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The star of Eurovision-winning band Måneskin continues to rise with new album

ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

Winning the Eurovision Song Contest is no guarantee that an act will stick around. For every Celine Dion or ABBA, there are countless others whose names you've forgotten.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "ZITTI E BUONI")

MÅNESKIN: (Singing in Italian).

SHAPIRO: It's only been a couple years since the Italian band Måneskin won, and so far, their star keeps rising.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "ZITTI E BUONI")

MÅNESKIN: (Singing in Italian).

SHAPIRO: Their cover of the Four Seasons track "Beggin'" hit number one on the Spotify global charts.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "BEGGIN'")

MÅNESKIN: (Singing) I'm begging, begging you to put your loving hand out, baby.

SHAPIRO: Now, they've been nominated for a best new artist Grammy, and the band has a new album called "RUSH!" Damiano David is the vocalist and Victoria De Angelis is the bassist. They are two of Måneskin's four members. Thank you so much for joining us.

DAMIANO DAVID: Hello.

SHAPIRO: So you two have been making music with your friends since high school. Can you start by just painting a picture of those early days for us?

VICTORIA DE ANGELIS: Yeah, even before - we actually started in middle school.

DAVID: Middle school, yeah.

DE ANGELIS: And then we immediately went busking. So I think that would be the first memory we got of us together, when we went playing in the streets of Rome.

DAVID: Yeah.

SHAPIRO: Were you doing covers, or were you writing your own songs even then?

DE ANGELIS: Mostly covers, but we also had a couple of our own.

DAVID: We were trying with weak results to write a song.

SHAPIRO: (Laughter) Paint a picture - like, the four of you standing on the streets of Rome, open guitar case in front of you. What was the vibe?

DE ANGELIS: Exactly. That was the vibe. And we had...

DAVID: It was anxiety and a...

DE ANGELIS: Some anxiety.

DAVID: ...Huge feeling of cringe. Yeah, no, when you have to start playing in the streets, like, when you go there, you put the amplifier down, and you take your instrument, and you start seeing people look at you like, why? And you feel, like, so out of place, but then you start to play. And you get, like, the 10 people looking at you, like, super hyped.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "RAGGAMUFFIN")

MÅNESKIN: (Singing) So listen to the sound of my voice.

SHAPIRO: So was that, like, the drug that you got addicted to and have been using ever since, that, like, people watching you, even if it's 10 on the street in a corner in Rome?

DE ANGELIS: Yeah, probably, that feeling of having to convince someone with your music, or maybe someone who at first doesn't care and it's not there for you. So it's quite challenging, and it keeps that passion burning in you and makes you want to do more and more.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "RAGGAMUFFIN")

MÅNESKIN: (Singing) So here's my song for you, my friend. You can only see that I can hardly let things go.

SHAPIRO: I read, Victoria, that you actually kicked Damiano out of the group back in those days 'cause he was too pop for you. Is that right?

DE ANGELIS: As he deserves (laughter).

SHAPIRO: As he deserved? What happened?

DAVID: It happens once a week, actually.

DE ANGELIS: Yeah. Once a week, he gets kicked out.

SHAPIRO: Just to keep your ego in check?

DE ANGELIS: Exactly.

SHAPIRO: Wait, so he was too pop. Was that the story? What happened?

DE ANGELIS: Yeah, no. It's 'cause I was in a very bad punk band at the time, and...

DAVID: They couldn't appreciate talent.

DE ANGELIS: Yeah. You know, he was singing a bit too well. We needed a little more shouting and stuff. So we were like, no, you're out.

DAVID: No, it's not even that. I did not complete my voice development at the time. I still had voice changing. You know when you're a teenager and you're like, da-da-da, duh-duh-duh, with your voice? You have voice changes. So when I finally got my oldest voice, I learned how to sing.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "SUPERMODEL")

MÅNESKIN: (Singing) Alone at parties in a deadly silhouette...

SHAPIRO: So much of your music has a retro feel.

DAVID: Yeah.

SHAPIRO: There's a lot of rock guitar. I mean, on the track "SUPERMODEL," there are guitar sounds that sound like they could be from the '90s rock music scene.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "SUPERMODEL")

MÅNESKIN: (Singing) Way back in high school when she was a good Christian, I used to know her, but she's got a new best friend.

SHAPIRO: Where did you find that sound?

DAVID: It's what we grew up listening to. Like, we were influenced by mainly our parents.

SHAPIRO: So your parents were listening to, like, American '90s rock?

DAVID: Yeah. Yeah, yeah.

DE ANGELIS: Yeah.

