AP Entertainment

France rolls out the red carpet for King Charles III's state visit

PARIS (AP) — President Emmanuel Macron and King Charles III held talks in Paris on Wednesday at the start of a long-awaited three-day state visit meant to highlight the friendship between France and the U.K.

Charles’ trip to France was postponed in March amid widespread demonstrations against Macron’s pension changes.

For their first stop in the French capital, Charles and Queen Camilla attended a ceremony at the Arc de Triomphe, where they were greeted by Macron and his wife, Brigitte.

Macron offered a warm welcome to the new king, often putting his hand on his arm and his back. Both smiled as they chatted together.

Paris city center has been placed under high security for the occasion, with thousands of police officers and surveillance drones being deployed.

Small crowds gathered behind a wide range of barriers on the Champs-Elysees to get a chance to see the royal parade.

The visit shows “the deep historical ties that unite our two countries. It is also an opportunity to showcase France’s cultural, artistic and gastronomic excellence,” the French presidency said.

At the Arc de Triomphe, both national anthems were played before a review of French troops and a wreath laying at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier to marking "the shared sacrifices of the past and an enduring legacy of cooperation,” according to Buckingham Palace.

The jet fighters of the Patrouille de France and Britain's Red Arrows, the acrobatic teams of the two air forces, flew together above the monument, leaving a trail of red, white and blue smoke in the Parisian sky.

Both the royal and the presidential couples appeared to struggle with a strong wind, which tousled Macron's hair and forced Camilla to hold on tightly to her pink, beret-style hat.

Charles and Macron, followed by Brigitte and Camilla in another car, then headed to the presidential palace under escort from the horses of the French National Guard, with both waving at the crowd.

Macron and Charles held a bilateral meeting at the Elysee Palace, because the visit also “symbolizes the relationship of friendship and trust” since they ”have in the past worked closely together to protect biodiversity and combat global warming," the French presidency said.

The agenda was also due to include talks on Russia's war in Ukraine and the migration issue as Italy's southern island of Lampedusa was in recent days overwhelmed by people setting off from Tunisia.

While the U.K. royal family long ago ceded political power to elected leaders, members of the royal family remain Britain's preeminent ambassadors as presidents and prime ministers jockey to bask in the glamor and pageantry that follows them wherever they go.

The visit comes amid a recent warming in the Franco-British relationship after years marked by Brexit talks and related disputes.

At a bilateral summit in March, Macron and U.K. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak agreed to strengthen military ties and step up efforts to prevent migrants from crossing the English Channel.

“We know that the British and French relationship has been difficult at times since 2016,” Ed Owens, a historian of the British monarchy, told The Associated Press.

“This move on the part of the British state to send the king to France is about reassuring the people of France, but also the people of the U.K. that this is a relationship of significant important and that it is based on history, heritage and that there are many other things in our shared futures that connect us.”

A state dinner on Wednesday in the Hall of Mirrors at the Palace of Versailles in the presence of more than 150 guests will be one of the highlights of the visit.

Among those invited were British actor Hugh Grant, writer Ken Follett, Rolling Stones' singer Mike Jagger, sport figures including football player Didier Drogba and the head of the Paris Olympics organization committee, Tony Estanguet, as well as many CEOs and senior politicians.

The menu includes blue lobster and crab followed by Bresse poultry and a gratin of cep mushrooms prepared, respectively, by French chefs Anne-Sophie Pic and Yannick Alléno. Both have been awarded three Michelin stars. The cheese course will feature France’s Comté and Britain’s Stichelton blue cheese. For dessert, world-famous pastry chef Pierre Hermé will prepare his rose macaroon cookie, made of rose petal cream, raspberries and lychees.

On Thursday, Charles will address French lawmakers at the Senate, providing a new venue for the king to show off his language skills after he wowed his audience by switching seamlessly between German and English during a speech to Germany’s parliament in March.

He will later rejoin Macron in front of Notre-Dame Cathedral to see the ongoing renovation work aimed at reopening the monument by the end of next year.

