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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 Metalium sound?

  • 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.

David: 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 you together?

  • 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 back.

David: 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 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 about?

  • 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?

  • Lars: A backstage incident? Ah… that was our guitar roadie. After the show he got totally drunk and puked all over our lounge container. It was a hell of a stinking. We were totally pissed about this guy because it was his first time out with us. It was the last time as well... But if you remember this after fucking six years it must have made a big negative impression. I apologize in the name of my band for this! Normally we are pretty regular guys and this has never happened somewhere else since then.

David: 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…

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… I mean… 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.

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?

  • Lars: If I could tell you this I would be a prophet, haha… I have no idea. Why is Hammerfall selling so much? I don't think it has any relation to the quality. But it often depends on timing and the right marketing.

David: Do you have any trick to get inspiration when writing music?

  • Lars: No. My trick is to not touch my bass as long as possible before I start. So when I sit there I can pour out all my inspiration at one time.

David: Thank you very much for the interview!

  • Lars: Well have a nice evening and say hello to Pippi Longstocking for me, ok!

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