Simone Trabucchi (Dracula Lewis, Hundebiss Records) “This music is about now, without being novelty, without being banal. It’s expression with no romanticism.”

Labeling Dracula Lewis (a.k.a. Simone Trabucchi) as “dark” would be like calling The Devil “evil.” There’s a simplicity that’s missed with merely one word and such a let down without some description. Well, if you haven’t listened to the fellah’s newest mixtape, Technical XTC, prepare to forfeit all your innocence, because if you heard about Satan buying lives for their deepest desires, Dracula Lewis straight up steals souls, washes ‘em in vasts of sizzling acid, and removes the remains just in time to recover life; rinse, and repeat. And better yet, I want you to check out his list of contributors and tell me the boii ain’t got solid connections in underground music, ESP considering he’s resident to Milan.

As The Devil resides within the confines of Hell, Trabucchi is blissfully trapp’ttached to his label and crew, Hundebiss Records. Having put out works from all over the spectrum of musical genre and sound, Trabucchi has had the honor of releasing records from heavy hitters like Hair Police, Mudboy, Primitive Art, Aaron Dilloway, Rraro, Hype Williams, Lil Ugly Mane, Stargate, Popol Gluant, and Angels in America. Just this year, he’s also been privy to obtain Chicklette, including old label hands Sewn Leather and Jaws, a Lil Ugly reissue, and (of course) himself on tape as Dracula Lewis. Damn.

Below, Trabucchi gets super vicarious about the Italian living/scene, ownership of castles, trouble with the Latin Kings, modern folk music, and everything in between “dark.”

Living Italy, how do you meet up and make contact with so many musicians on your label?

I have been booking and promoting shows here since I was 16, and that helped a lot. I met a lot of people during the Hundebiss “Secret Show”-era too. We did a bunch of shows in the basement of our squat in the east-end of Milan, approximately at the same time I started touring as Dracula Lewis (mostly in Europe). That was fun and a good time to meet people. I’m talking about 7 years ago, but you know the world change so quick, that was before Twitter, right?

I first made peace with America was when I got invited to DJ at the last edition of the No Fun Fest in Brooklyn. But because I went there right after 9/11, it was a terrible place to hang. Seriously: scary and depressing. After that No Fun Fest I’ve changed my vision and I came back in peace, then I spent three months in L.A. I find myself more as a California-person. I met so many friends there. Now, I miss L.A. on a daily basis. I try to go there once a year.

Whoa, cool. How did you start booking and promoting shows when you were 16?

Vernasca, my hometown, is a very depressive place, so I’ve been obsessed with music since childhood, and all the people in the village know that, because at one point, an association of young guys (but were much older than me, like in their 30s) in charge of the summer programming at this beautiful spot on the top of the hill, asked me something like, “Hey kid, do you wanna set up a punk gig here?”

And I was like,”Yes, man, no worries, I will take care of that.” The month after, 13 bands from all over Italy literally invaded my little village: punx, skinheads, freaks, hardcore hooligans; I called the night VERNASCA CHAOS DAY. Eventually, riots started all over the village, and the summer programming association got scared, so they decided to call the police. The police came, they ran into the audience with their funny car, the music stopped, the people crossed their arms, and we were all united for a second, starring at the police; the police were shocked by the scene, make a u-turn, and they left, scared.

That night was when I learned policemen are all coward-assholes and you need a crew, or at least act as you are a crew.

Is this what started what you call the “Secret Show”-era?

Well, that was a very exciting moment of my life. We had this building from a connection between some friends and an art collector that was the owner at that time. The place was empty, my friends, they were using the place as an office for a little while, they left and they put me and Simone (half of Invernomuto, my art-duo project, and now DJs as Palm Wine) and Andrea (who was working on a book about Graffiti) in touch with the owner; we were looking for a studio and the owner was very mellow. He said, “Take this place. Take care of it. Have fun.” Instantly, we turned the place in our house, studio, and gig venue [AH-AH-AH].

