Zillion: An introduction to....

Zillion main man Sandro Giampietro talks about his band's acclaimed debut.

Introducing Zillion – an interview with Sandro Giampietro.

Zillion's debut album is in stores now. Congratulations on a fine sounding album! Are you happy with the result?
Thank you for the compliment!
As Mike, Jens and Me jammed together, we had that certain sound.
A special mixture of Hardrock and Heavy Metal. I'm happy that I also managed to get this modern rockin' sound on the CD.

When did the band form and how did you guys all know each other?
Since a long time my Cousin Jens Becker and me plant to have a Band together. And while Mike and Jens played together on tour with Roland Grapow, Mike told Jens about his plans to join a trio with a singer that also plays guitar. So Mike gave me a call.
We three met for a session and played some of my songs. It was totally great! After playing we had dinner together and talked for hours and had a lot of fun. On that Day Zillion was born.
In fact there had been another band with Mike Terrana called Zillion. It was in the 80's in New York. They had a deal at a French record label, but they split.

What bands were you in prior to Zillion?
Since the age of a teenager I sang in several bands. I always had been the songwriter, singer and guitar player and, as we recorded, the producer – for that they all sounded more or less like the stuff I am doing now. But also I had classical and jazz projects. Also, for example, I played in the Big Band of Helge Schneider
Another band I am still working with is called SANDRO. And now I am just recording a new metal album with some guys I know.
Anyway there is no day without singing in my life and even no day I do not record anything.

What are your personal influences as far as music goes?
On one hand musicians and bands like Iron Maiden, Deep Purple, Jimi Hendrix, Queesryche, Frank Zappa, Yngwie Malmsteen (though I played that style on my guitar even before he got famous / before I knew him), Steve Vai, Soundgarden, Sublime
and on the other hand „Classical“ like Bach, Vivaldi, Paganini or Elvis Presley Ella Fitzgerald, Joe Pass, Django Rheinhard ...

What are your favorite ever albums from the past?
Frank Zappa - Many Tracks
Jimi Hendrix - Electric Ladyland
Deep Purple - Most Albums
Iron Maiden – Number Of The Beast And Others
Bruce Dickinson – Balls To Picasso, Skunkworks
Yngwie Malmsteen – Rising Force
J.S. Bach -Everything
Vivaldi - Four Seasons
Ella-Cole Porter
Queensryche - Operation Mindcrime
Steve Vai - Passion And Warfare
Elvis Presley - Everything

How would you describe the music of Zillion to those that don't know you yet?
The music of zillion is hard music with a melodic Voice, striking guitar riffs and harmonic music. It's a modern rockin' sound between classical hard rock and melodic heavy metal. Zillion has a special sound although every song keeps its own atmosphere. This makes it colorful.

Where did the band's name come from?
As we searched for a Band-Name Mike suggested Zillion and we all liked it. It is just a like kind of Number like “million” or “billion”, even more. I think it fit's - may be because we all just play or had played in zillions of bands

You are part of the German and also European hard rock scene. How would you describe this scene to others from different areas around the world?
The German hard rock scene is very traditional oriented.
That keeps this kind of music alive but on the other hand I wish that they'd be more open to new Bands witch try to find there own style instead of being a copy of bands from the 80's.
Deadlock kills every kind of arts.
The famous bands of the 80's were also innovative at their time. The southern European hard rock scene is a little more open.

How did you work on getting a record deal?
The first mp3 we send out was of the song “You And Me”. Chris Boltendahl (Grave Digger) sent the mp3 to frontiers. THANK YOU CHRIS! They liked it so much that they wanted to sign us – Although they didn't know who was behind zillion. I like it, when an A&R and the company stands behind the music they sign, and they do not only work for a concept.

How do you work on songwriting - what's the band's preferred method?
For the songs…
Jens brought some riffs and we worked them out together.
But most of the songs I wrote alone. I put very much work into the arrangements. I made the melodies easy to follow. I like music were the melody goes straight into the ear without a roundabout way.

