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The Fullertones Spread the Blues with Gritty Debut LP ‘Stay Electric’

The Tuscany band present total riffage across the nine-track album

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David Britto Jul 01, 2020

Italian blues band The Fullertones. Photo: Courtesy of the artist

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It was at Italy’s Torrita Blues Festival while watching American musician Doyle Bramhall II in 2017 when vocalist-guitarist Francesco Bellia and guitarist Lou Leonardi decided to band together and form a blues outfit called The Fullertones. “I made a bet with Francesco that we were going to be on that same stage pretty soon,” says Leonardi. The guitarist walked away as the winner from the bet and The Fullertones – now joined by drummer Matteo D’Alessandro and bassist Lorenzo Alderighi – found themselves opening for English rockers the Animals at the festival the following year.

After impressing across Italy’s club circuit over the past three years, the Tuscany-based band felt the time had arrived to release their debut full-length nine-track album Stay Electric, which dropped at the end of June. Plans for the album initially began while Leonardi was on vacation in California where he played a few songs for the likes of guitarist Volker Strifler (of Ford Blues Band) and Irish-American singer-songwriter Shana Morrison (the daughter of musician Van Morrison) for feedback. He says, “They liked my ideas, so I started trusting myself more.”

Stay Electric opens with “Fairyland” and features a crunchy blues riff which Leonardi first posted to Instagram and one that gathered a lot of traction online. He says, “The story of the song is completely imaginary… It’s kind of a ‘modern’ blues topic where the man loses his woman because she cheats on him.” There’s more riffage on the ferocious “Wise Up” while the band funks it up on “Deal with the Devil.” Leonardi says, “This is me taking [American blues legend] Robert Johnson’s place at the crossroads and meeting the devil.”

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The Fullertones then sink into a beautiful slow blues with the dreamy “Way Down” which Leonardi penned from the perspective of Bellia. The guitarist explains, “It talks about the hard times he [Bellia] had growing up without his mother who passed away.” The bouncy “Sheep Dogs” is a glance into Leonardi’s difficult relationship with his former boss while the band gets groovy on “Can You Hear Me.” The record then moves onto the album’s hopeful title track and emotional “Two Steps” which is a message to the guitarist’s teenage son. “I’m telling him how he changed my life, opening my eyes and helping me to see the important things in life.” Stay Electric closes with the popping “I Believe” on which the band sings about the hard times of getting slots to play at local clubs.

If you’re a blues lover, then The Fullertones is a band you have to hear. Their modern take on the genre is spread across the entire album superbly. There are tasty riffs, thumping drum parts, groovy bass lines and exciting vocal dynamics. Leonardi’s versatility on the guitar is second to none with his well-crafted solos going from subtle to euphoric and most importantly melodic.

The Fullertones recorded the album at Epidauro Studio at Music Tribe in Tavarnelle. According to Leonardi, the band was lucky because they preponed their recording sessions from March to February just before the lockdown in Italy due to COVID-19 was implemented. “If we were going to record just a couple of days later we wouldn’t have had anything,” the guitarist says. Once D’Alessandro was done mixing Stay Electric, the band sent it to Alex McCollough of True East Mastering in Nashville, Tennessee for it to be mastered.

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Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the band had to cancel all the shows they had planned to promote the album. However, a music video for “Stay Electric” is already out and a livestream gig on July 2nd from Bay Rock Studios in Umbria is on the cards. “We are actually working on some live shows starting from the end of July. We’ll have to see how the situation will turn out over here in Italy,” says the guitarist.

Leonardi has already begun working on fresh material but instead wants to now focus on releasing a couple of singles next. Ask the musician if The Fullertones would ever consider touring India and he says, “I saw the Mahindra Blues Festival artists (online) and they are all idols for me, having the chance to play there with The Fullertones would be a dream.”

Stream ‘Stay Electric’ below: 

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