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In Words: Mystic Prophecy

- Markus Pohl - Dec. 2011 - Claudia Ehrhardt -

Mystic Prophecy
© Mystic Prophecy

Markus Pohl - Dec. 22nd 2011 (by email)

Mystic Prophecy has a new album and they always appreciated the fans support and tried to give something back to them. Their new album Ravenlord is out and they played 2 record release shows, Bochum was more an evening with friends than a typical concert - for several reasons. Time to talk to get a few questions answered...

Ravenlord is your 7th full-length, happy with the feedback you got so far?

Yeah, we're really are. All the fans and magazines are excited and we can't believe how they like it everywhere. I can only say: Thank you all out there!!!

How much did the song writing changed though the years and different line-ups? Or is it more or less the same as in the early days?

There is nothing special about it. Lia and I used to write most of the songs. When Gus left the band we created our own songwriting process. Everybody writes songs at home in his own studio. And there is a point where we listen to all that stuff and select which song to record. Then Lia and the songwriter work on these songs and do some changes. Or create a new song on the base of it.

The last records Lia and I wrote most of the songs. But this time Connie found the right way to get involved to the process. He did half of them and I think this brings a lot of new ideas to the band. I never would write riffs like him and to be honest, some are really heavy to play. But who cares if they're that good. During the recordings I cursed him many times, but I really like his stuff.

When did you start writing songs for Ravenlord?

I can't remember when I started to write new riffs. Every time I play and get an idea I record it. It doesn't matter if we just released an album or not. I save it on my hard disc. Sometimes I write a complete songs, sometimes there is only one riff. The riff is the first thing I need for a new song. It my be changed lots of times, but it is a theme for me and fixes the character of the song. It's like a street: It gives you a direction.

But on every record there is a time when we begin hard to work on the album. Nearly every weekend Lia was in my studio or in Connie's, phoned and mailed every evening. This point was in February. It is very important to get the right feeling when to start. Is it to early, you'll work and change to much on the songs. They'll get to cheesy, not rough enough. If you start to late, you'll get some serious trouble with the release. And this date is fix. We're used to that process but it is exciting every times. And some day we're gonna fuck it up, I promise!

An obvious change is - at least to Philip who reviewed the album -, Ravenlord offers less guitar solos... Natural progress?

There are not LESS guitar solos, they're not as long as they were. I can't say that we forced that. We even didn't recognize it but... yes, you're right. There is less time with guitar solos on this album.

But we changed something: The big time of huge guitar solos is over. Every kid can play fast, do some arpeggios and shred the shit out of itself. This time we had a look on what we play and how we play. The solos are more a part of the song, more embedded. And still with virtuosity. Kosta did an hell of a job. He played with much more tone, dirty balls and melodies without loosing his technical skills.

This is the main change we did: Playing and amber the solos as a part of the song, not as a independent part. And listen to Endless Fire, where Kosta and I did the guitar war in the middle of the song. I think it's a good mixture for everybody.

How long did the recordings take?

I think it took us two month. We can't say exactly because sometimes we did a short break between the one and the other instrument, listened to the work and changed something. But I think this is could be right. This is only recording time, songwriting not included.

I guess like most your are somehow inspired by what's happening around you... in the world. Any specific events which influenced you?

No. I mean, look out there. I don't need a special event in the world to see what humanity destroys, lay violent hands on itself and the world.

But you have to distinguish between music and lyrics: When I write songs, I don't care about some news out there. I take a guitar, my fullstack, 120 dB and play until I cum 'hahahahaha'. It's a process where I have fun, force my skills, listen to the work and do the work I love. I'm really in this music thing, no bullshit from outside, only my guitar and a lot of noise.

But this is not possible when you need words. In our lyrics there are a lot of things hidden from the human world and its failures. It is a little bit cryptic, a fantasy world, but worth to think about.

We wrote ten songs. Ten songs about one battle. This battle is forced, controlled and started by the Ravenlord. Each song is a story of one worrier who prepares for the battle and fights. It's about his ideas, reasons and motivation. 10 warriors, ten different reasons. I'll give you some examples: Religion, money, honor, blood thirst...

And now take a look to our world: Is it really fiction? Only the story which covers all. But there are millions of people who act like this, who've got exact this reasons to kill each other. Unfortunately there is not only ONE ravenlord, we've got many of them.

