Interview conducted January 17 2014
Interview published February 11 2014
Freedom Call's new album, Beyond,
releases February 24th and Metal Covenant got on the phone with main man,
lead vocalist and guitarist Chris Bay to
get a little information about this effort. Chris had some trouble with
the connection and he sounded pretty much in stress, when he eventually
got me on the line. Things went smooth though, as Mr. Bay is in fact just
as positive as his happy metal music reflects.
Tobbe: Hey, what's up?
Chris: I'm so sorry for the delay. I tried to
call you with this Call by call, but they couldn't find any connection.
Tobbe: No worries. You got a busy schedule
with interviews now?
Chris: Well, no. Today there are two left. It's
in Belgium and one more in Sweden, so it's cool. But I'm working in
the studio to find new melodies
for the next album. It seems like
time is flying.
That's kinda early. Last time we spoke was about 2 years ago at a club
Chris: Yes, at Harry B. James.
Tobbe: On the tour you called the Restaurant
Chris: [Laughs] Yes, the American burger and
Tobbe: So let's get down to business. I
wanna ask a lot of questions about the new album, so let's start with
that one. So what do you think differs this album from your latest one,
Land Of The Crimson Dawn?
Chris: That's a good question. As an artist you
usually don't notice these differences between the albums. I didn't
create a synthetic difference between all these albums. All this music
is just a mirror of the emotions you have during a year and it's changing
from day to day and from week to week. Obviously 2013 was a very happy
year for Freedom Call and a very fast living year, because the songs
were written quickly and I think it sounds very happy. Maybe there is
some connection back to the early times of Freedom Call. Fast drums,
very melodic, catchy melodies. I think this is the trademark of Freedom
Tobbe: Yes, totally. This is a typical Freedom
Call album. I think this is an album that covers all of your career. When
I listened to Knights Of Taragon for the first time, I heard things that
definitely could have been off your first record, and in Paladin too.
So were there no intentions behind this?
Chris: I always feel totally free with songwriting.
I'm not calculating in which direction the album should go in the end,
before I'm starting the songwriting progress. For me, it's a good sign
that I'm still able to write songs like those Freedom Call wrote in
the early times. It's shows me that I'm still fresh and highly motivated
to write music and it makes me feel younger.
Tobbe: What about the album title? Why did
you decide to call it Beyond?
Chris: Maybe it's a piece of our life philosophy.
Beyond is just an invitation for all the listeners and all the visitors
to our concerts. We want to give all these people a possibility, or
an opportunity, to try to live the life like we do in this very happy,
very positive and very optimistic way. In the lyrics, we try to explain
these concepts with short stories. It's just a small link to come with
us and to try to see the world with happy, optimistic and positive eyes.
You will notice that there's so many more things in life that you never
saw before. Maybe you were not enough open-minded, maybe you were not
happy enough to be able to see all these small things in life, these
colors. Maybe some noises or maybe some characters of persons you never
noticed before. So Beyond is an invitation for the people to come with
us to see the world in this positive way. It's really honest, because
we are an optimistic and positive thinking band and we are optimistically
thinking people, all the members of Freedom Call.
Tobbe: Yes. So what songs are a little extra
important for you on the new album?
Chris: I think the title track, Beyond. I think
it's close to 8 minutes, it's an opus. But for me, there's a lot of
emotions in the songs. I think I needed more than 6 weeks to arrange
and to write the songs. I began, again and again and again and I never
was happy with the results. I started it again and again and a lot of
things happened in my private life. I think you can hear it the songs,
because there's happy moments and there are some melancholic moments.
I think it catches a month of ups and downs in your emotional life.
About the album's direction. Do you think that this release is something
that may bring back older long lost fans to Freedom Call, if they give
it a shot?
Chris: Oh yeah. I have read some of the older
fans' response, which says that some songs are going back to the history
of Freedom Call and sounds traditional. They are really enthusiastic
and says "Yeah, Freedom Call is back, this is cool and let's go
back to the older times.". But I'm not a person who likes to go
back to the past, because I think more about the future. Today is more
important, because I'm able to change something in my life or I can
change something in the direction of my life. The past is gone, it has
passed away and I can't change anything. I think the music came from
the heart and Freedom Call is one of my best friends, because it's joining
me through ups and downs. I think this music was born with this kind
of traditional style and I never want to leave it.
Tobbe: You say something like "always
look forward", but when I look back at your career I see like 15
years of mostly happy music.
Chris: Yes, it's not less. But the next 15 years
[laughs], go for it, no problem.
