London-based indie rocker Quarry – aka singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Vittorio Tolomeo – challenges perceptions of reality and digital influence on society with his new LP, Super Arcade.
Sprinkled with inflections of David Bowie and the Arctic Monkeys, Super Arcade was recorded in a warehouse full of pinball machines and arcade games – an environment Quarry purposefully designed to detach himself from the distractions of modern life; a concept depicted perfectly in the title track’s music video.
I had a chat to Vittorio to find out more about his writing process and influences…
Hi Vittorio! Tell me about how you first got into making music…
I started playing guitar and drums back in high school. I learned to play basic guitar chords from listening to Lou Reed’s Walk On The Wild Side over and over.
I started writing songs when I realised that some musicians had managed to capture public imagination and connect different people; different generations, using various ‘musical languages’. I’ve been intrigued by the mysterious process of songwriting ever since.
Why did you decide to take on the alias ‘Quarry’?
I founded a band called Prizeday some years ago. We released an album and toured Europe. During the recording sessions, I was listening to Morissey’s album You Are The Quarry. My bandmates called me Quarryman or Quarrymad. Finally, I went for Quarry!
Your album Super Arcade is set to be released on 12th April. How would you describe the record to our readers? What was the writing / recording process like?
I wanted to make a record in an unusual place. I set up my equipment in a warehouse filled with old arcade games and pinball machines. This place became my ‘super arcade’ for a couple of months; a shelter where I detached myself from the things that I found unnecessary in this age.
I’ve tried to express the value of awkwardness. When I think of false myths and ephemeral notoriety; talent shows, bloggers of nothingness, social media addiction… I get comfortable with being out of place and out of time. In this weird studio, I wanted things to be spontaneous. Writing and recording was a simultaneous process most of the time.
I recorded everything from beginning to end. Every idea, every single note and sound, every beat. Many first takes recorded during the pre-production stage ended up on the album. It was easy and productive working like that because I played all the instruments, except strings and some drums.
It’s a guitar-oriented album. Guitars and drums really drive this album sonically, but there are also some intimate songs with piano and a warm string section.
What’s your favourite track from the album?
It’s tough. It depends on the day, really.
I’d probably say Man With The Scars. It’s a song about temporal dimension dedicated to David Bowie. It came out from a casual, off-the-cuff strings session. It still amazes me how this shapeless improvisation turned into song very quickly.
Have you got any live shows coming up?
I will be playing some European festivals with my band in the summer.
If you could tour with anyone in the world, who would it be and why?
Pixies. One of the most influential and underrated band ever.
Their songs are beautifully abrasive. They are the perfect combination of the things I like most in rock music. Noise, pop hooks, use of dynamics. Surfer Rosa and Doolittle are two absolute masterpieces.