Mandragora Thuringia Interview
Between Humans an Nature
Mandragora Thuringia was founded in 2008 as a cover band and at that time, in its infancy, they did a lot of musical exploring, being influenced by bands like Alestorm, Korpiklaani and Sabaton. The band really began to take off in 2016 with independently releasing their first EP “Mandragora Erwacht” (Mandragora Awakens) that brought forth some live shows which saw the band gain some fan base and popularity. In 2019 they released ‘Der Vagabund’, and had shows planned to support the new release when the global pandemic hit and brought things to a sudden stop as with most musicians. While a lot of newly formed bands gave up and parted ways, Mandragora Thuringia went into overdrive mode writing new songs and used the time to write the new album “Rex Silvarum’.
Congratulations on the new album “Rex Silvarum. Can you tell me if there was a main theme of inspiration for the writing of the album?
“Hello Matthew. Thanks! We are really proud to finally release this album since the writing and recording process took nearly 3 years and it’s always thrilling to release new music.
One of the big themes in our songs is and always has been nature at its core so it was clear one of the main focuses would be exactly this, although there are many more inspirations. We try to take modern day situations and pack them into tales and stories.”
Can you tell me how you came up with the name Mandragora Thuringia?
“At the time we were looking for a suitable name we thought about “What is a good bridge between humans and nature. Since the mandrake has always been a staple as a mystical and medicinal plant and also often resembles human figures. After that decision we went with the Latin name “Mandragora” since it sound much more pleasing than the German “Alraune””
Have you performed as a full band and if so where?
“On our website (www.mandragora-thuringia.de) is a full tour and show history of the band but yes, we played a lot so far. One of the most notably would be the “20 wahre Jahre Festival” held be In Extremo, one of the biggest medieval rock bands in Germany. During the past years we played a lot of festivals such as the “Sternenklang Festival”, “Hörnerfest”, “Mahlstrom Open Air” and many more.”
* How did you all meet and start collaborating?
“If you refer to the band itself it started as a group of friends in a little town called Ebeleben in northern Thuringia. If you mean with influential scene member like Dom R. Crey or Robse, this is a whole different story. For Dom we actually just contacted him via Instagram. He was just starting his new studio, “Splenided Wave Studios”.
After a few messages and a Testmix it was set in stone that we would work with him. The Tracks we sent him for the Testmix were recorded at home and of poor quality so we didn’t expect to much but that was just amazin. In fact it was so good we decided to release the Track “Falkenflug” which was the Testmix at that time. Of course the album version is a newly recorded and mixed Track.
With Robse it was a meeting at the “Sternenklang Online Festival”. He was one of the co-hosts since two days before Micha from In Extremo had to cancel the job. After a few beers and a lot of laughing we talked about working with Dom R Crey and he just offered to do a guest appearance on the album. We sat together, talked it through and it was set and done.
Bot now became close friends of the band and we will, for sure, work with them again.
“Rex Silvarum” is being released on MDD Records. Can you tell me did you approach MDD Records or did they approach you? If they approached you, how did they find out about Mandragora Thuringia?
“Our first release “Der Vagabund” was self published and we learned a lot during that process. One of the most important things we learned what huge of an impact it can have if you have the right partner at your side, so we went out and searched for labels we would like to work with.
We sent out a good dozen of mails to labels if they were interested. After that we decided to partner with MDD Records since they are a good and suitable size for us as a newcomer. We believe that a “big” label would be too much for us to handle. Within the first few calls we had a great chemistry with MDD so it was natural to team up with them.”
Do you follow a process or ritual before a recording an album?
“We don’t have a specific ritual but our process has changed dramatically over the past 2 years. Due to Covid-19, a lot was written and pre produced at our homes but it was never in doubt to go to a studio at least for the vocals. Also it is important to us to studio-recordings together. It nearly feels like a trip with good friends and family and bonds us together.”
Do you have a Bandcamp site and do you also expect to sell “Rex Silvarum” via Bandcamp?
