maneskin issue 398 cover interview
[Photo by Fabio Germinario]

You might not know it based on the huge amount of buzz they’ve attracted, but many people tried to warn Måneskin that rock music could never make it in Italy today. Defying the skeptics, the band have shown not only that rock is alive and well, but that it still has global appeal. More than that, they’ve done so while refusing to abandon their commitments. Måneskin make a unique brand of rock that is equal parts old and new, reflecting their love of its history and their desire to help the genre build a brighter future.

In issue 398, Joel Madden connected with the band to discuss their exciting rise. During the conversation, the band touched on their impressive success, ignoring the haters and why rock music is thriving in Italy—and across the entire world.

People in America obviously know you, but I want to know if there is anything you want people to get from your music. If there was anything you wanted people to feel or a message you wanted them to receive, what would it be?

DE ANGELIS: I think the main thing we want to express is really the freedom because, especially here, there are not many rock bands. And since we started playing together, we’ve always been told, “This is not going to work. Rock music is not a thing in Italy. No one listens to it. It’s dead.”

DAVID: “If you think this is a hit, then you don’t know what a hit is.”

DE ANGELIS: We spent a couple of years fighting every day about this stuff, but we kept doing it because we were sure about it. Because the main thing for us is that we feel represented and happy while we’re playing. We don’t have to pretend—like writing shitty songs that we don’t like just to get on the charts. We want to make something that we can enjoy, and we have freedom, and we can express ourselves. This is the most important thing we would want our audience to get. Also, I think there are so many amazing artists that feel limited by the music industry in general, and it’s such a shame. I think the meaning of music is just to be free and to be who you are.

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ETHAN TORCHIO: The meaning of art, in general, is just doing something that you feel represented by.

RAGGI: Yeah, and I think that it’s also important to keep writing new music. If you’re writing music that you like, it’s more important to reach the people in general because they listen.

DAVID: We want people to feel the authenticity of our songs because when we write, we always try to mix everything up. There’s not one of us that’s pushing in this direction. After all these years, we created this chemistry, and now we feel like we are all on the same path, and we are really authentic, and we have a lot of fun writing new music, experimenting and sharing new ideas. And so we all also want the people to feel that—that it’s the fun part, the studio part when we share ideas and play with pedals and amplifiers and the microphones.

One thing you said that really struck me first is coming from Italy, and I understand it. It’s a small music business in Italy as far as the globe is concerned when it comes to rock music. I’m sure there are lots of people, starving artists, who want to make meaningful music for the world, but it feels like there’s limited opportunity. And, like you said, there can be a sense of, “What’s the point? Why would you do that? That’s not big here. It’s very hard to make it out.” 
And so to fight against those odds as a band, I can only imagine. I come from a very small town in America, and it’s essentially the same idea: “Why would you start a band?” But I was in America, so I moved at a young age, left home with a backpack, went to the city and started playing in bars and tried to make it. I don’t think it’s that easy for you in Italy.

DAVID: At the very beginning, we struggled a lot finding places that allowed us to play, so we started playing on the streets. Now that I’m thinking about it, I feel like it was really, really useful because it taught us how to be on the stage. We worked a lot on our stage presence because when you’re playing on the streets, you don’t have a real audience. You have to grab people’s attention, so I think that our staging skills come from there.

Yeah, and the amount of rejection that you experienced has built up a resilience to be OK with people not getting it. Also, in Italy, I don’t think people are necessarily haters. I think they’re more indifferent. It’s a very laid-back kind of place, and they’re just like, “Good luck. Why would you do that? That makes no sense to me.”

DAVID: When you have makeup on, they turn out to be haters. [Laughs.] 

Only you could experience that, but I feel like that’s what I feel in the music. Maybe that’s why I love it. Because I felt oppressed where I was coming from.
Around the world, there are tons of places where people don’t believe in art. If you can’t create, if you can’t be yourself, if you can’t live the truth of who you are, then you’re being oppressed in some way. I think every artist has felt that way. And every now and then, we make art where a large group of people agree—the way we’ve said it, they understand it, and it hits. So, I think the four of you together, you’re telling this story that needs to be told but from the perspective of kids who grew up in Italy who were basically told, “There’s no point in doing this. There’s no point in being yourself.”

DE ANGELIS: Exactly.

Read the full interview with the band in Alternative Press issue 398, available here.