On a cold Tuesday afternoon we squeezed round a table in the corner of the Mille Miglia café in Piazza Attias, me and three of the four members of (the) Lip Colour Revolution, and warmed our hands on cups of vaguely hot tea.
Vocalist Filippo Infante (29), bassist Gianni Niccolai (29), and guitarist Cristiano Tortoli Sbolci (22) (only drummer Leonardo Nesi had a previous engagement). They are friendly, good-humoured, intelligent, and pretty modest about their music. All from Livorno, they have been playing in bands since they were at school. They rehearse at a studio in Stagno and regularly play gigs locally, although they have also played in Rome and Molise, as well as a famous concert at the Sziget festival in Budapest in 2008, when they came 3rd out of 1000 Italian bands and won the chance to play at this international music festival.
So where did they begin and where are they heading?
In the very beginning, in 2003, it was just Filippo, Gianni and, for the first few months, Giorgio Mannucci (now of Mandrake and The Walrus). They grew to five members, played hard rock and produced an album called Lip Colour Revolution in 2006. A couple of years later an EP of four tracks, Dusty Days, was released, by which time they had mellowed to a more acoustic sound.
A second EP – Mad Dogs –has just been released, featuring five electric tracks discarded from their first recording, the sound reflecting their earlier style. It includes the excellent single As Far As Eyes Can See, which is accompanied by a stylish video of the band portrayed as manequins in a shop window.
The video – As Far As Eyes Can See
Made by Livornese video maker, Ambra Lunardi, the film was made partly inside a shop window and partly in some woods. As Filippo explained, the song is strongly significant. It’s about “going beyond boundaries, overcoming mental illusions to discover the truth about reality”. The video took three days to make and was a unique and highly enjoyable experience for the band.
A second full length album with a more acoustic feel is already being created for release later in 2012.
When asked about their influences, they quote classics like Pink Floyd and The Beatles, and among the bands they listen to, De André, Dead Weather, and White Stripes. And bands from Livorno that they admire? Bad Love Experience, Virginiana Miller, Mandrake, Appaloosa, and Bobo Rondelli.
The band members are a motley crew: Gianni, an independent spirit, living on his own with his dog and struggling to get by, seems to be the realist of the group, while lyric writer Filippo, who also writes a blog featuring stories and poetry, is the idealist and public relations man. He is currently working at the Goldoni Theatre and gives private lessons to school pupils to get by. Quieter Cristiano is the youngest member, and the only one who has had any formal music training. He earns a living teaching the guitar. As he himself admits, he has little time for anything else but his music, especially as he also plays in another band, Vision of Johanna. His music training is a useful asset for the band when they are writing new material, which these days they tend to do together.
The band's relationship with Livorno: Could you ever live anywhere else?
Gianni and Filippo seemed pretty certain that they would like to live in Northern Europe, perhaps in Berlin or Hamburg, while Cristiano might head for northern Italy, but knows he wouldn’t last long away from Livorno.
What would you miss?
“The girls!” Livorno is well-known for its attractive female population, apparently!
Favourite places in Livorno?
What don’t you like about Livorno?
The mentality of the people, seemingly open, but in reality quite the opposite.
Lip Colour Revolution will be playing at the Teatro C on 7th February 2012. Don’t miss them!