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vrijdag 12 oktober 2007
Dreamscape: On The Road With New Members

Interview with drummer Michael Schwager by Vera in October 2007

Germany’s progressive metal band Dreamscape was part of the ProgPower happening recently. A time before this event, I got their latest effort ‘5th Season’ to review and discovered that it was a very interesting band. In despite of several line-up changes and struggles they went on tour and released a great album. I sent some questions to them and expected I had to be patient because they were on tour at the moment. But on the contrary, drummer Michael Schwager, who has been part of the turbulence for years but survived as band member, took the time to answer me in the tour bus while they were driving from Hamburg to Asschaffenburg. That’s a great spirit! Thank you Michael and I solved the problem of the caps (inside joke).

When you read this you will be back from your European tour and an important gig at Dutch ProgPower festival. I am eager to hear all about this experience…
Well, we are still on tour during answering your questions so that we're in hope to have more experiences than we had till now. All the passed concerts have been great with a lot of good vibes from the public. We enjoyed it very much and finally on this place a big compliment to all the visitors of ProgPower Europe. You were great, thanx for all the applause and compliments.

This tour must have been the fire-baptism for three new members and I guess a lot of rehearsal was needed before. How long do you work with the new members already?
Yes, indeed, it was definitely hard work to get to this point. We have been in the rehearsal room for the last two months and the wages we get is that everything works well at the concerts.

Can you say a bit more about these new musicians?
That will be a pleasure for me to do, because they are all unbelievable and pushed the band to a much higher level. I will start with Mischa on lead vox, probably the best live performer Dreamscape ever had and as I think well known from his other projects, as they are 'Ivanhoe' or one of his musical characters in 'We Will Rock You' or 'Dr. Jeckyl and Mr. Hyde'. My dear brother Ralf Schwager is on the bass now and nothing more to say than he is the bass animal on stage, with endless groove power. David Bertok on keys is our Benjamin but remember, Jan was only 17 if he joined the band. He is really very talented, still studying piano and was able to learn the songs in about two months.

Why did Jan (keyboards), Benno (bass) and Roland (vocals) leave the band?
As you can surely imagine, a musician who burns for his passion is always in need to be creative and must let the things come out. This was absolutely impossible with the old horde which brings Wolfgang and me near to desperation. We want to go on and have to fight against the time problems of Jan, Benno and Roland. The unbelievable long time for producing ‘5th Season’ was only one of the signs you've maybe recognised. Rehearsing? No chance, mostly we were only three persons in the practise room. Wolfgang, me and Benno. If we talked about coming to an end with Dreamscape, everyone of them took it as a relief. First Wolfgang and me thought about starting something new, but listening to our deepest voice inside, we finally come to the result that we have to go on with Dreamscape. Jan, Benno and Roland are still good friends and so to say still silent members of Dreamscape. They support us in everything we do.

It is the fourth singer now of Dreamscape, it must have been one of the reasons for the big hiatus between some of the records, isn’t it?
Dreamscape has a very long history now. The band was founded in 1986 and due to the band’s evolution from a hobby band to a serious professional progband there had to happen some changes in line up. The music takes a long time to write and to get ready for a performance. Dreamscape demands your whole attention and you can imagine that not everybody is able to take for a long time being in a hobby status. Some of the changes happened also due to musical differences which was the main reason to divorce with Hubi and Tobi (former singers – Vera). As I told you, it was a process of evolution. Afterwards Hubi and Tobi are still close to the band. We had not the idea to replace someone, as for example AC/DC had to do after Bon Scott’s death. Every singer sounds different and that is the reason why Dreamscape sounds so different on the productions. We look further for the new upcoming album in 2008 with Mischa Mang and you can be sure, it will sound different!

But the positive thing is that ‘5th Season’ is a stunner and offers more than one hour of music. Who is the main composer of the songs?
It is always the complete band. Wolfgang has an idea of a guitar riff or Jan had a keyboard vamp in the pocket. Everyone is a part of the creative process of song writing. Same on ‘5th Season’.

Will it be different in future with contribution of the new members?
Surely: different minds, hearts, life experiences result in different ways of creativity.

Can you tell a bit more about the lyrics? Where do you get your inspiration from? Is there a kind of concept?
The main base is always a kind of love story, but we always try to let enough space to interpret every sentence in your own way. We think that this is a good way to start a creative process with the listener. Everybody is able to find his own personal sense in the words.

Another thing that struck me is the considerable length of the songs. The title track of 14 minutes length is one of my favourites. Can you tell a bit more about this song?
Yes, this happened depending on our way to write songs. We are collecting parts, listen to them, change them, bring them together or sometimes throw them in the dustbin. In case of ‘5th Season’, the parts all are ending in a question or lead into a need of continuing. At least we could write songs with length more than one hour, but it's never planed, it happens!

Who did the artwork?
That was Carl Andre Beckston.

It has been three years since the previous album ‘End Of Silence ‘ was released and of course as musicians you will have developed and evolved. Can you tell a bit more about this and how this was assimilated in the end result of ‘5th Season’?
The material of ‘End Of Silence’ was written and recorded in 2000 but the band was searching for a singer after the leaving of Hubi Meisel. And after this had come to a good end with getting Roland as frontman, the problems started again with disagreement in time management. As a result, ‘5th Season’ also was a very delayed release. So due to that we had all more time of developing passed than it seems which results lastly not only in changing the line up but also in a very good production of ‘5th Season’. The songs had really time to grow. But apart from that the new album will come out next year and by this reason it will be much closer to our creative being than the last 2 albums. Additionally, we think that ‘5th Season’ is the best example for showing that it is possible to come to a good end with former members as they are Jan, Benno and Roland. By the way, we finished the album after we made our decision to divorce.

The album was recorded at Dreamscape studio in your hometown Munich and produced by (ex) keyboardist Jan Vacik. Is that your own studio? Will Jan keep on working as producer for the band or do you have other plans for the next album?
This is not on the table now, but if we will ask Jan for working with us, he surely won't say no. As I said, we are still in touch and dear good friends.

The band was formed many years ago (1986) What were your influences at that time, the musicians who inspired you to play music and can you tell something about your musical background and first steps to success?
That will vary on every person of the band. For me several bands and single musicians had influences on my personal development. To name everybody will result in a very, very long list. I was always impressed by musical and technical knowledge. But I can say that one of the most important things that happened surely was my decision to start a study in modern drums at drummers focus Munich after I'd played for 10 years as an autodidact. That made my eyes wide open and showed me the possibilities you have, if somebody gets you on the right way.

What is the most rewarding experience you had until now with Dreamscape?
Playing that stuff live and trying to let it sound better than on the record.

Are you involved in other bands or projects or would you like to do?
This is very problematic, because Dreamscape needs a lot of time. But it happens sometimes, that I do sessions and gigs with different bands as drummer and as a singer.

Let us hope that it will not take such a long time anymore before you release a following album. But there is good news about a new song ‘Breathing Spaces’ on the website, isn’t it?
Yes, as I said, the release is planned for the end of 2008. Our additional plan is to produce a live DVD next year.

How was the first experience to work with the new musicians in the studio?
It was such a good experience to see that the new stuff can be recorded near to the songwriting (because everyone spends enough time) and as you can hear on the result, it worked out fine.

Are there plans for some more touring?
Yes, indeed but not concrete till now. We're searching for a good booking agency and are still burning for playing live.

What are the plans for the near future?
First to write more new songs apart from the four we got till now and on the second to be more present on stage.

Geplaatst door Vera op vrijdag 12 oktober 2007 - 17:39:34
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