Lunatica interview (01/2007)
|With:||Andrea Dätwyler [vocals] and Emilio MG Barrantes [bass]|
|Conducted by:||Bas (in person)|
On the 30th of December, 2006, I was attending the End Of Dayz festival in the z7 in Pratteln. One of the bands playing there was the Swiss melodic metal band Lunatica. After a great concert (feel free to check my review of the End Of Dayz festival) I met with Alex (keyboard), Andrea (vocals) and Emilio (bass). Together with Andrea and Emilio ("MG") I went backstage and had an interview with the two.
A picture of the band
A picture of the band
-OK, so first of all I'd like to congratulate you for The Edge Of Infinity
Andrea: Thanks you.
-Great album in my opinion. I like it a lot.
MG: We like it a lot too.
-Well then, on to the first question. First of all I'd like to ask about the two singles you have released. Who You Are and Song For You. First, Who You Are. I was wondering why this is actually a single, given that it wasn't written by you.
A: Well the reason is that it does have exactly the right length to be played on the radio and it has... how should I say that? The right commerciality to be played on the radio. The Swiss radio stations are very fussy about songs. About them being too fast, or too long, or having double bass, or having too heavy guitars, and then it doesn't get airplayed. It's a pity, but we like the song a lot and it has this kind of pop-rock touch, but of course the main reason is that it will be played on the radio.
-I personally am quite fond of the song, but it's quite atypical for Lunatica, how were the fan reactions to it?
A: Quite good actually, right?
A: Well many people told us that you can hear that it's not really written by us, but it does "fit into" the album very good. And it's a song to which many people sing along. Funnily also the people with the more extreme shirts.
(Both A and MG laugh)
-So in that case there weren't any outcries that your first single is a pop song and not a metal song?
A: Not really... Well, a few maybe.
MG: Most of the reactions we got were good and it fits along with the rest of our songs, so we'll play the song in the same way that we play our own songs.
-Song For You is also one of your singles now. Why exactly did you choose that song? Same reasons as for Who You Are?
A: Well we chose it also because it's radio friendly, and can be played, but also because we wanted to make a video for that song, and made one. It was very cool and we decided to release that song as a single.
-OK, so then to the guest vocalists on the album, you have three of them, Oliver Hartmann, Dieter Meier and John Payne, could you please explain a bit why you chose these three and how it happened that they are on your album?
A: Well, our intro is spoken by Dieter Meier of Yello, the forestory of this is that on one of the Yello CDs there is a spoken intro. We always thought "He has such a cool voice." Almost like in those American movie trailers. We always thought "That would be so cool, but we'd NEVER get him." Then one time we contacted him through his manager anyway and the answer was "yeah, Dieter would want to do that and now he's in Switzerland for two weeks" and usually he's in Argentina. And then he did that for us.
-And he wanted to do that? As far as I know metal isn't really his thing after all, he does something in the direction of electro-pop I believe?
MG: Yeah, well he liked it and otherwise he never would have done it anyway.
A: I think he doesn't do anything just for money. Either he does it out of conviction, or not at all.
MG: He doesn't need the money anymore after all.
-Then Oliver Hartmann of At Vance, how did you get him?
A: Of him we just thought "That's such a cool metal singer." And he records and produces in the same studios as we do and knows them well. So then we contacted him through that and found out "Oh we're under the same label." And then we met with him and he is such a nice person. We'll certainly do more stuff with him. He has also sung almost all choruses on our album.
-And how about John Payne? He also isn't really a metal hero after all. How did this happen?
A: Well here it was also that Alex, our keyboarder, and I, we sometimes like to listen to Asia. If we want to listen to more quiet things, Survivor, Asia, stuff like that. And John was a wish candidate for a slower song, because I also think he has a really great voice. And we just sent him an e-mail and asked him if he'd like to do it and he spontaneously said "Yeah this is a cool song, I want to do this." Unfortunately we didn't get to know him, but well... You see, it's actually really easy, you just have to ask. (Laughs)
-Hehe, yeah that's cool if it works that easily. So perhaps we'll be able to hear some more guest vocals on the next album?
MG: Hartmann again if it's possible, that would be very nice. Further we haven't thought about anyone yet though. First we have to write some songs. (Laughs)
A: And then we'll think about who would fit to it. But I won't exclude that there will be guest stars again.
