– Hi, thanks for your time. What are you currently up to? How is everything doing right now with the release of your debut solo album?
Sure, thanks for the interview. Well, since the release of my solo record half a year has passed and I got really good feedback so far. Meanwhile I left my main band Obscura to be able to concentrate on my new band Alkaloid. We recorded our debut album and are mixing it at them moment. I’m absolutely thrilled about that, because the material is very strong and very unique.
– This solo album is entitled «The Radial Covenant» and is already getting excellent reviews. Did you expect such a good feedback?
To be honest, yes. Because if I weren’t expecting people to react in a positive way I wouldn’t have released it in the first place, haha. But of course you never know before. People could have been upset that I didn’t release it with Obscura, so I am more than happy the album has found a lot of fans, especially since it’s my solo work and doesn’t have a band name on the cover behind I can hide. You know, I was the main songwriter in Obscura, but it’s quite different when you’re in charge of everything, even lyrics, production, financing.
– Getting deeper into this record; what does the cover artwork represent and how did you work on it?
The cover artwork is an interpretation of the lyrics and the lyrical concept, but it is not my work. The artwork was done by Swiss artist Milan Hofstetter, so I think you should ask him about how he interpreted the lyrics. I just gave rough directions where to go and it just turned out brilliantly. I don’t know what this creature is, but I love it.
– Earlier this year you left OBSCURA so, does your creativity flow better being in a band or doing things on your own, having absolute control on what you are doing?
I prefer band work. I enjoy getting other people’s ideas and work on them together. I just feel that team work with someone who is on the same page musically creates the best results. But this time it had to be that lone way. All the songs were just finished the way I wrote them and I had pictured a certain sound and certain vocal lines in my head months before I finished the writing process. Most of these songs were written for Obscura’s next album, but one person in the band wasn’t convinced about the material and the style, so I released them on my own.
– This being said, how has the songwriting process behind this opus been?
Well, ‘normal’ I would say, haha. I just collected ideas and put together an arrangement for each song including ideas that fit together. I wrote down everything in note sheets, so structurizing was much easier, especially since I didn’t have other musicians to work with in the first place. I usually work like that: writing down an ideas and see if it matches other ideas. Then I finalize a song piece by piece, which takes usually a couple of weeks for each tune.
– I guess comparisons to OBSCURA are just inevitable, both due to your link with the band and also in sound terms, still playing technical Death Metal. How do you feel about that? Anyway you have also been involved in different bands in the past so, how much of your music background are you bringing to what you are doing now?
Comparisons are inevitable simply because I wrote 70% of Obscura’s riffs on their last album «Omnivium» and did 90% or the arrangements too. Hence, my solo album doesn’t sound that differently, especially because most of these songs were written for Obscura in the first place. But that’s cool. As long as I’m happy with the result, there is no problem. In Blotted Science I didn’t write any riffs for our last EP – I will for the next CD but that’s future. Back then I just wrote my drum parts, which was great. On Chris Muenzner’s solo album I was just a guest musician, and I’m cool with that too. I’m doing a lot of session drums anyway. I mean, as long as the music is cool and people are nice I’m enjoying doing this. About music background, I’d say everything I do is 100% based on my background. When people ask about my influences, I always say that the biggest inspiration are people I lived and worked with. My biggest drum influence? That’s my drum teacher. So my background is the reason I do things the way I do.
– You did a crowdfunding campaign to release the album, something a lot of bands are doing lately. Do you see this as the future of the music business? As labels seems less necessary every day.
I don’t think it will become the substitute for an entire industry, simply because people and the structures those people operate in don’t just disappear completely. In music business connections are very important, and people who have connections will always be advanced to those who don’t. But I think crowdfunding is an awesome way to finance music because fans get directly involved. It’s so simple: you wanna hear music of a certain artist, so you buy the album in advance for money that goes straight into the pocket of this one musician or band. There is no way you can be closer to your fans. So with Alkaloid we decided to do crowdfunding, simply because we can interact with people directly and get a direct feedback. We don’t need the label bullshit at this stage.
– And also, how do you feel about having such a strong support from the fans even prior to the release of «The Radial Covenant»? As you rechaed your «goal» in just a couple of months.
Well, it’s a lot easier to do crowdfunding when your name is already out there. I played with Necrophagist, Obscura and Blotted Science, which are well known bands in the scene. So it was much easier for me to do a successful campaign compared to an completely unknown underground band. It makes me feel grateful for getting such strong support of course. It’s a priviledge.
– In each song of the album you have had a different guest artists. How did all these cooperations arise? How have they brought with their input?
All those guests are people I’m friends with, or at least I have some kind of personal connection to. And each part was meant for a certain player. For example I thought «hey, this part sounds like it would be great for Ron Jarzombek to solo over». So the intention was always musical and personal, I didn’t just want to have «names» on the album. So all those players sound incredible, just because I knew in the first place that the part will fit for their style.
– And if you had to choose three musicians to cooperate with you haven’t done it yet; which ones would they be and why?
Ok, tough one… I’d love to work with Ihsahn, because I always admired his work and his integrity as an artist. It would be phantastic to work with Tori Amos, simply because I love her music. Probably a cooperation wouldn’t even make sense musically, but I’d be thrilled, haha. Then I’d say any skilled musician who can do something that is interesting to me. Really, I don’t care about names, it’s talent that counts.
– All this about «The Radial Covenant» being said; how could you describe it in just 3 words?
I don’t know. Haha. Or how about this: it kicks ass.
– And finally, what are your near-future plans? Have you thought about bringing your solo project to the live scenario?
I thought about that, but it just doesn’t really pay off at the moment. Hiring session guys to learn all those notes for maybe a couple of poorly paid shows is just not possible. But maybe one day. I rather focus on Alkaloid and get the band going strong.
– That’s all, thank you once more for answering our questions. If you want to add some final words; feel free to do it.
Thank you very much for the interview. Feel free to check out my website and my store at www.hannesgrossmann.com