From Cork via Italy, Order Of The Mess, are a power rock duo about to release their debut album. They’ve been crafting a colossal sound of crushing riffs and pummelling drum rhythms over their past few singles they’ve released, such as Synth and Touch My Soul.
Trying to pin down guitarist / vocalist Alex Vinci for an interview is tricky enough due to his hectic lifestyle. On top of a day job and the time consuming business of being in a band, he also has four children vying for attention with a fifth child on the way: “I have a very understanding wife!”
What's immediately striking about Alex Vinci is his welcoming tone and affability. His warmth and interest in talking to people is immediately apparent. Even as it was a scheduled interview with Alex, the tone quickly settled into something more akin to an informal chat, going back and forth.
Both Max Calo and Vinci are from Italy but the pair didn't know each other when they got to Ireland in 2010 and 2011 respectively. Max comes from the south of Italy and Alex from the north.
When Alex came over to Ireland it was for much more mundane reasons rather than wanderlust. “I got the chance to find a new job in Ireland and I moved here with family”. Eventually he “wanted to start a new project, but it had to be a new band completely”
After two years in Ireland, Alex started to release music under another project called The Last Vinci which is also Alex’s nickname. “In the meantime I started to look for someone in Cork to play music with”.
Alex laughed as he remembered he had made a claim to “never play music with Italians again” and that “one of the last things that I was planning in my life was to make a duo of a band” but ended up in Cork finding Max.
“I still remember the day that I started to play with him. We spent hours jamming together.”
At one point after playing with different members and setups, they eventually decided to “make something as a duo which is how Order Of The Mess became that way. We started to write a lot of music and it was amazing and now we are about to release an album.”
Back in Italy Vinci was in a band, No Conventional Sound, that were signed to Warner Bros music. They had released one album and had gigged with Linkin Park. Vinci left No Conventional Sound when they were about to record their second album.
“At that time we were only teenagers and you think: You did it, you made it! It’s all gonna happen now."
But then the problem within the band was that, Alex and his wife were completely broke.
“We had no money and two kids. I got married when I was twenty one and my wife was twenty. On the flip side I was losing the passion for what we were doing and I was in a position wanting to make new music and I started to write on my own.”
He laughed yet admitted it was scary starting of from scratch again.
“It’s a business apart that there is no money but there is a lot of busy lives with doing gigs and travelling around, making records, shooting videos, working with PR’s and with people to try and share your music. It’s not easy at all but I am proud of what i have done so far. Particularly to be Italians in another country in this music scene. We are very thankful for other people from Cork who have helped.”
Alex’s memory is vivid and he acutely recalls events that have helped shaped him as a musician such as his first gig as a duo in Ireland.
“1st may 2013, I’ll remember that forever as it was a very tough gig and being a duo for the first time and lot of fears.”
Nowadays, Alex sees his hard work and his Italian roots as an advantage. He cites System Of A Down as an example.
“They are Armenian and are based in US. They are still Armenian and that part of them makes a difference in their music. There is also a lot of independent artists in Italy that influenced us."
He sees his Italian heritage as a positive not just because it may act of a point that sets them apart but then that also gives a chance to “let the music speak for you".
What he likes about Ireland is that “There is always a chance to get your music out in a certain way. You have the chance to make it. You will always find someone that will give you a chance to play a gig.” His prior experiences in Italy has shown him that other aspects don’t change “the dynamics of a music scene, the relationship between stakeholders or labels or bookers. They don't change and it is difficult no matter where you are.”
He finds the music scene in Ireland refreshing as their is a passion to put on gigs.
“I will always be Italian and wouldn’t change that but I am completely proud to be part of the Irish music scene."
His roots means that he still has a network of contacts that he utilises to play back in Italy with his new band. The last time he played in Italy with Order Of The Mess was with Otherkin who they supported in Milan.
“It was very weird meeting Luke (Reilly) and the guys from Otherkin. I was playing of lot of Otherkin in my van and one time I was off for a weekend with my wife and I was playing their album. Then we went into Whelan's for the record label fair and I parked the van next to Whelan's and when we went out Luke and Rob from Otherkin were taking a piss in front of my van.
“I had met them a couple of times, but never had a chance to say to them 'Look you’s are making amazing stuff' and then we started to talk to each other. My previous band in Italy were based in Milan and we talked to each other and said 'you know what, we can make this gig together and it would be great to do a gig together'.
"So our past in Italy is something that can work for the future. Actually we are planning to go to the UK and we are working with a PR in the UK who is doing an incredible job spreading our music around.
“The thing is we want to make it right more than previous times. We want to spread the music which is important. The music is a big part of the soundtrack of our life. The good thing about music is that it enables you to meets lots of people.”
Order of The Mess have a raucous stoner rock sound akin to Kyuss, Monster Magnet and more recent acts like Royal Blood yet for their debut album they went with someone who has a history of producing metal albums. This comes down to the fact that producer Carlo Girardi is a personal friend of Vinci and he was the first person who trusted Vinci after he decided to move from his band in Italy: “He was the first to say, look man you can make it”.
With Order Of The Mess Alex sent stuff to Girardi and he really liked it so they started to work together on it - “We recorded twelve tracks in six days and it was pretty mad” - with Girardi who made the trip from Italy to Dublin to record in Westland Studios.
It’s obvious over the course of the conversation that relationships are important to Vinci and he has a sense of loyalty to people. It affects who he chooses to work with and also permeates into the lyrics he writes too.
Vinci expanded on this: “Two people in a band is like being in a relationship like a couple and what happens in a band can end up in lyrics. Then of course there is my family and my experience as a person which is giving this chance now to write these kind of lyrics. Like on Touch My Soul which is a call for everybody has a chance to change their life and mainly a call to myself. Lyrics can’t be meaningless, you need to say something."
Responsibilities for the lyrics and music are collaboratively worked on between Max and Alex, rather than one do one aspect separately. Neither is one that tries to dominate the other in terms of songwriting.
One aspect of their songwriting process that stands out is that Alex, despite his upbringing, has never written a lyric in Italian.
“The first lyric I had ever written was around when i was 14 or 15 and it was in English."
Now that Alex has been living in Ireland for seven years and his kids are growing up here English and even Irish by his kids are more commonly spoken. Vinci enjoys writing his lyrics in English as sometimes he can express “something in a sentence that would take three sentences in Italian."
Vinci’s music taste is wide and varied (“I can listen to two albums from Mettalica and then one form Michael Jackson") and then listening to whatever pop music his kids are into. His band mate Max is into stuff like Pennywise so it was natural that there was going to be a neutral ground between them to agree on how Order Of The Mess should sound. Even newer bands like Marmozets are having an impact upon Vinci.
With all the effort that Vinci and Calero are putting into their music and promoting it and considering his past experiencies signed to a label too it begged the question, does he want to go through that again?
“I can tell you for sure what we want is that we can drive it independently and get the respect for what we are doing. We’re not looking for a label or anything like that. However, it would be a good thing to make an independent label in Ireland for ourselves.”
Order Of The Mess - To Rock, Life, Love is out tomorrow.