The English translation of the Italian noun "volto" is "face," but according to John Ziegler, who plays in the improvisational-based band Volto! with Tool drummer Danny Carey and bassist Lance Morrison, the group's moniker is, in fact, a tribute to a certain lovable pooch.
“A friend of ours, Scott Henderson, rescues dogs," Ziegler explains. "He had this one Doberman Pinscher that would always freak out on me, jumping all over me and getting excited. The dog’s name was Ashes, but Scott started calling her Volto, because she would act as though she were electrified, like voltage running through her. She got cancer and passed away, sadly, but when we started the band, I remembered the name. I just like the way it sounds, and Volto was a cool dog, so she lives on now through us.”
The band's debut album, Incitare, a potent and thoroughly captivating mix of spacey art-rock, prog and jazz-fusion, is out now on Fantasy Records through the Concord Music Group, and Volto! (augmented by keyboardist Matt Rodhe, who also performed on the record) are playing a string of dates, which includes a spot on Yes' Yestival this Saturday, 3 August, in Camden, New Jersey.
Ziegler and Carey spoke to MusicRadar recently about how the band came together, their love of improvisation, why they recorded to tape and... Rick Springfield.
Incitare certainly sounds like a live record, all of the musicians playing together in the room. Was that the case?
John Ziegler: “Definitely. It’s pretty much a live interpretation of what we’ve been doing for a few years. We didn’t really sit down and plan out ‘We’re gonna do this, we’re gonna do that,’ and that kind of thing. We’re really like a neighborhood bar band.
“When we went in the studio with Joe Barresi, I originally thought that we were going to track it – you know, do the drums, the bass, the guitars all separately – but Joe was like, ‘What, are you kidding? You guys can jam, so let’s do that.’ So that’s how we went.”
Danny Carey: “Three or four of the songs are first takes; on the other songs, we used either the second or third take. So the cool thing is, when people see us, we’ll sound like the record – hopefully louder and more exciting, though.”
Ziegler: “People know Danny from being in Tool, this really big band, but we’re totally opposite from that. Tool plays compositions, but we jam. Everything we do is different every time; we never know how things are going to turn out. One time you see us, a song could be three or four minutes long; next time it could be eight or nine minutes. Who knows?”