Do you feel that it has gone the way you intended when you formed back in the days?
-Actually, when we formed back in 2008, we didn’t really have an intention where all this should go. We were some teenagers who wanted to make some music together. It took some time before it became clear that this is going to be a serious band, which releases albums and tries to play more and bigger live shows.
How do you feel about your latest recording? Did it come out the way you expected it to?
-We’re happy and satisfied with the result. I don’t know how we will all look at it in a few years, but at the moment I feel that our new album “Vas Hermeticum” turned out to be quite exactly how we wanted it. We spent a lot of extra time and money in the studio, until every detail was executed perfectly for us.
Do you feel that you by now have found a sound that is the band and that you can build on it ?
-Yes and no. The basic sound, the foundation of our music, has always been melodic death metal and probably this will always be a part of our sound in the future. But we are always trying to experiment, to develop some new ideas. I wouldn’t say that we have THAT ONE sound, which we do over and over again, like Slayer, or AC/DC. Part of our band’s concept is, that we don’t want to do the same thing twice. Not even on the same album. Which is why stylistically our music is very diverse. One song sounds more like classical Swedish melodeath, the next one sounds very progressive, the next has more a black metal vibe to it. It’s a fine line between an album being diverse and being TOO diverse. So you’ll always find a common denominator in our music, which you may call “our sound”, but apart from that, you’ll never know what to expect next from us. Because that’s what we want to do and what feels right to us.
Is having a message in the lyrics important to you? What kind of topics do you deal with?
-Yes, very important. We know that most of the people who will ever encounter our music won’t bother reading or listening to the lyrics, but for us it’s an essential aspect of our art. Of course, when I listen to 200 black metal bands who all sing about satanism, or death metal bands singing about brutal killings, I’m also not interested in reading the lyrics. But if a band really has a good, original lyrical concept or writes very clever and beautiful lyrics, I will check them out, because they can add so much intensity to the music.
The main topics we deal with on “Vas Hermeticum” are the concepts of reality and illusion. Everyone has his or her own clear definition of what is real and what is for example imagination, a (day)dream, hallucination or even just an idea. Ask 100 people and you get 100 different answers about that. And those things are often not clearly separable. We looked at this topic from different points of view. Some of the lyrics are more narrated examples of these cases. “Into the Shelter of a Mind” deals with a paranoid person running in a rainy, dark night and ultimately losing consciousness, because in this state he feels more safe and protected from a danger that feels real to him, but from a “rational” point of view is just not there. “A Walk on the Crystalline Path” is a very metaphorical narration about processing a traumatic event in your dreams. Other songs like “Non-Construct” or “End of Transference” use a more philosophical approach on discussing this reality-illusion-topic.
How important is the cover art work for you? Can a really cool cover still sell an album in this day and age of digital download?
-We find a good, matching cover artwork important, because, just like the lyrics, it is part of the whole piece of art. I know that there are still people out there, who sometimes stumble upon an album with a great cover artwork and buy it without knowing anything about the band or the music. In times of digital download however, I think that this scenario happens way less often than let’s say 20 years ago. With simple and fast possibilities to check out someone’s music, people have become way pickier when it comes to choosing music to buy.
Why is it so hard for bands that come from places not the US or UK/Sweden/Scandinavia to break big? What is success to you and is it something you’d like to achieve?
-I can only speak for Germany and our hometown Munich. The problem is: we have so many bands here. Usually in your circle of friends at least some friends play in a band. On the other hand, we have not nearly enough locations, festivals and stuff like that for all those bands, where they can promote their music, where they can show it to people who might help them become big. So you have the situation that you need to gain attention from potential listeners and big promoters and labels, who can give you access to a greater audience. When a festival organizer gets roughly 200-300 applications for a hand full of slots, it is just very improbable that he will pick you. Of course, a lot of these bands are quite bad, but still they exist and block slots that might have been given to a really good, promising band. Because often those bands play for free, just to be able to play live at all. And if there’s enough of those bands, many organizers of an event won’t choose you, if you don’t want to play for free. But bands who take this all very seriously put a lot of money and effort into their work and of course, this money has to return somehow (or you have to be rich enough not to care). But most of the time it doesn’t, which is why many bands never even have a chance, because you have to invest a lot of money and still have no guarantee. So, gaining attention is very difficult to start with. But from time to time, there will be some promoter and of course label that looks for quality and those are the chances, where talented bands can gain a foothold. But it doesn’t happen to every good band, it’s always a question of luck to a certain extent.
Success for us would be, if we see that people appreciate what we’re doing. We have never planned our band to be one of the really big ones, that go on tour for two months and make this their main profession. We are all students or already work full-time and we have other plans in life. For us, it is a very special hobby. We will try to achieve as much as possible, but we have those limits and know, that for big labels, promoters and distributors we are therefore uninteresting. If we can play some really cool gigs every year, if people listen to, like and buy our music and if we can have fun playing together, that is enough for us. That’s our personal success.
Today the competition is harder. You got plenty of digital platforms for new talent to display their music. How do you do to really stand out in a world where everything but the music is blind to the listener?
-That is another aspect that adds to what I wrote for the previous question. Not only will every small, untalented band block slots for live gigs, but producing music has become very cheap and so those bands also shoot out their well-produced, but badly written music into the internet, where it becomes more and more difficult for listeners to search for quality. It’s like finding a needle in a haystack, though the transfer of information has become a lot better and faster with the internet. You can reach people everywhere in the world, which was very difficult some years ago. There are ways to filter to a certain extent, but that needs time and effort and so often really talented bands therefore never reach enough people (though the technical preconditions are there), because there’s just too much other music and competition out there. We don’t really have a solution for that, otherwise we would be better known. It’s just hard to stand out. If you know a way, tell us, it would be really helpful, haha.
What is your local scene like? How important is a national scene for a band to be able to break out and make it international?
-Germany’s and Munich’s metal scene has become quite big over the years. We have lots of bands here, there are concerts every day of the week. I think on the one hand, it’s important to have a strong scene, because it gives you certain possibilities and help you might not have in countries with a small scene. We have lots of great studios and producers, we have lots of promoters, locations for metal events and the people who listen to this kind of music. On the other hand, like discussed previously, it’s harder to stand out from the mass. It’s always the other side of the coin.
Rock and metal has come a long way since the early 70s but still some people’s attitudes towards it seem to be left in the stone age. How accepted is metal in your area? Is it like in Finland where it seems to come with the mother’s milk?
-It has become well accepted here. If you walk down a crowded street, it won’t take one minute until you encounter an obvious metalhead. Still, it’s niche music. Mainstream music like pop or ska music and stuff like that are still more popular and those concerts are better-attended than metal concerts. But generally, most people have arranged with this scene and there’s little prejudice by non-metalheads compared to other countries. Thankfully, most parts of Germany are very progressive and open-minded when it comes to that.
What does the future hold for you?
– Hopefully cool gigs with lots of people and us writing and playing music together for many years to come.