So without paying any rent — without dealing with fucking club owners or pub-mafia — I started the secret shows saga, with the precious help of Barbara, which was my girlfriend at that time and co-founder of Hundebiss Records. The secret-shows formula was used because the place wasn’t legal, so we used that by necessity, but Milan, man, is a fucking magnet for assholes; it’s fashion city, you know what I’m saying? People always lurking, looking for the new cool thing. There was nothing cool about being secret, but for some reason (because it was “new”) the people started coming out. But I mean a lot of people. So, because of this success, we start booking one show a week; you can watch all the video-flyers on my YouTube channel. Plus we did crazy-looking shaped flyer.

Plus everything was well curated, from sound to the location, from promotion to the accommodation, and everything was rough, but cool — family-style. Everybody had great time over there. Then after three wild years, the owner sold the property to a new biz man, and that asshole forced us to move out. We left and the Hundebiss secret show-era is now a local legend. The place is at the moment squatted by old ravers without teeth. They have no water or electricity, and everything inside is now cover in dog shit and they’ve burned everything just to have some warmth. I think the new owner deserve this.

And I wanna say something: We invented this thing called video-flyer. We were the first that used fucking YouTube as a way to promote gigs. Somebody has to speak the truth! I will never gain any money from that, but [it] is good when people understand they are followers, not leaders.

Where’d the hook-up happen for No Fun Fest DJing?

Carlos Giffoni. He is very well-connected with the whole Italian scene. I took care of him the last time he came to Italy. We did a secret show and then drove together to Codalunga, which is one of the best location in Italy for noise and experimental shit.

When I started playing as Dracula, the idea was seriously to play some contemporary folk, using scraps and cheap instruments; I was going through “DESTINITY,” a crazy favela-style second-hand store as my music shop. My aim was to evoke a forest-scenario, like robots tripping in the woods.

What post-9/11-esque shit did you experience that made it scary and depressing?

Man I was playing guitar in a punk band, and to me, as a young Euro-kid, punk was anarchism, riots, having fun with friends, and a good method of thinking for traveling all over the world. For some reason, we ended up playing in the San Diego suburbs for a marine that just came back from Afghanistan, and I was 20 years old and I was like: there’s no way I’m gonna play for a fucking marine.

Plus, I didn’t expect to meet so many young kids full of patriotic bullshit. I mean do they really think terrorists from Afghanistan destroyed the twin towers? I’m not into conspiracy theory, but this is a fact: the U.S. president was dealing with Bin Laden for [a] long time. There was so much shit behind the curtains. So much shit you can’t clean with a fucking shirt that claim: ROCK AGAINST TERRORISM. You are a fucking terrorist and your ignorance is the worst bomb that can explode in my world.

Is touring in Europe harder now than pre-9/11?

No. Touring is fun and easy. Actually, the Dracula Lewis set-up was conceived as a “Ryan Air band.” The idea was to carry just fewer gears; enough to fill a hand luggage on a Ryan-fucking-Air cheap-and-scary flight to tour: today Bruxelles, tomorrow Berlin, the day after Lyon, smooth operator-style. So touring Europe is always great. People are mostly mellow, they cook food for you, don’t let you sleep in the streets, pay you money for playing, and give you free drinks. What more do you want? Pick-up at the airport? Most people do that as well, and most places also have a good P.A.

Selling records is very bad; it’s nothing like the U.S. I don’t know what happened here, but except for Germany and U.K., Europeans don’t seem very fond to the record culture. And I’d rather use the word “culture,” but you know what I mean. Probably in the north is better, but I’m always kind of confused about the north. I love Finland, though.

“Ryan Air band,” huh? So more like faux international spies? Has anyone ever stopped you for being suspicious on tour?

Carrying electronic devices is always suspicious to the guards. I always calculate an extra 30 minutes at the security checks, questions in an office, trying to explain, “What is a sampler?” They ended up usually saying: “Oh… I see, you are a DJ!” That’s it. There’s no fun at the airport, really.

Aside from keeping consistent with your musical equipment, you DO change up languages in your lyrics a lot, yeah?