DAVID: Yeah, yeah, yeah, a lot.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "SUPERMODEL")

MÅNESKIN: (Singing) Every night's a heartbreak. Hey, don't think about it.

SHAPIRO: You collaborate with some American rock legends. You work with Iggy Pop. I mean...

DE ANGELIS: Yeah.

SHAPIRO: ...You work with Tom Morello from Rage Against The Machine. Is there something you learned from one of them that you could tell us about?

DE ANGELIS: Yeah. I think, like, every time we were so shocked 'cause Tom Morello, he came by at our place, and we spent, like, hours jamming and jamming and jamming. And you wouldn't think someone, like, you know, after his - the career he's had, he's, like, made history. And he still has this fire and this passion burning in him that makes him want to be in the studio five hours with four 20-year-old kids, you know? So it's crazy.

(SOUNDBITE OF MÅNESKIN SONG, "GOSSIP")

SHAPIRO: Did the track "GOSSIP" come out of that five-hour jam session?

DE ANGELIS: Yeah.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "GOSSIP")

MÅNESKIN: (Singing) Sip the gossip. Drink till you choke. Sip the gossip, burn down your throat. You're not iconic. You are just like them all.

SHAPIRO: When I look at other musicians who are really big right now, your sound seems to be an outlier. Like, there's a lot of hip-hop. There's a lot of singer-songwriters, EDM. It's harder to find old-fashioned rock bands, let alone old-fashioned rock bands from Italy. Did you specifically pursue rock 'n' roll to stand out in today's music scene?

DAVID: No.

DE ANGELIS: No.

DAVID: I think it's more when we started, we just wanted to have a band and play music that we liked, and then that thing drove us to have success and things. So I think that now it's even more important to do things not because of trends or because you think they're going to work, but just because you love doing it. So I think that it's better to lose with your own hands than to win with other people's guns. I don't know how to say it.

(SOUNDBITE OF MÅNESKIN SONG, "MARK CHAPMAN")

SHAPIRO: Let's talk about one of the Italian songs on the album. It's about an obsessive stalker.

DAVID: Yeah.

SHAPIRO: And the song is called "MARK CHAPMAN," which is the name of the man who killed John Lennon.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "MARK CHAPMAN")

MÅNESKIN: (Singing in Italian).

SHAPIRO: Where did this come from?

DAVID: I had stalkers, and that's scary as f***.

SHAPIRO: Huh.

DAVID: So I think that's something is not talked about enough. Sometimes people that - think that even if you're - if you're famous, it's OK to text you every day or to try to get where you live or leave you messages on the car. And of course, it's not OK, and it can drive to worse things, as we've seen many, many times in the past. And also, you don't even need to be a big celebrity to face that.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "MARK CHAPMAN")

MÅNESKIN: (Singing in Italian).

SHAPIRO: Is there any advice that you would give those teenage versions of yourselves who are making music on the street in Rome or in the garage now that you're playing to these huge sold-out houses across the world?

DE ANGELIS: Keep going.

DAVID: Learn how to play an instrument.

SHAPIRO: (Laughter) Damiano, do you - what do you mean?

DAVID: I can't play an instrument, and now I feel like it's too late. My brain cannot assimilate any new information.

DE ANGELIS: Aw, you can do it.

DAVID: I swear to God, no. My hands are blocked on an instrument.

SHAPIRO: Well, I think you're doing all right even without the musical instrument ability.

DAVID: Yeah. I am good. I can't fault because I can - everybody tells me that I'm - that I have good stage presence. That's because I don't have a f***ing guitar on me, and I can move my body.

DE ANGELIS: (Laughter).

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "MAMMAMIA")

MÅNESKIN: (Singing) They want to arrest me, but I was just having fun. I swear that I'm not drunk, and I'm not taking drugs.

SHAPIRO: Damiano David and Victoria De Angelis of the band Måneskin. Their album "RUSH!" is out now. Thank you so much.

DE ANGELIS: Thank you.

DAVID: Thank you.

DE ANGELIS: See you soon.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "MAMMAMIA")

MÅNESKIN: (Singing) Oh, mamma, mamma mia, spit your love on me. I'm on my knees, and I can't wait to drink your rain. I'll keep it secret if you let me get a taste. Tell me your limit, and we'll cross the line again. Oh, mamma, mamma mia. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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Ari Shapiro has been one of the hosts of All Things Considered, NPR's award-winning afternoon newsmagazine, since 2015. During his first two years on the program, listenership to All Things Considered grew at an unprecedented rate, with more people tuning in during a typical quarter-hour than any other program on the radio.
Christopher Intagliata is an editor at All Things Considered, where he writes news and edits interviews with politicians, musicians, restaurant owners, scientists and many of the other voices heard on the air.