SkeleToon’s third chapter in the «Nerd Saga», called They Never Say Die, is soon to be released. Once again the love for superheroes, comics and 80’s movies is the main ingredients, and that could also be said about this interview with founder and vocalist Tomi Fooler.
Before we talk about the new album I want to dig into the story of SkeleToon. So, let’s go back to 2011 “when power metal was considered just a foolish and old concept”. What was your main idea behind SkeleToon; what did you want to bring to the power metal scene?
Tomi: First things ﬁrst: Thank you for this time shared, to you, and all readers of your webzine! Well, main idea was to stop taking the Heavy Metal Scene too seriously. I have been a part of the underground scene since 1997, and I was pretty much sick of all this «Hey, look at us, we are the toughest and most evil Metalheads ever!!!! Yeeeeah!!!» So, I decided to give more space to a lighter side of the music; unveiling fun and laughs who lies beneath that «average» surfaces. This attitude, alongside our idea of spreading out our desire to have just fun, gave birth to our project, in a period when power metal was considered a dead genre.
Could you elaborate around your fascination for “nerd & geek themes”; how long have you been a fan of that culture and what is it about that type of culture that is so fascinating?
Tomi: Literally a life time, haha! I am a real «loser» myself, but – I hope, in a positive way. I grew up dreaming about superheroes, reading comics and watching 80’s movies. That puts you in a very «isolated» group of people, who spent youth facing «mainstreamers» calling them geeks. You know, I always loved the things most of the other guys considered boring, or worst, unpopular. But one day I realized those things were part of what I really am, and that I was part of an «army» of people with the same taste. That day I started not feeling ashamed anymore, and I deeply wanted to show everyone I was into it. And that was the day I realized I could have been «cool», too, in my very own way.
And what about power metal; what is the fascination here and have you always been a fan of power metal?
Tomi: Power metal was the ﬁrst genre I loved, the one who made me think: «..hey, these guys rock, and I feel it!» Stratovarius’ «Speed of Light» was the very ﬁrst song that shook my guts, and from that moment on, that music was my favorite, with no doubt at all! I love heavy metal in general, but power metal was already my favorite. It took just a few weeks before I ran into Helloween, and you can imagine what happened next, haha!
Is metal in general, or power metal speciﬁc, close related to the same culture, in your opinion? In other words: could this mix work if you played another musical style?
Tomi: For me it worked with power metal, but it could work with any style. Have you ever heard about a guy named Tom Lehrer? He was a mathematic & scientist, who played music, too. He was pretty popular in 50’s, and he wrote a song called «The Elements’ Song», putting in kind of 50’s style music, a list of Periodic Table’s elements! As you can see, this mood can hide in everyone, haha!
It would be easy to label SkeleToon as a parody/humor band, but as I have understood there is also a deeper meaning behind the music. Could you elaborate about that?
Tomi: Yup. We love to have fun, but we are far to be considered as a «parody» band: we just want to show our «funny» side, but we try to enlist also the troubles we all have to face every day. If you read our lyrics, you will notice we talk about hard moments, too, but we try to do it in a positive way, without forgetting it’s easier to get thorugh those moments if you don’t get sad about.
After the band was founded in 2011 it took ﬁve years before the debut album was released. How were those years, and way did it take ﬁve years before you released the ﬁrst album?
Tomi: In the beginning we were mostly dedicated playing power metal covers in live shows. At that time I was also part of several other metal projects that kept me satisfied. But after 3 or 4 years of playing the music of others, like Edguy & Helloween, it felt like a natural step trying to say something of my own.
The debut album, The Curse Of The Avenger, was the ﬁrst chapter of the band’s “Nerd Saga”. What can you tell me about that saga?
Tomi: It’s like a growing process; a kind of an analyze of a «standard nerd», haha! The first album is thought as a «geek diary», where a young kid starts to discover comics, his first videogame, and the sense of being part of something diﬀerent from average. Let’s say the main character is around 8 or 9 years old. With Ticking Clock we understand that this guy is getting older, and reaches 12 or 13 years with the upcoming They Never Say Die, an album that transpose this guy’s imagination in his real life. The saga will go over, showing how this guy gets older until he is 20.
Your upcoming album is the third chapter of the “Nerd Saga”, and a tribute to the movie “The Goonies”. I must admit I’ve never seen that movie (don’t shoot me!): what is it about that movie that you decided to write an album about it?
Tomi: No way, brother! You must see it, haha! «The Goonies» is a cult movie for a generation! I won’t spoil the story, so I will only say it’s about teaching values like loyalty, and brotherhood, and always doing the right thing, even if it seems very hard. With our album, and our Saga in a larger way, we thought it was the best way to tribute it, including its teaching in our own story.
When writing a concept album, or at least an album that tributes a movie, I guess that the lyrics are inspired by the movie? How has the songwriting been? And has the music itself been inspired by the movie as well?
Tomi: Yes and yes. The lyrics are completely inspired, and in some case, they coincide: I often include quotes from movies in songs, and that is something I have done also here. There’s a song about a character called Sloth, and it was impossible to avoid some of his most popular, for those who know the movie, sentences. The music, as well, tries to link to the scene it refers to. Our idea was to let you submerge in the movie, through a diﬀerent path, leaded by our playing.
The upcoming album, “They Never Say Die”, includes many special guests. That was also the case with your second album, “Ticking Clock”. How do you choose which musicians you want to collaborate with, and how important is the guest for the album?
Tomi: On this album, as we didn’t do with Ticking Clock, we chose guests after their characters. But we always try to pick «voices» that can help listeners associate them to the original «cast». I am very proud of everyone, but I have to admit that Mark Basile from DGM, who plays «One Eyed Willy», and Michele Luppi from Whitesnake, who plays «Jake Fratelli», made an outstanding job with their performances.
How would you describe the new album musically? Have SkeleToon developed during the years?
Tomi: Hmm, this is a tough one! I can’t say wether or not we have actually developed our style, but I can say that we try to get it richer and richer, to make it more suitable to the concept it refers to. This was a tribute to an 80’s movie, so we had to add more melodies, more harmonization’s, and everything that is needed to let you think about the 80’s while listening – without making it sound old, obviously. I would say that They Never Say Die is the most orchestrated SkeleToon album, so far.
The “Nerd Saga” consist of ﬁve chapters. Have you any thoughts about what the other two chapters will be about? And what are the plans when the saga is done; have you a new saga in mind?
Tomi: Obviously yes. As what always happens in the games, the comics and the role plays we nerds do love; in every album and song we have written there is clues hidden about what happens next… If you listen to the ﬁrst ones, and look for clues in their booklets or videos, you won’t only ﬁnd the concept for the fourth record, you will also be able to understand what the fifth is about, and what the main plot behind the whole Saga is… And once you find it, you will see what’s going to happen next!
Have a good hunt, Nerd-Metalheads!
SkeleToon’s third album, They Never Say Die, will be released on February 8th on Scarlet Records.
Listen to the first single, «I Have The Key», featuring Morby from Domine, Guido Benedetti from Trick Or Treat and Alessio Lucatti from Vision Divine.