-For The Edge Of Infinity you did quite a lot of promotion. The label is to be thanked for this?
A: Yeah, mainly our label and our management. Well in Switzerland we have a label which does the marketing for us and the rest we did by ourselves. For the rest of the world we have a company that does the international marketing for us.
-There isn't only metal on The Edge Of Infinity, we also have a lot of pop and rock here. Do you still see yourself as a metal band, and the metal community as your main audience, or are you planning to also spread to the rock scene a bit?
A: Well I really don't want to limit myself to one music style, we've ALWAYS had a mixed audience, from the very beginning. There have always been many metal and many non-metal people at our shows. I personally really enjoy playing for a mixed crowd. Although I do say that we are a metal band. Because I listen to metal and I grew up with metal, it's "my music". But we aren't unwilling to let other influences into our music either, to experiment around so that the music becomes more interesting. And you? (Laughs)
MG: Yeah well I think the same, we don't want to limit ourselves to just one style, but rather just do what we feel like doing and if it sounds a bit more 'rocky', as long as it fits to us and we like it, it's ok.
A: We just let it out.
MG: It just kind of happened like this. There really wasn't much thought behind it like "Now we'll make a rockier song." Or "And the next song more metal."
-So you just did what you wanted to do and this is how it came out?
MG: Yeah exactly, this is how it came out and I think it came out good.
-To me The Edge Of Infinity sounds a lot more 'professional' and 'mature' than Fables & Dreams. Was it that you are more experienced now, or did the production play a big role here?
Fables & Dreams
A: I suppose a bit of both. After Fables & Dreams came out we had a solid line-up for the first time. Back then we had a change of drummer and bassist. Now since two or three years we've had a solid line-up and now we're grown together, we're a unity. And also the production is a lot better because we had more time. We already knew the people and the studio and we knew how they work and they knew how we work. And we were able to already send stuff in advance and they could listen to it. It was all easier.
-On Fables & Dreams you had a lot of fantasy lyrics, about 'fables and dreams' and stuff like that. But on the new album you have much more lyrics based on 'reality', is there a specific reason for this? Or is it, again, just that you 'felt like' doing it in that way?
A: Well this is my fault (laughs). I like to read a lot and I also read fantasy books a lot. Usually I listen to the song, when there is a basic structure of melody and tact, and then I let the song inspire me. I judge what kind of story, or what kind of feeling do I think about when hearing this song. And then I 'knit' my own story around that. And you're right. Here it's a bit more out of 'real life', maybe also a bit more critical then first, that not all is just roses and flowers and that you sometimes also have to have criticism and that not all is 'dreams and fables'.
-Then I have another question for you, Andrea...
A: Well I've already been doing most of the talking till now anyway.
(A., MG and I laugh)
-But this one was written for you alone
(Both A. and MG laugh again)
-You sing in a number of different styles on the new CD, sometimes more rockish, once even in a 'grunge rock' kind of way. Do have some kind of special training to be able to sing in all of these different ways?
A: Well way back I took some singing lessons, years ago. But that was classical singing and I realised very early that I just can't do that, it's just not my thing. And now I just sing like however it comes out, or however it fits the song. I didn't train that in a special way, but this time I had an engineer who recorded my voice in the studio and who drove me to the limits and who really furthered me and really 'terrorized' me (MG laughs) and who was actually never content. And that was very good. This way it came out really good and really varied. And he always said "Why don't you try this?" and "Why don't you try it like so?".
-So it was a lot of practice and a lot of coaching in that case?
A: Exactly and I also think all the training that we've had throughout the years with playing live, that really shows. It's also like a training, like a stamina training.
-So how were the fan reactions to 'The Edge Of Infinity'?
MG: Most people liked it actually, but there were also many who said that the album is very different from 'Fables & Dreams'. But most reactions were good, only a few people who told us they like the previous album better. But that's always just personal taste, right?
-Yeah, and of course that's the risk you take when you try something 'different'. You can gain many fans, but also lose someone if you have bad luck.
MG: Indeed. But it would have been much less fun for us releasing the same album a second time. That wouldn't have been right either.
A: Then others would have said "It sounds exactly like the last one."
-Yep, you can't always make everyone happy after all.