Yes. In the new mix tape, I sang 50-percent Italian, 40-percent English, and 10-percent Spanish. I will sing more and more in Italian. But you know some songs are good in English. I feel I don’t wanna have barrier about that. I would love to learn Chinese to sing in Chinese.

Would you consider yourself a shaman of positive influence by way of darkness?

I seriously disrespect the way “rock tradition” and the society of spectacle changed the meaning of shamanism. I’m not that arrogant, though, to define myself as a shaman. I think we all need more shamans and more oracles, on a daily-life basis.

From where do you root the vibe of most Dracula Lewis vocals?

Well, I’ve listened to a lot of old Memphis stuff and Southern rap in general. I’ve got deep in that because of my brother Robert (a.k.a. JAWS), who did two incredible mix tapes called 4 Corners back in 2011. Then everybody started with that thing and were talking about Memphis rap, dirty South. But he’s my man and somebody had to say the truth about that. He’s the guy that made that thing cool again for y’all.

Plus, I’ve grew up with dark music, from punk to hip hop — I was always looking for dark sounds and imagery; I don’t mean strictly horror stuff, which is of course a big reference to me, but yeah, fuck that in a way. I mean dark sounds, creepy chords, melodies, voices. Hard core.

My idea is nobody on my label is doing experimental or avant-garde music… I’m playing with cheap technologies. This cheap technology has a story; the language that technology develops has a story. What I’m doing is easy, easy to make, easy to spread, easy to listen in a historical perspective.

Is Robert (JAWs) your actual brother? Where’d y’all meet up?

Nope, not my actual brother, but a very good friend. We met at a club in L.A. called M-Night Bar or something like that; a very old fashioned 80s yuppies-style bar, open ‘til late at night; smoke was allowed inside, bouncers outside [were] taking care of the situation, beautiful atmosphere inside. There was this guy (Robert) with an Excepter’s back patch and I was listening Debt Dept. by Excepter in loop at that time. So I started [to] talk to the guy, [and] he told me: I’m playing in Excepter! So we became friends, then it turned out he was very good friends with my ex-girlfriend, so we had some parties together. He was brilliant, sophisticated, sleazy, adorable. He sent me a CD-r when I went back to Italy, it was “Stress Test.” I suddenly released that on vinyl and I still think [it] is one of the greatest record of the post-noise generation.

This “Witch Doctor” track on your newest mixtape Technical XTC is DOPE: who are these characters you create (i.e., “Witch Doctor,” “Cheetah,” Dracula Lewis) to you?

Unfortunately, “Witch Doctor” isn’t on the mix tape anymore, just the earlier versions I sent out. Eva (a.k.a. Orphan Fairytale) said I wasn’t mystic enough. The lyrics of that track [are] from Motorhead, [the] “Cheetah” lyrics are from Lil Wayne, and Dracula Lewis is fictional, but not too much. I think there’s nothing fictional about being dirty, sometimes. The fact that 99 percent of music avoided slackness is kind of sad. That means you can get crazy about a very mediocre-slack song, like the butt song Jenny From the Block and her new friend from Australia just did, which is very mediocre and full of stereotypes. You also need class in being slack. Suicide taught that a long time ago.

Speaking of class, I heard from Spencer Clark you were buying a castle or two in the Italian country-side, care to comment?

You know, there’s this old church in Vernasca (my home-town) on the top of the hill, which documents said the owner of that place in 1600-something was a guy called Simone Trabucchi. I showed the evidence to the mayor and to a lawyer, and they were like, “No shit man you deserve that place, by right.” So now it’s mine and you guys are very welcome if you wanna come and party up there. It is very windy, though, I have to say that. [AH-AH-AH]

I’m actually planning to buy another one. It’s this crazy castle 40 km away from Vernasca in Bardi. I hate that castle because I think [it] is an evil-castle that rich people bought: satanist without culture, medieval people… You know what I’m saying? We have an old psychic-beef, and I think I need to ketch those vampires, kick ‘em out, and bring positive energy on the valley.

Most Read