Band Interviews, Music Reviews, Sirenia

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I arrived at the gig venue for the interview and I was led backstage, down the stairs and along a winding corridor. We found a small back room that was further away from where they were sound testing, but could still hear the booming drums on the background. It was fantastic to meet the talented Morten Veland, of the gothic metal band Sirenia, all the way from Norway. It was an absolute pleasure chatting with Morten, and hearing about his creative processes. Sounds like Sirenia have found their perfect line-up, musically and socially, now Nils and Emmanuelle have joined the band. And this will only mean bigger and better things for Sirenia in the future. With Emmanuelle and Nils injecting a fresh sound and unique vocals, they’re at the helm ready to help Morten propel the band to new heights.

How did you create the new album “Arcane Astral Aeons”? Any particular inspirations or influences?

M: Pretty much the same influences as always. I found that the Scandinavian winter is very inspirational to me; it gets cold and dark early. It makes me really calm, and gets into the composition mode. I can draw inspirations from anything around me, anything around me that makes an impression. (i.n.: Yeah, I can imagine! Must be really beautiful and peaceful.)

How did you come up with the album title “Arcane Astral Aeons”?

M: The album title is normally the last thing I do. I write the compositions, and then move on to lyrics. I normally have some basic ideas that I build from. Lastly, I chose a title, try and find one that reflects what the album is about, or the general atmosphere of it.

It’s been two years since the previous album with Emmanuelle on vocals – what has changed on the songwriting part and what are the new elements that you introduce on the new album “Arcane Astral Aeons”?

M: Most of the composition techniques have remained the same. But with Emmanuelle joining the band it has opened up a lot of doors and possibilities. She has a great voice span, whatever we throw at her, she can fit it. It’s a songwriters dream! She also contributed some lyrics on this album too. For the song “Desire” I wrote half the lyrics, and Emmanuelle wrote the French side. She also translated some parts from French to English for me. (i.n.: A girl of many talents then!)

Why did you decide to do a pledge campaign for “Arcane Astral Aeons”?

M: I started my music career 22 years ago, I have seen the whole industry changing a lot. Some for good, some for bad. In general there is less money in the music industry now. I want to keep improving and creating better and better music, but it’s hard with reduced budgets, so that’s challenging for sure. But we’re definitely not compromising on quality. And we saw the rise of crowdfunding, and thought it would be great to get the fans involved, and enable us to do what we needed to do to make a top quality album.

Do you believe that “Arcane Astral Aeons” is even more cohesive and ambitious as an album than the previous ones?

M: Yeah, I think we’ve broken in as a group now; we’ve been working really hard, and touring more than ever. So I feel we’re more fixed as a band, they all give a good proportion of their time to the band.

You also have a new lead guitarist on board, Nils Courbaron. Even though he has played live with Sirenia before, he is not regarded as a permanent member of the band, right? How did this occur?

M: He joined a year ago, he was filling it as lead guitar, and it fit really, really well. We were actually looking for a bass player, but couldn’t find anyone with the right fit. Then Nils came along, as it just fit perfect, so I decided to switch to bass, and let the other two guys take guitars. I’m very used to playing bass in the studio, but not much live. So it’s actually feels really new and fresh.

Funny how things work out, you can never predict it! But it’s great that you found a good fit and to complete the line-up.

M: Yeah it wasn’t what we were planning, but just felt right from the start!

Q: How have fans responded to the new album?

M: The album’s still really fresh, but we’ve had a lot of great feedback already! We had a release party in Russia, St. Petersburg on the day it came out. And the crowd was singing along to the new songs even though it had only been out for a day! And we’re really enjoying playing the new songs live.

How did you come up with the name Sirenia initially?

M: I’ve always been in to classical Greek mythology and Norse mythology. (i.n.: So, I was curious and had a quick look up about Sirenia in Greek mythology, it’s derived from the sirens of Greek mythology. That lured men to their deaths, and gave roots to the myths of mermaids.)

Do you prefer to be on the road or on the studio writing and recording?

