Interview with Vocalist Lucas Di Mascio of Malacoda (Canada)

By Mick Michaels

COSMICK VIEW: Hello, Lucas! Welcome to The Cosmick View. Thank you for taking some time out of your day to chat with me, it's greatly appreciated.
Lucas Di Mascio: No problem, thanks for reaching out.

CV: Do you feel that it's still possible for an unknown band today to be plucked out of obscurity and make it to stardom? Can a dedicated core of fans sharing their music make that possible or has the internet and social media changed the game?
LD: Oof, that’s a deep question, haha! I’ve worked as a music producer and a recording engineer since 2009ish so I’ve seen quite a bit of stuff from the pro side and the indie side. I think obscurity and stardom are relative to what you believe each is. Every day I’m discovering bands that I’ve never heard of before…and they didn’t just come from nowhere, some of them have had a few records out for a while. For example, just last week I discovered a band called Eleine. I had never heard of them before, and they’ve been around since I think 2011. They aren’t famous, I guess, but they have some impressive numbers on social media and their YouTube has great interaction. I would personally strive for what they have…I think that’s realistic and honestly enough for some artists. Social media and the internet has changed the game and it’s constantly changing the game on what seems like a bi-monthly basis as far as what the right thing to do is for reach. All I can say is that you can drive yourself nuts trying to strive for a result and for me it’s never really been about stardom. I like making music, and all I want to do is make even more music. 

CV: Do you feel that given the accessibility and social awareness of modern times that a music underground still even exists today as it once did?
LD: Well the underground scene is definitely not the same as it once was…I mean wasn’t it all about trading cassettes and stuff in the 80’s and 90’s? I think when I was a teenager the “underground” had evolved to downloading torrents of bands from Europe that we could not get CD’s of here in Canada due to distribution and import/export fees. I don’t really know what to consider “underground” today…maybe it’s looking for Spotify playlists or something along those lines. I find in Hip-Hop or electronic music there’s a lot more collaboration, like remixes or featured tracks among their communities, which I find kind of lacking in my metal scene. That kind of sharing of art to one another and mutual appreciation I think is what’s left of the “underground” mentality now, but I could be wrong. 

CV: What do you see as the biggest difference in music and how it is perceived from back say 35 years ago compared to music today? Has both the music and the artist evolved from your point of view?
35 years ago I wasn’t even a thought, haha! So I don’t think I can comment accurately on that. But, I will say that the way I saw things as a youth to how I see things today, in regards to music, is very different. I think in the 80’s music was starting to get really commercialized, even metal was becoming more about hair bands and ballads. But I think that commercialism was such a defining aspect of the 80’s…it was part of the charm you know? I don’t know if it was frowned upon by metalheads back then, but I think nowadays people are more aware and vocal of “commercializing music” and the whole “poser” vs “true” metal stuff than they were back then. I think nowadays people are more aware when something is a cop-out record just made for money or to get fame, or do something that generates a buzz. Artists are using social media now to give unfiltered or heavily filtered, statements and linking it to their art. I dunno if that’s an improvement or not on the artist/art relationship, but it is what it is and it is definitely different from 35 years ago. Madonna doing something risqué back then was shocking, nowadays if a pop artist DOESN’T do something risqué it’s more surprising.

CV: Do you believe bands and artists who have the biggest impact on fans and other artists are aware that they are or is there more of a tunnel vision sort of process for them keeping them somewhat in the dark? Can influential artists see past their own work to be aware of the ripples they make?
LD: Some of these bigger guys must know that they are influential and making an impact. I’ve been to VIP meet and greets, done the whole 70K Tons of Metal cruise and met almost every artist I’ve ever wanted to meet... and you just see dozens of people letting these guys know how much they mean to them, even if they aren’t musicians themselves and are just music fans. I think it takes a certain kind of arrogance to not be able to see past your own work as an artist and see how it influences or affects people. Or maybe it’s a fame thing? All I know is when a kid hires me to engineer their songs, or someone comes to a show I’m playing or whatever and they tell me they think I’m cool and they have my band shirt on, it’s humbling to me. I think as soon as you put something worth listening to out there and people are noticing it, you are influencing someone. So, I think the best thing is to not take advantage of that connection to your listeners as an artist…no matter how big you are.

