Midnattsol – (By: Chad Boyd)


  I first heard of this band when I was looking stuff up for Leaves’ Eyes and read that Liv Kristine Espenæs Krull had a younger sister, Carmen Elise Espenæs who was in a band called Midnattsol. Since I am also a big fan of Liv Kristine, I wanted to check out her sister’s band as well. At that time Midnattsol only had their first album out.  I got my hands on it, listened, and I was very impressed. I liked what I heard a lot. It was like a folk meets metal sound. When their 2nd album came out, I got my hands on that one too. And wow, it was even better! I was afraid I wasn’t going to get to talk with Carmen. The first time we were scheduled, there were phone problems, which do happen from time to time. But Carmen called me the very next day and re-scheduled a time to talk. I am very grateful she was able to do that. I’m also very glad I got the chance to speak with Carmen about Midnattsol’s new album and tour. She was great and a lot of fun to talk with!
Chad –  Hey Carmen how are you?
Carmen –  I am fine and you?
Chad – Yeah, I’m doing petty good today because I get to talk to you.
Carmen – (laughs) Oh that is nice Chad! I was looking forward to it all day.
Chad –  Me too!  I’m so glad we got a chance to reschedule and everything. I guess my first question here is: How did Midnattsol come about? How did all of you get together?
Carmen – I moved to Germany in 2002 from Norway. My sister lives there. And I wanted to study. So I went there and I started to think I would love to have my own band. Make music by my own and sing by my own. And after a couple of weeks that I lived in Germany, I got an e-mail from Christian Hector, our ex-guitarist. He asked me if we may talk about forming a band together. And I was like wow what a coincidence. And we met at a local metal disco and we found the tone immediately. We found out we had the same goals and wanted to do the same kind of music. He had played in a band called Penetralia before with the other guys of Midnattsol back then. So we called them and they came in our old rehearsal room. Chris also had a friend named  Birgit Öllbrunner, our bassist, and so she came as well. So we met together and back then it was Christian and Me, Birgit and Chris (Merzinsky) our drummer and Daniel our keyboard player. Immediately we played so great together. We since found out we had the same kind of music taste. Yeah we started to make songs quite early. A couple of songs were finished after a short while. And then we made the demo. Soon after that we got the record deal. But a couple of things changed now. It’s been 9 years since then. I think it’s quite funny because you know, the time goes really so fast. So now we have a new guitarist Alex (Kautz). Christian and Daniel (Droste) they are playing in Ahab. They are focusing on their band Ahab now. So they are not in Midnattsol anymore.
Chad – Oh ok. Yeah I was going to ask because I did read about your new guitar player. How is he fitting in with the line up in Midnattsol?
Carmen – Oh he is fitting so well that it was as if he was always a part of us from the beginning. I think it is so amazing that he has been in the band now for a year and a half. I think it’s really fascinating that he has these great Midnattsol ideas and his personality is just so fitting to ours. So, you know, it’s not only the musical thing that has to fit in a band. He is such a cool guy and we all just love him! Now with time, he really has become a close friend. Yes, we are very close friends in the band. Nine years working hard and close together and he is exactly as good a friend as the other ones. We couldn’t be more happy with him. And when he came to the band, he had so many ideas. So, he was like a fresh shower for us, you can say; a new beginning for us. We where feeling a bit down after Christian left the band. We needed something new. It was such a shock for us after being together for six years. And we had  told every interview ‘yeah, you know no one has left Midnattsol, we’re so close’. And suddenly it happens to us too. So we were very down and thought ‘where is the next road to follow‘? And then Alex came and we got the new motivation. And the end of it was The Metamorphosis Melody ( the title to Midnattsol’s new album).
Chad – That’s great. I’m glad all of you are still around. I know line up changes happen all the time. I know that’s got to be difficult to deal with sometimes to readjust. Some bands don’t make it, meaning they disband and everything, but I’m glad people keep trying.  I really like Midnattsol’s music. I hope all of you continue for a long time. What can we expect from The Metamorphosis Melody? Any major changes to the music other than your new guitar player?
Carmen – Yeah. I think you can hear the changes on the new album. And like the tilte says, ‘Metamorphosis‘. I think we have gone through metamorphosis our selves actually. I can’t describe it actually or why, but during the song writing process we noticed step by step that something has happened. Musically, the songs and ideas were just more mature. And we played in a totally new way together. The band was also getting so much better. It was good before but it was even better now. And I think that reflects on the music as well. We are feeling so great together as a group and that we grew more together. I think the harmony between the vocals and each of the instruments are so much better on this record. And I think that the songs have so much more to offer to the listener. There are more songs that have the great melodies that you just want to sing along with. The atmospheric beautiful melodies; lots of that. But still there are more of the classical heavy metal elements, cool rocking parts and also mid tempo songs. You can say it’s more variation and mix of different kinds of songs. So, I think you won’t get bored of the record.
Chad-  I’m sure its going to be a great album. I did read there will be a limited edition. What can fans expect on that version of the new album?
Carmen – There is a bonus track sung by Daniel Droste, our former guitarist. So I think it’s kind of special. He left the band and now you still have a chance to hear him sing. And another part is that for the first time ever in Midnattsol history, we have a live DVD. So this is a great part of the limited edition. It was recorded in Belgium in 2009 at the Metal Female Voices Festival. And the thing is we didn’t plan it that way. It came out to be a very special event because shortly before the concert we talked about asking the audience if they want Alex as our new guitarist officially. And when we asked the audience about Alex they were like YEAH! So he was totally shocked on stage. And there was just this great atmosphere where the gig was. Afterward, when we wanted to go off the stage, the crew came with an award for us called “The Best Hope”.  So, it was one of the best and most unforgettable evenings for Midnattsol. You can kind of relive this moment on the DVD. It’s our first one and I think it’s kind of special.
Chad – Wow, I totally would like to see that! The only clips I get to see are the ones on Youtube and they’re pretty good too. Is there any particular theme for the new album?
Carmen –  There are quite different themes. Because the lyrics have a lot of different inspiration sources, you can say. On this album, I have taken more inspiration from books or stories. Like the Norwegian fairy tale Kvitebjörn kong valemon (in English also known as The White Bear King Valemon or The Polar Bear King.) It’s about a prince that became an ice bear because of a spell that was caused by a troll. And also the book The Metamorphosis. The German book by Franz Kafka on the song “Forvandlingen”. There are also these Nordic elements or Nordic folk themes inspired by the old sagas like in the song “Motets Makt” or also in the song “Spellbound” where you can,..well at least in my head, I see these elves leading you on your way. But more than before, each band member’s experiences through the last few years has also inspired the record. So many things have happened to each one of us. I write about these concrete happenings in text as well. For example the song “The Tide” has a very special place in life for one of the band members. Also “A Poet’s Prayer” reflects on the actual situation of the world today. I get so frustrated when I see what happens. ou want to do something, you feel this anger inside, so this comes out in this song. But still being about different themes it’s like a red line for all of the songs. And as reflected through the title, the metamorphosis, so every song is about some kind of transformation or change or development: personal development or global development. And so that is the main topic theme, you can say. So yeah the whole record is inspired by change but what kind of change is up to the listeners.
Chad –What are your musical and writing inspirations in general, like bands you’re into and stuff that maybe helped influence you.
Carmen – There are so many different factors and I think not all of them I can describe. It’s my consciousness . But other bands’ music, of course, is one thing. For example, we all love Amorphis. All of us have a special different musical background as well. So each of the band members bring their influences and experiences into the music, and that make it so interesting. It’s a good mix and it’s also the personal experiences. It could be a magical moment in the rehearsal room when we are jamming together. And like I said, on the lyrics, there is also everything from books, personal experiences, nordic folk sagas, history…and nature itself is a very great inspiration. I just noticed today when I was running through the woods, how some melodies are coming to my head. This happens a lot of times when I go into nature. Its sounds cliche but yeah, it’s like that. So different factors.

Chad –  Here’s what I’d like to know, are all of you going to plan to play in America anytime this tour?
Carmen –  Oh we so want to! We talked about in the band a couple a weeks ago in the rehearsal room. Oh, we just want to go to the USA, that would be so special. We really want it but, unfortunately, there is nothing planned concrete yet. Sorry! But it’s sorry for us as well because we really want to! So let’s hope that they will organize something soon.
Chad –  Well that is a bummer, but I think it will be worth the wait when all of you do come here. That will be great. Are you looking forward to be on tour with your sister’s band Leaves’ Eyes?
Carmen –  Oh yes! That’s a dream come true for both of us. We wanted it for so long, and the two bands wanted it as well. But it was difficult to find the perfect match of time that everyone is able to, because we are all working, you know? But this time it was just a good match, so this time it could happen. It’s so special to go on tourwith your family, and of course the others are all close friends as well. So it can only mean great parties, a lot of fun, and joking. Also of course sharing the stage. So, we talked about it and we knew that we wanted to give a special gift to the fans. So yeah, we are going to sing together!
Chad – I know you and your sister are both busy with your bands but have you and your Liv ever thought of or talked about doing a project together? You know, like a side project band or something?
Carmen – We have not talked about doing a big project or band together because we are both so busy,  it would be difficult to find the time. But what we have discussed is, when we find time for it, singing one song together or a couple of songs. We would really love to. We are sisters and also so close friends like soul mates. Singing together and doing something together is so special. I think we would be stupid if we can’t make it once in our lives doing this together. So we are hoping to find time for it.
Chad –  Yeah, that would be cool. I would go buy it.
Carmen – Oh yeah. I sing on the Leaves’ Eyes song “Irish Rain,” the acoustic version. I have done some other guest vocals there. For me it’s like I’m here in Norway and I’m listening to these songs. When I hear, I get so emotional, because they lead her closer to me when I listen to them. She is so far away and I just want to be with her. It’s special
Chad – What has the overall response to the new Midnattsol album been?

