Hi Volk-Man! How was your day? Aren’t you tired a bit from all the question yet? Can we start?
Yeah. This is actually the only interview today, but we are the the end of the promo cycles. I did a lot of interviews in the last days, so I’m all fine.
The release of your debut album was a long-long time ago back in 1997. Since then you kept raining us down with exciting songs. How much more excited did you get about making music as time went by?
Well, it definitely changed somehow. I mean in the beginning everything feels fresh, and you have a band, you tell everybody to check it out, and over the years it became a transformation I think. I the beginning it was a hobby next to a full-time job and then I remember when we signed to Nuclear Blast in 2002 after ,,All You Need Is Love” we got a lot of offers for tours so everybody realised that we can not do it beside a regular job. Because we can’t ask our bosses everytime that we need a week or 2 weeks off. So we sat together and we really discussed the topic, if we can do it at a professional level. It’s nice to have a band, but to not have a regular income means that the whole structure and the whole status of the band is completely different, but everybody was excited and said: let’s give it a try. If we fail we can return to our shitty jobs. That was the biggest change in our career. And since then it has developed, we had our ups and downs obviously, some line up changes, some great records and some records that turned out not so good in retrospect, but still we are mostly an original line up. It’s really crazy that the people I know for kindergarten are in a band with me. That’s fun.
How does a musician think? How do you organise your daily life compared to a normal person?
Besides playing music there is definitely a lot of paperwork to be done. We have a split of different things to do in the band, because we don’t have a management. So we are doing everything ourselves. Me for instance I do all the social channels, the promotion work, the layout stuffs, our guitar player is responsible for all the billing, invoices, taxes, which is really painful, because there is a lot of them. Our drummer is organizing the shows, the crue, our singer does most of the preparations for the live performances, so he is setting up the shows, the tracklists… So basically it’s a lot of work every week and we are really happy when we have the time to just play and not think too much. But we don’t have to get up at 6 in the morning. That’s a big advantage compared to the previous jobs that we had.
What excites your music even more, is that it has unpredictable sections and great melodies. How much do you think your surroundings and personal life influences your songwriting?
Well, we don’t really have any big cities in our surroundings. We grew up in small villages or in small towns. We have great countryside around us where we grew up in the woods and in the nature, and it’s really different to be a child in a big city. So I think nature is important for us and we get inspired from it a lot, so if you follow the band’s transformation, you’ll find a lot of melodic and folk elements, which are deeply rooted to our heritage and our feeling for nature. And also the fact that we like to travel a lot. We always search for nice remote places. We get stressed when we are in big cities for a long time. So the band is like a small heavy metal village of people.
Volk-Man, let’s get to topic here. Your newest album is out: „Wilde Kinder”. The songs are heavy and melodic, easily singable and power flows through them. It’s divers and great quality. How can you describe it furthermore?
I think it sums up all the things that our band can do very well. It’s always energetic with heavy sound and intense guitar riffing and intense drum playing on one side. On the other side you can find a lot of melodies that you can remember easily. They come from the guitar line or especially the vocalist. So that’s always a thing we want to achieve, to make real songs. That means songs that you can remember even if you don’t listen to it too much. If it has a strong hook line again and again to remind you. And we try to make an album almost like a show on stage. That means you always need to find balance between different songs. In the beginning you have more aggressive and powerful songs, in the middle you get to relax a bit and in the end you play something epic. So to discuss our track list is always a bit of a pain in the ass, because we have to decide which song comes in which position, but this time it was quite easy, because we felt it was a good flow inside of the songs. So we were very convinced that this was the best possible album that we could do in these days.
