The Ace Drops members were all involved in several bands before crossing paths and deciding to work together. Does this help the band develop a unique thrash metal sound?
Emanuele "Izzy" Bonura (guitars, drum programming, arrangement, video editing): We knew each other since our early teenage years back when we were living in Sicily and were both part of a huge local metal scene. Our sound mainly developed from the mix of thrash guitar riffs from Riccardo (bass/vocals), arranged and composed by Emanuele (guitar/drum programming). Our experience relates especially to home-recording different facets of metal, as back in the day we didn’t have access to any sort of professional studio, and using a DAW as an integral part of the creative process. From the beginning we had a solid idea of the sound we were looking for.
If The Ace Drops members have worked with any bands previously, please let the readers know if their material is still available.
Riccardo Castiglione (vocals, bass, composer): Emanuele has been very active in many bands, such as Der Geist (Death metal), Trinakrius (Doom metal), Crimson Wind (Power metal), Anthirya (Gothic metal) and Lamiera (Thrash metal). I have worked with Sexual Thing (Hard n' heavy) and Screaming Eagle (tribute to Judas Priest), but we played together for Hooks (Thrash Metal). You can find songs from all of these bands on YouTube and Spotify.
What was the length of Hooks' active career? Can you tell me how this band started and why you decided to dissolve them?
EB: We formed as a group of friends wanting to make some noise, and played together for about nine months. We were very young and naive and were thinking more about partying and playing in underground gigs than professionally playing. The premature departure of one of the band members brought a sharp halt to the band and after that everyone moved to other projects.
Is thrash metal still popular in Italy and the UK, after a comeback in the 1990s and again in the 2010s?
RC: The UK has always been at the forefront of music, and there’s still a solid scene here in London that we hope to be a part of with time and effort. As for Italy, the past couple of years haven’t been kind to the metal scene, and unfortunately from 2012 onwards, we’ve seen a steep decline in metal gigs and the number of bands, especially in Sicily where we come from.
Did The Ace Drops relocate from Italy to the UK or were they always based there? What is the extent to which the band has received more publicity since the move?
EB: The band did form in the UK as a result of many recording sessions we had during the pandemic, and although we’re still in the very early stages, we have seen a very good reception to our music and a slowly growing fan base. We truly hope we can leverage the wider London audience and better reception to extreme music to make our music heard and have as much fun as we can!
What was the amount of record sessions that resulted in the formation of the Ace Drops? Are the arrangements between Riccardo and Emanuele still the same as they were at the beginning, and how many songs have been completed?
RC: We had quite a lot of recording sessions before, during and after the first lockdown, too many to be counted. As a result, we have completed about ten songs and, although the arrangement is usually solely Emanuele's duty, from time to time I give him some suggestions and ideas to make the song sound better. I'd say the balance between the two of us is 70% Emanuele and 30% myself.
Did you intend to set The Ace Drops apart from other bands in your country when you formed? Is there a meaning behind the name?
EB: We always strive for getting our own sound, for instance using a single coil telecaster for recording all guitars instead of the usual humbucker. The name is a word play on a Sicilian joke well known in our region, saying “the ace drops” in Sicilian: “l’assu cari” sound identical to “you must suck it”, where the “ace” we refer to is the ace of clubs in traditional Sicilian cards, you’ll see it included in the logo as a reminder of our origins.
What made you decide to make The Ace Drops a two-member project rather than a full band? Is it easier to write and rehearse when there are only two members?
RC: The band started as a passion project with the purpose of recording just a couple of songs, and later evolved into a more professional band, having a small creative core of the band makes it easier to meet and brainstorm ideas.
How many songs have been released to date and where can we hear them? Do you have a digital version, a video version, or both?
EB: So far only two out of ten songs have been released. They’re both available to listen to on the major music platforms, such as Youtube and Spotify, and they both come with a video. We're aiming to release these remaining songs over the next months, still with a lyric video.
What are the titles of those two songs the band has released so far and what inspired them?
RC: The two songs we released are “Curse of the Pharaoh” and “Zombie Hoard”. The lyrics came from a very free-flowing iterative process, we had a general idea of the theme and the story we wanted to tell for each song and we started writing down words and phrases which could fit well.