You previously played lead guitar in Supared with Michael Kiske. You are now guitar player and singer - were you always a singer, and what prompted you to take lead vocals for Zillion?
I started singing at the age of five: I saw Elvis on the television. And he was so cool! So I started to sing and play the guitar. Since the age of a teenager I sang in several bands. And later on, for example, I wrote music and worked as vocal coach at the Thalia Theatre, Hamburg/Germany. Michael wanted me to work with him because I'm also a singer although I only played the guitars on the Supa Red album. There was no question that I'd be the front man of zillion as we formed this band

Are there any lyrical messages within your songs?
Yes. Almost every song has a lyrical massage:
For Example the song “the Hose” : some people are so negative and cynical that there life is much harder than it could be. So it is about someone who sees everything in his life the bad way. It seems he or she searches for the worse case in everything. And because of that he prevents all the good to come through. I sing “Why you stand on the hose and drain the water” it's a metaphor. Lyrical it means you try to give water to your plants, but you stand on the hose and no water comes out of it. That means the person tries to do something but the way he or she does it, is in such a way that nothing will go on. Or I sing “Why are you cutting the rope, before you reach the ground”. In Germany they say “Am eigenen Ast sägen” this means because of your behavior you destroy everything that is important for you.

And here some shortcuts on the other songs:
YOU AND ME: a song about people you can't stand to live with.
THIS DAY IS GONE: if you operate according to a system your life may pass away day by day and you will never be able to get back your precious time.
DIRTY LITTLE SECRETS: luckily I have no idea about Mike's dirty little secret!
NEVER DOWN: this tune is for a friend - he pretends to feel fine no matter how bad his situation is.
KRYPTONITE: do you know Superman? This stuff makes Superman weak.
THE SMILE: beware of mean persons with a beautiful smile.
WONDER WHY: dedicated to all persons using other people for their own advantage
TAKE IT AWAY: I wrote this song for my daughter Julia before she was born. I'll try to keep her away from the bad things of life.
DAY OR NIGHT: The way I had to live my life shaped me to the person I am. But will good times or will bad times shape me further on...
SAY GOODBYE: Mike Terrana wrote these lyrics for Jacqueline who was a member of a crew he worked with. She died of cancer before they could say goodbye.

Do you get to play live very often and do you have any shows planned for the near future?
For now Mike and Jens are busy with their other bands and I am working on my new metal project. But we are thinking about a little Tour or some club gigs within the next months. I don't have any dates already, but they will be announced on our website.

Is there one thing you would realistically like to achieve with the release of this album?
To reach as much people as possible with my music. And to play some nice shows.

What advice would you offer to other new bands that are looking to write good songs and secure a record deal?
Play the music you like and be true to yourself.
I try to bring the song to a main point instead of loosing its intention in very boring but difficult parts. I think a good song is independent from its style, sound technique or performance. This means it still should be a good song when it's played on a single acoustic guitar.
At last a good song needs a melody.

You also produced the album yourself. I was really pleased with the sound quality. What are the necessary and key ingredients to ensure a great sounding record?
Thank you for the compliment. First of all you need very good equipment. Further the sound of “Zillion” is - for the main part - the result of our way to record the drums. The early metal bands used real drums. But since the late 80s often the drums have been edited - or the real sounds have been replaced to synthetic ones. But know many modern Rock Bands are using real drums again. Although they are harder to mix, you get that real sound and feeling!
You need an idea of how the sound should be when you start recording.
There is no sound in general; there is only the sound that performs the song so it has the maximum intensity.
And you need many, many hours of experience!!!

Any artist you would really like to work/write with if you were given the chance?
Frank Zappa if he still had been alive –

Do you have plans for the next album yet and how do you think that will sound?
I yet have new Ideas for songs. We'll write and then we'll hear.

I always ask if there is anything you would like to add to finish up?
Thank you all Heavy Metal and Rock Fans. You are the reason why this music lives on - although it is ignored in most of the media like radio or television - ROCK ON!

Please plug your website. Where do fans find/contact you?
Our official website is under www.zilliononline.com. It is still under construction but there you will find an e-mail contact soon. Although there is a website regarding me under www.planetsandro.com

Thanks for taking time out to answer the interview questions. Best of luck for the future!
Thank you for your Interest!