Piero Pelù presents the new single "Maledetto cuore"

Pelù: “What the f… do you want me to do? Rock all my life”

“What the fuck do you want me to do at 62? I've been rocking all my life,” says Piero Pelù with a disarming smile. The bad boy is back, after Litfiba's last tour (which ended at the end of 2022) and after a forced stop due to a hearing problem that sent him into depression. “Deserti” is the answer to that dark period: a new solo album after “Pugili fragili” in 2020 – but decidedly more guitar-based. There are Calibro 35 in “Baby Bang”, FASK in “Tutto e Subito” – a merciless criticism of the logic of social networks – and there is also a new solo version of “Il mio nome è mai più”, l pacifist anthem recorded 25 years ago with Jovanotti and Ligabue. He will already be taking the album on tour this summer (here are the dates): he defines it as a concept album, but he also says that he is not competitive with other artists and that he listens to all kinds of music.

The word “Deserts” appears in several songs, as well as in the title. Which ones are you referring to?

It's a word I've also used in other songs from my past; I understood that it could be the fil rouge of the album: desertification due to the climate crisis, the deserts in the suburbs, the deserts in interpersonal relationships, now totally distorted by social media, the emotional deserts: these topics are present throughout the album.

The album has an instrumental beginning and end: an unusual choice these days, almost like a concept album.

… And on the CD they are connected, they loop… Yes, in the end this became a concept album, with several songs that are linked to each other. As the concert will also be a concept, I will do mash-ups between old and new.

This is the second chapter of your “trilogy of discomfort”: a formula you have often used in your career. How come?

Then: in the 80s the “trilogy of power”, in the 90s the “tetralogy of the elements” plus the fifth element, time. Then the “trilogy of the survivors” in the noughties, then one with the reunion of Litfiba and now this. I don't know, I'm crazy, it's not normal… I mean, how can you think about trilogies when today you don't even know if you'll make another single, given how the record market works? Evidently it's something that stimulates me: every decade I have to somehow draw it within a triptych.

What relationship do you have with the way of making music today and with this market? Do you feel the competition with the younger artists dominating the charts?

Look, I'm discovering with amazement that I'm one of the least competitive people currently around even in the music world. I realize that there is a strong tendency towards competitiveness, but I just can't make it fit into my philosophy of life, not even when I play bowls on the beach, let alone when I make music…
Naturally I am attentive to what happens, I admire and can envy someone's creativity in a positive sense.

I experience it as a form of creative amazement.

But everything has changed. Once upon a time, rock was the young and rebellious genre par excellence. Today even 70-80 year old people play it and some even risk sounding like a parody of themselves. Have you ever had the problem?

What the fuck do you want me to do at 62? I've been rocking all my life…
My goal, if anything, is to renew myself and try to remain linked to the evolution of music in general. I am a 360 degree music user, I always have been. My grandfather Mario, the one who fought in the First World War and made me become a pacifist, made me listen to Luis Armstrong, Mussorgsky and that stuff. He remained inside me, I really have him engraved in my DNA.

What are you looking for in music, then?

I love music when there is a beautiful composition, a beautiful melodic, harmonic development, when there is a nice rhythm, when there is an arrangement and production that amaze me, whether it is rock, rap or trap. So anything can be interesting to me. Then I am tied to guitars, to “Revolver” by the Beatles and “Paranoid” by Black Sabbath…

This is a decidedly more guitar-based album than your previous solo work.

In reality there is also a lot of electronics, but this time calibrated more in a contrapuntal key. There's also ethnic music: it's a world rock record. It's a new formula; it's not bad to be able to find something new for my 22nd studio album. It happened thanks to the tinnitus that kept me out of action for a year, sending me into depression. But fortunately I was able to translate this into something positive.

In “Deserti” there is a new version of “Il mio nome è mai più”: why did you choose to re-record it yourself? Have you talked about it with Jovanotti and Ligabue?

We didn't resent Luciano and Lorenzo about publishing a version for the 25th anniversary, now we're talking about doing something together later, we don't yet know in what formula, don't ask me, because it's all still a work in progress.

This is an “Unplugged” version, it's a version with Finaz and James Castillo, who are the two most important guitarists I've played with in recent years, obviously together with Ghigo, and for the first time they played together.
And then came a great version, although live I will make it more electric, for sure. We couldn't help but celebrate the 25th anniversary of such an important song, a manifesto of pacifism: I wrote the first pacifist song in '81… It would be nice to stop doing it, but obviously we can't, because man is the worst animal on Earth and is proving it with each passing day, or at least that 1% of humanity that holds all the wealth and all the power on this planet is deciding the fate of the other 8 billion people. And this is the thing that certainly pisses me off the most about today's reality.

Your story as an activist artist speaks for you. Today there are different schools of thought, there are many artists who prefer not to expose themselves or at least not to talk about politics. And there are some listeners who tell you “think about singing”. In your opinion, is it a duty to expose yourself?

In “Canto”, the song on this album, I say exactly that: I sing about deserts, floods, desertification, abandonment, indifference, hatred. But I can't put myself in my colleagues' shoes, everyone should do what they feel like doing.

Does everyone do what they feel like doing?

Everyone does whatever the fuck they want.

Earlier you were talking about the tour, and the reworking of the songs from your story. What kind of relationship do you have with your musical past?

I am at peace with everything and everyone.
The last tour with Litfiba was wonderful, fantastic, it gave us a lot of satisfaction; we greeted each other with a big hug, a big wish for good luck with Ghigo.

I continue to communicate with Antonio Aiazzi with whom we have always been very close, with Gianni Maroccolo. I always think about Ringo, and that will never leave me. I'm working on mashups between past and present because I realize that music is an infinite combination of notes and atmospheres and emotions.