Interviews

Interview with Felix Bohnke (Drums) and Jens Ludwig (Guitars) (Edguy)

 

 

 

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Interviewed by Adrian Hextall (Writer/Journalist/Contributor)

 

 

Touring the UK in support of latest album ‘Space Police: Defenders of the Crown’, Edguy have managed to sell out all of the venues on the tour and proves rock and metal is very much alive and kicking. Clearly excited about the prospect of starting their European tour on such a high, Myglobalmind Webzine sat down with Felix and Jens on their rather plush tour bus to talk all things Edguy and try and finally pigeonhole just what genre of music these five talented musicians actually fit into. 

 

MGM: Let’s start with the new album, if I may. Excellent art work. I really, really like that. It’s something else. It looks like one of the old 1950s American sci-fi comic covers. Is that the sort of look you were going for with it?

JL: Yes. Actually, that’s the look that it turned out to be. Actually, what we wanted to have or what we had in mind was to have a cover that attracts people, that people will keep in mind. I mean, there are so many album covers, nice covers with nice colors and nice painting, but you look at them and you forget them. It definitely won’t happen with the Space Police: Defenders of the Crown Artwork because I’m sure, even in ten years, people will remember, when thinking or talking about Space Police, they will remember that interesting looking cop with the alien.

Definitely. It’s not a theme you guys continuously do, because you seem to bounce a little bit from the colorful painted artwork of, say, Rocket Ride, Superheroes, this one as well, and then to what you would class as more of your typical metal album artwork. Is it just because of the way you’re feeling at the time the albums came together? Because it’s not like your typical Iron Maiden approach where the same guy is doing the artwork every time.

JL: That’s the greatest thing in being Edguy, because we can do whatever we want and get away with it. [chuckles]. It’s something that just turned out to be, we never… of course, we make up our minds about concepts, and about how to create things, and how to do things, but then, at the end it really comes down to feelings and how the mood is during the production of an album and what we have in mind when doing this album, and that can be a serious stuff, can be absolutely nonsense – it can be anything. The image of the band is actually that we don’t have an image [chuckles]. We do whatever we feel, and there are so many influences coming from outside and from inside the band. We don’t see any reason why we should hide anything from the people, so that’s why we have such a wide horizon.

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It also keeps everybody guessing as well, doesn’t it, I suppose. Nobody really knows what they’ll get from you. Quality excepted. I’ll give you that, because I really like all of your stuff. I mean, the first time I heard you guys were on the back of Vain Glory Opera. You toured over here many years ago supporting Gamma Ray. You played The Underworld over in Camden.

JL: Yes. Yes. That was the first time.

You were mentioning the nonsense side of things as well. Now, there’s a track on the new album which I’m really hoping you’ll be playing tonight. Given the location you’re in at the moment, I’m assuming you’re crowd expects this on all three nights? (England) 

JL : FB: We can’t guess [laughter].

So the nonsense, the lyrics, it’s comedy gold, it’s wonderful and it flows so well. The inspiration behind that, apart from our fair and pleasant land, there must have been something driving that.

JL: I think it’s mainly some Toby thing. I think he loves England. He keeps telling us all the time, and I think it is very personal for him as well.

FB: The inspiration for this song was actually the record company, because they needed extra material [chuckles]. They always want to have extra material and then we said, “Okay, I’m going to just write something,” and it turns out to be a really, really great song. Sometimes these things are the best thing when you just sit there and don’t expect anything, then the flow just happens, and what comes out in the end is a perfect ballad, especially for this market. People enjoyed it, and last night we played it as well.

I was going to say, because we’re not the first night of the shows here, are we? Where were you last night?

FB: Nuneaton. We’ve been to Manchester before, and were both sold out places – amazing crowd. We were blown away, so are really looking forward to it tonight.
It’s a good venue sound. We’ve never had bad sound at this venue. That’s what we always hope for in the audience, of course.

Interestingly, on that particular tune, as well, one of the lines, of course, is that “England invented Def Leppard”. The next track again, one of the additional tracks that I’m guessing, as you say, the record company asked for, ‘Aychim in Hysteria’? I didn’t see the title before I heard the music, and of course, the underlying sound is (Def Leppard’s) Hysteria.

FB: It is.Yes, of course.

Now, in the hope that everyone is happy that the next element is published, we find out why Edguy wrote ‘Aychim in Hysteria’. For those of you with a sensitive disposition look away now… 

JL: And lyrical-wise it’s more of an inside band joke with our sound engineer whose name is Aychim. I think he has a flavor for rich guys from a certain area of the world, and for some reason they always come to his house and offer him money for certain favors. He never gets paid, though. He just doesn’t learn and then, we thought, we have to do a song about it. I guess he’s very honored.
FB: An absolute insider joke song. Sometimes it’s just good to do things for yourselves and for the inner circle that they know what exactly this is about and anybody else can guess whatever they want.
JL: We all like Def Leppard a lot, so this was just a good chance to do something in this direction, and it worked.

Of course, the placing on the album as well is just perfect, because the two do flow very neatly into each other.

JL: I never thought about it, but since you mentioned it. Well done, Felix.

FB: Yeah. That line is one of the last, I think. It’s in the last verse of the song, isn’t it? Then, immediately Hysteria kicks in.