“Yes, we also have a Bandcamp page: https://mandragorathuringia.bandcamp.com and we will sell “Rex Silvarum” there as a digital copy but also have our own web shop on our homepage:
The Album can also be bought there, digitally as well as physically.”
How was it working with Dom R. Crey who has recorded with such big bands as Equilibrium?
“At first we were super nervous. Equilibrium and Nothgard are both big influences of our guitarists and the band as a whole. Although he is super relaxed and extremely professional we might have behaved like little kids meeting their idol – at least on the first meeting.”
Especially for out guitarists this was a big thing. Suddenly you are sitting there in the studio in front of one of your biggest influences and need to record. That puts a different kind of pressure – although good pressure – on you.
“Now he and Robse became close friends of the band and for sure we will come back to record the next album.”
Does anyone in the band have any formal musical training and if so, who and where did they train?
“We all had instrument teachers when we were younger some more, some less, to learn fundamentals of our instruments and develop a good set of techniques and skills. This set the foundation of going on and developing our own style throughout the years.”
Your first studio album is epic, how well received was the 2019 release “Der Vagabund”?
““Der Vagabund” was released just about the time Covid-19 hit the world which was definitely noticeable in term of growth and reception. Never the less we got a good handful of important gigs and positive reviews as well as a placement in the “Legacy” magazine. It set the foundation to what is to come with “Rex Silvarum”.”
Your lyrics are all in German, do you plan to do any songs all in English?
“No, so far our premise is to write songs only in the German language.”
What about your fan base? I see you are on social media such as Instagram and Facebook, do your fans contact you and where are they mostly from, Europe or other countries?
“Mostly our fans are from Germany. We are in a few international networks and sometimes get a message from an international fan which is always exciting to see that country borders, and maybe a language barrier, are no boundaries for music”
What bands or performers inspire your music? Have you ever played with or toured with them?
“Well, as said Equilibrium is a big influence for us. This is a band basically every one of our members likes and listens to. After that every musician has his own influences in terms of play style and music he likes. This ranges from orchestral and symphonic metal all the way over the genre-pot to extreme and technical death metal. For playing and touring with them, well, I think it would be one dream to come true, to open a show for Equilibrium.
Also, though, we don’t really overlap with the genre, it would be a huge thing to open up for a band like Sabaton since they are a big part for a few of us.
During the last year we have played with a lot of bands on festivals and connect with them there, especially in the folk metal scene. Bands like Munarheim, Vanaheim, and Tyr, just to name a few.”
Describe your worst performance. What did you learn from this experience?
“Our worst performance was back in the early days at a metal core event (Well, it was called that but in reality it was a festival with mostly extreme metal. Everything you can think of from grind to gore to slam – people were just not set up for a melodic style of metal.) One of the bands liked us a lot and we played with them before, so they said: Let’s give it a try.
During the show there were comment like “Oh, nice, Noise with melody” and not very, let’s say pleasant, response.
Overall the event wasn’t calculated very well so the payment was even less than agreed on up front.
We took a few lessons from this event. One of the most important was simply: its fine to not fit in very well but never be the band with the “softest” metal around. Also this was one of the pin point moments we started to use contracts for our shows.”
What is your favourite song to perform?
“Although we all have different favourite songs to perform live we can say the top 3 would be “Kriegselefanten” (kind of the band hymn), “Der Krake” and “Rex Silvarum”.”
What band or type of music are you currently listening to?
“That also differs from member to member. We got the whole spectrum covered from symphonic metal to power metal, to melodic death up to death metal. Also we like to listen to different styles of music away from the metal genre such as synthwave and drum’n’bass.”
What’s next for the band, any plans for a tour?
“We are head over heels in the booking process for next year. We do hope that line ups soften up and a lot of the bands booked for cancelled festivals are now used up. Away from that, at least for 2022 we are taking it easy. Releasing and album, doing promo, taking care of everything is very exhausting as a band as well as an individual so we might catch some breath to start full on next year.
Thanks for the nice questions and enjoy your ride with the king of the woods “Rex Silvarum”.”