An Interview with INTEGRAL


Prog Sphere recently talked with guitarist and singer Federico Visini of Italian technical death metal band Integral. The band is currently in studio putting final touches on their debut full-length album, and Federico gave us an insight into the band’s creative process, gear they use, and more. Read on!

How did you go about forming Integral?

Integral is a rather personal musical project and path grown up in my mind during years, with many influences and a strong will to improve. It was born much more before the band itself, that I wanted only in a second moment. All I needed were competent and skilled musicians willing to support my ideas. To my surprise, it did not take a long time to find them. Two old friends of mine (bass and vocals) immediately joined the band and two other guys (guitar and drums) from the music school I attend were recommended to me.

Tell me about your creative process.

A song is usually strongly influenced by the kind of day or the period in which it is composed, by things going on during the writing process and of course by the music I am listening to at that moment.

I have a rather schematic approach to composition. The song’s structure is rationally planned depending on what I would like to hear in that particular moment. I can obviously make some later changes but usually the first decision is definitive.

Then I start working on the sections, beginning from my instrument (guitar), jamming for some hours or making use of previously written riffs or phrases, trying to make precise and smooth transitions from genre to genre in order to obtain a dynamic final product. After I have traced the principal structure I write guidelines for the other instruments.


How do you document the music while it’s being formulated?

I make large use of tablatures software because they allow me to save any idea without the risk of loosing or forgetting it, and it is particularly valuable when we are talking about complex phrases. Moreover these software offer the possibility of listening immediately to what you have written and of verifying if things matches well.

The following step consists of verifying and reconsidering what I wrote making a sort of pre-production using a sound card with my laptop. It is a fundamental step for the experimental-ambient sections.

Is the dynamic flow of the pieces carefully architected or is it an organic outgrowth of performing them together?

Since we do a complex genre I think it is valuable that the structure of a song is set by one single person in order to maintain a certain logical thread.

I would say that the structure is meticulously determined, then some possible changes are discussed and done together. The arrangements can be subjected to variations, or they can be proposed after some rehearsals, when the flow of the song is clearer to everyone.

Are you working on something new at the moment?

At the moment I set aside for a while the death metal part of our sound and I kept working more on the fusion one, with the objective of making it more smart and functional.

We all have the passion for fusion music and we are all interested in examining it deeply. Moreover I think that, for metalheads like us, to play fusion well is an intriguing challenge.

The mix between extreme metal and fusion is what we want to enhance and make a brand of.

Provide some insight into the group’s chemistry that allows this music to emerge.

I think the line up combined petty much well mainly for three reasons.

The first one consists of each member’s skills in playing his own instrument. If there is a too wide gap between members’ skills in the band there certainly will be some issues.

The second is the one regarding the style. Since we all listen to similar music we absorbed the approach of our favourite musicians. We all know where we want to go and we work to get there, looking after sounds and dynamics.

The third and fundamental one is that there are good relationships between each of us. And of course good relationships allow better collaboration.

How do you know when a piece is complete?

A piece is complete when I hear all I wanted to hear when I conceived it. After the writing process I listen to the piece several times, and if it flows without glitches and I feel that nothing else is needed, than the piece is complete. As long as I am hesitant I keep working on it.

Which bands or artists influence your work?

We come from a modern wave of metal that is continuously developing and virtually does not have any limit. The passion for the genre was born listening to the German band Obscura and from there I decided to dig it more deeply. We like the groove in bands like Gorod and the intricacy in bands like Spawn Of Possession or Gorguts. The progressive part is more inspired by Cynic. As for the part that is not actually metal (I am referring to the fusion one) I was mainly inspired by Allan Holdsworth and in a minor way by Exivious.

What kind of gear do you use for recording your music?

We have not done much recording work till now, but I would say that for our first EP we kept it rather digital. As for guitars we recorded a dry track with a D.I. Box, edited it, and than re-amped with my ENGL head. We used only digital effects manly because of the easy handling and because we did not feel the need of specific analog effects. The bass was recorded with a D.I. Box without any further processing except for some editing. As for drums we used some sound replacement where needed.

What is your view on technology in music? 

I think technology has a big weight in the contemporary music industry. Thanks to modern instruments and modern work strategies we can catch and value lots of aspects. Moreover I have to say that technology tends to simplify the work of the performer, that is more free to concentrate on experimentation. On the other hand when technology overwhelm music, this can become flat and lacking of emotions. Exaggerated editing can result in a soul-less product and also the musician’s performance can become fake.

Integral live

Do you see the band’s music as serving a purpose beyond music?

At the moment I would say no. Each song stands up for itself and I did not imagine our songs to serve a particular purpose that is not music. I think that the complexity and the extreme attitude that pervade the songs match non very well with serving a particular purpose that is not music itself. I may like in the future to compose something that can be part of a cinematographic work. However we are open to change this particular aspect of our songs, nobody knows.

What are your plans for the future?

The writing process for our first full-length is going to be completed soon. We are searching for a label that can help us in the distribution then we will record it. We are also constantly working on new pieces and planning to realize some tracks and integrate them in live shows as intros or interludes. We are also planning to create a complete live show that is not only musical but also visual.

Nikola Savić is a prog enthusiast, blogger and author, in addition to being the founder of Prog Sphere, Progify, ProgLyrics and the ongoing Progstravaganza compilation series.

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