M: I like both; both have their charms and up-sides, and their challenges. I love being in the studio, creative part, writing songs from scratch, building them up to get better and better. It’s a very satisfying process. But after working for long periods of time in the studio, you feel a bit anti-social, so you can’t wait to go back on the road and meet people. But again when you’re on the road for a long time, you start to miss the studio! So it’s great to have the two together, they balance each other.”

What are those lessons that you have learnt over the course of your career and what are those things that keep you going on after all these years?

M: The whole time, from the beginning to now has been a constant learning process. Seeing the industry changing so much and so fast. It’s about trying to adapt to the new stuff that’s coming out, which is challenging for sure. You build your experiences and try to learn from them and take away the positives. When you’re travelling it is great, you meet so many different bands, and it’s very social, so you can learn from each other experiences too. It’s a lot about trying and failing, especially in the beginning, and there’s a lot to be learnt from doing mistakes.

Yeah, try and error is often best! Not so much at the time, admittedly, but it the future! You always learn the most from your mistakes.

M: You won’t make the same mistake again!

What are your future plans after touring?

M: For now it’s a lot of promoting the new album. Then we’ll have a small break. And then off to a festival in the Czech Republic. And then start touring the beginning of next year! So a lot on the horizon.

If you could play in any country, where would you choose?

M: At the top of my list would be Japan, it’s one of those countries we haven’t been to yet. And I’ve been wanted to go for ages. It’s a country that’s really different, and has its own unique culture.

Ohh, I love anything Japanese, so I’m definitely onboard!

M: We’ve been in discussions with someone over there, and I’m hoping we should be over there within the next year. And a run of ten shows in China and other countries in Asia.

Ah brilliant, so a full Asian tour! Would be a bit of a trek for one show! I’m very jealous.

M: I would also like to do a show in Africa, as it’s the only continent we haven’t performed in.

Ah, so you need to tick it off your checklist!

M: We have had some offers from places in South Africa, but they didn’t go through in the end. But we’d love to do one soon for the experience.

Anything you want try or explore in the future? Such as, genre, instruments or lyrical themes.

M: For every album I try to come up with something different, something new, or something we haven’t tried before. So I’m always on the lookout for a new sound, or new instruments. This album kind of drained me a bit, so I will take a little break before starting the new album. For now I’m just enjoying being on the road, after months in the recording studio!

What shall the fans expect from Sirenia in the future?

M: We haven’t played much in the UK yet, so we would like to tour around the UK more.

Bad Touch, Band Interviews, Music Reviews

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Bad Touch are a dynamic and energetic rock band performing their second headlining tour. They have hit the road again after releasing their latest album earlier this year, called “Shake a Leg”. It was a pleasure to meet all the bands and other photographers, everyone was very chill and we just chatted backstage whilst they were prepping. Luckily the whole band was available for the interview, so it was great to get insights from everyone, and some funny stories! These guys are not only talents musicians and dynamic performers, they’re also genuinely friendly and funny. It was great fun hearing about how they formed, some funny tales from their past and hopes for the future. And I’m sure we’ll be seeing great things from this band in the future!


Where did the album’s title “Shake a Leg” come from?

S: This is first time the true story has been told, my Mum came up with it! We were just playing around with words and had loads of different ideas.

A: Feel good, rock ‘n’ rock, shake a leg, get up and go!

Was there any new techniques or themes you included in this album?

A: The songs were a lot more written, if you know what I mean, we spent a lot more time work-shopping them. Instead of just going this a great idea, let’s go for it! We stripped everything back and rebuilt them. And also we wrote the songs as we went, the album was written over 7 months. On the weekends when we had all finished work. So, it was a bit more scary, and spontaneous.

Was there a particular reason you started this album, or did it come together organically?

A: Well, we needed a new album! (he jokes, and we all laugh). And we toured loads last year, playing over 120 shows I think, so we didn’t have much time to write. We went into the studio on the first of January with two songs we had ideas for. On the first day at the studio, we said we have this idea and this is what is happening. The producer said they like this, don’t like this. Then we’d have a little argument and throw our toys out the pram then come back, and go back to the original idea! And that’s pretty much how it went!

How have the fans reacted to the new songs?

