Moving ahead, let’s pick up the story after their parents signed the contract.
Everyone goes home and life goes back to normal! No, throw out the word normal. That will never happen again. From this moment on, the guys will begin their journey to stardom. They step on A Virtual Roller Coaster and the ride of their life begins. They have now entered their own special amusement park where reality goes away, and dreams come to life. It’s a special ride that not many will ever have the opportunity to take. This roller coaster ride comes along with a new world and a new life! Buckle up, the ride is about to begin!
After the parents signed the contract, things began to move so fast that the parents and the boys could hardly keep up with it! Can you imagine how they felt? The parents’ heads had to be spinning and they had to explain it all to the boys and most of it they didn’t even understand themselves. Piero and Ignazio understood some of what was going on but Gianluca, not so much.
Let’s begin with Gianluca summarizing these events….
That is a period that I really cannot remember in general. I was just a child who dreamed. While the other guys who had participated in the broadcast returned home to go to the beach and prepare to start a new school year, the three of us walked towards a professional artistic career.
I really did not realize it. I did not even know what the contracts were like, I did not care. Once I must have told my father something like this: ‘But why, to be a singer, it takes a contract?’ I only remember that at a certain point we started to have some lunch in Rome, at the Rome Cavalieri, with Tony Remis and to talk about music and recorded songs, but the contract had already been signed. I was there with my father, Piero, Ignazio and their parents.
During the period of Ti Lascio una Canzone it was rumored, ‘The three tenorinis after the program will make their way, of the three tenors you will hear talking.’ But as a child what can you understand?
Even when we first met Michele Torpedine and Barbara Vitali – who since then became the fourth member of the group, even if you never see her on stage – I did not understand just how it was possible that Andrea Bocelli’s manager, was interested in us.
It was something that upset me: I want to see Bocelli as my idol and now to work with the manager who had made him famous. A dream, in fact.
We were three funny and awkward children: Ignazio fat, Piero roly-poly too, I was small and plump and with pimples. So, at the first meeting, I look at Torpedine and ask him: ‘But what came in your mind?’
Sometimes even today I look at the photos, the videos of when we were little ones and I still ask myself. He has really seen far away (He saw into the future). And he also had a lot of patience, because in addition to being funny and clumsy, we were very confused and, wherever we went, everyone looked at us in a strange way. Like that evening in Jesolo, when we met Michele.
It was finally finished Ti Lascio Una Canzone and they invited us to sing on June 27th, 2009, at the nineteenth edition of Miss Italy in the world. The evening was broadcast on Rai Uno by the Jesolo Tourist Palace, conducted by Caterina Balivo and Biagio Izzo.
When we arrived in the dressing rooms, I saw Raf. ‘Oh my God, there’s Raf’ I said. ‘Let me take a picture. I run to him like crazy. ‘Can I take a picture with you?’ We were three children at the park playing. Ignazio, to name one, he poured the Coca Cola on the floor in the dressing room, and it ended up on Michele’s jacket. Michele turns and says Barbara, ‘look’ I still remember him, with a face like saying ‘Oh my God.’
Piero picks up the story from Gianluca….
And after the Coca-Cola there were plums! Our first meeting with Michele Torpedine ends with plums that fly from one dressing room to the other and Michele comes out with white hair, indeed no, because already he had the white hair. He goes out with straight hair saying, ‘Are you three crazy?’
In practice we threw plums from the door of our dressing room, to the one next to it, where there was Raf and where Gianluca had gone immediately to ask to take the picture of which he spoke. We had a mess that night!
It all began well, calm and quiet. I was having lunch at the hotel restaurant and a gentleman with a sand-colored raincoat and graying hair arrived. I hear footsteps behind me and a ‘Hello, Piero’ with this deep voice. You recognize Michele’s voice everywhere. You know, when I tell of that meeting, I seem to tell things that I’ve seen in American movies. It was from this that we started, three fifteen-sixteen-year-old idiots, and Torpedine, who had already become an icon for me. So, he sits with us, and we start talking. He had arrived with a white Range Rover, a detail that I remember because it was from there that we began to see the luxury cars.
This is one of my favorite videos. They are so young so sweet. Look at them in that recording studio. Amazing then! Amazing now!
Then, after lunch, we get ready for rehearsals, let’s go to the dressing rooms, and you already know what’s going on between plums and Cola Cola.
What has changed from that day to today? Nothing. On tour, in the television broadcast rooms and sometimes even in the recording room, one of our favorite activities is the fruit launch. The best are the grapes (but we also appreciate the cherries). Ignazio throws them from a distance, and I have to take it on the fly with my mouth. That is the same if in the dressing room next to us is the Pope or Bono or U2 it does not make an impression on us.
Piero tells us how they reacted when they first heard about America….
In short, a little impression we had when we started to hear about America. And who knew us, there? Nobody. So, what happened? That is how we discovered what it means to have a manager.
