This e-mail interview with the drummer Gionata Potenti of Handful Of Hate, was done by Cseke Róbert and Vincent Eldefors in December 2003.

The Italian black metal band Handful Of Hate has been around since 1993 and have recently released their third full-length album "ViceCrown" on Code666. Their drummer Gionata Potenti took some time off to answer our questions.

Since the band has been around (1993) I know there have been lots of changes in the line-up, and that fact might have been a very powerful force standing in the way of your success. Do you think that by know you managed to pass all those obstacles, that could threaten the stability of the band or even the very existence of it?
Well, to be honest line-up problems have been a bit stressful in the band’s life because we’ve lost a lot of time teaching the tracks to the new musicians time by time and our writing process got slowed down during all these years… in fact there are lots of bands that in ten years of existence have released at least 5 albums, one every 2 years maybe, as we have just released 3 full-lenght in the same time due to all these troubles. In some cases line-up changes bring a new strength and vital forces to the old ones who remained, so for some months our efforts have been great and we passed great times too, but in the opposite we got also some troubles after maybe two or three months because of some member’s wrong attitude so usually our entire life have been slow and hard.

The content of your first officially released album 'Qliphothic Supremacy' is on the very extreme of extreme metal. (Hell of a way to get started!) Are you planning to stay on this track on your future projects as well?
I’m not sure to understand what you’re trying to ask me but if you mean that our fist album has been a good way to start and you’re asking if we’re going to record our future album with such as intensity and attitude… well, the answer is absolutely YES! Handful Of Hate is a fast and technical Black-Metal band and so it should remain!

On the 'Death From Above' ep you've managed to capture a sound that just rammed itself through my soul. Haven't heard anything that good for a really long time. What's the story behind it all?
Thanx for the compliments. Well, the story behind that sound is quite simple: at that time our basic influences were northern gods like Marduk, Dark Funeral and Setherial that used to record their album at famous Abyss Studios… We of course didn’t have the chance to record there in Sweden so we tried our best to catch the same feeling and the same cold sound… unfortunately we didn’t reach to get such high standards but fortunately we found a great and suitable sound that we liked a lot. The final result appealed us at the time, even if drum was a bit covered from the whole guitar sound in my opinion. Anyway, wait to listen our new “Blood Calls Blood” MCD! In fact we, together with Downfall Records, decided to reprint our Ep’ songs in a MCD format: we basically remastered everything and we added a pair of bonus songs never printed on the original Ep so that MCD should become a cult release for you.. ha ha ha… Release date is supposed to be around late December of early January. I hope.

The bands third Official Album - 'Vicecrown' was originally planned for release on October 23rd. Why the delay? (Or is that just for some parts of the world?)
Yes, it’s just for some part of the world. The official SPV release date was October the 26th but in some places it was October the 13th for example… and so on. Anyway the record got just one delay and it was of approximately 6 month.. In fact “ViceCrown” should have been released during late April but due to some graphical problem that date couldn’t be ….

Was this album recording, production, writing etc. process longer and more difficult than previous ones? Are you fully satisfied with the way things turned out? The way the tracks sound etc...
Yes, I am, definitely. “ViceCrown” sounds exactly the way we wanted and it has the right clean and powerful sound a band like ours should have. “ViceCrown” is far away better than our previous “Hierarchy 1999” album (our official second one) in almost every aspect… buy especially in musician skill as well as the production itself! Our previous album was penalized by a very harsh and raw recording due to a horrible sound-engineering… The man behind the console was unable to do his work and we were too young and inexperienced at that time to repair his mistakes. “Hierarchy 1999” is an otherwise good piece of work but not much in the way we wished it would have sound. Things for “ViceCrown” have gone completely different… we worked in a very good studio (one of the best here in (non at!) Italy) and we were completely ready to record: we rehearsed for months and months those 9 tracks so we recorded and mixed everything at the speed of light, using just 11 days. We are really satisfied about the entire work even if we wish we have had some days more, since the final result would have come out greater.

