Interview conducted July 23 2016
Interview published July 29 2016
"There's no riff and no
melody existing that never have been played before, so it would be a lie
to say that I create completely new stuff."
In order to talk about Iron Savior's
May 2016 release Titancraft and to have a quick look at some of the decisions
made over the years, Metal Covenant recently met up with the band's leader,
guitarist and vocalist Piet Sielck before
the show at the indoor event "Stockholm Rocks - Summerfest".
Tobbe: Your new album, Titancraft, has been
out for 2 months now and what does it have that your previous albums don't
Piet: It definitely has a better sound and production-wise
I think it's the best Iron Savior album so far. Actually on the trip
to Sweden we were listening to the album again. It's still in my CD-player,
which is a good sign, because I've been listening to this album a million
times by now probably.
I really like about this album is, as I said, the production itself,
and the mix of, well let's put it like this, some progressive elements
and some really straightforward stuff. Speaking of Beyond The Horizon,
for the more progressive approach of the album, and Gunsmoke, you know.
It's really cool for me that these 2 songs can coexist on the same album
and blend together well.
Tobbe: You've pretty much stayed in the
same vein with your lyrics over the years, so what are your thoughts when
you grab pen and paper and sit down and have lyrical ideas?
Piet: Well, I mean, if I have ideas it's a great
feeling to write lyrics. But sometimes I just don't have ideas and that
is really a pain in the ass. [Laughs] If you know that the clock is
running and delivery date is drawing nearer and nearer and you just
don't have any decent ideas it can be really frustrating. But, I mean,
so far I have always managed to do it somehow. You know, the dumb thing
for me also is that I really take lyrics very, very seriously, because
when I sing this stuff I cannot just sing cool-sounding words. I mean,
if it's okay for other people, fine, but it isn't working for me.
You know, if I sing something I have to interpret
it and if I have to interpret then it somehow has to make sense and
has to be cool and there has to be an outline. At least something that
I understand when I sing it, otherwise I feel like singing into the
nothingness, you know. This results in being able to bring feelings
and emotions towards the songs and that's always my main approach to
Tobbe: People nowadays don't tend to read
the liner notes as much as they did before, you know, with vinyls. So
how much do you think that people actually read your lyrics?
Piet: I'm surprised how many people there are
that really read the lyrics. Iron Savior is known to be a band who takes
care for lyrics on the very first minute. It's not just like "Blah,
blah, blah, heavy metal." and some other cool-sounding words "Thunder,
steel, lightning." and everything, you know. It's works too and
nothing wrong with that, but people who listen to Iron Savior know that
lyrics do matter to us, so that's why they really read the lyrics, more
than with other bands.
Tobbe: And you have a story to fall back
on as well.
Piet: Yeah, a story line. I still really love
the Iron Savior story, but Titancraft, of course, is not a concept album.
After doing it 4 times in a row I'm kind of through with concept albums.
So besides concept albums, what are you trying to avoid when you write
a song nowadays?
Piet: It's not really that I want to avoid something.
Well, I mean, of course I want to avoid to repeat myself and it's of
course a big "No" if I get a feeling that I have been doing
something before, in a negative way, because then, of course, it ends
up in the trash can. Sometimes there's nothing, because I cannot reinvent
heavy metal, you know. There's no riff and no melody existing that never
have been played before, so it would be a lie to say that I create completely
I mean, you don't know, but it's always a matter
of how you blend the things together and arrange it in a different way
to create something new, because in the end the whole thing is what
counts. Of course, sometimes there might be a riff or a melody which
sound like something that I did before, but as long as it pleases me
and I have a good feeling about it
Because you know that situation
where you listen to something and it sounds familiar somehow, and it
can sound familiar in a good way or in a stupid way. So if it's the
latter, then of course
Tobbe: You know, Iron Savior basically plays
speedy music, but still you keep a melodic side to it, so how are you
able to merge speed and melody into songs?
Piet: Well, I mean, that is something that I've
been doing basically my entire life, you know. I was just giving another
interview and somebody asked me what was the song that influenced me
the most, if I look at my musical career, and I thought about it and
said "Maybe it was Exciter by [Judas] Priest.". Because when
I was 13 or 14 years old, Kai [Hansen] and I went to see AC/DC, with
Bon Scott at the time, and Priest were supporting them.
In that time we didn't know about Priest and
we just went there to see AC/DC, but got of course blown away completely
when they played the entire Unleashed In The East set. Of course opening
with Exciter. And so, coming back to the song Exciter. I mean, this
is what made Kai and I start writing speed metal songs, and there's
this nice little melody in Exciter. So this started things up a little
bit, you know, to do melodic speed power metal. Of course, at that time
this term didn't exist, so.
So what's your number one inspiration to keep on making Iron Savior albums?
Piet: Well, I think my biggest inspiration is
that I just love to do Iron Savior. It gives me so much pleasure, to
be honest. To be together with the guys and to play shows and we have
such a great band chemistry. We have a friendship going and it's amazing
and that definitely is one thing that keeps driving me doing Iron Savior.
But also, as long as I have the feeling that as a songwriter I have
not said everything that I can say in one life. There's still creative
power in me and it would be stupid to just end it, because you're beyond
Tobbe: When you're making the albums, how
are you able to involve the other guys? Iron Savior isn't active all the
time, so do you record during a long time?
