A Secret behind the Madness... Andreas & Heiko Speak Out.
German has some of the best metal bands around over the last 2 decades or more, with the variation of style such as classic metal, power metal, speed metal, thrash metal and so on. Not only that, but Germany has some great Prog Metal bands such as Vanden Plas, and many more acts as well as Poverty's No Crime, who are certainly not newcomers.
Having formed back in 91 by frontman Volker Walsemann (guitars/ vocals) along with drummer Andreas Tegeler, who are the only original members left to this day. The band have done 6 previous albums in total, their debut 'Symbiosis' was released back in 95 through Noise Records. The band recorded 2 albums for Noise before signing to Inside Out, in which they did a further 4 albums before signing to Metalville, and they released the album 'Spiral of Fear' in 2016.
The band are about to released their long awaited new album 'A Secret to Hide' very soon, I managed to catch up with drummer Andreas and bassist Heiko to find out more about the bands history and new album. Here's what they had to say.
OK guys, nice to chat with you, I want to start by asking you both, who inspired you to become a musician, which musicians. Also is there any member of you're families who also play instruments?
(A) "Well for me as a drummer I was inspired by Iron Maiden's Nicko Mcbrain and later on Mike Portnoy former Dream Theater drummer, Neil Peart from Rush, and these 3 bands are my main influences with the music and their drummers. I wouldn't say I started to play the drums because I heard Maiden but there a massive influence on me"
(H) "For me it I would say to say I was inspired by Dio I think they were the 1st band I heard and got into and it was the album 'Holy Diver', and a friends brother was playing the record and it just blew me away. It was one of those album that stayed in you're mind. Jimmy Bain's bass was pounding away and I just loved the sound and tone that came from his bass on that record. I started playing the piano and I just wanted to play the bass guitar after hearing that album.
My sister started to play the electric guitar and she started with a acoustic guitar 1st and when I got a band together we would jam Metallica, Guns & Roses, and we had to turn it down as the neighbor complained (laughing). So like I said it was Dio that really got me into playing the bass."
Did you record any demos?
(A) "The 1st I recorded was with Poverty's No Crime and we started out very early in our ages as a band, I started with Volker our singer 4 years as a project and the 1st demo was a 4 track recording. (Ed: was the 1st demo called 'My Favourite Delusion' in 93?) Yes that was our 1st official demo tape, but we did another one before that and their was an unofficial one which was done on a small cassette player, before we did it officially later on with the name you mentioned. We did some gigs and then did another demo later on 'Perfect Wings' in 94. We did sell some of the demos as we had a few distributors that helped us out and somebody who works for Metal Blade now helped us sell our demos back in the early days of the band, his label was 'Concrete' Records and he took a lot of tapes off us and sold them."
Your 1st album 'Symbiosis'' was released through Noise Records back in 95 how did the deal come about?
(A) "Well we got a few good reviews from Magazines and Fanzines back then and we didn't send any tapes to any of the labels and Noise contacted us 1st, because of the good reviews and that is how we got the deal with them."
When you look back at the 1st album is there any songs that you particularly like and why?
(A) "I haven't heard it in a long time, I think the song 'Meet me at the Sky' is a good one, a catchy metal song, I also like 'Moral Dilemma', but not the version from the album, I prefer the one from our demo, the one of the album is a combination of both demo versions and then recorded onto the album."
Heniko what was you're favourite albums before you joined the band?
(H) "Well I started to know the band when they released 'Slave to the Mind' in 2007 and also 'Autumn Years' in 96 and they are my 2 favourite albums from the band. I saw the band in Germany and I later on moved to Sweden, and there's a funny story behind this as I got a call that a band from Germany that are looking for a new bass player. Later on met up with Volker and we really hit if off from the start and we rehearsed one song together 'Access Denied' which I could play and they decided I was the right person to join the band. So the album 'Autumn Years' is my favourite album."
Andreas who do you see the 1st 3 albums as a progression?
(A) "I think on the 1st 2 album we worked with a producer and that is why we re-structured the arrangements and I think we learnt a lot from that and to focus on the main structures of the songs. Our 1st bass player we had played more like a guitarist and that wasn't what our producer liked at that time, and I think we changed our song writing on the later albums mainly for the drums and bass. Our producer taught us to concentrate more on the groove and try not to do too much in one song. The former bassist was more like a band on his own rather been in a band with other musicians. Great playing don't get me wrong but it was just too much for us back then."
If you had to pick a band or some bands that you sound like who would they be?
(H) "That is a really difficult question to answer, I don't know a band that sounds like 'Poverty's no Crime', there are elements from other bands in our music but we are not like those other Progressive Metal bands that are really metal. On the other hand we are not a Progressive Rock band as we have some Heavy Metal elements in our music too, so sometimes it is a problems for the Prog Metal fans and the Prog Rock fans, you cant please everybody.
(Ed: To me I would say you have elements of Enchant, Fates Warning in your music, do you agree?) Yes I agree with you on that, there are some similarities from time to time."
Heniko you joined the band for 'The Chemical Chaos', was it a difficult for you to come into the band at that point?