A: It’s been really good actually; we have actually played a lot off the new album on this tour. I was quite concerned, as the boys will probably know. Then his expression change, he laughed and said: Actually no, I’m lying, I was actually fore-playing all the new shows actually. Once we made the set list and we were playing 9 of the 13 songs on the new album, I was worried it would be too much. But it actually was fine!

How do you feel the industry has changed over your time as Bad Touch?

A: We try and stay out of it to be honest. We enjoy playing music, and writing it. So we just want to go out there and play music, and we let the industry do what it wants. But obviously some things do affect us too, like YouTube and Spotify. When we first started, was when social media starting growing in popularity. But when we started it was Bebo and MSN!

Future direction of the rock ‘n’ roll industry?

A: I don’t think it’s every going to go away. Chart success has waned, as it’s dominated by Pop. But it’s had a bit of a revival, and it’s definitely coming back strong. It goes through phrases of different genres. But there’s always been a scene there, and always people who want to see it. Iron Maiden can still pull thousands of people.

Do you prefer being in the studio writing, or on the road touring?

A: There were murmurs and votes called in both directions. Both are great, but we do play live a lot more so it’s more comfortable for us. With the studio, we only do it every now and again, but it’s great fun playing around and trying different things out. Shakers, bongos, any percussion instrument! Chuck everything in and see what works!

Any regrets on things you didn’t try?

S: Heroin! (and we all burst out laughing!)
M: I regret standing on Rob’s amp many years ago and falling off it and breaking it!
R: I regret…”, he pauses for thought or dramatic effect, “nothing!”, he laughs.
G: I think everyone makes mistakes, and instead or regret them, you have to learn by them. If you don’t, you’re never going to get better.

How did the deal with Marshall Records come about? What are the things that you’ve gained with this cooperation?

A: With Marshal, we already had a contact there. And from there it’s now grown, and they’ve offered us a contract! And free beer! They just brought out their own beer, and gave us some free samples!

So, the band name is a bit unusual! Where did the name Bad Touch come from?

A: Every time! Just a random name generator on the internet, an old singer came up with it. We were 16 or 17 at the time, and the rest of the band loved it.

How did the band form and take shape?

A: Me (Stevie) and Rob went to school together, and started the band many years ago, and we’ve had many different line-ups since then. George was next – he lived in the same town and looked up to us in our band and how amazing we are. “The sad thing is, I actually did!” George replied.

R: We needed a new drummer and put an ad out, and George must have only been 14 at the time so we took him under our wing. But he’s actually a great drummer!

You’ve played some of the best festivals, such as Ramblin’ Man, Wildfire, Amplified and Cambridge Rock? And which was your favourite, and why?

A: “Download” was immediately called out, with lots of murmurs of agreement. Someone shouted out “Sunkfest!”, which was answered by a very loud and excited “Sunkfest, Yes!

It was your first headline tour last year, how did you find it and what lessons did you learn that you put into action for this tour?

A: We were a bit worried for our first headline tour last year, you go out on the road but you don’t know if anyone’s going to buy tickets. When you’re supporting someone the pressure is on them, but when you’re headlining the responsibility is on you to get the tickets sold. But we were overwhelmed by the amount of people that came out for it.”

Must have been amazing touring with Skid Row earlier this year, if you could tour with any band, who would it be and why?

A: Headhunters!” was called out straight away, which was responded by “but we’ve already done that twice!”, which was followed by “and I would do it a third time”! We literally just love touring, so any band that wanted to have us, we would be grateful to play. We’ve met so many lovely people. If you do everything, you will never regret anything!

Is there any genres, themes or instruments you would like to experiment with in the future?

A: The hurdy-gurdy!”, he laughs, “But to actually answer your question seriously. No not really, we love what we do, and we like the fact that it’s simple. We just write what we want to write and it happens to fall into a certain genre”.

To finish off with, what can fans expect from Bad Touch in the future?

S: More music! Bigger and better things.

R: “Hoodies!”, someone shouts out, and laughs ripple round. Yes, they can expect hoodies, as they’ve been asking for years.

D: We’ll keep on moving up, keep the hard slog going. We’ll be back on the road, with plans to get to Europe. Then world domination – it’s like Binky and the Brain!


