Wizard interview (02/2007)
|With:||Sören Van Heek [Drums]|
|Conducted by:||Bas (e-mail)|
A day after the newest and seventh Wizard album titled "Goochan" (after the main character in the story) I went out to my local metal CD store and bought it. I already had the previous two albums and liked them very much so I had no doubts about buying this one. Wizard didn't disappoint me. After giving it a few spins I knew that this might even be their best yet. I felt like asking Wizard a few questions and that is what I did. Sören Van Heek (Snoppi), the drummer of the band, was kind enough to answer my questions, some about the new album and a few other more general things.
- In my eyes Goochan is your most "epic" album. Did your music preferences change or did you feel like doing something a bit different or how was that?
Snoppi: Nah. Well from my point of view there isn't much difference between the songs we made for our first demo 'Legion of Doom' and now for Goochan. Of course, we got a bit better on our instruments and especially Sven's singing has evolved in a great way. But the songs are actually the same as we always make them. In the bandroom everything actually sounds like pure noise anyway and it's impossible to hear all details. Everything just rattles. That's also the reason why we never know how the album will sound on CD later on. It's always a surprise. That's why I think, that it's all just a matter of sound if one plays "epic" or "true" or "modern". I can't and won't judge on that. I just hit on my drumkit, have fun and the rest doesn't really interest me that much. It's always funny how some people always analyse everything and interpret things into it and accuses us of whatever. And we actually never really thought much about that.
- With 'Odin' you already had a concept album, but this time Volker, your bassist, wrote the story as far as I know. Where did he take the ideas from?
Snoppi: Well, our 'Battle of Metal' was already a conceptstory. Respectively the whole story of the 'thunderwarriors' is a concept which winds on throughout different. Volker writes most of our lyrics. He loves to read Fantasy books and does so very much (like me) and he has a very creative mind. He invented the whole story and then found an author who will then further build on the whole story and it will then probably be released as a paperback. However I don't know the publishing house yet. When the time has come we will write the news on our homepage (www.legion-of-doom.de). I think it's going to be quite an interesting read.
- In the booklet I read that an author is making a book out of the story, is the book finished yet? If yes, how is it? Can you recommend it?
Snoppi: Like I already said, not yet. But I do hope that it'll be done soon (I'm already curious about it myself). I haven't read it yet, but I must say that I have quite high standards, seen that I already know quite a bunch of fantasy books. And if it's crap I'll keep it to myself of course, hahaha. But Volker already knows most of it and he is quite enthusiastic. And he is also a connoisseur of the field so I'm fully counting on his opinion and I'm quite confident that it'll be good.
- I suppose that you have gotten quite a few comments and reviews to the album by now, how were most of them?
Snoppi: I have put a number of reviews on our homepages, or well, the links to them. You can also just enter 'Goochan' in Google, and then you'll also get all of them. Up to know we haven't gotten a single bad review, it's almost creepy.
- I personally like it, on one side it's a typical Wizard CD, all of your typical characteristics are here, but everything sounds a bit more epic. This album is also a bit slower I get the feeling, how would you judge the CD?
Snoppi: What exactly would you call epic then? Well faster songs are for example: 'Call to the Dragon', 'Black Worms', 'Dragon's Death', 'Sword of Vengeance', 'Two Faces of Balthasar'. That's five already, so half of the album. Isn't that enough? Well I'm very content with the result. We had, because of payment issues, very little time in the studio, yet the result came out very good. Dennis Ward really did a great job here. Yet I think if we had had one week more we could have done an even better job. But I suppose it's normal to think that afterwards. Sound technically we HAD to be good again (that's why I didn't want anything else then the 'House of Music' studio) because the production of 'Magic Circle' was terrible. The tracks are the same as always, just the sound is better now. Bad tongues claim that it sounds too "modern", I personally can't really understand that though.
- On the third track, 'Call to the Dragon' there is a short part spoken in the language of the elves, what gave you the idea to do this? And who is the woman speaking this part anyway?
Snoppi: Well if I tell you now that the woman ist he wife of the guy who inserted the window in the new part of me house you'll probably not be content, right? Well that's how it is, hahaha. But ok, it's Petra Kelbing, the wife of KingK. An old friend of ours. Sven has a project with him (DaKe for DannaKelbing). No idea how it came to be that they decided to do that, probably drank one beer too much together, hahaha. Such parts are usually made quite spontaneously in the studio or earlier in the pre-production. I didn't know anything about it before it was recorded, but it sounds good and fits to the song.
- I was quite surprised by the singing on the song 'Screams of Vengeance'. On one hand we have screams that are worthy of Halford himself, on the other side though we also have growls and "normal" singing. If I already believed that Sven is an exceptional singer in terms of variation, this song proved it even further. How does he manage singing all this different stuff?
Snoppi: Yeah! Finally someone else who also got that! This track is for me one of the absolute best ones we ever made. And Sven is really singing his balls off there. Someone asked us if we have a guestvocalist there. That is absolute nonsense of course. I can still remember back wehn we started Wizard, so about 19 years ago, then Sven only growled like that because we actually want to be a thrash band. But then sometime Sven suddenly said he wants to just sing now, that would be prettier. Everyone agreed (except for me). But he really has what it takes, my highest compliments to him for that. Sometimes I get goosebumps when we play this song, it has so much power and feeling behind it.
