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Interview published March 13 2024

Metal Covenant got an opportunity to ask some quick questions to Gotthard's guitarist and main man Leo Leoni.

Tobbe: The last Gotthard record, Number 13, was out in March of 2020. So it's been quite a while now. Is it time for a new Gotthard record anytime soon?

Leo: We're working on material. As you know we had two years of pandemic, but now we're gonna start working on it. We're planning to record and finish it sometime in 2024.

Tobbe: What might the fans expect from a new Gotthard album then?

Leo: That's a good question. I think that you're supposed to ask the fans what they expect. But they're gonna get a rock 'n' roll album with ballads, melodies, rock, and power beats. A lot of melody, and then positive vibes, I believe, because this world we live in need some positive energy.

Tobbe: With so many records out now from Gotthard, and other stuff you do, have you ever been thinking about slowing down a little bit with putting out albums?

Leo: Well, actually I'm working a lot, but that's the only thing I can do. I'm just working. (Laughs) No, no. But if we're gonna slow down, it has to be in the right time. But now there's still a lot of energy around, still a lot of willingness of doing things, still a good vibe, so we're gonna slow down when it's the right time to slow down. At the moment we're still going, so.

Tobbe: Are you still as big in Switzerland as you used to be?

Leo: Yeah, I would say so. We're still the number 1 band. Like it or not, that's the way it is. Of course there are other bands that came out and lie. I think there's only one band which has around the same amount of users that we have and that's Krokus.

But I think there's space for everyone, also even if it's a small country like Switzerland, and I believe that we do what we can. And sometimes maybe this style of music is a little bit out; maybe it's gonna come back. You know, you always have to struggle in this situation.

And fashions are changing. At the moment it is the hip hop which is in. Switzerland borders to countries like Germany, France and Italy and there are a lot of trance is coming in and influence the market.

Tobbe: Yes, popularity-wise rock 'n' roll is a bit behind hip hop, or whatever it is, nowadays.

Leo: Well, sometimes it's gonna be hip hop, and sometimes it's rock 'n' roll. You know, it's a matter of communication, and communication goes with the trend, and the trend goes with the communication. To be a rebel at the moment is coming out on social media. and you have to come up with a lot of blah, blah, blah, whatever.

Things which for some people make sense and for some people don't make sense. Rock 'n' roll was more a scream from the street, and after that it was maybe the rap, and now everybody can do a little bit of music, you know. Of course the message is very important also, and in today's society that's possibly what it's all about, you know.

Tobbe: It's very hard to predict a coming trend. Like, grunge hit in the '90s, and then nu-metal came, and then heavy metal come back strong, and melodic metal as well.

Leo: It is a little bit difficult, but let us get surprised about what's coming up. The very important thing is that it never died. There are ups and down. It's like blue jeans. They maybe change in shape, but they're still here.

Tobbe: It's hard for a band like Gotthard, who has done so many records, to change style. It still got to be in the Gotthard vein.

Leo: We changed the direction a little bit sometimes, but that's also normal, because if you put out a lot of records you don't want every record to sound the same. I believe that Rolling Stones never sound like Rolling Stones on the first record again. They are different, you know.

You have great songs, and something common that is the brand, like for bands like Rolling Stones, or Gotthard, or AC/DC, or Purple. Whoever you name, they always have some pretty similar albums, but always with a different character to them, and I think that's normal, and that's the freedom of the artist, to express himself in the right way at that moment.

Tobbe: If you release a record today, is it still the same feeling of fulfillment as it was back in the day for you personally?

Leo: I would say yes, because at the end of the day, what you wanna deliver is the best possible record you can do at the moment. You don't wanna just spit out something, like "Let's just do something. Who cares?". Of course, when you're twenty you have one mentality, when you're fifty you have a different mentality, and things are changing along the road in a long life, you know. And this is changing you. Not the habits, but, you know, the way you're thinking. But all in all, I think it's pretty much the same thing, you know.

Tobbe: Let's head quickly over to CoreLeoni for a couple of questions. For people who don't what that is, tell them about it.

Leo: CoreLeoni is a project which I wanted to start back in 1999, but I always postponed it for different reasons, and the last time I postponed it was in 2010 when Steve Lee left and never came back. But then came the time when I started it, and it's about playing the old material from Gotthard which we don't play that often. And our own songs too.

We had two greatest hits album, more or less with Gotthard tunes re-recorded. On those albums there are one or two songs from CoreLeoni, and on the last one, III, we have pretty much a complete album of our own songs. And, we go out and play rock 'n' roll, with songs I haven't played with Gotthard since 1992, or 1994, or 1996.

When we're on tour with Gotthard we can not play all the songs, and some songs go a little bit to one of those 'forgotten boxes', and "I wish I could play them, because I wrote them.", or co-wrote them. And therefore I wanted to do this already back then. Now I found the right guys to do it. It's great, we're having fun, and we go out and rock the shit out of you.

Tobbe: You have never been reluctant or afraid of playing covers. What's so fascinating to you personally to record someone else's stuff?

Leo: Well, sometimes there are songs which follow you along the road, and I grew up playing songs from other artists. In one way it's to pay tribute to the greatest artists, who did whatever they did. And sometimes maybe you think, "Oh, what if I would change this, and bring more of this and this?" and then you rearrange and retouch a little bit.

In my point of view, I do it like this. Just covering and going one to one, you know, there are enough cover bands out there which are doing that. So I think it's cool if you can bring something from your personal way of playing. And I think I like it, you know. And I think it's cool. You know, why not?

Tobbe: And there are bands that have made covers of Gotthard songs too, and there are also Gotthard tribute bands. Have you heard any of those songs?

Leo: I have heard some stuff on the net. I think it's cool, and I appreciate what they're doing. It's a compliment. It's very important. It means that the Gotthard songs mean something for them, and that some people out there wanna listen to it.

Tobbe: Is it kind of special to hear other people playing your songs?

Leo: It's interesting. It is very special. I think it's a good thing.

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