U.K. Ambassador Menna Rawlings, speaking on French news broadcaster LCI, said that Charles was “very sad” after the monument's spire and roof collapsed in a blaze in 2019. It reminded him of the 1992 fire at Windsor Castle, she added.

Charles and Macron will also attend a reception for British and French business leaders about financing climate-related and biodiversity projects.

The king will end his trip on Friday with a stop in Bordeaux, home to a large British community. He will meet emergency workers and communities affected by the 2022 wildfires in the area and visit the Forêt Experimentale, or experimental forest, a project designed to monitor the impact of climate on urban woodlands.

He will also tour a vineyard which has pioneered a sustainable approach to wine making.


Danica Kirka in London and Alexander Turnbull in Paris contributed to the story.

Talking Heads on the once-in-a-lifetime 'Stop Making Sense'

TORONTO (AP) — You may find yourself in a movie theater with “Stop Making Sense” playing and the members of Talking Heads in the audience.

That was the once-in-a-lifetime scenario when the new 4K restoration of “Stop Making Sense” premiered recently at the Toronto International Film Festival. On screen was a young, elastic David Byrne. In the theater, he was dancing, too, along with a crowd who couldn’t stay seated for “Burning Down the House.”

“For a moment I thought, ‘Is it OK for me to get up and dance at our own movie?” Byrne says, laughing, the morning after. “But how could you not?”

For nearly four decades, “Stop Making Sense,” directed by Jonathan Demme, has exerted an inexorable pull on all who encounter the frenetic fever of arguably the finest concert film ever made. Its power to bring together — it opens with Byrne alone on a spare stage and swells into an art-funk spectacular — is such that it’s even managed to reunite the Talking Heads, too.

For the first time in 21 years, the Talking Heads are a band again, even if only in movie theaters. Byrne, the band’s principal songwriter and singer, keyboardist-guitarist Jerry Harrison, bassist Tina Weymouth and drummer Chris Frantz — who last gathered together in 2002 for their induction to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame — have assembled once more for the rerelease of “Stop Making Sense.”

“It feels normal,” says Weymouth. “I mean, this is our tour. We’re touring this movie.”

Since they officially broke up in 1991, the four members of Talking Heads have often squabbled, bitterly. Byrne has said he regrets his role in the band’s “ugly” dissolution. Frantz, who’s married to Weymouth, published a 2020 memoir that described some of the discord and lingering hurts. When Byrne mounted the acclaimed Broadway show “American Utopia” a few years ago, featuring many Talking Heads songs, Frantz was stung not to even be invited.

As the group congregated the morning after the “Stop Making Sense” premiere for an interview, though, they were cordial with each other. They're now all in their early '70s. “How you livin’, Jerry?” greeted Frantz. Byrne gazed out the window, contemplating a possible cycling route for the afternoon. He and Harrison sat on one couch, Weymouth and Frantz on another.

Their spirits were high. The film remains in light, a potent reminder of Talking Heads’ uniquely transfixing power. Harrison helped oversee the restoration from the long-lost original negatives. It opens on IMAX screens Friday and in other theaters Sept. 29.

“One of the things that happened to me in rewatching it and working on it, was realizing: ‘Oh my God is everybody good,’” says Harrison.

“I didn’t know I was cute,” smiled Weymouth, who nimbly bounces from one foot to the other throughout the film. “The whole band, they were so attractive, so beautiful.”

“Stop Making Sense,” filmed over four nights at Los Angeles’ Pantages Theater in 1983, hasn’t dimmed with time. “Same as it ever was,” you could say. What begins with a solitary Byrne, with an acoustic guitar and boombox, steadily accumulates as the members of the band join him, then others like Parliament-Funkadelic keyboardist Bernie Worrell and guitarist Alex Weir. This jittery, wide-eyed musician singing of psycho killers to a syncopated beat attracts a legion. His movements are malleable and constant. The music grows euphoric. This IS a party. This IS a disco.

“It’s the unbridled joyousness of the performance, which snowballs,” says Frantz. “It starts off with ‘Psycho Killer,’ which is a thing unto itself. But it snowballs into this ecstatic experience. You can see it very clearly with the band members. They’re gettin’ more and more fever.”