Carmen – We are kind of in the beginning stage. We have not gotten that many reviews yet. But the feedback that we have gotten now is just so overwhelming. We are so surprised. We gave our best for this album. There is no doubt. We like our other albums but this is the best one! And of course you have high expectations for the feedback.  I’m sure there will be some negative response. There always has to be. So, of course we have to live with that. But for now it has been great.
Chad –  That’s cool! What do your parents think about both their daughters being in metal bands?
Carmen – Oh, they think it’s so cool! My father, he was the biggest Ozzy Osbourne fan in our home town. Perhaps in Norway too! (Laughs) We grew up with Ozzy Osbourne and other metal bands when we were children. So yeah, when I was little kid, my dad was speaking to my friends asking if they knew these bands on his black metal t shirts. You know, it’s not the typical clothes that parents dress. And my mother as well, she is very open minded and likes different kinds of music. She is very into folk music and dance, folk dance herself. She thinks it’s very cool we have these influences as well in the music.
Chad –  That’s really neat. My parents were big into music as well.  It’s really great when your parents are supportive on what you’re doing. Yeah, that’s’ one thing I like about Midnattsol. For me, you were one of the first bands I heard that kind of bring in folk metal. I know there are other bands that do different kinds of things, but folk music into metal, I think is a great mix. When I first heard it, I said to myself now that is a neat concept and I’m going to be watching this band for a while. So yeah, the first album, I was like wow, that’s some good stuff when I first heard it. Then the second album comes out, wow that is even better! So now I know the third album is going to blow me away.

Carmen – Yeah, that’s great. You know, the first album has a lot of folk influences and folk touches. It’s more quiet, I guess. And the second one is having more complex song structures and stuff. The third one, I think you can hear kind of like a mix of these two. We brought both elements on the third record and of course new elements as well.

Chad – Is there anyone out there you like to duet or some project with, besides your sister?
Carmen – Yeah. Vincent (Cavanagh) of Anathema, the singer. I have something for him. He just has this beautiful voice. When he sings, he means every single word of it. I have loved Anathema ever since the first time I heard them. So, that would be a dream to sing together with him. And of course Amorphis. Like I said, everyone in the band adores Amorphis.  I think it would be so amazing to go on tour with them. I think they are so cool! They are so professional and they have these great melodies. So, that would be a dream come true to go on tour with them. One of the band members there, he shares his opinion about The Metamorphosis Melody. He gave a little statement about our album. And you know, when you have been a great fan for years, and you get something like that..we were smiling for the rest of the day. It was fantastic. I’m sure he is so busy and using his important time for this. So yeah, it’s just amazing. He is a really cool guy.
Chad – Yeah, that is really cool. Maybe these bands and the guys you talked about will see this interview and give you a call.
Carmen – (Laughs) Yeah that would great! Then we’d bring you too, as a special gift.
Chad – That’s cool. What do you like to do when you have some spare time to yourself?
Carmen – Oh, that’s very rare at the moment, for everyone in the band because we are doing so much with things and working besides Midnattsol. But when I think about what I like to do, I like running, like Liv. I love running through the nature. Being in the nature, training and I love languages. I’m a language teacher. I love doing this and it’s also my job. I just started teaching it. I also love to, ok this is a very strange hobby, but I love to relax and take  baths listening to relaxing music and drinking green tea. (Laughs) Also just hanging out with friends, going out for a beer or two. This kind of stuff.
Chad – Is there anything you like to add about Midnattsol? I’m really looking forward to the album, I can’t wait to hear it! Once again Carmen, thanks for re-scheduling. I’m glad we had this interview and I got to talk with you.
Carmen – Oh, thanks a lot! I read something on your magazine that you are doing this on your spare time?
Chad – Yes. We love metal music and this are way of trying to be a part of it.
Carmen – That’s great! I think it is so cool, we are doing the same thing. We are working and we don’t live from the music, but we still want to do it. It takes a lot of time. We have very little spare time, but we just love being a part of it.
Chad – I’m going to keep an eye on the Facebook updates on your tour. I also keep up with your sister’s updates there too. I’ve been a fan of your sister since she was in Theatre Of Tragedy. That’s how I found out about your band. I was doing some reading  and saw her younger sister has a band and knew I had to check that out too.
Carmen – That is cool. People often ask me if I think it’s annoying being compared to Liv. One thing that comes out of it is more people get to know about Midnattsol. So this is of course super positive for us!
Chad – Yeah, I would never say that is a negative thing at all. It’s a great thing. Both of you have beautiful voices. I wish both of you all the luck in your projects and your tour to come.
Carmen – Thanks a lot and I wish you all the good luck for your work further on and for the magazine. Yeah, fun stuff for you to do this on your spare time and for putting a lot of effort sharing it with metalheads.


Hammerfall (By: Chad Boyd)

  I had a chance to talk with Oscar Dronjak, guitarist for the Swedish Heavy Metal band, Hammerfall. We talked about Hammerfall’s new album Infected, as well as his influences. We also talked about one of his and my favorite metal bands, Judas Priest, along with many other things. I had a great time talking with him.

Chad – Hey Oscar, how’re you doing?!
Oscar – Pretty good. How are you?
C –  I’m doing fantastic. I am so excited I get to talk with you. For one, I want to point out I love the new album. It’s great. I have been listening to it over and over.
O –  Oh cool thank you very much I’m happy!
C –  Do you think Hammerfall has achieved the success that you all dreamed about? Have your hopes, dreams, and wishes been fulfilled so far?
O – I think we didn’t have any expectations like this whatsoever when we started this. I don’t know what the hell we were thinking. That was not our current way of thinking, of traveling around the world several times doing tours and whatever. We were only doing this because we love the music we were playing. No one else was doing that type of music at the moment. So we decided to take it upon our selves to do it, and that was basically the dream that we had. And as soon as things started rolling and expanding we also expanded our groups and dreams and put the bar higher. We have been very fortunate that through all the years we have been able to achieve a lot of the goals that we had. And we made more that we didn’t have as well. I feel very fortunate we were able to do this. We turn our passion; our hobby into our life’s work. Not every body can say that. I feel very blessed about that.
C – I guess that leads me into my next question. When Hammerfall first came out, it sounded like you made music like victorious battle cries. Did your music evolve into that or was that how you had it planned? Did Hammerfall just evolve into a more positive power metal band?
O – The term ‘power metal,’ as you use it, did not exist when we started the band. There was U.S. Power Metal bands like Jag Panzer and those types of bands. But here in Europe the ‘power metal’ did not exist back then. So, it was just ‘heavy metal’ or nothing at all. It’s not because of  the fact that heavy metal was basically spat upon as a genre. It was looked upon as something you maybe did when you were a child, but certainly not when you were old enough to know what you were doing.  We embrace the heavy metal. The name heavy metal because that’s what we always were, in our on own minds. It was never a question that Hammerfall was anything other than a heavy metal band, even from day one. We just had our way of doing things. I guess we influence the genre of power metal a lot. But like I said, when we started out there was no such thing as power metal. So I’ve never seen us other than heavy metal band.
C –  I would consider you all definitely heavy metal as well. It’s just a lot of people like to use the term power metal, I guess to separate between the different metal styles. I think the list gets too long. I say ‘hey, it’s metal and it’s cool.’
O – Yeah I totally agree with you
C – Ok cool. Were there any embarrassing moments with Hammerfall, on or off stage?
O – (Laughs) Plenty. I guess on stage it is always embarrassing to fall or trip or something like that. That happens to everybody except for Anders (Johansson) because he is the drummer. But it happens to everybody. It didn’t happen to me until the last tour we did with Stefan (Elmgren) which must have been in 2007,I guess. We had a lot of pyro on stage then. And they were placed right before the drum riser. It was on the final show and the final song. I was going up to it and I did this sort of tae kwon do like kick into the flames or the sparks that shoot up. And Stefan was always on the drum riser at this point. So he was like one meter from me so he was like in my face and I did this kick. I sort of over-kicked a little bit. So my right leg I was doing the kick with was fine but my left leg sort of goes along with the right one. So I fell flat on my ass, on my back actually, right in front of him. And he couldn’t continue playing. He had to stop playing because he was laughing so hard he almost pissed himself. And that was very embarrassing. So I laid there for a little while, pretending I did it on purpose. I got up and finished the show and that was it. I was really embarrassed about that.
C –  I hear ya. Yeah all you can do is just go on with the show. I understand stuff happens. Even Rob Halford had a little incident hitting his head trying to do a motorcycle stunt.
O – (Laughs) Yeah, yeah

C –  So is your personal life as up-beat and victorious as it is with Hammerfall?
O – I would say so. I am that type of person, you know, the ‘half full’ rather than ‘half empty’ kind of guy. I like to have fun. I like to enjoy myself. And if my life is not good or if there is something wrong with it and I’m not having fun, I try to change it so that there will be fun. So I really basically enjoy my life. A lot of the songs that we write are about this. Where you can enjoy life for your own sake. Basically, if you live your life for your own wishes, then you’re going to be satisfied in the end. If not, then you’re going to regret yourself. And regretting things is the worse thing you can do.
C –  Yeah, I totally agree to what you just said man, that’s great. Where does Hammerfall’s song and album ideas come from? Like, the new album Infected, was that influenced by the show The Walking Dead or other zombie themes?
O –  Absolutely! We are big zombie fans here. Especially Fredrik (Larsson). He’s been collecting stuff. He is getting his hands on DVDs; ordering them from around the world. Just to have all the movies that there are. I really like to borrow stuff from him, but I don’t collect it. I collect enough shit anyway, as it is. So, I don’t need to collect that as well. The zombie stuff is something I loved. The Walking Dead has some potential to be one of the best television series ever!

C –  I totally agree with you right there! I love it!
O –  So yeah, I guess it is a little influenced by that. It’s not something new. We always loved the zombie stuff. I like the post- apocalyptic stuff. You know, where the world ends basically and  where a few people live on. I like the premise of that. I think it make for a very compelling story, it being a book, a television series, or movie.
C – I was curious if any of you have heard of this movie. It’s a classic old Spanish horror movie called Tomb of the Blind Dead?
O – Never heard of it.
C –  Oh you all might want to check that out. Granted, it was made in the 70’s, so you got to give it that. The blind dead in the movie are Templar knights coming back to life. Since a lot of your songs are about Templar  and now you got the zombie thing going on, you should check it out. There is actually 4 movies of those. The First one is probably the best one out of all them. It’s called Tomb Of The Blind Dead.
O –  Yeah, I better give that to Fredrik. He probably has to hunt it down somewhere.
C –  You can find it in English dub or with English subtitles. Yeah all of you should definitely check it out!
O – Cool thanks for the tip!
C – Oh no problem man! A friend was actually the one who thought of this question and introduced me to the movies as well. Do the personal lives of the members of Hammerfall mirror your musical personae? I mean do you champion causes and reach out to the underprivileged in real life or is Hammerfall’s music a kind of alter ego in which to inspire people?
O –  It’s the second one. What I want with our music and lyrics of Hammerfall is for people to feel the way I felt when I listened to the bands when I was growing up. Judas Priest or Accept or bands like that who gave you the energy to basically change your life around. That’s what I want everyone to feel. I want to inspire people to make it better for themselves because in the end, ultimately nobody is going to help you do anything. You have to want to go out and get it, and the victory will be all that sweeter after that. And that’s what we want to tell people.

