Simone Mularoni (DGM) behind the production desk for what will surely be our most definitive work to date.    
Do you perform live?
We have been very actively seeking festival slots for 2015 and beyond and after the album will definitely continue to push further.
What was your goal with making "The Elements"?
I write songs almost on a daily basis so have accumulated thousands of tracks over the years and this was a way to get some of them heard.  It is a great fear of mine that some things that are written never get the chance and so the solo album gives an opportunity for me to finish some ideas and tracks that don’t fit into the style or concept of Opposing Motion.
How do you feel about the guitar oriented music scene of today?
It is niche and has its own market but I like it and that is why I really want to be a part of it.  It was a massive influence for shaping my own style and it is really a nice moment to have this album completed and sounding the way I wanted.  A challenge that hit me early on sounds simple but It is very different from being the guitarist in a band as there is so much space without vocals and important to fill the void in the right way.  I look to early Malmsteen albums for a real master class in how to create captivating instrumental works.
Where do you see yourself in 5-10 years?
Still writing, still learning and improving.  I never believe there is an end point to learning, there is always more to learn and take on and I never want to lose the thirst for that.  I hope to still be churning out the albums and be on stage with Opposing Motion.  I also have a recent addition to the family so fully look forward to showing him the guitar in the future.
In what way do you think your album is different from all the other instrumental guitar albums that are out there?
I think that it maybe has a greater influence of classical and orchestra blended in with heavy guitars.
How much time to you spend practising and rehearsing music per day or week.
This varies, when nothing is happening on a whole I like to do no less than an hour or two  a day to ‘stay in shape’ but when writing and gearing up to record this is undefinable and can be many, many hours.  I never really have structured sessions or times; I will just run through tracks or sections until I am happy.
Do you think that music will survive the current "everything for free" mentality and do you think that people in general care?
I see many analogies with the film industry who must also really struggle with online streaming.  It is such a massive shame as I’m sure decades ago bands would have been thrilled by the exposure and reach that modern bands can achieve through the internet but saddened by the way that almost any music can be obtained for free.  It makes everything so much harder and making a living through music is simply not an option.  I really hope the industry finds a way to solve issues like this.
What are your future plans?
Continue to work hard with both projects, I am also not opposed to taking on more projects if the right one comes along and can work alongside the existing.  A tour with Opposing Motion would be an amazing personal dream so we will see what the future holds but definitely some festival slots.