Artists / Bands, Band Interviews, Kissin' Dynamite, Music Reviews

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I arrived at the venue, and there was a queue forming at the doors already, went round to the stage door to meet their manager. He showed me in and led me down a labyrinth of passageways, and introduced me to the amazing vocalist Hannes Braun of Kissin’ Dynamite. We staked out a sofa backstage, although there was already someone taking a nap on it in the corner, but we didn’t seem to disturb him too much! It was so great to meet Hannes, and get to chat to him; he was really open and friendly. And hear how he first got in to rock music and the origins of the new album! After meeting I was even more excited to see them play, just a couple of hours later as they were the opening act. And they didn’t disappoint! Hannes really brought the spirit of his beloved 80s rock with him.

Why did you choose the name “Ecstasy”?

H: Of course we have the song on the album by the same name. But that wasn’t actually the primary reason. If you listen to this album to get positive, feel good vibes. We don’t mean the drug ecstasy! We mean the emotion. That’s the magic thing we feel about rock music, it brings you up, just like the drug! So, “ecstasy” is the headline for the feeling for the whole album.

How did the album form?

H: Normally we making a plan for which direction the next album should go. But with this one we didn’t. We didn’t even plan on writing a new album! Our old contract with AFM finished, we wanted to have a natural break and relax. Out of this relaxation, I started writing songs with Ande, and it felt super good because there was no pressure. We could easily do it, because we felt like doing it. We got about half the album done, and had some really good tracks. Then out of the blue, I got a call from someone who said we’re amazing and that they knew our contract had finished and wanted to sign us immediately!

Any particular inspirations or influences?

H: This is more or less a party and feel good album. Songs from Bon Jovi are always good inspiration. But we didn’t plan on pushing it in a certain direction, it just naturally flowed this way.

How have the fans during the tour responded to the new songs?

H: The response is really good! We have been starting with our radio hit back in Germany, “I’ve Got the fire” and it’s great for us because we love the song, and the fans go wild! We’re lucky with this tour as we have 40 minute set, so that’s eight songs, and half are new shit!

You have been touring all over the place, where has been your favourite, and why?

H: It’s always a hard decision; every country has its special elements that I love. I really like touring in France, for example, because the fans there seem to appreciate rock music a lot still, so they go super nuts in the shows. I was really impressed by Italy on this tour; we only played one show, in Milan. We’re the opening act, so it’s not common to have the room filled with people jumping.”

You’ve played in many countries across the world, where would you like to play?

H: I would like to play Brazil, as I have heard many good stories that rock and metal have a good standing out there, and that the people go f**king nuts out there! Bruce Dickinson once said, the further South, the heavier it gets! I want to feel that energy, not just see it on a screen.

If you could tour with any band, who would it be?

H: Powerwolf!” (i.n.: He answered excitedly, and we both laughed). I’m an 80s kid, so adore all my childhood heroes still, like Guns ‘n’ Roses and Scorpions. So they would definitely be on my wish list to tour with. But we will see what time brings! For now, it’s still amazing to be able to play a nearly sold out tour with Powerwolf!

So, I heard the band’s name ‘Kissin’ Dynamite’ was from the AC/DC song, after Andi Schnitzer’s ringtone. Was AC/DC also an influence to your music?

H: Of course! Everything starts with AC/DC, maybe everything will end up with them too! For example, my brother and I got into AC/DC at one of their concerts. When I was just six years old and my brother was seven, my dad took us to see them, as he was a big fan. So, we were just little kids in a massive sold out concert hall in Germany! This was when I decided that’s what I want to do. I listened to all his AC/DC albums and that soon led on to Scorpiona and such. And there was no way out after that. (i.n.: So, AC/DC were your gateway band to the world of rock ‘n’ roll!)

Congratulations on winning the Metal Hammer Award for “Best German Band”! What do you think it was that really set you apart from the rest?

H: We felt super honoured, as the list for nominees were huge acts like Halloween. I never thought we could win this award. We were so surprised to hear our name being called! And that makes us super proud, and no one can take it from us! It will always be in our discography.

Are there any genres, themes or instruments you would like to experiment with in the future?

