|Well Michael it has been a year and a half since our last interview, which was in support of 2003's Rebellion record, "Born A Rebel". Since that time your other band, Black Destiny, have been hard at work creating their new album "In Neo Noir". I know you have heard me say this already, but I will say it again. "In Neo Noir" is the best album I've heard in 2004. Michael, what kind of response have you gotten from the folks who have been lucky enough to hear it?|
Oh, for the moment it's still not so much response, because up to now, not many people could listen to I.N.N. The first step has been, to send it out to some magazines here in Germany... so for the moment we're waiting for more reviews and feedbacks, which are hopefully a little bit like your impression of the album. Thank you by that way! So let's say up to now it works out fine for us!!!
Since the group's last record, "Black Is Where Our Hearts Belong", (released in 2000 by Iron Glory Records), the band has made some lineup changes. New bass player Kevin Schadowski and drummer Sebastian Korkemeier have been brought into the fold. Why did the changes take place and how did Schadowski and Korkemeier become involved in the band?
These have been very important steps in our band-history. Kevin sang on the first B.D. album... but as the music of B.D. changed more to melodic power metal he left the band just to return again some months later as the new bass-player. He belongs to B.D., without him, it wouldn't be the same band. Christian, the drummer on "Black Is Where Our Hearts Belong" decided to leave the band in 2001, as our music-style changed more and more to what it is today... he's more the classic power metal drummer. At that time Tim also started to have a black metal project, in which Sebastian Korkemeier is involved... we asked him, if he'd like to be the new man for us, and after he heard some of our new songs he agreed. His kind of playing drums became a very important element to our music... he's just the perfect guy for us.
Between "Black Is Where Our Hearts Belong" and this new record, the band have made a slight shift in sound. The traditional metal roots are still fully intact, but the band have incorporated the dark, gritty gothic sound to the mix. I feel the music and writing for this album is very dark, with several "colder", more modern elements, almost like a perfect blend of Sentenced and Priest. It's a very odd combination, but it works quite well here. Do you feel your songwriting caused the shift in sound, or do you feel that your writing is the same as the previous album and the musical style is the main change?
Well, I think the main reason for that is, that on "Black Is Where..." you can find songs from many different periods in the band's history and also written during some line-up changes. "In Neo Noir" sounds more like one unit. We have not been satisfied with the guitar sound on "Black Is Where..." so now it sounds more the way we wanted. The result we call "Neo Noir Power Metal" That's why we named our album "In Neo Noir". We feel very good with this darker atmosphere...it reflects our creativity and our personality and it also fits very well to the band's name. Yes, you are absolutely right when you say "odd combination" ... that's what we wanted to achive. We've found our own special way of writing songs.
With songs like Carnival Of Fate, I hear your voice taking on a darker, more somber tone very reminscent of King Diamond's low voice. Also, I can see some of King Diamond's songwriting showing through on tracks like "The Color Red" and "Somewhere In The Darkness", with both of those tracks being a good example of "horror storytelling". Was King Diamond an influence for you, or do you attribute the style of those songs to something much different?
Since I've started listening to heavy metal in the eighties, the lyrics have been very important to me... with the words you put the spirit to a song. King Diamond is a master in horror storytelling and in the time between "Abigail" and "Conspiracy" his songs have been a very big inspiration to me. Of course all the stuff that I've been listening to during the last 20 years has left it's impression and maybe get's reflected in my vocals unconsciously. I don't set out to sound like somebody else, but some people like to compare my voice with great singers like: M. Barlow; Ripper Owens; Chuck Billy; Rob Halford; King Diamond;Warrel Dane; Ville Leihiala; Bruce Dickinson; Chris Boltendahl...I'd like to be kind of a mixture of all these icons...that would be perfect! (laughing)
Along with the darker writing style, the riffs that Funke and Sivering have come up with are very different on this release. You can clearly hear more mature playing this time around, with some of the leads being very neo-classical in nature. For example, "Somewhere In The Darkness" is very melodic with fluid harmony throughout. That type of thing really wasn't evident on the last record. Do these guys play in other bands that have caused their playing to improve, or is it just steady progression from one album to the next, with plenty of practice in between?
