It’s pretty early in the morning when Måneskin arrive for our interview in a swanky West London Hotel. These hours would be trying enough for most, but for world-conquering rockstars? They’ve already been awake for hours doing press on TV and radio, and still manage to look immaculate in Gucci and eyeliner. That’s not to say they’re feeling their best, though. Some of them have been burning the Roman candle at both ends, it seems. But who’s the best and worst behaved?
“The best-behaved is Damiano,” bassist Victoria De Angelis huskily replies, turning to the fresh-faced frontman. “The worst is probably me, as you can tell from my voice!”
Since they appeared in their first NME cover story back in May for their glorious homecoming show at a gladiatorial stadium in Verona, they tell us that their lives have been a rush of “touring, travelling, and mainly festivals” – not to mention work on their anticipated third album. Their star remains on a pretty almighty ascent, so it’s no surprise that they experience Beatlemania in “some places” as they trot around the globe. Still, their legion of fans don’t have a tribe name like Swifties or Little Monsters just yet – but they’re open to your suggestions. Everything they come up “always sounds so cringe”.
“Moonlighters?” suggests drummer Ethan Torchio, proving that point to audible groans. “Why do you suggest this?” replies David.
Sitting down for for NME‘s In Conversation series, the band discuss their upcoming sold-out show at London’s O2 Arena, being censored by the VMAs, and their third album ‘RUSH!’ being inspired by Radiohead. Here’s what we learned.
Their live shows are about to reach the next level
Måneskin’s last stop in the capital saw them playing a stellar, sweaty show for fans at The Underworld in Camden – much like their last-minute gig at Islington Academy last year.
“It’s the best,” says De Angelis of their love of these tiny surprise gigs. “It’s like going back to the start and it feels very intimate. We played the new single [‘The Loneliest’] for the first time, and we could see people’s reactions so close.”
Do they prefer feeling like a garage band on these tiny stages, or rock gods when they step out in stadiums?
“It’s two different sides of what we do,” David replies. “I wouldn’t say that one is better than the other. When you have big, big stages you have a lot of space to manage, but when you play the small venues you’re with the crowd and the energy hits different. Everything has pros and cons.”
With their sonic pendulum forever swinging between Iggy Pop and Freddie Mercury, you can expect that exhilarating blend of punk and pomp and their upcoming sold-out gig at The O2 in London. “When we plan the show or the setlist, we do it to the venue we’re playing,” De Angelis teases of what to expect. “This show is going to be in arenas so we’re going to set up a different and interesting show.”
Their VMAs censorship shows only how “sad” the industry has become
The band made headlines back in the summer when their racy performance at the MTV VMAs saw the broadcaster receiving flack for censoring them. Today, the band are pragmatic about what it represents.
“It shows that there are still many, many prejudices towards rock bands and towards women,” says David. “There is a lot to work on and we try to do our part.”
De Angelis agrees: “It’s sad, but it’s good that people then talk about it and think about it. It’s very stupid that there has to be so much censorship and control over people’s bodies.”
Still, it all adds to the rock’n’roll mythology that comes with Måneskin. “I think it’s pretty easy to understand what people expect from you,” muses David. “What is not easy is not doing that. It’s very easy to stick on one thing and do it over and over, just to please your audience. You know, ‘If this thing works then I’ll do it over and over for all of my career’. That’s not what we want to do because we get bored very easily; even of our own songs.
“Every album that you put out has to show a change and development in your musical skills and approach. Otherwise you’re just standing on one point and nothing is interesting.”
Their new album has been inspired by Radiohead
That spirit to defy expectations is what has driven their hotly-anticipated upcoming third album ‘RUSH!’. After their Eurovision 2021 win introduced the band to the wider world, singles like ‘I Wanna Be Your Slave’, ‘MAMMAMIA’ and ‘Supermodel’ have showcased their more raucous edges. The tender and epic balladry of recent single ‘The Loneliest’ surprised many, and is a tasty morsel of what to expect from the upcoming LP. As David puts it, “People have got our aesthetic – now we’ve got to show the inside.”
“It’s a new side for our new audience, but we’ve always been playing ballads,” says De Angelis of the single. “That’s always been a big part of our music, so with this one we tried to experiment a bit more with the sound. We listened to a lot of Radiohead where they work a lot with pedals.”
Guitarist Thomas Raggi agrees: “It’s cool to give another taste of our kind of ballad. Each one of us has different tastes, so we mixed them all together.”
The band tell us how they’re currently listening to the final mixes of the next record, with David revealing how “it’s stepped out of its comfort zone and is trying to do new things”, showcasing “a lot of variety and music skills.”
Elaborating on the Radiohead influences on the project, David explains: “I think that the inspiration we got from Radiohead was to be very focussed on creating a very specific world for each song.”
“It’s something they do very, very well so we tried to create these amazing atmospheres. They really create an image of what you’re listening to, and that gave us inspiration.”
Being on Eurovision was: “a way to reach our goals”
The band reveal that they’re hoping to attend Eurovision 2023 if they’re “free”. Not only have they never been to Liverpool, but the Song Contest will always hold a special place in their hearts that they’re not looking to forget.
“We’ve never been scared of the Eurovision label,” David admits. “For us, Eurovision was never the goal – it was just a way to reach our goals. Many artists make huge mistakes when they go to these TV shows with just one song. They create a whole image for the TV show so when it’s over, they have basically nothing to share with fans. We were lucky because we already had two albums and one EP. Once the show was over, people could listen to something and see that we already had five years of a career and touring. That was the sliding door for us.”
He adds: “We’ve never been afraid of being ‘a Eurovision artist’ forever. We knew that it was going to change our lives. We’re happy, and we will always remember Eurovision as one of the main steps of our career.”
De Angelis hopes that Eurovision will prove to be more of a platform for discovering legitimate new artists, which doesn’t seem unreasonable anymore. How would they respond to the idea that Måneskin finally made Eurovision cool? “I’m not complaining about that!” the bassist laughs, before David coolly adds: “I’ll take the credit.”
They’ve now met Madonna, Metallica and Red Hot Chili Peppers – but what about that BLACKPINK collab?
Måneskin’s Big Read cover story back in May saw the band reveal tales of touring the US and being invited over for breakfast with Coldplay‘s Chris Martin and partner Dakota Johnson. Have they enjoyed any more superstar encounters since then?
“Many,” says De Angelis. “We were in Latin America and played Rock In Rio, which is just one of the most iconic festivals. We met Guns’N’Roses, Red Hot Chili Peppers – so many crazy things. We were playing in New York and then [Metallica frontman] James Hetfield just came into our room and I was like, ‘…HI!’ I couldn’t keep it cool.”
Always understated in interviews, guitarist Raggi calmly adds that recent meetings with Guns N’ Roses icon Slash and queen of pop Madonna were “cool”. “I won’t spoil it by saying what happened, but we hung out,” he teases. Fair enough.
Having let slip that they’d love to work with K-POP giants BLACKPINK, it seems that that team-up hasn’t materialised just yet (“They don’t use social media, so it’s hard,” says David) – but have they any other offers for crazy collabs of late?
“Yes, but it’s still a secret!” De Angelis replies. Watch this space.
‘The Loneliest’ by Måneskin is out now. The band play The O2 in London on Monday May 8, 2023.