Juggling life playing the role of Ledoux in the hugely successful Meat Loaf-base and Jim Steinman production ‘Bat Out Of Hell – The Musical’ while fronting up and coming rockers deVience, Giovanni Spano has had a busy few years. Not that he’d have it any other way; “I’m able to do the thing that I love and have passion for”, he tells us. We caught up with Gio at Download Festival, for a chat about reworking one of the biggest selling albums of all time for the stage, and what’s going on with his band away from the day job. All revved up with no place to go; Eamon O’Neill.
Hi Gio, how are you today?
I’m good, man; the sun is shining, I’m at Download 2018; I can’t really complain! I’m having the best time.
What brings you to Download festival?
Well, I’ve got a few of my best friends that are playing – one of them being Nathan James and Inglorious, and he was absolutely fantastic, and I’ve got another dude, one of my friends called Jinxx is in Black Veil Brides, who’s absolutely awesome. If you haven’t checked them out, then you should check it out.
That’s awesome, you’re selling other people’s bands!
Dude, why wouldn’t I?! We’re celebrating music today, and that’s what Download’s about.
How are things with your band deVience at the minute?
Yeah, great. Things are absolutely fantastic. We’re going from strength to strength. The album’s been received really well; reviewers are loving it, and, you know, we’re playing some gigs, the fans are growing. I can’t complain!
Does the band ever get in the way of the day job fronting ‘Bat Out Of Hell – The Musical’?
Actually, do you know what? It doesn’t get in the way of the day job, because we’re making the day job and the band really work well together. It’s seamlessly coming together, which is great, because the people who love ‘Bat Out Of Hell’ are loving deVience, and the people who love deVience love ‘Bat Out Of Hell’, so it just works so well together. I’m on cloud nine right now, which is somewhere that you don’t often visit, being a musician, you know!? [*laughing*]
Going back to the start, and how did you land the role of Ledoux in ‘Bat Out Of Hell’?
It was May 2016, and one of my friends – Oli Thompson, who was in ‘Rock Of Ages’, which is another big rock and roll musical – said to me; “Dude, you’re perfect for this show”, and I was like; “Oh, okay, I’ll check it out”. I phoned my manager and I was just like; “Get me seen for this job NOW! If you don’t get me seen for this job, I’ll be very angry!” It probably wasn’t those words; it probably was a lot worse! So, she got me seen for the job, and lo and behold, I ended up getting it. No one was beating me to it, because my passion and my drive to actually achieve the role was unrivalled. As far as I was concerned, my heart was set on it.
How was it working alongside Meat Loaf on the promotional run for the show?
I grabbed the gig, and started in October 2016 doing promotion in Manchester and London with none other than himself, Mr. Meat Loaf, which was rad. Dude, it was sick! It was surreal, in every sense of the word. It was mesmerising.
Has Meat actually seen you performing in the show?
He’s been around. This guy is recording Netflix series’, and doing this and doing that, and doing appearances and stuff like that, so he’s been around. He’s an associate producer, so he’s there and thereabouts, which is absolutely awesome. It’s been a pleasure to have him a part of it, and also Mr. Jim Steinman as well; the legend himself.
What was Jim Steinman’s level of involvement?
Jim was more involved than anybody you could ever imagine. If he could sit there and be on the line 24/7, he would be. He’s outstanding. He would literally video record every rehearsal, and then it would be relayed back, and he would relate his notes back to us, and then we would put his notes in place, and then he would say; “Okay, well this perhaps needs a change” et cetera, and it was so nice to be a part of that process.
Was your background in theatrics, or were you coming at it from the perspective as a rock singer?
I’ve had a theatrical background for the best part of my life, but music has always been a part of it, so to actually marry the two together – I started performing when I was 12 years old, but even at like, 8 or 9, I was loving music. The first song I ever heard was ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’, so it’s always been a massive part of my life. And to get somebody who writes epic songs like Jim Steinman does, and be able to do the thing that I’ve been doing all of my life, and love and have passion for, it was a no-brainer really when it came up.
Is it a tough role to play, given the passion that fans have for ‘Bat Out Of Hell’?
They will let you know, trust me! No, they’ve been amazing, absolutely amazing. The fans are unrivalled, and I tell you what, if we were anything other than scraping perfection, they would give us a hard time, they would really give us some shit, and they don’t, luckily enough. They love it. What we are doing is celebrating he most incredible man that is Jim Steinman, and Mr. Meat Loaf as well.
Do you find that the audiences differ to other shows that you’ve done in the past?
It’s just unrivalled. I’ve done West End musicals before, but nothing compared to this. I did ‘Jesus Christ Superstar’ and we played to 16,000 people every night, and these guys are just phenomenal; they’re relentless, they’re there every single night; their stamina, their energy, they bring it, and they let everybody else know how to behave themselves within our theatre as well, which is incredible.
How many shows have you actually done?
It’s coming up to like, three hundred and fifty / four hundred. Yeah, it’s amazing; no sense in slowing down. There’s some guys that have been there and done all three fifty performances, which is bananas. I’m there or thereabouts, but I’ve had some holiday and some bits – you’ve got to take time out to do gigs and stuff.
So what’s in the immediate future for you, going forward?
The brand new single has just come out with deVience called ‘Beyond The Bounds’ - #BTB, so if you want to check that out on iTunes et cetera, you can grab that and download it. Go get it, because it’s rocking, it truly is, and it’s epic and beautiful.
And more ‘Bat Out Of Hell Performances?
Yeah. The show is ever-evolving, the crowds are getting better, so come and check it out, it’s a lot of fun. Eight shows a week, at the Dominion Theatre, central London. The nearest station is Tottenham Court Road, 7.30pm every night. Come rock out with us.
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Bat Out Of Hell – The Musical continues its run at London’s Dominion Theatre. For tickets, click HERE. deVeince’s self-titled debut album is available now, via iTunes.