Interview with Paolo Laboule Novellino
Paolo … in his record “Gommalacca”, Franco Battiato made a cover with a picture of a hot water bottle .. is it this the reason of your nickname or is there another one?
When I was a teenager during the first compositional attempts I wrote a song about 20,000 pink elephants pink and the loss of a hot water bottle. Years later during a hard winter I began to explore solo acoustic guitar .. the hot water bottle saved me from the cold weather, so I decided to use that object as a stage name.
I can tell you that I continue to find new meaning in this name, and for me it has become almost a surname name that makes me feel like a relative and a part of a whole.
… But do you know that my brother had that record? I remember very well that cover, maybe it remained unconsciously in my head.
When you started to play guitar and why? What did you study and what is your musical background? With that guitar do you play and have you played with?
When I was a child I was sent to play piano, I liked it but my older brother played guitar and it always seemed a crazy instrument to me.
My older brother taught me how to play the “barre” and he told me: “If you move your hand on the fretboard you can handle all the sounds. So I took the disc (or cassette) Dooky by Green Day and learned to play it.
I took a few lessons but I’m essentially self-taught, I learned playing in various groups, alone at home and playing on records and cassettes; my training and my plays have drawn much to an attitude that I can define as “intuitive post-punk”, for years I also played drums.
Only in recent times, thanks to the acoustic guitar and the discovery of new tunings, I found a new point of view regarding the study of the instrument and the music and I’m honing my personal method of learning.
Lately I’m playing a Yamaha 331 OM size, I found that some instruments made between 70’s and 80’s have an amazing sound when I played it the first time I couldn’t believe it … a rich harmonic sound, much better than a lot of more famous guitars.
In 2013 may have made the debut album Refugio with Long Song Records, how did start the idea of making this record?
That record was the culmination of a 3-year job, I tried the synthesis of my musical journey thus far. So I would say that it was a record driven by a great expressive urgency.
It was the first of Laboule’s record and an important step that I will never forget.
I very much enjoyed your song Pasha you have published in homage to Robbie Basho, Basket Full of Dragons, which tuning you used? How did you become part of the circle of musicians who created this tribute?
Pasha was played in CGCGCD#, it’s a suspended and a very deep tuning, perfect for a tribute to Basho.
The connection was my friend Buck Curran great musician, writer and luthier with whom I have shared the stage for a couple of European tours with Shanti also Deschaine (together are the Arborea). Curious that the booking agency that offered me the first tour with Arborea told me: “I know that both of you love Basho”!
I am very happy, proud and honored to be part of this record.
I suggest the listening of Buck Curran’s last record “Immortal light” https://obsoleterecordings.bandcamp.com/album/immortal-light
Basho in Italy is not widely known, even as a certain kind of fingerpicking, far from new age fashions, I discovered Basho thanks to Gino Dal Soler, how did you meet his music?
In Italy it seems that fingerpicking will spread only with a massive technical and a little ‘new hyper age” approach as you say, with luthier made guitars from 3000 Euro up ..
In the U.S. there was a great rediscovery, thanks to guitarists like Jack Rose Daniel, Bachmann, William Tyler etc … but they have a much more roots and spontaneous approach, microphone in front of the guitar’s hole and let’s go, moving on with their sound with great freedom of expression.
By the Americans I would like to take this attitude, but at the same time I would like to distance myself from certain stylistic features that are now almost a classic genre.
I arrived to Basho thanks to John Fahey and youtube that one day suggested me one of his videos. I was very impressed by him just seeing his face.
What does improvisation mean in your music research? Do you think we can go back to talking of improvisation in a repertoire so encoded as the classic one or are we forced to leave it and turn to other repertoires like jazz, contemporary, blues, etc?
Wonderful question …
I think improvisation is only possible with a great mastery and technical and spiritual awareness of what you are playing. If you’re a jazz musician your language will be extremely sophisticated, if you make minimal music etc. it will be essential. in my musical research for now improvisation is an “tool” that brings and helps me to compose new songs.
In the future, however, I would like to bring even more improvisation in my live.
I sometimes feel that in our time music’s history flows with no particular interest in its chronological order, in our disco-music library before and after, the past and the future become interchangeable elements, could this be the risk for an interpreter and a composer of a uniform vision? A musical “globalization”?
Of course you definitely runs this risk but at the same time we are facing an unprecedented possibilities .. at this stage of extreme acceleration technology also catch a glimpse of the possibility of undermining certain models and musical structures … for example, having access to the ancient religious or folk music of any part of the world it will open up new scenarios, making you find also the source of all that has been heard so far. Also this process I feel it necessary to put the music and the musician in the right position they should have in society.
At the same time it’s difficult to navigate and choose, given that the network can find any kind of music, so I think equally important to take off the headphones, listen more to the birds singing and work by subtraction.
Tell us your essential five records, always to have with you .. the classic five discs for the desert island ..
I try… it’s very hard …
1- Joy Division – Unknown Pleasures
2- Robbie Basho – Venus in Cancer
3- Broken Social Scene- You forgot it in people
4- Norberto Lobo- Slow Pata
5- John Frusciante – To Record Only Water for Ten Days
What would you like to play and who would you like to play?
Musically speaking is difficult because what I’m doing is pretty lonely .. But I like to work with voices perhaps with a choir. But my biggest dream is to play drums with a group of players of Tibetan trumpets … think about that wall of sound….
What are your next projects? What are you working on?
Talking about guitar, in autumn I will release a new album titled TECNOTECLA, it will be a totally instrumental album. I hope to get it out before March 2017.
At the same time I’m expanding my Laboule project with the creation of new sections and sound research, I am working a lot to with field recordings with the aim of collecting valid sound material for various forms of language. (Soundtracks, audiodocumentari, teaching, sound mapping, etc.)