“They’re going to church,” adds Weymouth.

Demme , who died in 2017, once called shooting live music “the purest form of filmmaking.” And much of “Stop Making Sense,” with an eagerly responsive Demme and cinematographer Jordan Cronenweth catching all the interactions between the band, approaches a perfect harmony of sound and image.

Now THAT, Byrne said after watching the film on IMAX, is why you go to the movies.

Byrne had choregraphed the Talking Heads tour that year, for the album “Speaking in Tongues.” Their concert came ready-made for Demme, a devoted Heads fan and an ardent music listener who approached the band with producer Gary Goetzman after seeing them perform in 1983 at the Hollywood Bowl.

“The great thing about Jonathan Demme was he had this amazing enthusiasm,” says Weymouth.

For several weeks beforehand, visual consultant Sandy McLeod came along on tour to plot out how the filmmakers might document the concert. Byrne’s concept stemmed from, he says, “showing people what it takes to put on a show.”

“We start with an empty stage and gradually add each part, each musician. As they come in, you hear what their contribution is,” Byrne says. “You see how it all gets done. It’s like a magician showing how the tricks are done, but the trick still works. We’ve seen behind the curtain, but the trick still works.”

And the “tricks” are grand. There’s, of course, Byrne’s iconic, Kabuki-influenced big suit in “Girlfriend Is Better”– now even bigger in IMAX. (The big suit, itself, resides in a big box in Byrne’s office.) There’s also his achingly gentle dance with a floor lamp in “This Must Be the Place (Naïve Melody)” — a sumptuous echo to Gene Kelly's tap dance around a lamp post in “Singin’ in the Rain.”

The lamps were made specially to be a little taller than the typical size, so they would illuminate faces.

“We bought a few of them. They’d break all the time. I’d drop them and all the light bulbs would break,” says Byrne, laughing. “We’re kind of lucky that the ones in the film held up.”

Other elements of “Stop Making Sense” have also proved remarkably resilient, though they can be harder to pin down. The songs, particularly something like “Life During Wartime,” synthesized a modern discombobulation that was only just emerging in the tech-nascent ’80s. “Stop Making Sense” — shot on film with six cameras but mixed digitally in Hal Ashby’s editing room — heralded a disorienting information age future while at the same time making the case that this strange new world could also be funky as hell.

“There’s most definitely a prescient nature in David’s lyrics,” Harrison says. “David seemed to capture, you might say, the future zeitgeist.”

That can be heard in what Byrne was singing about but it’s also embodied in his constant, live-wire physicality. It was only a few years before “Stop Making Sense,” on tour in 1980, that Byrne began to find his a stage persona.

“Before that, I didn’t move much. I just thought: It’s OK to move but you have to find your own way to do it. You can’t be imitating other performers,” he says. “So I just listened to the songs and thought: How does this groove make you move? On ‘Life During Wartime,’ I felt like running.”

Unlike most concert films, Demme elected not to cut away to the audience until the final moments of the film. He wanted to preserve the pure experience of a live concert, and not mix in interviews along the way.

“U2 wanted to make a film that was better than ‘Stop Making Sense’ and then they went and ruined it by doing all those interviews,” Weymouth says. “The art should be separate from the personalities. So you don’t get all the dysfunction.”

To her, “Stop Making Sense” derives from a different era when not everything was self-documented. It was a vividly artful presentation that left it up to the viewer to interpret, or dance to.

Talking Heads never participated in another film, though Byrne’s “American Utopia” was captured thrillingly by Spike Lee in a 2020 film. (Lee, in attendance at the Toronto premiere, pronounced “Stop Making Sense” “the GOAT" of concert films.)

The 1983 tour was the last time Talking Heads hit the road, and Byrne has consistently said he has no interest in a reunion tour. After their experience with Demme, a career-spanning documentary also seems unlikely.

“It would have to take something pretty extraordinary to make us want us to do something like that,” says Harrison. “If the right filmmaker came along and you could then imagine yourself in the framework he or she sets up, it’s possible. It certainly wouldn’t be now.”

