The Spiritual Bat is a Death Rock band straight from Italy consisting of 2 members: vocalist Rosetta Garri and guitarist, The Spiritual Bat himself, Dario Passamonti. The original name of the band was Spiritual Bats but since one of the founding members left the band it now goes by the singular form. The band creates a unique atmosphere unlike anything typically heard in America using a very tribal percussion rhythm, reminiscent of Tool, along with beautifully sung, ambient vocals like the lamentation of some divine being calling from the darkest pits of the darkest cave. The guitars played by Dario are beautifully composed and seem to wrap around you as he plays. Every note carries emotion and forces the listener to heed it’s message. The Spiritual Bat have only recently finished their U.S. tour playing through the musical underground and spreading their benevolent, psychedelic, darkness, it is only a matter of time before they return and do it again.
Note: For the duration of this interview, Dario’s responses were translated into English by Rosetta. Ironic huh?
Chain D.L.K.: This is your first time playing in the U.S, I do believe, why has it taken you so long to play here?
The Spiritual Bat: Spiritual Bat actually has played in the U.S. in 1998, I think. It was Spiritual Bats and I was playing the drums back then. So it’s not the first time, but it was a long time ago and that was the only time.
Chain D.L.K.: But not Chicago, correct?
The Spiritual Bat: Not anywhere else. This was the only gig ever. So this is actually our first tour ever. First time in Chicago, yes. It’s taken so long probably because we were never into playing live. It was always rare, very rare. Dario never liked playing live. Even at the CB’s Gallery gig back in 1998, he actually played with his back to the crowd. He’s not into it, he never was. We’re doing this for a friend of ours who’s no longer with us. He passed away last year in July. He was our sound engineer and very good friend. He always believed and always told us that we would become better musicians and that this experience would complete us. We trusted the guy, we just didn’t have the courage to do it. That’s why it’s taken so long. Doors opened here, we’re trying to do our best to keep our promise.
Chain D.L.K.: And what state what the first show?
The Spiritual Bat: The first show was in San Francisco, California.
Chain D.L.K.: Okay, and also what was the first show that the Bats played in the U.S.?
The Spiritual Bat: The Spiritual Bats? That was CB’s Gallery in New York on Alchemy Night, the Gothic Night was called Alchemy Night.
Chain D.L.K.: What made you decide to finally leave the European circuit for a while and come into the unknown like the U.S.?
The Spiritual Bat: One of the reasons is that we’ve received a lot of requests from a lot of fans, so I guess that’s a pretty good reason. We owe them. The other reason, in addition to our friend, is that when people ask you, people who buy your CDs, people who tell you touching things about your music, they want to see you live, you kind of owe them. So we’re making this effort and we’re here.
Chain D.L.K.: Very cool. What is the musical origin of the band? It’s musical time line perhaps if you will.
The Spiritual Bat: Spiritual Bats was formed in 1992 by Dario and the person who was then the singer, Matteo, who is actually the person who found the name Spiritual Bats. In 1993 a vinyl EP was released, very underground, very rare, a very special record. That was one line up. There was one drummer who played Industrial drums, not a drum set, and a keyboard player, and a bass player. The next lineup, 1995, was the first CD “Confession” and 1999 was when “Sacrament” came out and I joined as the drummer.
Chain D.L.K.: Very cool. So it went from the “Bats” to the “Bat.
The Spiritual Bat: Yeah that happened because eventually Dario and Matteo started developing different views on music and art and according to Matteo it was over. So Dario said, “Okay, we’re not the “Bats” I am “The Spiritual Bat.” It’s kind of playing the ironic thing.
Chain D.L.K.: Yes, because irony is always very important in music as well. How has the style of the music changed since you, Rosy, joined physically in both roles? Drumming and singing.
