Interview conducted June 03 2011
Interview published June 28 2011
A few hours after Freedom Call's
show at the Rockstad Falun festival in Sweden, I talked for thirty minutes
with lead singer and guitarist Chris Bay.
An open minded and honest interview over a couple of beers.
Tobbe: Tell us about the new DVD.
Chris: There's a lot to tell about this DVD.
At first, we are very, very proud of it. It was released in the end
of May. Our first DVD ever. We were really longing for making a DVD,
beacause I have gotten a lot of response that the albums are sounding
great, but live you are really kicking ass. So we said: Let's fix
this moment and bring these special things that the band Freedom Call
is able to bring live to the audience. Then last year we got a change
in cooperation with our label. They told us that we were free to record
a DVD and it was fantastic. To record a show is normal. You have a
great show. You have some pyro technique. The audience is doing a
great job, but for me the most important thing is the bonus DVD, where
people can see parts of the real life of a band, because Freedom Call
is a band who people say are so positive, but this is our life and
on this bonus DVD you can see that we are really authentic and that
we are really living this positive life.
So what you are saying is that you can really catch the true spirit of
Freedom Call on that DVD?
Tobbe: The people that have seen and heard
Freedom Call since the start, are they gonna get a new shot at Freedom
Chris: I think so. Maybe you can kind of see
it as a new start, because my partner, the co-founder of Freedom Call,
Daniel Zimmermann, also playing drums in Gamma Ray, quit the band,
because he couldn't find time for both bands. So his decision was
to leave the band. He was not only the co-founder and drummer of Freedom
Call, but also one of my best friends and still is. He will be there
for me to give some advices. I think this DVD was a good start with
the new lineup and our new drummer Klaus Sperling. He played for Primal
Fear and Sinner and is well experienced and he knows exactly what
melodic metal means...
Tobbe: What about the next studio album?
Have you written anything yet?
Tobbe: Your latest album, Legend Of The
Shadowking, has darker sides. Is that the new direction of Freedom Call?
Chris: No, I don't think so. These dark sides
are based on the shadowking, Ludwig II. It was the topic of this concept
story. I think it would not have been true if we had written an all
over happy music album if you have a concept album about a real person
of history, who had these dark sides of his life. If you have a concept,
you have to move with the emotion of this person. It was the main
reason to bring some dark influences into Freedom Call's music, but
we are a happy and positive thinking band and the meaning of Freedom
Call's music are the positive and optimistic sides of life.
Eternity is your magnum opus. A lot of people came to your shows and you
were at the top of your career. What are you going to do, to reach that
level again and be as big as you were back then?
Chris: At first I do not hope that Eternity
was the top of Freedom Call's career. Most of our fans prefer that
album, because there are very strong songs, especially live. For example,
the songs Warriors and Land Of Light are working perfectly with the
audience and I think that the fans are always longing for the older
songs. There is no fan that says that they prefer the latest album
when a band has recorded like seven or eight. I think it's an emotion,
just like when you get a new girlfriend, you quit school, you get
your first money or maybe visiting your first festival. Even though
we are growing, we will never forget the roots of Freedom Call's music.
We try to keep our positive and our happy style, but we are also developing,
so I don't want to repeat an album like Eternity. It was a special
and very emotional moment. Maybe I will get it again in five or ten
years, or maybe on our next album, but I can't force it. I'm just
trying to bring my emotional situation over to the songwriting process.
That's it. Not more and not less.
Tobbe: Now to a serious issue. Illegal downloading,
what's your thoughts about that?
Chris: It is a situation we have to live with,
because there is no way to control it. Honestly, I would be happy
if we get paid for our music, but it's good promotion for us when
people are downloading our music, so I really don't know which foot
to stand on, because I don't get paid and I can't pay my musicians
and I can't pay myself for this work we did. On the other hand it's
a platform to promote Freedom Call.
Tobbe: Have you ever considered bringing
a keyboard player back in the band?
Chris: We had a lot of keyboard players and
honestly the situation we have now, with four musicians and with the
keyboards coming from a sampler, is the healthiest combination we
ever had. I love to play live with a keyboard player, but in our case
it's very hard to handle, because Freedom Call is not a band without
financial problems. With four persons you need two twin rooms, you
know. When we have parts on our headlining shows played with a piano
I'm doing them by myself. We bring our piano and I'm really playing
it live and I'm not a piano player, so when I'm playing it, I think
everybody can hear that it's played live.
Tobbe: What's your favourite country or
city to play in?
Chris: It really hard to say. Last year we
played the first time in Greece, which was good. We also played in
Bulgaria for the first time and Bulgaria is a country where people
are poor and I expected this eastern controlled situation, but it
was the opposite. In Bulgaria I met people who were very open minded.
They gave me a good feeling and the country is growing and longing
for change. It was one of the best concerts Freedom Call ever played.