Besides, who needs legacy burnishing when “Stop Making Sense” is still so alive? In conversation, the band again and again marveled at how deeply in tune they were with one another then — perhaps especially in contrast to the years that followed.

“This is going to sound really ridiculous but I think about the fusion of the sun,” says Weymouth. “It implodes and explodes. And I think that push and pull was so magical to our creative forces, the way that we worked together, the way we were supportive of each other. It was very special and none of us has found it again. If we sat down and played music, we’d be connecting again.”

The Talking Heads members are now, a little surreally, part of the audience gazing back at “Stop Making Sense.” It remains the defining encapsulation of what the Talking Heads were and what they achieved. If there's one thing they can all agree on, it's an abiding love for it.

“Having had two near-death experiences in the past couple of years – one with Tina in a head-on car crash -- who’s the guy who said ‘Enjoy every sandwich’? Warren Zevon," Frantz says. "That’s what I’m doing.”

“It’s a good legacy. Now I can die,” says Weymouth, before adding: “I don’t want to.”


Follow AP Film Writer Jake Coyle on Twitter at: http://twitter.com/jakecoyleAP

Quavo steps up advocacy against gun violence after his nephew Takeoff's shooting death

LOS ANGELES (AP) — The trauma Migos rapper Quavo suffered after witnessing his nephew Takeoff being gunned down last year is a disturbing sight he doesn’t want anyone else to experience.

Through his pain, Quavo found his purpose as a vocal advocate against gun violence. He met privately with some powerful political figures including Vice President Kamala Harris then later spoke on a panel about combating the issue during the Congressional Black Caucus legislative conference in Washington on Wednesday.

The Grammy-nominated rapper said Takeoff’s untimely death in 2022 ultimately convinced him to speak up.

“I feel like your calling comes at the least expected times,” said Quavo, who also honored his nephew with their Migos bandmate Offset during the BET Awards earlier this summer.

Police say Takeoff was an innocent bystander who was shot outside a Houston bowling alley after a disagreement over a lucrative dice game led to gunfire. Takeoff's death was the latest in a string of fatal shootings in recent years that involved hip-hop stars such as Nipsey Hussle, Pop Smoke, PnB Rock and Young Dolph.

“You don't think nothing is going to happen,” Quavo continued. “I need to step up to the plate and hit a homerun. I have to do something about it, so it won't happen to the masses — especially in our culture. I don't want this to happen to the next person. I want to knock down these percentages.”

Quavo joined a panel discussion Wednesday alongside Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock, Rep. Lucy McBath — whose activism was propelled after the shooting death of her teenage son — and Greg Jackson of the Community Justice Action Fund. It was a solutions-oriented conversation on community intervention strategies, the battle with gun violence and the power in advocacy.

Earlier, Quavo arrived at the conference hand-in-hand with his sister Titania Davenport, the mother of Takeoff.

After Quavo met with Harris, the vice president praised the rapper and Davenport's “call for action” to prevent gun violence.

“We need to do better with the control of guns,” Quavo said. “We need to figure out how do we keep these types of incidents from happening to people going anywhere and thinking they can hurt somebody where it shouldn’t happen.”

After Takeoff's shooting, Quavo often asked himself “How do we use (guns) safely?"

“And how do you keep them out of the hands of people that make bad decisions?” he said. “I'm kind of in a half-and-half place. Even police have guns. Unfortunately, some of the people in our culture and loved ones have been lost to police brutality. It's all about choices and how we can put a filter on who can use these guns.”

Jackson said Quavo’s voice could make a difference. He applauded the rapper for sitting down with members of Congress, offering his firsthand insights and putting the pressure on them for impactful change.

“His voice and commitment around community violence intervention could provide more resources for those who are most at risk,” said Jackson, whose Community Justice organization hosted Quavo for a day of advocacy. They are both pushing for passing of the Break the Cycle of Violence Act, which would provide a $6.5 billion federal grant to communities to curb gun violence, create prevention programs, job training and workforce development for youths.

