New album from Rolling Stones Hackney Diamonds has an Italian heart. The engineer who worked with the Stones on their first album of unreleased material after 18 years, due out October 20, actually Marco Sonzinivariety 1984born in Piacenza and moved to Los Angeles in 2009, “for a 10-month specialization course. But I never returned,” he says in an exclusive interview with Adnkronos.
Marco has now become a reference point for Italian and international artists recording music in California. His fingers expertly moved the cursors through the album’s 12 tracks, recorded in various locations around the world, including Henson Recording Studios in Los Angeles and Metropolis Studios in London. “Last year I got a call from the production team,” he says, “who he told me to keep it loose because the Rolling Stones project was about to start. I was at a loss, great emotions, great honor. We toured for three months between Los Angeles and London, stopping only for Thanksgiving and Christmas.”
First contact with the Stones ‘was amazing’: ‘The first person I met was Ronnie Wood. I will never forget this, it was November 1st last year, and by the way, it was my birthday. I took it as the best gift. It was a writing session with Andrew Watts. Then I met the others when we all started recording together: an incredible adrenaline rush from recording a record created by legendary musicians like them“, admits Sonzini. This also speaks to the sense of responsibility associated with this project: “With musicians like them, you inevitably have great respect for the material you are working with. How to lay hands on the Holy Grail“.
The album’s recently released lead single “Angry” is followed by 11 more tracks. Historical drummer of the Stones, Charlie Watts, who passed away on August 24, 2021, features on two songs: “Mess It Up” and “Live By The Sword.” “We were working on drum tracks that Watts recorded in 2019,” Sonzini explains.
But there are other stellar collaborations on the album: “Sweet Sounds Of Heaven” features the voice Lady Gaga and keyboards and piano Stevie Wonderin “Bite My Head Off” bass Paul McCartney and in “Get Close” and “Live By The Sword” piano Elton John. “Yes, it’s crazy,” Sonzini admits. “The all-star cast is second to none. Hearing Paul McCartney and the Stones record together is almost unimaginable, in the sense that they are two such giants of music that it’s hard to fully grasp their separate identities. And even more so when they come together! Explosive results,” he assures.
To describe the sound of the album, Marco Sonzini uses just one word, which in Italian turns into two: “Timeless, senza tempo.”. It’s definitely The Stones, as I think you might have already heard from the first single released, “Angry”.
The road to the Stones wasn’t all bad. And even today Marco does not feel like he has arrived: “In the US, even in my sector, it is perhaps easier to reach the top if you are good, but it is also true that everything can change in the blink of an eye. I never feel like I’ve done it. But of course, if I look back, Sometimes I wonder if it’s all true“.
His passion for music dates back to his childhood and was stimulated by his family. gift guitar, at 7 years old. “I was born in Piacenza and studied between Emilia and Milan. I graduated from the Piacenza Conservatory in classical guitar. Then I graduated from the Faculty of Science and Technology of Music Communication in Milan.” After graduating, Marco decided to deepen and refine his training in the world’s epicenter of music production: “After much consideration, in 2009, I left on a 10-month visa to take an intensive audio engineering course at the Los Angeles Recording School., then convinced to return to Italy. But 14 years later I’m still here,” he says.
The first meeting that changed his life was with a producer and songwriter. Saverio ‘Sage’ Principiniwho ran the studio where Vasco Rossi conducted his recordings in Los Angeles. “I met him through a mutual friend and started working on Speakeasy Studios, which were exactly where Vasco recorded in Los Angeles. From there I started working with many Italian artists who came to California to record records: in addition to Vasco, Eros Ramazzottito name one.” His name began to circulate in the “circles that matter” of Italian and international music. “In 2017, I retired and started working on Hollywood A&M Studios, the legendary studio where it was recorded’We are the world‘, one of the most important studios in the city. This allowed me to join the list of “on-call” sound engineers, those that studios turn to when they need specialists.” The network of acquaintances and creative meetings continued to expand: “That’s how I met Keith Urbanfamous country singer and songwriter, husband of Nicole Kidman, Camila Cabello, Selena Gomez and a long list of stars that were unattainable for me just a few years ago.”
During those years, Marco’s life was marked by sessions in Los Angeles studios. In one of these “on-call services” 2 years ago, he had another decisive meeting: “It was 11 o’clock in the evening, they called me and asked if I was available now. I take off my pajamas, get dressed, get into the car and discover that the recording was for Elton John.for what will become duet with Stevie Wonder “Finish Line”. That night I met the producer Andrew WattsWatt appreciates Sonzini’s work and invites him to join his team, which works for most of the US superstars: “From there, the doors of absurd projects open for me. for the last two years we have been working with Eddie Vedder, Iggy Pop, Ozzy Osbourne (with which they won in February 2023 two Grammysone for Best Rock Album with “Patient Number 9”, and the other for Best Metal Interpretation with the song “Degradation Rules” from the same album, ed.), Post Malone“.
Working with musical stars has no shortage of funny and surprising anecdotes, such as when Stevie WonderHaving learned that Marco is Italian, he mentions him for the first time: “Sanremo Festival!“, where in 1969 he competed with Gabriella Ferri with the song “Sei tu mio mio”.”He wanted to emphasize that he came to the competition not just as a guest.“, Marco is amused.
“What always amazes me about these legendary characters,” he adds, “is that they can be the most humble and compassionate people. The same Mick Jagger This. However, he is an icon who still inspires many great people today. I heard Eddie Vedder, who is an absolute myth to me, talk about Jagger: and to him, Jagger is an absolute myth. For me, this is a myth squared.”
Marco doesn’t shy away from commenting on the resurgence of Italian rock due to international success Maneskin: “I’m a big fan of them. They’re unique. I hope to meet them in the studio one day,” he says.
When asked if I’ll return to ItalySoncini is clear: “No. In Los Angeles I was lucky enough to work with both Italian and foreign artists. It wouldn’t be the same in Italy. And now I have a family here, two children born in the USA. It would be difficult. But I want to work with Italian artists whenever I can,” he says.
And thanks to an Italian artist who moved to California, Sonzini recently took another step forward in his career, also becoming director. “In this jump Tiziano Ferro was decisive“, of which he actually produced the last two albums: the cover album “I Accept Miracles: The Experience of Others” in 2020 and the last unreleased album “Il mondo è nostri” in 2022. “We met on the set of a video film. Then he called me to record vocals while he was working with Timbaland to “I accept miracles.” From one voice, I ended up recording all the voices. AND During the pandemic, when the idea for a covers album was born, he asked me to produce it for him. He then also had me produce an album of unreleased songs, up to the latest single that’s currently on the radio with J-Axe, “We’ve Already Won.” In short, he was the architect of my transformation into a producer,” he emphasizes.
Among the many dreams already realized, Marco Sonzini still keeps in his drawer one related to his past as a guitarist: “Working with Eric Claptonhe has been my idol since childhood.” And you can be sure that it is only a matter of time.