Heaven Shall Burn interview

"The time when stupid wanna-be-rockstars wanted to behave like they were Led Zeppelin, is over"

29/04/2013 @ 14:20
Heaven Shall Burn with this year's "Veto" have finally reached the 7th full length album and this a good opportunity to talk to the drummer of the band, Matthias Voigt, about now that things are great for the band, as well as the previous years of HSB, since fifteen years aren't few at all.

Heaven Shall BurnHey Matt! Congratulations on the new album! How have your fans reacted to it so far?
Hey, thanks a lot! The album is just about to be released on April 19th. So we don‘t have a real feedback until now, but the two songs that we published online and on some CD-samplers, that come with magazines, got a very positive feedback.

Heaven Shall Burn - VetoFrom my point of view, "Veto" is an excellent album, a step above "Invictus". Although I understand it’s difficult to distinguish one of your 'children', what's your opinion about this?
When you release a new album, you always think that it's the best that you could make at this certain point. It's the same with "Veto" and I guess we'll just be able to evaluate the album in a couple of years. It has to stand the test of time, but we're very happy with the result and I also think it's a step forward. We changed some things that were obviously the weaker points about the last album. We always tried to have very loud albums, with a pounding sound that hits you really hard. After "Invictus" we realized that it was a bit too much of everything. It might be cool to have such a sound for one or maybe two songs, but to have a whole album like that, makes it simply impossible to listen to the whole record at once. It was just too much. It sounded just like we wanted it to sound at that time, but later we realized that loudness isn't everything. Now, we tried to be more dynamic, with a sound that is more clear, but yet brutal and 100% HSB. I guess we suceed and made it easier for people to follow the songs and listen to the whole record, the way it is. The songs itself are just another step in the evolution of the band. There are some little changes, but it's still totally us.

Heaven Shall BurnIs it important that the album is produced by a band member, as in your case by Alexander? Do you think that a better result can be achieved this way?
We just feel more comfortable this way and it's the logical way to work, for us. We have the opportunity to work with Alexander in his studio and so we do it. It also gives us more freedom to take more time and try different things. It's more relaxed. But the drums were recorded in Tue Madsen's studio in Denmark. I guess it's the only thing, for a band like us, where the room of the recordings really matter. You need a good room for the drums, but the rest can be literally recorded in your bedroom.

In "Veto" there are several melodic songs, such as "Godiva" and "Beyond Redemption", but there are some really heavy songs too, such as "You Will Be Godless". Is it something intentionally done to attract an even wider range of fans or did it just come out this way?
No, it just happens. When you write stuff for an album, you try to think about the whole album and not only songwise. So you try to make the songs differ from each other, at least within the frames that your band has. But it's funny that there is kind of like the same patterns for every album. You have these melodic stuff and then something fast and one song that is harder than the rest, just like one is more athmospheric or even epic. It's not always exactly the same, but you can find all these kind of songs on each album.

Heaven Shall BurnTell us a few things about the guests in this album and about the remake of the song "Valhalla" by your compatriots Blind Guardian, in which Hansi Kursch makes an appearance.
I think we always wanted to cover this song and this time we finally did it. It's one of our all-time faves and it was really just the question WHEN we would record the song. We didn't know the Blind Guardian guys personally and so we asked our label to get in touch with them and ask them, if it would be ok if we would do the cover. Usually you don't ask, you just do it, but in this case we really wanted the green light to do it. After that, Hansi wrote us back and so things happened. No need to say that we're really proud to have worked with him. He didn't just sing his parts, but he also had ideas and tried something a bit different and had ideas for the arrangements in the studio. It's very cool that he showed such enthusiasm and was so down to earth. On the song "Land Of The Upright Ones", you'll hear a guitar solo, played by the guitarists of Macbeth, a band that comes from East Germany, like we do. They started out in the 80s and had to live under the oppression of the 'socialist' government. Their love for the music kept them going and they paved the way for bands like us. It‘s an honour to have them on the album. Last, but not least, you have Rob and Dom from Born From Pain, doing some guest vocals on "Die Stürme Rufen Dich". We're good friends with them and they're one of the few bands that still got something to say.

Heaven Shall BurnLast year you went on a world tour with bands like Unearth and Rise To Remain and travelled to countries like Malaysia. What do you reminisce of this experience?
Unfortunately I wasn't a part of these tours, since I couldn't tour with the band for the last two and a half years, due to some problems with my back. But they told me, that it's been great and challenging at the same time. If you play countries like Malaysia, you play to people who don't see all the bands every months, like here. So they are very curious and thankful if a european band is playing there. I think it's the best part about being in a band. You always get to know new people, who share the same passion. The european tour was a bigger production and the band could plan everything, they way they wanted it to be. I was watching one show myself and it looked and sounded good, from the audience. It's interesting for me to see it from this side, but, at the same time, it sucks when you can't play yourself.

