From music to theatre, rock to Pasolini’s poetry, via Majakovskij verses, Pierpaolo Capovilla is an all-round artist; eclectic and bold – a ‘hybrid’ that moves easily between musical notes and words. He is the lead vocalist and songwriter for Teatro degli Orrori, one of the most important alternative rock groups in Italy, who is currently touring the country with his reading of three acts ‘La Religione del mio tempo’ written by Pier Paolo Pasolini. The Mag caught up with him at his show at the Teatro degli Illuminati, Città di Castello organised by the Arci Out association for the Istrix Festival.
by Marco Polchi
First question, (one that is dry, difficult and maybe too open): what does culture mean nowadays?
«This isn’t an easy question to reply to definitively. I have to look back at my personal experiences. Through our music we try to create culture, which means getting across a positive message, most importantly to the next generation. We can’t let today’s young people live in chaos, or simply leave them in front of a PC or TV. Culture therefore is a responsibility which means opening it up to society, to other people – in other words, integration».
So what is culture for you?
«Culture is a feeling not just something you learn. To read a good book or listen to good music means creating culture, and this is what needs to be done minute by minute: to push ourselves towards a better outlook and reality. Culture is needed to educate members of society; culture is politics above and beyond any party».
How important is music in this time of social tension?
«Culture and music go hand in hand. They are the two sides of the same coin. Music is an extremely important cultural vehicle; it can be a gesture of love towards others and an act of generosity to the world. Music can even out cultural differences, and maybe even interpret a feeling of rebellion and push it towards something positive, becoming an instrument for emancipation and knowledge of one’s own country… whether you like it or not».
Do you like Italy?
«It has become a country very different from the one I knew when I was growing up. It has changed, unfortunately for the worse. Often I hate it profoundly, but I hope it can have a better future. I am not a patriot in the typical sense of the word, I am a patriot that looks towards the future – a future patriot».
Let’s talk about theatre. The Pierpaolo Pasolini reading ‘La religone del mio tempo’ (Religion of my time) has received good public and critical success. Why did you chose this?
«Simply because Pasolini is huge and very topical. By the end of the 1950’s he had already predicted how Italy would change and what it would become. He realised what misfortunes and defects would have gripped Italy. Pasolini is genuine, a true poet – and reading his works, which I have to say I have only recently discovered and have made my own, can help us not to be indifferent or cynical. Hence the reason for my choice».
Going back to music: I read somewhere that you would be doing an album as solo artist… what can you tell us?
«Yes, I can confirm that I am doing a solo album and at a compositional level it is quite advanced. We should be finished by the end of October and it will be released sometime between January and February. There are a lot of people working hard on it. What I can say is that it is very different from the Teatro degli Orrori’s albums; it will be 100 percent mine and will be a test of my ability as a singer song-writer».
You move between reading, music, collaborations and poems. Which of these do you prefer as a form of expression?
«Poetry definitely – especially as it’s a form of expression which includes all the others. Thinking about it, this was another a discovery made in my adult life».
Can I ask you what type of music you listen to?
«I am a lot less radical now than when I was in my twenties, [he says smiling]. It was a time when I felt exclusive and uncompromising. Nowadays I listen to various different things; I am far more open, I don’t even mind electronic music as long as it is good quality. If I really have to think about it I really respect Arcade Fire, they are great».
One last thought on today’s Italian music?
«Far be it for me to judge anyone, especially people I don’t know; I don’t think it’s respectful. There are musicians that try to get things moving while others just want to put on a show and entertain – at least that’s my general feeling. I’ve noticed though, that there is a poverty of vocabulary and language. As far as I am concerned, I try to go in the opposite direction and do something different».