How Italian Maneskin Became America’s Favorite New Rock Band

The four members of the Italian rock band Måneskin grew up playing in the Eternal City of Rome. But when they flew to LA for their first sold-out concert at the Roxy in early November, there was a local saturnal bad behavior site they just had to visit.

“The Rainbow Bar!” shouted bassist Victoria De Angelis when asked what haunted local rock ‘n’ roll the band must have seen on their first trip to the West Coast. “I grew up with metal and glam rock, so we were all sitting on the couch in there, like ‘This is where Lemmy and Mötley Crüe used to hang out.'”

Måneskin is a bunch of almost unbelievably nimble twenties who can squeeze into ’70s David Bowie jumpsuits (or, as is often the case in photoshoots, get out of them). He emerged victorious from the 2021 Eurovision Song Contest which decades earlier brought ABBA and Celine Dion to the world; Friday, that will help ring in 2022 on “Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin ‘Eve With Ryan Seacrest”.

But Måneskin is an anomaly in an era focused on rap and pop: a guitar / bass / drums combo indebted to Queen and T. Rex who plays largely in Italian and whose American single was a cover of the must-have oldies. of the Four Seasons. I begin.

Even his first scandal – a stray Eurovision camera angle capturing what looked like cocaine at his table, which the group denied having and the European Broadcasting Union cleared it – looked delightfully retro.

After a year in which he made real forays into the Hot 100, where “Beggin ‘broke into the top 15, Måneskin – Danish for” Moonlight “- could reasonably claim the biggest new rock band of 2021. It has overtaken American rock and alternative graphic radio; “Beggin ‘” has over 800 million plays on Spotify, and “I Wanna Be Your Slave” also exceeds half a billion.

“They’re one of our three biggest hits of the year, if not the biggest,” said Lisa Worden, program director for Alt 98.7 in LA and vice president of rock and alternative music at iHeartMedia. . “It’s so unusual to have a rock band with streams of this magnitude. To have a song like ‘Beggin’ that gets into pop and goes up in alt and rock, it’s been a while since we’ve had this in all formats.

Mesh tops, low-cut leather pants and eyeliner for everyone – should the TVs by the windows of the Sunset Strip hotel start to get nervous again?

“The fact that there’s a band at the top of the charts that only plays three instruments is something that hasn’t happened for so long,” De Angelis said. “But we didn’t expect it to happen in such a short time.”

Måneskin celebrates winning the Eurovision Song Contest on May 22.

(Peter Dejong / Associated Press)

A few days after their Roxy show, the quartet – bassist De Angelis, singer Damiano David, guitarist Thomas Raggi and drummer Ethan Torchio, all aged 20 to 22 – were smoking cigarettes for breakfast on the roof of the Mondrian in West Hollywood. De Angelis is the most talkative in English; Raggi and Torchio were more laid back, while frontman David mostly just brooded quietly on the rooftop lounge sofa.

They hardly managed to get on stage. After the group’s American television debut on “The Tonight Show,” Torchio caught the flu just as they landed in LA.

A resurgence of COVID-19 (which swept through Italy in the first waves of the disease) made them fear the worst as they braced for a crowded Roxy crowd. The band should have canceled if everyone hadn’t tested negative, which they did. “It wasn’t that bad. It’s getting better, ”said Torchio, still a little shaky from the series.

But they rounded it up for one of the last pre-Omicron blowouts on the Sunset Strip. “We were playing songs in Italian from the record that we didn’t think were very well known here,” said De Angelis. “But everyone knew the lyrics, even though it was more difficult for them to sing.”

Måneskin reached the fully formed and sharpened American shores. Its members have been playing together since 2016 and have already released two well-received records in Italy before “Teatro d’ira: Vol. I ”, published before his victory at the Eurovision Song Contest in May. “It’s a whole different thing when you’re playing on TV because it’s so important to be precise,” De Angelis said. “You can’t go wrong because you will see it on TV. At a concert, it’s not that important to be perfect.

From “American Idol” to Olivia Rodrigo, TV fame may be a step ahead of the pop charts, but Måneskin was already wary of her biggest win setting her out of the gate.

“We were quite far from that concept,” David said of Eurovision. “The fact that we won was quite strange because we are not very popular for this kind of competition, but we knew we already had a catalog. “

This catalog is full of fast and explosive analog tracks, like Eurovision winner “Zitti e buoni”, which has a cool Strokes-y in the verses and a Zeppelin-sized whine in the chorus. “MAMMAMIA” argues for a dance-punk revival in the mid-2000s, and the band transforms “Beggin”, a Four Seasons song twice as old as the band members, into a 2021 pop-rock single as crackling as “Good 4 U.

“We meet young people who are like, ‘I’m 10, I’ve never heard of stuff like that, now I want to buy a battery,'” said Raggi.

The old ones are resurfacing on TikTok all the time today, but vintage covers are part of the band’s appeal. “When we do a cover, we don’t really think about the original structure or the original instrumental. We are trying to rebuild it, ”said De Angelis.

“I bet a lot of my audience didn’t even realize this was a Four Seasons cover,” agreed Worden.

Worden booked the band for iHeartRadio’s ALTer Ego rock festival at the Inglewood Forum on January 15. “It’s important to give them the chance to be more than just a simple one,” she said. “They deserve to have more of their music on display. I saw them at the Roxy and it is a force. I think people will walk away with a new respect for them.

Måneskin has an even bigger show next year in his hometown at Circo Massimo, a huge public park that was once the site of ancient Roman blood sports and carnivals.

“This will be our biggest crowd of all time, so it will be very emotional,” said David. “It’s like the biggest place you can play in Rome.” As Italy continues to endure COVID-19, he added: “I think it will be very good for the country as well.”


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