Eugent Bushpepa: “Bad times always trigger some impulses in an artist. I expressed myself through music a lot during that period.”
Enige veranderingen vallen te melden in het kamp van CoreLeoni, een band die in 2018 werd opgericht door Gotthard gitarist Leo Leoni als tribuut aan de band waar hij al heel zijn leven in speelt, maar ook ter nagedachtenis van zijn goede vriend en ex-zanger Steve Lee die enkele jaren terug bij een motorongeval in de VS om het leven kwam. Op ‘III’ heeft men voor het eerst nieuw materiaal geschreven en zanger van dienst blijkt de uit Albanië afkomstige Eugent Bushpepa te zijn. Hem voelden we eens aan de tand over het reilen en zeilen van CoreLeoni.
Vera Matthijssens Ι 30 mei 2022
Hello Eugent, congratulations with the album, you have a great voice! How are you doing at the moment?
Hi Vera! Thanks for having me and thanks a lot for the compliments. I’m hyped and feeling proud for the record I made with CoreLeoni (CL).
How and when did you get in contact with Leo and how did you get involved in CoreLeoni?
After CL went separate ways with Ronnie Romero, I received an invitation from Leo Leoni and Jgor Gianola to audition for them. They talked to me what this project was about and given that I really loved Gotthard’s stuff growing up and Steve Lee was, and still is, one of the best singers heard by humankind, receiving that invitation was both a challenge and a dream come true for me.
You are quite an experienced artist, so let us dive into your background with a few questions: you are from Albania and already there your love for music started, so please tell us about your youth and how you put your first steps in music?
I started singing when I was six years old. At ten years of age I was introduced to rock music by an album I received for my birthday from my older sister, Eva. Since then my passion for rock just elevated and since then I am a part of the Albanian rock music scene in many festivals and shows that take part in this part of the world
After school you moved to Bologna, Italy. Can you tell about the reasons, how you adapted into your new country and how do you look back at this time?
I was a Nerd haha… always been good at school. I wanted to become a doctor, so I went to one of the best Medicine Universities in Europe. I did two years of Medicine in Bologna and after that I started being pushed by fate towards my other passion which I had left aside for a couple of years, Music. So unluckily I left University and luckily I started focusing on Music. As I look back nowadays I find it interesting that, that new country, even though I wasn’t able to finish what I started there, it helped me a lot for my musical career and it was a big life experience, so I would definitely be happy to do it again.
The ball got rolling with several bands you played in, the Eurovision contest and many other things, so what also defined your musical career so far? Tell us something about those bands, how you experienced the Eurovision and which things you did in music?
All the bands that I played in, as a band member or tour vocalist, helped me a lot musically speaking. Supporting bands like Deep Purple, Overkill, Prong, Loaded, or sharing the stage with Ron Thal, Duff McKagan etc was something that gave me experience and confidence. Eurovision on the other hand was very different of what I was used because ‘til then I was known only in my country. It was a “door” that helped my music to be heard internationally and it was one of the reasons I’m in the band CoreLeoni.
Let us talk about the new album ‘III’. It is the first one with new songs. What can you tell about the writing process? At which point in time and process were you involved in writing or did you only perform the vocals?
I entered the band on a later stage of the writing process, most of the songs were already written, but I managed to give here and there a small part of melodic lines and just a few phrases of lyrics.
Can you go a bit deeper into the lyrics? Which ones are special to you or dearest to your heart?
Lyrics were written by a great musician and a great guy named Danny Lee who works mostly with Leo on other projects too. The one that I like most are ‘Let Life Begin Tonight’, ‘Sometimes’, ‘Wake Up Call’ and ‘Sick & Tired’, so I’m more into social related lyrics.
How did you experience working with Leo and the other guys and can you tell something about the recording process? Do you still live in Italy?
As soon as I got selected after the auditioning I went to Switzerland to meet with the band. I felt directly the connection with the guys musically and even socially speaking. Then, we shared ideas about a future record with mostly new songs and that time we recorded three songs in four days, songs that are included in Coreleoni “III” just to tell you how instantly we felt good about working with each other. I moved to Albania since 2006, working on TV and on my solo project.
Is there a kind of awareness for the planet in ‘Wake Up Call’? Can you go deeper into this song?
The song is about the delusion times we’re living in, how many of us are living a lie and how we got to experience the greed without having the strength to fight back. Dreams and freedom nowadays is stolen by those which we elect to represent us. So yes this is a wake up call for the people who have the intelligence and eyes wide open, but haven’t found the strength yet to fight this corrupted system.
Why the choice for the Rolling Stones cover ‘Jumpin’ Jack Flash’? Please also tell me about your personal affinity with the song?
That song was entirely a song chosen by the rest of the band prior to my presence in the band. I found out it was a part of the album during the mixing stage
How did it feel to re-record and sing the four Gotthard tracks? How did the band select them this time?
As you might know the whole idea of CoreLeoni initially was to re-record songs from the first albums of Gotthard mostly as a tribute. This time, with me entering the band, we decided to find songs that were included in those first Gotthard albums, that were a good fit for the band and for my voice too. I was very happy to get to choose ‘Say Goodbye’, one of my all time favourite song from Gotthard.
There are quite a lot video clips. Can you tell a bit more about the making of? Did you make video clips before? What about this experience for you?
Since 2006 I work in live shows and TV. I did a lot of performances and clips during my career, so it was not a new thing, but when you are part of a new band and you are part of a record label you got to experience things a bit different. We already filmed five music videos. Songs were chosen by us and the record label, which one represents best the colours of the album. Starting with the first single ‘Let Life Begin Tonight’, a classic rock ballad which was filmed by Kevin Merz and his team in a beautiful modern church on top of the mountain Tamaro in south Switzerland. The second one ‘Purple Dynamite’ is a straight forward modern rock mid tempo song filmed by Maurizio Del Piccolo in Ticino.
‘Sometimes’ was filmed during the recording stage of the song in the studio and ‘Like It Or Not’ is filmed in one of the best live clubs in Agno, Ticino. We wanted to keep this simple, leaving the listeners focus entirely on the songs. There is a new video of the slow tempo ballad entitled ‘Deep In My Soul’ that will come out in June, that is filmed by Renuar Locaj and his team, entirely in South Albania in a beautiful church of the 5th century CE.
Recently you played some release shows I think. How was it? What are your live experiences with CoreLeoni so far? How did the band cope with the covid-19 crisis? Did this trigger writing new songs maybe?
We loved every minute being on stage…we had a lot of energy accumulated and we were proud to share every minute of the new songs we recorded, on stage. It looked like the satisfaction of the people was hyped too after this pandemic era…so it was double fun. Bad times always trigger some impulses in an artist. I expressed myself through music a lot during that period. Who knows maybe some of those materials might be used in an upcoming album sooner or later.
Is it quite easy to combine your work for CoreLeoni with your other commitments and/or obligations so far or will your have to choose your priorities at some point in time?
Luckily after being a lot around and having a decent experience working on TV, nowadays I find it quite easy to combine work in Albania, my solo project with CoreLeoni even though with CoreLeoni we’re always open to talk and find solutions if other business paths of different members of the band tend to interlace.
Since this is also a new start for the band, what are the plans for the near future?
We will lay a bit back and taste the feedback from friends, listeners and fans. In November we start touring Europe, but believe me, now that the wheel kept riding it would be a bit difficult to make it stop. So we are looking forward to make new stuff too!
If there is anything you like to add, please feel free to do it right here…
Thank you for this nice Interview.