H: You never know what you might get! So, possibly, but the biggest experiments are in the past. We had one really experimental album, “Megalomania” where we used synths, to push it in a super modern way. But it was too over the top. We have found our style and message.

To finish off with, what can fans expect from Kissin’ Dynamite in the future?

H: Super-hot, explosive live shows, great songs to come, and taking over the rock world!

Artists / Bands, Band Interviews, God is an Astronaut, Music Reviews

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Luckily, I was able to interview some of the band members, including Niels and Torsten Kinsella, quickly before the show. It is a new genre of music for me, that I really connected with, so it was a really interesting opportunity to chat to the band about their new powerful and emotive album, their music in general and the post-rock sector. Neils and Torsten were refreshingly honest and genuine with their answers, despite the obvious pain they feel relating to this album. It was really interesting to learn more about their history, process and their new album. This will definitely be one of my most emotive but informative and fascinating interviews.

Did you need that 3-year break so as to write and record your new album “Epitaph”? What happened during those 3 years and how did it help the band evolve generally?

A: We spent some of the break performing gigs. When we had started to create the new album, it originally had a different theme. For example, “awakening/ Winter dusk” was one of the original new songs, but we felt it fitted with the new style so decided to include it still. But after the tragic loss of our cousin, we felt unable to continue in this style. I write music to express my feelings, and used this as an outlet for my emotions. Therefore, the album took a more melancholic tone to reflect this. (i.n.: Music is so therapeutic, and provides a way to express hidden emotions. I agreed and explained that I used my art as my way to process and convey the thoughts and feelings I cannot say out loud.)

Did the label change play a part on that too? And how is your cooperation with Napalm Records so far?

A: Changing to Napalm Records had no change to how they work and their direction. We specifically stated that they cannot set timelines or direction. As we cannot create real music under someone else’s specifications. (i.n.: Which I completely agree with and admitre their resilence, as true art cannot be manufactured to specifications and deadlines. As an artist myself, I also wanted to remain independent, as you cannot produce real art by force.)

Can you say that “Epitaph” is a more atmospheric album than your previous ones that has its origins back to the first GIAA albums?

A: Due to the events that transpired whilst creating this album, it has a lot more emotional ties and more melancholic tones. Playing this music on tour has helped us process what happened and create a tribute. However, it does bring up a lot of emotions so is challenging. Today is actually one of the hardest as a family member is present.


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Act of Defiance, Artists / Bands, Band Interviews, Music Reviews

Chris Broderick – Interview

Interview with Chris Broderick

(Act Of Defiance)

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After getting out of work I ran for the bus up to Camden, of course after weeks of burning sunshine and drought, as soon as I stepped out the office doors, the heavens opened upon me. So, unfortunately I had to arrive to the interview half drenched. But hey, who cares when you’re going to meet Chris Broderick! We had a chill chat on the sofa back stage before the gig, it was just like talking to a mate down the pub, almost forget I was talking to a metal legend!

This was definitely the best interview so far, as Chris has always been one of my all-time favorite guitarists; his talent is undeniable and awe-inspiring. They say don’t meet your heroes, but he was genuinely such an open and friendly guy, despite his impressive career in some of the best metal super-groups. Getting to meet him and chat was definitely an experience I will never forget.

Hi Chris, as it’s your first European tour, is there anywhere you’re most excited to play?

C: To be honest, we are actually really excited to play here. Camden and The Underworld is such a big name in the rock and metal world. And I haven’t played here since 2014, so it’s great to be back.

Why and under which circumstances did you decide to form Act Of Defiance?

C: We were passionate about playing whatever type of music we want to play.

Are there any plans to record a new album anytime soon? 

C: We are still in mid-tour mode, alongside Armored Saint, which we’re really enjoying, so want to continue that for now. So there’s no immediate plans for a new album. But we have been working on few new tracks.

What do you want to achieve long-term with Act Of Defiance?

C: We have no fixed long term plans, we just want to continue playing the music we want, and see where it goes.

Did you bring any elements or influences from your previous bands (such as Megadeath, Eidolon, Scar The Martyr) or did you want to create something completely new?

C: You know how it is, you always pick up elements from your history. I think we have all taken parts from our past that we liked.

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