Your keyboard player left the band, but if I am not mistaken he stayed in for the recording sessions. Did he permanently end this era of his life and concentrates on other things now? How will your line up change? 9:09 vágás
He is not definitely out of the band. He just told us after the other record: ,,Der rote Reiter” that he is a bit tired of all the rehearsals and he is tired of writing songs. So he told us he would prefer to be with us like a session member for the live shows. So then we discussed this and it feels really weird for us, so we said to him, that this is our perspective, but it’s not a good solution. Since we don’t have a management everybody is responsible for his part in the band. Not only the music, there is a lot of things to do beside that. And it’s weird that he only wants to play shows and not to be with us with the daily business. We said you either stay in the band, or you take a break and let’s see what happens. At the moment it’s us 4, but he had some ideas in at recording sessions on keys, where he is credited, but I am not sure if he will join us for the upcoming headlining tour, but you never know. He became a father one year ago, and so his life changed a lot, I know this, and he may need some off time, because that band has been around for almost 30 years now. I can understand him, because I had the same feeling like 6 or 7 years ago that I felt burnt out and I should get some break. So yeah. The situation is a bit unclear, but he is not out of the band, but not really in the band. It’s something in between.
The name of the album is interesting in a way, because you need to be wilder sometimes and stretch your limits, otherwise you would go insane. What is the upper limit? How much wild is too wild?
Well, I think mostly the police tells you when it’s too wild. I think it’s a good explanation what you said, to stretch your limits. Because I have a feeling that a lot of people are not doing it. Just live a life full of rules and live a fearful life and everything is the same in their daily routines. They forgot about the wild child that was surely inside of everyone. Because when you are a young child you are free from any rules, but then you go to kindergarten and to school and you get a job and then everybody tells you what you can do and what is not allowed. So your days are getting more narrow everyday. To have this wild child alive in you whether you are now 40, 50 or 60, doing something for yourself out of the daily rules is I think can be good for your self confidence. You’ll feel just better, because you did some things instead of just being alone or sitting at home and getting isolated and frustrated. I think this is a struggle everyone has in our society. And ,,Wilde Kinder” is also what our band is all about. We try to keep this spirit of the band when it was just founded. All these chaotic times, and all these doing without knowing, just improving things. So we still feel that we don’t want to get too perfect when we do stuffs. There is still a rebellic mindset that leads to this from time to time.
Your album „Der Rote Reiter” was really successful on the German hit charts. It went up all the way to number 10. Are you okay with this album reproducing the same amount of success, or do you want more?
I don’t know. It’s surely has changed in the last 5 years. The older business has changed. A lot of people don’t buy physical products now, like vinyls and CD-s, they just go on their mobile phones and just go to Spotify, Apple Music or Deezer or whatever. To get these high entries in the charts it meant in the older days that you band is really big. Nowadays I sometimes see how many units a band has sold to reach a specific number, and I don’t think that it’s that big of a number. So in the end the most thing what really matters is how many people are willing to come to a show. From my perspective that’s the only possibility to really check how big your band is. I don’t believe a chart entry. At least is says that you are selling something, but it doesn’t automatically say that a high entry will sell out a show for you. I think there are so many other circumstances these days. But of course I would be happy to repeat this good position from the last album. We will see. Maybe we will be a bit higher or lower. Top 10 would be fine.
The band has spent a long time with Nuclear Blast now. I assume you are satisfied with them and the work they do. Can you tell 1 or 2 things about why they are the best partner for you?
I have to think a long time about this. I mean we started with a very underground label, and then we went to a bit bigger one, and when Nuclear Blast came, we were like: Wow! They really wanted to sign us?! Because back in the day they were a huge label and we were such a small band. I am still very grateful for them for believing in this band. They gave us the opportunities to go to bigger studios that they payed all the time. They definitely made the career a lot easier for us. I can’t say any bad words about them, because especially if it comes to payment and royalties I heard a lot of bad stories from other bands about other labels, but Nuclear Blast is on a really high professional level and for every album that sold we got paid for, so that made it possible to make a living out of this band and it’s still fantastic. I mean the label has changed dramatically in the last years, because the owner Mark sold a big part of it to Believe In Music in France, and a lot of employees that we know got kicked out from their positions and now we are working with not so new people. For ,,Wilde Kinder” it was really challenging for us if we can even stay with this label or not. We had a lot of doubts, but then we had a few meetings with them and they convinced us that they would support the band. And I think they made a great job with promoting the new album. I did a lot of interviews, so that proves it as well. And I noticed that their younger people are very very good at social media marketing. So instead of printing magazines and stuff like that it was more about facebook and Instagram and twitter, so it felt really new to us. Because we are around 40-45 years, and the guys in Nuclear Blast are 20-25, so sometimes it feels weird to talk about this kind of activities, but they convinced us that the whole music industry has changed and that we need to go that way. If you want to reach people, you need to reach people on their devices and we need to focus on the mobile phones, because everybody has one in their hands at any time. So this was a challenge for us, but it’s okay. I think we chose the right thing.