Heaven Shall BurnYou celebrated the 15 years of the band with your friends Caliban, by giving some live performances together, which I guess were really emotional for you. Did you expect 15 years ago that things would turn out this way?
I just played a very small part of the two shows in our hometown, but I can tell you, it was great to see many old friends and also new kids that see HSB for the first time. To me it wasn't really about the shows. It was more like a meeting with friends. Also some former band members came to the show and I usually don't see them very often. So this was the more important part for me. To have Caliban there, was just something very natural. We come from very different areas in Germany, but we grew together as bands. I think we have really known each other since our first shows outside our home region. So we definitely have a history together.

Do you believe that through the years the sound of Heaven Shall Burn has evolved?
Yes, for sure. In the beginning we tried everything that sounded good in the rehearsal room and in the studio we always realized that some things just didn't match, in terms of riffs and grooves for example. So for the first releases, we made it fit somehow, but it always took lots of time and discussions...hehe. So later, we became much more focused and we knew, what would work, when we were just starting to write a song. It's more 'effective' now, so to say. Like on our debut album, "Asunder", we had riffs for maybe ten records. We just tried to put everything together and it was rather like an addition of riffs, than an album with real songs. I think that's the main difference. The rest is just a matter of taste. Some people will always prefer the old stuff, but, as a band, you don‘t want to do the same thing again and again. Sometimes, the changes are also only notable for us, as a band. The listener won't hear such a big development.

Heaven Shall BurnNow that the metalcore trend has faded, so that only the remarkable bands have 'survived', do you think that metal music has gained something besides the commercial success of some bands?
I don't really know, what to say about 'metalcore'. It used to be a mix of metal and hardcore, but some years ago, they labeled every band that wasn't really traditional metal, as 'metalcore'. Some trend was being created, but some of the bands didn't have anything to do with the hardcore scene. I think that this whole trend didn't bring new elements to the music, but new ways, how to mix different influences. Some bands also brought some new attitude into the world of heavy music. I think today there are more bands, who work in a do-it-yourself-way. I think there are less bands with that rockstar-attitude and more down-to-earth people than before. If you look at many of the older metal bands, you'll notice what i mean. Musicians and the audiences are more on the same level, more grounded. Musicians are also just fans, who just happen to play music. I think this whole trend, brought this attitude a bit back.

Heaven Shall BurnI personally believe that the title 'metalcore band' has been given to bands whose sound is different from one another. How do you think this fact has affected the bands themselves and the metal public?
Like I said, these bands didn‘t bring anything totally new, but maybe a different attitude, also for the older bands. Some things just were not accepted anymore and the time when stupid wanna-be-rockstars, wanted to behave like they were Led Zeppelin, was over. People noticed that there are bands, who are just like them and some old rockers had to learn their lesson in being more modest.

It is known that through your lyrics you refer to significant social issues. How do you see things nowadays that the financial crisis has hit Europe and especially the Mediterranean countries?
It's just like it always was: A few people are getting rich and if something goes wrong with their speculations, the majority of people has to suffer. The 'little man' has to pay the bill, while the big ones only get the benefit, but never the costs. It makes me angry to see that some people lose everything they have and the responsible ones are getting away with almost nothing. It makes me furious, how the governments are telling lies to the people and I‘m ashamed to see, how Germany is involved in all this. You know, most people here don't know that much about the reason for this crisis and they just believe the lies that a big part of the media is spreading, just like everywhere. But I have the feeling that more and more people are coming to their minds and get informed about this whole mess. I have no idea, where all this will lead us. The worst part for me, here in Germany is, to see how people here are buying the lies and don't question things. In situations like that, there is a huge risk that the fascists will gain more power. It's circumstances like that, that gives them a push. We all need to be very careful and fight it, in the beginning already.

Heaven Shall BurnWho is the biggest Bolt Thrower fan in the band?
That's a hard one, but if I could only mention one guy, it would be Maik, our guitar player.

What music do you like? Have you listened to anything really good lately?
I listen to all kinds of music, but heavy music is my passion, for sure. To my surprise, I really like the new Bring Me The Horizon record. I've never been a big fan of their music, but this album is really good. I also like the new Depeche Mode album. I listen to heavy music mainly, but to me it's all about the classics from the 70s, 80s or 90s. I always prefer the music that I have known for a long time already and it's difficult for a new record to really impress me. Not because the new stuff isn't that good anymore, but more because my life has always been full with music and I have already found the soundtrack for my life. Most of the music that is really important to me, is the music I bought when I was very young. I couldn‘t buy as much music as today and so I listened to the same record for weeks and I read all the lyrics and stuff. That doesn't really happen today anymore.

Heaven Shall BurnIt's been almost two years since your last performance in Athens. Should we be expecting you sometime soon?
Last time I also wasn't with the guys in Athens. The two times when I played there, I really had fun. I really wanna be there again, because we always felt very welcomed and had really good shows. Right now we don't have many shows planned for 2013 and everything is still in the works. I'm sure that we'll come back to Greece sooner or later. I guess it won't be this year, but in 2014 it should happen. But, you never know, maybe some opportunity will pop up, out of the blue.

The epilogue is all yours...
Thanks a lot for the interview! Please keep your eyes open for "Veto" and for any possible tour dates in the future. We really hope to be back as soon as possible. We love Greece and its people. Please keep in mind that not all people over here believe the lies that our government is trying to tell us.