There’s a band, who wanted to be (the) Verbena but someone else got the name first, and so became Verdena, not the poisoned plant anymore, just the name of the best rock band I’ve gotten to know. With a lot of personal affection in it, yes.
They started playing in 1995 in an old henhouse, just teenagers, two brothers and, couple of years later, a bassist. They started taking great inspiration from the grunge of Nirvana, publishing the first album, Verdena, in 1999, with the independent Italian Black Out, label born from the idea of promoting underground music with the means of a major, the owner Universal (and despite how it sounds, I would say it worked, considering also the other names supported).
Since their debut, and even before with their demo tapes, it is clear that Verdena have something special, a sound that is hard, melodic, complex, full of references from the greatest of rock, yet fresh and distinctive.
Verdena grew up with me (or viceversa): I discovered them with their third album, Il suicidio dei samurai, and immediately started to listen to everything from their past. The result became an ongoing addiction.
Their cultural background is impressive but not surprising: they are big fans of the Beatles (that, ahem, I personally don’t like… yes I know, but), Interpol, Nirvana, Flaming Lips, to cite some. And every album expresses a new side, or maturity, of their sound, always carrying their timber, yet always unexpected and magnificent. When you think they made their best album, the next one will change your mind.
So, what happened? Verdena, the first album, was grunge. Clearly. They were just 18, with introverted personalities, rebel: Kurt was the muse, their first inspiration. Solo un grande sasso (Just a big stone), the second album, is a new story: psychedelic and ambitious, with long complex tracks. The dark melancholy started with the second album gets emphasized in the third, Il suicidio dei samurai (The suicide of the Samurai), and almost disappears with Requiem, despite the title, that brings back their grunge but grown-up attitude. Then the double album Wow, Endkadenz Vol. 1 and Vol. 2… I prefer to suggest you just some tracks to listen to and to get your personal idea.
Since when I moved abroad, I’ve started to realize that, aside from the main genre, every country, even the closest ones (Austria and Italy, where I live and where I was born, for example), has a personal way to translate it, that implies that culture too. In my case, I am a big fan of the (old) Italian songwriters, I like that mix of tradition and sperimentation, that being politically engaged, poetic, idealistic; that decadent yet still brilliant flair of a brilliant yet decadent country. Lucio Battisti, Franco Battiato, Fabrizio De André, Rino Gaetano to cite a few. But I can also try (hard) to see it from an external point of view and understand that, together with the beauty of an execution, the emotional involvement plays a key role. That’s the best part of art.
Head image taken from rollingstone.it