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Iron Savior Interview: No bullshit attitude is the nature of this band

Interview with bassist Yenz Leonardt of Iron Savior in June 2007 by Vera

Since years, Iron Savior stands for powerful, riff oriented, straight forward thrash metal and there is no reason why the German quartet should change this on their new album ‘Megatropolis’. The band includes Piet Sielck who is famous as producer and helped ex Blind Guardian drummer Thomen Stauch with his new outfit Savage Circus. But of course the other musicians Joachim Küstner (guitars), Yenz Leonardt (bass) and drummer Thomas Nack have also an important input in the music of Iron Savior. I sent some questions to the band and it was bass player Yenz Leonardt who was in charge to write down some decent answers. The result of this fine cooperation you can read in this interview.

We all know that Piet is a busy man and producer, but this is the first time that we had to wait three years for a new Iron Savior album. So let’s kick off this interview with telling us what you have done during those past three years…

Hello Vera, nowadays we’re splitting up our interview duties, so you’re conducting this one with Yenz Leonhardt, pleased to meet you. Well, the reason for this three-year time span between "Battering Ram" and "Megatropolis" is, that we really went through two different phases since the last release. In the first phase we concentrated on getting out on stage with Iron Savior as much as possible, and had some quite memorable moments, like the Bloodstock Festival in the UK and a pretty cool trip to Scandinavia. In 2005 the idea for the Savage Circus project came around, and in that second phase the focus has been on recording and touring with Savage Circus. I joined Piet in that band in December 2005, and that project kept us pretty busy until it was time to work on the “Megatropolis” material.

When did you start writing at ‘Megatropolis’ and were there significant differences in the writing process because of ideas of new members?

This album was conceived and written at a very fast pace. The first track we had down was “Flesh”, which saw the light of day in October 2006, but the rest of the material was actually written at a furious pace from December 2006 through January 2007. Since the Battering Ram sessions, we had no change in the line-up of the band. We know each other very well by now, so there’s no need for any big discussions. We just like to work hard and having fun while we’re doing that.

Where was the album recorded and can you tell a bit more about the recordings?

We used the same locations as we did on the “Battering Ram” production. We went to the Karo Studio outside Hamburg for the drum recordings, and laid down all other tracks at the PowerHouse Studio, also situated in Hamburg. This time we had a very strong sense of knowing exactly how to get the job done. Thomas switched to a Pearl Masters kit on this album, and I used a Warwick Buzzard bass, which both added to a fuller and more powerful sound.

The guitars were tuned lower to have a darker effect this time. Interesting feature to learn more about…

Yeah, that’s right. When “Flesh” was written, it was clear that the track had a much stronger impact heavily tuned down. So we quickly went for a “Megatropolis” tuning on all songs and tuned down three semitones, and not just drop C#, but with all strings completely tuned down. As you said, it brings a certain dark quality to the album sound, and enabled Piet to write his vocal lines in a different way to what he’s been doing before, and that also made this album very interesting. For Iron Savior you need a pretty high definition sound, so tuning down three semitones is pretty demanding on your instrument, which is why I switched to the Warwick Buzzard.

Are all the lyrics science fiction based again and is there a kind of story in it? If yes, please some words about this story…

The album title was decided pretty early on. The idea was to write stand-alone lyrics, which are all in some way connected to the cosmopolitan city of Megatropolis. So, in that way it was possible to have a diversity of themes on the album, and still achieve the sense of a closed circle, which is how a great album should be.

Do you still read many SF books? What were the most impressive ones you want to mention here?

You’re right there, if you’re not into Sci-Fi, you don’t go ahead and join a band like Iron Savior. I’ve always appreciated cyber-punk writers like William Gibson and Bruce Sterling, also the Takeshi Kovacs trilogy from Richard Morgan and some of the works of Dan Simmons, like the Hyperion books and the Ilium-Olympos books. Oh, and the Otherland series by Tad Williams was pretty cool.

You just did a release party in hometown Hamburg. Can you tell a bit more about this happening?

The release party took place at the Ballroom on June 4th., at the fish market in Hamburg. We actually wanted to play a full set on that evening, but since I had a pretty damaged shoulder from the Savage Circus/Circle II Circle tour in April, we had to reduce the evening to having a few beers with everybody. Now I’m fit for fight again, so everything looks cool for the future.

Are you guys going to hit the road and tour or play some gigs?

The next Savage Circus album is scheduled for an October release, so we have to concentrate on that, before we can cut loose and go out on tour with the “Megatropolis” material. Needless to say, it’s something that we are really looking forward to.

On the special edition we have a bonus track ‘Hammerdown’. Why did you save it as extra, is it a deviating track or not?

We usually save two tracks from the recording sessions. One track for the European limited digipack version, which is “Hammerdown”, and one for the Japanese version, which is a “live in the studio” recording of the “Iron Savior/Watcher In The Sky” medley.
“Hammerdown” is a somewhat more straight-forward, easygoing piece of metal, but no, not deviant at all.

Who did the artwork?

The artist is Stephan Martiniere, who among other things, has been working as concept designer and illustrator on a number of movies and television series, such as the David Lucas Star Wars Episode series.

Can you tell us about Piet’s production activities in the near future?

As I mentioned earlier, the next project at hand is the second Savage Circus album, which will be released in October 2007.

Is there a band(s) he would like to produce dearly? [/b]

As far as I know, Piet is currently taking time out from producing other bands.

You have been around in the metal scene for a long time. What are the best memories until now?

Too many to mention. Anyway, living in the present tense is what’s important.

Iron Savior is a proper band to have a good time headbanging and cut loose, especially live. How do you deal with the critics that it is too straight and lacks depth for some people?

I agree that the Iron Savior attitude to metal is a very straight-forward, no bullshit attitude. That is simply the nature of this band, and that is not going to change.

In which countries do you prefer to play live?

Every country has its own special vibe. Europe, the US, South America and Japan all have distinct cultures, which you always look forward to, to experience again.

Who ever inspired you to pick up an instrument and start to play metal?

In my case the Sabbath Bloody Sabbath album. I share affection for U.F.O. (with Michael Schenker) and of course vintage Judas Priest with Piet.

Which bands/artists would you like to mention as favourites to listen to?

A wide variety of music. From Avenged Sevenfold over Beethoven to Tom Petty.

What are the plans and wishes for the near future?

After a long period of everybody telling us that power metal was a dying breed of music, we’ve come to realize, that now there’s a whole new generation of very young people that are really getting into what Iron Savior has been doing for a long time. This means that we should tour the stages of the world more than we’ve done in the past.

And these are excellent final words to occlude this interview!

Geplaatst door Jany op donderdag 05 juli 2007 - 11:35:40
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