What are the themes of “Curse of the Pharaoh” and “Zombie Hoard”, and how did you approach developing the storylines?
RC: “Curse of the Pharaoh” is about how this tyrant pharaoh cursed his slaves in their afterlife, I came up with this theme because of the Egyptian-like sound of the riffs. As for “Zombie Hoard”, since I was a kid I always loved zombie movies, so I thought to tell a story about this guy who went on a mission during a zombie apocalypse.
Did the lyrics of "Curse of the Pharaoh" require any historical research?
EB: Not really. At no point we were trying to be historically accurate, we just wanted to tell the story we had in our heads and fit the tone of the music.
Do you remember the zombie apocalypse movies you watched most religiously as a kid? Which movies compare with "The Walking Dead" and its spin-off series?
RC: Unfortunately as a kid I couldn't get a hold of many zombie movies. Growing up I managed to watch a lot of them, like “Night of the Living Dead”, “28 Days Later” and “28 Weeks Later”. But in my opinion, none of them is nearly comparable to "Dawn of the Dead" by George Romero or the “Resident Evil” saga. They're definitely my favorites.
What about Romero’s “Dawn of the Dead” and “Resident Evil” appealed to you enough for you to still consider them relevant?
RC: Romero's “Dawn of the Dead” is actually the first horror movie I ever watched when I was six, and I totally fell in love with Peter's character. Fearless and always up for a zombie hunt. As for “Resident Evil”, I started playing the video-game series on the PS1, which led me to watch, appreciate and carve for more “Resident Evil” movies.
Who helped you film and produce the promotional videos for your songs? Are they professional companies or freelancers? How do the videos relate to the lyrics?
EB: The videos were both produced by myself and we didn't get any external help. The first video was more focused on the play through rather than the lyrics. As for “Zombie Hoard”, we tried to recreate the horror vibe using stock footage plus the drawings we commissioned to the Sicilian comic artist Ester Cardella.
Are you planning to release your unreleased songs as a full-length album or will they only be available as videos?
RC: We plan to release a couple of more songs with the same video-first format, as soon as we’ll have enough tracks recorded we plan to get all of them into a full length.
Why did The Ace Drops choose Ocularis Infernum for publicity and how have they helped the band grow?
RC: That was totally random, as I added Andred on Facebook. After a couple of chats, she asked me if we were willing to be part of her roster. Of course we accepted and, since then, our music has been aired on many radios spread all over the world. As you can imagine, her help for us is absolutely priceless.
When Andred started helping support the band, which radio stations did she shop your material to? How many responses are you getting to each of them?
RC: First of all, a big shout out to Andred of Ocularis Infernum Booking and promotion for having us be aired on many shows and Italian radio stations: Facciamo Valere Il Metallo Italiano (www.metalmaximumradio.net), Rock On (www.radiopunto.it), The Night Of The Living Dead (www.radioselfie.it), Heavy Metal Wave (www.radiopistoiaweb.com), Power Of Metal (www.radiostellapiemonte.net), Radio Terronia Rock (www.radioterroniarock.it), Terremoto Hard 2.0 (www.radiorcs.it). For the next radio season, our songs will be aired on many stations, both Italians and worldwide. So far, internationally speaking, our music has been aired in Australia on Ozzyrockradio - La Casa Del Rock (www.ozzyrock.com.au) and in Venezuela on Hell Radio (https://hellradio.ga). Currently, with both songs we have received excellent feedback from listeners, but “Zombie Hoard” got a bigger response compared to “Curse of the Pharaoh”.
Is Ozzyrockradio and Hell Radio your first exposure outside Italy or have there been other opportunities? Where else would you like to be heard?
EB: These were our very first times being aired outside of Italy. We sure hope to share our music very soon in Canada, the U.S.A. and some European countries.
Did any of the net radio stations you mentioned feature live interviews with the band?
EB: We had some nice and fun interviews with Radio Terronia Rock and Rock On - Radio Punto Milano, and we plan to have many more in the future!
What are the band’s plans for the remainder of 2020 and beyond that? How soon do you plan to start writing and recording new material?
EB: We already have a few songs ready, we are just waiting for the appropriate time to release them and having fun with our crowd in 2022 and beyond.