For the second time you have a cover version on the album, this time Miracle Man, why this song?

There was a day when I got new studio equipment. I had to try and record something, it didn't matter, it was just about doing some settings, try how to work with the new stuff. I decided to record Miracle Man. It was the first metal song I've ever heard and until today for me a riff which was never beaten. No Rest For The Wicked is the most underrated album ever, especially this song. The guitar work is not excellent, it is perfect. Incredible.

So I recorded it and one day we did a short break while working on the new songs. I showed Lia the song just for fun. But he decided: We're gonna take this on our new record. Fuck, this is what I never wanted to do. Nobody can rebuild guitars like these, this tone, dirt, technic and these huge balls. But he didn't care. He told me to shut the fuck up and play.

Still I think I'm not worth to do that, but it is more a thank you to my roots, pay tribute and respect to the guys who did a lot to the music we listen. Having this view it feels really good to do this.

At Satanic Curses you covered Black Sabbath's Paranoid... Again a song Ozzy sang, what makes Ozzy special for you?

Especially to me, not to the other guys. he was the first metal singer I've ever heard. He got the talent to get really good guitar players all the time. I mean: Was there only one guy on an album who's not a legend?

But this was more a random thing. Lia wanted to record Paranoid because it is an easy to play song, with a lot of party character. It's nice to play it live. Easy, you can start drinking beer right before playing if it's the last song. Hahahaha.

What about a video clip? Anything on the way? Which song(s) would you like to visualize?

I'd like to visualize every song. I don't think there is one big song on the album, every song is worth not to be overrated from another. But to be honest: What is the reason for doing a video? We could put it on YouTube. That's it.

A video costs a lot of money. For a band like Mystic Prophecy it's not worth it. I think we can do a present to the fans, if we spend it for some shows, meet them, drink beer with them and keep our merchandise cheap. If we're not on tour or on a festival where the headliners or promoters dictate the prices we offer shirts to half of the price compared with other bands. The entry to the release show in Bochum was about 7 Euro and one fun shirt was included for the first 100 people. I mean: This is what we do with our money.

But if we could find a way to get a video financed, why not. Never say never, but we're not planning this at the moment.

You just played in Bochum a album release show a few days ago. Your drummer Claudio Sisto couldn't do the show and you needed a replacement. Have you thought about re-scheduling? Or was your first impulse to ask Matt C. to jump in?

Our current drummer is Tyronne Sylva. Claudio was a good guy and we still have a lot of contact with him. But times changed, everybody's got family and stuff beside the band and so Claudio couldn't get a full member of Mystic Prophecy. (Shows that keeping up with the drummers isn't easy. ;) - editor)

Matt played with us on the tour last year with Stratovarius. We knew him, he knew half of the setlist and so it was the easiest way not to cancel the shows. He is a nice guy and we all had a blasting time. I know it was a really fucked up situation for Ty, he's the new drummer and now he had to take a look to somebody playing his drums with his band. But life has to go on and now he can be sure to be fit on tour in April.

Actually you had quite a few drummers in the last decade... A kind of drummers spell?

To be honest: Mystic Prophecy never had a split because of having trouble with someone. Everybody who left the band is still a good friend to us. But in these times you cannot expect to earn money with the music. Everybody of us has to do his day job as well. And everybody's got his family. With or without kids doesn't matter, you need time for it anyway. But some of us have kids.

If you want to do a band like Mystic Prophecy, you have to fix everything and bring it on your timetable. This means a lot of stress and compromises. And sometimes it is not possible to get this in a row. It is not the fault of someone, it is because life's a bitch and it doesn't help you every times. And I can understand that some of our former musician say: Stop. I can't do that for a long time.

Now we've got Ty, he's a professional drummer and we're sure to work with him a long time. But even I can reach a situation where I have to make a decision between living and playing music. Who knows...

Savage Souls had a DVD in the digipack version, do you consider doing a new DVD? Not 'just' a bonus...

We don't have plans for that. The bonus DVD was a blast and the costs of a really professional DVD could be the end of the band. It is like doing a video: Nobody works for free except us. This means we have to take care that, whatever we do, we don't ruin the band.

Can fan expect to see some footage on your YouTube channel soon? A vlog of the upcoming tour?

