While Vittorio Tolomeo has been making music as a solo artist since 2010, he has recently released his first solo album as Quarry. The London-based indie-rock singer-songwriter has now dropped ‘Precious Stone’ from his critically acclaimed album. We sat down with Quarry (Q) to talk about the single, his music and much more!
OSR: What motivated you to start a solo career?
Q: I have played in bands for a long time. Being in a band is a huge compromise but if you are lucky enough to live a life of compromise with great guys, the band will keep going and the joy of playing together will overcome arguments. There have been a few real bands in pop music history.
“Real bands” means that all the members do their very best and aim for the same goal. When it comes to playing in a band, success is not directly proportional to talent. Sometimes the audience loves the band more than the music itself. Members’ closeness, their passion and efforts can elevate the music from good to great.
Some bands I played in received very positive feedback from the audience. Prizeday has been the most important one. We released only one album, but we achieved many things in the short time we’ve been together. We toured Europe and played the Great Escape Festival, our short film “War Zone” was screened at the Cannes Film Festival. The music was good, we were good musicians but we were not good enough as a band.
So, I decided to go solo again. I love to play with other musicians and experience positive feelings with them while recording and performing live. But as a solo artist, I avoid the frustration of being in a band that is not a real band!
OSR: What problems have you had to overcome as a solo artist?
Q: I don’t have any problem in particular. I don’t deal with isolation. I usually play live and in the studio with other musicians, friends of mine. Plus, I have always faced a host of pressures while playing in bands. I was a songwriter, a publicist, a sound engineer and a roadie at the same time to keep the band going.
OSR: What do you enjoy most and hate most about being a musician?
Q: Writing songs is something that keeps me breathing better. It’s always thrilling to go through the whole process of songwriting. The spark of creativity is the foundation for a so-called artist. It allows you to express yourself and portray an ideal world and then taking the new songs to the stage in front of people. It allows you to avoid playing covers for life or playing in a tribute band, which are the things I hate most about being musician. Playing covers when you start learning an instrument and including some in your setlist is great. But cover bands, and especially tribute bands, should be regarded as illegal!
OSR: Who are your biggest musical influences?
Q: To me, influences are about a sort of soul connection among musicians from different eras. Very different musicians from one another with different approaches toward music but linked somehow. I hope to filter the fascination with the past through my own motivations to not be just a boring copy of someone else. Patti Smith, Sly and The Family Stone, Velvet Underground, Kraftwerk, Bob Dylan, Joy Division, David Bowie, The Clash are very often included in the playlists of my life.
OSR: What is the inspiration for ‘Precious Stone’?
Q: I read an article in a women’s magazine that said that love is the cure for eternal dissatisfaction. On the same day a friend of mine told me about his problems with his girlfriend. He said: ‘Where does this eternal love dissatisfaction come from?’ We enjoy living with contradictions. In regard to love, what better/bitter contradiction? Joy and sorrow, delight and melancholy. Sometimes it’s good. Sometimes it hurts. Small gestures we take for granted, like holding each other, will help us decide one way or another.’
OSR: How do you interact with your fans?
Q: I try do my best on social networks but to be honest I’d rather prefer playing gigs every night of the year than spending hours in front of my laptop. I think that old Myspace was great for musicians and music fans. Social media culture democratized music marketing but music has been devalued. It’s tough for a musician who composes his own music to make his voice heard on Facebook or Instagram through tons of bikini pics, hot selfies and haters.
OSR: How are you dealing with lockdown and the cancellation of your tour?
Q: We discovered we are vulnerable to calamities. The pandemic is showing us how to live with uncertainty. The feeling of loss of freedom and loss of ownership of our lives is quite painful.
But, it’s more painful to cope with the loss of thousands of lives. I hope we’ll never take anything for granted after the pandemic, but I doubt it. I wrote many songs during lockdown. Not happy ones. I was supposed to play fifteen dates at the end of May/beginning of June in Germany, Holland and Belgium. It was tough to cancel the tour but it’s nothing compared to what’s happening across the world.
OSR: What was the best gig you ever had?
Q: Probably a gig in Liverpool with Prizeday at a great venue called Kazimier. We were opening for The Crazy World of Arthur Brown. I loved the interaction with the audience.
OSR: What are your plans for your solo career?
Q: Next move will be a single release. Let’s say it’s an ambitious project. The song is called “Micro Plastic People”. I shot a promo before the pandemic where I’m wrapped in plastic and invite people to send a video of themselves singing the choral intro of the song. These videos will be part of the official video. I hope to involve as many people as possible and raise our voices against plastic pollution.
OSR: Do you have any message for our readers?
Q: Sure. Hey music fans, I’m a music fan. It’s a tough time for everyone at the moment. Music can help us to lighten our days. If we like a song we have to support music and musicians by downloading, streaming and sharing the songs.