Afterhours
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Afterhours

Milano, Lombardy, Italy | MAJOR

Milano, Lombardy, Italy | MAJOR
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Manuel Agnelli was in his hotel in Austin, Texas, last week, waiting for his band, Afterhours, to make its debut performance later that night at the annual zoo/party known as the SXSW music festival. The Milan, Italy-based band arrived the day before, and the musicians wandered around the Mardi Gras-crazy streets of Austin, taking some brief cell-phone videos that they posted to Afterhours' MySpace page. But when asked what stood out to him the most about this rock 'n' roll bacchanal, it wasn't the music so much as the wonderful excess of it all. "The main thing that really hit me yesterday, is if you have a wristband, and you get into certain places, they give you food and drinks for free. That's like nowhere else in the world, man," Agnelli laughed. Something else that's unique is Afterhours, which has spent the last 18 years becoming one of Italy's biggest rock bands, singing in their native tongue. While Afterhours flirted with the Anglophone world early in its career — its first album is in English — the Italian group decided to stick to its own language because, Agnelli said, "The scene in Italy was growing really fast at the time, and we felt part of something new and changing. There's nothing as exciting as that. Being just another rock 'n' roll band is great — but being part of something changing in your own country is even more exciting. "And singing in Italian in rock music — I think it's strange for you, but it's strange for us as well. We had a new feel to explore, with the language as well. I don't want to be pretentious — sorry about that," he laughed. "It was really natural for me to try and sing in English, if you write in English. But it's my second language. I haven't got the credibility to do that as far out as I do in Italian," Agnelli said. "Italian is my language, and I do what I want. If I want to try something strange with the words — games and blah, blah, blah — I can, because it's my language, and I can say what I want. But English has always been different for me because you can try to say something strange, and you can say, 'We don't say that. It's wrong.' That's why we decided to sing in Italian, too — to acquire more personality, in a way." Perhaps because it is so common now for Italian rock bands to sing in Italian — and be successful at it within their country — Afterhours decided to switch things up and record an English-language version of its latest album, "Ballads for Little Hyenas" (One Little Indian). (There's also an Italian-language edition of the album.) The other reason Afterhours wrote in English is because Agnelli's American soul brother, Twilight Singers/Afghan Whigs frontman Greg Dulli, decided the band was too good to be heard by Italians alone. "He was pushing really hard to get us out of Italy," Agnelli said. "He said we weren't sounding like anyone else and we had to try and do something outside of our country." Dulli and Agnelli met when The Twilight Singers and Afterhours played a tour of Italy together, and the two got along like a villa on fire. "The main thing, he respects our music," Agnelli said of Dulli. "In fact, we consider him part of our band. We try to play with him as often as we can." And Agnelli returns the favor as often as possible, too, sitting in with The Twilight Singers as their keyboardist. "Ballads for Little Hyenas" was not only produced by Dulli, he also received numerous writing credits. "He brought tons of ideas, riffs, arrangements," Agnelli said. "And he was helping a lot with the singing as well at first." It's no wonder the two clicked so well: Afterhours' music and Dulli's various projects share the same love of raw soul-rock power. Agnelli cited bands such as The Pixies, The Replacements, Husker Du and Wall of Voodoo as early inspirations for Afterhours, but at this point in the band's career it has developed its own sound. "Ballads for Little Hyenas" is accomplished not just for the epically rocking songs, edgy melodies and Agnelli's distinctive and husky rasp of a voice, but also for the fact that the English-language lyrics don't sound clunky. While Agnelli speaks English exceedingly well, he said writing lyrics in it is a whole 'nother football match. "We were writing in English and writing in Italian at the same time," Agnelli said of the songwriting process for both versions of "Ballads for Little Hyenas." "And I was trying to translate the lyrics from English to Italian, and it didn't work. And I tried the other way around, and it didn't work either. So I asked Greg and [PJ Harvey collaborator] John Parrish and a few friends of mine to help me with the process, but it didn't work in the end. I had to rewrite the songs in Italian completely in a different way — from zero." The writing process for "Ballads for Little Hyenas" was difficult at times, but a highly enjoyable one for Agnelli. "I was always being the author of the lyrics 100 percent" on Afterhours' Italian CDs, he said, "so it was a new thing for me to collaborate with Greg and John — a really, really great thing. A new thing, once again." The other new thing Agnelli was referring to is the fresh faces and ears who have been opened up to Afterhours' music because of the band's decision to record in English. "We found that the American audience is ready and willing to listen to something they don't know," he said. "It's completely different from Europe, where trends are the thing. If you're not really trendy, you're not working." And he doesn't mind that Afterhours is, after 18 years, essentially starting over. "It's great. It's to be new again, to be young again," Agnelli laughed. "At the same time, we have our ass safe at home. We don't risk too much. But playing in Italy, in front of an audience that knows everything about us, was becoming a bit routine — and heavy at the same time. Italy is a very small country, so you're playing the same old places over and over again. And even if it goes very well, it's like a golden cage in a way. To play the Mecca of rock 'n' roll, and finding a new audience, even a small one, is fantastic."
(Christopher Porter) - Xpress, a publication of the Washington Post


