Wolfchant and the Art of Noise
During Paganfest 2013 I got the chance to have a talk with the two vocalists of Wolfchant, and they like to talk! Below you can read the interview with Lokhi and Nortwin.
So what is your impression of the Netherlands so far? No hard feelings as a German?
No, that is only for sports. We have definitely no problem. The people are open, also to bands they don’t know so well, what can we have more?
Yeah that was the thing with the line-up this time. There were a lot of bands who were quite unknown. A chance for you?
We are new with this Paganfest thing. We work together with Rock the Nation, the tour organizer, and it seems to be very promising for us cause they do a lot. We have a new record and so far it all works quite good.
This year is your ten year anniversary. How do you look back on ten years?
We’ve found the band in 2003 and now it’s ten years, unbelievable. We will see what happens next.
What do you see as the highs and the lows? Or are there just highs?
At the moment just highs. But you always have lows, when you have to change a band member because different reasons or other bad things that happen.
Normally we grow slowly but continuous.
That is indeed the thing with you guys. You are growing slowly, every two years an album, that’s a good way.
Yes, we have a really nice fanbase, nearly everywhere now. So now we can increase it. And of course there is evolution inside the band.
The first album sounds different then the last one. The actual last release of this last one (Embrace by fire) was a double album more or less because we re-recorded Bloody Tales of Disgraced Lands.
This time Michael, who came into the band at 2010 as a melodic singer, had the opportunity to add some vocals at some parts. This was very important for us to do it like this. I think nowadays that the people, when they buy a record, they have the real package. So we didn’t want to do just the record but give the people something special.
Selling of cd’s is a hard business nowadays, how do you deal with that?
It is very important that the design and everything is attractive for the people. They want to have the original album and not do some downloading.
That is absolutely true, but downloading is cheaper, it causes a big problem.
It is a lot of work to do such an album. To write the songs, to make money at some point, to produce it. So for the band, if you want to support it, it is better to buy the album. And you get a nice booklet.
With your last album, you sort of changed your course. More power, less folk. Do you agree on that?
Not really, it is a little bit more power, but we also increased the folk parts. And compared to, it is always depending on what you see what is folk metal and what is power metal. It is hard to separate.
But the increase of power metal, that was a conscious choice?
Yeah I mean the idea was to make music for everybody. Not only for a small niche of people. So we want people liking to come. You know we have some black metal fans who come and say hey you are great, I don’t listen to this kind of music but I like what you are doing. And that’s what makes fun.
With the musical change, if I can call it that. Is there also a change in lyrics and inspiration?
We said enough about Odin, swords, blood and that kind of stuff. So we said okay let’s do the vocals on some more important things, not how Thor rides on a horse. It was done. It’s boring to do it again and again.
I know many people like songs with swords and blablabla but for us it’s done.
What do you see as more important things?
Well there are different things. Basically how bad the nature is. To see that nobody cares about it. In Germany there is a discussion about getting oil out of the ground using chemicals, which causes pollution. You destroy everything but nobody cares what is in ten, twenty years. This is one side. The other side, I mean, difficult to say. To write something, your feelings and to put it in words. And in a way that you have the feeling that you see a picture. That is for example our intension. So if you read the lyrics, they are in German partly, we know, it is very much about feelings. But we try to put it in a very optical language, make it accessible. To create pictures in the head with the lyrics. That’s what we want do and we hope we can do.
Do you have the feeling that in German you can express yourself better?
Yes of course. It’s easier in your mother-tongue then in English. But we did this mix of language, for us it’s normal to do it this way with some English and some German. You just choose what fits better. If you speak in your mother-tongue of course you can make it more elegant. You know more, you can express exactly what you want to express. In English it is difficult because you write something but you don’t know if natives would say or write it like this. So it’s normal that German is easier.
Besides the lyrical and musical change, there are also more clean vocals. There are bands like Suidakra who combine this already for a longer time. Do you see this as an influence? I guess it’s not that one day you wake up and say okay let’s do more clean vocals.
We also had clean vocals in our songs. But we did it for ourselves, we know we are not the best clean singers. And 2007 we played together with Rebellion and I met Michael there. We drank some beer and then we said come let’s do something together. First idea I think it was to make our own band. We had several ideas at that time. The first time Michael entered the stage with wolfchant was as a guest singer. Then he did some guest-vocals for a few songs of the next album. That was so much fun for us to do that we wanted to continue. It was a process that grew slowly we had the idea to make it as a band. As we already had so many things to do as we are working and the band, it was better to do this with Wolfchant and not to create an independent project. It was really something which happened during 2007-2010.
Now you are signed with Noiseart and RTN. What opportunities does that give you?
With Noiseart and RTN everything is open. Since they are so huge and big and they have the best motion system. Together with Napalm, with Nuclear blast. RTN is the biggest agency in Europe that everybody knows. You can do everything.
Really there is the feeling I have from this short time is that they really have a plan for you ready. So you know when you release the album, you are already on tour, so it is perfect timing. And they are good in organizing.
You don’t think it gives extra pressure? That the busy schedule gives so much extra pressure and with that the quality drops?
I think pressure is good for bands. We often think okay it’s better to make everything calm and take a lot of time for it. But in the end another year passed by and you didn’t do something. So we need, and many bands with us, somebody who kicks you in the ass. So that is good. It is also to go on a high level.
How would you compare Embraced by Fire with previous albums. We noticed that it is quite different but how do you see it yourself?
I would say there is more virtuosity on this album. It’s faster, more difficult, faster to play and more demanding from the technical side. Our musicians increased knowledge in guitar play and drum play. It went very fast in the last year, they are getting better and better and show that they are good. In the past we wouldn’t have any solo’s on the album, so we blocked everything which was to technical. And this we changed in the last two years. Now we do what we can do and don’t give ourselves a limit in any compositions. And now this is the result.