C – Ok, I’m going to backtrack here to your album, Masterpieces. It has a lot of very cool covers of classic songs by great metal bands. Was there a song or band that Hammerfall didn’t want to touch because of fear of messing it up?
O – Not really. But the reason we chose bands like Stormwitch or Warlord is because those bands are fairly unknown to the larger population, even in metal. A lot of people don’t know about them. We found it very cool because these are our heroes. These are the very bands who had a hand in shaping the sound of Hammerfall. So for us, this is more of a way of giving something back. We put the spotlight on them for a little while and make people aware of them. Of course we would not do that with a song that we didn’t like or a song we thought not very suitable for Hammerfall. We obviously chose the songs carefully. There are a million different songs out there that we could have done. So there’s never been a shortage of cover songs, for sure.
C – That’s true. I like when bands do that. It really does help me get into the other bands. So yeah, I’ll go listen to the original band and song and I would be like ‘yeah, I see why they made a cover of that!’
O – Exactly.
C – Somebody pitched this question to me, so I will give it a shot. Which Hammerfall album would you like to re-record and do you have any regrets on missed tours or anything like that? I guess that is a 2 part question.
O – The first part is no. There is nothing I would ever want to re-record. There would be no point in doing it really, for me. We did the best albums we possibly could have done under the circumstances in that point of time. And I’d like to keep it that way, like as a testament of where we were at that time. When we record stuff, we look forward and do new stuff. As to the second part, what I really regret when it comes to touring is that we never followed out. It took us 4 years to do the Death tour we did in ‘98, then it took us another 3 years to follow up that tour and then another 5 years, I think, to follow that tour. We toured way too little in North America. We should have been more active there. I think that would have helped us a lot in the long run.
C – That brings me to my next question. When is Hammerfall coming back to the USA?
O – Well, hopefully at the end of the year. But that’s a matter of if we can get everything together. People are working on it as we speak. But nothing is finalized yet.
C –  I have not seen Hammerfall live yet. And I’m going to fix that when Hammerfall does come here, definitely! I can’t wait!
O –  Where are you at there?
C –  Well I’m in an area where bands don’t usually come which is in Alabama. But Atlanta, Georgia is right next to me and I go there all the time for shows. Is there any band you would love to really tour with?
O – Well from a personal point of view, like a fan point of view, there are many bands of course. We mentioned Judas Priest before. I would love to do a tour with them. It would be awesome because they are one of my favorite bands. I have been into them heavily since I was 10 years old or something like that. Oh, another band I think that we would make a good package with is Manowar. I think Hammerfall and Manowar would be awesome together for the fans. I don’t even know if that is a realistic possibility to do a tour like that, but it would be fun. And besides, I’m a huge Manowar fan, so I would love to do that as well.
C –  Oh yeah, Manowar is great. I would agree that would be a kick ass show! And I’m a huge Judas Priest fan. I would be so there for that one! That would be awesome! Hammerfall then Judas Priest, that would be sweet!
O – It’s sort of like a dream tour.
C – Well you never know, it may happen. They (Judas Priest) said this might be their last world tour, but friends of mine are saying that’s probably not the last time they’re going to play shows though.
O –  I heard first there was the last tour they were ever going to do. Then KK Downing left the band and they start recording a new album. Now there’s not going to be another tour but they might do shows, like you said. I don’t know. Things are changing. Well Halford quit once. And nobody ever thought he was going to be back. I thought he was coming back. I even had plans to make a T- shirt of him saying ‘the Priest will be back.’ This was back in ‘94 or maybe around ‘93, I can’t remember. Something like that.
C –  Yeah, something like that. Fight came out around ‘93 so yeah, it was a little before that.
O –  Probably ‘92 then. Well anyway, I always knew he was going to be back. I love the “Ripper” stuff, especially Demolition. I think Demolition is one of the better Judas Priest albums, to be honest. There is something special or magical of course with Halford and the other guys together, but that’s just the way it is. No disrespect to him (Tim “Ripper“ Owens). You know, Demolition really is well done and  nobody ever gives him any credit for carrying Judas Priest over those years. Well, he was in the band for quite a lot of years and he did some really good stuff. I really enjoy the band with “Ripper“. But you know the kid in you that grew up with Rob Halford as the singer of Judas Priest.. it just was that to me. That’s the real Judas Priest. When Rob came back to the band it was talked about for a while. I felt bad for “Ripper” for the way it happened. It’s like he sort of got out  phased and nobody really cared about him anymore, when he is a really good singer; he’s got a really great voice. He is really nice guy too.
C –  Yeah, I have to admit I am one of the people that has been a skeptic about the “Ripper.” But after hearing you, I might actually listen to those Priest albums he‘s on. I am a HUGE Rob Halford fan!
O –  You should check Demolition out then. Jugulator is not as good.
C –  I think I will. Yeah, every body has been trying to get me to do it but some part of me just feels like it would be like cheating on my wife or something.
O – (laughs) Yeah, when the albums came out, nobody knew what the future would be for anybody. As a fan of Priest I just wanted to see what they were doing. For me Judas Priest was never just a voice. It’s the guitar work combined with the voice and the song writing obviously. That is Judas Priest to me. So when Halford came out with his solo stuff, I thought the Resurrection album was really good, but if you listen to the guitars on the album… After Resurrection was released, people were saying ‘Yeah, Judas Priest are back,’ and I said ‘no, they’re fucking not back. It’s nothing at all like Judas Priest’s guitar work.  Halford’s voice was back to the Judas Priest sound for sure, which is probably what they meant. But I took offense to that because Judas Priest is so much more than just a voice.
C – That is true. I will give you that. I don’t know, I have just been behind on a lot of things. Actually, I just got into Hammerfall almost a year ago. So, I am just now catching up. I apologize for that. I wish I got to you all sooner because Hammerfall is so worth it!
O – Oh, no problem. It about what you are listening to not when. That’s the most important thing for anybody. So, if somebody says they just got into the band and they like it, that’s fine enough for me. That’s all I ask is that you listen to the music and you don’t like it, then you don’t like it. What can I do, you know? I’m not going to tailor make music for anybody. We make music for ourselves mostly. But if you listen to the music and you actually like it, it gives me huge satisfaction.
C –  I have been through all the albums lately, and the last one No Sacrifice No Victory, is probably my most favorite. But don’t get me wrong, the new one is great! I am very proud to own it. I pre-ordered it. And like I said, I have been listening to the new album over and over again. But No Sacrifice No Victory: That album right there, I just love it to death!
O – That’s very cool. Thank you, I’m happy.  Plus, you are in a position to judge from 7 albums later, that you heard for the first time and at the same time not being there when the albums were first released. That’s usually the album people favor; the album they first heard that got them into the band. And that’s actually true for you as well.
C – Don’t get me wrong, I love the old stuff and I love the new stuff. They’re great. That song, “No Sacrifice No Victory,” is probably my number one favorite Hammerfall song.
O –  Cool! I’m so happy to hear this! Usually people always go for the older stuff when they say what favorite songs or albums they have. So that makes me very very happy. Thank you!
C –  I also really like “Redemption” on the new album, Infected. Well, the whole album is just great and I’m a huge zombie fan myself. I really like the concept. Some people I talk with are like ‘why are they doing that?’  Then I’m like ‘no, let them do it, I think it’s very cool!’ (Oscar laughs.) But yeah, it looks like you all had a lot of fun making the video for “One More Time.” I took a look at the short behind-the-scenes video you all did. I enjoyed the video. Can you tell us if Hammerfall is really going to continue the story in the video? Because I did see where it said “to be continued” at the end. I know a lot of bands have done that and I don’t see them ever follow up on that.
O – Yeah we haven’t decided how to handle that yet.  We knew the idea to do it, we just never really thought about it; putting “to be continued” on there because we never really planned to do another zombie video. I guess we have to now. But I would be surprised if we do it for the next video. I think maybe it will be on the next album in that case. We have no plans right now. So I don’t know what to say.
C – Would you use the same director on the next video?  I think he did a good job.
O – Yeah. I’m very happy with the way the video turned out. What we did was basically say we wanted to do a video with zombies. We sent the opening credits to Zombieland to this guy (Patrick is his name). We sort of made the video around this idea that we are Hammerfall and we are doing a proper video to a heavy metal recording. And then in the middle of the song, all hell breaks loose in various areas of the set. Basically that was the idea. And I just love the slow motion stuff, it’s just so funny. It’s very good. You’ve seen Zombieland right?
C – Oh Yeah!  I just watched it again the other night!
O – Then you know what I’m talking about with the slow motion stuff. I’m very happy with how it turned out. For me its the best video we’ve ever done.
C –  I think its great! Its a great tribute to zombies. You all did it great. Yeah, even that girl that goes after your other guitar player, Pontus (Norgren). I think the make up work on her was great.
O – Yeah, she’s kind of like the main zombie girl. She’s the organizer of everything. And obviously she’s the one that best knows how to make up her self.
C –  That’s cool. And I love your famous part, your dive there.
O –  (Laughs) Yeah I love diving, so it was really fun that I got to do that sort of thing.
C –  All the reactions of the band members were great. The drummer looks like he barely got away.
O – Yeah I think he thought it was fun. He likes wrecking stuff and that sort of thing. And basically going right through his drum kit.. I think he really liked that.
C –  I love the shot of Joacim (Cans) where you can see the OJ or milk or whatever splash on him in the slow motion.
O – Yeah that was more or less an accident. It wasn’t intentional. He was going to drop it. I think it sort of bounced up in the air and he hit it when he was running forward or something like that. It makes for a really good shot.

