Interview conducted November 3 2019
Interview published January 11 2020
"I think it was a very exciting time when we got
the record deal, and it was a good deal, and I really have to say maybe
we didn't really deserve it at that time."
German happy power metallers Freedom
Call visited Stockholm, Sweden for a show in November last year and Metal
Covenant spent some time with lead singer and guitarist Chris Bay
before the band's set.
Tobbe: First of all. Less than a week ago
you guys announced that Freedom Call had lost its drummer, once again.
What happened? No sweet-talk now. [Timmi Breideband was only part of Freedom
Call during 2019 and joined the band after the album M.E.T.A.L. was recorded.]
Chris: It was totally unexpected for us. It came
from nothing. We played a show in France, and it was perfect. And so
was the atmosphere in the band. But it seems to be family problems.
Timmi is young and he has two kids. Yeah, he didn't tell us about his
situation before and I think it was just a mind explosion for him and
he decided to support his family, and that I can understand.
are things that are more important. But for us it was totally unexpected.
So it was a shock. We all were like "What the hell? In the middle
of the tour?". Some people were probably thinking that there was
some trouble in the band, but there was nothing. So, it happens, but
we did our best and were handling it quickly and the tour will continue.
Tobbe: It was only, I think, maybe 4 days
before you were leaving for this tour leg and I guess you had to rehearse
Chris: No, because Kevin [Kott] was playing many
shows with us in 2018, so we just had to check the additional songs,
but we did that at soundcheck in Finspång. [Kevin also played
the drums as a session musician on M.E.T.A.L.] There was no time for
practice or rehearsal before we left home.
On one hand it was a shock, like I told you,
but on the other hand we noticed how many good friends we have. They
were all supporting us and they were calling back and recommending drummers
to help us out of this situation. So that gave us a very good feeling,
to have such good friends.
Tobbe: When Freedom Call loses its drummer,
immediately there's a lot of people asking for Dan Zimmermann's return.
It's always the same.
Chris: Of course. Always
But on the other
hand, he was part of the new album [Dan plays the drums in the title
track.] and his spirit is always around us. And forever he will be a
part of Freedom Call. So, if not on an album, then in our minds.
Tobbe: Another thing about member changes.
Ilker [Ersin, former bass player] quit in 2018 and his goodbye note wasn't
the happiest I've ever read. You and he seemed to be on such good terms
when he came back, so what happened now between you and Ilker, that you
maybe don't really wanna talk about?
Chris: Also personal things. I think maybe a
reason is age, because when you come to a certain age you can't go with
blind eyes through life. The responsibilities are growing, some have
kids, some have families, some have financial things. Yeah, you're getting
more serious when you're getting older. And that is maybe one reason
why it happens, or the reason why a lot of things happen.
maybe divorces happen in a special period of life, when you're noticing
yourself "Is that really what I want to do for the rest of my life?".
And that's the last chance to change something, because later, well,
there is no party anymore and maybe the last chance to go separate ways.
And there are different kinds of splitting. You can be serious with
honest words face to face with a person, or you can try to find a reason,
just to get rid of this honest way to talk to a person, and you just
find a reason to go.
Tobbe: Your new album was out in August.
Not so long ago, even if it probably was done early in the year. So, if
you look back at it now, in what way do you think that that album go in
line with what you have done before with this band?
Chris: For me, as the artist, the songwriter
and the producer, it's very hard to compare the albums or find the differences
between the albums, because to me it's just music I wrote. I think it's
more for the outside people, the journalists, or the followers to rank
or to rate the albums. I'm not able to do that, because all our songs
I wrote were touching my heart and there is a lot of passion in them.
I can't decide what's good, what's better and what I can do better.
Of course there is a development, but there is
also a development for every single person in his job; not only for
musicians. But I must say that the reaction from the fans and also the
press was incredible. I do not know why. [Laughs] Because it's a Freedom
Call album and we won't invent the wheel a second time. It's amazing.
People love the new album and we have also recognized that we have many
more visitors in our shows. So it's increasing, and that's good.
Tobbe: Could you ever imagine the band taking
a slightly different path someday and intentionally writing a different
kind of music?