- I just finished watching your video to 'Return of the Thunder Warrios'. While I did it rather gave me the impression of watching a death metal band then a heavy metal band though. The same is true for the promo videos in the booklet. Quite unconventional, yet very professional looking, what made you do it like this?
Snoppi: The video was more of a spontaneous idea. We have a regional TV-station here. One of the people working there is Michael Schulte, who has also replaced Volker on the bass a few times (including during the 'Bang Your Head' festival in Balingen) when he wasn't able to play. So he approached us and said he'd enjoy making a video with us. We didn't have to pay anything for it and we were able to do everything in one day. Of course you can't expect the outcome of that to be some kind of masterpiece, but still we are very content with how it came out. Now to the photos, we have one of the best photographers I've ever seen. What Jochen van Eden can make out of the simplest poses is just amazing. We stand, filthy, on a cow-field and he manages to make war photos with Braveheart flair to them, unbelievable. He has also already made some photos with the Ultimate Warrior (yeah, the wrestler one from back then), unbelievable. And there is also a short making-of from the photoshooting on the limited edition of 'Goochan'. I think it's quite funny, in any case we had a lot of fun and were quite dirty afterwards, hahaha.
- The coverart for your new CD looks quite good, who made it?
Snoppi: It's done by the same artist who also made the new Blind Guardian CDs coverart. It looks very good even though it's very different from our other coverarts. I personally like covers like the one for 'Bound By Metal' a bit better, but this came out good too.
- How's the situation with ex-guitarist Michael Maass by the way? And is there a chance that he'll return to Wizard soon? After all the booklet also says that he helped with the songwriting. If so, what would happen with current guitarist Dano? Wizard is going to have two guitarists in the future?
Snoppi: Yeah, Maassi has a study next to his job and his family and because of that he couldn't practice with us for three years. Luckily we were then able to get Dano with whom we always already once played ages ago, He is a great guitarist, can also sing quite well on top of that and is always good-humoured. Because of that we are contuining as five-man group from May onwards. It would be a shame to throw Dano out of the band, it's not something you do under friends.
- About half a year ago you had a change of label, from LMP you went to Massacre Records. What kind of feeling do you have about this change? Was it a good idea? What can Massacre Records give you what LMP didn't have?
Snoppi: Yeah, money.
- Your older albums are partly very hard or impossible to find, is there any chance that they'll be re-released or probably not?
Snoppi: 'Bound By Metal' already exists as re-release. The first albums however will, if it would go according to my opinion, never be re-released. We already had to hear how the re-release of 'Bound By Metal' was a total fan ripoff. I don't think we it's necessary for us to let people reproach us like that. Then I prefer to let those CDs become rare untill they have a cultstatus some day. I personally have them at home after all, so why should I care about the rest? This sounds quite smug, I'm aware of that, but sometimes one is just so annoyed by so-called "fans" that have a problem with everything and then give you crap that you just shut off after a while. But for your peace of mind: on ebay.de there is quite often one of our first two Cds.
- 'Odin' is up to date your only album which is actually much more a power metal than a heavy metal album, I personally am quite a fan of 'Odin' Was that an only once kind of thing or do you think you'll release another power metal album some time?
Snoppi: Hm, well like I said earlier I don't have a faint clue what you are talking about, hahaha. For me it's all the same, only the sound is a little bit different. We have some faster and some slower songs on every album. The structure is the same in most cases. I really don't see any difference if we release a "power metal album" or a "true metal album".
- How's it looking with a Europe tour? I know many people outside of Germany (including me ;-) ) who would love to see you live, are there any plans here from your side or don't you want to/can't you do anything like that?
Snoppi: Oh well you know, it's not our decision. We would like to play anywhere on the world but unfortunately it always costs money, and as long as nobody wants to pay that we can't play. It's not like Wizard are Iron Maiden and it's always clear that we'll fill the halls. So the risk that the money is wasted is relatively high, who'd want to take it? What surprises me is that our new album is apparently a success in the Netherlands. We're going to play a gig there too (Groningen), there was also a planned gig in Austria but it was suddenly cancelled. We're organising the gigs for march ourselves, respectively with 'Blue Steel Agency' but it is just a small tour through some small clubs after all. I hope we won't have to pay a lot in the end. A large tour like back then with Grave Digger would be really awesome of course, but unfortunately there isn't any in sight at the moment. If there are some big festivals where you live you could ask them if they'd like to invite us?
- I think it's quite a shame that there aren't any Wizard T-shirts. How are the chances that there will be any some time soon?
Snoppi: Yeah we're making T-shirts for our small tour in March. Those will be buyable on our homepage afterwards. I also hope that we'll be able to get patches again. But the problem is, here as well, always the money. It's just that you have to pay everything in advance. And who has about 1000-2000 euros for 100-200 T-shirts anyway? We poor blokes don't in any case, hahaha. Ok, now for the tour while try to do it this way, that we'll have them be made for us and then we'll pay the bill after it. That's why I hope that people will buy a lot of shirts there so we can pay the bill afterwards. We want to sell the shirts as cheap as possible too after all, but 15 euro, I think, we must charge in any case, otherwise the costs will be too high for us afterwards.
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