Hails Ex! Since biographies are a boring read most of the time, let's skip that part. However, it would be interesting to know how you found the style you're playing now and how the three members of the band got together.
Ciao Amikkus! Mahatma was born in Bologna in 2007. We all come from different experiences but in this project we share our passion for slow and down-tuned sound, heavy and hypnotic rhythms. The fundamental idea is «less is more»: the concentration on a few sound elements produces better effects on the psyche of those who listen to us. And even on our own!
You're coming from Bologna in Italy, a country that brings forth more and more interesting Stoner/Doom projects, one of them being BLACK RAINBOWS for example. How much of your country and/or your immediate surroundigs can be heard through your music, if you can name any at all?
The Italian scene is really cool. It’s all about our variety. We especially appreciate those who experiment with an instrumental heavy psych concept as L‘Ira del Baccano from Rome (as Black Rainbows), Squadra Omega, Ekeskog, Da Captain Trips, King Bong, Manthra Dei. The first wave of Italian bands (1995 - 2000) was definitely the most creative and we like to remember as a seminal acts bands as Hogwash, That‘s All Folks! and Acajou. Nowadays a lot of bands play live and record albums; for a full update you can refer to the excellent Italian stoner doom psych portal Perkele: www.perkele.it.
We want to point out that we all have the courage to bring our band around the psych verb in a peninsula that in this cultural side shows to be completely deaf. And we want to dedicate a special report to the mythical EXP, a band (now disbanded) who recorded "Pachamama", still unsurpassed album in his genre. Pure freedom of expression!
Was your band name inspired by Mr Gandhi himself or did other events influenced you? What elements does this name want to emphasize in your music?
The name Mahatma is a link to our music conception, it's the spirit of our music. The sound has a natural evocative power that transcends the reality and allows you to run away and escape. The aim behind Mahatma is doing a search within themselves.
Another important reason for the birth of the project was the music of Black Sabbath, of course!
What does it take to be a member of MAHATMA, why do you hold on to this band? If you had to recrute new musicians, what specialities do they absolutely have to come up with? Is there any special trademark that no other band except yours has?
Well, I think that you can find it in the completeness of the people, in how he/she behaves, what he/she likes, what he/she hates. Becoming a member of Mahatma is not necessary about being a professional musician or having incredible academy résumé: just having the good vibes that would fit well with the rest of the band. Overall you can say that we are more interested in own people's quality rather than to the skills as a musician.
Now, as musicians, who are your personal influences with regards to your writing style for music?
I really love to approach guitar in a rough! I often don’t use tunes, I try to seek solutions by my personal feelings. But I have to recognize that the primary influences that have approached me to the guitar are Jimi Hendrix, Tony Iommi, Leigh Stephens (Blue Cheer!) and, even if indirectly, Robert Smith and Thurston Moore.
Would you say that you work as a collective on the songs you create or does it all come down to the individual work of one or two guys within the band? Does the method of songwriting change from song to song or do you go by a strict "formula"?
It could be a banality but Mahatma are a power trio that writes its music as a (power) trio. There wasn't one time when one of the band members come to rehearsal with a riff ready and well done. It all starts from power amps and from that initial buzz. It's all created after that sound, layer by layer: so this the magma of sound that belongs to us. We record everything we play and it's always difficult to catch the magic feeling that you have created the first time re-recording for the second time the same tune.
In 2009, you released your first s/t album. How do you recall the process that went into the tracks itself? Is there anything that would do otherwise now? Which songs still hold up to your quality standards of today and would have made it on "Gilgamesh" too hypothetically?
Our first album is like a baby who takes its first steps. There are the joy of discover ourselves, the curiosity, the satisfaction of creating a sound that until then was only into ourselves. There are a lot of mistakes, of course! „Gilgamesh“ is our maturity: we are aware of our possibilities and our direction. It's the beauty of the continue growth and the eternal change. Mahatma is not the typical band that records the first great album and then falls into easy satisfaction. We are exactly the opposite. As the Beatles! :-)
How has the reaction during your live concerts turned out so far when it comes to your tunes? What do fans love the most about you? Any bizarre situation that involved a fan?
It's strange to see a great involvement during our live gigs, especially for an instrumental band. There's no chorus lines to sing out loud! The kids raise the horns up to the sky and they are carried away by the psychedelic trip!
We lived a bizarre situation during a gig in Bologna, at the Lazzaretto Venue, a squat where we played with other bands in a festival. We played at 4 am; after the fourth song, a really stoned girl came on the stage and taking advantage of the microphones on, she improvised in some ways her lines on our notes.
The result was very close to the experiments of John Lennon & Yoko Ono on "Wedding Album"! Crap, it sucked!
On to "Gilgamesh", what was the premise for this new record? Just get better in every way or more than that?
The idea behind 'Gilgamesh' is to represent the myth through the music, through the highlights of the Twelve Tables. The story has many aspects of incredible topical interest: it's a story about friendship, abandonment of care things, trips and research.
All that elements that each one of us meet in his own life, during our path. We hope that we have done a good job and that through our music someone could come close to this figure who has still much to teach to everyone.
How long have you worked on "Gilgamesh" when all is said and done? Which ideas took the longest to take their final shape, which were done quickest?
The approach was easy: we thought long about the concept and played it in two sessions. The best things in life follow this pattern!
Then we worked on the mixing and mastering that took almost a year to our bassist Tommy... Tom, you are a brother for what you've done on this stuff!
What does it generally take for a song to be part of one of your albums? What feeling/vibe does it have to bear throughout its whole length? When do you "know" if a song is good or not good enough?
If your composition fits to your mood, well… then the song will be sincere and it certainly will work! Don't be afraid to taste sadness, anxiety and your inner demons when you play. That's our rule! If you need 15 minutes to go through these feelings that are inside you, don't you worry, there will be always a listener who will follow your way because it is or it was his way too!
Were there any arguments about what arrangement to use next for a certain album, who gets the most volume in the final mix and so on or are you really a unit with one genuine musical direction you all want to perceive?
In instrumental music there is not a star, a leader with his instrument, because all the three parts, bass drums and guitar, have a role of supporting actors. Everyone has understood the essence and the importance of the other in the composition mix and everyone contrubuted putting his own into our music. No discussion! Mahatma don't belong to anyone of us! They are at a higher level!
How did the artwork for "Gilgamesh" come together?
I am a professional graphic designer, so I worked on the group's image except for the first album, whose cover was a work (oil on canvas) made by Alberto Badas aka Spaiderino, who is a friend and a brother! It was easy to do a search once the path was indicated. And as a fan of heavy psych doom scene and imaginary, the image of a myth written in blood and ominous fate was the best. :-)
How big are the chances of seeing you live soon? Tell potential bookers by means of this interview what do you generally need or demand in order to play a gig anywhere. What bands would you like to play with?
We'd like to play with amazing Colour Haze, because we share the same thoughts about music and feelings. We'd like to do live shows throughout Europe too, perhaps with the brothers of stoner doom: just a little, a few beers, a bed and Mahatma are there to play loud and psych for hours! :-)
Alright, thanks a lot for your time and best luck to you and your future endeavours.
Thank you for your interest and for this chance to talk to the kids in Germany. You has always been very careful about what we call fucking rock n roll! Stay doom bros!