Torsten Speaks out about the latest Downburst
German Power Metal act 'Brainstorm' have had a lot of success over the last decade with several hard hitting but yet powerful and melodic albums. Germany seems to have some really good bands and hold the flag for Metal for a number of years now. With Brainstorms debut album 'Hungry' which was originally released on B.O. Records, which was a great album for 1997. As soon as I heard that album I knew then that the band had a promising future ahead. Next came the album 'Unholy', which was released in 1998. The band featured Marcus Jürgens · Vocals for those 2 albums. Marcus left the band and was replaced by ex Ivanhoe singer Andy B. Franck who has since been the front man for this band. The band have gone from strength to strength with each album & have released their debut DVD 'Honey From The B's', which is a awesome DVD well worth getting hold of. With the new album 'Downburst', this albums takes the band to yet another level in the heavy metal world and with a new bass player Antonio Ieva, who was once in Letter X & replaces Andreas Mailänder. I managed to speak with guitarist Torsten about the new album, and what's been happening since the last interview I did. here is what her had to say.
OK Torsten, great to hear from you again, it's been a while since the last interview. So lets start by asking you how successful was the 'Liquid Monster' album sell for you?
"It was the best selling album to date by far, and it was also the first album that we did our own headlining tour for. It felt really good for us, and I think it was the right time for us to do a headlining tour as our fans & journalists appreciated it and what we had done in the past. I really don't know how well it sold, nobody ever knows how well their albums actually sell."
Who did the art work for that album? Was it the same guy who did the latest album?
"Yeah it was the same guy who did the last album cover, his name is Tom Thiel and he is very talented, and he does a lot of covers and computer games. We are very luck to if found him. We found him through the guy who does our layout for the CD's, his name is Thomas Ewerhard."
I saw your band for the first time at Wacken 1999, with Dirk on vocal's, a stand in guy. Do you ever see him?
"Yeah your right, it was 1999 when we first met. I have not seen Dirk really that much, I have seen him only 3 times so far. We did a show in 1994 in Cologne with Edguy and he is a very crazy guy. He is singing for so many projects and I have a demo tape of a band called 'God Grey' which he sang on and it was progressive and very dark."
Last year you released your debut DVD titled 'Honey From The B's', which is a great DVD, lots of work gone into this, tell me a little bit about that?
"Yeah we did a lot of work on this DVD, there were so many night shifts even more than we expected going through all the old pictures, old material and it is 5 hours of playing time and 150 hours of material we have. We spent a lot of time going through our old concerts trying to find and it was a journey into the past for all of us, see in all the old pictures. We started to recognize just how old we are getting haha!! We love that we do and we still feel very young."
Making this DVD, did you ever request the fans to send you any live bootleg stuff? Like Metallica did?
"No we didn't ask the fans to send any material to us, we had so much stuff ourselves. We don't have a problem with fans filming our shows, we like it actually. If you don't have a bootleg then your not famous haha!!"
Why did you decide to film the show in Budapest?
"Well firstly, it is 1 of the countries that we do very well in, in sales terms and people love us in Hungry and we had a #1 single over there, with the new album 'Downburst'. It was a show from our headlining tour and the conditions just seemed right, it was so perfect!! It was filmed on the 'Liquid Monster' tour back in 2005, and they had told us in advance that they had very good camera's and set up in that hall. We had a cool stage, which made all the difference. I think about 1500 people turned up for that show. We had 'At Vance' supporting us from Germany & 'Mercenary' from Denmark."
Saying that Torsten, this is not the 1st time you have done a live DVD, their was 1 for Liquid Monster & Soul Temptation, tell me about those DVDs?
"Well, we had a lot of material and these 2 DVD's had stuff that we felt needed to be used, it would of been a shame to waste them. It's also a good way to thank the fans for staying with us for such a long time and supporting the band. We do have some of the footage on the 'Soul Temptation' show on this new DVD, but it also has some Wacken stuff and some new editing's from the Summer Breeze show."
Wasn't it kind of strange having the same songs on 1-3 shows? Also did you do any touring in the U.S. after the ProgPower show?
"No not at all, each show to us is very unique and very special for us. That is why we chose those 3 concerts and the main concert from the 'Liquid Monster' tour, Wacken, and the ProgPower U.S. show. We didn't do any touring after the ProgPower show. We did a show for the 'Brave Word, Bloody Knuckles' festival also in the U.S."
Now would you tell me why Andreas left the band and are you still friends?
"Well he was not able to combine his day job with the band any more. His job is testing cars, by driving them. He wasn't able to be as dedicated to the band we much as we are all. He could not give the band 100% and so it was the fairest and honest way to tell us that he could not continue with the band anymore. We have been together in the band for almost 15yrs. It was not something that just happened over night, it had been slowly building up for the last 2 yrs. We are still friends of course."
So how did you find Antonio Ieva , and did you also audition a few musicians for Andreas replacement?
'Yes we did audition a few musicians, we did a new mail through our home page and from Metal Blade website. We got so many bass players wanting to audition for the band & we got tons of emails more than we expected. They came from all over the world and it was very important to us to have somebody nearer to home as we are a rehearsing band. We rehearse 2 times a week and we need somebody who could also join us for those rehearsals. We were lucky to of found Antonio because he lives in the Stuttgart area, the same area that Andy lives in and it is only 1 hour away from our home. He use to play for 'The Farmer Boys', 'Letter X',. We invited him and 10 other bassist to re-audition in our rehearsal studio and he got the job."
How does Antonio's bass playing differ from that of Andreas?
