I met Powerwolf in Tolmin, Slovenia, as part of the Metalcamp Festival, where the band performed on Friday (15th of July). Since there had been a few problems with the organization regarding the press, I had no idea about how to find these guys in order to do the interview. Not knowing what else to do, when I saw Charles Greywolf (bassist) I simply walked up to him and told him about the interview; he takes me backstage, where I’m introduced to the band. After shaking hands I’m surprised at how all of them start to try to make me more comfortable “Please, sit down”, “would you like a beer? what about water?”. In summary, really nice people.
I’ve been a fan of Powerwolf since 2008, when I saw that they were going to play in Wacken. Although, in the end, I couldn’t make it to the festival, I kept listening to the band, since their unique musical style was really attractive to me. Well, it’s been three years since then, and they have only increased in popularity. With 3 albums under their belt, and one to be released in the next few days (and which was selected as “Album of the Month” by Metal Hammer Germany) they have established Powerwolf as an important player in the Heavy Metal scene.
With time running out, and the band is putting up the finishing touches to their make-up, as they’ll hit the stage in about an hour. Matthey Greywolf (guitars) and Falk Maria Schlegel (bassist) sat down with me to answer some questions.
Metal Blast: Well guys, thank you very much for doing this. I know that you’re in a hurry, so let’s just cut to the chase. How did the concept of Powerwolf come about, regarding both the image and lyrical style?
Matthew: It didn’t simply “come up”, in a way it just developed. We always had this strong visual aspect from the very beginning, and which was, in a way, part of the band. So, it wasn’t like one day we just decided it. It developed over time.
Falk Maria: Yes, step-by-step.
MB: “Blood of the Saints”, your new album, will be released very soon. What can you tell us about it?
FM: It’s the best one! (laughs) Every band says that their newest album is the best.
M: Yeah, that’s the standard answer. I can tell you that we’re very happy about the album, we’re really satisfied with what we did on it.
I always compare albums with photographs, so Blood of the Saints is a photograph of what Powerwolf is in 2011, it’s what we are about right now. We’ve managed to make an album that really features everything that Powerwolf is about; it’s become a very heavy, melodic and catchy album. We’ve found a balance between orchestral arrangements and choir stuff while, at the same time, giving more focus to the metal band within the wolf.
MB: Is it a big change from your previous works?
M: Not really. I can say it’s a very typical Powerwolf album, there’s not that much of a change. As I told you, we’re not a band that plans how things should develop, they just happen. There wasn’t a big change for us. Sure, this album is what we are now in 2011, and the previous one (Bible of the Beast) is already 2 years old, so there are, of course, some changes.
FM: But it’s a typical Powerwolf style.
M: I think that, over the years, we have developed a style which is very unique to Powerwolf, which is what we continued on this album.
MB: Well, now that you mention “styles”, is there a genre in which you’d place Powerwolf?
M: No. Well, of course, we’re heavy metal, but there’s no need to specify further. Just Heavy Metal, that’s what it’s about.
FM: What about Black Metal? (laughs)
M: Well, it’s definitely not black metal. We tell you so because, due to our visual aspect, a lot of people take us for a Black Metal band and are surprised to get melodic heavy metal stuff. Some people call us “dark power metal”… whatever! I mean, who cares? It’s just Heavy Metal, it’s Powerwolf, give it a listen.
MB: Your songs usually have religious references; is there a specific reason for it?
M: Well, just that we’re interested in it. A lot of people ask us what kind of religion we’re into and I always say “we’re into Heavy Metal, that’s our religion”. I think I could label ourselves as religious or spiritual… interested in people.
We read a lot about the nature of belief and religious history, so we’re into it and that’s the only reason why we write lyrics about it. We started to combine these elements and it works fine; we have the church organ in the musical side and religious history in the lyrical side.
Since the second album we always try to record parts of the record in a Church; most of the times is, obviously, the church organ, this time we also had all the classical choir stuff in the church so..
FM: By the way, it’s one of the oldest chapels in Germany.
M: I think it’s from the 12th Century.
FM: It’s quite hard to get this Chapel to record a metal song.
M: Being a heavy metal band, with the visuals that we have, it’s not that easy!
FM: But we need this environment, we need it for the record; sure, we could do it in the studio, but it’s a bit boring. We need these buildings…
M: It’s special, you know? Standing in a Church recording Heavy metal songs is just… wow.
We respect every kind of religious belief; I always tell people that we write lyrics about religion, we don’t judge anything. All the Churches where we record our albums or were we made the video are churches that are not in use any more they are… well, the expression in German is that they’re “unsanctified”, which means that they’re no longer in use by the church, so they can be used as cultural places. We make sure of this because we don’t want to hurt anybody’s religious feelings.
MB: Who’s in charge of the lyrics? Is it just Attila or is it a shared task?
M: The whole pack is involved in it in a way. Parts of the lyrics are recorded while we write the song, like the chorus line, with which we come up very early in the songwriting process. For most of the songs, when they’ve developed to a certain level we start combining several ideas for lyrics and see what works best.
MB: Is Blood of the Saints a concept album or are they just independent songs?
M: They’re independent songs. I think that Powerwolf is a concept enough! There’s no real need to combine the songs into one concept. Sure, this time there’s the whole topic of the Saints, but it’s not that there’s one lyrical theme going through all of the songs.
MB: Do you see the recording of the video for “We Drink Your Blood” as an important step in your career, as a way to reach a broader audience?
M: No…. we just felt like doing a video, so we did.
FM: It was important. We have this visual aspect and, well, we had to do a video!
M: It’s quite obvious for a band like Powerwolf to do a video–
FM: We like to act in front of a camera! There were about 10 cameras… and I was always jumping in front of them. We love to do this and “We Drink Your Blood” is a very good song to perform.
MB: What caused the break with Tom Diener, your previous drummer?
M: Tom joined the band after the release of Bible of the Beast, and we worked fine for about one year and a half, but when it came to writing new songs we realized that, on a musical level, it didn’t really click. If there’s only 70% of the band writing the music then the result will be shit. Powerwolf is a very uncompromising band, and what we do we do it 100% or we don’t do it at all.
We simply felt that it wasn’t working the way everybody expected, so we had to change. There’s no bad blood or anything like that, we just thought that it’d be better to part, and so we did.
MB: Is Roel van Helden, his replacement, fulfilling all the band’s needs?
M: So far! He joined us two days before we went into the studio and did a fantastic job. When he started to play I thought “this is exactly the kind of drummer this album needs”, so it worked perfectly. We didn’t even have in mind to play live with us, but since it worked perfectly in the studio, we thought “let’s ask him” and… well, today we’re here at Metalcamp, and he’s still with us!