LATTE + is an Italian 3 piece punk band from Empoli, Tuscany, that formed originally in 1997. The current line up consists of Chicco who plays guitar and is the vocalist, Leo who plays bass and sings chorus and Puccio who is the drummer. In 1997, Latte + broke out onto the scene with their first demo, “Dustbin in Town”, six songs that would set the stage for their next 20 years of straight up, in your face punk rock. Over the years the line-up changed and time had to be taken off, but the music always remained.
The band continued to write in English and in 1999, they released their self-produced album, “The New Generation Sucks”. Latte + began to receive interest from many independent labels and subsequently, all copies of “The New Generation Sucks” quickly sold out. These exposures allowed the band to tour and play 50 shows within the following year. 2001 found the band in the studio recording their first label supported release, “Guerriglia Urbana”. Being their first release in Italian, this album sold over 3000 units and brought the band to the world stage performing for more than 4000 fans. Their position as an influential, leading group in the Italian independent music scene was now cemented.
The 2005 release of “Molotov” further proved that LATTE + is a punk rock force to be reckoned with. Their schedule soon filled up with split records, tribute albums and radio and television promotions. A few years later, the guys would find themselves in a transitional period, culminating in 2009’s “Non E’ Finita”, released through Florentine label Controtempo Produzioni. While touring to promote “Non E’ Finita”, the band continued to write and eventually produce their 5th album, “Asociala”, (which is arguably the bands best album to date,) which was released in 2012. Seventeen years after they first emerged from the small Tuscan town of Empoli, LATTE + would reach worldwide recognition in 2014 with, “No More Than Three Chords”, a masterpiece of Ramone’s influenced and inspired songs perfected with that 1-2-3-4 punch of tight, fast paced punk rock ethos. Released through Italy’s Rocketman Records and eventually in the United States on Outloud! Records. “No More Than Three Chords” would be played by fans in Italy, France, Germany, Japan, the United States, Argentina and the world over! In 2016, in celebration of 20 years of dedication, the band released “Punk Rock 20”, a compilation of 20 of the best and even worst songs of their career.
On February 23rd 2017, LATTE+ released their 7th long awaited album, “Stitches”. The album was preceded by two singles: “Screw You” and “Darkness Inside Your Heart” (official videoclips on YouTube). Produced by Professional Punkers in collaboration with Monster Zero for Europe and Outloud! Records for the US, its 13 tracks of pure punk rock Ramones style, “Stitches” solidifies the band’s scope and proves to be a strong follow up to 2014’s “No More Than Three Chords”.
November 2017 brings even more excitement and growth as LATTE+ officially signed with Arizona’s No Affiliation Records and Germany’s booking agency, Subkultura Booking. Tours and releases are on the horizon!
Through the magic of technology, I was able to schedule a videochat with Chicco and Puccio of the band on February 2, 2018. What ensued was lots of laughter, discussions on the state of music since they started (the late 1990’s, my era!) up through today and the different challenges and benefits that go with the industry. I honestly can say I enjoyed speaking with two of the funniest, polite, hilarious, informative and educational men that know what they are talking about when it comes to music and its collective scene, as well as meeting up for the best food in Tuscany when I am in Italy later this year! Enjoy dear readers! I hope you chuckle with us!
Erin: Hi guys! How are you! How was your show the other night?
Chicco: It was good, good it was about a week ago.
Erin: Was it already a week ago?!?
Puccio: One week ago on Thursday!
Erin: Time just flies by… When is the band playing again?
Puccio: We are playing again next Friday (9/2/2018) in Florence.
Erin: Before I get my questions out and rolling, I wanted to again thank you for doing this. We want to feature you in our newer group section of the publication to introduce and welcome you to the punk community in the U.K., Europe, the U.S.A. and the whole world over to be honest! Nikki the editor and I REALLY dig your band’s music. It’s fun and for me it kind of makes me feel at home because there is a bit of an American punk vibe to it.
Chicco: It’s the first time we have ever done an interview on Messenger.
Erin: It can seem a bit strange at first-sometimes there is a delay.
Puccio: I took an audio cable and connected it to my phone and then plugged it into my hi-fi system.
Erin: So can you hear me better?
Chicco and Puccio: Yeah yeah! (I can even hear the reverb of my always too loud voice!)
Chicco: Sorry, we aren’t too used to doing interviews.
Erin: You’re doing great-don’t think of it as like some formal, serious, weird, question and answer session Think of it as how it really is-it’s a video chat between friends!
Puccio: (to Chicco,) She is right!
Erin: Alrighty-here’s my BURNING question: why in the world did you name your band after a coffee drink?!?!?
Chicco: I am a very big Stanley Kubrick fan and the name of the drink that Alex and Co.(the movie he is referring to is A Clockwork Orange in English or Arancia Meccanica in Italian,) drink in the Korova Milk Bar is called Latte +
Erin: So when and where did you decide to become musicians? When did that urge strike you, or what day was it when you woke up and said, “I’m going to learn to play guitar today and try to make a living doing it!”