So you are really proud?
Yes of course, it is our new record. We wouldn’t release it if we wouldn’t be proud of it. We always need to have the feeling that something is improving. It makes no sense to make an album and to say okay I prefer the last album over the new album. So it’s another step on our way and I think an album also represents the feelings and the atmosphere in the band at a special time. On all the albums we recorded. So maybe the next album will again sound different.
The important thing for us is when we get the feedback from the people who ordered the cd a couple days ago, they say okay it is different but you hear it is Wolfchant. You still hear your own sound. That is important for us. We want to develop new things and create new things but the core has to be wolfchant. Also in the next album. So we will not make a death metal album.
Ofcourse there are fans who say it is not what it was when you started, the change was too much for some people. But that’s okay. I mean the old albums are still available, if you want to listen to them you can buy them. But I think nowadays we get more and more feedback from new people who didn’t like Wolfchant in the past because it was not absolutely their style and now we are more open musically to just have a wider spectrum.
Now we lose old fans but we get more new. We’re still growing.
In Germany you have so many paganmetal bands. It’s almost an own subgenre: German pagan metal. How do you see that, how do you look at the scene?
The last 3-4 years it’s going less and less. In 2007 you got every week a new folk metal band from everywhere and all the labels signed bands because they thought it’s the next big thing. They wanted to have a pagan metal band in the rooster. But the last years it’s going down. Several bands which are on the market are still successful. And the rest has disappeared. Many bands who started with us in 2003-4-5 are not active anymore.
I think paganmetal meanwhile means you can play all festivals. Not just paganmetalfestivals but to this, this this.. People like it but it simply will disappear. Also when you check the reviews of new upcoming paganmetalbands. Mostly the first sentences are: ‘again a pagan metal band’. All those one-day-flies. If you are playing along since a long time, you have to find your own way. That means surviving in the future, also when this trend is completely gone. Because it always happens that the music changes.
In Germany the hype was coming 2004-05 with bands like Equilibrium. The medieval touch to metal was very popular, what people liked to see. And now, most people can’t hear bagpipes anymore.
In your previous albums you had a lot of paganism. Isn’t that difficult in Germany, with its history?
It’s a strange thing in Germany as a pagan band. Very quick you can get problems when you say the wrong words. But we did the writing and told everybody from the beginning we don’t have to do anything with politics. There are very less bands who had never problems with this. We always said no politic in music and this is the reason why we never had problems. Other bands had lots of issues. There was in the beginning we had some gigs when the police came and stopped everything. The band used some symbols, not the swastika but other symbols which are also not wanted in Germany because they are somehow related to Nazi’s.
But normally the bands use it many times because it is an old symbol. Like Viking heritage. And they don’t accept that they can’t be used in Germany. Of course there are also metalbands which are a little bit in the wrong direction let’s say it like that. So in Germany of course it is a special topic. Much more than in other countries.
I read in an old interview that you are quit fascinated by wolfs. Traditionally wolves live in a pack. Do you see Wolfchant as a pack of wolves?
In the beginning we thought we were. The name, we live next to the national park in Germany. We have many many wolves 2 km away from our house. We thought: we need a special inspiration from our area, what can we do? We take the wolf in the name, and because you hear them howl we made it Wolfchant. We could also have called in Deerchant, but I think Wolfchant sounds better.
And of of course it is a symbol of being together and strong. So a little bit of a pack.
The band doesn’t work if the people are not together so of course we all have the same targets at the same things. Everybody around the band is a friend. Also Michael was quite soon a good friend, even though he lives quite far away from the band. The band comes from close to Passau and Michael comes from Osnabruck. There is 700 km between Michael and Wolfchant. But we are connected and it works very good.
I had never thought it would be like this, but it appeared to be quite easy, even though I can’t practice every time.
You’ve already had quite some record labels. Are you not good in settling down?
No, if there is no possibility to come a step forward, we resign. We started at a small label, which had some opportunities then we had to stop because they didn’t had the power to bring us forward. And normally you have to go one step to a bigger lever so we signed with Massacre Records, did two cd’s with them and then it was finished. And this time Noiseart called us and we made the decision to go for a next step.
Noiseart doesn’t have so many bands and that is better for the band. They pick out the bands and say okay they have potential to do different things. They can perform, make good cd’s and work hard. We invest many many hours. Months, vacations. It’s nice if that all works out in the end.
You once had a song that was called ‘never too drunk’ is that from own experience?
Yes! This was a very very good own experience. It was the time when we came together. The first album Michael appeared as a singer and we had many parties together and this was one of the things when we drank too much. So many crazy stories, so definitely from own experience.
What is the most embarrassing thing you ever had happened related to the band? Or if you have any embarrassing stories that are not connected to the band you can tell them as well!
There was another band who shit on the floor in the hotel and everybody thought it was us who had shit on the floor. That was really crazy. We got a letter from the hotel that we had to pay. Eventually they found the people who did it.
And sometimes you have the wrong day to play, like falling down on stage. It is fun, not on that moment. I just slipped away, on that moment you lose all the control. But everybody has forgotten that. Well, now not anymore.
Do you have any future dreams or plans?
Wacken would be fine and touring the States would definitely be fine. We will see what happens, we have good promotion at the moment.
As you maybe know we did something with a series from Cartoon Network. It is a really old series. They made drawings of us and we made a song for the episode. That was really cool to do.
Thank you very much for this interview. Is there anything you would like to say to the fans?
Of course! Thank you for supporting us, this year was unbelievable. We get many feedback from Holland, we are proud to be here for the first time. Such a good response. Check out the new cd.