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In Words: The Claymore

- Christian Köhle - August 2002 - Claudia Ehrhardt -
- Kai Schwittek - January 2011 - Claudia Ehrhardt -

The Claymore
© Mirjam Laker

Kai Schwittek - January 31st 2011 (by email)

The Claymore started in 2000 and with Damnation Reigns they have their 3rd full-length album out and they been on tour, time to catch up with what's going on in the camp of The Claymore. Thanks to guitarist Kai Schwittek to answer my questions.

First of all, why was the release of Damnation Reigns postponed? As far as I know it should have been released earlier...

We wanted to get the best possible results out of this album and we are producing in our own studio, so we worked on every detail. Quality takes time. ;)

About a year prior the release you already presented a Behind Enemy Lines live. Testing the waters?

We just wanted to present a new live-song to the audience. It's boring to play only 'old' material: for us and of cause the people.

On your new album you have some guests, Tim 'Ripper' Owens and Victor Smolski. Was it difficult to get 'Ripper' Owens involved? Did you had the idea to ask Tim while you were writing the song?

No, we got the idea when the song was already recorded. We though it has got a little Priest-vibe, so who would be the best man to do this job??
Our label Black Bards got in contact with Tim and Victor and we are proud to have these guys on our album!

The lyrical range is huge, from Egypt to the Vietnam (?) war. Please tell us a bit more about the lyrics!

The lyrics contain fantasy, historic and very personal themes, too. And yes, you are right, Behind Enemy Lines is about the horrors of the Vietnam War.
We have no special lyric-concept. We give our Ideas to our singer Andy, because we think that he is the best in writing lyrics.

You played a record release show in Bochum in November. You opened up for The Man-Eating Tree and Tarot. How was it?

It was a cool gig. I think the crowd liked us, some reactions of the people were quiet enthusiastic. It was a great evening with a great audience!

Are you satisfied with the feedback you got for Damnation Reigns?

Yes, most people we talked to liked this album, because it contains a quiet cool mix between some old-style metal tunes and more modern sounds.
The feedback for Sygn was good, the feedback for Damnation Reigns is better.

You always play(ed) some one-off shows, and then your first tour, you supported W.A.S.P. in Germany. How was it to open for Blackie Lawless & co?

It was like a dream coming true being support to this eighties legend!
We traveled 3,000 km in 6 days! Lots of fun and lots of work ;) The audience was good and I think we have many new fans now...

You also posted some clips from the tour; any more fans can look forward to?

The clips are from other journeys to Romania and Italy. On the W.A.S.P. Tour, we had not enough time and money to produce a live clip or something like this. It was just like play, take our things and drive to the next location.

The Claymore is taking their time, while other bands try to have an album every year - and sometimes release half-baked albums -, they focus on quality. And they try to make more fans by playing live - like in the good ol' days. If you haven't listen to Damnation Reigns yet, don't waste time, head over to their MySpace now!

Claudia Ehrhardt


Christian Köhle (by phone) - August, 27th 2002

For some reason I should take over the interview with the German youngsters The Claymore which I just had heard about... But okay, no big deal, coz I should get the CD and stuff before the interview. Unfortunately the mail didn't delivered it in time and so I just knew the 2 tracks from their homepage when bassist Christian called me punctually. I explained the situation and we started a little chit-chat. First I asked Christian to give a short overlook about the beginning of the band. "Actually I played for a few years in a band with our guitarist Kai Schwittek and drummer Hardy Kölzer. We were looking for a singer and finally found Andy. Then the other guitarist left and we were looking for another one. And so Sebastian Busacker came in. We decided to re-start and searched for a new name. That was in August 2000." It took awhile and they named Claymore, but soon learnt that there is another band and so they added the article and became The Claymore. Next step was to the domain for their website and to register the name, at least in Germany. And they already started to make themselves known with playing live in the area they are living. "Next we play at the Westfalenfestival in Dortmund on October 12th." There they will share the stage with Squealer and Tankard. The band played live a lot, especially in 2001, but most are local shows. The last bigger thing was the Steel Meets Steel festival which they organized and where Angel Dust headlined. Playing live is essential for the quintet, coz it helps them to choose their songs or at least gives them an idea, if they should change something. "The best shows we had when we played at a pub here in Castrop-Rauxel. It is sized for about 150 people and often there are about 200! The reactions of the audience made us choose the songs for the demo. If a song couldn't stand that test, we kick it, take out the best part and create something new." And so 10 songs ended up at the demo. Songwriting is a band thing, everybody is involved and if someone doesn't like it, they overdo it. For the five-piece it's important that everybody feels comfortable. But what kind of music is it, you might ask... "I don't know... It's pretty hard for me to describe it, but I heard several times that people say it has an American touch. And name Nevermore..." When I listened to the 2 mp3 tracks my first impression was something about Nevermore and Iced Earth... But that can't explain their sound at all. It's just a hint. They have power, melody and some complex parts...
The 10 songs kinda documented the developing of the band, coz it has the first song they have written as well as latest material. With this demo the band is now looking for a deal. "It seems that the labels aren't interested in signing a German newcomer." But the Germans have hope, especially because their demand of quality they have for themselves is extremely high. It's their aim and the belief in themselves. "Perhaps we are a little to idealistic..." For a band it not necessarily has to be bad to be idealistic, but the person who is doing business should be more realistic.... "Actually we found someone who takes over the business part yet. He will take over the management and already started to shop around for a deal." At the moment Christian couldn't say more then they are hoping to sign a deal and release a CD in spring 2003. "I don't know, if we will re-record the songs, coz the demo - even if it has a good quality - hasn't the sound to put it on disk. Perhaps they want us to add a track or two, perhaps they want us to record something brand-new." Then it might happen that their demo which was limited to 500 copies become rare... After the release the band hope that they can play some more shows all over Germany and perhaps some in Belgium and the Netherlands.
Meanwhile they play one more show in their area. "On Friday - August 30th - we play at the Datteln Kanalfestival. We play at 9 pm at the stage at the harbour which is called Rock am Hafen and we are opening the event on that stage." The festival is lasting the whole weekend, but isn't presenting just metal. "It will be the last time we play at events which are not just metal, even if it's funny to read in a newspaper you bands name next to Klaus Lage (German rock singer - ed.)." Also the band decided to play no longer cover versions, coz their are tired of the comments and comparisons they get afterwards. "I think we have enough material and our own sound that we need cover versions no longer. Even if it's nice, if people compare you with Iron Maiden..."
At least I should mention that it was a well thought decision to put the badly drawn cover on the demo. "We wanted to make sure that the listener - if journalist or A&R - pays attention to the music and not just because of a nice cover!" The music is what they want to sell and hopefully soon a record label will pay attention... There are quite a few bands signed which can't compete with the quintet... But at least, if they believe in themselves and in what they are doing, then they will make it sooner or later... Good luck!

Claudia Ehrhardt


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