Godiva: Another Delicatesse From Switzerland
Interview with Peter Gander Of Godiva in june 2005 by Vera
On a regular base some ass-kicking bands from Switzerland loom up in the metal scene. One of them is Godiva. After being successful with the cover band Granit, Mitch Koontz (bass) and Peter Gander (drums) founded a new band Godiva to unfurl their own songs and hit the road with Godiva. A first album was released in 2003. They survived the departure of vocalist Anthony de Angelis and came back even stronger with a successor ‘Call Me Under 666’. They even incorporated ex-Victory shouter Fernando Garcia as their new singer. Drummer Peter Gander leads us through a gallery of memories and new plans of this seminal band.
You started as a cover band Granit (steady rock I guess?) and built up a solid reputation in Switzerland with that. What kind of covers/music style did you play? Which members were in this band and do they play for fun sometimes still nowadays?
Hey Vera, Yeah that’s right, we started in 1995 as a cover band. On our play list we’ve got songs of well known bands like Judas Priest, AC/DC, Vengeance, Ugly Kid Joe, Gotthard…we played about 30 gigs a year…it was a very cool time and we learned a lot about music and the business. After a few years we arrived at the point to do something new, with own songs and own ideas so it was the point Godiva’s birth. Some people left the band and it was a good possibility to base a new formation. Mitch and myself found in Sammy Lasagni the right guitarist and we started to write songs as a trio. The next step was to find a singer, which we found in Anthony. Mitch, Sammy and me don’t play anymore in this cover band. Our attention is 100% on Godiva.
After the first 3-track-demo you played a lot of gigs with Godiva already. Wasn’t that difficult for a non signed band?
The point was that we all played in other bands before GODIVA so we knew a lot of people in the Swiss metal scene. I think, it was a little bit easier to get some gigs. At this time we had also a good booking agent. So we played gigs with FREEDOM CALL, PRIMAL FEAR, DOKKEN, the METAL DAYS together with bands like STRATOVARIUS, SLAYER, DESTRUCTION, WITHIN TEMPTATION….
In 2003 the debut album ‘Godiva’ was released by Limb Music. How do you look back at that time and recordings?
After all the gigs and the 3-track demo we decided to record a full length album together with a professional producer and with a real powerful production. Tom Naumann (Primal Fear) is a good friend of Mitch and mine and so he recommended us to work together with Achim Köhler. Listen the first Primal Fear record and you know what I mean. So we entered the House of Music Studio and recorded there for about 20 days. It was a real great time. everything was so new and different and it’s real cool to work together with people like Achim and Tom. I don’t remember that I played drums 9 hours a day before…;O) But it was great.
It must have been a serious matter when vocalist Anthony de Angelis left the band during the recordings of the second album. Why did he leave and what were the first reactions of the band?
For sure it wasn’t easy. Due to insurmountable personal and musical discrepancies we had to part with Anthony de Angelis. The separation was a mutual agreement. It’s like in a relationship…sometimes it’s better to go separate ways. We never thought to stop because we invested too much in Godiva!
But it must have been a relief when you could hire ex Victory vocalist Fernando Garcia. How did you get in touch with him?
We knew Fernando from his work with VICTORY. He sang some choirs for “Call me under 666”. When Anthony left the band, he was our first choice for the job of the new Godiva-vocalist, because we all loved his voice. We asked him if he would record the album completely new, one thing gave the other and now you hear the result of that work. Sometimes a bad situation changes in a few minutes into a good.
Did he help you out or will he become a permanent member?
Fernando is a permanent member of GODIVA. He is definitely our new frontman and we are really happy about that. He also loves our style and as he said in words, he searched a long time to finally find a formation like we are.
During the recording process you talked about a very special guest who would do backing vocals on the title track. Did that happen and who is it if you want to reveal this secret J
Hmmmmmmmmm, I don’t know…no serious, it’s Mister Ralf Scheepers from Primal Fear. He did some backing vocals for us. We knew Ralf before as a friend and a real great singer. We knew, he lives not very far away from the studio, so it was a good idea to ask him if he would do that for us. Said and done! He assured immediately and he sang some backing vocals on a few songs.
Who are the main composers of the band? And maybe some more details about the writing process for ‘Call Me Under 666’?
