Lanfear have a new singer, a new CD and time to answer some questions! Guitarist Markus 'Ulle' Ulrich was so nice to answer my questions by email.
Especially the change of a singer is a difficult task. What happened? And is Nuno the kind of singer you were looking for?
Well, if he wouldn't be the singer we were looking for, then he wouldn't be in the band. ;)
There wasn't a problem with Tobi, no arguing, but we realized that it wasn't working properly any longer. Can't really describe it. We already knew Nuno and we knew that he would fit into the band. We always got along well and it worked musically, no doubts about it. So it was just logical.
Have the songs already been written when Nuno joined you? Or have you written the songs with him in the band?
Most of the songs were already written, but Nuno had full control of the vocal melodies and lyrics. But still we worked on the tracks til we entered the studio.
Which song represents Lanfear in 2008 best? And which one has a special meaning to you? And why?
Tough question. We write albums with songs we all like and which are on the same quality level. The fans reaction shows us that it works out well, coz every one been named as a favorite by one or the other. At many albums you have some highlights which stick out while others can't keep the level. We don't want this and we make sure everything is at the same high level.
So I don't really have a favorite song, but I think that Stigmatized is a song which differs. And with Seeds Of The Plague we have a song with an interesting structure and talking about the artistic aspect, the flow of the songs I would say it's The Question Keeper.
As I don't know who will answer my questions, I keep it a bit more general... Please tell us a bit about the lyrics on X To The Power Of Ten! What is it about? And how does the cover fit into this?
Lyrically it has a slight technical touch, but not science-fiction-like. It's more about what can happen to us when we get more and more technicalized. Another essential topic is greed! And I think that's shown very well at the cover artwork. I'm very proud about the lyrics and I think that Nuno did a fantastic job! My favorite Lanfear lyrics you find at Brave New Men.
As far as I know the reactions you got for the album have been positive... Did you expect such a positive feedback? Or have you been surprised?
Usually we got positive feedback and I thought this time it would be more difficult for us. X To The Power Of Ten is kinda multi-layered and still many metal fans are limiting themselves. Sure, there been a few who didn't get at all what we wanted to do, what was our aim, but about 95% of the feedback was positive, even euphoric. That gives us the strength to go. But it's a pity that even if you got good critics, the magazines feature every other average and stylish MetalCore or Viking metal band. Therefore we are called one of the most underrated bands for years now, there must be a reason for this!
Which musicians / bands have influenced you in the beginning? And who are you favorize today?
At the beginning it were the usual suspects plus US metal bands like Lethal, Titan Force, Jag Panzer, Heathen, Forbidden, etc. My guitar riffing is based in the American style, there aren't much European influences. Meanwhile I'm more open and try to learn every day something new. To limit yourself in music would be wrong, music is too precious. I still love my old heroes, but these days I have no problem to switch between pop, grindcore, 70er prog, jazz and fusion. I pity everybody who limits himself within one genre and just listens to one metal style. Lanfear sound they way they do, coz we don't limit ourselves.
Who you would like to work with? Or who would you like to have as a guest at a coming CD?
I really can't tell, there are hundreds of musicians I admire, but that doesn't mean I would like to work with them. I'm not a huge fan of projects. ;)
Markus, somewhere I read that for you Jeff Loomis is one of the best metal guitarists... If that's true, then you have listened to his solo album, I guess... What do you think of it?
I think it's musically a very interesting piece of music and brilliantly played, but I expected a bit more variety and more different styles. Let's put it down to this: It's definitely metal, but I hoped he would show something else then just metal. That he breaks free from the metal sounds. But still, it's a great album of a fantastic guitarist who can play fat riffs and shred.
Live you played cover versions once in awhile. How do you choose the songs? Does it have to be a metal cover? Or can you imagine to play something from a different genre and do it the Lanfear way?
At out second album we had Twilight, an E.L.O. cover and that ain't metal, so... In general its difficult to choose cover for a live show, coz everybody in the band should like the song and it shouldn't be a track which is covered by every band. I'm bored with the typical Metallica and Slayer cover versions. We always have to keep an eye on the fact that at least a part of the audience should know the original - which isn't easy regarding our favorites. :)
Any plans for shows? A tour?
There are a few shows confirmed so far and the next one is ProgPower Scandinavia in Copenhagen. We are really looking forward to this one! Indeed we are working at a tour for next spring. I hope everything works out... We want to make a tour with fair ticket prices and affordable merchandise. Let's say we want to give 'vale for money'. To me it's a miracle that so many fans pay overpriced tickets and support this kind of tours. I think people have to think it over, we need change! (I totally agree! - editor)
Festivals seem to book always the same bands...
That's right, and its boring, not just for me as a musician, also for the fans. Perhaps we should move to Scandinavia or the US just to get booked for festivals...
At the other hand, there are more and more festivals every year. What do you think about that?
There are too many festivals and that's one of the reasons why less people show up at shows. The fans don't go to shows when they only need to spend a little more money and are able to so 20-60 bands at a weekend. At the end there is satiety, 90% of the fans just haven't realized it!
Is it possible that many of the more unknown bands don't get much chance to play live? Or that the ticket prices don't really encourage people to check them out? Or is it a lack of small clubs / bars where bands can play and people can go and have a beer and see a band?
Looks like I was a bit too fast... Answering part of it already. :)
Well, ticket prices are a main reason, but I don't think we need more clubs, coz many struggle to survive with descending interest. Another problem is that many younger fans are only focussed on their 5-10 favorite bands and aren't interested at all in other bands, especially newcomers. Unfortunately there is no universal solution for this problem.
There are more and more bands... Is it harder to get attention these days? Or did new technologies make it easier?
Well, the sales figures are going down, but with MySpace, etc. there are ways to promote a band. I think you can reach the same amount of people, even if there are more bands these days, but the people just buy less CDs. It's just too simple to download it. For many music is just MP3s and the whole package with CD and booklet isn't that interesting any more, so music becomes a mass product. I don't want to see just the negative things, coz there are positive developments, but if you want to make a living from music, they you have to be really, really lucky, if you reach that goal. But we never had the aim to make a living with our music.
Back to Lanfear... Did the positive feedback had an impact on you, so that you already work on new songs? Or do we have to wait another 3 years?
Actually I'm in the middle of a creative phase and I'm working at song #7 for our next album. If everything works out, the next album should be out soon... In the past we always had to fight some problems, so...
Anything you want to add? Something I didn't ask?
Why does everybody ask this? And why I'm always forced to find a new way to tell the same thing? :D
Thanks for the interesting questions and thanks to the readers to keep reading. Last, but not least... 'be true to yourself'!
To answer the last question - even if I was the interviewer - doing an interview by email always leaves you with the feeling that there is something you should have asked, but didn't. So it's just a chance to make up the interviewers mistake. ;)
Anyway, if Lanfear should hit the road, I'll go to see them as I won't have the chance to go to ProgPower Scandinavia. And hopefully there will be time for a little chit-chat - and perhaps I have some news from them afterwards...