Interview with LANFEAR
By: Nermin Habib - 2012-12-01
Lanfear the strongest, ironically underrated Metal band from Germany have released their 6th studio album, "This Harmonic Consonance" February, 2012 to critical acclaim by the media and fans alike. JorZine managed to get a hold of the group's leguitad arist, Markus Ullrich to discuss the new album and his views regarding the state of Metal today and how it affects the band's music.
JZ: Since most bands are now expanding into the Progressive and Electronic arena of music, how does Lanfear distinguish itself from other bands who are also incorporating this “modern” sound? What aspect of Lanfear's music would you think will most fascinate fans of Power Metal or of any other genre?
Markus Ullrich (MU): I'm not quite sure what you mean with this modern sound and with electronic arena. I mean we integrated keyboards in our sound since the beginning but don't know if this makes us modern or not. I really don't think so much about that but think that we have a pretty unique sound. All the reviews also state that so maybe I'm not totally wrong :)
JZ: As a guitarist, how is the new album's music that Lanfear different than it's previous recordings? What elements have been added and do you feel that with each album, Lanfear has matured as musicians?
MU: To mature is one of the most important things. For the new album I produced the guitars in my home studio for the first time and so I had more time.
We always try to advance in different things be it arrangements or sound things. Sometimes you also have to change an arrangement to even receive a better sound. A never ending learning process and I like that.
JZ: On the topic of recording, what is the band's method of composition? Does each member carry a specific role or does each track involve the entire group? Have your methods changed over time?
MU: I write most of the basic tracks at home. Sometimes our keyboarder Richie also contributes one or two tracks. After that we rehearse the material, make some changes, everybody files on his own parts and when everything's ready Nuno starts with the melodies and writes the lyrics. This is a process which works pretty good.
JZ: Most fans are impressed by Power Metal's raw, battle lyricism and technically played instruments. How does Lanfear incorporate all those aspects to produce original pieces? Where do you look for the inspiration for the lyrics and solos?
MU: First thing is the problem that Power Metal is defined in another way than 15-20 years ago. Lots of people now file bands as Helloween or Sonata Arctica under the label Power Metal while when I grew up bands as Vicious Rumours or Helstar where called Power Metal. To me that doesn't matter but the definitions seem to have changed. Referring to battle lyricism. We don't use that.
Our lyrics are pretty real, sometimes socially critical or with a hint to what the future may bring. I think when you really make up your mind how to integrate what to sound different than you will never sound different. Music has to be a matter of the heart and not the mind. Musicians who always listen to the same stuff over and over again will never sound unique. We never had a problem with that simply because we're truly interested in the scene.
JZ: Germany is known for producing some amazing metal bands throughout the years, many have went on to be named pioneers of their genre. What does Lanfear hope to leave as it's legacy?
MU: We play the music we love to play and first and foremost we want to satisfy our tastes. The people you could call our fans like that and they like that we don't sound like all those thousands of rip offs. If this is a kind of legacy it's o.k. for me, if not...then not :)
JZ: Experienced sound engineers are very hard to come by, what issues have you faced while recording? Does the idea of making another album happen before you enter a studio or does one member just call the others with the concept? How are the tracks structured once they are recorded?
MU: As I already told [you], I have a small but very good home studio and our keyboarder is also able to record his tracks in a very professional way. We only record drums and vocals in bigger studios and the rest is completely in our own hands. We have exact plans before entering the studio and the way the tracks are structured is more or less a heart thing. Of course some important things as "what is the opener" are stated from the beginning but the rest is something which depends on many aspects (alternation, lyrics, tonality...)
JZ: Lanfear has been an active band since the 90's, how has the music and the demographic changed since then? What are the advancements or degeneration in regards to how people perceive music? Do you find that the band is also adapting to these changes or has the process of composing material more or less stayed the same?
MU: The way my ideas flow is similar though it's of course much more easy to record the ideas immediately and in very good quality. The music scene of course changed drastically and we all know that. More and more bands but not more fans, this somehow makes it difficult. There're far too many bands who sound exactly the same which is something that happened in the last ten years or so. In times of the www some things are easier but of course there's a certain lack of anticipation. You can listen to any band within seconds while 20 years ago this was more difficult but thus more fascinating and exciting.
JZ: To be included in the music industry is what most people strive to accomplish, usually focusing on becoming famous instead of producing records with innovative and musically challenging tracks. If Lanfear had never seen profit from it's output, do you think that it would still be something that its members would like and enjoy being a part of?
MU: This is pretty easy to answer. We never made any noteworthy profit in all those years so it is as it was. We play the music we love to play and this will never change.
JZ: Since Lanfear's music is extremely eclectic in its incorporation of sounds and feels of different genres, what would you say inspires the band to keep discovering and adding to their musical roister?
MU: Anything, I would say. As long as you're interested in any kind of art this will help your music to evolve constantly. It's really boring to be stagnant, if you ask me. It wouldn't be a challenge to record the same over and over again. At the moment you lose your creativity you should maybe stop writing music and do something else.
JZ: What was the greatest show that Lanfear was a part of? How did this differ from other shows and events that preceded it/succeeded it?
MU: Really can't say that. A very small gig could be more intense than a bigger show on a festival. Somehow it depends on the audience and on the constitution of the band if a gig is good or bad. I mean for example I really look forward to our first gig in the states in September (ProgPower festival) but I really don't know how it will be. What I mean is that I don't compare gigs for myself because it's always completely different. To play for a big audience is not the most important thing.
JZ: Because JorZine drastically centers around Metal bands and music in the Middle East, this question always gets rehashed by every interviewer out there: Since the Middle East is somewhat off the radar in concerns to live events and album production (with the exception of Dubai), what advice could Lanfear offer to bands that are attempting to break the mold and begin their careers as professional musicians?
MU: Depends on how you would define "professional". If you want to make a living with your own music you should stop because this is something which is almost impossible in these days. Of course you can be a hired musician and earn some money but this isn't that creative.
"Professional" to me is more a kind of playing your own music as good as possible and without any limitation - independent from making money. So I would say. Practice, listen to as much music as possible and learn to think outside of the box.
JZ: What inspired Lanfear to form and being playing the most testosterone-infused genre of metal, Power Metal? What bands or artists have inspired your musical content the most?
MU: Not an easy question. I think it's in your blood, hehe. Of course we also started with bands as Metallica, Iron Maiden f.e. but I for myself soon discovered all those great bands which were more or less not that big. Titan Force, Fates Warning, Secrecy, Agent Steel, Heathen, Jag Panzer, Armored Saint, Riot...I could go on forever :)
JZ: On Lanfear's site the most recurring statement I've read is “Lanfear play 100 prcent underrated metal”. What does that mantra mean to you, and how can this apply to how the music industry is functioning today?
MU: This is nothing but a simple gag. Over the years in almost every review you could read how underrated we'd be. So we just thought it would be funny to integrate it. Just our kind of humor :)
JZ: So, thanks so much for this opportunity, I really appreciate it. Are there any final words you would like your fans in the Middle East and around the world to know?
MU: [...]The famous final words are always the last question in an interview and it's not that easy to always give a fresh answer, hehe. So I'd just say: Thanks for reading, thanks for your interest...check us out and be true to yourself!