Interview with Michael Kammeyer (Guitar) & Jonah Weingarten (Keyboard)

So could you start by telling me when the band was formed - why did Michael leave his old band íDamioní to form this band?

Michael: Well the band was formed in the summer of 2002. I left my old band because our musical tastes were going into different directions. Also because my daytime job at that time didnít allow me to put enough of my soul into the music. So there was no point in staying in a band where our musical tastes were drifting in different directions and which back then was too difficult for me to find the time for.

Jonah: I think that Pyramaze is something very different, both musically and in the way itís organized. This has been approached much more professionally than Damion was. Having Michael as our leader who has the final say on every decision that is made, provides us with a stronger foundation and has already proved to make a significant difference in our success.

Was he fed up with playing Death Metal and who inspired him to play Progressive Metal?

Michael: Damion was not Death Metal. This assumption has been made through a misunderstanding between myself and our management. When they wrote our biography the first time, they said that Damion was a more ĒBlack Metalish outfit.Ē This was far from the truth of course. Damion was a kind of melodic power metal, but still very different from Pyramaze.

How successful was Damion as a Metal band? Didnít u record a couple of albums? Also how do you see the Metal scene these days?

Michael: Damion was a demo band. We recorded two CD's for promotional purposes but it didnít create enough attention, only a very small buzz in the underground. So I guess you could say we never got past the demo stage.

Jonah: I am very excited about how the metal world has been growing lately. I think it has been a good time for us to release our debut. There are so many great bands out there today, and we are very happy to be able to contribute to the growing scene.

So where did u find the right musicians for this band also what bands were they in before u formed this band?

Michael: Well Jonah, our keyboard player, came all the way from America to join us crazy Vikings. Lance is also from America, from the Minneapolis area. The rest of the guys are all Danes. Our drummer Morten also plays in Wuthering Heights. Niels, our bass player, was in Aurora. Our new guitar player Toke, is still in another band from Denmark called Dhiman. The Danes where easy to get in contact with since they were connected with the local Danish scene, and I contacted Jonah after reading his post on the Wacken homepage. Lance came a little later after the original music was recorded, and we can thank our management for getting in contact with him.

Also besides approaching Lance King, who else did u have in mind from Europe/ Denmark?

Michael: Our managament sent us promo cds from bands like Persuader, Elsephere, Balance of Power, and a few others which I canít remember. The only one who really stood out was Lance King, who had just split up with Balance of Power. The other singers where great too, but just not what I was looking for.

Jonah: Lance was obviously the right decision for us, since his vocals and reputation have helped take us to the next level. We all love him as our singer and have tremendous respect for him and what he has brought to the table.

So why the bands name íPyramazeí, and what does it mean? What other names did u also have for the bands name?

Michael: I chose the name Pyramaze, because I have always been very fascinated by the pyramids and the ancient Egyptian culture. I sat down and began playing with the word pyramid, and suddenly I found a connection with that and with the word maze. And that is how I ended up combining the two words.

Jonah: When Michael told me what our name was going to be I was like Ēwoah, awesome, thatís fucking sweet.Ē Because it is a very original name, and all the other names that we had as possibilities sounded way too generic. Iím not going to mention what some of them were, because I think they just suck too bad haha.

Did u find it hard to rehearse with the band, seeing as how you have two members in the U.S. and the rest in Denmark?

Michael: Well the rehearsing for the album was of course a bit harder than if we had all been together. We sent demo stuff back and forth over the Atlantic Ocean, and then we just polished the edges in the studio. As for the rehearsing before touring, we always get together a few days before the tour to catch up, so itís not a big deal. We all know our parts, so itís just a matter of getting in the Pyramaze groove again.

Jonah: Yeah, itís really cool when we get together to play before our shows, because itís always like Ēshit, we are tightĒ. Itís exciting that we can actually make these distances work so well, especially since our music gets a bit technical at times. I spend a good amount of time practicing by just jamming with the cd. That way my memory is refreshed right when it really counts.

What do you think of Lances previous work? Which are your favourites?

Michael: Balance of Powerís ĒPerfect BalanceĒ is the best one if you ask me.

