Interview conducted March 2 2017
Interview published March 31 2017
"I would have
paid my ass off in the 80's or in the 90's for so many records."
- Ilker Ersin
In order to take a look at the band's
latest effort, Master Of Light, and about bringing back some early elements
into the music lately, as well as get to know a little bit about past
and maybe coming side projects, Metal Covenant locked in an appointment
with Freedom Call's singer/guitarist Chris Bay
and bassist Ilker Ersin when the German power
metal unit visited Sweden for a four date stretch in early March.
"When I stop
playing music I'll be a very sad person." -
Tobbe: Master Of Light was out in November
last year and I think that the album contains a little bit stuff from
the older days of Freedom Call and did you actually look back at those
days before you went into the songwriting process or before you started
to arrange stuff?
Chris: No, but I think it's the source. It's
the beginning of this idea of Freedom Call and I think that it's the
basis and the attitude of this band and we just tried out some different
things over the years, because you're longing for it, because you're
developing and you don't want to circle in the same place. But sometimes
you notice "Oh, the early days weren't so bad.", so the basis
comes back. That's it. But I never want to limit myself and say "We
never will change anything.".
And your last record, Beyond , had some tendencies to go back a
long time too in a couple of songs, so maybe it's coming back?
Chris: Yeah. So maybe you're also developing
as a person and maybe that longing for having changes anyways were more
balanced to the private side. So then you can do that in your private
things, in your family, in your relationship, and then you go back to
the basics of your music.
Tobbe: So in the fans' point of view, what
does Master Of Light bring to the overall catalogue? If you look at it
in a fan's perspective, what does this album bring to them?
Chris: Oh, we do not think in this complicated
way. We are thinking very, very easy. The people would be very disappointed
to know how easy we are thinking. Look, we do not want to write complicated
things and we do not bring the people complicated concepts or whatever.
We're just writing songs to make people happy
or we try to bring the people very small, tiny things, to make them
live a better life than before. Or make them smile, or whatever. That's
all. There is nothing beside it or nothing behind it. It's just that
we can express ourselves, write songs and have fun, and that's it. Very
Tobbe: So what has Ilker's return to the
band made for the overall sound on the most recent recordings?
Ilker: It's totally funny that people always
expect that one person can change everything. No, no, no. (Chris:)
Ilker, yes. He's able to do that. Nobody else but Ilker. He has changed
everything. Nothing is what it was before. [Laughs]
Tobbe: I mean, because in the period when
Ilker wasn't there [Dimensions , Legend Of The Shadowking 
and Land Of The Crimson Dawn ], it was kind of a different band
and the songs on the two most recent albums are, like I said, a bit similar
to the older stuff. So has Ilker something to do with it, you know?
Ilker: It might be that I influence Chris maybe.
Maybe he's getting a reflection from the early days because of my person.
Maybe it could be the same with Daniel [Zimmermann, drums] or Sascha
[Gerstner, guitar] also. You know, from the first lineup. Maybe I am
an influence and maybe that came into the songwriting process, but we're
not thinking about it. It's always a natural process and we are doing
what we like, and that's it.
About those guys, Sascha and Daniel. Do you speak to them sometimes?
Chris: Yeah, of course. I was actually just talking
to Daniel and he's doing great. He has built up a family, but in the
musical way he has settled down. He's still playing drums of course,
but not internationally. He got tired of touring and traveling a lot
and he was not able to build a family. But he is doing great. He is
happy. Yeah, I think that was a bigger influence, when Daniel left the
band, because we were the main songwriters and Daniel was trying to
go in different ways or do some experiments lyrically and also musically.
For example, the [The] Circle Of Life album .
And maybe that's another reason why we returned to the early days, because
I was independent to write songs. (Ilker:)
Yeah, and the next thing was we played the [666 Weeks Beyond] Eternity
tour [in 2015], with the old songs and we had the feeling again, and
we tried to keep that feeling and the chemistry that we had in the early
days. That's one of the things that keeps me alive, for example, and
is for me very important.
Tobbe: When you were away from Freedom Call
you made some albums with PowerWorld and if you reflect at those days
at this point, what do you see?
Ilker: I made the same steps as we made with
Freedom Call, but I never had a team. Chris was writing songs in the
beginning with Daniel. They were the main songwriters and in PowerWorld
it was only I. This is one of the reasons why I always took two years
or two and a half years to make a new one, you know. And that costs
a lot of energy and money. [Laughs]
Tobbe: PowerWorld hasn't officially called
it quits, as far as I know.
Chris: We haven't officially quit. We are still
signed with SPV as well and they're waiting for the next album, but
right now I'm on tour and I'm not able to finish some things and some
personal things happened in the last two years. It takes time. Good
things always need time.
All Freedom Call albums of course belong to a specific type of music,
but is there a way to develop the music to something else or is it crucial
to stay on the safe side?
Chris: It's easy, because an album is just reflecting
your emotions in the period when you're writing the songs for a new
album. It's an emotional thing. Of course I won't write a rap or a hiphop
album because I'm feeling very groovy this time. [Laughs] You can calculate
it, but then the people will notice that; that it's not real and not
So you just have to let it go, your inspiration,
your creative side, and just write songs. That's what the people like
about your music. But yeah, maybe if the songs are a little bit too
sad or too slow, then we have to write a bit faster grooves. You can
bring some influence into the sound, but not into the songwriting. That
would be unreal and synthetic and then you are sounding synthetic and
the people will notice that. One reason of the success for Freedom Call
is that we didn't try to bring some synthetic things into our music.
