» Chris Bay - Freedom Call
« back

Interview conducted June 8 2022
Interview published July 13 2022

"I'm a person that has to carry stones from one place to the next."

German power metal outfit Freedom Call visited Sweden Rock and Metal Covenant took the opportunity to talk to guitarist and singer Chris Bay.

Tobbe: Your last album M.E.T.A.L. is to me one of your absolute best albums. Do you sometimes feel frustration that it doesn't get the attention that the early albums got back in the day?

Chris: But I do not feel that there is a decreasing interest in Freedom Call. Also, the tour we played in 2019 was running as good as ever. So it depends on the territory. There are territories like Hungary, Spain and Italy that we are working on and we're fighting to get more people there. But specially territories like Germany, Sweden, Czech Republic, Switzerland, and many more, are very strong. Those were incredible and we could get many more people to the shows.

Tobbe: What is your strongest driving force personally to keep going with Freedom Call after all these years of doing it?

Chris: That's quite easy. It's my passion. I'm in a very comfortable position, that I never had to do any things in my life just to make money. So it's not because I'm rich, but it has been working so far, so I'm okay. I do not need a Porsche and I don't need any material things to make me happy. I have my passion and that makes me happy. And I think all the people that have to buy a Porsche do that to make themselves happy.

But I'm happy. I do not need a Porsche. And I'm not only doing Freedom Call. I'm doing my solo stuff as well. I'm on tour constantly. Not in the last two years, but, so. And I'm restarting also my solo shows, with my acoustic guitar. I'm going to Sardinia in Italy, to the Czech Republic, and also to Sweden.

Tobbe: So will we see another solo album from Chris Bay anytime soon?

Chris: A lot of people were writing messages on social media, or via email, like, "Chris! Shitty pandemic! Now you have enough time to write many, many new songs, to Freedom Call and to a solo album.". But in the beginning I was deeply suffering under that. Because I'm not a person who's living the rockstar life in a hotel room and playing PlayStation.

I'm a person that has to carry stones from one place to the next. So I'm the driver of the band van. So I'm loading in / loading out with the guys of the band and I'm taking care of all the technical stuff and things. And that was my biggest problem, that I couldn't play concerts. It was not just the music.

So I was kind of in jail. But I reacted quite quick and I started to deliver fruits and vegetables, for a small, private company. It's, like, organic fruit things. And I realized that's my thing. It sounds funny, but it's quite similar to touring; loading and driving. And I'm still going with that. Okay, I'm not able to do that constantly with a fixed schedule, but from time to time I'm helping out and being the stand-in driver. And that's okay to me.

Tobbe: So now you've got two professions.

Chris: Yes, music, and delivering fruits and vegetables. [Laughs] No, I don't see that as my profession. I did it just to be on the road again. Maybe in the beginning it was an act of desperation. But it changed, and I'm fine with that. But it's not my passion to deliver fruits and vegetables, but better than staying at home and getting depressed.

Tobbe: But you really didn't answer my question. Will we see another Chris Bay solo album soon?

Chris: Okay, okay, okay. Yeah, I'm working on it. And also on the next Freedom Call album. Most of the songs are done. But honestly I'm not totally convinced about the situation we have. Everybody feels, "Okay, now we are free again!". But let's wait and see what will happen the next time. And I have to go on tour with a new album. I do not want to just release an album and stay at home. So I'm just waiting a little bit to see what time will tell. But it's coming soon, so it won't take years or something. Everything is already in work.

Tobbe: When you're making an album, do you approach songwriting differently today than you did back in the day?

Chris: I'm just doing what's flowing out of me. So I'm not thinking about it. I'm not calculating, "Okay, now maybe I have to bring another sound, or a different songwriting, or arrangements.". I'm just doing what's coming out of me, and that should be good enough. [Laughs]

Tobbe: But Freedom Call has its style, and aren't you afraid of repeating yourself sometimes?

Chris: I'm doing that. I'm already doing that. I'm repeating myself many, many, many times. But I don't care. Because it's me. It's Freedom Call, and ask Angus Young, or ask Lemmy. I do not want to compare myself with them, but yeah, it's their style, and that's what the people love.

When I'm doing a different style, then there are other bands that are doing this different style better than me. So let the other bands do that style. Because I think this kind of style: I'm writing, I can do that maybe a bit better than others. So why change? And it would not be authentic anymore.