C –  What is your favorite song off the new album?
O – I don’t know. That’s a really tricky question. Especially with this album. We managed to make all the songs very unique, very individual. So it’s very hard for me to say, also because sometimes I dig a song because I’m very happy with the solo I do. I am biased in that way. I can’t look at the songs objectively. One song that is really close to me that I am proud of is “Lets Get It On.” On every album, I write one song myself. Normally me and Joacim do all the songs together as a collaboration. On every album there is one song I do all the lyrics, the melodies and the music myself. Just because. I don’t know why. It just started out that way and it has been like that ever since. “Lets Get It On” was that song on this album. And it has to do with the similarities of being a martial arts fighter, going in the cage and performing in front of millions and similarities of us going on stage performing for our audiences basically.
C – I have to a admit the “Bang Your Head” song reminds me of Quiet Riot’s Metal Heath a little bit.
O – (Laughs) That was the idea. Shoot, that song came about as a tribute to the huge German metal festival called Bang Your Head. We played there many times. First time was back in ‘97. This is the only festival in Europe that allows new bands to headline and I’m talking about when Hammerfall was a new band. So, this is our tribute to that festival, for taking a chance with us and other bands. And the chance they took paid off, of course. It was a brilliant festival and I think everybody was very happy with it. So, this our thank you to them.
C – That’s awesome! I know Europe has the best festivals it sounds like. I wish could make one, One of these days. I got to save up some money. (Laughs)
O –  Yeah yeah you definitely should if you ever get a chance to. Start with Wacken, if you can. That is a really good place to start because it’s got so many bands. And they are very used to people coming from everywhere, from all corners of the world almost.
C –  What is your favorite song to play live?
O – I don’t know. It really depends on the audiences reaction to it.  “Patient Zero” is really fun live because it’s got a grinding beat that’s really easy to move to when you’re playing or head bang or whatever. But it really varies. A song like “Legion” is really fun to play because it has the speed and it has the backing vocals, so we sing a lot. And it also has a lot of solos, which is fun. So I guess I would say “Legion”.
C –  Where do you see yourself in 5 or 10 years, in the music business?
O – I hope we are basically in the same position or a better position. We’ve been around for so many years now. I would be surprised if we sort of went down hill. Especially with the two new band members (Pontus and Fredrik) that came in the band a couple of years ago. That really helped spark a fire with everybody else that was in the band. Everything just got a lot easier and a lot more fun with those two in the band. And so for that, I see myself doing this for easily another 10 years without problems.
C – Well that’s great because I want Hammerfall to stay around definitely!
O – Yeah, I can promise you we will be around for a while.
C –  That’s awesome. What got you into wanting to play the guitar in the first place?
O – It was listening to metal music basically. I was playing the Trombone for four years, when I was younger. When I stopped doing that, I favored the guitar because I realized that the music I was listening to never had any trombones in it. So I figured I was better off playing the guitar. It didn’t look that hard to begin with. Of course it was much harder than it looked but it was much more fun than I thought it would be also. I got into it because I wanted to play songs that my heroes were playing.
C –  What advice would you give to new guitar players just starting out maybe if they get signed or something?
O – First advice: practice. There is no substitution for practice and experience. The 2nd advice I would give them is play the music  that they like to play. Bottom line: If you’re going in this business thinking you are going to make it, you probably won’t. Just go in there with a good attitude and enjoy yourself. I think that is the most important thing. If you are enjoying yourself and having fun and getting good at it, then things will fall into place as you go, I think. That is the best advice I can give.
C – Yeah, I always tell people the music should come first before anything else.
O – Absolutely. It has to. Otherwise if you are not going to do that, in metal, you are in the wrong genre I think.
C – Exactly. Is there a particular guitar you like to use the most?
O – Yeah. I’ve been playing Jackson for a lot of years with one exception in 1989, actually. Right now doing ESG. I got a custom made guitar from them. You know the HF symbol we have? The guitar has that in the fret board  and that  is  probably  my favorite guitar right now.
C –  Cool. Ok, here is a fun question. I know this is one of the first albums that your mascot, Hector, is not on the cover. Is he ‘Patient Zero‘?
O –  (Laughs) Well, if you look in the booklet, there is a picture of Hector. A picture not like a painted one. Its says “Patient Zero or hero?”
C – Yeah, I see that. I’m looking at that right now.
O –  Yeah, I didn’t know if you knew that or not. I guess, we’ll find out in the future. I don’t know myself. So we will have to come up with something clever, I guess.
C – Yeah, Hector is a cool character. The only Hammerfall shirt I have right now is a long sleeved one and it says “Hammerfall Wants you!”
O – Oh yeah, right. Those are pretty cool ones. They did well, as far as I remembered.
C –  Oh yeah, I love that shirt. I get some people asking me ‘what is that, a video game?’ And I’m like ‘no, it’s a really kick-ass metal band!
O – (laughs) Excellent!
C – Yeah, I wear it with pride. My girlfriend actually bought it for me. It’s great. She got me into you guys!
O –  Alright, cool. You have a good girlfriend.
C –  I think that’s about all I got now. I really appreciate you giving me a call and letting me interview you, man.
O – You did a really good job.
C –  Thanks, I really appreciate that. Good luck to all of you and I hope the album continues to sell and that when you start touring, it will be a kick-ass tour. I will definitely be trying to see all of you when Hammerfall comes over here.
O – That’s very cool  It was really nice talking with you. Have a Good day.
C – You too, thanks!

(Note from Chad – Also I will add here, if anyone wanted to know if I checked out that Judas Priest album Demolition with Tim “Ripper” Owens that Oscar told me I should. I did. And I have agree with Oscar, it’s actually a pretty cool Judas Priest album, just like he said. Thanks to Oscar for that and for the interview.
Hammerfall kick ass!

Nightrage – By: Chad Boyd


   Back in October,  I had the chance to go to a Firewind show in Atlanta, Georgia. One of the opening bands happened to be Nightrage. This was my first time hearing them and seeing them. I was very impressed. They put on a great show. I got a chance  to talk with the lead vocalist, Antony Hämäläinen; a super nice and very cool guy.
     As we were talking, Witch Wolf zine came up and he expressed that he was very interested in doing a interview. He gave me his e-mail address and I was able to send him a few questions. It was very cool of him to take the time and answer the following questions.
Chad – How was the tour?
Antony – The tour was really good. Lot’s of new people checking the band out every night.
C – The new Nightrage album, Insidious is now out. How are the reviews so far?
A – They have been really positive! At least all the ones I’ve seen. So that’s cool. We got even better reviews on this album than on Wearing A Martyr’s Crown, which means we are headed in the right direction.
C –  Any interesting things happen on this tour or any tour you’ve been on with Nightrage?
A – There are so many memories from all the tours, it’s hard to name “the best one.” But on this last North American tour we had our bus crash into a tree. We were about five minutes away from the venue. Thankfully it was the last show of the tour. We actually have the tour documentary up on YouTube now where you can see the bus all tore up.
C – I understand you live in Arizona. How long have you been there and how do you like it?
A – I’ve been in Arizona for about ten years now. I like it a lot, actually, I live in a good community, good friends, good weather. I used to hate it but it has grown on me. The only hard part are the summers and then I’m wishing I were somewhere else. Good part is that this only lasts three months and then it’s amazing again.
C –  What got you into music? Any major influences?
A – My uncle and father got me into music by playing the classics like W.A.S.P., Metallica, Testament, etc. Then I found death and black metal in the very early 90’s and things really took off for me there.
C – What band would you love to tour with that you have not toured with yet?
A –  Hypocrisy. That would be a major thrill for me. I would watch their set every night from front to back.
C –  How do you feel about the new album?
A –  I think it’s good. It’s a good album with a lot of twists and turns for the listener. With all the guests on the album they come in and kind of surprise a first time listener. Which I think makes the album a good one for people to listen to again and again. The fans will not just give it one spin and then never listen to it again. There are lots of parts I even catch after listening to it again for a few months.
C –  Anything Nightrage does to help start writing an album?
A – Nothing special. Marios (Iliopoulos) gets his riffs together with Olof (Mörck), they compose the music for a song. Then they send it to me for the vocals and lyrics. Pretty simple process.
C –  Do you think Nightrage has grown more as a band; making this new album and in the years you have been with the band?
A – I would say so, yes. We have been playing together for five years now. It’s the longest lasting line up in the band’s history. We all know each other very well and really know how to play live together. I have never known any other line up than this one. So I am pretty biased to it.
C – So how do you and Nightrage get together? It looks like all of you live in different places in the world.
A –  We get on planes and meet at the target destination. Mostly for new songs everything is done in our home studios. For live shows, we all rehearse on our own and then have a short jam before the first show. Again, like I said before, we have been doing this together for a long time. It just falls into place very easy for us.
C –  When you are not with the band, any interesting hobbies you have?
A –  Sure, I love football (American and European). I love watching sports, playing Call Of Duty, listening to Howard Stern, drinking with my wife and friends on the weekends. Pretty normal stuff.
C –  So what do you think of today’s metal music?
A – I have no idea, dude. My wife always tells me I am stuck in some death/black metal haze. I will hear a few new bands in passing but it’s nothing like the older bands. I mean, I am not just sitting there listening to old albums, I still dig the older bands that put out new material. Those bands are still on top for me.
C –  Whats next for Nightrage? Another tour? Any plans for a live DVD?
A – Yes, touring for the new album, Insidious. We have plans for a European tour in February, with kind of the same routing idea as our last North American tour. Seventeen shows in a row or something. Keep checking our sites for the details to come. As for the DVD, we have talked about this for years. They are just very expensive to make. We would need a production company that was interested in making one, first off. Then we would need the money, which is the hard part. But maybe one day, you never know.
C –  What’s your favorite CD that you’ve been listening to lately?
A –  Lock Up – Necropolis Transparent
C –  Thanks for taking the time for this interview for Witch Wolf. Is there anything else you wish to add?
A – Thanks for the cool interview. See you guys on tour!

