Today, we need to understand what it was like for the guys to come together, become Il Volo and start to understand the reality of stardom! But before we begin, let’s take a look at how the guys came to be called Il Volo.
In the beginning the idea of being one in three was something that the guys needed to learn about. They had to learn how to sing together. It was no longer this is your song, learn it and sing it. No, now it was, this is your part, your take, your phrase, learn it and sing it. They began to understand how music and recording actually worked. They were starting to learn about being three in the form of one. Sharing! And, if that wasn’t enough, they had to learn something even harder, how to get along with one another.
I’ve told you, in some of my stories, about the problems, the disagreements. These may seem unusual but in reality, they were not. You show me three teenage boys who can be thrown together and just immediately like one another and totally agree with one another. No, that won’t happen.
Ignazio said: “We were only three kids accompanied by our parents. We still did not know each other well. At the beginning I immediately started to connect with Piero. Perhaps because he is Sicilian like me and maybe because we always found the opportunity to make jokes and have fun.”
Gianluca said; “I was very shy and a little insecure but also a little immature and too instinctive
In quarrels, for example, maybe it happened that I also answered in an annoying way because I was the one, I felt at that time, and I could not wait until then. Piero, for example, took some good kicks from me. I threw a pizza, at Ignazio, in front of the Universal Canadian official in a restaurant in Montreal. The shrimp flew off the pizza and hit the official of Universal, I mean really.”
These were some of the obstacles. Some would easily be resolved and, some would take a long time and a lot of trust to overcome.
In 2009 – 2010 during the recording of their first album, the guys still did not have a “real” name. After Ti Lascio una Canzone, they were given the name Tre Tenorini, because they resembled Luciano Pavarotti (Ignazio, for the waistline). Jose Carreras (Gianluca, for the elegance, says Torpedine) and Plácido Domingo (Piero, for the tenor voice).
Tre Tenorini, no, that was never going to work. First off, they aren’t three tenors. As you know they are a baritone, a lyrical tenor and a spinto tenor. So, a new name would have to be found. Easy, no not at all. Let’s listen to what guys had to say about choosing a name.
Piero begins: “Sometimes finding a name is much more complicated than it may seem. We did not even believe that we would continue to sing, imagine if we thought we needed a name. Do you know that at one point they wanted to call us La Scala?”
Ignazio continues: “At that time when we were looking for a name and we couldn’t find one, we were recording We Are the World 25 for Haiti. It was 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, we sang in front of Queen Rania of Jordan, and that is when we translated it to, Il Trio.
Gianluca said: “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 we 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 in the world knows La Scala.’
Ignazio interrupts: “And then, there was the question that they called us the Lyric, La Scala, La Scala. We chewed on it a little but, it did not convince us.”
Piero tells us that everyone was involved in this project….
“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 we never got the right idea. In the end, one day out of the blue, a gentleman working from Michele, Stefano, says: ‘Il Volo.’”
Ignazio says, “IL VOLO? What about IL VOLO? IL VOLO? It began to turn in the air (ha ha) and so the birth of Il Volo.”
And just when it seemed the decision was made to choose Il Volo, another problem arose.
“But then we discovered that there had already been a group by this name in 1974, composed of 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.”
After a week in the States visiting Miami and Los Angeles, they returned to Italy. By May 2010, things began to change.
Piero recalls: “We too began to understand that something was only changing when our first record came out.”
Ignazio remembers: “It was already in May 2010 and the Il Volo album was about to come out all over the world. Maybe I was too small and naive, but I did not feel the anxiety of the job, like today.”
The first major television show in which the guys appeared in America was American Idol, the world’s most famous music talent show.
The guys certainly took America by storm and slowly also many other countries in the world.
Ignazio begins to explain the reality of it…
“In a few months I found myself having traveled the world, from Europe to the Americas, from Asia to Oceania. From 2010 to 2013 we traveled like crazy, without ever stopping. In three years, I have not been home for five months.
In 2013 at the end of the American tour the guys found themselves at the door of Latin America and their South American Tour.
First stop Guadalajara, Mexico. And what better way to begin than on October 4, 2013, Ignazio’s 19th birthday!
Here Come the Fans
Gianluca recalls how the South American Tour began…
“In five years, we have done a lot of concerts, we have been in a lot of places and, I absolutely agree with Piero when he says that it is difficult to remember everything, that things have followed so quickly that they seem confused, sometimes I almost forget. However, if I stop and think about it there are flashes that come to mind, for example the 2013 tour in South America.