On May 1 you will stream an online show. Why might this attract people?
Well, we discussed this show for a long-long time, and normally we planned it as a realy live show in a venue, but the pandemic was unpredictable and you need a lot of preparation for the whole show. That means you need you need to have a show and technicians and all the techniques you need. It was not possible to do a serious schedule and a serious planning for life activities, because 3 weeks ago every bar in Germany was closed. In January we said, okay, we will not have a regular show, let’s focus on an international broadcasted release show, because then we can focus on this show and we can make it good. It gives a chance for many people who are not living in Germany to see our show. No matter where you live. It was a big challenge, definitely, but we learned a lot. Because normally when you play a show it’s over, and you go to the rest room, you drink some beers, but this time after the show the real work started. You need to choose which camera comes in how and stuff, and it’s a completely different working style. We are very happy that this will come live soon. A new chapter again for the band, and again some content. I said that the band is transforming to more of a content creation thing and sometimes it feels a little bit weird, but from the outside it’s the new way of presenting a band. And to play shows that you can play back a lot on your phones is what all the bands will have in the future. So it gives you a lot of freedom and creativity to try out a lot of new things. I mean for the fan who is sitting in from of a huge TV or a huge screen, can feel like we are playing right in from of him or her. We filmed it with 10 cameras, and the techniques are getting so good that you can see every face and every emotion. It was fun doing it, and I am really happy that we are now online.
At the same time you released an album, you made a film as well, which is about presenting us the true freedom. What is interesting about it? What story does it want to tell us?
We discussed the possibility to make a film or a movie about the band how we recorded the last album, but we were not really convinced that a regular studio report would be that attractive to people. Because that’s the kind of thing you see from every band. They show you how they record instruments in the studio and how they work. We wanted to tell more. So then the pandemic was a little bit like a story teller in the movie, because when we started recording the drums, which is the first part of the movie, it felt that everything was still a bit in control, but then in Germany it increased so much that it was not possible to go to a studio together. Everybody was going to different places in Europe. Our singer was in France for many months. So we felt we will film whatever is happening to us in that very moment. And on the other hand we wanted to meet some people that live that ,,Wilde Kinder” life already. Who are not this 9 to 5 working guys, who have a different perspective for their own luck and their own lifes. And so we met these people and we let them to tell their stories and how they live to the audience. So we think it matches quite well together with band’s philosophy to this album to let them talk and to make a statement. Because this can make a change for you as a viewer, because you’ll maybe ask yourself: what is the situation I am in at the moment? Am I happy with my daily life? Am I happy with my job? Is there something inside my I would like to change? And so I think it’s not a classic movie of a band, it’s like a companion that is with you, but it’s not giving you answers. It has a lot of questions in the end.
Recently you’ve been on every major festival. Your live shows are filled with energy and lots of people are fans of yours. Why do you think your band is this powerful?
Maybe we did some sports as kids and we are still in good shape. I don’t know. It’s about transformation. Normally I am more like a shy guy. I am not that expressive, but when we change our clothing from the casual clothes to the stage dresses, and when I go out and I feel the energy it changes my personality. And the most exciting feeling for me on stage is to feel the energy exchangement between the band and the fans. And I realized, the more intense I play, the more intense I can feel people, because when they see that we are on stage and headbanging all the time and jumping and running around, maybe it will inspire them, to do be more active. As opposed to if we were looking down on our instruments and not moving at all and not making any conversation with the audience it would be really boring to watch. I can’t imagine doing it differently, because for me it’s important to get in such an euphoric feeling so the show otherwise wouldn’t be the same for me. So maybe this is why all of our shows are crazy and chaotic, but I think it’s a key to understand the bands success and also to understand the band’s philosophy behind it.
