Interview conducted August 4 2018
Interview published September 5 2018
"I worked for some carpenters, as an assistant,
but both sides were not really happy about that."
German happy metallers Freedom Call
made an appearance at Skogsröjet festival in early August and Metal
Covenant was given some time with vocalist/guitarist Chris Bay.
Tobbe: Freedom Call usually puts out an
album every second year or something like that, so when can we expect
another Freedom Call album out?
Chris: It's under construction. So I'm working
hard on it. But we toured a lot. A lot of bands are releasing a new
album every one and a half years or every other year, but they play
just a few shows or do a small tour. But we really had an expanded tour.
We started in South America, we have been in Southeast Asia for the
first time ever and then we re-started the tour and we played so many
concerts. Maybe the time that we need wasn't there, so just give us
6 more months to write.
we could do that, because I think it's no problem to produce an album
in a specific period, but it's not what people are expecting from Freedom
Call, 'cause we have to collect really new influences and we want to
make it special. People are used to get songs like Metal Is For Everyone
or Power & Glory and they are expecting songs like that.
Tobbe: So this new album will of course
follow the Freedom Call path.
Chris: Of course. It's us. That's Freedom Call.
I think generally in the music business there are so many bands already
existing and I think the business is getting faster and faster. I think
20 years ago, if you were releasing a new album, then during one year
your album was the current album. It was the new album, for one year.
Now, you're releasing a new album and one month later some people are
asking "And what's next?".
I think Gene Simmons, or Paul Stanley, I don't
know, one guy in Kiss, said "It turned. In the early days you made
an album and went on tour to promote the new album. And now it has changed,
because you're making an album to promote a tour.". That's the
difference, because of the streaming and downloads and things like that.
So people are living much faster than 10 or 20
years ago. "Give me more! Give me more!", like go on YouTube
and you can see so many different things, new things. So it's much better
to take your time and make a special one. Make something special; not
just the new Freedom Call album. It should be more.
Tobbe: Is there anything on Master Of Light
that you won't built further on, that you didn't really like?
Chris: [Giggles] The same as always: I always
try to avoid the word "Warriors". But I already have it. [Laughs]
But I don't care. That's Freedom Call. I know that some really true
metallers are haters or they're trying to avoid it because Freedom Call
is not really true or is too funny, or too happy, but I don't care.
I don't care about that. That's us and that is the only and one tiny
chance to get your own trademark; that people are listening to your
music and are saying "That must be Freedom Call.". If they
like it or not
But they can notice it. It's Freedom Call.
that's a big point in this business at this time. There's so many bands,
they're sounding similar, could be this, could be that, I do not know,
but Freedom Call: If you love it or hate it, it doesn't matter, but
you can hear it's Freedom Call. That's authenticity, and that's the
most important thing, because that's the only chance to get the people,
to grab the people and to make the people emotional. There's so many
brilliant musicians and they are working and are writing brilliant songs,
but they have no authenticity, and that's the problem.
Tobbe: You and I met in March last year
and then I asked you about a possible solo record, but the answers you
gave me were very vague. You didn't really want to tell me anything and
why was it necessary to keep Chasing The Sun [Out February 2018] a secret
back then, because you had obviously started working on it?
Chris: [Laughs] Because I didn't want to mix
Freedom Call and my solo stuff. I wanted to keep it separated and when
I'm on tour with Freedom Call and there is no product, maybe I try to
leave it a little bit on the side. So when we're on tour with Freedom
Call, I talk about Freedom Call, and when I'm on tour with my solo album,
of course I have to talk about Freedom Call as well, but the focus should
be on my solo stuff. But now I've learned to handle it. I think generally
it's one thing. So with my solo album I'm getting all the Freedom Call
fans and maybe I can find some new Chris Bay fans and bring them over
to Freedom Call. So don't take all these things too seriously.
Tobbe: Chasing The Sun is kind of like Freedom
Call lite, in a lot of songs, and might Freedom Call eventually develop
further and get closer to your solo stuff?
Chris: No, no, no. The intention is to separate
it. I could use several songs off my solo album for Freedom Call, because
I could rewrite it or rearrange it into power metal, melodic power metal,
just by changing to mid-tempo and with fast double bass drums, but for
me, the original idea, that's the thing. If I have an idea to a song,
which is more jazzy, or with maybe some swing elements, or pop elements,
or whatever and I'm starting to write and "Oh, that's a nice melody.",
I could rewrite it for Freedom Call, but then it's not the original
anymore and that's not good.
When you put out that solo record, what kind of response did you actually
expect from the Freedom Call fans?
Chris: Seriously, nothing. Because it was maybe
an egoistic thing. It was just a collection of songs which weren't fitting
Freedom Call and I decided to not use it and to not rearrange it to
make it fit Freedom Call music. There was no idea behind it; I just
kept it on the side. And then I saw that there were more than 3 or 5
songs and "Oh, I have 10 songs.", so why hide it? It was a
balance for me, because I can't do power metal 24/7, because I'm a musician,
I'm an artist, and not only a power metal musician.
I want to feel free in this musical world and
I didn't want to bother Freedom Call by changing the music style and
I didn't want to bother the Freedom Call fans, because I think they
wouldn't be happy if I bring this kind of music to a Freedom Call album.
