Fireworks Magazine Online 81: Interview with PFM

PFM

Interview by Malcolm Smith

PFM emerged in the early 70s onto a burgeoning Italian Progressive Rock Scene, and are arguably the biggest name to come out of said scene. Probably best known on these shores for the 1973 album 'Photos of Ghosts' which appeared on ELP's Manticore label, with lyrics from King Crimson Collaborator Pete Sinfield, the band are beloved of the real Progressive cognoscenti for their rather romantic, elegant musing throughout an extensive back catalogue.

The band took a lengthy sojourn through the late 80s/early 90s but are now back fully loaded with their new album 'Emotional Tattoos', their first for the Progressive specialist label InsideOut. Fireworks put Franz Di Cioccio under the spotlight to answer questions about the new release and the present state of play in the world of Prog Rock.


PFM

The band's new album 'Emotional Tattoos' is your first with Prog specialists InsideOut. How did the deal come about?

InsideOut happened to know we were working on new material for an international album. They asked if they could hear some songs, so they came to Milan and heard the first four songs we were working on. They liked it and asked if they could come back and listen to more... when that happened a few weeks later they decided to sign us.

PFM are the only Italian Prog band, to my knowledge anyway, to break out globally. Is that something you are especially proud of, and why do you think this was?

We are very proud to be an international band. Since the very beginning of our career we have looked for it and it finally happened when our album 'Photos of Ghosts' went in the Billboard charts. We think this happened because of the Mediterranean flavour of the music and also because of Pete Sinfield's lyrics, which were amazing for that particular moment.

The new album seems to draw on various periods throughout the band's illustrious past. Was it conscious effort to do this or was it a natural process?

It's for sure a natural process. That's the way we have always worked, trying to put in our music everything that is in our hearts ̶ not only music to sell, but music we feel like playing. This is the reason why PFM always did different music on each release.

That early 70s period when PFM was having both UK and American success were heady days indeed. Any interesting stories you can remember from that time?

After more than 6000 concerts all over the world you can imagine how many stories we could tell. One coming to mind was when we met the Queen Mother in London during the rehearsal for our concert at the Royal Albert Hall!! The lady was great, she came on stage and wanted to know everything about the instruments and the music. We were amazed.
Another time we can't forget is when we recorded the 'Cook' live album at the Shaeffer festival in Central Park, New York City... trees and skyscrapers all around...

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The band went into 'hibernation' for a period in the 80s and 90s, although never officially splitting up. Was there a reason behind this?

After thousands of concerts and many, many miles we needed to take a break and recharge our batteries. We wanted to start again with new energies and new projects. This is probably the reason why we didn't split up ̶ we had many things still to say and to play. Music is our life and we didn't want to miss it just because we were a little tired.

Yourself and Patrick (Djivas) are the only remaining core members of the band, with a seemingly revolving door of other members coming and going. Do you see yourself and Patrick as the 'torch-bearers' of the band's name?

For sure we are riding the PFM starship as you can see on the new album sleeve. We know what our responsibility is and we do everything we can to deserve the role. This is why we wrote such an intense album with ten songs in two languages and one instrumental. We did it out of consideration for our fans, for ourselves and for PFM's sake.

This new album is being released in both English and Italian languages. Were there any issues that arose from doing this, as it's been a while since the band attempted a full English language album?

It was a lot of work obviously but with no particular problems. We wanted it to be like that because everywhere in the world, our fans can listen to PFM's music with the sound and language they prefer.
Since the last English album many years have passed. We did Italian and instrumental albums but we thought the time had come to do it again.

Although the band have always embraced melody, to my ears at least there seems to be a shift to areas occupied by the likes of bands such as Saga and World Trade. Is that a fair comment would you say?


We are an Italian band so since we started in 1972 our sense for melodies has always been very strong and always will be. We play the music we love at the time and fortunately PFM has such a wide experience and vision for many styles of music; from Classical to Jazz, we never lack inspiration.

You've announced a fairly extensive global tour. Are there any plans to include the UK in this tour?

We are working on a European tour which will include the UK and which will take place right after the world tour, which will start mid November.

What, If any, are your expectations for this new album and what do you make of the current Progressive Rock scene and PFM's place in it?

Our expectation is to reach people's hearts around the world and where to leave an emotional tattoo made of words and music, hence the album title, and obviously to do many more concerts around the world because this is what we were born to do. The current Progressive Rock scene is very exciting and PFM is happy to be in that scene with its own very distinctive way of looking at it and always bringing in new energies and sounds.

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