Piet: Yes, we record during a long time and
of course I always kick those lazy asses around here so that they contribute
a little more to the album. [Guitarist Joachim "Piesel" Küstner
and bassist Jan-Sören Eckert are sitting right beside us.] Iron
Savior is not a 100 % professional band, you know. Piesel has a job
and is on the road continuously with Gamma Ray, Helloween or Edguy,
so he's quite often away. Jan also has a fixed job where he has to be.
And sometimes time is running really short and we are making a new album
and right in the middle of the mix, someone's like "Oh. I have
a new song idea." and then "Keep it for the next one!",
you know. So, of course I wish that there would be more from these guys.
Tobbe: Iron Savior released its first album
in 1997 and has mostly been active in the studio and not touring so much,
so why didn't Iron Savior end up being more of a touring band?
Piet: Actually I think there are many reasons
to it. The first reason is that I have a family, so it never was my
top priority to be on the road 300 days a year. I had children from
the first minute on when starting doing Iron Savior, so touring was
okay for me, but only moderate touring. Touring also at that time was
There was no money coming from touring and it
was more or less just a promotional thing. We were supporting Grave
Digger and we were supporting Running Wild. We have great memories from
that time and of course it was successful for the band, but it was a
lot of money and it made a big minus on my bank account. From that on
I really took it easy with touring, you know, because it was just too
expensive for me. It was eating up too much income.
was one reason, but that was of course not the main reason, because
the main reason basically for a long time was that most of the band
members had different obligations and it was really hard to find a day
where everybody would be available. And since 2011 we are working with
substitutes, so if Piesel is unavailable we use Jan Bertram from Paragon
and if Thomas [Nack, drums] is not available we use Sören Teckenburg
[from Paragon as well] and since we're doing this we play a lot more
Tobbe: Still, if you want to become a bigger
band you've gotta be seen more frequently and play a lot more festivals
Piet: That's right. I mean, becoming a real big,
big heavy metal act, to be honest, was never our top priority. If it
would happen, nobody of us would say no, but the top priority was just
to perform, play and create music and somehow make a living out of it.
Tobbe: Since you're not touring so much,
how much do you guys rehearse together before your shows?
Piet: Well, I mean, this year actually we do
quite a lot of shows. For example, this year we do like 15 shows just
in 6 months and if you put all that together it would end up as a decent
tour, you know. But since we are homebound, you know, we do have families,
we basically do it on the weekends. So it's not a continuous tour and
it's spread over several weekends during the year. So that's what we're
doing and that's what we also will do in the future. But I think, instead
of 15 shows a year we can maybe do at least 25-30 shows a year. But
more, no, I don't think so.
Tobbe: You've been working with quite a
few bands over the years, as a producer, engineer and stuff, and since
most bands are unable to make the big bucks nowadays, do the producers
and mixers and all that have to lower their fees as well to adapt to today's
Piet: Sure, sure. You know, going back 20 years,
getting a decent recording was only possible in a professional sound
studio, with really expensive equipment, with a mixing desk, with MCI
24-track recorders and all these goodies from the old analog days, but
since the computer took over more and more, for a couple of hundred
Euros everybody can buy a Macintosh, a Logic Pro X or whatever and start
recording and if you know what you're doing you can come up with really
decent quality that's good enough to make a record from.
it's not only that you need to know
how to record properly, it's also what you record, you know, and you
will always need your ears, because the computer is not doing that for
you. You will always need your ears and your personal taste and that
is where they, at least people like me and other producers, make their
money from, and also for the experience and that you know how to do
Have you considered putting together another project again, like you did
with Savage Circus?
Piet: No, to be honest, no. Sometimes, because
I've been contributing to some smaller projects here and there, I keep
thinking "Yeah, it could be fun.", but on the other hand I'm
afraid that it would end up in the same way that Savage Circus did.
Savage Circus was a great experience doing and I enjoyed those years
of course, but just look at those years, nothing was happening with
Iron Savior. Nothing at all and my priorities are definitely with Iron
Savage Circus was a nice interlude and also for
me, as a songwriter, it was great to do something really different.
But once I had done it for 2 albums in a row I didn't feel like doing
it again and so far also not with other projects. It would be okay for
me to be part of projects where I would just be one of the guys or with
somebody else doing the main work. But most of the time, if I start
something I do the job, you know. So I'm good with Iron Savior in the
Tobbe: Sometimes you're making cover versions
of songs that are far from heavy metal, so what's the main purpose of
making, like, pop songs into heavy metal?
Piet: You know, recording a cover version of
an existing metal or rock song is not that challenging, to be honest.
You listen to the song, you try to adapt to it as much as possible,
get close to the original and do not really add new stuff to it, because
that's not the job, you know. If you do a cover version of something
that already exists in your genre you of course have to get close to
it, but you will never surpass it, because the original will always
be the original, most of the time.
If you take something which has a completely
different style than your own, then of course you need to create something
new, and that is the challenging part about it. I think Dance With Somebody
[by Mando Diao] worked out nicely and I really like that version. Underneath
The Radar [by Underworld], the Japanese bonus track from The Landing
just listened to it in the car on the way to the gig here and it's really
cool. But still, my favorite is the version of Crazy, with Seal, from
Condition Red. It's really awesome, I think.
also: review of the