The band was founded by Chris Bay and me in January 1998. Since this time the band released three regular albums. Our first was Stairway To Fairyland in May 1999. Then the next one was Crystal Empire in January 2001 in Europe and Eternity in June 2002. The band did one mini EP called Taragon with five songs on it and it was released in November 1999. The band did several touring activities with Angra in 1999, with Saxon in 1999, with Hammerfall in 2001, and with Blind Guardian in 2002. During the tour with Blind Guardian the band recorded a live album and this will be released in the beginning of 2003.
Elaborate on your latest release.
I think half of the album, the five really melodic beatings on the album, are typical Freedom Call style. Very melodic, very fast, very precise. I think for the first time we also have two ballads on it. One is called "Turn Back Time" with a nice acoustic guitar theme and we also have "Bleeding Heart". It's a little bit more complex. A lot of parts in it but it's still a ballad like song. Then we have a more mainstream song like "Land Of Light" and we have a typical Freedom Call song too. It's a mid tempo song that's glorious with a nice melody line in the chorus. The typical Freedom Call trademark like big choirs and nice melodies. A lot of the melodic parts are played by brass sections. A lot of classical influences and I think a lot of positive power. I think on this album you can hear the progress the band made during the last year because we worked in the studio. The studio work went very well and everybody was really hot to do this album. Everybody was well prepared and we rehearsed a lot. I think you can hear this on the album.
Do you guys normally use choirs and brass sections?
Yeah, I think it's a typical trademark. Also when we compose the songs, somehow it depends. The melodies are the most important thing like the vocal parts or the melody lines. We flew around a little bit with these parts, with these melody lines, and we are searching for the best impression. Which ins ever expresses this melody best we use. For us the brasses do a very good job with this. It's not always brasses and not only brasses. A lot of melodic guitar parts too. It depends. Whenever we think that brasses are good for a melody line, we use them. Why not? I think somehow it's unique. Not many bands in this kind of music style use brass themes.
It makes you stand apart. It's been emphasized that "Bleeding Heart" and "Turn Back Time" uses acoustic guitars. Is this something you've done for the first time?
No, we never did it before. This is really the first time. Especially with the song "Turn Back Time". This was the last song that was finished. At first we had a different arrangement in this song. At first it was more like string instruments and we had a more classical version of this song, "Turn Back Time". We weren't satisfied with that so we would keep on fooling around and all of a sudden Chris was bringing his guitar and we tried it. We tried a really very basic acoustic version and everybody liked it. Everybody said "yeah, that's the way the song should be." It's the first time we've done this.
You have a new guitarist named Cede Dupont.
A friend of mine from Sanctuary Records gave me his address. When Sascha Gerstner left the band right after the Hammerfall tour in March 2001, we had to search for a new one and we did a lot of rehearsals. Cede was the first guy who showed up and he was the best one. We liked his character and we liked his big talent. He's very young. He's 22 years old and we liked his talent. You can work with him very well because whatever you say to him he can play on the guitar. It's no problem. For his age, he's very adept at quickly putting our thoughts to music. This is very important for us to work with him in the studio. It was a good choice.
Who does your sleeve illustrations?
It's a guy from the U. K. His name is Paul Raymond Gregory and he did the covers on the first three albums. He does oil paintings and it's good to work with him because he's a very creative artist. He's always listening to our suggestions and to what we want to add. It's good to communicate with him and I think that we will continue this work. This time, the cover on the Eternity album, it's different from the other ones. It's always like blue and red colors and this time it's really more like black and green and a little bit blue. It's different this time and a lot of people like it.
I thought it was very nice. You guys did Swedenrock on July 8th.
Yes, Swedenrock was for us a very nice thing. It was very good to do it because since we toured in Sweden with Hammerfall, there was a big fanbase in Sweden and so the Swedenrock was very important for us to be there with a new album. It was a nice experience and we played in the afternoon, I think at 3 PM, so we were in fear of not having so many people there. The place was crowded and it was a good show for us. Of course we were well prepared because right before we played in Spain and we were coming from Spain. We played for some weeks and so it was a really nice show for us. A very good strong show.
You guys also did a show in Moscow.