Jonah: Yeah, that album kicks ass. Lance really tears it up on that one. I heard some of the stuff he did with Defyance as well. He just owns at everything he touches.

So who are your influences as a band and how do they reflect within the music u write? Which bands

Jonah: For me I think my biggest influences come from epic movie soundtracks like ĒThe Last SamuraiĒ and ĒBraveheartĒ. I also really love Children of Bodom and Nightwish. You can hear some of that in my keyboard playing for sure.

Michael: I enjoy listening to Blind Guardian, Iced Earth, Nightwish, Jag Panzer, and bands of that sort. Some of those elements can be found in the music of Pyramaze, even though it is not something conscious that is running through my head when I am writing it.

Is the music u are playing becoming popular within Denmark?

Michael: Yes, in the metal scene it is. Denmark is not really a metal country. Itís only in the underground here.

Jonah: I have had people com up to me in bars here and be like ĒYou are the keyboard player of Pyramaze!Ē But it is still very obvious that metal is very much rooted in the underground here. Thatís fine with me just as long as the fans that we do have love our music as much as we do.

So how many demos did u record before the album was released? Also what trax where on them and were they sold to the public?

Michael: We recorded no demos at all. I wrote the entire album all at once and just went for it full force. I withdrew all of my pension which I had saved for six years and spent the entire thing on the recording of the album. I just took the chance that we would make it.

What labels did u approach to release the album besides the labels to have now? Also are u happy with them all? How long is the deal with the labels? Does it also help having ur singer in the band who also has his own record label?

Jonah: Our management handles that sort of thing for us, but I can tell you that we were offered many nice deals. In the end we of course went with the companies that we felt would take the best care of us. I donít know if itís in my place to mention some of the labels that we turned down, so Iím going to leave that one alone.

Michael wrote the album on his own, how long did it take to record or prepare the album?

Michael: The preperations took about a year. Of that the song writing took about six or seven months. The recording of the album itself took us only 16 days including mixing and mastering. That doesnít include the vocals though, which were recorded at Nightmare Studios over a period of a couple of months.

So u hooked up with Intromental management, how did that come about and what did they offer u which was better from other companies? Also who else approached u as well?

Michael: We were only approached by Intromental. They called me because they had heard some of our unfinished material which was sent to them by our producer Jacob Hansen. They loved it from the very first second and so they gave me a call offering me a management deal with them. After considering this for a couple of days, we agreed that this was the right way to go about it.

Jonah: We are very happy with intromental and what they have done for us. They are a bunch of really cool guys over there, and are very professional.

A mutural friend of yours and mine produced the album, Jacob Hansen (regards to him from me please), how did that come about? Also what made u want to have Jacob as ur producer?

Michael: Well Jacob was the producer of the demo albums I recorded with Damion as well, and I really enjoy his style of working. Over here Jacob has a reputation of producing a very heavy sound. Since we didnít want to sound like just another power metal band, we decided to go with Jacob since we knew he would be able to get the sound we wanted.

Jonah: We definitely got what we wanted from him too. He really helped give Melancholy Beast the balls that we all envisioned.

Are u happy with the way it turned out or do u feel it could have been produced better? If so in what way?

Michael: For a debut album im very-very happy with the outcome. This album is of high quality, and the sound kicks ass. The only thing I would change, if I had to do this album again, is the final mix. Not that itís not good, but we should have left the material alone for some weeks, before finishing it. Everything happened so fast, and Iím quite a perfectionist and control freak, when it comes to my sound ;-) So small thing, which the listener will not notice, but which I can tell because Iíve listened to the songs 1.000 times, could have been avoided that way.

OK, so why the title for this album , what does it mean and what other titles did u have in mind for the album?

Michael: I just think that the title íMelancholy Beastí says a lot about our music. We have a very melodic and at times melancholic tone in our music, but itís still pure heavy metal - so the name íMelancholy Beastí seems to fit the album very good in more than one way. I never had other titles in mind. It was Melancholy Beast right from the start.

What about the art work, who did it and does it reflect within the title of the album? Did u have any other art work in mind?