The people were totally freaking out and the whole club was singing
the lyrics. The whole band was totally impressed. We never expected
Let's talk about the setlist. Who chooses which songs to play? Do you
choose them or do you vote, or do you choose them together? It must be
hard to choose now when you have released six studio albums.
Chris: It's really hard to decide. On festivals
we try to play songs that we think people want. So many bands are
doing special things and try to be progressive, but Freedom Call is
a party band. We want to have fun and enjoy the show. Especially on
the DVD, the decisions were very hard. So with six studio albums we
have close to seventy songs. At one point you have to decide. There
was a discussion with the band and we decided which way to go.
Tobbe: So you're not a dictator, choosing
which songs to play?
Chris: Yes, I'm a dictator. No. I give suggestions
and the band can vote. The most important thing is that we have a
great show. We have great ballads and we could play seven of them
in a row, but I don't want people to get bored. It's also very important
for Freedom Call to entertain the people. I think that people's jobs,
relationships, families and friends mostly are depressing.
Tobbe: But you've got the final call which
songs to play?
Chris: Yes, but I think the whole situation
with jobs etc is depressing. You pay $30 for a ticket and then the
singer says that you're a bad crowd. We want to change the mind of
the people. When you are buying a ticket for Freedom Call, you can
be sure that you will get a mood change. After the concert you can
say that it helped and you will be happy for the next couple of hours
or maybe for the whole week. That's our job.
Tobbe: You are playing power metal now and
has always played power metal, but you call it happy metal. Is that the
whole deal, to make people happy?
Chris: The first question is: What is power
metal? Is it music played with power? All metal is played with power.
You have so many categories. Is it melodic speed metal, or speedy
melodic metal or is it power metal? I don't give a fuck about it.
I think Freedom Call is playing rock 'n' roll. The people can decide
if it's melodic power metal, power metal or rock 'n' roll. I don't
care about it. I was not the founder of metal. We got songs like Far
Away and Mr. Evil, which are mainstream metal and we have some speed
metal songs. It's just entertainment. You have to decide whether you
like a band or not.
Actually you answered parts of this question, but I'm asking you anyway.
I talked to Daniel in January at the 70000 Tons Of Metal cruise. He said
that he won't be playing live anymore, but he will be in the studio. Is
Chris: The situation is that we started this
band and did this together. We are very, very good friends. He was
so sorry and he was so sad to tell me that he had to leave the band.
It was not possible for him anymore. It was working for six or seven
years to find a cooperation between Gamma Ray and Freedom Call, but
it comes to a point where it's not working anymore. Kai (Hansen) is
looking after his band and I was not to happy about cancelling shows,
because Gamma Ray was doing things. Daniel will still be one of my
best friends and he will give me advices. He will be into Freedom
Call for our next album and give me some tips, but he's not a member
of this band anymore.
Tobbe: What about the 70000 Tons Of Metal
cruise. Daniel was there last year, so you are familiar of it. Are you
going there next year?
Chris: We are not already booked, but I've
told my agency to do everything to make Freedom Call a part of this.
I saw a lot of trailers and it was good fun, I guess. On the other
hand, we have never played in the US and I can understand that the
promotor is very careful. I would love to be part of it, of course.
I've heard from our agency that all the bands around the world wants
to play on this festival, so it's hard business.
Tobbe: Which is the best Freedom Call song?
Chris: One of our best work is Bleeding Heart.
Actually I love the whole Eternity album. No, no , no, stop. The Quest.
Tobbe: But you didn't play it tonight?
Chris: Well, it's seven minutes long and on
this festival we don't want the people getting bored. We want the
entertain the people, but on every headlining show we play it. I'm
playing the piano by myself. This is one of our most colourful songs
and for me, it's the most impressive song. But maybe next week I will
give you a different answer.
Tobbe: Okay, don't chicken out now. The
worst Freedom Call song? The song you never should have recorded?
That's an answer I won't accept. Don't chicken out now. I won't leave
before I get a good answer. You got to have one song.
Chris: Okay, you did not expect Land Of Light.
That's my opinion. There are so many. I need a list of the songs.
(Long pause). Maybe Starlight from The Circle Of Life album. I thought
at first that it was awesome, but when I hear it now, it's not. I
love all the songs though, because there was hard work behind them.
Tobbe: One last question. You still have
your hair left. What will you do if it starts falling off?
Chris: I think I never will lose my hair, because
now I'm 67 years old, so there are not so many years left on this
planet. For the future, I think I'm fine. I don't have any savings,
but I have my attitude.
Tobbe: So if it falls off in like twenty
years, will you still have long hair or will you shave it all off?
Tobbe: That was not a good answer. Are you
gonna shave it all off or will you keep it to the end?
Tobbe: Well, that was all. Thanks for taking
your time, Chris.
of the gig the same night