Nowadays we don't hear much fuss about Silvio Bernelli, the skillful and original bass-player of Declino and Indigesti, an important character in Italian hardcore... Start giving us some clues about your beginning... How did you become keen on hardcore? Did you belong to the Turin Hardcore Collective? Did you begin with being a punk or being a musician?
I approached hard core in 1981, when I was just a little kid and the Turin collective wasn't born yet. I had just begun to play the bass, but I already wanted to be a hard core musician, or better a hard core bass-player. I chose that instrument as I believed that hard core would have brought, among many other novelties, also a new way of playing the bass.
What novelties did catch your attention more, in general first and then for the bass in particular? I'm sure that you gave an important contribution to the evolution of this instrument, at least here in Italy, with songs like Terra Bruciata or Scelte Imposte
Novelties were mainly speed, energy,
the sound mixture, especially at the beginning. And also many things not so
closely related to the music, like the need of freedom and aware union.
Particularly about the bass, I was sure that hard core, with such a tight rythm between guitar and drums, would have left me a lot of space. I quickly began to play empty strings in slight distortion, alternating with notes one or two octives higher, widening the front of sound. At the beginning I used chords, later the slap, but I always used jazz influenced scales. In a certain way I always played as a protagonist. To make it clear, the song Dune by Indigesti is a good example of this. Even if at the end we sound different, my approach was close to Mike Watt of Minutemen or Chuck Dukowski of Black Flag.
Declino was the first group the play American hard core in Italy, wasn't it? What did attract more you in this music than in English punk? When did this positive charge was over?
I wouldn't say we were the first,
but Declino was one of the first to play American style hard core all over
Europe, to make the foundation of Italian HC style and to put out a record
(our debut 7" was released in the Spring of 1983). We liked hard core
because it was the newest thing at that time. It was so revolutionary and
nobody knew much about it back then. It was so charming to play hard core,
I believe that this creative charge ran out around years '85-'86, even if some interesting record came out after that time.
You changed a lot of band members... Who were the most important? What was Sandropp like?
Yes, we had many changes, but only
two "true" line-ups:
the one of the EP - Sandropp, vocals - Max, guitar - Orlando, drums - Silvio, bass
and the one of "Wild Bunch" (the split with Negazione) and the two following European tours in '84-85, when we had Mungo instead of Max and Tax, the guitarist of Negazione, at the drums instead of Orlando.
Sandropp was very though and loyal, a smart guy.
What gigs do you remember in these two European tours?
I remember our European debut at the Chaos Tag in Bielefeld, Germany, in the summer of '84. North European punks joked around us because we didn't dress as old style punks like them, but on stage we destroyed all them, even the Disorder. Most of them had never seen an Italian band playing live. Hearing people with normal clothes playing such a violent and fast music shocked them. I also remember with pleasure the gig in Copenaghen, Danmark, in January '85. It was one of the last and we were at the top of our shape.
Between you that played hardcore and those old style punks the difference was a basically in musical taste or was it more related to social reasons?
I always thought that punk and hard core are clearly different, both on the musical side that on the side of culture and politics.
Declino was also one of the
first straight-edge bands in Italy... Maybe the only?
Are you still involved in this philosophy? What do you think about the evolution of the sXe movement?
I'm happy that Declino is nowadays remembered as a straight edge group, but at that time all the bands that played an American Style hard core were a little bit straight edge. In my opinion this is a good way of life still now. I'm sorry but I don't know anything about its evolution.
Tax Farano said that Declino was the only other group from Turin that he has loved... You are also very appreciated by the few young kids that still listen to 80's hardcore, in spite of your few records released... Why didn't you reprint your discography?
Tax loved Declino so much that
he came and play the drums for a couple of years and I know that still now
lots of people enjoy our music; I believe it's because Declino was for sure
at the top in that great season, the first wave of Italian Hard Core, in '82-'83.
It is true that we released few records, but we made a lot of shows in Italy
About the reprints: there's something around on compilations, but if someone offers us to make an official reprint on CD we'll accept.
With today's ears do you prefer the split tape with Negazione or the 7" "Rivolta e Negazione"?
With my ears I prefer the 7"
which was actually named EP. I believe that back then (1983) we were the first
Italian group to play so fast, tight and accurate.
But with my heart I prefer Wild Bunch because between Declino and Negazione there was a long-lasting friendship among a group of people, a relationship that is still alive for many of us.
Let's talk about when you joined Indigesti... When did it happen? Did Declino break up or did they continue without you? How did the Indigesti's sound improved after your arrive?
Declino broke up after the second european tour of the "Wild Bunch" groups from Turin, Declino and Negazione, at the beginning of 1985. The Lp Eresia was published after. I began immediately to play with Indigesti, that just re-unite after one year and half of pause. I recorded with them Osservati dall'inganno and continued to played until we broke up in '87 . Indigesti's sound changed a lot, because I joined them also as a composer and much more because hard core evolved during their pause and we needed a new approach.
The evolution you're talking about brought more professional musicians, more elaborated songwriting and lyrics that dealt with more personal subjects; in my opinion, was like trying to give an order to the original chaos... Don't you think it was in a certain way a "treason" of the original idea of punk?
I don't think so. To drop some names I always preferred the Bad Brains to the Agnostic Front, speaking about their music. I don't believe anything has been betrayed.
We're coming at the end Tell us what do you do now. Are you still involved in music and do you follow the hardcore scene?
I did a lot of things, most of them not connected to hard core or music in general. Since a lot of time I'm a copywriter, "a creative mind" you can say, in a pubblicity agency. Besides that I write articles and essays.