Jackson, who was shot in 2013, said combating gun violence has become personal for him.

“It’s what we need,” Jackson said. “With gun violence, in order to change it, we have to change the behavior just as aggressively as we focus on safety and ownership and access. But we can’t change behavior if our communities don’t have the resources they need, and our youth is being overlooked and forgotten.”

So far, Quavo has taken the right steps forward: Last year, the rapper and his family launched the Rocket Foundation in honor of Takeoff and he committed $2 million to invest in community violence intervention. He aspires to develop more after school programs in areas where community centers have been shut down and basketball goal rims were taken down.

Quavo says it’s imperative to keep the youth busy with productive activities in a safe environment. He’s already reached out to some in the hip-hop community for support including rapper Meek Mill, who’s been active with criminal justice reform.

But Quavo says he knows he needs more political backing to streamline much-needed resources to the less fortunate.

“I feel like after going to the White House, I need resources,” he said. “I need a bag of goodies, so I can take back and say ‘Here, this is for the culture.' We have that extension cord. We are plugged into that type of environment. I don’t think no one else in our stature is that connected. In order for things to change, we need resources.”

As writers and studios resume negotiations, here are the key players in the Hollywood strikes

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Negotiations between striking screenwriters and Hollywood studios are set to resume Wednesday, the latest attempt to bring an end to pickets that have brought film and television productions to a halt.

The two sides have been divided on issues of pay, the size of writing staffs on shows and the use of artificial intelligence in how scripts are created. Actors, who joined the writers on strike in July, have their own issues but there have been no discussions about resuming negotiations with their union yet.

The key players in the two strikes that have brought Hollywood to a halt include little-known leaders, labor lawyers, entertainment tycoons and the actor who played “The Nanny.”

Here's a look at the figures who brought on the walk-off of actors and screenwriters, and who have the power to send them back to work:


Her name is little known outside the industry, and she nearly never speaks to the media, but as head of the opposition in both the writers and actors strikes, Carol Lombardini is arguably the most important single figure in Hollywood's labor stoppage.

For 14 years, she has led negotiations for studios in contract talks with all of Hollywood's unions and guilds. Many of the negotiations she’s headed have come to the brink or run past deadlines, but none ever led to a strike, much less two, before now.

Since 2009, Lombardini, a lawyer has been president and chief negotiator of the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, the conglomeration of studios, streaming services and production companies that creates contracts with unions.

She grew up in a working class suburb of Boston, got a degree in Renaissance history from the University of Chicago, and earned a law degree from Stanford. She worked for a pair of private firms before joining the AMPTP as an attorney when the group was first formed in 1982.

A respected if adversarial figure in years past, she has become the target of much of strikers' vitriol. She appears often on picket signs and is the subject of many parody social media accounts.


Ellen Stutzman was the one sitting across the table from Lombardini in the failed negotiations that led to the writers strike. It is not a seat she expected to occupy when the year began.

Stutzman, also an attorney, took over as chief negotiator for the Writers Guild on Feb. 28, just two weeks before contract talks began. She entered the role after longtime lead negotiator David Young, who led the guild through the 2007-2008 strike, stepped down for health reasons.

She still has the title from her previous role: assistant executive director for the Writers Guild of America West. Stutzman joined the union as a researcher in 2006. Researching the union's issues and educating union members, government officials and the public on them are a specialty.

“We would tell the viewers and the public that writers are fighting to have a career, and to have a viable profession, and to continue to create the shows and movies that people in this country and around the world love,” Stutzman told The AP on the first day of the writers strike in May. “We hope that they’ll support them in that fight.”

Generally regarded as more low key and less combative than Young, Stutzman played a key role in writers' 2019 fight with agents, in which WGA members fired their representatives en masse over plans by Hollywood's major talent agencies to expand into production. The union also sued the agencies, calling the potential move a conflict of interest and a violation of antitrust law. That battle — which the writers won — in some ways served as a dress rehearsal for the current strike.

Stutzman graduated from the School of Industrial and Labor Relations at Cornell University in 2004 and worked for the Service Employees International Union-United Healthcare Workers before joining the Writers Guild.


