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dinsdag 26 februari 2013
FINSTERFORST: Black Forest pagans rule!

Interview with drummer Cornelius “Wombo” Heck and vocalist Olli “Haxian” Berlin of Finsterforst by Vera in February 2013

In November 2012 a mighty epic pagan/black metal stunner was released by Finsterforst. Their third studio album ‘Rastlos’ left us in awe and surpassed their two previous albums ‘Weltenkraft’ (2007) and ‘…zum Tode Hin’ (2009). No doubt about it: they deserve much more recognition. With their new deal with Napalm Records that will finally happen, that’s what we hope for. You can read a proper introduction of the band in the next interview with drummer Cornelius “Wombo” Heck and vocalist Olli “Haxian” Berlin. This is epic pagan metal done to a turn!

First of all congratulations with ‘Rastlos’ which left me in awe and I am happy to see that the album gets very positive reviews everywhere. So how is the mood over there in Finsterforst?
Wombo: Thank you for the overwhelming review for ‘Rastlos’. We are damn proud of it and always enjoy the positive reactions we get. Right now we are in hibernation. No concerts, a few rehearsals, Simon is working on new epic stuff; so we are all taking our time apart from each other. We are excited though for the next few months since we are going to play cool shows in Germany and Switzerland.

Olli: Thanks a lot. I think we're all kind of anxious to get on stage more often and unleash this beast live.

You hail from the Black Forest region and until now I didn’t realise that this name happens to be so ‘metallic’. I had quite a traditional area of Germany in mind. What are your thoughts on this?
Wombo: Have you seen the Triberger waterfalls for example? I can hardly see anything else which portraits pure force like a waterfall. Thousands of tons of water just crushing anything in its way – just like Metal! On the other hand the Black Forest is also the fore mentioned traditional area and has its beauty in its deep lonely valleys. We in FINSTERFORST try to capture every detail of this miraculous image in our music.

Finsterforst was founded in 2004. Who are the founding members and what about the influences and intentions of the starting band back then?
Wombo: FINSTERFORST was founded by Simon, Tobi, AlleyJazz and Marco, our former singer who has left the band. I think the influences clearly were Finnish folk metal bands such as Ensiferum, Finntroll or Korpiklaani and FINSTERFORST was intended to be a German competitor at eye level.

You are a seven-piece, so which instruments can we hear in addition to the common metal instrumentation?
Wombo: FINSTERFORST is a typical metal band plus a keyboarder and an accordion player. On our releases you can also hear Tin whistles, German flutes, Oboe, French horns and of course some strings.

After a demo you have released two albums ‘Weltenkraft’ (2007) and ‘…zum Tode Hin’ (2009). Can you give a summary of the step by step achievements of the band in its earlier years?
Olli: I think the guys made a huge leap from 'Weltenkraft' to '...zum Tode hin'. The debut and demo to some degree were more like the 'happy' pagan bands though the mood of the music and the content of the lyrics were darker than these bands. On some songs you could already hear Simon's ability to create an intense atmosphere. With '...zum Tode hin' the whole music became much heavier, more epic and less repetitive. That's what I see from the outside since I wasn't there.

You have played a lot live, but one of the gigs that leap to the eye is your presence at Ost Fest 2012 in Bucharest. Please tell us about the adventure of going to Romania and the gig itself?
Olli: It was a great experience. 30 hour ride with our little bus to get to Bucharest, 30 hours back. That's a lot of time to get dumb ideas, talk shit and drink some beer if you're not one of the drivers. The location was great, in the middle of the city, two big towers just behind the main stage which made for an impressing picture. The line-up was out of this world, Motörhead, Megadeth, Manowar, Mötley Crue, Europe and some other big names. Who really impressed me were W.A.S.P. with their energetic show. To play on the same festival with all these legends was a huge honour. We played directly after Mötley Crue on the smaller stage, but since they were the last band on the main stage everybody at least had to take a glimpse at us on the out. I think most people didn't know us, but the folks in Romania are some crazy metal maniacs and they were in party mood. Like I said, just a great experience overall.

‘Rastlos’ is your debut for Napalm Records, how did you get signed to this (very good) label? What are the expectations or eventually something you experienced that is better than before?
Olli: There was contact before '...zum Tode hin' and they wanted to hear our new stuff. So when we finished recordings for 'Rastlos' we sent them a CD and they seemed to be pretty impressed. As far as expectations go, you want to reach more people with your music. Napalm does a hell of a job promoting the album with their great resources. Of course we want to play more shows than we do right now, but we're getting there with the help of Napalm Events who take care of the booking for us.

