Frontman Francesco Bianconi tells us about the band's new projects and the bond with Florence and Tuscany
On a sunny late-May afternoon, a common thread connects Tuscany and Lombardy, a thread made up of music and decadence, of places of the heart and special people. We had a long chat with Francesco Bianconi who, along with Rachele Bastreghi and Claudio Brasini, form the Baustelle, an iconic band from Montepulciano, actually one of the most poetic bands on the Italian music scene. Their themes, their lyrics and the way they explore different genres have always marked a path that looks beyond music and today, with Elvis, their latest album, the ninth one after a five-year break, the rhythm is definitely rock’n’roll.
Love, war, politics, loss, violence, fear. Elvis seems to contain it all. Where does the need to ‘strip life naked’ and transport it into music come from?
From many things, for sure from the lockdown period due to the Covid emergency which, I have to admit, was a time of great suffering. From then on, I felt the need to come out of my room by focusing on more collective, more shareable forms of music. Rock music is based on this idea: a danceable rhythm that allows to have fun together, in a wilder, more pressing, liberating direction. If this is combined with a bare and straightforward language, the result is very personal and unfiltered.
What does ‘coming back’ mean?
An ongoing evolution, going back to the beginnings as a band, performing together like the old bands used to do. Well, if this is coming back, there’s nothing better.
Please take us on a tour of the Tuscan places that speak of you and of your music.
The tour cannot but start from Valdichiana, the land where our roots lie. I come from Abbadia di Montepulciano, Rachele from Acquaviva di Montepulciano and Claudio from Torrita di Siena. A borderland, a sort of little ‘nothing’, where I grew up carefree and enjoying a rural life, catching frogs at night like Tom Sawyer. I’m also very fond of Maremma, my parents have a house in Castiglione della Pescaia and these places are full of unforgettable memories. Instead, I see Florence through the eyes of a boy: it seemed New York to me back then. Florence is the place where I saw one of the concerts that most influenced me as a musician, the Ramones, at the Auditorium Flog. Florence is not the Renaissance, the Uffizi Gallery or Piazza della Signoria to me, but the first place where I saw music ‘happening’.
Montepulciano and Milan. What do you love the most about these two places?
What I love the most about Milan is that I can hide, that I can connect with the rest of the world while remaining invisible. What I love about Montepulciano is that everything is on a smaller scale, if you’re in the mood for talking about something other than the latest trend, there you can.
Amore Indiano is the title of your latest single sung with Tommaso Paradiso. How did the two of you meet?
We met in 2015, on a Rome-Milan train. This boy approached me saying that he was a huge fan and a singer of The Giornalisti, with a look somewhere between embarrassed, excited and cheeky. Two weeks later, we met again to write together. In the meantime, I became a father and he became a real hit maker. Then we found each other again and, without looking for someone to sing our songs, we took the plunge and released the summer hit that I had always wanted to hear playing on the radio.
The sense of style according to Baustelle.
I believe that music is only a matter of style, I strongly believe that an artist’s music resounds in the image that he or she offers to the world. All the artists I’m musically keen on have an image. From the above-mentioned Ramones to Paolo Conte, from Gainsbourg to Rolling Stones. Anyone whose poster I would hang up in my room has an image. One of the Italian pop music’s shortcomings is exactly this: there are more stylists than style. As for us, with Elvis we performed a sort of aesthetic re-founding. We needed to come back and reaffirm who we are, while breaking with the past. We sought help from an art director, Gian Luca Fracassi, who added rather than detracted and we are very pleased.
You will be performing live on July 7 in Arezzo and on July 8 at the Pistoia Blues event. What should we expect?
Simply rock concerts. We want to break with the typical ready-made concert that plays like a record. Every live concert is different from the next, we change the line-up and the way we perform the songs. Handcrafted genuineness in making music.