Chicco: Whoa, ha-ha, I think it was 1991? And we were just teenagers and listening to a lot of punk rock so we decided to make a band but we started off just playing covers for 5 or 6 years until 1996 or 1997. Then we decided to start a known band writing and creating our own, unique music. We were thinking we were able to do it ok, but we were not good enough!
Erin: Oh c’mon now, every band says they suck when they began. You couldn’t have been that bad other than just ironing out the kinks and growing pains, etc.! Don’t be so hard on yourselves!
Chicco: So after the years of playing Ramones and Sex Pistols covers, around 1997 we decided hey! We need to do our own music, make our own scene. We are not just a cover band. We have so much more talent to show the audiences. I mean look, 20 years has passed since then! We are old!
Erin: Hey now!! I graduated high school in 1997 and it DOES NOT feel like 20 years ago-and now that is how I can tell I am (GULP) getting older!!!! But I am not yet 40 so it’s all ok hahah!
Puccio: I joined the band around 2009 and I’ve played from 2009 until now, so it’s like I’m finally “one of the guys” haha.
Chicco: He’s not the original drummer. He joined the band just 10 years ago but he already recorded 3 or 4 albums with other bands.
Erin: What bands where you in before?
Puccio: When I started playing with these guys, I had to play more focused on the punk rock style. I mean, I have loved Tommy Ramone since I was born; my English is horrible, I am sorry (his English is great, for the record!)
Erin: NO IT IS NOT your English is better than my French!!
Puccio: But if you want to stay in a band with this guy (points at Chicco,) you can listen to only the Ramones.
Chicco: He played for other good bands, just not punk rock music so he was a beginner to that genre, but now he plays really well. He’s a really good drummer.
Puccio: Aww thank you.
Erin: No, you do play extremely well, forceful with a lot of energy! Give yourself some credit! What were the other bands you played with?
Puccio: One was called “Dead River”. None of them were punk oriented. I used to play in bands that were more like James Brown, Tower of Power, only funk. ALWAYS funk.
Erin: What made you want to become a drummer?
Puccio: I started playing drums when I was 17 because a lot of my friends played instruments for more years than me but I never thought I would play an instrument in my life so they started saying all day,
all the time. One friend played guitar and the other friend played bass, one played trumpet and they said we need a drummer! You have to start to play drums now! And I started to play drums! True story!
Erin: And what about you Chicco? What drew you to playing the guitar?
Chicco: About me, ah well, I was listening to just so much music all the time, that it was just like a dream to play something, you know?
Erin: To make something that is purely yours and came from deep within your soul and conscious?
Chicco: Yeah! Exactly like that! I wanted to play drums first but my mother said “no way man, not in my house!” So I was like, OK, I can play guitar! So I started to play guitar and then I fell in love with bass guitar because I am a bass player, honestly. And then I started to play guitar again because the band needed a guitar player, ok? So in the band I play guitar and I sing-
Puccio: (talks over Chicco,) But he is really a bass player! He only wants to play bass!! He plays drums and the other guy plays bass but he is not here right now because he lives too far from here.
Erin: So where in Italy are you guys located?
Chicco: We live in Empoli near Florence. The other guy (bass player Leo,) lives in South Tuscany. He lives on the sea! Are you familiar with Tuscany?
Erin: I know a little about that area having visited several times.
Chicco: Do you know where Livorno is?
Erin: Isn’t it on the port or a port city?
Chicco: Yes! Do you know where Pisa is?
Puccio: It’s not a good city, Pisa…
Chicco: We all hate pizza here!
Erin: Yeah, I’ve never eaten pizza anywhere in Italy, but other than the whole pizza thing, the food is amazing!
Chicco/Puccio: Yeah, yeah, Sure! Food is life!
Erin: I like to go the smaller bistros where the mother or grandmother is cooking all the food in the kitchen and the kids help tend to the customers and make small talk, etc. It makes me feel like I am at home and they are so warm and kind to travellers when it comes to food. Always, “Mangia! Mangia!” Every time I have eaten at a small family restaurant in any part of Italy from Vipiteno down to Lampedusa, I walk away with a full, warm belly and big hugs from the owners and a lot of love. You will not find that anywhere else in the world, or at least I haven’t and I have been on almost every continent on the planet!
Puccio: You have to come here and try some new foods. And if you want to taste some new meals that are very good, I am a butcher so I can advise you which places are good and we can go. Not vegan! (everyone laughs).
Erin: Oh nonono. Meat is good for me! I’m sorry; we got off track, now back with your guitar!
Chicco: We had some band changes during all those years and I am the only one from the original line up left. The other guy Leo, the bass player, joined the band just 4 years ago, since 2014. The current line-up has been playing together for 4 years and everything is really good.