Which future live performances are you currently planning? Any collaborations, joined forces for the remaining tour?
We’ve just returned for a two date minitour called “November Rape 2003” we played with Australian Destroyer 666 plus two Italian acts called Nefas and VII Arcano. We passed a very great time with all of them… in the future we are going to support Carpathian Forest and Tsjuder (both from Norway) in a live show here in Italy during December. We have some plans to play in Sweden and Greece during next spring but nothing is sure at the moment… we have some friends that are planning some offer for us but everything it’s still “under construction” so I prefer don’t talking about that. Anyway Handful Of Hate are going to try to play as much than possible during year 2004 just to promote the new album the best way!

Did you use to accept to play for free? Many rookie bands today are forced into this kind of performing because of the lack of interest for metal. Do you advize young bands to accept these kinds of shows or not?
Well, unfortunately we played sometimes for free in the past… I can easily remember the dates we did supporting bands as Behemoth, Ancient Rites and Mystic Circle. Unfortunately the clubs were unable to cover all costs and we played anyway because we really wanted to play those nights gigs. No one forced us but to open for such big bands means to be shown to a larger audience so we accepted anyway. These kind of conditions should never exist but unfortunately the Metal scene is not as rich as it seems like, so sometimes these facts happen. We enjoyed to play those nights and we reached to cover our costs simply selling out our merchandise but it was not so good at all. Should I give the young bands an advise? Well, be simply yourself and give a value to every chance offered… it is not so great not being paid a minimum but sometimes there’s no way out. Maybe in other countries things go different... I’m just talking about Italy.

A "handful" of hate isn't that much hate guys... what's up with the name?
Ha ha ha… you’re right man, a handful is not that much… but it is not a small quantity neither! Nicola chose the name back in 1993 and I think he chose the term “handful” because the word bring to the mind a fist… so the name could also be explained as a fistful of hate in the face… or something like that. In my opinion Handful Of Hate sounds great to my ears and it’s quite unusual so it’s perfect and easy to remember.

What do you hate most in todays music? Any comments on other artforms? What do you guys read, listen to, etc.?
I hate empty music. With “void” music I mean bands with lack of ideas or senseless songs in general… I listen to lots of music everyday but what I hate the most are all those bands that play almost the same with no genuine riffs and with no ideas at all… Albums well recorded and well played but without a spine. The right feeling is really hard to find in nowadays’ Black-Metal bands. I’m able to find the best stuff for me simply revisiting the Black-Death, Brutal-Death and Grind-Core scenes… bands like Behemoth, Impiety, Ravager or Deeds Of Flesh, Nile, Angelcorpse, Nasum, Inhume, Regurgitate, Rotten Sound, Cadaver Inc… really make me to feel satisfied. Great stuff, with great musicianship and great feeling. I don’t like to read but I really love seeing great movies like the David Lynch ones: Mulholland Drive, the Twin Peaks series or Lost Highway. They are basically nightmares than real films and I love their crazy lights…

How comfortable is it to be the extremest of the extremists in Italian metal? Or even in Italian music generally?
It’s a big satisfaction of course! Ha ha… Well, Italy is really full of shitty bands, like elsewhere I think. What I can’t really understand of the common Italian scene is the ridiculous way to be fucking themselves… people here feel to be rockstars just after a weak and ugly demotape or maybe spend more time talking instead of playing with the very bad consequences you can imagine. Musician skill here is usually not enough to be ready to record an album and the ones ready maybe record an album then disband. Bands here are not much friendly over each other and often some of them envy each other success so you can easily understand the difficulties of the scene’ growing up process. Anyway there are also several great bands that play very well and with a great attitude, they have my full respect.

How would you describe the sound, attitude, concept of "Handful Of Hate" in one word, and why?
Interesting question… well, maybe I would use the word: AGGRESSION. The reason is quite simple: our music is fast, powerful and cold… the lyrics doesn’t give space to morality, weakness and materialism… Of course our Lyrical concept would need more than a word to be explained but often who listen a band for the first time just listen to some songs without asking himself too much (lyrically talking I mean), so aggression should be right to me.

