Italy’s top alternative rock outfit Afterhours recently finished a triumphal Italian tour in support of their new album.
Afterhours’ sixth CD, I Milanesi Ammazzano il Sabato (“The Milanese Kill Saturdays”), has already charted in the Top Five in Italy. The project is lead singer Manuel Agnelli’s ode to his hometown of Milan, a city often referred to as the New York of Italy due to a shared focus on business from finance to fashion. The I Milanesi Ammazzano il Sabato project continues Manuel Agnelli and Afterhours’ creative collaboration with American cult rocker Greg Dulli that began when the Twilight Singers joined Afterhours to co-headline an Italian tour in 2004 – the genesis of a relationship which has seen the two bands contribute repeatedly to each others’ work. Dulli went on to produce Afterhours’ last effort 2005’s Ballate per piccole iene (“Ballads for Little
Hyenas), an English language version of which was released in 2006 by the One Little Indian label in the US and UK. Critical response to the band in the U.S. has been excellent, to wit:
“…varied, openminded, creative, ambitious, and above all adventurous…”
“…the band’s intense passion and artistic mind meld…make this album
totally awesome.” PopMatters
“…epically rocking songs, edgy melodies and Agnelli’s distinctive and husky
rasp of a voice…” Washington Post
Afterhours also served as the Italian backing band to Greg Dulli and Mark Lanegan’s Gutter Twins project and Agnelli co-wrote 2 songs with Dulli on the latest Twilight Singers album Powder Burns. Afterhours then shared the stage with the Twilight Singers for a 25 date North American tour in 2006, the most extensive by an Italian rock band. Other guests on I Milanesi Ammazzano Il Sabato are co-producer John Parish (PJ Harvey, Goldfrapp, Giant Sand), Stef Kamil Carlens (Deus, Zita Swoon) and Brian Ritchie (Violent Femmes).
The title of this eighth studio set is Agnelli’s play on the words of a similarly titled 1969 work by Italian crime novelist Giorgio Scerbaneco, the last before the author’s untimely death, whose work envisioned a Milan in which rampant consumerism would replace quiet family based communities. Called a “…brutal masterpiece…” by Italy’s La Repubblica, I Milanesi Ammazzano il Sabato is a set of Agnelli’s reflections on the evolution of Milan into an impersonal city where people come to work then leave. Saturdays, author Serbaneco proposes, is the only day of the week on which one could find the time and opportunity for a killing. Agnelli’s alternative vision conveys the existential loneliness of leisure time in the metropolis.
The story of Afterhours’ (who took their name from the Velvet Underground song) formative decade in 1990’s Milan shares a similar narrative with Manhattan’s gentrification of the era: much like their American indie counterparts, they booked themselves into now defunct clubs (Helter Skelter), put out DIY record releases through an indie store/label (VoxPop), and even self-funded a showcase jaunt to Gotham’s bygone New Music Seminar, all the while trying to keep together a lo-fi scene of like-minded musicians, writers and artists in a fast paced high-fashion metropolis.