Måneskin Wanna Be Your Next Rock Idols07/21/2021
If you were one of the 183 million viewers who caught the Eurovision Song Contest this year, you were probably on the edge of your seat watching Måneskin. Playing their fiery anthem “Zitti e Buoni” in sky-high boots while oozing glam-rock swagger, the group narrowly gave Italy its first win in the contest since 1990, simultaneously becoming the first rock band to win since Finland’s Lordi dominated the 2006 contest.
The young band’s summer has taken an even more surprising turn. Eurovision’s ability to create global superstars has dwindled over the past couple of decades, but Måneskin’s star power is hard to ignore. They have three songs in the upper reaches of Spotify’s global chart; their zesty Four Seasons cover, “Beggin’,” nabbed the Number One spot away from Olivia Rodrigo’s “Good 4 U” earlier this month. Their latest single, “I Wanna Be Your Slave,” has also been sitting in the Top 10, and is sure to rise just as high as “Beggin’,” thanks to a steamy new video. Plus, you can’t even open TikTok without hearing one of those songs or seeing thirsty fan edits.
“It’s very weird,” says bassist Victoria De Angelis. “None of us are very into TikTok, so we don’t see them so much. Every time our friends show us the videos, it’s very weird but cool!”
The story of Måneskin’s come-up feels as classic as their style and sound. The group met as young teenagers in Rome. De Angelis went to high school with singer Damiano David and guitarist Thomas Raggi. The trio all had die-hard music dreams and grew up on all flavors of rock. David’s taste reflects his own high-energy stage presence as the group’s frontman: Aerosmith, R.E.M., Red Hot Chili Peppers, Soundgarden. Raggi cites more heavy metal and hard rock, including Led Zeppelin, while De Angelis favors David Bowie and Depeche Mode.
They were young and used to playing with other young, not-so-great musicians, but they needed a drummer. They found Ethan Torchio through Facebook and put him through an “audition.” “It was completely fake,” David admits. “We were just pretending to be cool, but we had no other drummers. He was the only choice, but fortunately he was pretty good.”
Torchio, who names the Police’s Stewart Copeland as his biggest influence, was excited to fill out the band’s lineup. But the group would soon learn how tough it is to be a young band in Italy. “There’s no scene or audience to watch you live,” Raggi explains. Rome lacked the pubs and clubs where young artists are able to cut their teeth, so it was hard to book gigs. When they did find places to play, it involved a lot of begging and little return.
“No one has the gear to let you play, so you have to bring it yourself. No one wants to pay you anything. It’s very hard if you’re young because you don’t grow up knowing there’s a chance to do it,” De Angelis continues. “In Italy, there’s no other known rock bands. There’s the historical ones, but there are no other young rock bands from here. It’s a real shame.“
The band got creative and decided to take to the streets. They began busking in the Colli Portuensi district of Rome and on the famous Via Del Corso. “When you have to grab the attention of pedestrians, that’s huge training for the stage,” David says.
In 2018, Måneskin released their debut album, Il Ballo della Vita (The Dance of Life), a quasi-concept album inspired by a fictional muse named “Marlena” and heavy on ska influence. But their 2021 album, Teatro D’ira: Vol. 1 (Theater of Wrath), feels like it most realizes their vision as a band. Before writing the album, the quartet moved to London to experience what it’s like to be a part of a real music scene. “In London, there’s so many concerts every night. We had the chance to see many different bands, and that gave us a lot of inspiration,” De Angelis explains.
David adds that they really started to study their instruments and “all the possibilities” they could achieve with more technical knowledge. When they returned to Rome to record Teatro, they recorded every song live in the studio to achieve maximum rawness — a sound that has helped create a true global fandom, in spite of radio stations telling them their sound wasn’t mainstream enough.
The rawness accompanies an important message. For Måneskin, sexual freedom is inherent to their lyrics as well as their style. They’re particularly proud of the “kinky” video they created for “I Wanna Be Your Slave,” which encompasses much of their ethos and appeal. “[The video] is about sex and how you [express yourself] sexually,” De Angelis says. “The song is about feeling free to be whoever you want and there’s no right or bad things. We wanted to show that in the video.”
The band members, who have proudly disposed of gender and sexual norms in their fashion sense and stage presence, have felt inspired by fans who tell them how Måneskin have helped them accept who they are, especially when it comes to their sexual identity. “When we were younger, we were not that confident or sure about ourselves, but we had the chance to grow up together and support each other,” David explains. “We want to share our experience with our fans, and we try to encourage people to be who they are. Everyone should have the right and possibility what they want to share or what they want to be without being judged or sent away.”
Over the summer, Måneskin will get some opportunities to celebrate their big Eurovision win with festival shows. By the end of the year, they want to release a third album, which they began writing last year, and finally book tour dates. The band dreams of opening for the likes of the Arctic Monkeys, Rolling Stones, and Foo Fighters. “Of course,” David says with a smirk, “we want to be the headliners.” At this rate, that dream may be more achievable than he realizes.
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