Images of misty landscapes and legendary beasts may come to mind when listening to the music of Las Vegas based band Spelled Moon. With Andy Sarcone Rooney wizarding up spell after spell (0r song after song!) Spelled Moon delivers a new kind of metal that’s shrouded in haunting cinematic beauty combined with screaming, banshee-worthy guitar riffs!
Q: Andy, the imagery Spelled Moon has conjured up is just incredible! Whether it’s from the artwork of your EP or the intensity of your music, for me, it’s like Magic the Gathering come to life! Please tell me more about Spelled Moon’s concept.
A: Hi Amanda! Well, I started to craft this concept long ago, first on how I would’ve liked my music to sound, and then, on how I would approach it to get there. Then I started working in recording studios doing instrumentation and arranging different kinds of music into stuff like you’d hear in movies with big orchestras and choirs, sound effects, etc. That opened lots of doors to my imagination. I never thought the possibilities could be so big and contained so many colors I could use on my music. It’s like a painter, the more shades of gray you have, the better shadows you’ll paint. It is mind boggling, really. In Spelled Moon you’ll find nostalgia, sorrows, some darkness, power, anger and fury. Fast passages slow down and will float around and then they’ll go to a kind of in your face power. Lots of ambience and double kicks, but always in a melodic situation.
Q: Did I read correctly that you wrote “Hidden in the Winds”? I am drawn to the strong cinematic undertones that this track in particular possesses. Can you elaborate on the complexity of the layering in this track?
A: “Hidden in the Winds” was originally written by Ralph Rieckermann and Grace Sharington. When Ralph was playing in the band Scorpions, they recorded the song in ’93, I think, originally called “Just One You,” but it was never released. When I started working with Ralph for Spelled Moon, he asked if I would be interested in re-doing our own version of that song, and of course I said “yes!!!” I did rewrite the lyrics and the guitar solo renaming it “ Hidden in the Winds”. It has big dark orchestras, very old pianos, some synths, and 12 string guitars. Ralph played a fretless bass that Jacco Pastorius gave him back in the day and electric guitars which we will remix for the full length album.
Q: Personally, “Soul Mates” is my favorite track from your Forsaken Spells EP. I think its haunting and beautiful in every sense from the lyricism to the use of the keyboard theme. I watched the video on YouTube which leads me to be curious as to who is responsible for the artwork?
A: This song is about an old guy who tells the legend of the soul mates to a bunch of people, just like the storytellers we read about in books of history and tales. He who listens and has never felt anything like it starts to see her in dreams and falls in love with his own imagination. Nonetheless, he can grasp this feeling of completion, but only to realize that she lives in tears of his lonely heart. Daniel Trajtemberg, A.K.A DANKER, is my good friend and the guy in charge of all the graphics and photos for Spelled Moon. We started working on this a long time ago. He completely understands the concept and always delivers above expectations.
Q: As I was listening, the term Mystic Metal came to mind. Just when I had become engrossed in the classical elements of the songs, you hit the listener with metal style guitar. Is Mystic Metal an accurate description or am I off base?
A: That’s pretty cool. I’ve never heard that one before. We’ve been called many kinds of different names. I think we fall in the Power Metal genre, and yes full of mysticism, hard rhythms, and a very classical influence. I just write songs and have never thought of any style names for this. I think you guys may know more about this than I do to be honest. My original idea was to have movie scoring structures, full of orchestras, and different kind of instruments (Bag pipes, Church Organs, Gipsy Violins, Flutes, etc) with a power metal band on top. So far, it’s been a very interesting journey full of amazing surprises, new concepts and crazy people, haha!
Q: You have the talents of Ralph Rieckermann and Patrick Johansson to back you up. Do they share the same vision for Spelled Moon in terms of the clash of symphony and metal?
A: Yes, by all means they both bring lots of cool ideas and concepts, which is great. It is a pleasure to work with musicians like them. There’s a lot of other guests on this upcoming album who I’ve been working with that are on the same page as Patrick and Ralph; all good friends who throw spells in this cauldron.
Q: How do you engage the casual listener who may otherwise lose interest in Spelled Moon’s work?
A: Very simple. I don’t! This is a trip that every metal head, and not so heavy headed, is invited to join in and enjoy. What you see is what you get and nobody is trying to sell something that we are not. This is hard work, full of lifetime dreams, and we feel privileged to be able to have the chance to do so. It’s all about the songs, I do try to put content in the lyrics. It’s very important to me as they are all based in real events just written in different times from lost worlds.
Q: Did I read correctly that Spelled Moon is working on a full-length album? I’m wondering if the album will have a certain theme such as your Forsaken Spells EP?
A: Yes, we are almost there. I’m recording the vocal tracks as we speak, and then we’ll get into mixing mode in Finland at Finnvox Studios. The EP was just a presentation of this full length that I’m calling Craft of the Wise which will have 11 songs on it. It’ll have power tunes like “A War of Shadows,” and some more mellow [tunes]. There is one song that I cherish called “Eternal Tears” which includes an instrumental.
Q: Can you talk to me about your experiences with classical music and how it has influenced your songwriting style?
A: I started singing when I was very young, at 13 I started taking piano lessons and later on went to a conservatory of classical music for classical guitar. Classical music has always been a big thing in my life and still is. It is in every song even when it gets heavy at some point in a lost corner, you’ll be greeted with some classical speculation.
Q: Andy, clearly you are a skilled guitar player and I’m wondering if you have previously played in any other bands and/or have a preference for other styles?
A: Indeed, I’ve played in many bands and have spent lots of time in the studio, but I was never able to do what I’m doing now the way I’m doing it. I have absolute freedom to write, to play, and to record in any way, shape, or form I choose. It’s been a long journey, and it took years working with engineers. I do all the instrumentations on Spelled Moon. I produce and arrange every single one of Spelled Moon’s songs. I do movie scoring like Hans Zimmer’s, Vangelis, Ennio Morricone and the likes. I do enjoy lots of different styles of music as long as they are melodic and full of ambience.
Q: Being in an area like Las Vegas, does that make it more difficult to get your music out there to audiences?
A: Well, Las Vegas is full of musicians and is a city that its alive twenty-four hours a day, so it fits well with my vampire schedule. There are shows every single day of the week and there’s all kinds of different people that enjoy all kinds of metal. The Internet is a great tool to get your music out there. Because of the internet connections I’ve made, many people have asked about and wanted to help promote Spelled Moon which is great! I have met lots of great friends through these rivers of endless possibilities. It is just difficult times for the music industry as a whole but at some point it it’ll get going again. Metal never dies!
Q: What else would you like to add, Andy?
A: Just to thank you and all your readers for your interest and for keeping all of this going. Your role in all of this is very important to connect music makers with music lovers, to bring news and information all across the board, and for being a part of this we call the eccentric family of black sheep…..
Writer: Amanda Knight