Take a look into the Mirror Black... Mario Lochert speaks Out!!!
Serious Black are a international band consisting of members from Germany, Greece and Sweden. Formed back in 2013 by Mario Lochert, who had ideas and was talking with ex Helloween guitarist Roland Grapow, now with Masterplan. The ideas soon became clear that it was going to be an international super band, but sadly Roland couldn't commit and stayed true to Masterplan. The band soon started rehearsing and it wasn't long before the band were signed to German label AFM, and it was their debut album 'As Daylight Breaks' was released in 2015. Receving some excellent reviews the band soon realized that more albums would follow and now the band have released 'Mirror World' which has recently been released through AFM.
I managed to have a skype interview with bassist and founder member Mario Lochert to find out more about the band, here is what he had to say.
Hi Mario, thanks for doing this interview, I'd like to start by asking you at what age did you learn to play the bass guitar and were there any members of you're family who played any instruments?
"Well hello Jason, I started playing the bass guitar at the age of 16, and I play a little but of acoustic guitar too. I met 2 long haired guys and they asked if I knew a bass player to form a band, and I remember my mother been a big Suzie Quatro and she got a bass from her grand father when she was younger. So later on I started playing the bass and I told the 2 guys I was a bass player and I learnt to play the A & G chord and I got the job with those guys."
What was the name of the every 1st band you were in?
"It was just a school band and later I found a band called 'Emergency Gate', we did some albums, its across between Children of Bodom meets In Flames, melodic Death Metal. We got pretty big in China, we were like superstars playing in front of 40.000 people but in Europe not so many.
So do you have any bass player influences?
"No not really, I grew up with stuff like The Scorpions, Bonfire, Alice Cooper, Guns & Roses, and later on Metallica. I liked Poison, Skid Row and bands like this when I was younger. So later on we had the success with 'Emergency Gate' later on."
Who actually found Serious Black band?
"Well it was actually me in 2013, when I am not playing bass I am a sound engineer, I have worked with Masterplan, and I talked to Roland Grapow about doing this band, and he asked me what I was planning on doing in the near future. I told him about the idea for forming a band with 6 masterminds, there is always 2 members of the band doing marketing, promotion etc... I told him that there should be 6 members all pulling the same rope, and he said I was crazy to think about it, everybody will kill each other.
We searched for 6 musicians Thomen Stauch (Blind Guardian/ Iron Savior), I asked my studio partner Dominik Sebastian from Edenbridge, also Jan Vacik from the band Dreamscape, he was also joining the band and Urban I knew from when I was at a previous Prog Power when I was with Leave's Eyes doing sound for them. I have worked with Kamelot, Hammerfall, Masterplan, Evergrey and many more bands. Urban wanted to stop singing since he left Tad Morose, but when I told him about this band he was interested in carrying on singing. Bob Katsionis from Firewind also joined the band, and that was the beginning of Serious Black."
Why did you approach Urban to become the singer for the band? What impressed you about his vocal capabilities?
"Well Urban is a really outstanding singer in the Power Metal world and he knows what he is doing. He also has a distinct voice so you already know that it is Urban who is the singer within any band. For me he was the 1st choice."
How did you hook up with the rest of the band members?
"Jan is my music partner, we own a studio called 'Dream Sound' studios in Munich so I have known for many years. As for Thomen I have know since I was working on a side label for SPV Circle to Circle and Savage Circus, which was a long time ago now. Dreamscape broke up sadly, I wasn't a fan of the progressive stuff."
I see you have had a few line up changes in the early stages, what went wrong?
"Well Roland Grapow didn't have the time for it, we did the Hammerfall tour and festivals together and I wanted to push Serious Black more and Roland couldn't do it, he told me to find another guitarist as he wanted to carry on pushing Masterplan. Urban knew Bob from Firewind as he was doing a video for Project Arcadia which featured Urban and so so Roland suggested Bob and he loved the music with Serious Black.
Rami Ali from Freedom Call helped us out and Thomen was helping us out in 2015 at festivals and he did a great job. He couldn't do the rest of the festivals so we got Alex to do them as I was helping as I was playing in Visions of Atlantis and Alex agreed to do it. So finally we have created some good music as a band."
