» Matthew/Falk Maria - Powerwolf
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Interview conducted May 30 2015
Interview published June 27 2015

Powerwolf, who releases its new effort Blessed & Possessed on July 17th, visited Sweden's Metallsvenskan festival in late May. To find out more about the album and the band's visions and activities, Metal Covenant had a chat with guitarist Matthew Greywolf and organ player Falk Maria Schlegel.

Tobbe: I've been listening to the album like 5 or 6 times during the last couple of days and it's definitely an album in the Powerwolf vein, so what do you think that this album has that its predecessors don't?

Matthew: Well, I don't know. I mean, our approach is not to, you know, kind of consciously change things or try to deliver a totally different concept or whatever. Well, to make it short, the idea is just "Let's write some great new songs.". That's it. I mean, I think we have over the years developed quite a trademark sound of how Powerwolf sounds and that's what we, you know, kind of expand in detail and we try to keep writing great songs.

I think Blessed & Possessed has become a very dynamic album and an album with a lot of live songs. To us, something like a proof of our concept is if we, when we're recording, feel like we can't wait to play the songs live. Then it's a sign of that we did something right. We're just preparing the setlist for the upcoming tour and we're already into heavy discussions of which songs to play. (Falk Maria:) With more songs comes a hard struggle. (Matthew:) Yes, but it's a very positive struggle. (Falk Maria:) The question is, when we are writing new songs; "Can we imagine to play this song live?". (Matthew:) And if we all say yes, then it's a good idea and we start developing the idea.

Tobbe: Is there something you think that you have done differently, in comparison to the last albums?

Matthew: Quite sure, because I mean, we're in the end 2 years older and albums have their own dynamics. But, as I mentioned before, there is no conscious decision to make things in a different way. You know, we don't want to plan music. It's not like we have a master plan on what we want to do on the album. It's rather like "Let's start writing an album and see what happens.". I think we have stayed true to our trademark sound and this is not a result of us trying to keep the rules of how Powerwolf sounds. Instead it's like; the way we sound has been a natural development over the years. So it would be dishonest by me to consciously change anything, because the way we sound is just a result of, you know, the way Falko plays the organ, the way Attila [Dorn] sings, and kind of an organic process, I think. (Falk Maria:) We started with the songwriting process just after the last live concert, to bring the live atmosphere to the new record.

Tobbe: You're not too worried about being too similar in the end?

Matthew: Well, if it happens, then it's just a proof that we, you know, kind of love the music we play. There's nothing wrong to me if it's very similar. Nevertheless I think we have a lot of elements on Blessed & Possessed which we didn't have in that extent before. But obviously these are not elements that spring to mind when listening to it the first time. It's like, for example, we experimented a lot with orchestral percussions this time, which to me add a lot of depth to the songs. But this is nothing you would, you know, immediately realize and say "Now they've gone for orchestral percussions." or something. It's rather that these are small details that we try to develop.

Tobbe: Do each and every album has to end with a mysterious outro?

Matthew: I always compare it to the end of a movie where you've got the credits. It's got a similar function to me, 'cause if I'm in a cinema and watch a movie, in the end I'm someone who stays in place and just watch the credits. I take a minute or two and think about what I saw and on the album, the function of the outro is similar. It's like the last song is done, but let's give the listeners some minutes to just, you know… (Falk Maria:) [Interrupts] To skip to number 1 again. [Laughs] (Matthew:) To me, it would feel incomplete if, you know, after the last song is done, the player just stops and skips to 1, or if the streaming is moving, or whatever. Well, it's like the credits in a movie.

Tobbe: There's also a bonus CD with cover versions of 10 songs.

Falk Maria: Yes, Metallum Nostrum.

Tobbe: So what made you come up with the idea to record those old songs?

Falk Maria: On one side, we wanted to release a very special limited edition, so it should be worthy, you know. It shouldn't be only 2 tracks more, like demo versions or something like that. And on the other side, we have had the idea in our minds, for I think 4-5 years, to do something very special. To cover our own heroes. (Matthew:) I think it was a fun project to do. On one of the tours we did in the past, we came up with the idea, that one day, everybody could propose some of his personal favorite songs and we would just do covers of them without doing a major project out of it. And this time it just fitted, so it was a good idea for the bonus and I think, apart from just having, hopefully, enjoyable cover versions, it tells the listener something about Powerwolf.

(Falk Maria:) One thing we didn't choose was the most famous songs like Judas Priest's Breaking The Law or something like that. We did A Touch Of Evil. (Matthew:) It's not about covering 10 heavy metal hits. It's like "Let's cover some personal favorites.". (Falk Maria:) To me, especially Savatage. The Zachary Stevens era is very important to me. As Matthew told you, it's about our own history and it's an honor for us to do this.

Tobbe: You know, every band says they're unique, but I actually think that Powerwolf is kind of unique, even in heavy metal, so is it important for you to have your own style?

