Metalium, the flagship of true German
metal, are on their sixth chapter, Nothing To Undo. The concept about
Metalian and Metaliana is finished, but Lars Ratz
still wants to co-name the records as chapters, to keep a certain order.
How German is that
! It sounds as it should, like power metal should
be defined - if there was any sense in the world. But the lyrics are now
dealing with the dark state of the world and the inner human mind. But
let the main man himself, bass player and band head Lars Ratz speak, because
he is certainly in the mood for it!
(You can read the first part of the interview in Sweden
Rock Magazine #42. This is the exclusive bonus material, so to speak.)
David: How would you describe the typical
Lars: We are four different songwriters. On
every record, as on Nothing To Undo - Chapter VI, we have speed metal,
midtempo, heavy grinding guitarriffs and a piano ballad. So there
is really no typical Metalium sound, it's more of four creative minds,
which comes together. But of course we are metal, and I would say
we have a German aspect in our sound, yes. But we don't want to say
that we are doing this or that metal, we always call it heavy metal.
We don't even say we're doing power metal. I don't like categorization
too much. If a band start out as a black metal band and then change
their style a little bit, they will still be labeled as black metal
because they once sounded like that.
But for me Metalium is power metal as power metal should be defined
Lars: The word in itself is so stupid, so
that is one reason why I can't like this word. If metal has no power,
then it's not metal, if you know what I mean
There are a lot
of Italian bands categorized as power metal. When I compare them to
my band I often do not find many things in common. Just because there
is a double bass drum, it is not the same style. In Metalium we use
guitar riffs that I often cannot hear in the Italian bands at all.
For me a lot of metal cannot be categorized.
David: Did you follow the same procedures
as you usually do when writing and recording songs?
Lars: Yes, everybody writes his own stuff
at home and then I call them in and we come together. We never speak
in private. We are four different guys who don't have anything in
common in private. But when we gather we always create something that
is not that bad. Everybody brings their demos and we listen to them
and start to work together. That is how we do it, always.
David: You have had a quite stable lineup
for five years now. What is the essence of the Metalium spirit that keeps
Lars: I don't know
Sometimes we hate
each other and sometimes we love each other. It's difficult to put
our relationship in words. We are just four guys. Maybe it is because
we don't see each other that often. A couple in love who lives far
apart are using their time when they meet four times a year way more
intense than maybe a married couple after five years, if you know
what I mean. So we are always happy when we see each other and it
is a big hello and: "Hey, what have you done the past three months?"
And everything feels fresh. We don't sit in the room going: "Aaah
not him again
" Maybe that is our secret.
David: Some rumors say that you have a reputation
of being hard to work with? Is that true?
Lars: I definitely know that I can be very
stubborn, yes I admit, haha
When I see in a certain direction,
there is nothing really that can bring me off this direction. When
it comes to that point I'm pretty stubborn. Otherwise, I don't take
myself so serious so, I can laugh about myself. And for the ones who
work with me
if I'm too hard to work with they'd never come
How do you think it came up then?
Lars: You know, lets say, Joey DeMaio in Manowar,
Kai Hansen in Gamma Ray, these guys have to make decisions. And of
course not everybody can be happy about it. I don't know
I have a very straight forward, direct way of saying things. I'm not
the best diplomat, I admit. So when I turn around, some people will
always say: "What a fucking dick he is!" I just say what
is on my mind, and that is not always what people want to hear.
David: How do you make decisions in Metalium?
Lars: From my stomach, mostly. Thinking more
of what I feel is right - and what I know is a good idea. I've made
mistakes in the past, a lot of them. I'm not a prophet, but when it
comes to Metalium I more or less follow my intention and afterwards
I see if it was right or wrong.
David: What kind of mistakes are you talking
Lars: From small things like mixing the wrong
sound for the bass drum, to saying the wrong thing to my singer while
I'm recording with him. Singers are very sensitive and I compare them
a little bit with girls - sometimes too 'touchy'. If I say: "Could
you repeat that note again, you sounded like a goose!", it's
just for fun you know, haha
But sometimes singers don't like
that. They cannot laugh about it. So nobody's perfect, I do mistakes.
David: I have heard some vague details about
Metalium being involved in a backstage incident at Sweden Rock Festival
2001, what was that about?
Where do you get inspiration to your lyrics?
Lars: From my life mostly. Now on this last
record I've been honest about what I think about the surrounding,
about the human being and how we treat life and how humans treat the
earth. I'm the father of two kids and I'm 38 years old now so I take
these things more seriously that when I was younger. I'm putting my
anger into these lyrics and I think it has come out pretty brutal.
David: What is up with your (and Michael
Ehré's) project Apolon?
Lars: At this moment we are in the process
of recording three songs. And everybody has played their instruments
already except for me. But I'm about to do it any day now. Then we
will mix it and see how it sounds. The idea, simply described, is
to take a black metal guitarist (V. Santura, Dark Fortress), the rhythm
section of a heavy metal band (Metalium) and the keyboardist of a
more melodic band (Joost van den Broek, After Forever) and draw it
together without any boundaries of borders. Like a guy Devin Townsend,
you know, who does not give a flying fuck about rules. He does what
he wants and that is why his stuff often sounds pretty intense. Or
Arjen Lucassen in Aeryon, which is one of my favorite musicians ever.
David: Have you found a singer yet?
Lars: 390 tapes were sent in. At the moment,
we have found two different voices, which we have recorded already,
but right now I cannot say who they are.
David: Why do you think that Hamburg has
become the capital of German metal?
Lars: I don't know, it's just a coincident
I think. Right now I'm in Mallorca. I'm living more here than in Hamburg,
so I may not be the man to tell. It's not because of something in
the air, it's just a big city of two million people. There are some
rule model bands from the 80s and there are about 560 bands today.
Berlin is double as big as Hamburg but there they are more into punk.
I cannot tell you why
David: Do you find any new inspiration in the music scene today?
Lars: For Metalium no. I want Metalium to
sound exactly how it sounds. There is nothing I want to change, otherwise
I would have changed it. But in general I listen to any kind of metal,
more or less, and try to be open minded, which is not always easy.
I listen to Pink and Larstina Aguilera. I really like Evanescence
first album a lot, they really rock. That doesn't mean that I would
put it in Metalium. But with the Apolon project I'm completely open
to any influence. Anything that rocks. I hate reggae. But part from
reggae I listen to all kinds of music.
David: In what ways have you evolved as
musicians in Metalium since the start?
Lars: We don't get better at all
if you listen to the first and the sixth record you will not really
hear any change in the musical skills. I never practice. I never touch
my base when I'm not playing it. At the time you are 30, as I was
when I started Metalium, your technical skills, and your development
as a mental being - which is even more important, because you play
your instrument as you are - are more or less over. Of course I could
sit here and tap my base now and then but I don't think anything would
be different. If you don't have it when you're 30 you will not have
it when you're 50. You have it when you are 25 pretty much, if you
have the talent.
David: You have not played in Sweden that often, how come?
Lars: It's simply not a typical routine. It's
not just around the corner and you have to find tour packages to come
up there and you have to find promotors, which are willing to pay
money for your band. We are not such a huge seller in Sweden, so you
don't find that many promotors that will make it affordable to come
over. As simple as that.
David: How come you don't sell as many records
in Sweden, while bands like Edguy and Blind Guardian are doing well here?
David: Do you have any trick to get inspiration
when writing music?
David: Thank you very much for the interview!