The Italian indie-rock band Afterhours is something like Brit popster Robbie Williams -- huge at home but fairly anonymous in these parts. This is bad for Afterhours but good for you, because it means you can see this very good group in a very small venue -- tonight at the Middle East Upstairs, for instance. Afterhours is playing in support of its moody "Ballads for Little Hyenas," produced by the former frontman for the Afghan Whigs …Catch them while you can.
(Meredith Goldstein) - Boston Globe - Inside Kick


For the last 40 years or so, ever since some British band called The Beatles came crashing onto American shores, the UK and the US have enjoyed a fine working relationship in the marketing of rock music. When a group achieves popularity in one domain, they are soon paraded throughout the other. Usually, there’s a little bit of a lag time involved, while the trend-watchers on one side of the Atlantic chart sales figures and gaze across the ocean, a fidgety mixture of greed and anticipation on their faces. The wait could last three months, or perhaps a year; it could be decided by a red-hot single, or growing sales over the course of an album or two. But the wait would not last long.

Imagine, then, the frustration of Afterhours, a rock band from perennially under-scouted Italy. Sure, the Italians have a rich cultural history, generally good looks, and one of the sexiest-sounding languages on the planet. But, in the world of European pop music, they lag far behind Sweden, Germany, France, and, well, the list goes on. This poor track record had kept Afterhours hidden away in their own country for the first 17 years of their existence.

Finally, after Ballads for Little Hyenas emerged in the UK late last year, this excellent music will see US distribution through One Little Indian, the hip little label that Björk brought into the public eye. Afterhours’ newfound recognition, however, should be largely credited to Greg Dulli. The former front man for The Afghan Whigs co-produced Ballads for Little Hyenas, and it is no coincidence that Dulli’s current band, The Twilight Singers, are also signed to One Little Indian.

Along with helping out his musical friends, Dulli has also done the wider world a favor by facilitating for many of us our first exposure to Afterhours, Italy’s premier band of dramatic indie rockers. At the center of this group’s musical identity is lead singer Manuel Agnelli, Afterhours’ principle songwriter and powerful vocalist. Backing him up is an equally potent band, with Giorgio Prette behind the drums, Andrea Viti on bass, and Dario Ciffo transporting the music to another plane with his darkly romantic violin playing.

Agnelli himself is a ferocious guitarist, equally adept at laying into hard rockin’ riffs as he is at tearing out post-punk shards of sound. Along with this core line-up, Dulli (him again!) lends the bad yet another hand by sitting in on most tracks, several of which credit him as co-author. Still, while Dulli helped mold much of the material on Ballads for Little Hyenas, there’s little question that it is the band’s intense passion and artistic mind meld which make this album so totally awesome. Brooding but also explosive, Afterhours combine the sweeping, elegiac tones of Tindersticks, the near-metallic roar of The Stooges, and Jeff Buckley’s penchant for heady anthems. Or, try this on: The Cult, but with bouts of depression. One more: Soundgarden, but with brains and beauty (instead of just the brawn).

A member of Italia’s literati, Agnelli’s lyrics are both sumptuous and razor-edged. This is from the album’s quasi-title track, “Ballad for my Little Hyena�: “On your patch of ground / Small hyenas prowl / It is just expedience / That keeps the sun going / Round and round�. These lovely lines are from the cello-grooving “Desire Froze Here�: “Pantomime / Is your tragedy / It’s a thin line between your sorrow / And your cunning�. If you happen to know Italian, you could also pick up the original version of this album, Ballate Per Piccole Iene.

In addition to being in a language those who know English can understand, the US version adds one track not on Ballate, a cover of Lou Reed’s “The Bed�, which was originally a b-side. And so it should have remained. It’s a bit sloppier than the rest of the material on Hyenas, and its faux-cheery tone is out of place on this otherwise gloriously miserable and seethingly defiant album.