Tobbe: And it's funny with artists, and I have said this before, but they start with their music when they're young and then they kind of have to do the same stuff for their whole life. That's kind of funny, right?

Chris: Yes, that's your destiny. [Laughs] But that is the reason why I started to produce a solo album. So I do not have to go the same way as with Freedom Call. And of course some parts are a bit similar. But it is what it is. I'm Chris and I'm writing for Freedom Call and for my solo stuff. But with the solo stuff I can do many more experiments.

Because when I was starting a poppy song… Okay, Freedom Call has poppy songs as well, but an extremely poppy song, people wouldn't agree if I did that with Freedom Call, but with my solo stuff I'm totally free as a bird. So I can do whatever I want. And I have already songs… Some metal fans will… [Laughs]

Tobbe: But still, when I listen to the solo album there's no question that it's Chris Bay. It's a lighter version of Freedom Call and maybe a bit more diverse, maybe since you have the freedom to express yourself in different ways.

Chris: Yes, exactly. My source when I started to make music wasn't only metal. I loved Deep Purple and that old stuff, which is still cool. But I also was listening to a lot of poppy bands, like INXS, Simple Minds and A-ha. And still I'm loving them. And yeah, those are my influences.

Tobbe: If we would lay your solo stuff and Freedom Call aside for a while. Could you ever start a new band, like, with someone else, and just try a different career than what you are doing now?

Chris: I could try, but it would sound like Freedom Call of course. [Laughs] Because that's my style and I know exactly how it will sound when I'm starting to produce a new Freedom Call album, or a solo album. And if I really would try to do different ways of producing, then that's not Chris anymore, and that's not authentic.

Then I can work as just a producer, and support other bands to make the best out of their own style, but then I'm not working as an artist anymore, and I'm a producer or a technician, and that's not what I want to do. Then I'm delivering fruits and vegetables. [Laughs]

Tobbe: How much cheaper is it for you to record a record today than it was, like, 20 years ago?

Chris: Oh, much cheaper. Before the digital recordings you had a lot of gear and it costed so much. And now you're getting a lot of things for free sometimes, just for checking out some light versions. Theoretically you can make it really cheap. But that's not point, because everyone can make it cheap, so you have to make it better cheap. [Laughs]

So it's not like you have an advantage to older times, because you have to be better, and you have to work more on your authentic side, and you have to make yourself unique.

Tobbe: On another note. The drummer today. Who is he? Not Klaus Sperling, that's for sure.

Chris: Yes. Klaus Sperling is busy this summer with Nitrogods. They're playing a lot of shows. I'm happy for them. They released a new live album [Ten Years Of Crap - Live] recently. It's Chris Widmann. He's from Munich. He's playing this festival season with us. So there is no fixed decision. And what I told you, about the release, I'm a little bit waiting for what time will tell us.

Tobbe: You've had a lot of member changes, even though Chris Bay stands fast. So, do people in general, or the band members, consider you to be a demanding person?

Chris: Could be. [Laughs] But Lars [Rettkowitz, guitar] is playing with us since 2005. That's a long, long time. I think if your band status is that you can not earn enough money on music for the bandmembers, then people have to change their job, or they have to have a fixed job, or whatever, so. But we are not the only one. But that is the reason, so.

Tobbe: As you're getting older… Not saying that you're old yet. But as you're getting older, is music truly and honestly still as important as it was when you were 20?

Chris: No, it's not. It's still my passion, but I think, honestly, when you're starting to make music it's because you of course love music and that you're talented. I learned to play the guitar when I was 7, because I wanted to take lessons, not my parents.

And then I learned the piano, because I wanted to learn the piano, not my parents. And you're recognizing that people are a bit jealous about that. Maybe that came out wrong, because it's not my intention to make people jealous. But people are looking at you a bit more and I think everybody would like that. So, it's not a personal thing. And the girls like that. So definitely you're getting more girls when you're a musician. [Laughs]

But all these things, like being a big star or something, I don't care about that, and I'm not interested in that anymore. So I'm going out to the people and talk to them. I won't be a rockstar or something; I'm not interested in that. So, I'm delivering fruits and vegetables. But the passion for music, I think that will never die. No, no.

Related links: