Interview with (Uncut) – May 2024

Interview by Jonathan Jancsary

Hey Marco and thank you very much for your time and your willingness to answer a few questions! Five years passed since your first EP “We Who Light The Fire”, please let us know a bit what happened between these years. Were you continuously working on the songs which we can now hear on “Flamekeeper” or were the songs crafted in a condensed and short creative time frame?

Hello, thank you for having me on Legacy!

The EP was released at the end of 2019 and, meanwhile, I was getting ready to put a live line-up together. All of my plans got predictably shattered as the Covid pandemic hit worldwide a few months later.

As well as being a musician, I’m also a Studio Producer and, at that time, I was also working as a live sound technician at concerts, so the shutdown of the music industry deprived me of the entirety of my livelihood. Sweden was the only country in the world not to adopt lockdown measures, so I was blessed with keeping my freedom of movement, yet cursed with the necessity of having to find a job abroad and outside my area of expertise with insufficient knowledge of the foreign language.

At the time, I had access to a recording studio that was getting, naturally, no booking whatsoever, so I went there every day (this didn’t please the owner particularly) for about a couple months and I laid out the foundation of pretty much all the songs on the album. I found some daily jobs shortly after that would eventually devour an enormous amount of my time and energy, so those two months in the studio were incredibly beneficial as I had plenty of demos to rely on in the following years.

Now… it would be easy to blame the pandemic as the sole responsible for the creative process being so prolonged, but I also had to measure up with the discrepancy between having grandiose ideas for my songs and my lack of preparation to achieve something of that stature. I imagined this overtly epic and triumphant, fanfare-like music that draws inspiration from Metallica, AC/DC, Dio as well as Beethoven, Dvorak and Prokofiev that still sounded like nothing else… not exactly the fastest attainable goal.

 I spent a considerable amount of time studying singing, songwriting, music production and the art of storytelling so I could match the vision I had in mind.

I started learning melodic singing quite late in my life, at 25, so it took me years to gain some confidence as I used to be extremely self conscious and vulnerable about my voice.

Finding the live line-up in 2022 eventually helped me to overcome the dysmorphia I had towards my voice and I started getting feedback on the new songs from both Axel Johansson (drums) and Filipe Jesus Minhava (guitar), which gave much more structure to the songwriting process.

If I understand the PR text correctly, then you have become quite an international combo with live musicians from all kinds of Europe involved, however, all of them living in Stockholm. Do you also jam together and compose music together? Or is all composing done solely by you?

We are two Italians (with one being me, as I moved from Rome to Stockholm in 2019), one Portuguese and a Swede and I’m quite proud of that.

When I started rehearsing with other musicians, the foundation of all the music for the album was pretty much written already, but I have very high expectations of what they can add in the future songs as they are simply amazing musicians and their contribution to this album has been invaluable to me. 

Axel visited me in the studio often to listen to many demos and helped me to find the motivation to finish some songs that I was very doubtful of. “The Golden Spark” is one of my favorite Flamekeeper songs ever, but I’m not sure I would have finished it if Axel didn’t see something in its first draft.

Filipe gifted the songs with his Portuguese heritage that can be found in the leads and acoustic guitar parts he performed. He wrote most of the solos and he pretty much improvised on the spot with a portuguese guitar the outro to “The Roads of Rome”, the last song on the album. The song deals with life far from home and all its consequences, a subject very close to Filipe’s heart as much as mine, so I had to leave that space for him in the song.

Davide Benincaso joined Flamekeeper in 2023 to replace the first bass player, so he still hasn’t had the chance to contribute creatively, but I commend his patience and ability to adapt to a situation that, for a long period, changed quite rapidly from week to week as we transitioned from a two guitars-setup to just one, so a lot of the parts missing from the original arrangements got to be replaced with bass parts.


No doubt, the music is heavily inspired by Heavy Metal music and its power and glory. Heavy Metal stands for freedom, as does FLAMEKEEPER one could say. Do you think that Heavy Metal still has that power and strength it had in early years? Is Heavy Metal still a music of freedom?

When Heavy Metal finds the courage to look forward, instead of being nostalgic of the past, it is indeed the music of freedom. That’s exactly why the old acts have made such a lasting impact: they were totally focused on the future and you can feel that in their music, no matter how dated.

I must be honest: I’m not very pleased with the current standardization of Metal as a language. It looks like many new bands embrace all the cliches that come with the sub-genre they approach, just adding variations in the performance and presentation of the music. All this attention to riffs and double kick patterns make Metal resemble more of a sport, rather than an art form as there is a morbid obsession towards performance (not necessarily a technical one as, today, emulating the sloppy playing of old records is a trend on its own) at the cost of good storytelling.

Riffs do not make songs, stories do. If every Black Metal song is about Satan, every Death Metal song is about gore and every Heavy Metal song is about Conan or motorcycles, I don’t see that much freedom of expression in there, just a lot of rules to fit in.


To ask from a completely different direction: what does a good FLAMEKEEPER song need in order to have the necessary quality to be on a record? What has to be the essence of any FLAMEKEEPER song?

Each one of my songs focuses on an emotion and a concept that I desperately need to hear but couldn’t find in existing music, so I create it myself as a cure for my self-doubt.

There are many times in which life puts me at a crossroad and I find myself completely paralyzed. Then, at some rehearsal, singing my songs reminds me that those lyrics about standing by your own choices and following your heart apply to me as much as anyone listening. My lyrics are often the words I leave for my future self as the guide to finding resolution and deciding which road to take in times of need.