That's not cool. Because they are Freedom Call fans because of our music.
But there are no special concepts; it was just music that I wanted to
bring to the people.
Tobbe: Do you have any more of those songs?
Chris: Not yet. So I will continue with my solo
stuff, but I want to keep the feeling of being free in music. Maybe
the next solo album will be acoustic, or with a piano, or just strings,
with an orchestra. I do not know. I will see in the future.
Tobbe: And I guess you have no time limit
for it either.
Chris: No, nothing. This year I'm still on tour.
I've already been in Colombia, I've played in Poland, I've played several
shows in Germany and in October I'm going on tour with Axel Rudi Pell
in the Czech Republic and Eastern Europe. I'm gonna play two shows together
with Eric Martin, to support him. And I'm going to England to support
Power Quest for a couple of shows and I'm going to Spain as a headliner
with an acoustic guitar. And it's so simple; I just have to take care
In the liner notes, in the pictures, you're barefooted. Is it a way to
express yourself by being barefooted?
Chris: Oh no. [Laughs] There is no reason behind
it. It's just: it was a hot summer day when we did the photo session.
It was in my garden. I felt very comfortable, because all these places
where I did the pictures, and where I recorded the album, were in my
home. I recorded all the tracks in my own studio and did the photo session
there, so it's all very personal.
Tobbe: You played with a couple of other
bands before Freedom Call and tell me what you remember about those bands
and what you did back then.
Chris: I started very early to play in a band;
I was 13 years old, in a band in school. But yeah, that was very early,
so. And then, I think at the age of 15 or 16 I started a band, which
had a touch of professionalism already at that age. We had a hit in
our area. At a local radio station we were number 1 for weeks and things
like this; had cool shows, with a lot of girls. But we made more of
this pop music, like Duran Duran.
And there were two members from the band J.B.O.,
because I went to school with those two guys. And then at the age of
19 I had my first professional band, called China White. Very good band.
We did some originals, but there was no album released, unfortunately,
but I got some money. That's where I learned to know Daniel Zimmermann.
That was the first time I met him, yes.
Then I got an offer from Zed Yago. It's a band
from Hamburg. It was Jutta Weinhold's band, but she quit and the band
was looking for a new singer and Herman Frank recommended me and then
I worked with them for one and a half years, but there was no product
coming out. But that was sort of the first touch with original music.
then I got the call from Herman Frank from Moon'Doc. It was in 1993
and that's where I met Ilker [Ersin, bass Freedom Call] the first time.
We did two albums, but we did just one live show. Only one; nothing
more. [Weeps] And that was boring for me, because my focus is being
on stage and perform and not only work in the studio. Then I connected
Ilker with Daniel with Freedom Call in '99. Quite easy. [Laughs]
Tobbe: I guess you also started Freedom
Call to get more room for your own creativity back then.
Chris: Yeah, of course. In the project, I will
call it project: With Moon'Doc it was not my vocal expression that I'm
feeling in the music. So I just lent my voice to Herman Frank, because
I was used to sing in different dynamics with my voice. I could sing
AC/DC and I could sing Guns N' Roses, but I also could sing Helloween,
the highest parts, or Queensrÿche.
So I just gave Herman my voice, like "Tell
me what I have to sing and I will do it for you.". But it was not
the big thing for me, so I didn't feel really free. That was the reason
why I had to build up my own band, where I'm deciding what to sing.
I always had my own vision around music.
Tobbe: Did you work with something else
besides music back in the day?
Chris: I did it for a really short time after
school. I worked for some carpenters as an assistant, but both sides
were not really happy about that. [Laughs wholeheartedly] I had to take
care of my fingers and my hands, like "I can't do that.".
A pussy-like carpenter. But I'm a really lucky guy, because in all situations
where the money get a little bit less I always find a solution, like
I found a new band, I found a project, where I could earn enough money
to make a living.
was one time where I built up a solo cover/original thing. I played
as a solo artist with some backing and I played Manowar, I played Iron
Maiden, Judas Priest and things like that, but also Freedom Call songs.
I was performing this in small clubs, but I didn't have to work. So,
no job. No wake-up call. [Laughs] But it's a big advantage to be a singer
and a multi-instrumentalist, so that I can make my own projects.
If you're just a bass player, or just a drummer,
or just a guitarist, it's hard to earn money. To entertain people with
a bass is hard, but when you're singing you can entertain the people
and you can always find some possibilities to make some money.
Tobbe: Quite a few members have left Freedom
Call over the years and your drummer Ramy Ali left this spring and why
do all these guys leave?
Chris: I think the reason is that in a band
of our status you're not earning enough money for a living. You have
to give guitar lessons, or music lessons, or you have to work in the
studio for other projects. If you have a band like The Rolling Stones
there's no reason to quit. It would be totally stupid. Ramy became a
daddy and the responsibility is increasing and he has to take care of
his family. Or you got an offer for a good fixed 9 to 5 job and it's
better to take it because of your family, because of you're building
a house, or for the future, whatever, for your parents.
There are so many reasons and if you don't have
this passion and vision I can understand it, because if you're not really
into this music, not into maybe songwriting, producing and these special
ideas, it's a totally different situation and if you have another opportunity,
to make more money or to settle down, do that! I can understand that.
So people come and go and that's just destiny.