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In Words: Hard Riot

- Michael - May 2012 - Lars Bjørn -

Hard Riot
© Filis Geldec

Michael - May 2nd 2012 (by email)

Hard Riot is a new successful band from Germany, and they have already made a nice performance via YouTube with their song No Surrender. We asked the singer Michael about their progress.

It was a joy to make a review of your album Living On A Fast Lane, but can you tell us why it took so long time for you to get songs together for your debut album?

Hard Riot was our very first band and we started making music only 3 months before we founded the band. We first wanted to get experience and develop more skills to create our own songs. We started to cover our hero's like AC/DC, Scorpions or Black Sabbath. Our progress was a little bit slow until the end of 2010 when our producer Vagelis Maranis discovered us on MySpace. That was the missing ass-kick we needed. ;)

And now that it is your first full-length album, please let us know a little about how you started the band? And why you choose the name Hard Riot?

We started as an ordinary cover band just to develop our skills and at first we wanted to have fun in playing songs of our favorite bands. The name was born because of a crappy recording we tried once. We played something and recorded that with a cell-phone with a horrible sound quality. And what we heard after that was nothing else but loud and hard noise. We thought just like some kind of Hard Riott and that's how our name was born.

When did you start writing songs for Living On A Fast Lane?

The songwriting began about a few years ago when we started the band. In that time it wasn't that serious as it is now. The album was a slowly and continuously process at first, but when it came clear that we will make our very first record, we wrote 2 more songs in about 2 weeks before we started recording. Since then we wrote several riffs and almost finished songs. So we have a good basis for a 2nd album.

Other reviews speculate a little about the title, why you are not calling it Living In A Fast Lane or maybe Living In The Fast Lane.... Have you any explanations for that?

Why not calling it Living On A Fast Lane? I thought that someone would rather ask about why it is called Living On A Fast Lane. That is because there are many different ways to live your life in a fulfilling way. There is not always the one and only way. You have to make your own choices and decisions in life. It's up to you, what lane you are driving down in your life and which slip roads you take. Life is an adventure and you never know where the road is leads you. And that is the meaning of the title.

Do you write songs as a band? Or is there a main songwriter?

We try to write in different kind of ways. On Living On A Fast Lane I was writing most of the songs. For the next album we sure will try to write some stuff together. Maybe we create some even better songs, who knows.

What inspires you to write music/lyrics?

Nearly everything inspires me. Could be something on the news, a little scene from a movie or even the simple whistling of a homeless guy in our streets can inspire me to write music or lyrics. Last example really happened to me and I have made a good riff. Maybe we use it on the second album.

By the way: what bands/artists made you start playing? And which bands/artists are you listening to these days?

Actually Nickelback made me start to make music. They were the first rock band I really paid attention first. I saw a live-DVD and was stunned by that performance. Then one of my friends came with Metallica's Master Of Puppets and I was more than just hooked by what I was hearing. Since then I listened to almost every rock and metal style I could find. Hard rock with Scorpions, Alice Cooper or Motörhead, NWoBHM with Judas Priest, Iron Maiden or Black Sabbath, thrash metal with Slayer, Kreator or Machine Head and could go on forever with that.
Right now I listen a lot of NWoBHM again and I discovered a great band called Grim Reaper they made only three records in the 80's, but I really like that music. And another band I listen to very much is The Unguided from Sweden. They are playing modern (melodic) death metal, very melodic, very powerful with shoutings and clean vocals. Actually my favorite band now. See, even a rocker can enjoy some hardcore fuckin' metal.

This rock style that you have, why did you choose that specific direction in your music?

We wouldn't say that it is specific. We have different influences after all. I told you about my influences before. Andreas is very AC/DC influenced. Carmine is a big Slipknot fan and Mario likes Volbeat and Metallica. So there is a certain variety but with that what you hear on Living On A Fast Lane is where we all come together as one and we think that is a good direction.

How long did the recordings take? Where did you record Living On A Fast Lane? and who produced the album?

We entered the Maranis Studios in Backnang only about 40 km away from our hometown, in February 2011. Our producer, Vagelis Maranis, wrote us an email via MySpace because he liked my voice from what he was hearing from the EP. It was the best thing that ever happened to us. We made a very good record, the quality is absolutely amazing and the working process, about 3 weeks, was more productive than we have ever thought. He showed us the way of professional working in a studio and we really learned a lot from him. He knows how to push someone to get the maximum effort.

Who did the artwork with the motorcycle? And how does it give a picture of your musical preferences?

The artwork was created by Filis Geldec of Alien & Smith, our media designer / photographer / web designer. She is doing almost everything that involves graphic-elements in Hard Riot and she is doing a great job so far.
We think it catches what we mean with Living On A Fast Lane. A feeling of freedom and self-fulfillment and what could fit better in our musical-genre then a motorcycle and an open road. Even if it is a cliché, it still fits perfectly.

Which songs do you think represent Living On A Fast Lane best? And why?

All of them are representing the meaning of the album. But one song hits the spot even better. That is Hard Way Down. It's lyrics are the best representative for the album-title itself.

Your video for the song No Surrender is like a little story, scenes from the nature in the woods and then focus on you doing a live performance inside the house. How did this idea come to you?

It was actually Andreas's idea. He had that little wired idea of us running around in the woods. But seriously now, he thought about a video since we entered the studio last year. As we all know, video promotion via YouTube can increase your popularity in no time if you do the right things and one of our goals is to get more attention from other people. The song was found pretty quick, when we heard the rough-mix of No Surrender with it's catchy chorus and the great twin guitars. There was no doubt. The message is, like the title says it, no surrender, never give up with what you are doing. In the video, we are all running around and had to face some tasks we have to bear down. But in the end it says: We are strong together! With friends and family, you can achieve everything.
About the idea of the story. Andreas said, he can't really tell how he came up with this idea. Every piece of the story came step by step.
Andreas called it trash-movie-kind-of-story as a homage to Quentin Tarantino because of the low-budget production.

Have you other plans for new songs to make a video performance?

We sure will make a new video, but right now there are no concrete plans for that. We are focusing on the current release now.

I guess you already got some feedback. Are you satisfied so far?

We have read some great reviews so far and we are really stunned by all the reactions and positive feedback we are getting. Every day there are new people who are find out about us and tell us how they like our album. It is great.

Do you plan to record some live footage - not talking about pro shots - for YouTube or similar platforms?

We have some uploaded on our YouTube-channel (HardRockingRiot), and we will upload some more in the future. We have some good material, we just have to find the time to look over it.

Talking about the internet.... Social network is both a blessing and a curse. What's your opinions about it?

We think it's a blessing overall. You get the chance to reach almost everyone on the planet. You can promote yourself for free and even small bands can be discovered. So, yeah, it is a good thing.

What's next on your schedule? Anything you want to add?

For now we try to promote the album as good as we can. Next summer we will start the next songwriting. We have plenty of riffs and we think when the summer ends, we will have a lot of good new songs and who knows, maybe you will hear some of the results this year on our gigs.

Great to a lot of things explained, and we wish the best of luck for the future album.

Lars Bjørn


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