Moving on... why did you decide to call the debut album 'As Daylight Breaks'?
"Well if you are going to create a Power Metal band and not become just a project then we needed a good title for the album. We wrote the songs together in the studio and for us the clouds were spreading and array of light was coming on us. We had no other titles for the album it was crystal clear what the album would be called.
The album was recorded at 'Dream Sound' studios and only Urban recorded in the U.S., but the rest was done at that studio."
What's you're favourite songs from the debut album?
"Well for me I like 'I seek no other Life', 'Sealing my Fate', 'Trail of Murder', 'As daylight Breaks' 'Someone else's Life', ."
Where the songs wrote as a team effort? How long did it take to record the debut album?
"Yes they were, and they came out really well. The album took about 5 months to record in total. We had pre production, writing and kicking out parts that we didn't like and recording new ones .We are very happy with the way it turned out. We have all come from well established bands so we knew what we were doing."
Who did the artwork for the album?
"It was done by Daniel Hover he is a colour artist, he has worked with Emergency Gate, Vader and he is still doing our merchandise for us."
So why the name of the band?
"This was something that was a strange thing, we had a lot of ideas but nothing was too good and one day we had a meeting on skype and Thoman said he was sorry for been late after watching Harry Potter film, he mentioned the name Serious Black and I said I am sure it must have copy right on the name. So I said lets call it 'Serious Black' instead of Seriously Black. People were calling us a Harry Potter band (laughing) they say is Harry Potter doing Power Metal?"
Have you done many promos videos for songs from the debut album?
"Yes we did a couple of videos for the songs 'I seek no other Life', then we did one for 'Sealing my Fate', 'High & Low'. The album sold really well for us."
Let's talk about the new album, why the title 'Mirror World', who came up with the title?
"Well that was my idea, Urban was write a song called 'Mirror World' it was good that we didn't have to call it 'Mirror World -Tour' when we tour which was a good thing. The artwork was done by a French artist, I can't remember his name and to have this mirror on the cover was like me in a morning having to get up and look in the mirror and I have to life with this face and look at work my life is going."
How long did it take to record this album?
"It took a little while to be honest, our label said if we can top the debut album it would be great, they were not sure we could. During the tours and recordings for the debut album it became so easy to write songs for the next album. We are already writing new songs already for the next album , sp the next record will come soon."
I see this album different from the debut do you agree?
"No not really, this album and the songs are becoming more complex because Bob is bring more new influences within the band, a little less Prog Metal and more Power Metal now. To mix the commercial stuff with what we are doing is a good sign that we are heading in the right direction. The album was recorded at Dream Sound studios for some of the guitars, some where done in Greece with Bob , with Urban doing the vocals in the U.S. and the mixing and mastering where done at Dream Sound studios.
With the recording for this album was a little more stressful as it was recorded in a couple of different places around the world. We did 75 gigs and 2 mega tours with Hammerfall and Gamma Ray, some with Kamelot, and festivals and between this craziness we record this album."
What are the songs about on the new album?
"Well as a band we are not taking the lyrics out of the fair tales, for us it is important for us from the real life so we tell from real life."
This album has 7 bonus tracks, please explain more...
"Well the 7 bonus songs are fucking great you need to buy the digi pack, I love the song 'Emotional Blackmail' is a great ballad and well worth checking out."
What's songs on this record do you like?
"The songs I like on the new cord are 'As ong as I'm Alive, 'Castor Skies', 'You are not Alone', 'The unborn never Dies', 'Emotional Blackmail', are my favourite tracks."
How well has the album been received from the press?
"It has been getting great reviews so far, the press like it and it has been placed high up in the charts, so we are very happy."
When are the band on tour again?
"Well we are about to do our own tour ina week and it will be our 1st headlining tour so it will be very special for us."
Well thank you for doing the interview Mario, best of luck with the tour and album sales. Anything to say t the fans reading this?
"Yes thank you to our fans for their support, buy tickets for the shows please, and for the new album buy a copy and the debut if you haven't heard it"
Thanx to Mario for the interview, AFM & Mike Exley for setting up the interview.