Erin: That is always super important that the unit gels together otherwise if you’ve got somebody that doesn’t quite gel or mix within the band, it makes for awkward creative situations where that creativity cannot be fully realised and that potential met. It’s a balancing act! Almost scientific!
Chicco: It needs a little bit of time to see if it will make things work. It’s not easy.
Puccio: I am the youngest in the band, Leo is older and Chicco is in the middle!
Chicco: I am off between youth and old age! How old are you Erin?
Erin: (with no shame!) I just turned 39 on December 26th. So I am in the same spot between young and old!
Erin: Correct, December 26, 1978.
Chicco: I am 1977.
Erin: So you’re barely a year older than me!
Puccio: I was born in 1992!
Erin: NO! You’re practically a fetus!
Puccio: (after much laughing,) No, I was born in 1985.
Erin: Ok that sounds better. Sometimes I meet some bands, and damn good ones, that were born in 1996 or 1997(my step daughter!) and I’m like, I had barely graduated high school and about to start college-does this mean I am getting OLD?!?!?
Puccio: I worked with a guy that was born in 1999.
Chicco: Holy Jesus!
Erin: And what freaks me out even more is that they can legally DRINK ALCOHOL. OK, now that we have established our age anxieties, give me some of your influences? What inspires you or forces you to be better musicians and songwriters?
Chicco: There are bands like Screeching Weasel, the Queers, probably the first Green Day album (Kerplunk!) any bands during the Look Out! era. But anyway, I listen to so much music. We love Metallica, the Beatles.
Puccio: I really love all the bands with a groove and a rhythm-like James Brown groove and bass-funky.
Erin: What are some of your successes together as a band that you are proud of?
Chicco: The amounts of shows we have played over the years! We have played big festivals in Germany. Our music has spread from Japan to even Africa and Australia!
Puccio: We even have a small distribution house in Tokyo!
Chicco: The most important thing is that our music has gotten out to people all over the entire world. We may not speak the same languages or have the same political beliefs but through the love of music it can connect us and then we are brothers because we both share that one love in common. When a fan comes up after a show and says that he just bought my album there’s such a satisfaction and pride. We were the 3 weird kids that liked punk rock when everyone else where we grew up wanted to be DJ’s, so for kids to look up to us and see that we aren’t weird, we just love punk rock and to pass that down to them it makes me very happy.
Erin: Any stories from the road, funny or otherwise you would like to share with our readers?
Chicco: This one isn’t funny, it is sad but was a very moving and emotional experience for me and the band. We were in Germany touring and we visited one of the concentration camps. It was so quiet and so reflecting. It was very moving for me. Everything that had happened there any why. It made me think I would never have had the opportunity to experience this important and historical moment if I didn’t play music. It made me want to be better to people and realise we are not here for very long on this earth. And that no one should die in such horror and pain. I think music, like I said has the power to bring people together no matter what outside differences you have. And that to me is the greatest power of music. So we just want to play and play and get our music out everywhere so people can experience and enjoy it!
Erin: Why do you feel you have to travel so far from Italy to get your music appreciated?
Puccio: We have played many years in Italy but there is always something that doesn’t work here. Even if we have the best punk rock bands!
Chicco: We have a good fan base in Belgium, Germany, Holland, Japan, Australia and even a guy that bought our album in Africa! So we are just developing those fan bases and conquering more countries on the way like hopefully the U.K. next!
Erin: I have a feeling you are going to be huge in the U.K. They LOVE bands like you with your energy and music style!
Chicco: We are going to be touring Germany with our new booking agency Subkultura Booking in May this year and Holland and booking a U.K. tour for June and July. We are writing new songs and signed with a new record company-Arizona’s Affiliation Records out of the U.S.A. We will have our new album released in April on vinyl!
Erin: You guys are on fire and heading up the ladder of punk rock success! One last question, instruments—Chicco, what is your set up?
Chicco: I use a Mosrite Ventures MKII guitar with Dunlop Tortex pics. Leo uses a Fender Precision bass with Dunlop Tortex pics.
Puccio: I use a Porkpie drum kit with single pedal DW9000 and Paiste Rude cymbals and a Ludwig Black Beauty Snare. I use Vic Firth 2B sticks.
Chicco: Oh! And we don’t use any pedals, just tuners! And Ernie Ball strings for guitar and bass!
Erin: Chicco, Puccio, I cannot say enough what an absolute joy it has been to speak with you guys over the past few weeks. I got introduced to your music through our editor and was hooked. Then, through speaking with you gentlemen, I am now a huge supporter and fan. I cannot wait to meet you in person instead of a video screen soon and to have delicious meals in Empoli with you! I am proud to call you guys my friends! I wish you all the luck in the world on this upcoming tour and cannot wait to hear the new album!!!
Introduction biography taken from about Latte+ on the Facebook page below. Written by Chicco Lattepiu and Heather Wheaton.
Official Band information and contacts
No Affiliation Records