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donderdag 10 maart 2011
THE NEW BLACK: Southern Groove in Fetching Songs

Interview with guitarist Fabian “Fabs” Schwarz of The New Black by Vera in February 2011

Sometimes new bands suddenly take you by surprise. That’s what happened when The New Black appeared on the horizon with their self-titled debut in 2009. We were not the only one praising this groove-laden quintet from Germany: next years they can be caught in a live performance on several major festivals and toured with famous names, even opened for A/DC once. Now that their sophomore album is available, we had a nice conversation with guitarist Fabian Schwarz, one of the founders of the band.

We decided to start with the beginning. The New Black was founded one night at the bar and all the guys played already in other bands. Fabs tells how complicated it is…
For all of us The New Black is our main band now. I used to play in other bands, but I quit playing in Runamok for instance. That’s put on ice. Chris is playing in Sinner, but they have three guitar players. I play in another thrash band with Günt, our bass player. It is called Abandoned. We don’t have any gigs or something in the near future. It is put on ice too but the band still exists. Chris was in Runamok too, but he has nothing to do now besides The New Black. I was in a project with Brian O’Connor and Ira Black from formerly Vicious Rumours, but we never met and we never rehearse, so it is a project through internet, sending files. We did not finish a record right now. Nothing of those activities affects The New Black.

Fortunately, because I think you did pretty well in your first years of existence…
When we started, nobody knew where it would lead us to. We had several bands, but it was easy to manage and combine in the first year. But last year, in 2010, we really played many gigs and all the big festivals. We were on tour with Alter Bridge, JBO in Germany, Dragonforce and we did one support for AC/DC. So we had no time for the other bands anymore. This little fun project became our main band right now. Fludid is the only guy who has no side projects. He came from an independent, alternative band in Würzburg – where we all live – it is called MCF (Motion Control Foundation). It is very cool music, a little bit like Faith No More, crossover and I know him from the early years, when we were sixteen I recorded demos with him. That’s why I asked him, seems perfectly fitting for us. But the band started with me and the other guitarist Christof Leim.

Fabs told me about the gigs at festivals, mostly early in the morning in the sun. But they prefer to play in clubs…
We are planning a little club tour with our buddies from Motorjesus, around April and May, but I am not sure if there are gigs in Belgium. Last year we played with Powerwolf in the Netherlands, in Kerkrade. That was fun! Most of the gigs are in Germany, because we are right in the middle and all the big cities are around 300 km from Würzburg. That’s pretty easy to handle. The main problem is that three guys in the band live in Würzburg, but Christof works in Berlin and lives in Bochum and Günt is from Heidelberg. The problem is not reaching the gigs, but we cannot rehearse because of the long distances, only once before a gig maybe. In the three years we are together, we rehearsed three times. Everyone has the record at home, we know how to play our part; we meet and we play. Now for the new record we have met one weekend, so that we know how to play the new songs together. That’s enough for us…

Can you tell a bit more about your influences as guitarists?
We both admire Zakk Wylde from Black Label Society. I think that’s the point where we both meet. That’s heavy enough for me and bluesy enough for him. Chris comes more from the blues side, AOR and old rock. I come from the heavier side, like thrash and metalcore stuff. Everyone of us has different favourites and styles, I think that’s what The New Black makes an interesting band. We try to mix all these influences, even if I write most of the songs and Chris does too. But every musician brings in his own vibe.

Recently you did a release show in Berlin at the hard rock café. Can you tell about this happening?
(laughs) Yes, this was pretty weird. The location is cool and Berlin is cool, but they do that every week: we didn’t know that: when we started the show the people were still sitting down on the tables and eat lunch, burgers and stuff. We went on stage and wondered what should come out of that. Two seconds before our intro tape was running I heard a guy ordering his salad. He was sitting right in front of me. But they did not care and after they finished their meals they started to party. It was a bit weird in the beginning, but they all had a good time. We did not know what to expect from that situation, but it went fine.

You have your own studio, I think. That must be an advantage…
Not a real studio (laughs). It is just in my basement. I have a laptop there, good boxes with quality sound and a little cabin where I can record my guitars and vocals. For the drums we have been in a real big studio in Würzburg. All the other things we have recorded in my basement. These days you don’t need a studio anymore to make a good sounding record. These times are over. All you need is a laptop and good microphones, that’s it.

Where can we place the mix and mastering then?
I did the mix together with Michael Dotzler and he is our live sound engineer and mixer. I did the mix first, he changed little things I never thought about, I did too until we were satisfied when listening to the final mix. It is good to have someone who reflects what you are doing.

What about the video clip for ‘The King I Was’?
The clip was done by Fludid, our singer. His job is cutter and cameraman. He has a little studio for the biggest newspaper in Würzburg he works for. As you see, the whole band is do-it-yourself.

One of the funniest titles I ever saw is ‘Fifty Ways To Love Your Liver’…
(laughs) Yes that’s the humour of Christof, he did most of the lyrics of the first record and on the second it is 50/50 with Fludid.

What were your influences, what did you like when growing up?
The first cassette I owned was ‘Dynasty’ from Kiss. The next tape that was given to me was Ronnie James Dio ‘Last in Line’. A friend of mine said it was true satanic music (laughs) and so it got heavier with things like Metallica. If Metallica was not hard enough for me anymore, I was listening to things like Cryptic Slaughter and Exodus and old DRI stuff. Possessed. All the real heavy bands. I always listened to different stuff. There was a time when I was into progressive rock, I explored every note of Yes, Rush and King Crimson. I always want to know what’s going on right now. I don’t understand people who listen to dated music, just because it was a trend when they were kids. I still listen to the music of my youth, but I also want to know what’s going on now. I am a big fan of Parkway Drive for example, that’s a thrash band and the last gig I was, last week was A Day of Remember concert. Although I am almost forty years old, I can listen to that and I really like that kind of music. But I was never into black metal, because Cryptic Slaughter was way much heavier than any Mayhem record I could find.

The funny thing was that Fabian appeared to be at the tattoo shop during this interview. The artist was working on a tattoo on his right arm. He had his first tattoo at 18.

I also liked the middle part of ‘Downgrade’ with the organ and the bass…
That was a little experiment in the studio, because we cannot do it live since we don’t have an organist. We do it live with the guitar. You have the music and I like to fill it up with colours. This organ is one of those colours. Another one is the blues harmonica in ‘Altar Boys’ but this one is played by Fludid live. Slide guitars make different colours in a heavy rock song.

What are the plans for the near future?
We have a booking agency, that’s why we could play at all those big festivals last year and I hope they will book several things for us this year as well. This is also the reason why we will not play there this year, because it is an unwritten rule that you cannot play twice in a row on a festival, the next year. We will play smaller festivals, do our tour with Motorjesus and see what happens. We take what comes. We hope to do a video clip for ‘Happy Zombies’, because I think it really stands out.

Geplaatst door Vera op donderdag 10 maart 2011 - 00:26:49
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