The Spiritual Bat: Well I am not sure I am the best person to answer that because I think that’s more of a job for critics, but perhaps I can say what I have brought with me. My cultural baggage is made of a lot of different genres that I listen to from Opera which I studied in school. I was interested in Ethno-musicology a lot and Shamanic Drumming, the way that drums and rhythms can trigger relationships with the other world or the spirits, etc. So that was part of my studies in college. So I brought some of that with me. I listen to a lot of things so I don’t know if that can be heard in my drumming. Actually my drumming never ripened. I consider it kind of instinctive kind of drumming and that’s why I didn’t feel comfortable drumming anymore and tried something else.
Chain D.L.K.: With this new album “Through the Shadows” how do you believe the music has changed it progression and it’s direction?
The Spiritual Bat: Perhaps people expected something different, something closer to “Confession” or “Sacrament.” This has a lot to do with the visual reality in which Dario lives which is very particular. His journey, he is saying, at the present time is a journey in darkness but in this darkness there is light, there’s a sort of brightness. It has to do with that a lot. Observing the world from this particular visual reality and that’s where it’s going I guess.
Chain D.L.K.: You use visuals on your albums and backgrounds. Where do these come from? Are you part of some sort of art movement? What is the origin or timeline?
The Spiritual Bat: There is a movement of painters called the Alchemisti Painters and Dario is a part of that. Our house is full of paintings that he made. The Alchemisti Painters was a group founded in 1976 by Lamberto Bracaglia. They’ve been exhibited in many international exhibitions. There’s a big background there. There’s a Funeral Cries video that was made by them. There’s a 30 minute video edited by our friend John Slackman in New York all based on the images of the Alchemisti Painters. Speaking of visuals, on every CD that we have ever released, every CD, even on the vinyl, there is something by a painter whose name was Luigi Pacioni who died in 1978 at the age of 26, he was a visionary, I wish I could show you what he did. So in every CD, in his honor, there is something, either a poem or an image by this artist, Luigi Pacioni. On the “Sacrament” CD we also have Eric Hammer’s contribution because he really connected with the Alchemisti Painters.
Chain D.L.K.: Yes, very well known, definitely. What concepts inspired these images?
The Spiritual Bat: Well basically it’s the Alchemic Quest for the Philosopher’s Stone, not as known by the kids today in Harry Potter, Alchemy has been around for millennia. The Philosopher’s Stone, the quest for knowing thyself, the exploration of the microcosm and macrocosm, inside and outside, so knowing thyself. When you see these paintings you actually feel like you’re in a sort of journey.
Chain D.L.K.: Kind of a spiritual journey, perhaps a quest.
The Spiritual Bat: But it’s not so much the final destination that is the goal, it is the journey.
Chain D.L.K.: Do you feel you are portraying a message to the masses through your visuals and uniqueness?
The Spiritual Bat: One of the main principles is knowing thyself through history too. I want to add a personal viewpoint on that. I’ve been asked this question before recently by a young fan. What I felt like saying at that moment, and I think it’s still true, is that perhaps it’s like reaching out, like a loving embrace in the dark when you perhaps think that you are alone and desperate. Sometimes it may be that.
Chain D.L.K.: I see, I see. What is the symbolism behind the name?
The Spiritual Bat: (Chuckles) Bats can’t see, but they can hear very well.
Chain D.L.K.: Oh secret secret (chuckles)
The Spiritual Bat: That’s it!
Chain D.L.K.: And they’re spiritual somehow (laughs)!
The Spiritual Bat: Spiritual when they want to be spiritual!
Chain D.L.K.: Do you write in first person, third person, or both?
The Spiritual Bat: I think I’ve written in both.
Chain D.L.K.: How do you get your ideas for your lyrics? Do they come from dreams, thought scapes, visions, and personal experiences?
The Spiritual Bat: All of the above. Sometimes ideas that I may obsess with for many years turn into a song.
Chain D.L.K.: I understand that Dario, with The Spiritual Bats, was the only opener for The Daucus Karota, Rozz, in Italy. That must have been a magical experience. When was the show and what was the effect on him and the band?