Soniq Armada (By: Chad Boyd)

  I got a chance to interview both of the founding members, Sean Morrissey and Skraw Tharp of the band Soniq Armada from Winder, GA.
  Morrissey and I have been friends since his last year of highschool. Each project he has been in has been awesome, but I honestly think the 3 tracks they played for me before the interview are by far his best work ever. This was my first time meeting Skraw Tharp, a very cool guy and kick ass gutiar player as well! One track called “FREYJA“ has already been released and able to be viewed on youtube , facebook (http://www.facebook.com/pages/Soniq-Armada/186507291365011) and myspace (http://www.myspace.com/soniqarmada). So go and check it out!

Chad –  What I heard of Soniq Armada, I really like it! It’s awesome. I can’t wait to let the world know to get their hands on this.  I probably could put a name to the band’s musical style, but I will let the band tell me what their style is.
Sean Morrissey –  Well, at the end of the day, no matter what influences we incorporate, it’s a metal band. We do incorporate a lot of influences from black metal, death metal, and we do throw in some of the industrial styles like the synthesizer and what not. But like I said at the end of the day it will always be a metal band. We will always make it very guitar driven as you heard. I do like industrial. Metal is what I feel when I write. That’s what I really enjoy writing. So that’s pretty much it. I would say on the safe side definitely don’t try to find it in the reggae section. (Laughs)
C – Cool. What I like about it is that it had a lot of death metal guitars working with a lot of the old school metal, which is awesome. I think it fits very well and it’s a great mix for all that together. You were talking about your influences. What are your other influences that got you into music in the first place?
Skraw Tharp –  Wow, I don’t remember a point in my life where I did not play guitar. I grew up playing guitar. I always listen to the old thrash metal. I’ve always really been into metal;  the whole wide spectrum of metal. I just grew as a thrash kid, I guess and then I got into the death metal scene. All the bands out of Florida. Chuck Schuldiner rules! Anything really guitar driven. That’s what I am into.
S.M –  I guess for me. I grew up around music my entire life. Everywhere in my house, growing up, there was always something on. From the time I was an infant practically. My father and my older brother exposed me to all kinds of 70’s rock: Pink Floyd, Electric Light Orchestra, bands like that. A lot of British bands. As I got to be older what first exposed me to metal was my older brother. He was into Quiet Riot, Twisted Sister, Judas Priest, and he was into more of the heavy rock like AC/DC. Bands like that and Progressive bands like Journey. I played piano most of my life and I started guitar when I was about 16. From the time I first heard death metal and thrash metal around the time I was about 14 or 15 and I just ate it up. I was like wow! I didn’t know what I had been missing. I couldn’t believe there was intense music out there. As I got to be older I guess I really related to it. It just kind of went from there.
C –  You were telling me before that you are planning on coming out with a demo. Do you have any set date on the demo?
S.M –  I would say in the next month or so. We are releasing each song sequentially, kind of one at a time. Yeah on the internet.
C – Oh yeah, kind of like what other bands do over the internet?
S.M – Yeah so we are not throwing it all out there at once. So it can give somebody something to sink their teeth into. Kind of get their appetite whet. We are hoping for a pretty good reaction. I think we will get one.
C – I think so too!
S.M – We are pretty confident and we are still working out the bugs. You know working out the finishing touches to put on the songs. But ultimately we are very happy with it. I’m very proud to be a part of this band. I’m very glad that he is a part of it as well (Skraw). We are working towards a full length album. But the 3 song promo CD will definitely come first. We will see where it goes from there.
C –  Are you planning on releasing it on Youtube and/or Facebook or something like that?
S.M –  Probably both and Myspace is still there. We have Myspace set, we just don’t have anything on it yet. Yeah, we will probably use all three.
C – It seems like a lot of bands overseas say media in America is really hard. Because you got all this stuff to try to put out there. But since you are already here, you already have excess to all that.
S.M –  Well yeah, it’s not like it was in the old days. Like when we were growing up and listening to bands. You know the tape trading days. Or the days like 7 inch vinyl records which were really big with the punk rock bands. I think some of the overseas black metal bands are really big into all that.
S.T –  I think it’s still going on over there.
C – I think the black metal bands were purposely made to sound shity. They were supposed to be a rebellion from anything main stream death metal or anything main stream at all for that matter.
S.M – Yeah, it is a rebellious attitude. It’s all about atmosphere. I guess in some degree the ideology is very important to them. As well the atmosphere of the cold sound. Sort of what they call the ‘necro’ sound. Bands like Darkthrone and early Mayhem  and Emperor. They had that very cold kind of lack of production. But that’s what made it unique really, I think. A lot of those bands are under rated. Black metal is a very under rated style of music. From the true aspect of it anyway.
C – Here is a thought that came into my mind. Now I don’t have problem with it myself., but there seem to be a lot of argument about with people saying metal should be by itself and you got the electronic industrial stuff should be by itself, that never should be combined . What do you say to people about that?
S.M. –  Well, I think with any genre of music there are going to be purists who don’t believe in experimentation with different kinds of sounds. My personal feeling on it is ok because of the fact we do use so many elements. This is funny too, because a lot of the black metal artists from the early days, if you asked them what kind of other music they listen to out side of thrash or speed metal or the old new wave of British heavy metal a lot of those guys were very influenced by industrial or electronic music in Europe. I always felt that black metal and a lot of European industrial have a lot of things in common. They’re both very  cold styles of music. They are regimented as far as militant style drum beats and they have a lot of atmosphere. A lot of black metal moves towards the synthesizer/keyboard atmospheres. And industrial of course is very big into that and I think the aggressive vocals as well. I guess I always seen it as why not experiment with sort of incorporating two styles together? Which is something we don’t do all the time, you’re not going to see us do an entire album like a bunch of dancey sounding metal songs. But definitely incorporating the synthesizers and I guess what you would call sort of the body beats; the dance rhythms. But we do it in a way that still is heavy and it’s still metal and there is no mistaking. So if somebody is not going to like a band because of that, it’s like saying you don’t like a band because they use keyboards or they use electronic drums or whatever. That’s  just an absurd reason to not like something. You either like it or you don’t.
C – Yeah, exactly. I agree with you 100% on that. Honestly I used to be one of those people that said this is how this is supposed to be done. And now I guess I’m getting older and more open minded. I’m glad there are other people like you guys doing something different. Sometimes you want something new, something fresh.
S.M. – There are a lot of bands out there that attempted the hybrid of putting industrial style synths or samples. Fear Factory is a good example. There is band from Italy called TECHNOPHOBIA  which kind of did the same thing. They’re almost like if Cradle Of Filth was more industrial, that’s what they’d sound like. But yeah, I don’t see any issues with it. It’s no different than calling yourself a metal band and playing stoner rock.
What was it, like Orange Goblin or some body like that? But it’s all good stuff. I mean metal goes all over the place. It’s the one style of music that really transcends a lot of musical boundaries.
C – Yeah, it seems like to me American metal is either old school thrash or  that crappy (oh sorry) that nu-metal (laughs). Well, I don’t care for it. And now the new thing I notice, and some of it is ok, is the metal core stuff. What I’d like to see is more bands do like you’re doing. It seems almost everyone likes to jump off bridges and be like everybody else.  The overseas metal seems like to me, rules all. I’m glad there are other bands in America trying to do the same thing. It’s slowly happening and yeah, you’re one of them. Now, I understand that you’ve played one live show already.
S.M. –  Yes, we have played one show, right here in our home town. The dark North county of Barrow, we played in Winder at a little bar called Shuffles. It’s a good little place for a metal scene that, believe it or not does exist here. Yeah, it was a good show, a good turn out. The crowd really seemed to dig it. We are definitely going to take it further than just Winder obviously. We want to play around the South East. The thing is, for us, this is starting over. (To Skraw) You ought to tell them about it..
S.T. – Yeah, like I said earlier, I’ve played guitar my whole life. I’ve been in several shitty bands and a  couple of good ones. I’ve been doing it for quite some time. I played in my first bar when I was 17, back in 1994. I’m just trying to keep something together and get out of Georgia. You just got to stick with it, find the right people and make it work. Hopefully that’s what we are about to do. We’ve  known each other for years and I was like we need to get together and do something. Both the bands we were in separately, they were usually a revolving door.
C –  That’s not a good sign for any band.
S.T. –  Right. Hopefully this one will stick. I think it will.
S.M. –  Yeah, its a good vibe; a very good vibe.
C – Yeah, I can tell there is a lot of passion put into the 3 songs I already listened to from you guys. A lot of work was in that.  I think it’s kick ass stuff. I know Sean’s previous band. In my opinion the new stuff is way better.
S.M. –  Oh I appreciate that. That is the idea. I do not take any offense to that at all. Because you are always trying to out do what you already have done. I agree with you. My previous band is all said and done. You know like he was talking about with previous bands, you know there always was the revolving door. Ground:Xero was kind of on and off. Yeah it was a revolving door.
C –  Yeah, that line up changed quite frequently .
S.M. – Yeah, faster than people change their underwear on a daily basis. It was insane. I just could never nail people down.  We tried.  But  don’t get me wrong. There were some highlights in that band. Like putting out an album, to me, was an accomplishment. Now I guess what we are doing differently is we are taking it a little more seriously. We are also putting a little more thought in the writing and a lot more thought into the lyrics. He and I have been working collectively on one of the songs “FREYJA,” which will be the first song to come out. That’s one that we definitely agreed a lot on what we wanted to express in that song.
C – Yeah, that is a great song. The cut you played me was brilliant.
S.M. –Thanks man, I really appreciate that.
C – Before I forget, this is one I was waiting on. I know everybody likes to know what kind of equipment every band uses. So, I guess I will go from there.
S.T. – I’m a Gibson guy. I got a handful of Gibsons. Right now I’m playing through Crate Blue Voodoo head with a 4 12 cabinet. But I’m ready to upgrade. I need to upgrade!