MG: Exactly, the main thing is that one is happy with it himself.
-The cover art of the new CD is also something which caught my attention in a very positive way. What exactly does it mean?
A: Yeah well if you look closely you can see how the rocks and mountains form the symbol of infinity. And further it's a matter of interpretation, everyone may interpret it in their own way. We just gave the artist artistic freedom and said "Look, this is the album title, what comes to your mind?"
The Edge Of Infinity
-So this is what the artist thought about while hearing "The Edge Of Infinity"?
A: Yes, and we also liked it a lot optically. And we thought "Yeah, this is a great cover."
-Ok, now I have some concert questions: While listening to you play live I thought that you sound very differently live than on CD. Especially the guitars seemed much more dominant to me.
A: I suppose that's always a mix thing. Depending on the person doing the mixing we might sound different. He was one who is very guitar-heavy, but I think that's good like that, it's live so it's allowed to 'push' a bit.
-Another thing that caught my attention is, that you used quite some samples, especially vocal and choir samples. So I take that the men in Lunatica don't like to sing very much?
(Both A. and MG laugh)
A: They shun that like the devil shuns the holy water. They say "No we have to concentrate on playing our own instruments." And they are all quite shy... Except of course MG who has to sing a part (on the song The Spell).
MG: And in the studio we did sing the choirs too, together with Hartmann, then we did sing. But live it's something different, right? (Laughs) Rather not.
-Over the last months you've done quite a number of concerts for promoting 'The Edge Of Infinity'. Are you also planning on doing a tour?
A: A European tour? Yeah well actually we've been checking possibilities for weeks and our management is looking what would fit to us and which bands we could go on tour with, and which actually are touring now, but we haven't found anything fixed yet. Or anything of which we can say the dates are already set. But we are willing to do a European tour of two weeks or something like that. Going along as support of a bigger band. We're checking possibilities, but nothing is official yet.
-So the plans are there in any case?
A: Definitely. It's something all of us would like to do. We've done one tour after all. Last year with 'Mob Rules' and 'Domain' and it was a lot of fun.
-Another thing which caught my attention during the concert was that you played 'Who You Are' live, that isn't really a metal hymn after all and we're at a pure metal festival. Didn't you have any second thoughts about that the crowd might not be too happy with that song?
A: Well I think that those who know us had almost expected us to play it, because it is fact that a lot of people sing along to that song and know it from the radio. And at this point I'd like to point out that even people with Slayer T-shirts knew to the lyrics of it.
(A. and MG laugh)
A: And we just thought if someone doesn't like it that person can just quit the hall, we've never been thrown at with tomatoes in any case. (Laughs)
MG: And live it also always sounds a bit heavier, especially with the guitars, so in that case we didn't have any second thoughts about it at all.
-And are there actually already any plans for a new album?
A: Definitely, we're writing songs again right now and we're thinking that we might be recording, or might have, a new CD by the beginning of 2008.
-And the songs or parts of songs you have written till now, what do they sound like?
A: Well I'd say maybe a few heavier riffs or something like that and maybe some more progressive elements, especially in the rhythms.
-So more like a mix between 'Fables & Dreams' and 'The Edge Of Infinity'?
A: Yeah you could put it that way. Or you know, sometimes it can suddenly all turn and we do something completely different. (MG laughs) But I think we have kind of found our path with 'The Edge Of Infinity' and we kind of got away from that 'Nightwish' railway. Don't get this wrong, I love Nightwish, but I never understood why we are always compared like that. Because we think we rather make music like 'Kamelot' for example.
-Well I personally am Lunatica, but not really Nightwish fan, so...
A: Yeah exactly. So I hope now we have been able to manifest our own style and now we might be talked about as an independent band. And that's something we noticed, also in the reviews for the new CD, that we aren't mentioned with other bands in the same breath. But more like "That is Lunatica."
-Yeah so that's all from my side then. Is there something more you'd like to say to the fans of Lunatica and the visitors of Metal Storm?
A: Yeah well I'd say I wish you all a happy new year and I hope to see you at one of our concerts. Best regards from the whole band.
Picture of the band from Lunatica's official MySpace (http://www.myspace.com/lunaticametal), pictures of the album cover arts from the official homepage (www.lunatica.ch), live pictures by me.
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