Thanks to an American lawyer, Peter Lopez, a contact from Tony Renis, one of our auditions arrives at Interscope Records in the United States. It is a label of music production that is part of the Universal Music Group America, the largest record company in the States. To give you an idea, it is the label of Eminem, Sting, Lady Gaga, Nelly Furtado and Gwen Stefani, just to name a few.
Imagine the desk of Jimmy Iovine, the president of Interscope, a large desk in a large American office. They take a laptop, put it in front of him and they start ‘O Sole Mio recorded by Ti Lascio una Canzone. When the song arrives at the ‘Ma n’aaaatu sole!’ Iovine closes the computer and exclaims: ‘We got it! All right, we do it.’ And we sign a millionaire contract.
Now imagine this: The day before, I go to my uncle to work in the workshop and the next day I sign a millionaire contract with an American label.
At the beginning it was really a dream, even if I do not like repeating it, because you find yourself traveling the world and doing it, from one day to the next. However, I repeat, always without realizing the importance of the thing, without fully understanding what was happening.
Ignazio picks up at this point….
So, a dream that Piero, in the clouds, has forgotten to say the most important thing: that it was the first time that Italian singers signed a contract directly with an American record company. But it was not that, we signed the contract, the big thing was done, indeed, it had yet to start.
In 2009 we recorded our first album. It was not easy.
For us today there are seven takes to sing, then there were thirty or forty. What language does he speak, will you say? English, Spanish and also a little Italian. So, a take is the recording of the single phrases that each of us sing when we record a song. We continue to redo until we get to the best version. In 2009, on our first recording, it took almost two days to record a song, until it was good. I remember that I made the absolute record of take in Smile: I repeated my part for fifty-seven times.
We were small and inexperienced, the English language did not help, Tony Renis and Humberto Gatica – one of the best-known producers and sound technicians in the world, who worked with Andrea Bocelli, Eros Ramazzotti, Pino Daniele, Barbra Streisand, Celine Dion – if they were not satisfied, they would tell it to us clearly.
Piero forgot to mention that ours was the first contract signed directly by Italian singers with an American label, but Ignazio forgot to mention that the first recording studio in which we entered all three together for our great adventure it was called Forum and it was in Rome.
I remember, and it is one of the few things that I have very clear in mind of that period, that we have compiled the lineup of the tracks with Tony Renis, and most were the ones we had sung at Ti Lascio Una Canzone, plus five other American songs.
But the first time in front of the microphone was still in Rome in the studio where we had done the auditions before the program began. Roberto Cenci had assigned the songs to all the children, he had arranged the arrangements, and we had recorded the compilation that came out in May after the end of the program and immediately entered in the rankings.
But that was the first time alone in front of a microphone, and it was … (Gianluca to Piero) What are you looking at? Do you want to say it?
Piero picks up the conversation….
… it was nice because it was the first experience.
We did not sing well because we had no technique, so it was as Ignazio said: we took a take in sixty, seventy times.
At that time, we arrived in the studio, and we found everything ready: the songs to sing, the subdivisions, the arrangement, this and the other. Now, instead, after the third album, we do everything together, we create everything with Celso Valli, our producer.
Those first times we did not have this freedom to do, everything was imposed because we did not yet have the skills to do it.
Now we have them, and we share the parts, we know each other better and, in the studio, we help each other. It is also nice to see that each of us now has his way to enter the recording room. To say, Gianluca and I sing with the light on in the recording room. Ignazio, on the other hand, enters and the first thing he does is turn off the light. They are small details, but they mean that we have grown and, we have our own way of working.
Between the three of us, we have split up the roles. Ignazio if there is a problem with the mixer, he discusses it with the producer to fix things. Gianluca is the one who listens to the songs from morning to night and offers: ‘Guys, I discovered this songwriter,’ ‘Guys, I discovered this artist, what do you think?’ I like the managerial part, I like managing, I like to contact people, I like to propose new things to Michele, ‘Why do we not do that?’ ‘Why do we not try to do that?’ ‘How can we get to this person?’ I like this: put your head and think how you can improve. And a complete professional balance: we have grown physically, but also professionally. So even if we get a producer we do not know, we do not have any problems, we know how to talk to him and tell him what we want. This is the most important aspect: being at the same level. Which is the reason why for some months now I have this big folder, of black leather, that I always carry with me. If I have to tell the truth, Torpedine lent it to me and, as it brought good luck, I stole it from him and, as I told you, I always carry it with me, with the pieces we have to do, the notes, the notes of what is lacking to be fixed, what is not lacking, the notes to do: everything is much more professional.
Now we are working with Celso, one of the most important record producers we have in Italy, he has collaborated with Vasco Rossi, Lucio Dalla, Eros Ramazzotti, all the biggest ones. And he’s really a great person.
