Not so long ago, Vogelfrey released ‘Zwölf Schritte zum Strick’. About time to ask vocalist Jannik some questions via e-mail. Jannik was a man of many words, as can be read in the extensive interview below. An interview about the new album, outlaws and the great desire to play in Holland.
Could you describe Vogelfrey and your Music in short for the people who don’t know you yet?
Vogelfrey was founded in the beginning of 2004 in Hamburg (Germany). Our main goal with Vogelfrey is to combine Metal, Rock, Medieval and Folklore in an innovative way. Unlike other bands within our genre, the metal-aspect is clearly more dominant, since we use style elements like grunting and double-bass. Pounding guitar-riffs alternate with delicate string arrangements. Here and there we use different kind of flutes which result in an ancient atmosphere, and everything is finished by adding German lyrics. Overall, our focus is on diversity and we try very hard to remain high contrast, which means that our songs can sometimes differ greatly from each other. We call our music folk-metal, but it’s best to listen and decide for yourself!
You are about to release your second album, how are the reactions thus far?
To our delight, the reactions to ‘Zwölf Schritte zum Strick’ so far been very positive. As a band, it’s always very interesting to see how the new album arrives at the listener. We played our release-concert on the 18th of may and it was a great experience. The fans seem to react positively to the new songs, and also the reviews and articles have been predominantly positive. We are very happy about that.
How did the recordings went?
This time we determined a tighter schedule than with ´Wiegenfest´, also, we set ourself a deadline. The result was that we had to work in a goal-oriented way and the album as a whole is created in less time. Of course we still had enough time scheduled to experiment in the studio and be creative, but thanks to the continuous work on the new songs the result is, in my opinion, much fresher and livelier than its predecessor. The collaboration with our producer Danny was great again, and he has given this disc a really full sound. Guitar, bass and bouzouki were taken up this time by our guitarist Dennis. Check it out!
What are your sources of inspiration?
This is very different. Often I´m inspired by historical fiction or fantasy stories, but sometimes it’s my personal experiences that I put into the music. Chris (bass) is often inspired by his love of books, and the song ‘Waffenbruder’ from the debut album you can hear our interest in Norse mythology. Alex (violin) has also contributed to our new album for the first time in the songwriting, as can be heard in ‘Flamme bin ich sichterlich’. What inspired him, I would also like to know ;).
With titles like 12 schritte zum strick’ and ‘Ball der Gehängten’, it seems you have a certain fascination for the gallows. Is this right? And if so, where does this come from?
We are outlaws, which means we must always be on guard for the gallows. This can be seen as a chuckle ;). The noose is the fate of all outlaws, and it is interesting to sing about. It becomes really interesting, however, when it comes to a last minute escape of the gallows, but whether we will succeed?
In ‘schuld is nur der met’ you blame the alcohol for the bad concequences, is this from your own experience?
Definitely! I guess that everyone who drinks mead sometimes had drunk too much and knows the problem when you wake up the next morning with a major headache. Then it’s nice that you can blame someone (as always in life). And what could be more obvious than the beverage as a scapegoat? One can therefore see this song as a kind of warning ;).
What is your personal favorite of the new album?
That’s hard to say. ‘Freitod ‘ has certainly become a very powerful song, and it sounds nicely. This is probably the hardest song we have in our repertoire, and the singing was really fun to do. I think however that ‘Sommer’ has become very atmospheric. Together, these two songs show the stark contrast in the overall dynamic range of the album. In short, the harder numbers harder, and the quieter songs a much calmer by the atmospheric pieces in it. The whole album is also much more danceable!
Who writes all the music in Vogelfrey? Is this a group process or is there someone who writes all the music?
On ´Wiegenfest´, all the songs are from Chris and me. On the new album, Alex had contributed to the writing for the first time. In general it is so that one of us comes with a complete song, with all the arrangements done. During rehearsals we fill in all details in order to finish the song. Sometimes we come together to co-write, but the typical ‘Rehearsaljamming´ which will result in songs is not for us. On ´Wiegenfest´, we occasionally used poems as a basis for our songs, like ´Belsazar´ and ‘Die schlesischen Weber´ from Heine, or ‘Ball der Gehängten’ from Rimbaud. we didn´t use this on ´Zwölf Schritte zum Strick´, although we occasionally use a quote. Inn ´Flamme bin ich sicherlich´the chorus and the title are from a poem by Nietzsche, and the intro of ´Der Tusch!´ That comes from Wedekind.
You inplement a lot of different styles in your music, how do you make sure the music stays clear?
I can not exactly say. The instruments provide in any case a continuity through all the songs, despite the different styles the music is still played by the same instruments. We usually go for the principle that all our influences are placed on a foundation of Rock and Metal. This will provide, despite all the experiments, a clear structure without sounding boring or tedious. We also have a good idea about how our mix of styles should sound, and also when it no longer sounds like Vogelfrey. This is obviously a very subjective business. We are always exploring, as can be heard in songs like ‘Lindwurm Massaker’ or ‘Freitod’. We won´t move further from Folk I think. On the other hand, we remain outlaws, so who knows what we will do ;).
With so many different styles in the music, it’s not unthinkable that you all have a different musical background. What kind of music do you listen to yourself?
That’s right, we all have a very different taste when it comes to music, and I think this is due to our passion for diversity. From death metal to jazz, we are always curious and in every music genre there is something cool that can be integrated within our music. The strings within the band regularly include elements from, for example classical music, baroque, and the like. My favorite band is Rammstein, I started listening to them since I was 9 years old. Some bands I like listening to are Turisas, Extreme, ASP, and Opeth.
In Germany, there is another band called Vogelfrei. Did this ever caused trouble or inconvenience?
Fortunately not. The boys play mainly in the Punk-Rock Circuit if I have understood correctly. Therefore, we have never had any problems.
Is there something you still want to achieve with Vogelfrey?
But of course, there is always a greater goal. A big dream was to play at Wacken Open Air, something we´ve finally succeeded in this year. Nonetheless there are many other dreams and ideas. For example, I would love to play abroad once, something we never did. Furthermore, it seems really cool to us to do a concert with an orchestra and a large choir. Anyway, we are all still in the mid-twenties, so there is still a lot we can do!
Are you planning to cross the borders in the future, and maybe come to Holland to play some shows?
There are no concrete plans, but we are already trying to look across national borders. I am really looking forward to play in the Netherlands to play, and I am very curious how people react to us. As mentioned, thus far we only have been on tour in Germany. Perhaps next year we can come to Holland if we get enough messages from the Netherlands. Definitely leave a message on our Facebook profile, we always like that!
Do you see yourself as ‘Vogelfrey’ (outlaws)?
Maybe a bit musically. Many musicians and bands today bring out albums with songs that barely differ. Our ideal sound is to make very alternating and contrasting songs. If you play in a particular scene you’re more free than a typical mainstream band, but eventually you’ll want to reach more people. That’s probably our version of ‘Vogelfrey’, the curse and the blessing of artistic freedom.
Is there still something you want to say to the readers of folk-metal.nl?
Vogelfrey wants to thank all Dutch Folk-metal fans, and of course we thank folk metal.nl! We hope that we can soon come to your beautiful country to play! Keep faith in us! Es gibt FEENFLEISCH!