This is possible if we'll find some time. The tour with Powerwolf means a lot or work for every band. Everybody works on it, is planning and preparing it's stuff. Well, there are only 8 weeks left, then we'll start rehearsing. So we have to hurry up a little bit. If I could I would like to have 50 hours a day. We all work during our break, so we've got 25 hours a day. That's all we can do.

Btw, what do you think about the package of the upcoming Wolfsnächte tour?

Hell yeah, this will be great. I mean: I don't care, if we play the same style or the same music. I'm looking forward to have a great time on tour. The first mails and communications were great, everybody works hard to reach the target: Be able to play good shows, have a lot of fans party with us and drink a lot of beer.

For a fan it's a chance to see different styles of German power metal. We booked venues in which we can be sure to offer good shows. No 'there's no space' bullshit or 'PA is only for the voices' fuck. No... fans deserve the best we can give.

And the good thing is: All bands want this as well. So: Come and have a good time!!!

So far the tour will only tackle Germany, Austria and Switzerland, any chance for fans at other parts of the world to see you live in 2012?

We work hard to get some more shows which are not in Germany. I mean, we'll play PropPower Atlanta in 2012, the first time Mystic Prophecy plays in the USA. This is the first step to get out of Europe.

But back to Europe: With Fireangel last year we played just a few shows in Germany. Most of the Stratovarius shows where in the South European countries like France, Spain and Italy. I think it is fair to play German shows on the upcoming tour and try to get to some festivals at the other parts of the world. We're negotiating, but nothing is confirmed. But please check our website or follow us on Facebook. We'll keep you informed.

You are confirmed for MetalFest 2012 (Austria / Germany), looking forward to play MetalFest? And what do you think about 'festival tours'? Any chances to play more festivals in 2012?

It's like I said: We're negotiating with some promoters. And we keep trying to get as much shows as we can. Not only the big festivals like you mentioned, smaller ones as well.

Festival tours mean: Go from festival to festival and play as much as you can. But: They're only on weekend, there will be no touring feeling in the band, if you don't book shows during the other days in a week. It's more a single show feeling. But this is not to bad: The rest a band gets makes sure that the band is fresh and not tired playing. If they don't spend their free time drinking. Hahahahaha.

These days there are countless festivals, it's almost impossible to keep track and there are several festivals every weekend during the festival season. Good or bad? What's your take on it?

These days there are millions of bands out there. And festivals give them a place where they can play. This is good. For a fan it is a little bit of an overload. I can imagine. But open-minded people can split and visit some big and some small festivals. I like the smaller festivals as well. Our slot is better. Hahahaha.

Social media.... Love or hate? Or a bit of both?

A bit of both. It is a good thing to communicate with the fans, to get some connections, read about other bands, get ideas about booking or even technical issues. Very well. And I use it for that.

But it is a risk for our real life. In two ways:

First of all people seem to forget that everybody can read their messages. Even young people share photos, half naked, drunk…. what the fuck are they doing, don't they have a brain to think? They don't appreciate the fact that this is not good for them. Some friends are laughing and the party goes on in Facebook, but your next employer or teacher knows exactly everything about your private life. And some institutes as well. For example health insurances. Think about, when you want to effect insurance yourself and every company says 'No'.

This is the second thing: We all bring our private life into the publicity. We should take care about everything we write or bring to the net. Even the government have a look to all the sides you can visit and documents our life. Take a look to the real side: Dates and facts of our life are saved everywhere. The new ID cards for example. We're going to live a life how Orwell wrote decades before. We should try to throw spanner in the works, not help them making slaves of ourselves! And we will be slaves if we don't take care about all this shit.

What's next on your schedule? And what do you wish for yourself and for Mystic Prophecy in 2012? Not talking about the standard answer 'world peace'...

The next step is rehearsing and play the tour. During this time we try to get more shows of course. Shows are the reason why I do all this. The stage is my home and if I can't be somewhere on the road for more than 4 weeks I become disaffected. It is the most important thing to me.

On tour I don't want to think about problems, the next album or some financial shit. It's time to relax, drink beer, meet fans, party all the time and enjoying the live on the road.

My private wish is enough success to get more shows and more chances to reach new fans, having a bit more time to work on my guitar and of course drink more beer! Hahahaha...

I have to thank Markus Pohl for answering my questions and for enlighten us about Mystic Prophecy's plans for 2012!

Claudia Ehrhardt


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