On a warm Sunday afternoon, as the first sun of the season cut through a week of desponding rainfall, I had a sit-down with musician Andrea Pirro, frontman and driving force behind City Final. The now Florence-based band, having shed many skins and dwellings over its decade-long existence, recently dropped its latest LP “Anecdotes” on April 27.
“The band was first founded in Rome in 2005 and it was called Passione Nera, a tribute to one of my favorite tracks by Turin-based hardcore outfit Nerorgasmo.” Although born in the folds of the Italian squat scene, where teenagers were free to experiment and embrace the politically charged undertones of punk rock, the band pursued more intimate, cinematic atmospheres. What came out was a luminous breed of Britalian pop, where guitar-driven melodies plushly land within the soft contours of Pirro’s songwriting and enigmatic vocals.
After their first 2008 EP “Research”, the band were forced to put all planning on hold as Andrea headed north to earn his MA in Politics at the University of Sheffield. It was in England that he first thought of changing the project’s name from Passione Nera to City Final.
“It was May 22, 2009. I was in Manchester on a bus going to a Morrissey concert. He was holding a hometown gig to celebrate his 50th birthday. My eyes fell upon a sign that said ‘Manchester City Final Edition’ and that particular combination of words struck me immediately. It sounded urban, potentially catastrophic but also extremely open-ended. When I got back home, the band didn’t exist anymore, so I jumped on the chance to make a fresh start. I wanted more structure and less experimentation.”
Time did not stand still long enough to allow Andrea and his newly formed band to fully stretch its legs. While City Final’s first record How We Danced came out in 2011 (featuring a stellar collaboration with Cousteau lead singer Liam McKahey), he travelled and studied Comparative European Politics in Siena, Budapest and Berlin, finally landing a role as a postdoctoral research fellow at the Department of Political and Social Sciences at the Scuola Normale Superiore’s Florence headquarters. Although his music seems to stray from his professional background, Pirro is first and foremost a political man and a seeker of knowledge. Could our Renaissance town perhaps become City Final’s final city?
“Being a musician in Florence is a challenge. Sometimes people here seem to forget that cities need active communities in order to stay alive and that music is, in itself, an important political act. As a research fellow, I’ve chosen a life of precariousness and pilgrimage, but Florence has offered me enough stability to wrap up seven years of work and release City Final’s second LP. I recorded it with my former band members Guglielmo Nodari and Raoul Tonachella, and saw it as a celebration and closure of sorts. For me, band is synonymous with family. I can’t play with people I don’t strike a chord with. Thanks to my previous experience in squats and hardcore music circuits, I managed to round up a few musicians that I already knew in Tuscany and to reboot the band… So it’s all coming full circle in this new Florentine chapter.”
The current line-up consists of Lorenzo Lo Vasco, Riccardo Paolini, David Matteini and Matteo Castelli. “Anecdotes” was released by Rome-based indie label Five to Midnight in a strictly limited hand-numbered edition of 12-inch vinyls.
As the album’s earworm-packed track list unravels, you can’t help but notice that there’s something extremely visual, a world seen through nostalgia-tinted glasses.
“I called the album ‘Anecdotes’ because I felt that each song was a postcard from my life and experiences, a series of short stories that can acquire manifold meanings. Each track conjures up images from my stays in Budapest, Berlin and England, as well as my love-hate relationship with Rome, my hometown. There’s a lot more hope and lightness to this record than the previous one.
I like to see it as the soundtrack to a film that has yet to be made. Immediacy was a big factor for us and we worked hard to streamline both mix and recording process in order to allow for more live on-stage accuracy. I don’t have any expectations of grandeur or fame for this record—what I do hope is that people feel the same excitement as me every time I listen to it.”
On May 11, City Final will be live at La Polveriera in via S. Reparata, 12R.