I predict that, after buying Ballads for Little Hyenas, your next purchase will be an Italian dictionary. And I’ll be right behind you in the queue. The rest of the world has only just discovered Afterhours, but they’ve been rocking since 1988. Just thinking about that meaty back catalog makes me salivate and cackle like a little hyena.

RATING: 8 - Popmatters.com


Hailing from Italy and having a flair for both high drama and grim, grimy rock songs, Afterhours has already charted in the Top 10 in their home country and earned raves from both Mercury Rev and the Twilight Singers. Vocalist Manuel Agnelli has a voice like a bag of broken glass, hard and crude and serrated, and its perfectly suited to his group's dour rock songs. "I taste the leather/ of your skin" he groans in "Fresh Flesh" as skeletal guitars stalk and skulk behind him. "White Widow", with its faux-"Hollaback Girl" rhythm, tense guitar strum and Agnelli's manic yowling, keeps the tension at a slow, threatening boil. Ballads for Little Hyenas has knives drawn and teeth out, ready to move in for the kill. - Emusic.com


http://yfrog.com/3vcitybeatip0j - Cincinnati City Beat


…singer Manuel Agnelli's trembling larynx is still a potent force. The grinding, industrial rock of The Ending Is Greater, the strongest track here, is the band's best hope of finding success…
rating: *** out of 5 - The Guardian - Uk


With 1997’s Hai Paura del Buio? (Are You Afraid of the Dark?), these raging, brooding, crooning alt-rockers recorded what was considered Italy’s counterpart to Nevermind. They later collaborated and toured with Afghan Whig/Twilight Singer/Gutter Twin Greg Dulli.

http://spinearth.tv/report/the-legendary-italian-afterhours-rock-roma - Charles Aaron/Spin Magazine


This is a tremendous CD from Italy's Afterhours ... It is moody and atmospheric but it is anchored in a rock base that keeps you from drifting off….The first cut, "The Thin White Line," has mesmerizing vocals and a hypnotic melody line, making it one of the strongest songs on the record. Singer Agnelli has a range that fleshes out this material. On this cut he uses a falsetto that is dropped for some of the verses where he rages, to great effect….The driving rhythm of "Ballad For My Little Hyena" shifts gears from the melancholy first cut. Agnelli's terrific voice once again shines on this song. We're into more up-tempo rock territory with the next cut, "The Ending is the Greater." "There's Many Ways" is one of the highlights of the record. …On and on it goes with one great song after another. The music is so expertly composed that it subtly shifts moods with each cut. The vocals are excellent and Agnelli knows when to croon and when to let it rip. Awesome, remarkable, amazing...you pick the adjective because this record has it all.
Rating: ***** on 5 - Nowontour


May 2, 2008

Afterhours are the winners of this week's CMJ Sonicbids spotlight
competition. The Italian band, which has been making music since
1989, is set to release their eighth album, I Milanesi Ammazzano
Il Sabato, today on Universal.
Over the course of their nineteen-year career, the band has shared
the stage with R.E.M., played as the backing band for the Gutter
Twins' (Greg Dulli and Mark Lanegan) first live show, and
founded the Tora! Tora! festival, a traveling alternative music
festival in Italy.
The group gained attention almost immediately after the release of
their first album, All The Good Children Go To Hell, when Italy's
leading alternative music magazine, Mucchio Selvaggio, named it
one of the best albums of the eighties. The Italian six-piece went
on to record variously in Italian and English, and to tour
extensively, continuously selling out shows in Italy.
Their latest effort, which is preceded by two DVD anthologies
released by Virgin, sees them collaborating with Greg Dulli, Brian
Ritchie (Violent Femmes), and John Parish, who also co-produced
the album. - CMJ.com


http://img370.imageshack.us/i/kerrangpb5.jpg/ - by Daniel Lukes / Kerrang!


Discography

Album releases

Germi (Mescal) 1995
Hai Paura del Buio? (Mescal) 1997
Non E' Per Sempre (Mescal) 1999
Siam Tre Piccoli Porcellini, live (Mescal) 2001
Quello che non c'e' (Mescal) 2002
Ballate per piccole iene (Mescal) 2005
Ballads for Little Hyenas (One Little Indian/Mescal 2006)
I Milanesi Ammazzano Il Sabato (Universal 2008)
Il paese è reale (AC Europerecords 2009)