(Ilker:) Every Freedom Call album has a lot of
colors and the main point is to keep the songs as Freedom Call songs.
People must hear "Okay. That's Freedom Call.". It could be
a ballad, or a fast one, double bass drums, or a heavy riff, but the
trademarks are important, that people can recognize "Okay. This
song is written and performed by Freedom Call.".
Tobbe: So you have PowerWorld, Ilker. And
Chris, Have you ever thought about making a solo album in order to let
out a different side of your creativity?
Tobbe: So tell me about it.
Chris: No. We are here to talk about Freedom
Tobbe: Not anymore. But hypothetically,
if you would do a solo album, could you hire another singer for singing
Chris: For Freedom Call? No. [Laughs]
Don't ruin my question.
Chris: But I think that would be, in my opinion,
a bit ridiculous to make a solo album as a singer, and then hire another
singer to sing your songs, which you wrote as a singer. So no. (Ilker:)
It is a different kind of view. (Chris:)
It's a brilliant idea, but I'm still able to sing my songs. [Laughs]
But maybe it could be a good advice to a lot of other singers, to hire
a singer to sing their own songs. [Laughs] So yeah, I agree.
Tobbe: So will we have that solo album out
Chris: Next year? Oh no, that's too late. [Laughs]
Tobbe: Right. So, you know, times are constantly
changing and first there was all the downloading and now there's Spotify
and stuff, so how does Freedom Call try to adapt to a different world?
Chris: We have to follow. We can't set trends.
We don't have enough force to change it. We just have to follow. We
do not have the status of a band like Metallica. Like when Metallica
was trying to do something against Napster, or something like that.
But generally, my answer to all questions about
internet is: "Is internet a good thing or a bad thing for the music
business?". For the business side it's definitely a bad thing,
because the business is just there to make money and they are making
less money, so it's not good for the business. But for artists, you
got a new platform, you can reach a lot of new people, for free.
I think, 15 or 20 years ago you had to pay for
it, for every single person, for magazines, for advertisements, posters,
radio ideas, interviews, but now you can get it for free and a lot of
artists are forgetting about this side of the internet. They just see
"Oh! They're taking all our money and they are listening to my
music and I don't get paid for that!". Yeah, but you can reach
a lot of people, I think, if you use it cleverly for your music or for
your band or your project or whatever. And the other side, you can't
change it. We are living in 2017.
Some people just shake their heads when I tell them I still buy CDs.
Ilker: Kids and people in general have lost
their worship. You know, it's nothing worth. In my early days I was
spending my money on buying one record per month and now for the kids
it's nothing worth. You know, they got the cards with 1000 downloads.
Unbelievable. I would have paid my ass off in the 80's or in the 90's
for so many records.
(Chris:) But I think in the rock or metal scene
our audience is willing to buy physical articles. They do not want to
download even if they do that and the rates are increasing, but you
have a chance to sell special products like boxes. And vinyl is growing.
But if you're doing pop music or trendy music there's just downloads
or streaming. (Ilker:) Pop music has no
real artwork. Most of the pop artists have only their face on the cover.
A picture. But nothing is painted, no artwork and nothing illustrated
and this is a different thing and this is one of the reasons why the
real rockers really wanna have a physical thing.
(Chris:) Yeah, they are collectors and they just
don't wanna use music, or files. They are collectors and they follow
us. But we will see and I think we always will have a discussion, like
"What is the next step? What is coming after streaming? What comes
after the CD?", because the fans are longing for having a product.
Tobbe: Yeah, what comes next? You never
Ilker: Hey! We've discovered seven new planets,
okay? [Laughs] (Chris:) I think the most
logical thing would be that you have a virtual thing. A mixture between
internet and file and
I don't know. Just put it in your computer
and you can listen to the music and you can read everything about the
musicians. Maybe more information about their private life. Maybe you
can also buy a view behind the scenes, the same way you can buy some
VIP tickets and you're paying, like, €30 or €50 more.
Nowadays the fans are much closer to the musicians too. When I was young
it was very hard to even get to meet my, so called, idols or the people
who made the music I was listening too.
Chris: Yes, but the artists need this. They
need the publicity and I think the times are over when the artist is
really distant from the audience. I think they're growing together and
for me it's a 100 percent positive thing, because the difference is
clear and one person is standing on stage and the people are in the
audience. [Laughs] I think it's working well if you have good contact
with the people, because there's no stupid people that just "Oh!
I love you!" and they have clever and smart questions. Interesting
questions about your lyrics or about you as a person.
close the door! The people are coming! [Laughs]
Tobbe: So how do you guys look at the band's
future? I mean, will you be able to do this for a long time still?
Chris: We have to. I didn't learn a regular
job on the side. I'm a musician and I will do this 'til I fall down
dead on stage probably
hopefully, because it's the best place
to say goodbye on. I can't say "All right! At 65 I will leave.".
No, why? Because it's my life, it's my passion. When I stop playing
music I'll be a very sad person.
Tobbe: My final question: If people are
only allowed to listen to one single band for the rest of their life,
why should they listen to Freedom Call?
Chris: Because they will have a better life than
listening to some depressive stuff. But poor guy. Just Freedom Call.
Will be suffering to the end of his days. [Laughs]
of the album Master Of Light