By Krish Mistry
Hi, how’s the Age Of The Joker tour going so far? Birmingham is your second of only three England dates, I hear Tobias was very happy to return to the UK?
Well it’s going pretty good, we’ve had a long break before starting the tour last year. We just played 70,000 Tons of Metal, and yesterday we played Manchester which was a pretty good show. We look forward to playing the UK, but it is quite challenging for a German band, but we are happy to take the challenge and deliver a good show.
‘Age Of The Joker’ is your ninth studio album, how did the recording process go? Was it different to previous albums? How was the instrument setup?
It was the same as previous records. We meet with ideas, have producer input and make sure we are comfortable with how the songs work, and then rehearse before we start. We had a new recording experience where my guitar was recorded simultaneously with Dirk (Sauer, guitarist) this time. I had a new guitar for recording; a Gibson Firebird. We tend not to use too many effects pedals, just keep a natural sound.
How do you generally come up with themes/ideas for the songs on the album? Obviously the adventures of Robin Hood is one, how did that arise?
Tobi (Sammet, vocalist) usually comes up with the themes, from whatever he does and influences from his everyday life. For Robin Hood, he came into the studio with the idea one day. There are so many songs about famous figures in history like Alexander The Great (Iron Maiden) and Atilla The Hun (Saxon) but not Robin Hood, so we thought why not?
You made a video for the song ‘Robin Hood’ and it looks like it was a lot of fun, but how was the making of it?
It was a lot of hard work, but yes it was a lot of fun. We started the filming at 4:30am, and it took until 5am the next morning to finish. It brings out the inner child again!
We also had a famous German TV comedian Bernhard Hoecker in the video, it was good to have a real actor! We also tried making a video for ‘2 Out Of 7’ but we didn’t like it, so nobody apart from the band have seen that! Videos are something that we have to do though, but it can be boring with the waiting for camera positions and lighting though.
Do you prefer smaller or larger venues? How about festivals?
We enjoy everything! We see all shows as a challenge, but we love big shows and festivals, but also smaller venues where we can make eye contact with the audience.
You also played 70,000 Tons of Metal festival on a cruise ship, how was that experience?
It was a great experience, you can watch so many bands and as we are all on the ship, it is a special nice experience. We get to meet the fans also, we had people every day asking for autographs and photos, so that was good as well.
Are there any songs you especially enjoy playing live? Any tricky ones?
The newer songs are fun as we haven’t played them as much, I especially like ‘Rock Of Cashel’ from the new album. Tricky ones? Then I’d go for Vain Glory Opera. I always have to figure it out before going on stage, and always make mistakes in the same spots.
You’ve been together for 20 years, how has it been? Ups and downs?
We have had many ups, it has been mostly plain sailing. The band has had a slow build up, with maybe selling 1000 copies of the first album, and then we grew from there. We have had a fairly stable lineup, not many member changes, which also helps. We still have a lot of dreams, but we are thankful for what we have.
Previous albums have always been varied with an orchestra for Hellfire Club, and moving to a hard rock style for Tinnitus Sanctus. How do you see your sound progressing for future albums? Any interesting concepts/themes/ideas?
Ha! We don’t have any ideas really at the moment. Things come naturally, we have no plans really.
You have played with bands such as The Scorpions, do you have any bands who you would like to tour with in future?
Well Kiss would be great. We have thought about AC/DC, but they are a very difficult band to be on support for. The fans tend to be there just for AC/DC, and not care as much for supports.
So do you have your eye on any up and coming bands that you’d like to have as support yourselves on tour?
We don’t have anything really planned. The booking agency gives us ideas and we choose from there. We did have H.E.A.T. for the Tinnitus Sanctus tour and they were a small band, but we wanted to take them on support for us and they were great.
What sort of bands/albums are you listening to at the moment?
Anything rock, hand made rock music! Bands like Iron Maiden, AC/DC as mentioned earlier, Billy Talent and Nickelback. I’m quite open minded, I also like heavier bands like In Flames too. But I don’t listen to any rap or stuff like that, just rock!
And finally, if you were trapped on a desert island, what five items would you take with you?
Well, a helicopter, with a pilot so I can get off the island. Just two things! Oh, and a mobile phone!