I think it's both of it... don't forget that the songs on "Black Is Where..." are now 5 to 7 years old. Since that time the band and the single musician went many steps further in songwriting and in their musical skills. If a band really works, it has to be a continuous process, I think. Tim and Sven have also been involved in different projects, which is also good to improve the musical character and maturity.
I think what really sets this band apart from all of the others is the unique addition of extreme metal overtones throughout the album. One can hear blast beats, death metal riffing, gothic vocals, and even some female screams. I don't know of any other bands that really do this. As metal fans, does a majority of the band members listen to a wide range of musical genres?
|"We feel very good with this darker atmosphere..."|
The idea was to let it sound very varied and put the listener in a contrast bath of feelings. I think heavy music should be that way... like a good suspense thriller with many unexpectable twists... but also without denying the roots of classic heavy metal. Every musician has put his influence to the songwriting and nobody said... hey, that's not "true metal"! We don't want to repeat only what is already existing... we want to use it and recompose it in our own way and for our own kind of heavy metal. So it's not an offense if you'd call us metal bastards in this context. (laughing) Yes , the spectrum of prefered music-styles in the band is very wide, starting from gothic, hardrock passing classic heavy metal, power metal, gothic metal, doom metal, up to black, death, and thrash metal. So we're having a lot of inspiration to work with.
I have to ask you which films your sampling intros are taken from? I recognize "Interview With The Vampire", but I am drawing a blank on the others.
Yeah, I like these samples... it's giving so much atmosphere to the songs. For "Who I Am" we used a scene from the great picture "Angelheart". You remember Robert De Niro as "Lui Cipher"? For "Chasing Shadows" we used "Interview With A Vampire"... Lestat rules!!! You've got one point Eric...congratulations! For "Renegade" we used a scene from another infernal picture.... it's "Devil's Advocate" with grandmaster Al Pacino.
With the release of "In Neo Noir", the band has taken it on themselves to release the album, as opposed to a label being involved. Why didn't Iron Glory want to release this gem?
One year after the release of "Black Is Where.." they told us that the number of sold CDs did not meet their expectations. The contract has been only for one album and they simply did not use the option for another one...that's life! The deal wasn't that great, so we said...well, let's see what the future will bring, and here we are, independent but alive and loud.
How difficult is it to manage things as a band (financing, promotion) as compared to a relationship with a record label?
First of all you need more belief in yourself, because with a record deal you are much more interesting for the media and also many people of course. That's hard, because being an underground band does not inevitably mean that your music is less good, but of course the money and and all these things are less and everything has to be at a low budget. On the other hand today we have the internet, which makes it also for independent bands possible to "spread out" and come up to the people who like it. All in all I would say it helps keeping up a good fighting spirit.
Will there by any live performances to support this release?
There will be some live activity but being on big festivals or touring through the world is not planned at the moment. Now is the time, when we need the people who say:.....hey who's that? ...what, Black Destiny?! I'd die to see them live!!! If we'll get a lot of this feedback, I think there will be a way!
How long do you plan on concentrating on Black Destiny before shifting gears back to Rebellion? Will there be another four year wait until the next album?
Hopefully not, I can feel a lot of creativity in our band now, which is just waiting to get released. But of course we will take
enough time for writing new songs with the right "Black Destiny" spirit". Of course there are already some ideas in our heads and we will hurry up this time. I promise.
I can't allow you to escape without asking you a few Rebellion questions. When will recording begin for the next Rebellion record?
Oh, it's starting around the next weeks. We already have finished most of the songwriting. It's the third one, and we want to get the maximum (metal) result...of course!
Will the next record be a concept album like the debut, or feature stand-alone songs like the last record?
After a very straight, rockin', classic heavy metal album like "Born A Rebel", it's time again to do something which is more intensive in a special topic... so it will be a concept about norse vikings ...especially their kings and heroes.
Has the band found a replacement for drummer Randy Black?
Yes we found somebody who is not as well known as Randy, but a real good drummer. His name is Gerd Lücking and he has had his baptism with Rebellion on the German tour supporting U.D.O. in May.
Well that is all that I have this time around. Again Michael, the new record is amazing. Congratulations on a job well done!!
Yeah... thank you! We did not expect such a good response, and it feels good to know, that there are people out there who share our passion for this kind of music.