We have had a great luck: we can afford to deal with the older ones, it is not easy. It’s something that put Torpedine in my mind: you must always invest for your future. Celso has agreed to bet with us on our future and we worked together on the last album, Love Moves (L’amore si Muove) which came out in September. It is a pleasure working with him because he lets you talk, lets you express your ideas, lets you try, and this is a fundamental thing, the most important thing when you want to improve, to grow.
And we always have had the desire to grow, since we were little children. We have it since we were baptized, and we were ready to … take flight
So, the guys have settled into working together but before they move on to America, there is some unsettled business. They need a name….
The Baptism of Il Volo
Sometimes finding a name is much more complicated than it may seem.
Do you know what they wanted to call us at some point? La Scala.
Until that time, we are in 2009-2010, during the recording of our first CD, we did not have a ‘real’ name. In the transmission with Antonella Clerici we were baptized Tre Tenorini, for that thing that we resembled Luciano Pavarotti (Ignazio, for the waistline). Jose Carreras (Gianluca, for the elegance, says Torpedine) and Placido Domingo (me, for the tenor voice). But who imagined that one had to find another name? We did not even believe that we would continue to sing, imagine if we thought we needed a name.
Then, at that time when we were looking for it and we could not find it, we were recording ‘We Are the World 25 for Haiti.’ It is the beginning of February 2010, and we called ourselves The Tryo, which we then used as guests at the second evening of the Sanremo Festival. A week later, singing in front of Queen Rania de Jordan, only then we translated it to: Il Trio.
The problem of the name? It was one of those impossible marketing missions: it had to be short and easy to pronounce in practically all the world. For example, there is a group called Il Divo, and they also sing a genre similar to ours, and Il Divo was just the kind of name they wanted: short, easy to pronounce and also very international, because it has a clear meaning to everyone.
And that’s why the name La Scala came out. Elettra Morini, the wife of Tony Renis, had proposed it. Elettra, who was a dancer there, told her husband: ‘Why do you not call them La Scala?’ Surely everyone knows in the world what La Scala is.
And then, there was the question that they called us the Three Tenorinis, the lyric, La Scala, La Scala …
We chewed it a little, but we were not convinced.
But who was looking for the name? All of us: the three of us, Michele, our parents, whoever belonged to our family, or our working group said a name, two or three, and it was written on a list. That list had become worse than a telephone list: we got to more than five hundred proposals.
This thing of the name was becoming a joke. We were going to record the album, make a meeting, or engage in anything else, and we ended up talking about this name, but never get the right idea. In the end, one day out of the blue, a gentleman working from Michele, Stefano, says: ‘Il Volo.’
IL VOLO? what about IL VOLO? IL VOLO?
It began to turn in the air (ha ha) and so was born Il Volo.
But then we discovered that there had already been a group by this name in 1974, composed by Mario Lavezzi, Vince Tempera, Alberto Radius, Bob Callero, Gabriele Lorenzi and Gianni Dall’Aglio. It was a collaboration that lasted a year and a half and had gathered all of the best musicians. But now we liked the name, so we decided to keep it. Also, because it immediately seemed to us a good omen to fly, to take flight, get up in the air.
But we risked a little.
Think if this project did not start, if we were not really able to ‘take off,’ do you imagine how they would have made fun of us? ‘The Flight takes off? No, Il Volo has crashed!’ At that point, we had the CD, the name also and we left for the States.
Did you notice that this was not individual stories? The guys are now one and they are conversing with one another. They begin to understand each other’s needs and they can now speak up and say what is on their minds. They are learning to share their thoughts and express to their manger and producers what they would like to do. All of this is happening is a very short period of time. For others who have taken this journey, before and after them, it took many years and many disappointments to get off the ground and just approach what these guys did in a matter of one or two years.
This is what their career has always been about. A constant movement, A Virtual Roller Coaster ride, that makes so many twists and turns it’s impossible to keep up with it. Imagine you are 15 – 16 years old and you are suddenly faced with all of this. The only way to get through it all is to listen to the advice of your parents and your newfound manager and put all your trust in them. You also learn that in order to survive you have to learn how to lean on one another. For it to work, the Three must become One. This is what they begin to understand when they set off for America.
America here we come! Are you ready for us?
Note: Many of the pictures I used today were from Verissimo. The guy’s love doing the show and Silvia Toffanin loves having them on. This interview like all the interviews they do with Silvia, is very interesting. You can always be assured that she will ask all those question that we have on our minds, but I’m going to leave it to Daniela to tell you what they talked about.
Join me next week as I go back Through the Fields of My Mind and open the door to a new adventure!
If you would like to share a story with me, please email: firstname.lastname@example.org
To read more Il Volo stories visit us at www.ilvoloflightcrw.com
Excerpts of this story are from “Un’avventure straordinaria, la nostra storia.”