Lombardini and the AMPTP represent a coalition of more than 350 companies, but as in the entertainment industry itself, a few giants dominate. Three leaders have come to embody the group: Disney CEO Bob Iger, Warner Bros. Discovery chief executive David Zaslav and Netflix co-CEO Ted Sarandos.

As chief executive of entertainment’s biggest behemoth, Disney’s Bob Iger would always have been a target for strikers. But a new contract reportedly worth more than $30 million annually, the day before the actors strike was called, and his comments the following day, made him the first name on the lips and signs of many strikers. Iger said that it was "the worst time in the world” to add to the disruptions the industry's already facing.

The industry's shift to a streaming model is behind most of the issues that led to the strike. Netflix pioneered that model, and its leader Ted Sarandos has come to signify it for strikers. Sarandos joined Netflix in 2000, shortly after its founding, and initiated its move into original programming with “Lilyhammer,” “House of Cards" and "Orange is the New Black.”

As CEO of Warner-Discovery, David Zaslav, for strikers, embodies the entertainment executive who shifts away from elite creative programming toward reality TV and other less vaunted programming, most manifest on Max, the streaming service that under his watch dropped “HBO” from its name.

Before the strikes began he was already scorned by many on the creative side for shelving nearly finished projects like “Batgirl” and turning them into tax write-offs.

The three executives have attempted to take a more direct role in the standoff, meeting in person with Writers Guild negotiators last month in an effort to restart talks. But the WGA said in a statement afterward that they were “met with a lecture about how good their single and only counteroffer was."


Fran Drescher is the strikes' most famous face, both for her starring role in the 1990s sitcom “The Nanny” and for the speech she made that gave a spark to actors as their strike was announced.

Drescher was re-elected last week as president of the Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television, a job she's had since 2021.

She shook the leadership reins of SAG-AFTRA with her fiery speech at the news conference announcing the strike on July 14. Drescher told The Associated Press in an interview that she had scrapped a written statement moments before, and improvised.

“When you speak from the heart, people are so responsive,” Drescher told The AP in an interview. “Because I guess they see a lot of people that don’t. And so it kind of cuts through the noise when it does.”

Drescher was born, raised and went to community college in Queens, New York. She had a series of increasingly memorable small roles, usually playing brash New Yorkers, starting with “Saturday Night Fever” in 1976.

She became a household name when she co-created and starred in “The Nanny.” The series ran on CBS from 1993 to 1999 and took much of its inspiration from her life.


As always, writers toil in (relative) anonymity compared to the famous actors they write scripts for. Drescher's less-known counterparts on the writers' side — technically two unions that unite for negotiations and strikes — are Michael Winship and Meredith Stiehm. Winship is president of the Writers Guild of America East and Stiehm president of its counterpart in the West.

Both have long careers as Emmy-winning television writers. Stiehm was creator of the early 2000s CBS crime procedural “Cold Case” and co-creator of “The Bridge” on FX. Winship has worked more in news and educational programming, writing shows for PBS, the Discovery and Learning Channels and the Sesame Workshop. He's soon stepping down and will be replaced by Lisa Takeuchi Cullen, who has developed drama series for several networks and streamers.

Stiehm overwhelmingly won reelection to another two-year term Tuesday.

All three have put down their pens and picked up picket signs.


Hollywood's guilds operate like cities that have an elected mayor who sets the agenda, and a city manager who oversees operations more directly. If Drescher is SAG-AFTRA's mayor, Duncan Crabtree-Ireland is its city manager.

Crabtree-Ireland, who has worked for the guild for more than 20 years, became its national executive director and chief negotiator shortly after Drescher took office.

He took an unlikely path to get there. Born in Memphis and raised in London and Dallas, Crabtree-Ireland went to college at Georgetown and law school at the University of California, Davis. He worked for several years as a criminal prosecutor in Los Angeles before taking a left turn and becoming a staff attorney for SAG-AFTRA in 2000.

