- Title: ITALY: Italian friar heads heavy metal band
- Date: 24th July 2008
- Summary: (SOUNDBITE) (Italian) BROTHER CESARE SAYING: " About 15-14 years ago I went to a Metallica hard rock concert, I felt the energy released by this type of music and fell in love with heavy metal. After three years I composed my first record, 'Metallo' (metal). I did a "light" heavy metal, 'Metaluminium', because I sang mostly for grandmothers. I remade it now, more beautiful, stronger but soft, real metal but for everyone to listen to"
- Embargoed: 8th August 2008 13:00
- Location: Italy
- Country: Italy
- Topics: Entertainment,Light / Amusing / Unusual / Quirky
- Reuters ID: LVAALLEWW7E212R2EPBMQLB2G17F
- Story Text: Disregard his Capuchin robe and sandals and Brother Cesare could appear to be from the rock group ZZ Top but he is infact a friar and for this rocking monk heavy metal is far from being Satan's work.
Dressed in his traditional robe, sandals and twirling the rope around his waist, 62-year old Friar Cesare Bonizzi is no ordinary heavy metal rocker.
But as guitarists around him belt out heavy notes, the long-white-bearded Capuchin, a former missionary in Ivory Coast, has no qualms bobbing his head and shouting lyrics about alcohol, sex, tobacco and life in general into his microphone.
Describing himself as a "preacher-singer", Bonizzi has been singing for over a decade, and last month wowed heavy metal fans at Italy's "Gods of Metal" festival, where he performed with his band Fratello Metallo (Metal Brother) alongside groups such as Iron Maiden.
"About 14-15 years ago, I went to a Metallica concert and fell in love with heavy metal after I saw all the energy there," Bonizzi said after a rehearsal in a Milan recording studio.
A member of the Catholic Capuchin order in Milan, Bonizzi began singing heavy metal after having first started with what he calls "lighter"
music, or more folk-style.
"I did a "light" heavy metal, 'Metaluminium', then because I sang mostly for grandmothers." brother Cesare explained.
"I remade it now, more beautiful, stronger but soft, real metal but for everyone to listen to" he added.
This month, in fact, he released his second heavy metal album "Misteri", or mysteries, inspired by a group of southern Italian women who sang about Jesus' mother Mary. A heavy metal version of the song features on the album, but Bonizzi also sings about how alcohol can warm the heart, but then damage the liver if drank in excess as well as how important sex is to man.
Members of his band said the initial scepticism about putting together a friar and heavy metal dissolved within minutes from meeting brother Cesare.
"I have to admit that at first I was rather dubious about the whole project because I thought that to put together heavy metal music and a capuchin friar was strange to say the least." explained the band's lead guitar, Cesare Zanotti.
"But five minutes after having met brother Cesare I decided to go ahead with no doubts because he manages to convey so much energy that even other musicians and youngsters often don't manage to express." he continued.
Bonizzi, who names bands such as rockers Megadeth and Dream Theater as favourites, also sings about God and faith, but says he has no intention of converting listeners to Christianity.
"I want to convert people to living life to the full" he said.
"I am religious and I am a priest," Bonizzi said. "But I don't play to draw people closer to Christ, to the church or to religion. I do it to convert people to life, to understand life, to grab hold of life, to savour life, to experience life and enjoy it. Full stop." he said.
One of 10 children, Bonizzi grew up near the northern Italian town of Cremona. He worked as a hairdresser, welder and in a factory before a brief military stint and then joined the Capuchin order at the age of 29.
The friar, who performs about 100-150 concerts a year, says some Christians criticise his singing. As for the heavy metal fans, he has been warmly welcomed and distances the music genre from satanism.
Bonizzi sings in Italian and Latin, but "Misteri", his 18th CD, is being translated into English. So far, he only performs in Italy, but he says he has received invitations to put on shows in Japan and Brazil.
"I would like to do a world tour," he said.
- Copyright Holder: REUTERS
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