To marry this need to heal myself with my desire to write universally resounding music rather than biographical, I put a lot of attention in how I structure the storytelling: one song could be about staying strong in the face of adversity, another one about finding who you really are, another one about committing fully to your life choices and all these ideas unfold through an archetypal, universal story. No chord is played, no word is sung if it doesn’t drive the story forward and it makes it feel like it’s about the listener, rather than the musician.

I hope my songs can help others as much as they help me and that’s my main drive when I write. I need to see precisely this potential in a song for it to appear on my records.


You write, “if you are ready to burn yourself in your own flame”, then you can find yourself and see who you truly are. It sounds very Nietzschean in nature. What authors, philosophies and ideologies are particularly important for the Art of FLAMEKEEPER?

Kudos to you for spotting an almost literal Nietzsche’s quote there. His and Carl Gustav Jung’s work has been extremely influential to me. The meeting point of their philosophy, which is what inspires me the most, is the pursuit of human authenticity standing as the only real purpose of our existence.

Like Nietzsche and Jung, I believe our identity is affirmed through each and every obstacle we find in our path. If we choose to face adversity instead of fleeing, we must be creative, reinvent ourselves and sacrifice what’s not essential. We try to define ourselves in many ways, but nothing says more about who we really are like pain. As unwelcome as it is, it points us to who we are meant to be.

I had a problematic childhood, so I grew up to be a nihilist as a teenager. I struggled immensely with the idea that the universe and anything that exists within it don’t have any meaning. I suffered so much for this notion that my existence became unsustainable and something had to change: I couldn’t explain why, even if life doesn’t make any sense, I still loved music and art so intensely. At some point, I found the courage to dedicate the rest of my life to making music with unwavering devotion. 

I am still aware of the fact that existence is absolutely meaningless, but now I believe it’s up to us to give it our own, unique meaning. This makes me a positive nihilist, I guess. This quest for meaning is what Flamekeeper is ultimately about.

It’s important to highlight, since you used that specific word, how much I despite ideology and how much my music wants to stand as an overcoming of it. Ideology can’t be embraced without giving up a generous part of our individual judgment and such a path couldn’t be further away from the quest for freedom. The only free mind is an independent mind.


There is a bit of an “we against the world” concept and mentality present when reading through the song titles and the overall aesthetics. Is there a straight concept present that narrates through all the songs on the new album?

I believe in living life with a metaphorical fighting stance, assertive yet ready to face conflict. “Do no harm, do know harm”, you know… it’s a skill that served me well against the various victims, manipulators, opportunists and intimidators I met through the years. A song like “Raise the Banner” is certainly an invite to speak your truth at the cost of not fitting in the herd.

Whenever the narrative of conflict is present in my own songs, it’s usually addressed to the corporate world to some degree. I’m not against entrepreneurship, but I can hardly accept a system in which people who don’t have a clear direction and purpose trade their lifetime just to pay the bills working a shitty job. This dynamic is precisely the main theme of “Us and Them (The Song of the Voiceless)”, where the resolution is, once again, to follow your purpose in order to change your condition.

I sing of revolution, but an internal one against our limits before anything and anyone else.


To shortly stay with that topic: I am always interested in how bands arrange and order the tracks on the album, so how the final track list is developed. Could you let us have some insights into this? Was it hard to choose the final order of tracks? What thoughts did you have about it and what kind of flow did you want to achieve?

For this album, I knew since day one I wanted the most grandiose opening I could ever come up with. I designed the song “New Wild World” specifically for this role as, both thematically and musically, it’s the perfect introduction to the album as it conveys a sense of majestic yet frantic novelty.

“The Roads of Rome” wasn’t created to be the last track, but once I realized it would fit that role perfectly, I asked Filipe to craft the outro to be something special that would accompany the listener to the end of the experience, and so he did. 

I waited to have the mix of the album completed to decide the actual tracklist. I placed the songs so that their sequence would flow organically and alternate strong moments with soft ones.


You created a very impactful video clip for the title track of the new album. Could you tell us a bit about that? How did the recordings go? Did you write the script for it yourself? What was perhaps the coolest aspect of it and what the most difficult?

The idea behind the video is to display what can be expected from a Flamekeeper live set in this new form. We aimed at representing the energy of the song only through our performance, letting the lyrics convey the concept. I’m not a fan of music videos featuring actors or, worse, musicians acting. I believe a music video should enhance the song in every way, rather than turning it into the soundtrack for a short movie.

The director, Vincenzo Farenza, is one of my closest friends. He played bass in my old band Demonomancy and also directed one music video for it, so I knew already that we’d be on the same page when it comes to work ethic and taste in cinematography. We moved the whole band to Rome and we shot the video in a day, with the help of some of my best friends taking care of photography, lighting design and lending the backline.

I take great pride in working with friends and that’s why I have nothing but fond memories for that experience.


On May 10th, you will present the album for the first time live on a release show. What can fans expect there? Will you play each song from the album?

As I said in the previous question, I think the music video for “Flamekeeper” depicts a pretty loyal picture of what can be expected from us. We aim at performing the whole album. 


To stay with the live front: are you planning on playing shows throughout Europe in the coming months and week? Anything you can already reveal?

Of course. We will play Old Grave Fest in Romania in October and we are planning more.


Last question: which books are currently lying on your nightstand?

I have just finished Fight Club again. It’s a story that never ceases to amaze me for it’s relevancy and is an immense influence on Flamekeeper.


Many thanks again for your time and your effort! I wish you personally and for FLAMEKEEPER only the very best!

Thank you so much. I had a great time answering your questions.

Light the Fire – Defend the Flame!


Keep the Flame


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