Michael: The artwork was done by Rob Alexander, a very talented painter from America. He has also done work for The Crow comic series and The Lord Of The Rings card game. Once I found this piece of artwork, I was sure this was what I had been looking for. It is a perfect example of how a Melancholy Beast could look like.

Could you talk me through the songs, what are they about and how long did it take to write them? What songs do u like and dislike and why?

Michael: Okay - here we go:

(1) Sleepy Hollow : This song I based on the legend of Sleepy Hollow and the Headless Horseman. I took parts of the classic legend and mixed it with the movie, which I think is a kick ass movie by the way.

(2) Forsaken Kingdom : This is a fantasy song about a guardian of a lost empire (or forsaken kingdom, as the title says) He is immortal and he has been deserted by his kind long ago. His only purpose is to live in these old ruins, and guard them through all times.

(3) Melancholy Beast : A story about a beast, who is not at all comfortable with being considered a monster, and doomed to live in the shadows alone without a mate. It's a tale about his lonely life without acceptance because of his appearance.

(4) The Journey : This song is about my quest towards becoming a musician and struggling with writing songs and creating music. I tell about the hard work, and the way my mind becomes possessed by the music from time to time.

(5) Until We Fade Away : Is about me and my girlfriend. It's a love song, and about living together for a long time and learning to accept each other and holding on, although there can be hard times - until the end.

(6) Legend : Is based on the movie called Legend. The beauty of this movie impressed me so much that I had to write a song about it. All fans of the fantasy genre should go watch this movie. Then afterwards compare it to my lyrics and tell me if I did a good job ;-)

(7) Mighty Abyss : This song is a tribute to the ocean and it's mighty deeps. I feel very drawn to the see and it's open wide - but also it's unexplored deeps. The earth consists mostly of water, and still we know less about it than we do about the dry land. I think it's fascinating.

(8) The Nature Of Triumph : Well, this is Jonah's doing, it's an instrumental interlude, which we use partly as a intro to Power of Imagination - but it stands pretty good on it's own to, although it's only about a minute of playing time. I think Jonah wrote this as a "feel good about metal" song.

(9) Power Of Imagination : This is about my mind and about my fantasy and my imagination. But also about the human ability to imagine things. I'm trying to explain what goes on in me when I write songs and when I have ideas or stories to tell. An idea can bring you very far - everything starts with an idea an ones capability to imagine and dream.

(10) The Wizard (Japan bonus track): A tribute to all the tales about wizards ever made, but I chose to personalise it, so that it's just about one wizard. I like the stories about Raistlin, Gandalf and Merlin, and I think almost everybody loves a wizard tale - right ?
Thatís it.

Are they written as a team effort? Also do u have any new songs wrote as this and many other debuts are mostly demo material transferred onto CD, if u know what I mean?

Michael: I wrote the entire material myself (music and lyrics) and when I finaly presented this to the band members, they all contributed with their own instruments, mostly the way they felt like it. Lance was a very big part of the vocal melody lines though, after all he had to sing them J Although I had written vocal melodies for the album, I asked Lance to create his own vocal melodies for about 80 %, because his style is different than mine.

Has the band toured much, if so who with and where? Who would u like to tour with within reason of course?

Michael: We have played two shows in America, one in Denmark, one in Germany and two in France. In France we played with Primal Fear in Paris -but other than that we where pretty much on our own (festivals not included - too many colleagues there to mention)

Are u playing any festivals in the near future or have u already played any? If so who with and where?

Michael: Maybe some festivals next year. Other than that only one in Raismes (France) on the 11th of September together with Angra, Primal Fear, Rage and so on.

Does any member of the band have any side projects that we should be aware of? If so that are they called and what style of music etc?.???

Jonah: Well, I have just recorded a side project with a band called Avian. Should hit the streets next summer. Other than that Morten (drums) plays in Wuthering Heights, and Lance lends his voice to different bands occasionally. Toke also shreds the guitar in a Danish band called Dhiman, but other than that itís pure Pyramaze.

Michael: To end this interview, I would like to send a big hello, and thanks to our fans. The next years will be very exiting for Pyramaze, and we hope you will all stand by us, and watch us grow.