(H) "No it wasn't, I actually joined the band right after the recording of 'One in a Million' the album before 'The Chemical Chaos' album, this was in 2001. The old bass player recorded the album and told the band he would be leaving after the recordings. In the studio where they recorded that album I had been there before with my previous band who were a technical Death Metal band who were close to the music by Death, they were called 'Thorn' but there was another band I think who signed to Roadrunner, so we changed our name to 'Disdream' and the last song of our set live was always 'Pull the Plug' by Death."
Since you joined the band Heniko, how do you see the remaining 4 albums as a progression?
(H) "I think since I joined the band each album has it's own character, I think the 1st album I recorded 'The Chemical Chaos' I would say is more Prog Rock with elements of Enchant, and bands of that nature. Then we had 'Save my Soul' which was produced by Tommy Newton who recorded the Helloween albums, he is also the guitarist for 'Victory', another German band and he is a real metal guy, he did the 'Ark' album with Jorn Lande which is an awesome album.
In the end Tommy gave Poverty's no Crime more of a metal sound and Marko was writing a lot more stuff for this album and Volker didn't write so many songs for this album and Marko writes more metal type songs. Our keyboardist Jorg is more into the 70's Prog Rock stuff and he tried to put some strange elements into the music for that album.
The last 2 albums were recorded at our home studios to try and create a different sound, the new album was mixed by Simone Mularoni from DGM, he is a great producer and mixer and he got a more modern sound on the new album. (Ed: Simone really is making a name for himself right now isn't he?) He is so good and so fast we had got the last album and new album 1st mix back and I said the album is done!!
It is very difficult to get the album perfect on the 1st take, but with Simone he knows what he is doing and he does it so well, fantastic producer indeed. If there are things that need to be changed its just a very slight difference like the volume to different instruments or something like that. Simone has become a bigger producer over the last few years, more bands want to work with him so you have to wait to get a time slot with him, fantastic producer."
So let's talk about the new album, why the title 'A Secret to Hide'? Did you have any other titles?
(H) "That is a good question, it is a line from one of the songs, it came from the song 'Schizophrenic', the lyrical line from that song just seemed to be the perfect titled. It has no deep meaning at all but it just seemed liek the perfect title for this record. We didn't have any other titles for this record, that was pretty much it."
So how does the album cover reflect with the title of the record?
(A) "So the album cover shows this guy with lightning going into his body, the best way to describe it is...The power & energy is coming out of this guy and it's the energy he has that seems to flow out of him. This is what the cover should reflect and also what the whole album wants to transport the positive energy that is the theme of the whole album."
So who did the artwork for this album?
(A) "The album artwork was done by Volker our singer, and we seem to have a guy on the album covers, (Ed: Not like the monkey on the 1st album) no not at all (laughing both), I think the band gave the record company some concept ideas and they knew that we had a monkey on our early demos tapes so they decided to use the same kind of concept for our debut album. It was ok for us to take this monkey but not with this comic style face in a space suit. I think that Noise Records did their own stuff for that debut album and when we got the final version of the album artwork we were not really happy about it.
(H) Getting back to your question, this new album was the only artwork we had in mind for the cover. The cover wad done a month before I started to record my bass parts and I think the artwork was done after the drums were recorded. The cover was done before the album lyrics were done."
How long did it take to record this album? Was it done before lockdown or during lockdown?
(H) "Well Andreas started to record his drums in December of 2019 and the 1st part of 2020, after that we all started to record on our own at our own studios."
From the new album which songs are you favourites and why?
(A) "Well I like the songs called 'The Great Escape' which is an instrumental song, I just like instrumental tracks (laughing), I also like the song 'Flesh & Bone', it was a song we tried to play together."
(H) "For me I like the song 'Hollow Phrases' because it has a commercial potential and it could become the bands classic live songs it has a catchy chorus, we also took that songs as our 1st release video, and the other song I like is 'Flesh & Bone' as well, this will also be a video to this song. I think those 2 songs will be in our set list life, the only problem is that most of our songs are long so when you are playing a 45 minute set as a support band you don't get to play many songs."
Has the album been receiving positive reviews so far?
(H) "Yes we have had some great reviews so far for sure, and thank you for the great review Jason. We haven't had a lot of reviews yet I think they will come in May editions of Magazines as the album is out in May, but so far the reviews have been great."
Did the album feature any special guests? Did Simone do a guitar solo on the album?
(A) "No we didn't have any special guest on this album."
Are you happy with the way things are going between you and Metalville Records?
(H) "Yes Metalville are a really good label, there doing a great job for us with promotion compared to Inside Out. Metalville are really into our music and with Inside Out they told us that this kind of music is something they are not focusing on anymore, they wanted to do more Post Prog Rock stuff. Even though we had a break for 9 years Metalville we have sold more record with them then we did with Inside Out Records on our album 'Spiral of Fear'."
When do you expect to see the band touring? Do you think you will be touring this year?
(A) "Well I don't think we will be touring this year, hopefully in 2022 we are aiming for."
Well I'd like to thank you both for doing this interview. Best of luck with the future, keep safe and I'll see you when you tour again. Do you have anything to say too the readers?
(Both) "Yes thank you for the interview, best of luck Jason we hope to see you again. To the fans we hope you like the record when it is released, stay safe and we will see you all on the road soon enough.
Thank you to Nathan @ Metallvile and Andreas and Heiko for the interview