"I think that they are very similar in 1 way or another, and very different in another way. I think he is more talented out of the 2 which will give us more possibilities in the future. He is very dedicated. What is more important was the fact that he knew all of our material and he knows the music business and how to record albums. He is also very down to earth, so it just seemed to jell well together."
So moving on let's talk about the new album which is titled 'Downburst', why the title? Also did you have any other titles for the album?
"Well we chose the title because we felt that way when we finished the pre-productions and had a beer. We listened to the sound of the songs and we felt that the songs were rushed in like a downburst. So, it was 45 minutes of material onto a CD and to us it just seemed like 45 minutes of Brainstorm power!! That is why we decided on the title. We didn't have any other titles for the album really, we did gamble around with 3-4 titles but it was quiet clear that the album would be called 'Downburst'."
Can you explain the cover concept? It really doesn't seem to flow with the title or does it?
"Well it does not reflect the title of the album (laughing), it does however reflect the band itself. It is somebody who fights for what they believes in and he does not look left or right and he is into what he is doing, he believes in his own course and he is very honest in what he believes in. When we toured after the 'Liquid Monster' album, we talked about what we should have for the next album cover. That is why we chose just 1 guy on the cover with not much in the background & it also express how the band felt at that time throughout the years. We still do everything on our own, we don't have a management, we don't need it, we can do it on our own. It is not easy for the fans to understand that, until you explain it to them."
Are the songs wrote as a team effort or is it Andy who writes the lyrics and you or Milan writes the music?
"Well it is mainly Milan or myself that brings in the guitar riffs, or the basic song ideas. Then we start to arrange all the songs together and then it is up to Andy to write the lyrics or say to what he is thinking. I think this time around the lyrics are very personal to Andy, personal things in his life over the last 2 years. I think when I listen to the songs I think they are very dark or depressive and no matter how difficult life gets there's always a way out!!"
Sascha Perth & Miro worked with the band on this album, is this the first time you have worked with the band?
"No it is not the first time we have worked with them. They mixed the ' Ambiguity' album in 2000 and we stayed in contact over the years. Miro played keyboards on all the Brainstorm album & this time around it felt like coming home. It was certainly a wish that we would work with Sascha and Miro this time around. We worked with Achim Kohler, who did an amazing job, but this time around we felt that it was the right time to use Sascha & Miro for the next album."
So how long did it take to record this new album?
"Well it was a very long process this time around. We spent a lot of time in pre-production and working on the songs, getting them right. We set up our own studio and we changed rehearsal rooms. Every time we went into the studio we we had the songs almost finished at 100% and we recorded them the same way we did in the rehearsal room and that was the new album. This time around we arranged them at a certain level and just left time for some creativity in the studio."
Why did Milan and yourself decide to play the bass parts on this new album? Was it easy for you to record those parts?
"Yes it was easy for us to record those parts on the album. All the bass line arrangements from the beginning for Andreas, so there was not a lot of difference for the 2 of us. We played the bass parts as we were writing the songs so show and help Andreas out before he recorded the parts himself."
Are you happy with the way the album turned out or do you feel the album could of been better?
"Yes we are very happy with the way the album turned out. I don't think the album could of turned out any better, I also think it is as close as we could of got as our vision. it is almost 100% so it just feels great for us!!"
Did Sascha play any guest guitar parts on the album?
"Yeah he did, he played some really good guitar parts on the record. He played a great job on the bonus Japanese track which is called 'Drowning' and it was so amazing to work with those 2 guys."
Have you ever thought of producing an album yourself? Or production an album for a band?
"No I haven't, we are concentrating on the band's material then working with other bands. We did produce all of our previous albums on our own, but we felt that we wanted to have some other people involved this time around."
"How do you see this album as a progress from the previous albums? Do you still carry that Vicious Rumors feel I always say you have? haha!!
"I think it is a huge progression for the band and I don't think people can hear it that much. I don't think we have that Vicious Rumors sound that much these days (laughing), I think we have developed our own sound now."
Will there be a promo video for this album, if so which song?
"We will be doing a promo video for the album. We are doing a video for the song 'Fire Walk With Me'. The video is very crazy, if you look at the pictures of the band in the CD booklet you can see us in this surgical tape & it will be very interesting when it is finished. (Ed: Is it like the Anthrax video 'Mad House'?). Laughing, no not at all, it will be interesting to see when we have finished it."
Have you been getting excellent album reviews for the new album?
"Yes we have been getting good reviews so far from the press. They really like the album, so do our fans, so things are looking good for the band."
What happened with the ProgPower UK show? I was really looking forward to see in the band again, I bet you were disappointed that you were not playing the show right?
"Yeah we were looking forward to coming back. When we last came to the UK we wanted to come back & play that show. They didn't sell enough tickets and we would of loved to of played that show. We love playing in the UK. When we have the chance to play the UK again we will be there."
What about playing the Bloodstock open air festival? Also what other festivals are you playing this year?
"Well we played the indoor one 2 yrs ago, and that was fun. We would love to of played the open air, but we are playing somewhere in Europe the same weekend Bloodstock is happening. Maybe next year!!! We are playing a festival near to our home soon and it feels good to be playing in front of 6-7000 people, which is not that big but it has such a great atmosphere & Within Temptation are playing that festival with us. We are also playing the 'Monsters Of Rock' festival, 'Rock Hard' in Germany, some in Spain and Italy."
Well Torsten, thanks again for taking your time out and doing this up date interview. Do you have anything to say before we finish?
"yeah thanks to our fans for their support and for buying the new CD, come and see us live if you can. Thanks for the interview and I hope we meet again soon."
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Thanx to Torsten and Mr.T @ Metal Blade UK