Yes, it was in the beginning of March together with Edguy. I was surprised how well organized everything was. Moscow is no beautiful town but it's a very exciting town and for us all it was a great experience to be there and the fans were burning. They don't have so many concerts and so they were really hungry. Both bands had so much power and so it was a nice experience playing Moscow.
So Moscow has a really nice vibe to it. There are some cities that are like that. You just go there and it's so alive.
Downtown there's a lot of life going on. Some of the people are nice but it's pretty dangerous in this town so you have to be careful in which area you go when you're in Moscow. There are a lot of poor people and the criminal rate is very high so we always had somebody with us who told us where we can go. Who showed us everything so it was more secure for us.
Sounds like a lot of major cities. You guys are doing Bloodstock on August 31st.
Right. It's an independent metal festival and the capacity is about let's say 2,000 or 3,000 people. I heard that it hasn't been in existence all that long and it's a metal union. A lot of people who are organizing this. Our artist for the booklet cover, Paul Raymond, Gregory, is involved in this metal union. He was the guy who asked us to come over to the U. K. and play the show with Freedom Call. It was great to come back because we played one show there in February 2001 together with Hammerfall. The place was a small club, was very crowded, and sold out. The fans liked us and so we are looking forward to come back.
You're also going to be doing a headlining tour starting September 10th.
Right. We're going to France. I think it's 10 or 11 shows and we do one show in Switzerland and one show in Germany. Then we probably go to Sweden for another three shows. I think that in France our record company and the promoters want to headlining shows. For us it's a good experience because it's the first time we go out as a headliner. We are looking forward to it and we let the fans decide what they want to hear via Internet. We are looking forward to it. We'll try to come back next year in Germany for more headlining shows because a lot of people sent us mail and they were asking and complaining about why we don't play more shows in Germany. The promoters said that we have been on tour in May and April with Blind Guardian and so many people have seen us and so the promoters don't want to do more shows. The conditions for the shows are not so good. That's why we only play in France and probably Sweden and Switzerland.
The Germans are being deprived! Who does most of the songwriting in the band?
Chris is doing most of the songs, the basic ideas. I do most of the lyrics and then we work it out together. We arrange everything and make the songs listenable for the other guys. We go to the rehearsing room and we do the arrangements and check out things. When we have most of the songs ready to record then we start the recording.
Is everybody in the band from Nuremberg?
No, there's Cede Dupont the guitar player. He's from Switzerland. From Basle, Switzerland and the other guys are from Nuremberg or the area around Nuremberg. Little villages.
Where is Nuremberg located?
Nuremberg is in the north of Bavaria. Bavaria is a little state of Germany in the south of Germany and Nuremberg is in the north of this Bavarian state. It's close to Munich. About 150 kilometers from Munich.
You're also the drummer for Gamma Ray. What's going on with Gamma Ray?
Right. Right now we are doing some festivals. A lot of summer festivals. Last weekend we played in Spain. A place called Lorga together with Manowar and Slayer. Right now we have a little break and then in the beginning of August we go to the East. To Hungary and Slovakia and Switzerland. There are some more like going to South Korea. We're also playing Bloodstock. In the autumn in October we do a small tour which will be called Skeletons In The Closet. This tour is especially for the fans and Gamma Ray only plays songs which Gamma Ray normally doesn't play on live shows. There will be no "Land Of The Free", no "Rebellion In Dreamland", no "Somewhere Out In Space". Only songs which the band usually doesn't play live. Also the fans can decide via Internet and then we're doing a live album during the shows in Hamburg and Barcelona. The band records a live album too.
Cool. So you guys are going with the obscure stuff. That was something I liked with KISS touring. They tackled some of the obscure stuff. I find some of the obscure stuff to be the best.
Sure. Gamma Ray has so many very good songs and we have a lot of old fans especially who always want to hear certain songs like "Last Before The Storm" or "Hear Me". Songs like this. Why not play some of these songs? Because we always let the people decide and they always want to hear the same songs in the first row. There are a lot of old songs that appear. Why not do some of the old stuff, the stuff Gamma Ray doesn't usually play. It's a very cool bonus thing for the fans.
Any other thoughts or comments?
Gamma Ray is looking forward to coming over to Atlanta for the rock festival. We are ready to play. I think it's the first time for Gamma Ray that we come over. The Freedom Call guys also want to do this but we have to wait for more time but I hope that one day Freedom Call can come over too.
We'll be happy to have to you.