Tobbe: So what will you do in 15 years?
Do you think the band will exist then?
Chris: [Breathes] I will have to see. I do not
expect special things or that the band will still exist in 15 years.
Why not? But I will not try to force it. When it's still fun, when it's
still running and when there are some people that are interested in
our music and there are people that comes to our concerts, why not?
Tobbe: I've listened to the album 6 or 7
Chris: [Interrupts] Oh yeah, oh no, I'm so sorry.
Tobbe: Yes, it's been very bad, you know.
I've been crying all the time. [Sarcasm] - Anyway, I've been looking at
the song titles and some of them has similar titles to your past work,
like with Knights Of Taragon [see Tears Of Taragon] to begin with. Why
do you sort of reuse your titles?
Chris: Okay, I didn't do that on purpose. Look,
this album's like the old albums. I think I used this word Taragon,
because when I listened to the new song, it was quite similar to the
Stairway To Fairyland album. You told me yourself that Knights Of Taragon
could have been a song off our first album. That was the inspiration
and Taragon was born with Freedom Call. It was on the first album and
I think it is a similarity or a connection between Taragon and Freedom
Call, so why not reuse or reactivate this name Taragon. It's more fun
than to say that it's very serious or a special meaning behind it. I
just did it. And I think you also talk about the song, The Rhythm Of
Light and we have a song on The Circle Of Life album that's called The
Rhythm Of Life. Maybe the reason for this is that rhythm exists in music
and I think this word sounds well. I said "Why not?". I feel
totally free in music and entitled with whatever comes with Freedom
Call. So I don't think that it's a bad mistake.
Tobbe: As long as it feels good for you,
I guess it's all right.
Chris: Yes, it feels good for me, so I'm fine.
Because you also have a song called Heart Of The Warrior and you seem
to love the word Warrior, because you've used it a lot of times before.
Chris: [Laughs his way through this section.]
Okay, the first thing I told the band was "Please, no Warrior on
this album. Do not use the word Warrior on this album", and I didn't
do it, but Lars [Rettkowitz] did. That song is written by Lars, our
guitar player. "That's your fault, you have to tell the journalists
why there's a Warrior again!".
Tobbe: So how much did Lars write on this
Chris: He wrote 2 songs, Heart Of The Warrior
and Edge Of The Ocean. Then he and I co-wrote Paladin.
Tobbe: To me, Paladin, is the best song.
It has like a beautiful opening and a cool riff through the verse. Then
it has a great melody and the chorus, that's fucking killer, man.
Chris: Lars had the first idea to do a song
like this, but it was not arranged. I told him that I liked the chorus
line very much and if I may work on that song. So I did the rest and
the chorus line is from Lars and me together. So we said 50/50.
Tobbe: You have chosen to co-produce this
album with Stephan Ernst once again. What makes your collaborations special?
Chris: I decided to work with Stephan because
he is an unknown guy. He don't produce a lot of metal bands. He produce
a lot of stuff like live recordings and live productions. He did for
example Saga and Wishbone Ash. But he is a very young guy, he's 28 years
old and he has done a lot of different things but metal. That made it
very interesting to me, because he hasn't this synthetically creative
thinking of metal drums, or guitars, or whatever. I think his sound
is more natural and that's what I love about his work.
Tobbe: I only know him through Freedom Call,
Chris: We don't use him only because he is less
expensive than others. [Laughs] No, I'm kidding. He's a very good producer
and he's able to motivate our performance. This is the most important
thing, that you have someone besides you that motivates you and gives
you inspiration for your performance.
Tobbe: Isn't that a bit strange when he's
so young and he's like the motivating factor?
Chris: Young people are inspiring me. For example,
our front of house technician, who's traveling with us, did the first
job when he was 17 years old. Now he's 19. This young generation inspires
me, they have new ideas and they have a different way of thinking and
that's makes it very interesting to me. It keeps me from falling back
in the old traditional paths. I like the attitude of this new generation.
That was pretty much all I had on the album. I was thinking of your touring
schedule. I checked your homepage and you're touring to promote the album
all over mainland Europe in like March through May. Then you have a few
summer festivals confirmed. Do you have anything for fall yet?
Chris: Yes, the plan for Sweden is to play festivals
and we're still waiting for some announcements. Then we plan to play
there for a headlining tour in autumn. We usually have Sweden on our
schedule from the beginning, but not on this tour. This time we do it
in a different way, first festivals and then a tour. But Finland is
not so far away, so if some fans can't wait, they can come to Finland
and see us.