The main composers are Sammy Lasagni, Moses B. Fernandez and Mitch Koontz. After the first release we had some new song ideas and we started to write new stuff. In late summer 2004 we had enough new material to record a pre-production. Finally we entered the studio in October 2004. When Fernando joined us he rewrote all lyrics and vocal lines in his own way. “Call me under 666” is the result of the whole process. We have an idea or a part and then we play this riff in different variations. Then we search a bridge, chorus, guitar solo, it’s like a puzzle and a very creative process. Everybody of us has a conception of the sound and so we often come after a short time to a result. We also work with modern technical stuff like MP3’s. So we can send the ideas from one to another by E-Mail.
I notice that bass player Mitch Koontz did all the artwork. Can you tell a bit more about it?
We’re really happy that we’ve got a band member who’s able to create such stuff. I think the idea was, to design a cool and ironical artwork for the recent album title. We all liked it at first sight!
You made a video clip for ‘When Lightning Strikes’. Can you tell more details about the making of that video?
I remember that it was so fucking cold…
We decided we would shoot a clip for one of the new songs. We chose “When lightning strikes” because it shows everything the music of GODIVA is for - melodies, power and brain-crushing riffs - We shot the video in an old industrial hall near Basel. It was big fun and a very new experience for us. I would say another step forward. It’s a bit strange, because you perform like you play a gig, but there are no people out there… We record for about 5 or 6 hours and the result is enhanced on our new CD.
Such a video is a huge way of promotion. What do you expect of that and where will it be played?
We hope some TV-Music-Stations will play our video-clip. There are some metal shows on some TV-channels… so we hope the best but it’s not really easy to be promoted on TV. And it’s also a bonus and a THANK YOU for our fans out there.
The album will be released in the USA as well and you entered the Streetpulse metal charts in USA. These are fine prospects I guess?
I must say it was a real huge surprise for us when we heard about that. We knew after the first record, that there are some people and radio stations in the USA who liked Godiva. But entering the Streetpulse charts with “Call me under 666” was a real big shot for us. I mean there are very cool bands like DREAM THEATER, MACHINE HEAD on it…
What about the Swiss metal scene these days? Or is it a natural process to focus more on Germany?
The Swiss scene has a lot of great new bands. The scene comes out of the shadows of the underground where it burned around for a few years. Metal will never die…it’s always there, sometimes more sometimes less. I think we will hear a lot of Swiss-bands in next time. We don’t focus for one country. We play everywhere where the people like us. I agree, Germany is an important market for metal bands. So we are proud and happy that we play in Ludwigsburg und Aschaffenburg together with Y&T.
When and where did the recordings of ‘Call Me Under 666’ took place. Which producer?
After the pre-productions in summer/autumn 2004 we did the recordings in October 2004 and Fernando’s vocals in January 2005 in the House of Music in Winterbach, Germany. Producers were Achim Köhler and also Mitch and Sammy. Mitch and Sammy did a lot of the recordings and the whole vocal-producing with Fernando. So now we have also two new producers in the band!
What are your all time heroes and musicians who inspired you to form a band?
Bands: Iced Earth, Running Wild, Stratovarius, Judas Priest, Queensrÿche, Primal Fear
Musicians: Mike Terrana, Jörg Michael, Neil Peart, Deen Castronovo, Scott Rockenfield, Randy Black, John Schaffer
Are there any tour plans?
There are about ten gigs in near future in Switzerland and Germany and in summer also some smaller Open Air’s and those two gigs as support for Y&T in Ludwigsburg and Aschaffenburg in July, like I said before. More to come and for sure we try to get a tour-support slot! It’s very important to play a lot of gigs for us, it’s a great possibility to reach a lot of people and it’s a big advertisement for the band. Watch out for tour dates on www.godiva.ch
This is the moment to promote ‘Call Me Under 666’. What would you like to say to our readers so that they will buy the record?
“Call me under 666” is a piece of pure ass-kicking Heavy Metal. If you like pure heavy metal with great vocals, heavy riffs and pumping rhythms it’s an album you have to buy…enjoy!!!
And last but not least I want to thank all the Belgium metal heads out there for supporting us. Stay Metal and kick ass…let the Godiva-tanks roll!!! Visit us on our website: www.godiva.ch !
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