The Spiritual Bat: That was November, 1994. There was a big impact. Spiritual Bats had split up, they weren’t talking to each other for months already and the presence of Rozz Williams brought them back together. It happened all in one day because they had all gone to see the show. They found each other there, somebody asked them if they wanted to open and they hadn’t been rehearsing, they hadn’t been talking to each other for months, they didn’t even have their instruments, they played those of the band, of Daucus Karota, they played their instruments. Then they started talking to each other. That’s a big impact (chuckles).
Chain D.L.K.: And they stayed after the show too, right, and conversed?
The Spiritual Bat: Oh yeah some of them did, there was a bit of a language barrier, but you can feel the greatness.
Chain D.L.K.: What did Daucus Karota think of the Spiritual Bats?
The Spiritual Bat: We would have to ask them (chuckles)!
Chain D.L.K.: Did you ever?
The Spiritual Bat: I wouldn’t dare (laughs)!
Chain D.L.K.: (Laughs) I wouldn’t dare! How do you think that Death Rock has changed since Rozz’s death and what is the personal impact and effect that it’s had on your band?
The Spiritual Bat: He left a great void, emptiness, he left emptiness, that’s the initial feeling. That’s not all though because there was also this energy that was left by him, this great heritage, great legacy, so the void is not really emptiness and nothingness, there is a richness that he has left all of us.
Chain D.L.K.: We see your music as unique Psychedelic Death Rock. How do you feel about that sentiment?
The Spiritual Bat: There’s some truth in that. Psychedelic music has left an influence in Dario.
Chain D.L.K.: What future projects can we expect from The Spiritual Bat?
The Spiritual Bat: We can’t predict the future yet, but you never know, the new album, for sure. There are songs that we play in our live set that are going to be on the new album so Chicago and the other places in the States are going to be the first to hear songs from the next album. We’d love to come back with the full band which is our dream.
Chain D.L.K.: As an added question, starting with Rosy, what would you say just past and present, dead or alive, are your musical influences that have always been with you?
The Spiritual Bat: Can I mention Maria Callas, Ella Fitzgerald, and Max Roach as a drummer, there’s so many. Requiem in White was a soundtrack to a part of my life, to our life together.
Chain D.L.K.: And also poetically, who would you say?
The Spiritual Bat: The Romantics, just a lot of poets, I don’t know where to start. Recently influences are from Spanish Literature, very intense. Spanish artists are very surreal, very visionary.
Chain D.L.K.: The last facet, artistically, separate from poetic.
The Spiritual Bat: For me The Alchemisti Painters (chuckles). When I discovered Alchemisti Painters I thought, “This is it, I’m not a painter or an artist. And the Avant Gardes.
Chain D.L.K.: Now starting with Dario, musically.
The Spiritual Bat: How far back do you want to go? Let’s start with very general, our paths have been very different. The Rock matrix, Joy Division, Bauhaus, Siouxsie and the Banshees.
Chain D.L.K.: And artistically?
The Spiritual Bat: The Renaissance Painters, Baroque, and the great Cathedrals, architecturally.
Chain D.L.K.: And the last facet would be poetically.
The Spiritual Bat: he Avant Gardes, Alda Merini
Chain D.L.K.: Very cool. Well, I certainly thank you for this interview. You’ve been very thorough and obviously have satisfied all my questions, so I thank you. How interesting, this interview will go up in Chain DLK in Rome, you had to come all the way here (laughs)!
The Spiritual Bat: Well next time you better get yourself to Rome so we can do it there (laughs)!
Chain D.L.K.: Well we welcome you obviously. In conclusion, what are some tips of surviving to bands that are just starting out?
The Spiritual Bat: Finding a direction, first of all, and maintaining lucidity.
Visit The Spiritual Bat on the web at:
[interviewed by Michelle Russo] [proofreading by Frost Oktober]