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Dope Stars Inc.: Earning girls instead of a living

The Dope Stars were among the most awaited appearances of the entire Trashfest in Helsinki during 18-19th of April. Oh my God, if only I could transcribe this interview with the Italian accent and all the gestures! Jealous tongues were saying that this band owes all of its success to Grace Khold and now that he left, Dope Stars´ days have passed. One keyboarder´s departure happened a long time ago and the band is as cheerful, as happy and as sexy as ever, touring, recording, collecting girls´ hearts and contaminating STALKER with all this hot Latin positivity!

How´s it going?
Darin: It´s going very-very well! Every time we are here - it is great! (Fabrizio “La Nuit” in the background: “Welcome to Finland!”)
Victor: Yes, we are very happy to be here.

You´ve a big hangover from yesterday?
Darin: From like three nights, yes. (all laugh) From Tampere to Helsinki and tomorrow…

What´s the best hangover cure?
Darin: Beer! Wake up at 1 or 2 and start to drink more beer.
La Nuit: Cognac in the morning, Jack Daniels in the evening.

…and Absinthe for breakfast!
(all laugh)
Darin: no…

So what happens to you guys when you drink?
La Nuit: Ah, nothing happens , just happiness!
Victor: He starts to scream very loud.
La Nuit: It happened yesterday! Someone was walking all over my body, I just remember that! But of course, everyone is everyone´s friend (laughs), when drinking…

How excited are you about tonight´s show, what should we expect?
La Nuit: With us – always expect a great show!
Darin: I hope people will enjoy our own way, because now we play some kind of different style of music than Finnish bands.

Will you play something new tonight?
Victor: Half of the songs from “Gigahearts” and half of the songs from “Neuromance” because we have a short set…
La Nuit: (screams) and one fucking coverrrrrrrr!!!
Victor: Yes, the song from Motörhead, “Ace of Spades”.

What about the new album then, when is it coming out?
Victor: We´ll start working on it during the summer and then the new album will come in autumn. We don´t know more details as it depends on the technical side of the recording.
Darin: But be sure, it´s coming!

Can you already say how the new songs will be different from your older ones?
Darin: Maybe it´ll be more rock´n´roll…
La Nuit: Yes, more rock! Yes!
Victor: For our line-up we want to get a drummer and I think we still have the electronics but more on the rock side, so a bit like we did before, but a bit different than at the start, evolve a bit, it´s only natural.
Darin: We like rock´n´roll…
Victor: We experiment, every time something different, we did one thing before, now we want to see what happens if we do something else… But I think at the end we´ll still be us.
La Nuit: Hell yeah, the Dope Stars!
Victor: Because we still haven´t written anything yet, we still haven´t done the songs… The basic idea is to develop what we did in the past but with a more mature and complete point of view, in more dimension of a rock band.

And who´s the candidate for the drummer?
Victor: We´re testing some guys, so we don´t know yet.

How come you´re touring now, if the new album isn´t ready yet?
Victor: Because we want!
La Nuit: We love to be on stage, be seen and play live!
Victor: We´ve never been in Russia before and we´ve never been in Finland, also in the UK, in September, maybe, so it´s not necessary to have an album to do the show. Now we have two albums and we still have to promote them a lot, because there are still a lot of people who don´t know who Dope Stars are!
Darin: I think Russia was one of the first who liked us, even the demo!
Victor: Yes, straight from the beginning, a lot of people from Russia were supporting us, also Germany and England, those were very supportive, and the USA also.

Do you´ve any expectations about Russia, because people there are quite different…
La Nuit: (very excitedly)They are?!
Darin: (excited) Are they like Latin people?

Very emotional and expressive!
La Nuit: Very cool!
Darin: We thought they´ll be like Scandinavian people…
Victor: We have no idea how people will react but so many Russian people are supporting us, so it´ll be a very good experience.

How did you end up working together with Mama Trash? She´s American and you´re from Europe…
Victor: We have a common friend, who recommended us to her, and she checked our MySpace, she liked the music and she offered to work with us and we said ´yes´, so that´s how.

How important, do you think, is commercial success?
Darin: Now it isn´t very important.
Victor: It is important to have some money. It would be great to live with the music, but now I have another job and not so much time for the band.
La Nuit: Yes, we are all working. I have three different jobs. I work for a telephone company, a video store and do some web design.

And what do you guys do?
Victor: I actually have a work in the studio, do some producing, work with other bands. Our new keyboard player came to that studio to work and that´s how we met. My work is a bit stressful…
La Nuit: Genius!

And what do you do?
Darin: I´m all the time looking for a job.
(all laugh)
La Nuit: That´s like his job – looking for a job.
Darin: I´m back to a DJ set, one or two nights a week, and I get some good money, I can survive only by booze, but still…

What about the scene in Italy, what´s it like? Which bands and music styles are popular there?
Darin: We´re good friends with Lacuna Coil´s Andrea [Ferro, vocals]…
La Nuit: In Italy it´s very hard because this kind of music is not so common.
Darin: The most popular band is Lacuna Coil.
Victor: This band is very different because they are an international success…

You´re also known, or?
Darin and La Nuit: (in unison) really?!
Victor: Yeah, but we still have to work a lot to get to this level. But the fact is that for bands from Italy it´s very difficult.
Darin: Especially for rock´n´roll and alt-rock and metal, it´s really like this.
Victor: In Finland, for example, you´ve many bands and producers to work with, you have record labels, promoters, local managers, you can meet them. In Italy it is not possible.
Darin: The music culture is very different. It´s like L.A. in the 80s what we have there.
Victor: It´s all mostly pop, other things are so small and there´re no clubs. In Rome, where we live, there´re two-three places, that´s all.
La Nuit: Thomas from L´ame Immortelle has his own club in Vienna, but it´s far from Rome.

