This interview took place two weeks before the release of of FALCONER's new album "Northwind" and it came out as a really nice talk again. |
Do you still work at the cemetary? But not playing Death Metal, though?
Stefan: Yes, no, haha - I've managed to keep myself from that. I've done it one time and that's enough.
Alright. Do you know about the sales of your previous album "Grime vs. Grandeur"?
Stefan: Yes, 7000 copies.
And was Metalblade satisfied with that?
Stefan: No. But they accepted it, they had to. We might be kicked off the label, but I don't know what they think would be too bad to release.
How many albums does your contract with Metalblade include?
Stefan: Five albums, so "Northwind" is the last album on the contract.
Aha. And are you going to stick with them or are you free and looking around who may take you on your way?
Stefan: Well, we will have to see what Metalblade says, but I can't really say that I'm unsatisfied with their work. I think they have done a very good job and they don't put any kind of pressure on the band. We can do exactly what we want, so we are very free. I think that's a very positive thing with a record label.
What did you personally dislike about "Grime..."?
Stefan: I don't know, if I disliked anything, but a couple of songs were a bit to bad, I think. Especially the song 'Power'. I think that it was an okay album, but I didn't feel that much at home with it. I can't see myself in some of the songs. I have done the more medieval music all since the MITHOTYN days, that's the more normal kind of writing for me. I kind of feel a little lost listening to the album a couple of months after the release.
Hm, it's quite similar for me as well, because I really, really liked "Grime..." in the beginning, gave it a lot of points in my review. After a while I still like it, but it is somehow not that overwhelming anymore.
Stefan: Yeah. I think I would probably have a brighter view on the album, if it would have a different band name.
Yes, maybe. The style changed a lot there, more to the "classical" Power Metal stuff.
Stefan: Exactly. We tried to adapt the music to Krisoffer's voice, because on "Sceptre of Deception" I heard that he doesn't do that kind of Metal very good. But on "Grime vs. Grandeur" he did the songs excellent, I think. But then I also thought I don't want to adapt my natural way of writing to his voice. That felt like the wrong way to go.
So now Mathias is back and you are back to the more folky roots. That's not only because you heard your fans, is it?
Stefan: No, but of course it's a part of it. We knew that the fans wouldn't get angry with us, if we took Mathias back. But mostly it's because I wanted to do the music I know I do best. And then I got Mathias' voice in my head, you could say. I knew that his vocals would make the material sound as good as possible. He is made for singing that kind of music. That happened, I think, in July last year, when I had a couple of new songs done - I knew that these songs would really need Mathias to make them fair. So we asked him in September, I think, if he was interested in coming back and he was very interested! As long as it does not collide too much with his other obligations...
He has a lot of fun singing that kind of music, because he likes the music?
Stefan: He doesn't listen to Metal, but somehow he likes the FALCONER sound and to sing that kind of melodies. I think it is some kind of challenge to his voice anyway, because it's not the normal thing for him to do.
But on the other hand you already mentioned his obligations. You probably went back to the point of less life appearances?
Stefan: Yeah, that's right. But I can't really say that I'm sad about that fact, because I still prefer that the music and the albums get as good as possible instead of being able to play much live. That's just a bonus that comes with the music. The first priority is to have the album sound as good as possible. So I would guess there will be chances to see FALCONER on festivals next year or a club show maybe, but I don't think there will be any tours, I can't imagine anyway. And Karsten is going to be a father in November [Shame on me, I didn't notice this during the interview, only now on the record! Congratulations from here! - annotation by the author], so I won't plan anything around these months either.
Let's get on to "Northwind" then. The cover artwork has already been discussed on the message boards; the unnatural stand of the warrior, the axe standing a little strange. How was this concept developed and realized?
Stefan: Actually, this was the first time that I didn't have any idea about what the cover should look like. I just sent Meininghaus (Jan, artwork designer) the lyrics of the title track and then he came up with a couple of ideas. I think it looks okay. It's not the best cover from FALCONER, but it works. I mean, things have been a little wrong with the other covers, too. For example on the debut album: The warriors under arm is way too long to look natural. But that's nothing I really irritate myself on. I think most fans will see the cover and realize that it's a FALCONER cover.
Some people have asked me, if we are trying to go back to the first cover with this, because they think it's the same guy. Because of the long hair and everything, yes. But that's not my fault, I think it works, so they know we are back to that music and so on.
On the normal edition of this album there are 14 titles. That is any many as only on the concept album "Sceptre..." - do you think there are fillers in it?
Stefan: Haha... Actually, the last song 'Black Tarn', the instrumental - I had the plan to name that track 'Filler'. I had some melodies left over and thougt yeah, let's do an instrumental to fill out some time. It turned out very good, I think. An instrumental shouldn't be too long. It's a good ending on the album.
Yeah, it carries back to the beginning with the northwind-soundeffekt. It's a calm outro, yes.
Stefan: Yes. But other from that I don't see any song as a filler. Of course there are songs I don't like THAT much. That would be 'Blinded' for example - I think that's the only one I can think of that is not a ten-points-song.
Guest musicians. There are a few instruments and keyboards that probably nobody of the normal band crew did. How many guests did you have?
Stefan: We had one guy, who played the piano. Everything else is keyboards. Although I had - I don't know, if it's a good idea - the idea to write a fluetist's name and a guy, who played the violine and so on, because I don't think many people would understand that's it's actually keyboard playing it. It's very good sounds. Of course the solo violine was not really easy to copy. First I thought to hire a few guest musicians, but that never happened. So hopefully for the next album. I have a solo violininst and a fluetist in mind, who are willing to do it, so we will see.
On the earlier albums, I think, Mathias already played some piano or keys?