Chris: For Freedom Call I'm the main songwriter
and then Lars [Rettkowitz, guitar] is writing some songs. But we are
not a band that is sitting 24/7 together, like "I have this note
on my mind.", so in my opinion it's not working. But for bands
that is working as a team where every single person is developing in
a different way, then the music will change, of course.
Or maybe there are some bands or projects that
are doing that on purpose because they are thinking about earning more
money or to follow a trend. But anyway, when there is a small trademark
in the band and I'm changing that, then the fans are saying "No,
it's not my thing anymore.".
when you're trying to make a different kind of music, then you will
meet thousands of other bands that are doing exactly that style, but
maybe for longer and also better, and then it's not authentic anymore.
If I want to change the music style, then I would start a new project,
with a new name and with other musicians, or I will record a solo album.
Tobbe: So will there be more solo stuff
coming from Chris Bay someday?
Chris: Oh yeah. In December and January there
is a tour break, so I have around 8 weeks, and maybe I can start to
write songs or collect some ideas. And maybe there is a Christmas song.
[Laughs] But the good thing with a solo album is that I am totally free.
So I'm not under pressure that I have to continue with the same style
from the first album [Chasing The Sun, 2017] and that gives me a very
good feeling. I'm totally free. It's a good outlet for my musical side
beside Freedom Call, because Freedom Call has to be Freedom Call. With
a solo album I'm free as a bird, so maybe it will be just acoustic or
a piano. We will see.
Tobbe: When you were a young boy, did you
already then wanted to be a musician? Or did you have other dreams as
Chris: No, always. There were no alternatives.
In the age of 5 I always tried to try out some instruments. And then
I really told my parents that I wanted to play an instrument. At this
time I got the alternatives to learn the flute, but I said no, and the
guitar. And the age of 7 I got my first lessons. Every Saturday morning.
I got an acoustic guitar and it was so big. I still have it, and I used
it for recordings on my solo album, for just some notes.
Then I moved to a musically focused gymnasium
and there I had to learn to play the piano. I went to school on Saturdays
so I couldn't continue with the guitar lessons and from that on I never
took guitar lessons again, so I'm autodidact. I'm not a guitar virtuoso,
but because I've played for such a long time I could say I'm a very
solid guitar player for this stuff. And I figured out that that makes
me able to write songs without focusing on the instrumental performance.
It's just music to tell a story, and not to play a guitar solo or something.
would say it could be that you're not able to write catchy songs, and
have clear songwriting and arrangements, when you're an extraordinary
instrumentalist, because you will always try to show people your performance
and your ability. But people are not interested in that. They are fine
with simple things.
Tobbe: In the beginning of Freedom Call,
were you ever thinking that you were living your dream, or were you rather
thinking that you've at least had come close to living your dream?
Chris: I think it was something in between. I
think it was a very exciting time when we got the record deal, and it
was a good deal, and I really have to say maybe we didn't really deserve
it at that time. Because we didn't build up Freedom Call from a small
band, playing local clubs and growing up slowly.
Yeah, Dan Zimmermann was playing with Gamma Ray
and I was in Moon'Doc with Herman Frank. We were not growing with the
band and then got a record deal, but it was more like "Boom! We
got a record deal!". It was because of Charlie Bauerfeind and his
connections in the music scene. Yeah, sometimes in your life you also
need luck. Then I swore to myself "From now on you have to work
day by day on this music!", because I wanted to stay in that situation.
And I almost did that and maybe that is a reason
why it was constantly growing. It was a really serious thing, it was
a job, it was my profession, my passion, and I really wanted to keep
that. But yeah, there was a lot of luck, to be honest.
Tobbe: You have started the second half
of your career now, the way I see it, and where do you see yourself going
musically in that second half? Can you imagine yourself doing Freedom
Call in 20-25 years? Will you ever get tired of doing this?
Chris: I don't know if you're getting tired.
Maybe it could happen that you're getting tired of doing this metal
thing. I think I do not want to jump with leather pants in an old age.
But who knows? Because generations are changing and maybe when we are
older it's a normal thing that musicians are continuing. But music will
always be my passion. But maybe in 20 years I'm playing small clubs
just with an acoustic guitar and for half of the concert I will tell
some stories from my life.