One of the first things I remember is Ignazio’s birthday in Messio, on the evening of the first concert of the tour.
We arrived at the hotel that was a bit in the middle of nowhere, in Guadalajara. Here we met for the first time our drummer, Salvatore Corazza. There was a huge garden and we started playing soccer.
The most special thing about Ignazio’s birthday was that we celebrated with fans. And speaking of fans, there I lost my password for Instagram and, I started to go crazy because it is very important to keep in touch with the Volovers.
“At the beginning, in South America, we realized we were really famous only when we arrived and, the fans were in front of the hotel waiting for us. But it happened slowly, slowly. Slowly, relatively slowly, month after month. Because two months before we were in Argentina and there were twenty fans, the next one there were a hundred, the one after there were three hundred, and then a thousand, two thousand. Now the situation is unbelievable if you have not experienced it, you will not believe it because we are with bodyguards twenty-four hours a day. It’s another world.
I remember in Peru, in Lima, we land, we get off the plane and there were already bodyguards at the baggage claim. Usually, they are waiting for us after the baggage claim, two of them come to the entrance and two of them come to the exit to escort us.
Here seven, eight bodyguards arrive directly at the baggage claim. I did not understand. Why, for us? I thought of the fans, but it was the first time we went to Peru, it was really impossible that it was. Now imagine a glazed sliding door, at the airport and you cannot see the other side. Imagine that you have just picked up your baggage, you approach the door, the bodyguard puts you next to the door and the door opens and … you find yourself in front of a wall, a wall of girls, all one above the other screaming, a single scream, something that stuns.
We were in our cars and, they followed us with taxis. The taxi drivers overcame us like crazy, with the girls hanging out of the windows that sounded trumpets, waving flags. We spent three months of our year this way.”
“And, instead, do you remember Cuernavaca? It was 2013, I remember that we went in the room of Jerry di Pirro, who was our tour manager, to listen to Sade’s music. I remember the white curtains and a terrible heat, in the evening, the pool …”
“… the insects! In that hotel I remember that I entered the room, we were in the middle of the forest and the white ceiling was completely covered with insects. My father and I spent half the evening crushing mosquitoes and other little animals with slippers.
Then I remember my father talking to the Mexicans while he cooked me pasta. Because before singing, three hours before, I always eat a hundred grams of tomato and basil spaghetti. I love that moment.
He comes in the dressing room, brings me the spaghetti made by him (we bring the packages from home). And that year he started explaining to the Mexicans how spaghetti tomato and basil was cooked.
It was a tour de force, from one day to the other air travel throughout South America, but dad was always with me. One morning I woke up in Guatemala, I look at my dad and say: ‘Dad, what should we do today?’
‘We have to leave for another city.’
‘When is the concert? Tomorrow?’
‘No, tonight! And go! Let’s start.’
That is the real passion: come without force but go forward. Only passion kept me standing.”
“Now I do not know, maybe we would not do it this way anymore.”
“However, Gianlu’ this year in July we have gone thirty hours on flights for appearances on TV in the United States. I went back to Detroit with that heat and the album to finish and the tour to do.”
Ignazio recalls opening his mouth and, nothing comes out…
“I tried to sing and, my voice does not come out, there is nothing to do, it does not come out.
I only know that when I finished that tour in South America I was nicknamed ‘Ignazio the tank’ by myself: I had done twenty concerts with bronchitis.
The worst was in Caracas, Venezuela, six thousand five hundred people, at seven in the evening: soundcheck.
Let’s start with the first song. I try to sing and, my voice does not come out, there is nothing to do, it does not come out. And here comes the most total panic, we stopped the soundcheck, the production calls a doctor and, I was punctured with Bentelan.
In short, for a month and half I sang only thanks to the cortisone and breathing technique that our teacher Sergio Bertocchi taught us.”
“Our because he is also my teacher.
But maybe only say master. Sergio Bertocchi is the person who helped me most in singing, the one that solves my doubts and my problems. If I enter a lesson with a doubt, I go out and I am another Piero, happy and relaxed.
And he never leaves me alone: even outside of Italy, we do lessons on Skype, we solve doubts and problems on the phone.