S.M. – Don’t we all! I use a combination of Jackson and Fender. I have a Jackson King V. That is my guitar of choice at the moment. And my amplifier is a Fender State 100 head which is solid state but it’s one of the better solid states you can find on the market. That’s run into a Crate 4 12 cabinet.  We do a good contrast of sound between his set up and my set up. Both amps complement each other very well. His tube and my solid state.  Strings, I can tell you, Ernie Ball. I’m a big fan of Ernie Ball. Since we tune low, I have found that the Ernie Ball strings that are meant for a 7 string guitar actually work best on mine because we tune to B standard. Which is a very European tuning. We have found that is a great tuning. You get a lot of the same aspects out of B as you can get out of E guitar, which is standard. We love the way it sounds. It’s such a warm, comfortable and yet aggressive, brutal sound. So, that’s what we go for very much.
C – I know you record here in your own place. What kind of recording equipment do you use.
S.M. –  At the moment we are using a Boss digital work station. To capture all of our material. As far as microphones, I use AKG  for my vocals.
C – Yeah, I will just point out to everyone that it sounds pretty studio-like to me.
S.M. –  I appreciate that. I think what helps with that too is we do actually have real studio monitors. Those have been a life saver. It really gives you the real raw sound.
C –  We talked about influences earlier. It brings me to my next question about the writing. Is there a particular influence in the lyric writing?
S.M. –  We try to reinforce what the music is already saying. I’d never really written lyrics before I’d written music, because I want to say with the lyrics what the music is already saying and just reinforce it words. As far as topics, we don’t tend to tread on traditional. Like for instance, you have traditional black metal and death metal lyrical topics. In death metal is dealt a lot with gore.  Black metal, you deal with a lot of Satanism and Paganism. Well, I will give you a great example of our first single that we are going to release. “Freyja” is the Norse goddess of sexuality and beauty. In the song, “Freyja” is used as a metaphorical representation and not really so much about the Norse deity. It’s about Freyja being used as a metaphor to describe a beautiful and unattainable woman that you lust over. The song is very much about this almost insane lust over this unattainable beauty. That’s what it’s about. I think almost every guy has been through this experience where he lusted over some unattainable, beautiful woman to the point where it just drives him crazy. It’s about fantasizing over that woman to the point of insane rage.
C –  Yeah, I was just thinking here, back in the day, metal was mostly just about rebellion and stuff. Now you have different genres of metal covering pretty much every type of topic there is. I think that is great! It doesn’t have to be like just one standard meaning to songs. I’m also a firm believer that if the lyrics don’t make sense, but they sound well to music, I’m all for that. A lot of people might not agree with that.
S.M. – Yeah, I don’t care what somebody wants to write about. If it’s personal to them., then I will understand and respect that. But you should not limit yourself. You shouldn’t say like Oh we’re just going to write about this that or the other. And that has been the case with a lot of bands,  I think. I’m sort of speculating on that.
S.T. – Like getting painted into a corner.
S.M. – Yeah, where you get pigeon holed into being called definitely death metal or gore grind or whatever, because they write about gory things that are almost horror movie related stuff. Kind of like the bands Cannibal Corpse or Mortician. That’s their niche, that’s what they do really well. You have bands like some of the black metal groups that would probably write topics that were more satanic/anti-religion.  For us, tackling religious or anti religious topics has been done, so we are kind of doing it a little differently. We’re approaching it more from the  aspect of the real human experience. Relationships definitely are a real like experience for everybody. We like to at least try to tackle topics that the regular person can relate to. As much as I love and respect a lot of those death and black metal bands. I know that we are in the United States and a lot of people in this country may not relate directly to some of those themes like Satanism and Paganism. If you’re not passionate about it, don’t write about it.
C – Exactly. What are you listening to now? As in favorite bands and stuff.

S.T. –  I’m a old school guy. I do not like a lot of new music. I don’t know if it’s that I don’t give them a chance or what. I like what I like. I have been listening to the new Dimmu Borgir. Also the new Cradle of Filth, which actually I was very happy with. I think they are going backwards, but in a good way. They are starting to sound like old Cradle of Filth again. On the last couple of albums, I think they tried to target the American market and maybe candy-coated things a little bit.

S.M. –  I’m into the new Dimmu Borgir, I think it’s brilliant. I have been alternating between that and Deathstars. I have been seeking out some industrial music lately because I do a little bit of DJ-ing on the side for a group called Art League Atlanta. They do art events and what not. I come down and I DJ. I play everything from metal to industrial. So I seek out a lot of industrial just to be able to add to my music collection. I listen to Soilwork, I really like them. I’m still a big fan of Hypocrisy and a big fan of Emperor. Samael, I definitely listen to a lot of their stuff and also Sisters Of Mercy.  I do look for new music but I’ve always been pretty picky what I listen to. It has to make the cut.
C – I guess the last thing I would ask is there anything you like to add for the readers to hear?
S.M. – Just watch out for Soniq Armada. We are coming to your town eventually. That is our goal, we are working on it. Hopefully we are going to make this a house hold name in time.

Drown Transmission (By: Chad Boyd)

(Interview with Justin Turner/published in issue # 17)

Chad – For one I want to say GREAT sound for your music. I am in fact a huge fan of metal and industrial, and I would buy your stuff! First off, what got you into the music that you are in? I mean like your main influences ?
Justin – Mostly Nine Inch Nails, Metallica, Chemlab, and Fear Factory. I was always a fan of aggressive music and these bands kind of synced with who I was when I first started listening to music.

C- What do you think of industrial music today VS. the past?
J – I don’t think there is really any true industrial stuff going on right now. I guess it depends what you define as industrial, like the whole what is punk? debate. I think the idea of harsh/mechanical sounds as music became assimilated into almost every genre that uses electronics in one way or another. This new stuff is basically hard rave, which is exciting, but I wouldn’t deem it as industrial.

C – And I hear some metal influences in some of your tracks. Would you like to see more bands that have metal and industrial together in their music?
J – Oh the new stuff is going to have straight Bay Area thrash eating through those circuits. Honestly, I just want to hear new bands that want to tear it up. I think music has gotten so homogenized these days…I can’t be the only one that wants to burn it all down.

C – What bands are you listening to now? Any that really stand out right now?
J – I dig on some Susperia right now actually! Then Sepultura and I’d say Encephalon.

C – Have you heard the new Front Line Assembly album? (If you are into them that is.) I thought it was awesome. Any thoughts if you heard it?
J – I haven’t heard it actually, I always like them better when they worked with other artists. The work Rhys did with Fear Factory and the Delirium projects were awesome.

C – Yeah, I have listened to all your music on Myspace and Facebook and it is all GREAT! Your track called “The Hard Way Down” is a very powerful and awesome track! Do I dare say maybe a little Sister of Mercy influence as well? Is there a theme to your music or do you just go with it?

J – Thank you. I wrote that one right around the time I got to L.A. There was a lot of pain and feelings of hopelessness in that one. I never understood why that was everyone’s favorite. I usually have themes, yes. I am working  on a concept album right now. I guess I feel like if you don’t set the scene in your head then how can you hope to make a connection with someone?

C – So are there any live show ideas for Drown Transmission?
J – Yes many, and some of them are legal too.

C – Where can people buy your music? What all is actually available?

J – Right now I’m in the process of restructuring things. I basically have a bunch of singles from bygone years floating around. When the album is finished it will be in all the familiar places: Amazon, itunes, the website etc.

C – What is the most challenging part of writing music for and being in a band like Drown Transmission?
J – The truth is every part of the process is challenging, because each song, you’re trying to make it the best one you ever wrote. Challenge takes its toll on you, but in the end, if you find a way to overcome it, the next time you bring that experience and hopefully do it better and faster.

C – Tell about any other projects you may be currently working on.
J – At the moment I am engineering a record for the band De-tached. It’s been a great experience working with them. Seriously check them out sometime.

C – Is there anything else you might like to add about yourself  and Drown Transmission? I for one will be keeping an eye out for Drown Transmission. Thanks for taking the time for Witch Wolf Zine.
J – I started this band because I wanted to do things my way. I encourage others to do the same. Thank you for interviewing me Chad!



Blind Guardian (By: Chad Boyd)

(Published in issue # 17)

I got a chance to talk with Hansi Kursch, the vocalist of the band Blind Guardian over the phone about the new album At The Edge Of Time.
Chad –  How are you?
Hansi – I’m doing fine. Doing interviews for most of the day. I’m in my basement and doing interviews.
C – First off, I’m a new fan. I just started to listen to all your music in the last couple of months. My girlfriend got me into Blind Guardian, and I think you all are great for one.  I got a chance to listen to the new album on the internet. I can’t wait until it comes out here in the States, I think its great.
H – Thank you very much and your girlfriend as well.
C – My first question is what was the writing process like for the new album?
H – Well it was very enjoyable. It was very relaxed. A very concentrated one. We started right after finishing the touring for A Twist In The Myth. We were forced to record a song for a computer game called Sacred. We luckily came up with a song called “Sacred Worlds.” For this one, a shorter version. Later on we extended that core version and improved some of the classical elements and vocal elements, which can be heard on the album. But since that was such a great start up for the album, we just let things go and we didn’t even discuss a direction. So, a very diverse song writing with very diverse song startage. After a fairly short amount of time I think we wrote songs for a couple months. We were able to hit the studio and then we sat and worked on all the songs with Charlie Bauerfeind the producer. He has been the one who pointed out that there were some songs going in certain directions. He tried to make that even more precise.
C – That is very cool. I think “Sacred Worlds” is a great song and opening track for that album. My next question is; how do you feel you have grown as a band since the last album?
H –  I’m not sure if you are familiar with the history of the band and Thomen (Stauch) our old drummer left shortly before we started the recording of  A Twist In The Myth in 2006. So we definitely got a new drummer, Frederik (Ehmke). And he of course back then had been inexperienced. He was established as a band member, but you know, the chemistry was still new. Everything; the whole set up was new then. So over the last 4 years we just had to have the chance to establish the band’s feelings and the friendship in-between.  That’s what we have. So we were all very confident when we started recording. We have been confident about our instruments and about our relationship between band members as well. We have been confident about the necessity of coming up with a really great album.
C – That is cool. Sorry to hear about the old drummer. I guess I missed that because I am a new fan. I’ve heard in interviews you describe the album as a return to roots. I’d say it meets Nightfall in Middle Earth meets A Twist In The Myth. Was this a conscious decision on your/the bands part?
H – Well, the description that you mention now is pretty good and I will speak to that. It was not a decision made. It was a natural outcome. That was the thing, because we really had not spoken about a direction to go. When we did the song “Sacred Worlds” for example, we felt this was a good song going in the right direction. But it was almost too old fashioned for us when we did it. Later on we figured there are some more elements too. We were like let’s feature them a little more, let’s feature a little more classical stuff. Really, we didn’t think about mingling in all the qualities of the band’s.. you know, of the last 25 years of what we are talking about. That was completely spontaneous and therefore very well appreciated. We could not reproduce an album today if I tried to do a song, let’s say in mid 90s era Imaginations from the Other Side. I most probably would fail. With all the songs on At The Edge Of Time, they contain elements of certain periods. We did not say because we did not recognize. They were still individual.
C –  I can definitely say the new album is fantastic. I listened to it like 3 times in a row when I first heard it.
H – Cool.

