In Conversation: Måneskin

In Conversation: Måneskin

"We’re lucky because we have each other..."

When KISS’ Gene Simmons declared that rock 'n' roll was dead back in 2014, his reasoning was that bands that deem themselves to be ‘rock 'n' roll’ bands lack the creative flair to create “glamour, excitement, and epic stuff.” Two years later, as if Simmons manifested the band himself, Måneskin, an Italian rock group consisting of Damiano David, Victoria De Angelis, Thomas Raggi, and Ethan Torchio, was formed. Whether Mr. Simmons likes it or not, the band does glamour & excitement better than the myriad of rock acts before them — even if they don’t exactly want to shoulder the responsibility.

“We don't want to be the guys who give new life to rock-n-roll; we're just four guys who love to play,” Damiano David, the band’s lead vocalist, states. “I think maybe people were tired of the usual pop song everyone assumes they have to play, but (rock) is very important to us — this is what we believe in. It shows you don’t have to always conform to what is appreciated by everyone or on the radio or whatever, but that you can be yourself and people will like you if they like the music. People are bored of others pretending; they want something real. The fact that people really enjoy this [our music] means a lot because this is who we are and we’re happy it reaches new people.”

- - -

- - -

To say Måneskin is reaching new people would be something of an understatement. After officially forming in 2016, Måneskin – Danish for moonlight — spent their first year together busking on the streets of Italy. Since then, they won second place in the Italian rendition of X-Factor, released their debut album (2018’s 'Il ballo della vita'), and won the Sanremo Music Festival earlier this year. The band really was Italy’s best-kept secret up until last month when they won Eurovision with their track 'Zitti e buoni'.

Now the band has become an international phenomenon. Their album 'Teatro d'ira Vol. I', along with tracks 'Zitti e buoni' and 'I Wanna Be Your Slave', all entered the charts across Europe. 'I Wanna Be Your Slave' in particular was the first song by an Italian rock band to reach the Top 10 in the UK and, as of last week with their 2017 cover of 'Beggin', the band has made history by having two Top 10 entries on the Official Singles Chart. It also doesn’t hurt that the band has completely taken over every global Spotify chart and every TikTok user’s for-you-page, too.

For bassist Victoria De Angelis, she doesn’t think this degree of appreciation will ever truly feel real. “It’s something we’ve never done before, or anyone else has done before, and we don’t even know how to describe it. It feels like we are still trying to figure out if it’s actually true or just a dream! We are excited that our music can reach so many people, that’s the main thing for us. Even if they don’t understand the lyrics, it’s amazing that people like it and are enjoying our music.”

- - -

- - -

There’s a reason why their music is resonating so deeply with the world. Their sophomore album 'Teatro d’ira Vol 1', which contains several Italian and English songs, explores the dynamic between oppressors and the oppressed; encouraging those to rebel against and break away from any type of conformity. As a whole, the record is a call-to-arms for anyone who desperately wants to break away from whatever society expects of them and the band themselves strive to do this, whether on-stage, in their music, or throughout their regular day-to-day lives.

“At the start of this band, we experienced a lot of judgement and a lot of stupid comments about how we look and what kind of music we play,” De Angelis states. “We’re lucky because we have each other and if someone says stupid things about all or one of us, the others will step in. We don’t really care what they are saying, but many other people can get hurt by what someone can say. We try to spread a united message that it’s fine to be who you are. You don’t have to conform to what other people want or expect you to be”. 

- - -

- - -

The band has been known for challenging stereotypes and their newfound fame has not curbed their intrinsic need to do that at all. From defying Poland’s anti-LGBTQ stance by ending a performance with Damiano and Thomas kissing to subverting gender norms through the band’s style and aesthetics. When Harry Styles is brought up, someone else who is known for using his platform and is also one of Måneskin’s biggest inspirations, the band is quickly informed that TikTok is calling David the new “rock god,” thus dethroning Styles himself. Immediately the band is up in arms. “No! We love Harry!” Victoria declares, with Ethan and Thomas nodding along. “I promise no one is dethroning him, especially not me!” Damiano passionately proclaims.

The irony that 'Zitti E Buoni', a song about breaking away from being “quiet and good” and encouraging others not to judge, is not lost on the band when they recall what happened to them mere hours after their Eurovision win when Damiano was accused of taking drugs. Instantly the band put up a united front and released statements online, with Damiano agreeing to take a drug test as a way to shut up all of the naysayers trying to take away from their win.

“We think a lot of that came from the fact that we are a rock band,” says Damiano. “There’s stereotypes of rock guys taking drugs and getting drunk and having sex all day long, but it’s not actually like that. We are four normal guys that put a lot of effort in what they love to do. It was embarrassing and ridiculous but hey, we know it’s part of the game — so let’s play the game,” Damiano smirks. Like any loyal bandmate, Victoria feels equal parts protective over the band and passionate towards those who were as hurt by the allegations as they were. “The thing that surprised me was the outcry from those who knew we didn’t do anything. We knew it wasn’t true so we weren’t scared about it. We were just so happy and we still are… even if someone did try to make us sad with it, it didn’t work!”

- - -

- - -

It speaks to the band’s artistry that every lyric on the entire album consists solely of four people — Damiano, Victoria, Thomas, and Ethan — rather than having any outside input or collaborations. Creative control is something Måneskin refuses to let go of; keeping it as close to their chests allows for them to ensure the songs are as authentically them as possible. “In the beginning, we wanted to express how we were feeling through our music,” Thomas states. “We never had to conform or wait to let people tell us what to do — we knew what we wanted to do and we knew we wanted to do it our way. We don’t want someone to write a song and give it to us, we need to write it because we want to express something and share it with people.”

Ethan echoes this sentiment. “We hope when people listen to our music, they can feel understood and then feel like they want to come see us. We feel we can connect the most with people that come to our concerts because we can share so much energy and interact with everyone. Every time we write a song, we think about how it would be when we play it live. We hope, with everything that has happened with the charts and Spotify and everything, we have the chance to play in every country in the world and see everyone.”

After winning several talent competitions, taking over the European and North American charts, dealing with a fake drug accusation, and almost dethroning Mr. Harry Styles as the rock god, there’s absolutely no doubt they will.

- - -

- - -

Words: Kelsey Barnes // @kelseyjbarnes

Follow Clash

Buy Clash Magazine