Text: Eva Houšková
Foto: Jgor Gianola archive, Jiří Rogl
He was born and lives in Switzerland, his forename is Russian, surname is Italian, he can speak several languages and he has played with bands from various countries. He’s been playing guitar with German metal legend Udo Dirkschneider’s U.D.O. for 14 years. He’s collaborated with many well-known musicians – his hard’n’heavy rock compatriots Gotthard took him for their Dial Hard Tour (1993–95), besides he pursues his own band Alto Voltaggio and occasionally records with another musicians, e. g. Jorn or Wild Willy’s Gang. We met in a rock club Kain in Prague, where he was on a trip for a few days – and he didn’t hesitate to give me an interview. So here we go – JGOR GIANOLA.
How did you enjoy your trip to Prague?
I love Prague, from its beautiness to its special atmosphere; from the first time I was there I thought that it is one of the most beautiful cities in the world! And I’m impressed how the community was able to keep like it is through the centuries.
Your name is often written Jgor. How did you get this letter ‘J‘?
That’s the right way to write it! On my passport it’s written with a ‘J‘ but through the years there was a bit of confusion on it, so it happend that some people write it with a ‘J‘ and other people with an ‘I‘ (including myself!). But to me it doesn’t really matter, it’s just important that it refers to me! ;)
When did you start playing the guitar and what did cause it?
I discovered rock music when I was really young thanks to my cousin with the classic Highway to Hell from AC/DC. The first song I heard was Shot Down In Flames which blasted my brain and from that moment on music became very important in my life. I started to be attracted by the idea to play guitars and I asked my parents to let me go for it, and they gave me the chance but with a classic guitar teacher. With that age I found it a bit boring, I left after about one year,
but when I started later with my first electric guitar, around 14 years old, I realized that what I learned there was very useful.
Is there any guitarist who inspired you as a guitar model?
If I have to say, one over the others is Gary Moore, I still think he’s been one of the best ever! But I loved other ones as John Sykes, Angus Young or Randy Rhoads.
Do you play any other instruments?
Not really, I can play some bass because of the nearness with guitar, but real bass players can play much better than me.
What kind of guitars do you use?
I started to play very early on Les Paul and Flying V models from Gibson
and I still do that. But in the last five years I have a guy called Fabio Molinelli
from Milano in Italy, who builded up his own brand Loud Guitars, he’s an official Gibson partner and he builds up my guitars the way I want.
What bands did you listen to as a teenager?
My first and favourite one was AC/DC and they still are! But I grew up with other great classics as Judas Priest, Krokus, Van Halen, Led Zeppelin and many others that I still like! I think I was lucky with my generation, we had the chance to listen and grow up with some great bands.
You travel around the world, so you can compare. Where do you personally feel the best and what place was the best for playing?
For living place I still feel good in my hometown in Switzerland. I don’t like so much to live in too big and crowded cities, I need some space and nature around.
But as a traveller I saw a lot of nice places and I had the chance to meet some great people and some good friends through the years. Europe for me it’s still a very interesting place to travel, because there are so many beautiful places (like Prague!)
and different languages and habits that you can’t get easily bored. It’s difficult to make a score of the best audience but for sure fans from eastern Europe and South America they rock big time!
It’s evident that you like to be on stage. Have you ever wanted to terminate with the music?
As you say I still like to be on stage and I still love to play music, so far I didn’t feel like to stop this. But I couldn’t play music just for money, so if one day I’ll loose my motivation, I’ll consider this, hopefully as late as possible!
You’ve played with plenty of various styles’ musicians, with U.D.O. you play some Udo’s hits from Accept, as well; you probably don’t have a problem to assimilate to rather different music styles...
Because of my career I had learned how to fit my style into different kind of bands. It was a bit hard sometimes but this increased my experience and capacity to switch to different projects and be able to deliver high quality performances. And of course I was lucky enough to play with great artists!
You’ve played with U.D.O. since 1999 and you’ve recorded 10 albums so far together. Which of them is your most favourite? And how are you satisfied with the last one called Rev-Raptor?
This question is always difficult to answer because I think for every artist the most
recent job is always the best and there’s most maturity than the previous ones. So I’m really satisfied with my contribution in Rev-Raptor. But to make a real score between albums or songs it doesn’t make so much sense for me, everything has to work well on this time, and by looking at the success of U.D.O. today probably we did well!
Metal queen Doro Pesch is often Udo’s guest. What’s your point of view at women in metal music?
I think women deserve the same opportunity and respect in life as men,
and this is not just about music, but that’s in general for me. Of course to compete you must deliver something on high level and this doesn’t matter if you’re a man or a woman. So Doro is still there because she’s damn good!
You’ve played a lot with Jorn Lande. What exactly were you working on? And do you plan some another cooperation?
I heard Jorn the first time on Out To Every Nation and I thought straight away that this guy had an incredible gift on his voice! Than we met in 2005 in a small festival in Norway, he was performing with Masterplan and I played Wild Willy’s Gang beside his actual drummer Willy Bendiksen. We had the chance to talk after the show and we found out that we liked each other styles and we discussed about the possibility to work together. That’s it! Jorn called me in 2007 as a substitute for Tore Moren at the Metal Mania Festival in Katovice, Poland, that’s been really funny and we kept working together for the next two years. But then he needed somebody more stable in the band, and my job with U.D.O. was not really good for that. While I was there I involved in the band my good friend and bass player Nic Angileri, who became an official member by doin’ a great job. So at the moment I’m off by working with him, but you never know what can happen in the future! I recorded a few songs on the Spirit Black album and most of the guitars on the next Dio tribute album. Great times!
Where do you get your energy for all this stuff?
That’s very difficult to say, but probably from my passion with playing, and for sure from the support of fantastic people around, first of all my daughters and my girlfriend!
In the meanwhile you engage with your own band Alto Voltaggio. Maybe our fans don’t know this band too much – could you introduce it to them?
I started Alto Voltaggio in 1998, just before joining U.D.O. The idea was to have a band playing for fun the stuff we liked and grew up with like AC/DC, Kiss, Judas Priest, etc... But within the years we had more succes than we thought about and new members as Nic Angileri (Jorn), Francesco Jovino (U.D.O.) and Franco Campanella (Spanking Hours) joined the band and completed the line up. After more than 10 years of fun, success and touring we decided to release our first original album this year! It’s gonna be something different because we decided to do it in Italian, our mother language, instead than English. We wanted to try something special and we are really curious to see what the reaction is gonna be!
I think that the reason why the band was succesful over our ideas is because we delivered in Alto Voltaggio a lot of fun and the same quality as we do with major bands we are used to play with, just with known classic songs, and we found out that people just loves to have fun with well played music!
You played in our country several times last year – on festivals Masters of Rock and Benátská noc in summer and in Plzeň and Hluk in autumn. Show in Malá Skála was affected with bad weather – and you still gave a brilliant performance...
When we go on stage we take our job serious, even if is extremely funny to do.
And fans they pay the ticket for that, so they deserve the best we can do, even in the rain!
You are having a Russian tour in March and you will tour with Judas Priest in May across Spain. Do you plan come to the Czech Republic again?
For what I know we don’t have Czech concerts fixed yet, but for sure we’ll come back as soon as possible! Fans over there are just great, and I like your beer, my favourite in the world!
What else plans do you have for this year?
We’ll cross the ocean to Brazil and Chile to play two big festivals over there in April.
Do you want to send some message to your Czech fans?
I take the chance to give a big thanx to our fans in the Czech Republic for their great support over the years. Even before we came back to success in other countries in your one was always clear and fantastic! Cheers to everybody!
Thank you very much for the interview and good luck!