C –  A lot of people wanted to know if you are frustrated on the wait for the new George R.R. Martin book? And have you read all the books that are currently out?
H – I have read most of them. I have not reached the end of the already published book. Yeah, I’m getting a little excited now. But you know good things will take a while. Let’s cross fingers that he will finalize it one day.
C – Yeah! Are you aware that HBO is making a show out of the first book? At least 10 shows?
H – Yes. Felipe Machado, the guy that did the soft cover artwork. He is also familiar with George R.R. Martin. He sent me the trailer of the HBO series.     And I have spoken to many people who brought that to my attention as well.I am aware of it and I saw the first picture. I’m really excited to see where it’s going to end up.

C – Wow that is really neat. I was thinking if there is time, you maybe could pitch the song “War of the Thrones” as an opener or to go with the ending credits in the show. That would be great!
H – Well yeah, but one of the things; like “A Voice In The Dark” it is definitely greatly inspired by George R.R. Martin. Well, it’s sort of a hybrid. There are other influences and George R.R. Martin was just one influence. It would fit. I would guess most of the lyrics would fit the attitude of the show. But it’s not strictly on George R.R. Martin.
C – Oh, ok.  I still think that’s a great song though.
H – Yeah I think so too. An unusual song off all the songs on the album aside from the song “Wheel of Time.” This is the one with the largest new input I would say because we’ve never done that sort of power  ballad in that direction. Also, production-wise it was a very nice try  even though it’s a ballad The band was focused on the feeling. We tried to feature the vocals as heavy as possible on that one, which you usually don’t do on an actual ballad
C – Yeah well I think it came out great! My next question is a Robert Jordan question of the Wheel Of Time. I think it was a very sad thing to hear about Robert Jordan passing the author of the Wheel Of Time books. I’m very happy there is enough notes to finish the story. Have you read the newest book? And if so how do you like Brandon Sanderson’s style on the newest book?
H – I have not read it but a good friend of mine, he is the biggest Wheel Of Time fan I know, told me it’s a really cool story. Everything had been  provided by Robert Jordan. I would say I’m anxious to read it but I’m not that far as well. So I still have some books ahead of me before I reach it.
C – Yeah, I actually own the book but I have not read it myself. I am in the process of re-reading all of them. I’m on the 5th book now myself.
H – (laughs) I just made it to the 6th book so far.

C –  Great book. Are there any plans for another DVD with you guys?
H –  I hope so. It depends a little bit. You may have heard of the orchestra project that we are working on?
C – Yeah, I read about that in some of your interviews.
H – Ok, we are still working on that. We probably will be able to finalize that during the next two years. Once this is the case, there is certainly a good chance to do another Blind Guardian festival. And with another Blind Guardian festival we could make a second Blind Guardian DVD of course. That most definitely makes sense to put an album out like this. We just want to deliver the highest quality if we do a DVD. Therefore we need a special environment that could be provided by our own festival. I think the orchestra project in its own will be the right justification to do such a festival.
C – That sounds really neat. I read about that festival too. It sounds like a great thing. I wish I could go. It would probably be in Germany. I would have to save up a lot for that.
H – The one we did in 2003 was a complete blast. We enjoyed two headlining nights. It wasn’t the biggest but it was like about six thousand very enthusiastic Blind Guardian fans in a suitable arena for that. People loved it as much as we loved it. And so we will certainly do better next time and so make sure you will be there.
C -(laughs) I would do my best to be there. That would be great. Are you done writing songs about the Dark Tower?
H –  We have not planned on anything about that. But I did so with Demons and Wizards some time ago. I love the story. It’s a great story. It would be suitable for some of the Blind Guardian music. I would have to wait until the right time. Then I would make that decision. I was so overwhelmed by the story when I read it some years back. It’s still working and growing in me.
C – Yeah, that brings up one of my other questions. I know you’re busy with Blind Guardian, but I was curious if there are plans for a new  Demons and Wizards album?
H –  I would say so, yes. There is a good chance that it will take some time. Both Jon (Schaffer) and I are both heavily involved with activities with our main projects. If we find some time during the year 2011, I would guess then there will be another Demons and Wizard album in 2012. But it could be as long as 2013. I’m not sure. I definitely would like to do one but it will have to be an outstanding album. We’d have to work very hard on it and keep our full focus on it then.
C –  Oh I perfectly understand that. A lot of people will be happy to hear at least you guys are planning on one in time. A lot of people want to know if you are planning on a U.S. tour? I am assuming so. But do you know when that will be? If there is a U.S. tour off of this album?
H – It looks very promising right now. We have confirmed shows in the U.S. already. But they are not announced so far. I would consider us being back in the U.S. from Mid-November on. And then we will tour the whole country until the end of the year.

C – That would be great! I will defiantly try to catch one of your shows.
H –  Keep your eyes open. I’m pretty sure they will be announced soon.
C – Yeah, we will definitely keep our eyes open over here. Another friend of mine was wondering if you ever thought of doing an acoustic album?
H –  We have spoken about that several times, but not more than that so far. But I would rather say apart from the orchestra project, we are going to do sort of The Forgotten Tales 2 in the next few years or in connection to the orchestra album. Maybe transfer some of the original Blind Guardian songs in with the orchestra music. That could be an option too. So there are several options we do have. What will be the next step? I cannot tell you.
C –  I understand. I was wondering, do you do anything to keep your voice fit? I know you kind of do what Freddie Mercury did. I know you’re not like Freddie Mercury but kind of make your vocals sound like a choir.  I think that is a fantastic and unique thing to do in metal these days. I’m  curious how you keep fit for all the high pitch singing?
H –  In the studio it’s fairly easy with physical exercises and rest in between recordings. And I do decide the speed I record in. If I’m not in the right shape, I don’t sing it. Then I go for a different part of the song or lower vocals, or what is suitable then. One thing I do is physical exercises also with harmonic exercises. I’ve been able to improve my ability and stay in better shape for a longer time due to that. Overall it’s slightly different. Of course I do all the physical exercises as well. Then if you catch a flu or a cold and you’re sick then for sure it’s pure luck then. On tour I also switch then. I decide not to go for the high pitch after a while and keep the principle melody range into the lower regions when I don’t feel good enough for the high pitch things, because that’s really a fragile range. You cannot perform that well in that situation; harsh intensity in there and the distortion. I have to be careful sometimes.
C –  Oh yeah that makes perfect sense. I understand that. I have recorded a little music myself. I understand the process and all that. So, who are your musical influences?
H – Different stages in our career have different influences. When we started doing music for Blind Guardian we were definitely influenced by Iron Maiden, Helloween and Testament. A lot of the thrash metal bands of the late 80’s and early 90’s have been very important. More and more Queen to a certain extent, Jethro Tull and many other bands. That’s a really good question. I think I mentioned the most important ones.
C –  I definitely can tell the Queen influence. I pretty much can hear all the influences in your music. I think it’s great! That’s pretty much all the questions I have now. Is there anything else you might want to add for our readers out there?
H – Enjoy metal in general. Enjoy life. See you on the road. Listen to At The Edge Of Time and I hope you really enjoy it.
C –  Yeah! Thanks for your time Hansi. I really appreciate it.
H – Great talking to you
C –  You too, and have a great day!


Epica (By: Chad Boyd)

(Published in issue # 17)