Matthew: Yeah, definitely. But well, you know, it's not a planned style. It's just the result of the individuals that formed the band. I think it's quite obvious that you could not come up with a very own style if you just founded a band with the intention to be very original. I mean, maybe you could, but then you'd probably create something nobody needs. I think, with us, it was kind of a coincidence that there were individuals like, for example Attila, who has a very unique voice and style of singing. Then there was Falko, who brought in the church organ. You can't plan things like this. It's just like it happened and we realize that this is something that really fits, and forms in a good way to write songs.

Tobbe: What do you think that your band has to offer that other bands don't?

Matthew: I don't know. I think one of the elements that is very important in a live situation is that we do have a lot of interaction with the audience and I think the audience can realize that we absolutely enjoy what we're doing. Well, something special for me, for Powerwolf, and it's almost sad that today you have to mention this, is that we are a band which haven't had any major lineup changes in our history. And I think it makes a difference, because nowadays there are a lot of bands who are just like projects performing live with exchangeable musicians and I think people can realize that we are just more than a project or something.

I hope this is what people can realize when they see us up on stage. 5 friends who enjoy themselves by playing the music they love. Apart from that, I think Powerwolf is more than just the music. It's the visual concept as well. The way we communicate. I would say it's a kind of, let's call it the Powerwolf experience. You've got to see Powerwolf to understand what the band is all about.

Tobbe: The album is released in the middle of the summer. July 17th to be exact. And that, as a matter of fact, means less competition with other bands, because not so many bands release albums in July.

Falk Maria: I think that every time has a lot of releases, so we didn't plan this. It's just our way to release albums. (Matthew:) I think the release schedules are overcrowded anyway. For example, in Germany, we now have Lindemann, the project of the singer of Rammstein, almost released at the same time as our album. I think it's kind of a coincidence. We have this rhythm, which is like; we're touring and we start writing an album, and by kind of coincidence we always have like the same timing. We went into the studio in January, so naturally the album is done by now. Maybe winter would be a good time to release a Powerwolf album as well?

Tobbe: I was thinking about the issues with downloading and such stuff. Is this something you talk about?

Matthew: Of course. It's a problem to the music scene. Definitely. I mean, it's a two-edged sword, definitely. Considering how record sales are generally developing, I think we are already in a time where damage is done, because to a lot of small bands it's almost impossible to go out and play proper tours or anything, because there's just no support from the record companies for this because they gain much less money. For us it's like, well, we're in the luxurious situation that the development of our sales has been increasing with every release and we're absolutely grateful for this, because it shows that there are many dedicated fans who still want to have the originals, the psychical releases. And we actually spend a lot of energy and time into releasing as much worthy releases as possible.

It's like, for example, I'm doing all the artwork stuff myself, just to make sure it's not just a quick artwork or something. I spend like months on each albums doing proper booklets and everything. A good thing about the heavy metal scene again is if you do really worthy releases, for example we've got an edition with a chalice and everything, which we also take care of ourselves, there's still that connecting between bands and fans. And I hope that fans still want the psychical releases. At least for me, being a fan, I still buy psychical releases. Very important to me. (Falk Maria:) It's also a problem if you have Spotify or something like that. It's not that worthy, you know. You pay a small amount for a lot of music. It's a good thing that everybody can hear everything, but for the bands it's hard. (Matthew:) Well, it definitely decreases the worth of an album. Definitely. And that's something that's really a shame, I think.

Tobbe: Do you have any long-term plans for Powerwolf at this point?

Matthew: Well, first of all, the plan is to tour as much as possible with the album. There are several tour schedules right now. I think we will spend the next 2 years touring in support of Blessed & Possessed. After that we will probably release our first live DVD, which is going to be recorded very soon [July 11th] at Masters Of Rock in the Czech Republic. So we have a quite busy schedule and plans for the next, say, 2 or 3 years. (Falk Maria:) And we'll come back to Sweden. (Matthew:) And we'll come back to Sweden in the winter. Definitely.

Tobbe: You have heard this before, but it's kind of odd to see a heavy metal band playing live shows without a bass player.

Matthew: Well yeah, we've been asked several times.

Tobbe: Yeah, I figured.

Matthew: It's a natural development resulting from the early days of the band. We originally had one guitar player in the lineup, which was me, and Charles [Greywolf] was playing bass guitar. And when we prepared for the first tour, we did realize we would do much better with a second guitar. The point was that we didn't want to put in an additional member to the band, because the 5 people we were was just like a perfect circle that worked exactly how we wanted it to work. And we just didn't want to integrate another member and we also didn't want to use any kind of session musician, because that would have destroyed the feeling of friendship in the band.

So we decided that it would be, you know, more honest if we'd say there is no bass player and the bass is from the backtrack, which we never, kind of, were hiding or something. We're very open about it. So we've kept it for 12 years now and I think we're old and used to it and we'll never change it. (Falk Maria:) I need the space on stage, you know. I'm the front organ player, so we can't have 2 guitar players, and then a bass player.

See also: review of the album Blessed & Possessed

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