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O.A.K. Jerry Cutillo “Giordano Bruno” – Prog & Roll interview (august 2018) by George and Nihal Eleftheriou

Tell us a few things about the band please. When it begun, how many albums you have released so far.                                                                                                                      It was september 1993 when, tired of changing bands month after month (after being escaped from a huge European pop success)          I made in my room a kind of  ritual to wish good luck and long life to the newly born O.A.K.  ! I had this ambitious plan to blend ‘70’s prog with elektro loops and ethnic sounds. And so, me and a young guitarist (Iacopo Ruggeri) worked on our first album and, with a rhythmic section, we started to play gigs. Then we made “Heresis Strigiatum” an album full of phantasmagorical echoes, rural memories, spiritual mantras and even space odysseys. But, later on, although O.A.K. were born as a band playing self penned material (my compositions) we got caught by the cover mania and what did we choose ? Ian Anderson’s Jethro Tull,  well…such an insane choice, giving the fact that in those days (‘90’s) they were suffering for a lack of popularity.  But…let me mention our JT tribute “Re-living in the past” and the fact that, fortunately, we didn’t get stuck into that tribute trap. We did played with many JT members, such as Glenn Cornick, Clive Bunker, Barriemore Barlow, Dave Pegg, Gerry Conway, Jonathan Noyce and Maartin Allcock but soon enough I wrote some new songs for the next “Parallel dances” “Filosofi senza libri” “Shaman feet” “Viandanze” and this new prog opera “Giordano Bruno”.

Giordano Bruno was released a few months now. Are you pleased with the reception and maybe the sales so far ?                                                                                                 Yes I’m fully happy of the great recognition acquired in Europe and America.

Many big names of the Progressive Rock scene, participate in the album. How did you bring this about ? How did you meet and what prompted them to participate ?            David Jackson is in ‘cos I wanted to give to “Giordano Bruno”an original sound. I banned any electric guitars (apart from my e-bow string sound on some of the tracks) and gave a go to Dave double horns and the result is amazing !                                                                                                                                                            Second step was Richard Sinclair with whom I played a few gigs back in 2014. On “Dreams of mandragora” our voices sing the story of Giordano Bruno hypnotizing all the diners at a banquet in London.                                                                                                                                                                                                                       Then we have Sonja Kristina. We met at Halloween in 2012 when we played “Demons of prog”. We got in touch again recently and she sang some parts of “Diana/Morgana.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Well…so many people got involved in the project and everyone gave his own contribution.

How would you characterize GB ? Is it a concept album, or a rock opera ?                                                                                                                                                                     I don’t know…what’s the difference ?

To us, GB sounds like an old school prog rock album, but with a fresh sound. Or is it a modern Prog rock album with an old sound ? What is your opinion ?                               The third you said ! (smiling)                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     On “Shaman feet” the prog fans were annoyed by the elektro loops used in the arrangements, together with some weird Siberian instruments. I remember when we played the prog exhibition and I came on stage dressed like a man from Tuva with my Balalaika, my Domra….they were shocked ! So I promised, I shouldn’t have contaminated prog with  modern or ethnic music and glam rock anymore !

Apart from the tangible JT influences, which other bands do you believe that have been an influence to the band’s sound ?                                                                                    VDGG – King Crimson – Mercury Rev – Portishead – Beatles – Jeff Buckley

Giordano was a philosopher, mathematician and a cosmological theorist and his life ended in a very tragic way. Why did you decide to write an album dedicated to his life ? Where did the idea come from ?                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      In Rome we have this huge monument to Giordano Bruno. It’s in Campo dè Fiori where he was burned as an heretic by the roman Inquisition in the year 1.600. The place has became a meeting point and I spent much time there, so little by little I grew a deep interest on him and I found many similarities with myself. I always included pearls of his wisdom into my songs. The suite I wrote, in 1996, called “Jubilee”it’s a clear example .

Would you consider a sequel to Giordano Bruno or something of a similar nature at some point in the future?                                                                                                             Thanks for asking George, ‘cos I’m already busy, working on the next album. It is going to be about the nine witches of Benevento.

Do you think the modern sound technology contributes to the creational process or do you think it is an obstacle for the artist?                                                                                   The new century has seen revolutionary elements taking place in communication and technology, both going hand in hand. I’m talking about new softwares, for example, which make you able to produce music in the corner of your room while, in the past, only a restricted number of people could afford the expences to make an album. And this was a pity because a lot of talented artists were out of the game.

What is your opinion about the modern Prog Rock scene? Are there any bands that you like?                                                                                                                                    Well…not many.

Many people and critics consider Progressive Rock to be an elitist genre. Do you agree with this perspective? If yes, how can we distribute this sound more accessible to a wider audience?                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         As far as I’m concerned, I see prog rock not as a bunch of bands making wonderful albums and playing unforgettable concerts in the seventies…of course some bands did but it seems to me that at the beginning of that decade every band and artist related turned their ears to prog. So, it was rather a sort of magik spell going around which enchanted the whole planet. I wrote “Giordano Bruno” as a journey through time made by the philosopher just in the seventies. Because Giordano was progster ! Anyway, going back to your question, to make prog accessible to a wider audience again, it is necessary to work on ourselves as human beings. Keep on dreaming, being creative and understand our pure nature. And doing it is much simpler than it looks.

Prog n Roll’s audience includes some devoted listeners and some musicians who listen to our show frequently. What would you like to say to all of them?                                       Prog rhymes with freedom to me and if we keep our minds open we will enjoy every note and discover the secret of so much beauty.