Interview with Vito - UK - 9 March 2010

Interview and article by Aline Giordano

vito's Monument Record sleeves don’t usually have an impact on me but Monument’s caught my attention straight away. The more I stared at the sleeve the less I could figure out why I loved it so much. So I let this rogue thought flow to the back of my mind. “The sleeve represents a mood as opposed to anything specific”, Vito told me. “When we were looking for artwork for the cover we wanted something that captured the mood of our music which we feel is large and expansive, like the landscape”.

Still with my rogue thought (my best imaginary friend) I decided to immerse myself in the music instead.

Like the best instrumental albums in the post rock genre (I put Monument into this category even though it features several songs with singing) ‘Monument’ manages to create a suite of strong emotions in the listener. You only need to find your own narrative and be led by the guitar riffs, sometimes charged, always delicate, and the beautiful melodies - always beautiful. Each moment on the album has been crafted to create an ensemble of melancholic and fragile moods. The beauty and fragility coexist with the powerful and the intensity of the guitars to create an epic musical osmosis.

“We saw the painting by Ashli Todd and felt that the sun represents the lighter parts of our music and the planes the more aggressive moments. The contrast between all of that meant that when we saw the painting we knew instantly that it was right for us. Ashli is a great artist”.

As I let the power, delicacy and melancholy of Monument transport me I suddenly realised why the sleeve had such an impact on me. The sun-like shape on the right reminded me of the umbrella that little Stesuko proudly hangs onto in the movie The Grave of the Fireflies (animation movie set in Japan during WW2 which follows the story of two young parentless siblings until their death), and the squadron of aircrafts on the left of the sleeve recalled the Kobe firebombing. So I asked Vito how they feel about this comparison.

“We know the film well, it is a good comparison but for us it's important that people take it their own way. Some people might just think it's a cool painting. For other people it may serve as a reminder of something. Others may even think it has some kind of political message. We're happy with any interpretation.”

I love ‘Monument’. It works for me. I asked Vito what specifically in their music and/or themselves drives the melancholy?

“We have always taken a relaxed yet deliberate approach to the way the music is constructed. We found that the best way to make something seem intense or loud is not in that section itself but making the other sections around it more subtle. You can say just as much by giving the music some space as you can when you fill the sound out more. It's about the contrasts. As people we're easy going and relaxed so the melancholy isn't forced. It just comes from us naturally. Dynamics within our music is one of the most important things we considered.”

It took Vito three years to write and record the album. And yet it sounds so fluid and whole I felt the need to ask the band how they managed to keep the end result so coherent?

“The album was written and recorded in about two and half years and we literally started from scratch and set up some very specific rules around the process which we felt would make a better record. All the songs grew very organically and we wrote a lot of material that never made it onto the album and some of it never even made to the recording studio. We filtered everything down until we were sure we had the best songs. Having approached it this way, time became irrelevant really. We were always into it throughout the process and the final result is just an honest representation of us. We're really glad that it sounds coherent as one of the main things we wanted to achieve was a sense that the album was one body of work and not just a collection of individual and unrelated songs”.

The great thing about instrumental albums is that they can take the listeners wherever they want to. For me, while I was being carried by the music my mind wandered toward the realms of loss, death and survival. I asked Vito where their music takes them.

“The main intention of Monument is to transport the quality of the song writing, the structure and the thought put into writing the music and lyrics across to the listener. Anything else is for the listener to decide where it takes them. Saying that, Monument is a concept album and covers some of the very topics you mention in your question. The concept is not a narrative one or a story. It addresses the idea of what we leave behind and that everyone leaves behind a memory or has an impact on someone, whether it be small or large, negative or positive. As a band at our level, we were very conscious when writing Monument that we may never get another chance to do this again so we should make it as great as it could possibly be. In a way, that notion gave rise to the concept of the album. We hope that people get that from listening to it and can tell that we've put a lot into it.”

For more details, visit… Vito's website