When I thought that in the Grande Amore tour, I would have liked to sing an air of an opera, Bertocchi told me: ‘You can do it very well, but you have to study a lot.’ And so, I did. For me, the study is fundamental, commitment and study.
Between May and June 2015, every time we were in Bologna to record ‘L’amore Si Mouve,’ I went to my teacher from 8 to 10 am (then at 10:30 am I went into the recording studio) and studied with him ‘E Lucevan le Stelle,’ the aria of Giacomo Puccini’s Tosca that I sang during the tour.
It was tiring, but there’s nothing like seriously engaging in something to feel at peace with oneself. Or at least for me.
And you do not know how important it is to have an experienced a person like Sergio Bertocchi to guide you.”
“I know for sure, that without his breathing exercises I do not know how I would have sung. Without a voice I was completely out of it.”
Piero jokes with Ignazio….
“Eh, Igna’, but the voice, you had in that interview!
It was March 2013 we were in Argentina at the famous Los 5 edicion broadcast of QMusica TV. In practice the program works like this. The guest says something about himself and, between a piece and the other part of his story, presents a video of a song he likes, for a total of five videos.
What was the problem? In the meantime, we spoke Spanish and sometimes we were wrong, so we stopped the recording and got it back. So, Ignazio was already a bit tired out, let’s say.
But the worst thing is that in Argentina they do not have the Volo V, they have the B, they say ‘Il Bolo.’
And one, and two, and three, always ‘Il Bolo.’ At that point, Ignazio begins to correct the guy who was in the studio and repeating to us the things to say, and once, and twice, and three: ‘Il Volo, it is said Il Volo, V!’
Until the guy in the studio runs off of new ‘Il Bolo’ and Ignazio starts with a string of bad words in precise Sicilian that are still today immortalized in the off-wave.”
“Eh, however, guys, we are serious people, now. And, I have made a commitment to write.
Where were we? Oh yes. The end of the Latin American tour.
Christmas 2013 was approaching and, the record company wanted to come out with a record of Christmas songs. So Universal decided to complete the EP that came out two years ago with just five Christmas songs.
So, after the Latin American tour we started promoting the Christmas album.
My house began to fail me. Being four months away, changing cities, hotels and planes almost every day is not easy. From the age of sixteen, finding yourself catapulted into a world that was completely different from the one I was used to, was not a simple thing to manage. At first no, actually the first two years I thought ‘What a beautiful life!’ Then I realized that all that glitters is not gold.
To get satisfaction and achieve the goals you have set for yourself, you have to give up many things and, work hard. Stay focused on your work. It’s not easy.
Many people ask: ‘But these guys never get tired?’ Well, yes, we get tired too, sometimes. Personally, there was a time when I thought only of friends. I wanted to go out, I never answered the phone, the emails, the messages, I was out of this world.
It was thanks to my family, to the boys and to Michele that I realized that I was neglecting what was always important for me: the music.”
Gianluca agreeing with Ignazio continues….
“True, Ignazio is right. It was not easy then and, neither is it now.
In those years, in 2012 and 2013, no one knew us in Italy, we were just the three children who had come from Ti Lascio Una Canzone.
But in America, in South America, in Europe we were very well known. And not only there! After the release of our first CD, we went on tour even in places that none of us could have imagined we would go to: Australia, Singapore, Malaysia, Taiwan and New Zealand. In Singapore we also had a gold record with that first CD.
In 2012 we arrived in Norway, one of the few European countries that we had not yet touched. We participated in the concert dedicated to the Nobel Peace Prize – that year went to the European Union – in Oslo. A fantastic evening that allowed us to meet Gerard Butler and Sarah Jessica Parker, who were the presenters, and an artist like Kylie Minogue.
And then, in 2014 we were in Moscow twice, once guests in a concert by Toto Cugno and once with a concert of our own, and at the beginning of 2015 we were in Beijing, guests of a TV program for the Chinese New Year.
So, before Sanremo, we lived two lives, two completely different lives. Abroad we were stars and, we came to Italy to rest. I took refuge in Montepagano, Piero in Naro, Ignazio in Marsala. It was nice to come back to a ‘normal’ life.
We felt that something was missing, that it was bad to be so successful outside of our country and not be able to have it in Italy.”
So, they learned very early on to understand what it meant to live two lives. And to experience The Reality of Stardom.
Join me next week as I go back Through the Fields of My Mind and open the door to a new adventure!