Germany’s PARAGON has been at it for very long time now. The fact that they haven’t given up yet proves the dedication thye have to metal. Anders Ekdahl ©2016
You guys have been around for what seems like forever now. Do you still feel it is as fun today as it was when you started? How different is the metal scene today?
-Hi Anders, yes for us as band it´s really fun these days. Of course there are always ups and downs when you are around for almost 26 days and never became „big“, but on the other hand it´s good for us that we don´t have to struggle living for the music. We are as professionell as any big band when it comes to playing, stage show and our recordings, but we don´t have to be 100% successful when it comes to sales numbers. As long as we make enough money from album and merch sales and live shows to enter a professionell studio, we will keep on running. We can always do albums which we would like to buy without compromises and we are not trapped in having to write „commercial“ stuff like bigger bands. And most important is to meet people, bands and fans all over the world!
So I think that real Metal is back in the underground these days. Many bands which are in the charts are not real Metal bands but just pop with distorted guitars or they are „dinosaurs“ like Iron Maiden, Black Sabbath and Judas Priest. Most good bands still play in small clubs and it´s a big DoItYourself-mentallity again these days like in the days when I started to make music. That´s very good and I really enjoy to go to small concerts again!
Is there a difference in people’s attitude towards you if you don’t come from a cool place like LA or NY or London?
-Sure at least in Germany. We are as good and professionell live and on record as any band on bigger labels from Scandinavia, USA, etc. but when you send demos to record companies, festivals or bookers they don´t take you serious. Many times you can even be glad they answer you at all if you don´t know anybody in that company. I think that most bookers and A&Rs are afraid to sign good bands. Instead they sign the same fake band all the time which was successful with a certain formula (e.g. „real“ Metal band with front girl with big boobs singing). To be honest I seldom can stand releases of new bands on bigger labels these days because they sound false, boring and many times image is more important as the music…
When you release an album that get pretty good reviews how do you follow up on that?
-To be honest we don´t think so much about that. Most times we just do what we do, record Heavy Metal albums that we also would buy as fans. Of course we have a certain quality standard e.g. always working with professionell studios, producers and cover artists. Any we try to cover all kinds of classic Metal on our albums e.g. fast stuff, doomy stuff, ballads, epic stuff, mid-tempo bangers etc. so it doesn´t get boring. If we are satisfied with the album its a good album!
What is the biggest challenge in the creation of an album, to write the songs or to come up with really good songs?
-When we write an album, we first have to collect riffs. A good,catchy riff is the most important thing in the Paragon-Universe. If you have a good riff, the rest of the song is written easy. I am some kind of quality control in the band and If I think a riff is great and fits to Paragon, we work on it and make a song of it. Most times you have 12-14 or even more song ideas for an album but only eight or ten will be on the album. The rest gets thrashed. Of course it´s not easier over the years as we already have written so many good songs and you can not force ideas. They have to come freely.
Do you prefer working digitally or is physical still cooler?
-We wrote and recorded most demos of „Force Of Destruction“ on my MacBook Pro and that was very good for that album. „FoD“ is more or less a perfect blueprint
for a Paragon Album. But for „Hell Beyond Hell“ Buschi our singer and me had some arguments because we had already written a lot of demos for „HbH“ that way, but he said he wanted to work old school again, meeting in the rehearsal room, drinking beer and jamming around. In the end we took every demo we had and workedon it in the rehearsal room. We tried out different tempi, changed riffs, threw riffs out, added riffs etc. So „HbH“ is a little bit more organic and personal as „FoD“ and the work paid out I think. Songs like „Devil´s Waitingroom“ would not have been possible without doing it like this.
With a sound that is being described as both this and that by fans how do you view your sound?
-Many writers file us under „Power Metal“ but to be honest I hate this term. These days Power Metal are bands which are not very aggressiv, have keyboards, a clean singer and nobody get´s hurt by their music. When we started Power Metal were bands like e.g. Overkill and Metal Church which combined classic Heavy Metal with Thrash and Speed and that is what we still do. So in a classic way we are Power Metal but I prefer to call us just simple Heavy Metal as we like to cover all classic styles.
How important are the lyrics and what message do you want to purvey?
-For Paragon Heavy Metal means also entertainment so you shouldn´t take all lyrics too serious but they should be written well and not cheesy and we also have many songs with a message like „Buried In Blood“ which deals with genetic experiments, „Hell Beyond Hell“ which is about internet addiction and „Devil´s Waitingroom“ which is a very dark anti-war song we are very proud of because music and lyrics fit perfect.
What part does art work for album covers play in the world of the band?
-In times were you don´t sell so many albums as in the past anymore, merchandise is a very important factor as you can cover e.g. studio costs with merch sales. We also like to have a certain unity in the songs, lyrics, photos and layouts of our albums. So I think it´s very important to have a quality and cachty cover artwork which is also useful for a T-Shirt etc. Unfortunately we lost Dirk Illing our cover artist in 2014, but destiny brought back Lars Paukstat back into the game. He already created the original Paragon logo and shield so he was the perfect choice.
When you play live do you notice a degree of greater recognition from the fans with each new time you pass through town?
-Yes sure. The people know us and since a few years they always sing along our songs at shows and they know that we are a very powerful live band. So if somebodysaw us some time, he will for sure come back to the next show.
What do you see in the future?
-I become a lottery millionaire, do a big label and Paragon will be the biggest Band on earth ever with judas Priest and Metallica as support -hargh hargh! No honestly: I really hope people like and buy our new album and we are able to play a lot of shows and celebrate with fans and friends all over the world. As I said, we really enjoy playing Heavy Metal and we still have some years to kick ass!