CV: Does music need to be influential to be considered worth listening to in your opinion? Or can music simply be just an enjoyable auditory experience devoid of substance?
LD: I don’t think music needs to be influential to be worth listening to at all. If we based it on that, then the only stuff worth listening to would really be mainstream pop music since it’s the most influential in regards to plays and advertising. Music should be an auditory experience, but not devoid of substance, that’s something that’s objective in my opinion. Like, I love ambient music…I really do. And I fully admit sometimes it’s just a refrigerator humming at a certain frequency while a dude in the background is throwing broken glass at a wall with maybe a few guitar chords every 2 minutes. The substance there is in the atmosphere, to me. You might not get it, it might just sound like noise to you, but the dude who made it wanted to create something that would make you feel something. I don’t even know if it’s enjoyable, it makes me feel creeped out or anxious, but it’s cool to me that this ‘music’ or soundscape, whatever you want to call it, has that effect as an auditory experience. I think if an artist goes into the studio and says “Yeah I’m gunna make a song just for the sake of making some money, and I don’t care how crap it is or how it affects people and I’m gonna cut as many corners as I can.” And they come out with this absolute dumpster fire of a track, it’s kind of like auditory vandalism…like defacing someone’s tombstone by carving a smiley face onto it so it’s less gloomy, or breaking their windshield into a pretty pattern because who needs to see through it when it’s an art piece right? It’s music, sure. It’s art, I guess. But it’s vandalism because it’s functionless.

CV: The world has been rocked by the COVID pandemic. The economy has been sent into a tailspin in its wake, unfortunately. Bands worldwide have been restricted with performing live and some it seems, restricted from earning a living. How has the pandemic affected your band? Are you hopeful that 2021 will see many of the restrictions lifted?
LD: Yeah 2020 was a rough year, but my whole stance on the COVID pandemic is I just don’t know what will happen with it. I think the quote that I adhered to in regards to dealing with the pandemic was from the show “The Strain” by Guillermo Del Toro. Something along the lines of you can’t treat a virus like anything else, there’s no reasoning with it, no making deals, it’s not restricted by borders or laws, it just has one purpose and that’s to thrive. I don’t feel like it will go away soon…I definitely would be surprised if 2021 saw a full return to normalcy. With that said, I’m not hopeful things will return to normal anytime soon. I haven’t seen many restrictions lifted here, if anything they put us back in a lockdown in Ontario. I think Quebec was under a lockdown too. My stance is just take it day by day, see how it goes and better to be cautious than risky. Otherwise you’ll get depressed and start going crazy. The pandemic meant we couldn’t rehearse, we couldn’t gig, getting together was hard since we’re all in different cities and my studio business lost a lot of bookings because of it. So, yeah. It sucks!  

CV: What do you feel artists and bands can do right now to stay relevant, especially in an environment, such as the present, where performing in front of a live audience is being restricted? What immediate options do you see available?
LD: I think artists should just keep making music. Let’s be real, there isn’t much money to be made in anything other than selling merch at shows, and even then depending on your deals with your labels or management that might not even make you much money. The whole livestream show thing was something we didn’t pursue because it was just hard for us to do it, and I’m personally a little bit of a perfectionist when it comes to displaying the band. I’d want to do it with a full camera crew at a nice stage and stuff, but we couldn’t do that. Just write music…maybe work on a solo project, brush up on other skills you can use to help your band…now’s the time to learn things. I started learning how to master so I could master our records in the future if need be, I brushed up on my keyboard playing so I could do more of that, and I released a side project with my buddy and ex-Malacoda member Michael Farina (Secondhand Depression). I think that’s what musicians should do…don’t struggle to make things the way they were, because it’s not possible right now. Learn things so you can make new things and improve.


CV: As an artist, what have you learned from the events of 2020? Are those lessons learned different for you as a person than as an artist or are they one in the same in your opinion?
LD: As an artist I’ve learned that people still need art. People still need an element of escapism…especially now. But I’ve also learned that because it’s still somewhat valued, it doesn’t mean that people are willing to change the way they consume it. I think it’s made me become a bit more entrepreneurial with how I’ve approached my thought processes. I think these lessons learned are one and the same.

CV: What's next? What can fans expect to see coming in 2021?
LD: Fans can expect the EP, Crawling Chaos, to drop on April 2nd on all streaming services. We’ve got some behind the scenes videos, lyric videos and other goodies coming out in the next few months. If all goes according to plan there will be even more songs released later this year. As I said, the plan to make up for how shitty 2020 turned out was to make 2021 filled with music. We’ve got a revamped website and merch store with some cooler products we’ve wanted to do for a while like mugs and hats and stuff. There are some other, bigger surprises that I don’t want to spoil just yet.

CV: Thank you again Lucas for spending some time talking and sharing with our readers. It was such a pleasure. I wish you all the best.
LD: Thanks for having me, stay safe!

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My name is Mick Michaels...I'm an artist, music fan, songwriter, producer, show host, dreamer and guitarist for the traditional Heavy Metal band Corners of Sanctuary. Writing has always been a creative outlet for me; what I couldn't say in speech, I was able to do with the written word.  Writing has given me a voice and a way for me to create on a multitude of platforms including music and song, articles, independent screenplays, books and now, artist interviews. The Cosmick View is an opportunity to raise the bar and showcase artists in a positive and inspirational light. For me, it's another out-of-this-world adventure.

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