EP and Singles releases

Male di Miele (Mescal) 1998
Sui Giovani d'Oggi ci Scatarro Su (Mescal) 1998
La Verita' che Ricordavo (Mescal) 2000
Bianca (Mescal) 2000
Sulle Labbra (Mescal) 2002
La Gente Sta Male (Mescal) 2003
Gioia e Rivoluzione (Mescal) 2004
Ballata per la mia piccola iena (Mescal) 2005

Photos

Bio

In 1989 the debut mini album "All the Good Children Go to Hell" is mentioned by the most influential Italian alternative music magazine Mucchio Selvaggio among the best 10 records of the 80s. A year later independent label Vox Pop releases first album "During Christine Sleep" that gets an exciting review by American magazine Alternative Press. A flight to New York follows: the band fronted by Manuel Agnelli goes to represent Italy at the New Music Seminar. They are later invited to the Berlin Independence Days.
In 1992 the band record a second EP and, once again, is record of the month for the guys at Alternative Press. Several American major companies get interested in the band, among them Geffen Records, in the person of Gary Gersh, future A&R of Nirvana but highly excited by the quick growth of an alternative scene in Italy, to which they are heavily contributing. Afterhours eventually decide to base their project in their own country and they start to write and sing their lyrics in Italian.
In 1995, after a dramatic change of line up, the band releases a new album, "Germi", entirely sung in their mother-tongue. The work contains the seeds of Afterhours philosophy: melody and noise, music and lyrics cut-up, pop experimentation and a peculiar irony. Music critics define "Germi" as one of the best example of rock made in Italy. A mouth to mouth reputation grows along with the crowds at their gigs. Even Mina, Italy's best and most celebrated Lady of the Song, shows her appreciation by reinterpreting their piece "Dentro Marilyn".
During 1997 Afterhours sign a record deal with Mescal, Italy's strongest alternative label, and record their second album in Italian. "Hai Paura Del Buio?", the title translates in "Are you afraid of darkness?", an album of 19 songs where Afterhours inject their personality in rock ballads and hardcore screams searching for new and non-conventional sounds in rock. Afterhours develop a unique writing style that takes distance from the tradition, morphing their mother-tongue into something new. This becomes a distinctive character of their music, representing one of the most stimulating side of the project and capturing the growing interest of both critics and audiences. The album is a collection of great songs, where all the fields explored by the band are in function of the song itself. Mucchio Selvaggio included "Afterhours Hai Paura Del Buio?" among the best 10 Italian albums of all times.
Afterhours are involved meanwhile in several literature and music happenings, together with other artists. The singer and guitarist of the band, Manuel Agnelli, starts to develop interest in producing the work of some of the most exciting new talents of the peninsula, giving birth to the debut albums of Cristina Dona' , Pitch, La Crus, Marco Parente, Scisma, the top sellers Prozac + and Verdena, and the experimental project Massimo Volume, with whom Manuel shares the stage for several readings and performances.
The third album, "Non E' Per Sempre", released in 1999, gets them great visibility, and, supported by heavy video and radio rotation, reaches the top ten selling charts. The band play 113 gigs in nine months all over Italy, and most of them quickly sell out. Afterhours end that summer tour on the 11th of July, sharing the stage with R.E.M. at the Bologna stadium.
In February 2001 a double live album is released. It's called "Siam Tre Piccoli Porcellin" and includes an acoustic CD and an electric one. The following tour will last for 87 gigs and again many of the venues are sold out.
Aware of the incredible growth of the audience and the increased quality of the new Italian alternative scene, Manuel Agnelli creates the "Tora! Tora!" festival, a travelling circus of music made out of alternative bands and artists with the communal aim to create their own promotional megaphone. The event gathers 50.000 people in Rome, Rimini, Padova and Turin and explodes as a case in the eye of the media, eventually receiving the public compliments of Perry Farrell, creator of the Lollapalooza festival. Due to the success of the first edition the festival becomes an annual appointment. Recognition comes at the meeting of Italy's independent record labels in November 2001 where Manuel is awarded a price for "Tora! Tora!" as event of the year. Four days later Manuel is awarded best Italian producer at the Italian Music Awards.
Afterhours' new album, "Quello Che Non C'e'", is released on 5th April 2002, and after a few days goes straight to number four in the sales charts. In the same month, Afterhours share the stage with the American band Mercury Rev in an unforgettable co-headlining tour throughout the peninsula, reaching the top in Milan in front of an audience of 7000 people.
Following the release of "Quello Che Non C'e'" Afterhours collect another prize at the 2002 Italian Music Awards for best lyrics on the title track. Top selling Italian magazine Tutto Musica awarded the album as best Itali