How many fans do you think stayed from the older era? And how much more fans came in comparison?
That’s interesting, because I think from the very beginning you still have a few fans I guess. I know fans that are with us since we recorded our first demo, but the turning point was I think ,,Have a Nice Trip” and ,,Samurai”, because with those albums we changed from that heavy metal sound to a more open, melodic sound and also the vocals changed a lot. So I think from that time it was a bit of a split between older and newer fans, but in total I think we have much more fans with the newer albums. I can only compare it to when we play some classics live and I see the reactions. Maybe there is one third of the audience who knows the song, and it’s not as intense as you might think. When I think about mosh pits and circle pits, but when we play songs from the last albums like ,,Der rote Reiter”, the title track of that album, is a huge difference. Because I felt that everyone knew the song. It’s hard to say. We have like 20% from the very early days who are still hanging with the band, there is I don’t know how many percent who are respecting us, but prefers to listen to their old stuff, and then there is the majority. Who are definitely likes the last albums of the band most, and when they discover our older songs they might get shocked. Because when you are a folk, melodic rock band, who played intense black metal back in the day, sometimes this is too much for them. So there is a big diversity in the fan structure of the band, which you can also see at a concert. Just look at the different T-shirts. I always said that our band is a bit like a crossover band, or it has transformed into a heavy metal band to a crossover band, but the record company never liked this word, because it may be too unclear what we want to say with this. You definitely need to be open minded to follow every step of the band.
Can we expect a bigger tour for this album? What can we know about it?
Yes! We just set up our first tour since 2019. And we go on tour this fall, starting in October till November. The first goal is just to reach the key markets in Germany and Switzerland and in 2023 we want to continue to play a lot of international shows. Let’s see. Maybe we can make shorter tours in other countries. But now the situation is weird, because this lockdown time of not being able to play shows has changed the whole music industry. Some clubs are closed, some other people have quit their jobs, and normal people like you and me are now used to sitting at home watching Netflix. I hope this will change in people’s minds. That it’s safe now and you can have fun in a club, you can go to a party and you can plan for 2 or 3 months ahead. It’s not gonna be just a ticket that you put on your fridge for months because it keeps getting cancelled. We need a bit more normal times to get these touring circles round after this pandemic. So that’s why I think doing a tour in October is good. People have some time to learn how it feels to get back to normal.
Do you plan on celebrating the 30th anniversary of the band?
It’s a bit too early to discuss, but it will be in 2025. Yes, somehow we think maybe we should do something really big, but I am not convinced at this very moment and I don’t want to think that ahead in the future. I would want to first make a nice open air season and festival season. Next year we can maybe think about what will happen in a few years, but I am now just too short after the release of the new album to make plans for our anniversary this time.
Thank you for this conversation. You are always welcome in Budapest to show us the songs from „Wilde Kinder” live!
Oh yeah! That’s good, tomorrow we will release the first song of this ,,March for Freedom” streaming show event, so everybody can have a look how the stage will look and how will the band perform, and you will see a little bit of the show. So this is something we’ve work hard for. Let’s hope for the best that people will like it, and I definitely hope that we will have a great summer and with a lot of great music and good weather and good vibrations. I think everybody needs some positive and good vibes, because of everything that has happened on this planet and are sometimes very scary. We are only a band, but I think we can give people a little bit of a good time, and if anyone says after they listened to ,,Wilde Kinder” that they feel a little better, that would be a nice thing. It’s all worth the effort we put in the record. Thank you for your time and for this interview! We really appreciate music fans and journalists who keep the faith alive. Believe in music and bands, that’s great!
The interview was taken with Volk-Man on 28.04.2022.