Stefan: Yes, he did a couple of keyboard things. But this time I did everything myself. And I also had more times to sit down for the keyboards, because we recorded all instruments in February and Mathias came into the studio in July. In all that meantime I had time to think about the keyboard arrangements and so on. I think I have put down the most time in this album. It's very produced, I think. Probably some fans may not recognize all the details and the time I put into it, but I hear them.
That would have been my next point anyway: This album has more depth and complexity than the ones before. In what direction do you develop as a songwriter?
Stefan: Ja, hm... I think that I lean to doing more pompous things, more arrangements. But some songs tend to be very simple and others are more progressive. I don't know what leg I should be standing on. But I think that has been the way since the first album. A couple of easy songs and a couple of hard ones. For this album "more details" is a good description of the album.
Within a lengthy exchange of impressions it comes out that the straight and fast (sometimes too fast for Stefan's taste, but Karsten and Jimmy love it) track 'Spirit Of The Hawk' was written as the last song, after all instruments had already been recorded. The album needed one more really fast song, so Stefan went home for a saturday and sunday and came back with 'Spirit Of The Hawk'.
Yeah, I could tell you about the ballad on this album: 'Long Gone By'. That one was intentially ment for the last album, with another lyric. It was called 'Tonight' and a very sleezy WHITESNAKE kind of ballad. But we didn't have time to record it, so I just kept it in the drawer and took it out now and changed the lyric. I think it's a very good song, especially the keyboard arrangements. There we really should have had a violine and cellos and so on.
On 'Delusion' the hammond organ comes back.
Stefan: Yeah, the hammond organ rules!
Yes! And that reminds me of 'Busted To The Floor'. Was it ment like that or is it just by accident?
Stefan: Okay. No, it's just because the kind of guitar riff needed a hammond organ. It got that kind of a groove to it.
The one song you mentioned maybe not to be worth 10 points, 'Blinded' might even fit some grunts, if only for the lyrics like "The rotten stench will still be there", I thought. Are you going to work with different kinds of vocals maybe?
Stefan: No, I would not. I would like to once again have more vocalists like on the concept album, but without the concept. We will see what Mathias says about that. We had plans to let one of Mathias' co-workers - I think it was not the same woman as on the debut album, but a female voice anyway - do a couple of dubbings, but that never happened. That always does something for an album, to have a different kind of voice sometimes.
Mathias already does choruses and dubbed parts.
Stefan: Yes, I was amazed that he put down all the vocals in four days! With all the dubs and everything. If he had three days more, I think he would get some choirs and harmonies and so on. So that's a dream for the next album.
The songwriting probably is as in the early days; you write the songs and melodies and everything and Mathias interprets your vocal lines.
Stefan: Yeah, exactly. And does different harmonies in the choruses and stuff like that.
And as on the first two albums it works out very, very well.
Stefan: I think so. He called me one time, because he had problems fitting all the words into, I think it was one of the verses of 'Home Of The Knave'. He couldn't see how all the words should fit into the verse. But I somehow managed to write down very bad notes on how he should sing it and he did it very well, I think.
Tough lyrics is a good topic as well. 'Fairyland Fanfare'. How long did it take you to write the lyrics for 'Fairyland Fanfare'? Especially with the extreme alliterations there.
Stefan: Yeah.. I had to sit down with a dictionary to find all the cool words that started with "l"! (laugh) But I think it sounds very professionally done. Maybe a bit "OK, why is that word here?", but it sounds good anyway. And I hope all the fans will recognize that, because it is just a fun thing to do. I think I happened to get two or three words in the beginning to start with the same letter and thought OK, I'll do the entire bridge with that, but that took, yeah, some time...
Haha... And which one is the "German chorus" on "Northwind"?
Stefan: 'Purjury And Sanctity'.
'Purjury And Sanctity'? Actually? Hm.
Stefan: Yeah. Which one do you think?
I thought more like... well, there are a few possibilities: 'Catch The Shadows'.
Stefan: Yes, but that sounds, at least to me, a bit like 80's Heavy Metal. But I think that's one of the strongest songs of the album anyway.
'Spirit Of The Hawk' - it's maybe too fast for a German sing-along chorus, but it's nice to sing along.
Stefan: Hm, maybe.
And the title track as well, but the chorus is not as melodically strong as 'Catch The Shadows'.
Stefan: Yeah, but I would say 'Purjury And Sanctity'. That's a real sea of metalheads just sing along.
Hopefully we will have the chance to check that out sometime.
Stefan: Hopefully. Next summer at least.
OK, I think I'm done with my questions so far. Do you have anything left you have to say?
Stefan: Maybe the bonus tracks?
I don't know them so far. I just pre-ordered the album at Amazon a few minutes ago. But I haven't heard the bonus tracks, they are not on the promo. What are the bonus tracks?
Stefan: It's three Swedish traditional folk songs. One of them is kept in the original style with just very jazzy piano and vocals. And that's the song we did with MITHOTYN, too, but with a different lyric and this is the original one. I thing you should remember the MITHOTY song. And then there is an Icelandic folk song. When I heard the song in the original form, I was watching an Icelandic viking movie. It's called [no way to transcribe that - sorry! ;-)] - 'The Raven Flies' and that's the title track for that movie. I think that all people in Iceland would know the song.
A new target audience!
Stefan: Yeah, exactly, the big, mighty Iceland! (laugh) And of course the video documentary is on the extra disc, too. 17 minutes long. You will get a good insight on what happens in the studio and so on. And then we made kind of a music video for 'Tower Of The Queen'; you see when we recorded the drums and the guitars and the mixing and everything. That might be a bit interesting.
I think so, yes. Okay, thank you very much for your time.
Stefan: Thank you very much!