Meet Måneskin: The Italian Band That Defied the Odds and Brought Rock Back to the U.S.

·8-min read

It may seem like the not atypical modern-day music success story: band goes viral; band gets signed; band finds mainstream success. But Måneskin’s journey is far from ordinary.

The internet’s latest crush consists of Victoria De Angelis (bass), Ethan Torchio (drums), Thomas Raggi (guitar), and Damiano David (vocals), who have now officially landed in America — literally, with feet on the ground.

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Måneskin had its American television debut on “The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon,” followed by an appearance on “The Ellen DeGeneres Show” today. The Italian rock stars also made time for some small sold-out shows at Bowery Ballroom in New York City, the Roxy in Los Angeles, and a coveted opening gig for the Rolling Stones at Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas.

“I saw them when they played Circo Massimo (Circus Maximus) in Rome,” says an excited De Angelis at the mention of their Stones’ opening slot. “I didn’t have tickets, so I just went there and tried to sneak in from the barriers. It didn’t really work, but I saw a couple of songs!” Going from teenage trespasser to opening act is but one of many full-circle moments these young artists will experience.

On Nov. 1, they played a sold-out show at the Roxy in L.A. Complete with overflowing VIP section, it was a triumphant night for the band. “It’s great to play in such an iconic venue, not only for Guns N’ Roses,” says David, whose first concert was the aforementioned Sunset Strip alums, “but for all the legends who played there. It makes you realize that you’re actually doing something great. Something cool so it’s a good feeling.”

Raggi, who also grew up listening to Guns N’ Roses and the Doors, another L.A. staple, added, “I really love L.A. and it was really emotional for me to play the Roxy.”

During their performance, Måneskin proved to be full of surprises. Beyond the smokey eyes, fishnets, and leather, each member of Måneskin is nothing less than captivating on stage, which is saying something considering the natural charisma that exudes from frontman David. The night included stage-diving, dancing, tossed drinks and sweat. “It’s an hour-and-a-half of good music, energy, and savage stuff,” adds David of the trademark Måneskin show.

And he’s not wrong. However, the night at the Roxy also showcased the four as skilled musicians and performers. They tackled covers like Franz Ferdinand’s “Take Me Out” into the Killers’ “Somebody Told Me;” the Stooges’ “I Wanna Be Your Dog”; and their biggest song at the moment, the Four Seasons’ “Beggin’.” They also ripped through their hit “I Wanna Be Your Slave” and current single, “MAMMAMIA,” with ease and let their vulnerable side shine through with “Coraline,” in their native Italian. The language barrier was practically non-existent, with zero effect on the crowd, who went crazy for “Zitti e Buoni,” the song that won them Eurovision earlier this year.

The 2021 Eurovision Song Contest thrust Måneskin in front of 180 million international viewers, but they had already been cutting their teeth for years in Italy by that point. They formed as teenagers in 2015 and started busking in Rome, playing at their school, restaurants, and wherever they could get a gig. “In Rome there aren’t many venues for upcoming bands, so it was quite hard,” recounts De Angelis. “That’s why we played a lot on the streets. Even though we were very young, and we didn’t have many opportunities we took it very seriously from the first moment. We really worked hard and spent every day immediately after school rehearsing and never going out anymore with our friends.”

In an environment that’s not conducive to an up-and-coming rock band, they turned to Italy’s edition of “The X Factor,” even though it hadn’t previously propelled any rock artists. “At first, we weren’t very sure of going because of the way television shows are seen and perceived,” De Angelis adds. “Often people think that they’re fake, but then we thought it was just a chance to share our music with a big audience.”

In addition to work-ethic, one theme that rings true with Måneskin is authenticity. It’s in their songs, their performance, and their fashion. De Angelis continues: “We told each other before going, not to let anyone change us or tell us what to do.” They went into the show with about 5 original songs and over 20 cover songs prepared. This catalog included their cover of “Beggin’,” which is now certified platinum.

Despite the song’s 2017 debut, it’s now conquering the charts and receiving cross-over airplay, a rarity for a rock band in 2021. It’s also dominating streaming with over 730 million streams on Spotify alone. “It’s really unexpected,” says Torchio.

“It’s cool that one song from the past is now reaching lots of people around the world,” adds Raggi.

Boasting a total of 3.5 billion artist streams, between “Beggin’,” “I Wanna Be Your Slave,” “Zitti e buoni” and “MAMMAMIA,” on Spotify and TikTok, the latter platform has played a key role in growing their young American fanbase. Says Raggi: “I think that social media in general is so important in our field because it’s sort of like TV for a lot of young people.”

De Angelis agrees, adding: “More and more we think that the cool thing about TikTok is that if people like a song, it becomes viral and it’s very natural. It’s not like it used to be in the past where for a song to become famous, it had to go on the radio. Here people can make their own choice.”

The rise of “Beggin’” came on organically, like De Angelis describes, without the band doing any kind of promotion. “That means that people are actually just enjoying the music,” she says.

However they’re discovered, whether it’s as they rose to fame in Italy, from watching their path to victory at Eurovision, or through a TikTok thirst trap, it doesn’t matter. “What matters is that in any way, they get to our music and enjoy it,” says De Angelis, “that’s the main thing for us.”

Måneskin are beaming with gratitude for their success so far, especially after continuously being told they’d never see mainstream success. A rock act was never expected to make it very far on Italy’s version of “X Factor,” where they placed second. Then they played Sanremo Music Festival, a song contest in Italy in which the winner is chosen to represent Italy in the Eurovision Song Contest. Again, they were told they would never win Sanremo because that title usually defers to classic Italian music.

And then, yet again, going into Eurovision it was an ongoing chorus of “Italy never wins,” David says with an eye roll. Just like with “X Factor,” the intention behind Sanremo, and eventually Eurovision, was just to gain exposure. “We never had the goal of winning, but the fact that everyone was telling us it’s impossible to win just got us more fueled,” David continues, “I’m going to perform exactly as I would like to win. Every time I perform, it’s to win. Then if I don’t win, it’s OK; I gave my best and who gives a fuck?”

Still, underestimating Måneskin seems to be a pastime of the “experts” that the band are more than happy to continuously prove wrong. Outside of ABBA and Celine Dion, Eurovision winners tend to either disappear from the spotlight quickly or never quite make it there to begin with; a cycle that Måneskin has already broken.

As David posits: “In the last few years the songs that won Eurovision were songs made for Eurovision — a bit cheesy and popish and many, many times the artists that go to Eurovision don’t have an actual catalog. We were an established band in Italy, so we had an album, an EP, and we did a lot of stuff, so we had video clips. When we got out of Eurovision, people had something more to watch and listen to. A chance to know us 100%.” Essentially, they had already put the work in. “And we’re, like, really good,” added David with the smirk and charm that has the entire internet swooning.

Their influence is already rearing its head. Italy is being recognized for something other than Andrea Bocelli, the Eurovision song contest is now a known entity to young American music fans, and rock music is starting to seep into the limelight again. And for any young musician in Italy watching the rise of Måneskin? “Just follow their passion and be who they are and experiment a lot,” offers De Angelis.

Despite hearing “no” on repeat as the band was coming up, Måneskin not only achieved its goal of gaining a massive audience at a global level — they did, in fact, win.

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