“I get asked to talk to law students about careers from time to time, and I always preface the story by saying I can’t, I don’t encourage you to try to replicate this because I’ve no idea how it happened,” Crabtree-Ireland told the AP in an interview. “I never thought I’d be here.”

He would be tested quickly after getting the job. The first contract talks for film and TV actors under his role as chief negotiator resulted in their first strike in more than 40 years.


Associated Press Writers Krysta Fauria and Damian Dovarganes contributed.

Italian rockers Måneskin continue to revive the genre, selling out Madison Square Garden

NEW YORK (AP) — Huddled together on a snakeskin couch in a New York hotel, their euphoria was infectious.

Måneskin just played a pop-up lunchtime show in Times Square, and now they learned their Madison Square Garden show scheduled for later in the week was a sellout.

Pleasantly surprised, frontman Damiano David called the news “very special.”

“It’s one of the most important places where you can ever dream to play,” David said.

That show Thursday night will kick off the North American leg of their Rush! World Tour that began earlier this year.

In an era where rock bands seem endangered and most of the top acts in the genre came from the last millennium, Måneskin has become something of an anomaly.

Coming to prominence in 2021 after an unexpected win at the Eurovision Song Contest with their high-energy rocker, “Zitti E Buoni,” the Italian quartet seems to be reviving rock music, or at least, providing a breath of hope.

Bass player Victoria De Angelis says it was never intentional.

Instead, she says the band was born out of “pure passion” between four friends who met in high school.

“I think for us this thing of making rock music just came because we were so young,” she said.

They simply wanted to make music, never having the notion of “breaking through” in the music business as a rock act.

“We grew up listening to the music our parents did. And then when we started playing our instruments to our teachers and just discovering rock music and all the bands of the past. It’s something that really shaped us in who we are today,” De Angelis said.

That osmosis ripples through the band as they listened to classic rock filtered from their parents and grandparents. Guitarist Thomas Raggi knew he wanted to play rock music after hearing what Jimi Hendrix could with a Stratocaster.

“I want to revive a bit of the figure of the iconic guitarist," Raggi said.

Drummer Ethan Torchio shares that sentiment, saying that his style is different while informed by the rock of the ‘70s and ’80s. "I just try to be modern and vintage at the same time,” he said.

Now with three studio albums under their belt, the young rockers (David is the oldest at 24) are becoming a global phenom. As the band’s popularity continues to increase, De Angelis says she’s not affected by the fame, rather she sees it as “a big adventure that we get to share with each other.”

“I think we’re lucky because we met when we were really young, so our personalities basically developed together and we lived this crazy experience together that made the bond between us even tighter,” De Angelis said.

While they can easily be mistaken for glam rockers of another era with their fashion style and arena anthems like “I Wanna Be Your Slave,” or “Supermodel,” there’s a strong sensuality to the music that harkens back to that forbidden appeal from the early days of rock ‘n’ roll with the intimacy “upped to 11” during live shows. Subsequently, the band has amassed a dedicated global following, led by their charismatic frontman.

David attributes that vibe from the band’s days of busking on the streets of Rome as teenagers.

“We had to get the attention of the people. So, we saw that interacting and getting close is something that really works,” David said.

That carried over to their live show, as they break away from the main stage for a few songs to get closer to the audience. They also have brought fans onstage.

“We try to come up with ways to get closer to the people because you can actually feel the energy. Also, you can touch and see their faces and make them sing… it’s just sharing a fun moment for us,” David said.

The relationship between artist and audience was intensified during their South America dates where the band was exposed to some of the most energetic audiences.

“People go crazy, they sing the lyrics all the time. They really scream at the top of their lungs. They mosh. They crowd surf. It’s like maximum energy,” De Angelis said.

But as their fan base continues to grow, along with the size of the venues, David admits success presents some challenges.

“It brings more fans, of course, and stuff like that, but it brings more haters, more criticism and more expectations.”

But he says the band remains resilient.

“Very often, the audience wants artists to be always the same. But I think it’s very, very unhealthy. So it’s important having the guts to continuously experiment and change no matter what people are going to think,” David said.

Categories: AP Entertainment

Leave a Reply