Once upon a time there used to be a strong German power metal scene. Perhaps SACRED GATE can restore some of that glory. Interview answered by Nicko Nikolaidis (guitars). Anders Ekdahl 2012
I remember reviewing your EP and liking it. Now I have an album to like. What are your feelings on the album?
– We are very glad that we could find a label which liked our stuff and released it. It is not very easy for an new band to find so fast a label. We believe we made a good album, there where many reviews we received in which stands that there is no weak song on the album and that we are a big hope in the underground scene.
How much of a progress is the album compared to the EP?
– The first 3 songs on the EP are included in the album, it is the same recording and mix. There are another 3 live songs on the EP. So the EP was just like a sign of life, a way to promote the band before the release of the official CD and maybe to gain some new fans. That’s why I think we cannot compare these two releases.
When you play power metal, does it feel like a lonely journey? What kind of interest is there for power metal in 2012?
– I would describe our music as Heavy Metal, of course we have some power metal elements but we are more into traditional, classic metal. The problem is, there are so many ‘’power’’ metal bands that play this kind of metal where you have these happy melodies and the double bass-drum running all the time, and I hate that. I think Sanctuary’s ‘’Into the Mirror Black’’ is the best power metal album ever. This album is the definition of Power Metal. To come back to the question, of course there is still a lot of interest for the established and well known bands, you can see full halls when bands like Hammerfall for example play here in Germany, but it is very difficult for the small bands to even get some gigs.
What would you say set Sacred Gate apart from all the other power metal bands past and present? Why should we listen to you guys?
– I think we have an album with strong songs, and I am sure that every metalhead will have a good time listening to the album. The songs have a lot of energy and heaviness but also many great melodies. I am a big Iron Maiden fan, I love this band, but listen to their last albums, are you satisfied with that? I am not. So if I would listen to a band like SACRED GATE I would give this band a chance and buy their CD to support them. The underground bands are the ones who need support. But many people prefer to go to a show and pay 100 € than to go to a local gig and support the underground bands, or to buy the CDs of the big bands, even if their material is not good enough.
Is Germany still a great place for heavy metal? What kind of media interest is there for national bands?
– I think it is one of the biggest markets for heavy metal, the biggest metal labels are from Germany and there are many great festivals. But in general there is more interest in the well known bands. There are some magazines dedicated to the underground, that present new bands and help them become more popular. But it is very difficult to get a story or interview in the big magazines, especially when you have released only one album. It is my opinion, but I think the media is interested more in foreign bands than in national bands, I don’t know why, maybe they think that every band from outside Germany is better than the German bands.
When you are relatively small and just have released an album how do you best promote it? Any chance of joining a major tour for maximum exposure?
-The best thing for a band that wants to promote its album is of course playing as many gigs as possible.
But as I said, even getting gigs is not so easy if you are not well known, because many organizers don’t give this chance to the bands. The most times we organize the gigs ourselves or with some friends who also play in other bands. Like every other band we dream of a tour as support for a bigger band, but this is very expensive and you need very good connections or a rich label. So, neither we or our label can afford something like that. Maybe a label like Nuclear Blast or Metal Blade could send a newcomer on tour but this is another story.
How much is it politics and how much a genuine love for metal when it comes to being seen in the right kind of places? How much are you ready to sacrifice in order to get the band seen and heard in all the right places?
– That’s a very good question, politics is very important, this is the truth. There are so many bands that make great music and don’t even get a deal for an album. We played about a month ago a concert with High Spirits, the guys played a day before our show at the Rock Hard festival in Germany. After the concert they said: “Guys you are much better than the most of the bands at the festival yesterday”. It is great to hear something like that, but it also makes as angy, and I think many other musicians feel the same way. We all have our families and jobs, and we live from our jobs and not from the music. We combine these two things and it works. We are not yet a band that goes 2-3 months on tour and I cannot say how it would be to do something like that, to be away from home for some months. But if it was on a professional level and we could pay the bills by earning money with music, then for sure we would do it.
How important has the art work been in establishing an identity for the band? How important has it been that just by glancing at the art work you should know that it is a Sacred Gate album?
– First of all I have to say that our artwork was painted by Jowita Kaminska who is also co-owner of our label. She realized the idea we had about this apocalyptic scenario. There is a connection between many songs on the album and the artwork. I think the artwork is very important, I still remember that when I was 15-16 years old, I bought many albums only because the cover looked great, hahaha. So when you want to sell a product, the whole package must be good. In this case the music, the cover artwork and the booklet design. Of course music is the most important thing, but the fans rather prefer a CD with a nice cover and booklet, than one that looks very cheap. Iron Maiden became so famous because they made great music, and because of Eddie, hahaha. When you see the artworks of Maiden, Manowar, Blind Guardian etc, you know exactly from which band the album is, because most of them work with the same artists since years, and have their own style.
What importance does the choice of band name have to the aesthetic of the band?
– A name that sounds good with a logo that looks good is very important, especially when you want to sell a lot of T-shirts, hahaha. A name must be simple but also has to stick to your mind when you hear it for the first time.
What future is there for Sacred Gate?
– We will see, we always plan things step by step. We want to play as many gigs as possible, but the main target this year is to enter the studio in autumn and record the new songs for the next album. We want to play in summer 2013 in some festivals, so if you read this and you organize one, don’t hesitate to contact us!