We’ve met a fair few bands from Italy in the last few months, but none (be it Italian or not, for that matter) are quite like Milanese rockers Rougenoire. The five-piece have honed an awesome classic rock sound with their own unique spin thanks to Francesca ‘Black Mamba’ Gheza’s commanding, appealingly accented vocals.
The title of the five-piece’s nine-track second album M.I.L.F., which was released last month, certainly made us sit up and take notice, so we had a chat with guitarist Sabrina ‘Sabarax’ Marabelli to find out more.
Sabarax told us: “From an album such as M.I.L.F. people can expect everything given the title we chose. This is an ironic title. We are all mothers and musicians and M.I.L.F. tells nine different stories that speak of nine different women.”
Rougenoire began life as a cover band back in 2005 by Sabarax and remaining founding members bassist Virgina ‘Vice’ Aprea and fellow guitarist Cristina ‘Crillbill’ Fedeli. Current singer, the brilliantly named ‘Black Mamba,’ joined in 2009 and the lineup was completed by the even better named Sara ‘Foxy Lady’ Di Fonzo, who stepped in when Crillbill had a baby in 2012 then remained as a third guitarist. Sabarax tells us: “The Rougenoire is far more than a band for us, it is a family: in these 12 years we have shared so much together and we continue to do so.”
They released debut album The Show in 2012, before a five-year hiatus of new music before this year’s release of M.I.L.F – which Sabarax attributes to problems the band has encountered in finding a female drummer.
She explained: “Our historic drummer (Elena ‘Hellcat’ Mameri) decided in 2014 to live in London and so we were left without a drummer. We tried to replace her, but we did not find the right person, to the point where we were writing M.I.L.F. and we did not have anyone on the drums. One of our collaborators, Steve Ferrovecchio, took Elena’s seat and advised us the turners to play on the gigs we had scheduled. In fact, the album’s drums parts have been written and arranged by Steve and one of the drummers who supports us during concerts, Edo Sala. Edo recorded all the album.”
Sabarax describes the Rougenoire music as “explosive, sensual and powerful” and, drawing influence from the rock gods like Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple, The Beatles, AC/DC, Rolling Stones and Queen. So expect awesome guitar riffs, driving rock that’ll have you banging your head in appreciation and powerful vocals.
M.I.L.F. kicks off with a bang with opening track Babajaga, which opens up with a funky guitar riff, smashes of drum then a funky mini guitar lick and another hit of guitar that leads into a singalong opening verse. The chorus of “Babajaga’s waiting for you” is fun and engaging, followed by a little guitar blitz before kicking into another energetic verse, before a heavier repetition of the chorus with huge driving drums and guitar solos thrown in at will.
Eager Eyes, the third track on M.I.L.F, opens up in the same vein with a funky riff that leads into a big vocal-led verse followed by a powerful, singalong chorus with darting guitar riffs and driving drums in support. Check it out in the video below:
A high point on the album is the superbly named Medieval Bitch, which again opens up with a cool laboured guitar riff that leads into a faster opening verse with palm-muted guitars before launching into a heavier chorus. The vocals are really engaging with big cymbal smashes driving the song along, before a brief musical interlude leads to a brief lull with building repeats of “Run, run, run, damage is done” before launching into a final rendition of the chorus.
There’s more of a chunky, classic rock feel to next track A Night of Perdition, which I think may be my favourite track on the album. You can’t help but bounce along in appreciation to the rolling guitar riffs and singalong to the powerful vocals, of which the heavy Italian pronunciation of “this is a night of perdition, baby” is hugely appealing. Oh, and there’s a big guitar solo for you to whip your air guitar out to for good measure.
If you like good old classic rock with big riffs, huge singalong vocals and solos aplenty then you’re going to like what you hear from Rougenoire. Sabarax tells us: “Our music speaks of our experiences, of what we live every day divided by our role as working mothers and musicians. There are some songs that tell a lot about us as Rougenoire but also about being a woman in this society and the stereotypes that somebody wants to engage in.”
As referenced several times we’ve seen a wave of exciting new bands coming out of Italy, so asked Sabarax for her thoughts on the nation’s rock scene. She said: “In Italy there are so many high-class bands, but honestly Italy is not the home of rock so all the bands are struggling to emerge and get noticed. For Rougenoire it is very hard to let people know because we do not have any agent or agency that follows us, we do it all by ourselves and especially since we have been born as a band cover we are ‘known’ as a band that plays the songs of other famous bands.”
Rougenoire have several gigs lined up in their homeland, plan to write their third album in 2018 and revealed they are in talks with English clubs about a possible tour here in the future – so fingers crossed!