On December 17, 2010 in Atlanta Georgia, the night of the Epica Show, I was able to get an interview with Simone Simons, the lead vocalist of the Dutch symphonic metal band called Epica. It was held on the band’s tour bus in front of the Masquerade. I will be honest and say I was a bit nervous because this was my first in-person interview with a band that I’m a big fan of. (Yeah, honestly in some areas of my questions, I think I went a little ‘fan boy‘.) I also had a friend with me that was able to sit in on the interview.
Chad –  Hello, how are you? I’m Chad this is my friend Eric.
Simone –  Hi, how are you doing? I’m Simone nice to meet you.
C – So you liking Atlanta?
S – I like it a lot.
C – You are lucky enough to be my first person interview. Are you familiar with Blind Guardian?
S – Yeah
C – I interviewed Hansi (Kursch) over the phone. They are going to be here Sunday and we will be here for that too.
S – And we are flying home on Sunday. And we have 5 weeks behind us already.
C –  Yeah I was going to ask you about that.  I keep up with you on Facebook and it seems even with your down time all of you seem very busy. I see updates saying you’ve got another show you’re planning on doing. Do you actually have a lot of time for yourself?
S –  Well we have busy periods where we tour a lot, but then when we are in the process of writing an album and recording an album, we don’t play. So we have periods where it’s really busy. The spring until autumn, and winter is mostly when a lot of tours are happening. In between you have the summer festival. Then it’s kind of quiet. We do not do long tours in the summer. But we do play a lot, that is true.
C –  Yeah I see that. I follow your Youtube channel (www.youtube.com/user/Smoontjes) and I think that’s really neat. Do you edit those videos yourself?
S –  Yes, I made it myself.
C –  I really like it. I even like the music you put into and stuff. I think it’s very professional.
S –  Yeah, I enjoy it. But I haven’t really been filming so much lately. I do have some snippets here and there . I will put up more videos soon, ‘cause it’s been too long.
C – (This is referring to one of the Youtube video on Simons’s channel) I really like the fact I got the opportunity to see you with Floor Jansen (lead singer of the bands After Forever and Revamp) even though it was on Youtube. It would have been cool if both of you could’ve toured here together. I like that I got to see the video of you and her practicing for whatever duet that you were going to do for that show. That brings me to my other question: what was it like to duet with Roy Khan (Kamelot)? You seem to like to do that a lot with him, like on every album since their Epica album.
S – Yeah, I have sang on 3 albums so far. For me the song “The Haunting” is kind of special. That’s where it all started ‘cause that’s where we got the name Epica. Roy sang on our album and then I sang on their album. We toured together for many years. Oliver (Palotai, Kamelot’s keyboardist) has been my boyfriend for 7 years now. We played in Florida earlier this tour, but it still was like 3 hours away from where Thomas, Casey, and Sean (the other members of the band Kamelot) live, so unfortunately I couldn’t see them. But I am going to join them on their up coming tour in Europe in April for some gigs.
C – That’s cool. Yeah I was going to ask you, how does that work out between you and Oliver? You both are all over the place it seems like.
S – Yeah, well we understand our situation. If we are lucky we can tour together. That has occurred a couple of times.
C – Yeah, he was with you and Epica on the last U.S. Tour.
S – Yeah, that’s true.
C – The first U.S. Tour you couldn’t make it cause you had and i’m reading this info from the internet that you had a Staph infection?
S – Yeah
C – Well that is a bummer. At least you are here now. Twice.
S – This is the second tour in one year. The other one I had to skip because it was just too dangerous. I needed time to heal
C – Yeah I understand that. What was it like to duet with Ralf Scheepers of Primal Fear?
S – Cool. Yeah, that was a little while ago. They are also located in the south of Germany and I went to the studio. He sent me the song already, before I practiced it. I really liked the studio where I went to record it. Very professional. And he decorated the vocal booth with roses and candles. Everything was real romantic. I guess he wanted me to get in the mood but I basically don’t need all that stuff cause  I close my eyes and then it goes by itself. He likes his vocal both romantically decorated.
C – Yeah he seems like a fun guy. I mean I haven’t met him or anything. Just the videos I have seen of him.
S – Yeah he is huge, he is like a bodybuilder.
C – Yeah I see that. I’m amazed with his voice and I love that song you and him did together. I really love every duet you have done that I have heard so far.
S – There has been a couple (laughs)
C – Yeah there has been a few. That brings me to my next question: How long does it take for you to warm up and what preparations do you take before a gig or even in the studio?
S – Well when i’m recording vocals in the studio, I mainly sing the song a couple of times before we really start recording it. It’s not all about the voice being warmed up but if you know the song really well you can focus more on emotion you know.  And as far as for a show I need about an hour to get dressed and make up and vocal warm ups. But I tend not to sing loud because everybody tends to make fun of it. I mostly hum.
C –  Why should they make fun of you? You’re great!
S –  (She demonstrates operatic vocals in a sarcastic way) And then I’m like fuck you!
C –  (Laughs) I know you have done a lot of duets but who is the one person out there that you would love to do a duet with?
At this point Isaac Delahaye ( one of Epica’s guitar players) walks out of a room of the tour bus.
Isaac – Me!
S – We do it every night on stage anyway
(Isaac then comes cover to Eric and I and introduces himself and shakes our hands.)
S – Well as to a duet with somebody that I’d like to do. I was supposed to sing with Anneke van Giersbergen here in March. We were supposed to do a tribute to Chile when the earthquake happened. But due to lack of ticket sales, we couldn’t realize it. We wanted to send money to Chile but because there were not enough tickets sold, we couldn’t even get out of the minor cost of getting people there and stuff. Which was really a shame because we were suppose to sing together. That didn’t happen so that is still on my wish list. I really like Opeth.
C – Yeah I like Opeth a lot too!
S – So I would say ‘yes’ without thinking if they called me.
C – Yeah, that guy has great voice. His growls are great and his voice is great.
S – And he is super funny. I totally love his humor. It’s like mine, it’s really dry.
C – Yeah I’ve seen the live DVDs of them. He seems pretty funny sometimes on stage.
S – But some people might misinterpret it. But I think he is really funny.
C –  I’ve seen the first DVD only. I thought it was really neat. You had the studio setting with everybody that you recorded with already. Are there any plans for you all to have like a regular live DVD?
S – Well we have recorded some live footage, but there was not another DVD release I believe that was in 2005. That didn’t work out due to financial problems and bankruptcy of our first record company. So that one is laying on a shelf somewhere. I think a live DVD will happen. I think we might combine it with the new record coming out. We might do a double one like one with live material, behind the scenes and the making of. Maybe it will be used for that. Like when we did The Classical Conspiracy, due to lack of time and money we also couldn’t do a DVD. That’s why we did it as a CD, which was pretty neat.
C – Oh yeah, I really liked it. It had the real orchestra. All of you really went through a lot of real movie scores. I read you and Mark (Jansen) seem to be big fans of musical scores.
S – Yves (Huts) as well
C -Oh cool. Forgive my lack of knowledge (laughs).
S – That’s ok I’m just helping you out.
C –  Thank you. That’s really neat. I hear all of you are really big fans of Danny Elfman. I’m a huge fan too. I love all his work. Where are all of you going to play after this?
S – Well tomorrow is our very last show. For 24 shows this tour, 3 of them in Canada. Then we have the 70,000 metal cruise coming up. After that we go to Mexico, Columbia,Ecuador..we have a tour in the U.K. A couple of Dutch shows. I believe there is going to be a tour with Mark’s (Jansen) new band. MaYaN.
C – Oh Mark has a side project?

S- Yeah. It’s very heavy and after that there is a Kamelot tour I am also joining. Then hopefully a break to start focusing on the new record.

C – I was going to ask if all of you were going to start working on something new after this tour.
S – Yeah, we are slowly starting because Mark is now in the process of finishing recording his solo project(MaYaN) or his new band actually. Not a solo project it’s with a real band.
C –  So that’s not even out yet?
S – That will be released in the middle of May.
C – Cool! I will definitely get my hands on that. I love his work. I really liked the first 2 albums of After Forever he worked on
S –  I will tell you that MaYaN is completely different. It’s very heavy.
C – So it’s probably going to be his death metal kind of thing?
S – Yeah, I will say it’s like 2 times heavier than the latest Epica record at least.
C – The newest Epica album is the heaviest one you all have done. I think it’s a good mix. Don’t get me wrong, I love all the stuff combined together. Lately I’ve been listening to all of your albums over and over again. You can see that each of your albums have their own signature. I like that. And when you do changes here and there it is still Epica.
S – Yeah we have 2 new band members also. They also contribute to the writing process. And they have really great stage presence and are cool guys to have around.
C – Yeah, they were together in another band if I was reading correctly.
S – Yeah, God Dethroned. But it is not true that we stole them. Isaac (Delahaye) actually left before we asked him and Ariën van Weesenbeek was in the middle of time out with God Dethroned. And Ariën was working with us as a session drummer for The Divine Conspiracy album. Then we were working with another drummer and we kind of fell in love with Ariën, and Ariën really liked us. We asked him and he was like ‘Yeah’ cause we were on tour much more than God Dethroned at that time. So he came on our boat. (Laughs) There are people that make jokes about it. You got two God Dethroned players. God Dethroned must hate you right? (Laughs)
C –  So are there any interesting stories on this tour?
S –  Well, last tour we had a car crash or a bus crash with a car.
C –  Ouch.
S – But no body got hurt. This tour has gone pretty smooth I must say. We have lots of people coming in the V.I.P. The meet and greets. A couple of sold out shows: New York was sold out, Montreal was sold out, Worcester was sold out. Yeah, a great turn out of people because this is the second tour we’re doing with our latest record.
C –  Yeah we love you here. We want you always to keep coming back to the states.
S –  We played Texas for the first time and a couple new shows in Florida. So we are trying every tour to include a couple of new places.
C –  Yeah, a lot of bands don’t get to play everywhere on each tour. It’s good that you are branching out.
S –  Well America is big.
C –  Yeah it is.
S –  Lots of states to conquer.
C –  I noticed when you announce you are coming here on your Facebook, everybody was posting comments like “please come here.”
S –  Yeah, I go on my Youtube page and see the questions “when are you coming to the States?” And I have to say Epica is already in the states now. And notice you are on so many different media sites. You are facebook, Twitter, my own blog, Youtube, the Epica web page and still some people don’t know. So you have to sync everything. Because some people just check out my blog and Youtube and not our web site. They kind of missed us being in the States because of that.
C – By the way, I like your picture of L.A. on your blog (http://smoonstyle.blogspot.com/). I see you met a Spiderman.
S –  Thank you. Yeah a tiny chubby Spiderman (laughs)
C –  And Micky Mouse
S –  Yeah, that wasn’t a real one, it was statue.
C –  Well close enough. What are your major influences that got you into music in the style you like to do?
S –  Well it started when I was really little. Because my parents always had the radio on. And when I was a fan of the Spice Girls I wanted to start a girl group with my sister. I didn’t do that luckily. I sang in a school musical when I was 12. I had vocal lessons. I listened to punk rock bands and slowly started to change into metal because I had an ex-boyfriend that was a metalhead. I got to know cool bands. Then there was Lacuna Coil, After Forever, Nightwish and then I thought I am going to take classical singing lessons. I got in touch with Mark(Jensen). He was doing After Forever and that how it all started rolling.

C – In the beginning your were under a different name (Sahara Dust) and there was another vocalist. Then something happened with her and then you were in the band.
S –  That vocalist (Helena Iren Michaelsen) was there only for 2 months. She didn’t work out.
C –  Well, I am very glad they got you. I know nothing of her.
S – There were no recordings with her at all. And they asked me right after that and I declined.  The first times because I was 17 back then I was not out of high school. I didn’t want it then. And when things got out of hand with her. We decided to give it a try.
C –  I am glad you did . Aren’t you glad you did? (dumb ass question I know but it just came out LOL)
S –  Yes I am!
C – So out of the people you work with who is your favorite person to work with? I mean guest or anyone I know you love working with your band (laughs).
S – Oh well when we are in the studio I really like working with Sasha Paeth because we are friends and we have a lot of fun.
C – That’s really neat. I think that’s about everything I can think of to ask you.
S – Ok.
C – And we are totally looking forward to the show tonight. It’s our first time seeing you live.
S – Oh really oh first time live interview and first time live Epica show.
C –  Yeah, you are first time everything. (Laughs) Thank you very much!
S – Yeah, you are welcome!
I like to thank Epica’s tour manger Rory Romano. He  was a big help and I thank him for letting us have the interview with Simone.
I enjoyed doing it. – C