Just out of curiousity: do you have many girls listening to your music, present at your shows? Cause not that many listen to this genre.
It could sound strange but YES! We have lots of girls here listening this kind of music and especially following our band. Of course we’re not talking about hundreds of crazy women screaming and headbanging (I would be afraid by such as brutality in a girl… ha ha ha) but of a closed circle of really great people that really love Handful Of Hate. We are really known here so it’s quite natural that people follow us and it’s quite natural that girls follow us too, don’t you? I don’t know other country’s situation but recently I’ve seen some pictures from the famous Oslo’s Inferno Festival and I have to say that there are lots of girls there too… at least seemed to me almost half of the total audience… but I can also be wrong. You know: Italians are always interested in girls! Ha ha…

The music industry IS a business. The goal is to sell... how do you guys manage to keep the commercial and spiritual part of your musical activity in balance?
Well, this is a serious step/thing into a band’s life… I’ll try to be clearer as possible: to sell out copies means get much more notoriety, opportunities to play live and at least to get some money back too. In fact for a band like Handful Of Hate, the costs usually largely exceed the entries, so the possibility to get back some money are really welcome here. Life’s hard here but we’re trying our best to get more chances around and we’re spending as much as we can (money, time, energy…) for the band that’s, without half measures, our life. As you can read between the lines our situation is not certainly the same of bands like Cannibal Corpse for example, that are able to earn a living with music… we should work, study and some of us are still unemployed. Our songwriting is not affected by business, we wouldn’t have the time and the right influences to make that… so, don’t worry: Handful Of Hate is still a genuine band 100%!!!!!!!!! If our label is able to sell lots of our CD’s, well, we’re proud of that, but it’s clear that we won’t sell us out playing something that does mean nothing to us. We love our music and we’ll be proud to play like this until the band exists!

Any plans for the holidays? Or would you prefer spending them at home?
Ha ha ha… well, I don’t know right now, I haven’t an idea. We had a plan to play live for the new year’s eve but unfortunately the show has been cancelled. I’m displeased about that because it would have been a great way to start the new year! Anyway I think we’ll pass the holidays with friends, drinking, eating, seeing Gore movies and listening to Grind-Core bands! Ha ha ha… that’s our way to be ourselves!

You have had plenty of line-up changes throughout the years, who were part of the original line-up? Have any of your former members continued playing with other bands?
Nicola (Guitar/Vocals) is the only member from the original line up. In fact he gave birth to the band, he’s the main songwriter and he usually takes care about general band’s “affairs”. I joined in 1998, shortly after we recorded our second album “Hierarchy 1999” but I knew the band since 1996 so I knew almost all past members. Basically all the old elements were not so much into the genre as me and Nicola are, so maybe some left the Black-Metal fields to some other kind of music or only to stop their activity at all. All the members from the “Qliphothic Supremacy” line-up actually don’t play anymore, as far as I know they sold all their instruments. The same as the “Hierarchy 1999” line up, except me and Nicola of course. Claudio Alcara (the other member we recorded “ViceCrown” with) is still playing with me in one other Black-Metal band called Frostmoon Eclipse, that’s in fact my original former band because I’ve been playing with them since 1998, so before my Handful Of Hate era. During the period 1999-2002 we got also some Necromass and Death SS member within the line-up itself but their lack of interest and wrong attitude forced us to kick them out shortly after. Finding a musician here is really hard but fortunately me and Nicola are two die hard metal maniacs so we’ve always found new elements, maybe totally unknown and inexperienced but able to play… Anyway except from Claudio that are still playing, none of our past members is still active as musicians. Actually we have two new members (a bass player and a guitarist), so the line up is once again complete.

And MY final question: any advice for the rookies of extreme metal from all around the Globe? I'm sure they'd want to listen to your advices...
I’m not the right person to give people advises but anyway: be yourself, don’t try to copy anyone else. The music scene doesn’t need clones… just try to write what you really feel within yourself. This one is for the musicians… but to the metalheads I can say: give us an opportunity, you won’t loose your time! Find “ViceCrown” and give it a listening to ok? To know more about my band just surf on “WWW.HANDFULOFHATE.COM” and download some MP3 songs if you need it… Thanx for this great and not usual interview, you rule! See you soon!

Thanx for doing the interview guys. Lots of luck on tour, future projects and everything.


Links of interest:

Handful Of Hate