What do you think about your ´boy band´ status, as some people will refer to you as one…
(all laugh)
La Nuit: We are a boy band!
Darin: We are. We are and we love to be a boy band!
Victor: We are not a girl-band!
(La Nuit laughs a lot!)
Victor: Like East 17, Backstreet Boys… People might think we are a boy band, but…
Darin: Many people called Duran Duran a boy band, but they´re fucking great! They played and were listened to all over the world, people remember them now as great rock´n´roll musicians.
Victor: They rock! When we started, of course, the aim wasn´t to do a boy band but of course it helps to do the promotion! (laughs)

And it probably doesn´t hurt to have all these girls around…
La Nuit: Yes, it´s ok.
(Darin is trying hard not to speak)
Victor: That can be ok, that can not be ok sometimes…
La Nuit: Yeah, you don´t earn the money, but you earn the girls…

Darin: (nods along actively and uses his hands to keep his mouth shut)
Darin: Yes yes, very many, yes!
(La Nuit laughs loud)
Darin: Yes yes, I agree.

What is the most annoying thing about Darin then?
(La Nuit laughs…)
Darin: I´m a fucker, I´m stupid, blah-blah, that´s it.
La Nuit: He´s a good guy…
Darin: I´m a very methodic guy, but I don´t know if it´s a bad side…
Victor: I don´t know if Darin has any bad sides… My bad side is that I´m very nervous.
La Nuit: He is, very!
Victor: Maybe I´m too emotional.

I was going to ask what´s the most romantic thing about you, Victor?
Victor: I love people, and I LOVE my girlfriend (proudly shows a ring on his left hand)

What´s the weirdest thing about you, La Nuit?
La Nuit: What? (the guys translate, speak Italian and laugh)
Darin: It means ´strange´
La Nuit: Oh… I can´t answer that… I do things, I´m happy and we´re sitting together, maybe it´s a concert or a party, but it´s ok! I do strange things… I was talking with my dick at M´era Luna…
Darin: Yes… M´era Luna…
Victor: When he´s drunk he does those ´La Nuit shows´, he gets on the table, screams around
La Nuit: It´s entertainment, I love to see people smiling, so I´m the clown. I just love to see happiness.

What are you thinking about when you´re on stage?
Darin: About playing.
La Nuit: That I´m fucking 30 and I´m doing this same thing since I was 20, but that´s ok because I love our music and every song that I play and it´s very important for my life. When I get to Rome and back to work, I have a lot to do and there´s no money and I´m not rich, so the best thing I´m doing now is the band.
Victor: I relax on stage, before it´s a bit stressful, I´m worried if the monitors work, the technical side and all. I work as a producer so I know how important the equipment and all that is. I´m always thinking about it and I notice all the details around, but when things go well and we are on stage, I relax.

On what kind of terms are you with Grace Khold now?
Victor: No terms!
La Nuit: Nothing at all.
Victor: We are not in any relationship anymore, we don´t have any contact or anything.
La Nuit: We played together before…

What about friendship?
Victor: We were friends, but then he decided to stop, so it´s a big, complex thing.
Darin: I was a close friend of him, but he started to go different ways in his life.
Victor: We want to close this chapter, what he did after he left the band, the things he said, we couldn´t do anything else except to close this thing completely. I don´t think he wants to get in touch anymore, so I think it´s from both sides.
Darin: We are too different people.
Victor: It´s not easy to explain, but he wanted something that wasn´t possible [for us] to give him. He wanted to… he had something in his mind and we had different things in our minds, so he believed in something, and we believed in something completely the opposite.
La Nuit: Yes yes…

So do you think it´s possible to keep the close friendship when you work so much together?
Victor: Yes, it is possible if you manage the situation in different ways. I´m a person who always tries to make things work and I tried for many times, but it didn´t work anymore, so that´s it.

Are you happy?
(long pause. Victor laughs nervously.)
Darin: (nods) Yes we are.

Nodding doesn´t really answer the question.
Darin: (asks the guys) Are we happy?
La Nuit: It´s a very difficult thing to say! Is anyone really happy? Honestly, I´m happy when I´m here and we´re playing tonight.
Darin: For Dope Stars we are happy.
Victor: For the band it´s very important to be here. What we are doing or what we did, not many people have those opportunities, to play live or have a big show, have success… It´s always a big satisfaction! We´re that kind of people who like and enjoy small things, even the smallest thing that we did, it´s already good for us, especially [because] we´re from Italy, we´ve done a lot for being an Italian band.

Thanks very much!
La Nuit: (in a Cheshire cat voice) You´re welcome!

Author: Marina Sidyakina, transl. K. Gransalke, photos: K. Weber
Date: 2008-05-02

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