Please tell us about the lyrical contents of ‘Rastlos’. Is there a concept or common thread in the lyrics? What are they mainly inspired by and who writes them?
Olli: I think Wombo came up with the idea of telling the story of a man who left everything behind and struggles to find a new place to call home or even get some idea what to do with his life. With a raw structure of that in mind David and I began writing the lyrics.

You have shot a superb video clip for the edited version of ‘Nichts Als Asche’. Was it a positive experience to shoot a video and more details about the making of would be fun…
Olli: Thank you. Well, I guess it was a positive experience for the clothed guys around us hehe. We had planned on the storyline and thought we'd just shoot scenes in the forest and see what we could do with that. And just the day before we started, it began to snow like crazy. It was really cold and running around with just boots and some kind of skirt was plain stupid to be honest. But being the idiots we are, we just went with the weather and had some fun there in the snow. If you want to get an idea what I mean by calling us idiots you can take a look here:

Great news! You will play at Wacken 2013! What are the plans about going on tour and gigs in the near future? Would you prefer selected gigs or proper longer touring?

Olli: You better believe we are looking forward to be playing 'auf Wacken'. It's like a dream come true to me. Right now we have plans of going on tour in October 2013, but it's too early to talk about details here. Just check our website and/or Facebook from time to time. What we prefer? Well, I like both. The main focus for me is performing live and having a great time with our fans. I love that energy on stage and I don't really care if it's a small club or a big festival.

Seven musicians… also on stage?
Olli: Sometimes we have to play without Hannes because he's got a heavy schedule, but other than that we'll be seven guys on stage.

Sevan Kirder (ex-Eluveitie) is one of the guest musicians on ‘Rastlos’. Please tell us about his contribution. How did you get in contact with him?
Wombo: We first contacted Sevan when we were about to record ‘Weltenkraft’. When we sent him the midi files for our songs he was excited to be part of this. So from that point on Sevan was on board for all our recordings contributing just the finest Tin Whistle, German Flute and Choir parts. For the interludes on ‘Rastlos’ for example we just put some forest noises on his headphones and told him to play whatever came to mind and I think the result is just plain awesome!
Olli: What Sevan did, especially on the two interludes, is just amazing.

How do you look back at your former albums and what are important differences, if compared to the new one?
Olli: It sounds really dumb, but on 'Rastlos' everything is way better than on the former albums. Song writing, execution, production, really everything. If we tried to get into more details we'd write a book here.

Who are the main song writers of the band?
Olli: Simon is the mastermind behind Finsterforst. Of course everybody has an opinion and some say on his own part, but in the end Simon will decide what to do. And we're all cool with that, because he is great at it!

Where was ‘Rastlos’ recorded? Did you use an extern producer? What about this recording process?
Olli: It was recorded in the mighty halls of Iguana Studios by 'Das C!' Christoph Brandes. He is not only the producer, but a great friend and weirdo just like we are. So recording at his place is a mix of working really well and having a lot of fun with stupid stuff. But make no mistake, while we're having a lot of fun together, he and Simon push each other to perfection and I think you can hear that on 'Rastlos'.

Cryptic Forest would be a side project of Finsterforst… Can you tell a bit more about that project?
Wombo: CRYPTIC FOREST is mainly just FINSTERFORST playing different music since all members of CRYPTIC FOREST are somehow affiliated with FINSTERFORST. CF is actually older than FF and it was founded by Simon and Peter, our session guitarist, back in 2003 or 2004. We have released one EP yet entitled ‘Dawn Of The Eclipse’ and have recorded a full length album ‘Ystyr’ which we will release eventually this summer via Einheit Produktionen. We haven’t had that many gigs yet so we hope that after that release we can bash everyone’s heads in on a more regular basis!
Olli: I've already listened to the stuff they'll put on the debut album. I look forward to seeing this beast crashing the scene. It will turn a lot of heads and really piss some guys off, because it definitely doesn't sound like a debut.

What are the plans for the near future?
Olli: I want to play shows, drink a lot of beer with our fans, get on Simon to write more great stuff and if I got some time left I'll try to gain world domination (laughs)

Thanks a lot guys for this interview! ‘Rastlos’ is amazing and I wish you all the best with all your endeavours!
Olli: Thanks for having us. Cheers Vera and a big hail to Belgium!

Wombo: We hope to play in Belgium again really soon! Maybe in fall 2013! Keep yourselves updated!

Geplaatst door Vera op dinsdag 26 februari 2013 - 23:16:44
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