Tobbe: And what about Ilker [Ersin, bass
player] being back in the band on a permanent basis?
Chris: I was really happy about his decision.
At first it was planned that Ilker was just going to fill in for Samy
[Saemann], our previous bass player. Samy became a father in 2012 and
he decided to settle down and he didn't want to travel that much. His
maximum was not longer than one week away from home. But I can understand
that, okay. He's got a baby and I think a baby can change a lot in your
life. I supported this, there was no problem. I asked if Ilker could
help us out and then later I asked him if he would play with us as a
fixed member. Everybody is happy now. I think it's like a lost son coming
Tobbe: So what does Ilker bring to the band
that other bass players don't?
Chris: I think that Ilker has the right understanding.
It's not only the music, but the attitude of Freedom Call. You can find
better bass players, you can find a lot of better singers than me, you
can find a lot of better guitar players, or better drummers, than the
musicians of Freedom Call. But they don't have the attitude of Freedom
Call, "Show the people the best performance that's possible.".
It's the attitude, it's the atmosphere, it's the will to bring the light
to the people, to bring the light on tape. I think Ilker is a perfect
member of the band, because he can understand the meaning of Freedom
Tobbe: And Ramy Ali [drummer] has replaced
Klaus Sperling. Klaus was in the band for about 3 years and I remember
that when I talked to you and him in 2012, he was very positive to a future
with the band, but yet he left last year. What about that?
Chris: I like Klaus very much and I still have
a lot of connection to him. He was totally happy all the time with Freedom
Call, but there was one problem. He also have a 9-5 job and especially
when we came to the end of the year, his boss said "No rock'n'roll
anymore this year. You have to work.". So we had to find a stand-in
drummer and that was Ramy, of course. Then Klaus came to us after the
production of Ages Of Light, the best of-album, and he told me that
he has to work more with his company, so there was less time for Freedom
Call. He told me that he would help out every time he could arrange
it, but that he was not able to play all the shows. I was disappointed,
because he is not only an excellent drummer, but also a very nice person.
But we found an excellent new drummer, Ramy, so things will work out.
I didn't lose a friend, Klaus is still there and everything is fine.
Ramy played with us for the first time in 2009, I think, and he helped
out for a couple of concerts when we toured with Axel Rudi Pell later.
I know him very well, he's from my hometown.
So what about Daniel [Zimmermann, former drummer]? He once told me that
he probably will occasionally be in the studio even after he left the
band. Was he somewhat involved in this album?
Chris: Yes. Dan is still one of my best friends.
Last time we had contact was 2 or 3 weeks ago. He's totally fine, he's
doing great. He's a little bit off in the professional music scene,
but he still plays in a heavy metal cover band, who is very successful
in Germany. I think he was a little bit tired of this traveling around
the world and he was longing for more privacy and more time with his
girlfriend. He's totally fine and he's in a good mood. I never say never,
so maybe in a few years, he will return to the music scene. I do not
know, but the most important thing is that he's doing great.
Tobbe: Let's talk about the 70000 Tons Of
Metal cruise. What about it? [The cruise set sail on January 27th and
I talked to Chris on January 17th]
Chris: We're totally happy. It's the best present
you can give a band. Before we start our tour we get a 5 day Caribbean
vacation and we get to play 2 concerts during that time, and we're getting
paid to do it. What could be better? That's paradise.
Tobbe: It's a great adventure. I've been
Chris: That's sounds brilliant. We're very excited.
It's the first time we play outside Europe. It's a good feeling to travel
to the States and to this big ship, and have fun.
Tobbe: And if you like to drink a little
beer or something, the cruise might even get better.
Chris: Maybe 1 or 2. [Laughs] Could happen.
Tobbe: So for how long have you been confirmed?
Chris: This week. We got the request on Monday
[January 13th], I think.
Tobbe: I think you were announced Wednesday
[January 15th]. That's late.
Chris: I had to book the flights were quickly
and look for a hotel, before and after this cruise. My telephone was
burning for a couple of hours. Then I had to ask the band if everything
was fine, because Ilker is Turkish and Ramy is from Jordan, even if
both have a German passport too. It could be problematic if you come
as an Arabian to the States, but it shouldn't be a problem.
Tobbe: Do you know on what times you will
Chris: Not yet, but I don't care. I'm happy
to be there and we don't decide when to play, you know.
Tobbe: All right, Chris. Those were my last
Chris: Okay. Thanks for your time and effort.
also: review of the album