So, with the new album, of course, the release, the sales have been really, really good. You’ve had, I believe, your highest chart placing in Germany this time. Peaked at number two – that’s pretty good.

JL: It is, and we’re pretty satisfied. You can’t tell anymore too much about sales. Sales, unfortunately, don’t count that much nowadays, but what we can see is, also that this upcoming tour is going to be the most successful tour so far in Europe. We see the pre-sales, we see that more and more people are coming to the shows. I think, especially nowadays, since anybody can download albums and all that stuff, I think how much people come to your show, that counts much more than which chart position you have in my opinion. Because there you really see how many people are into your kind of music are really fans who go to the shows and everything. But, as you said, both things; be it chart entries and attendance on concerts are very…
FB: We’re satisfied. We’re happy with that.

From what you were saying about the earlier dates here, and presumably across Europe as well, on the pre-sale side of things, that’s one of the things you find nowadays – more and more people do pre-book for gigs.

FB: Yeah. It’s not a case like the old, old days when you used to turn up on the door on the night, and of course, you could play to 10 or 10,000 people depending on the mood on the night.

At this point in the proceedings, a paper bag with something inside it is delivered to Jens by their tour manager…….

JB: Thank you. Oh, my drugs… You have to tell me what to do with that later. Thank you [chuckles].

Of course dear reader if you now fear that, in stereotyping the tour manager \ band relationship, I have just witnessed a ‘deal / delivery’ taking place, it should be pointed out that Jens was suffering an allergic reaction to something and his eyes are watering badly. As such eye drops and antihistamines are delivered to help the situation before the band take to the stage.

So, various promotional dates and the tour, you’re going to mainland Europe next?

JL: Yeah we start in Hamburg and from there I think we have a tour…

FB: To Finland, Sweden back to Germany and the rest of Europe.

JB: Yes, Italy and France. We’ve already– last week we’ve been to Japan with our friends from Unisonic which was a very nice trip as well. It was pretty cool.

You already have a good relationship with Michael, and Kai don’t you?

JL: Yes. both from Avantasia and also playing with Gamma Ray before as well.

So with the tour dates, re there any songs that you tend to favour? Do you try and push a lot off the new album or are particular ones that you have to continually play, because your crowd expects it of you?

JL: Yeah, I think people expect songs like Super Heroes, Vain Glory Opera and stuff like that and we don’t get tired of playing them, but the more albums we release – it get’s more and more difficult to really make a very good set list that everybody’s happy, because people want to hear the old songs, but we have constantly more and more new songs [chuckle] of course, we could play a four hour set every night, well maybe not every night, [chuckle] but for this one we prepared quite a lot of songs – 35 almost 40 – so that we have a really big pool to choose songs from, and we are able to change the set list whenever we want.

You can mix it up and it becomes as interesting for you to decide what to play on the day as anything.

Also what was very important for us as well was, one point was that we can exchange the set list and the other thing was that we wanted to be a little bit unpredictable, especially now what internet people are knowing exactly what a band is playing and if you have the opportunity to exchange five or six songs every evening, then there are still the chances of having a surprise moment [chuckles].

In terms of the way you approach the albums, You’ve got the orchestral stuff on Hellfire Club. Is that the only album you’ve actually done that on? Was that just a one-off exercise?

JL: Yeah. So far yes. We will see, maybe if, with the Hellfire Club album it just felt right. We had a couple of songs that needed this orchestration and so it was good timing. On the Rocket Ride album – on the song Sacrifice there’s also a little orchestration, but it was not that much that it would be useful, or would be needed to have a real orchestra. We always do what the song demands and if it’s a lot of orchestration we do it live, and if just little pieces then course, we have people who can do a very good job in programming stuff as well. We do whatever the song needs.

These days, you can quite easy replicate an orchestra, especially with the quality of the keyboards in a sense that you get nowadays. But that was interesting, because you mention Rocket Ride as well. The next album in, straight after with Rocket Ride – very much a switch in terms of the style and approach that you took as well. Almost like you were challenging yourself to really try something different but still maintain what people says is the core sound that you’ve got. But much more a hard rock album, than say an epic symphonic progressive album. Presumably intentional?

JL: More or less, it just happens. During the whole song writing and rehearsing process. So far, we never really have a master plan how the next record should sound – it just happened. Like on the new album we have songs like Love Tiger and then on the other hand we have stuff like Sabre and Torch, but nobody came and said, “We’ve got to have a song like Love Tiger,because we have Lavatory Love Machine, and stuff like that. It really just happens. Well, usually too, we have so many ideas [laughter]. We can try a lot of things.
Another thing is also when we started the band when we were very, very young and especially at the first albums like Vain Glory Opera and Theater of Salvation and also Mandrake.

JL: Those two are the first real albums. We couldn’t play anything that wasn’t speed power metal. So with the years of course, everybody is trying to get better on his instrument and with Rocket Ride it was the first time that we feel like, okay, now we can play wise, we can try out different things that we couldn’t do before, because we just weren’t good enough, to be honest. That increased with every album. You’ll see on every album we tried something new, we tried to widen the horizon of what we can do playing-wise. We always tried to look for new challenges and to keep it interesting for ourselves, and that means also try out new things, improve your playing, and everything. It just happens that we all can play other things that we weren’t able to do 15 years ago.

I know you guys were at school when the band started running. What were you, 14-years-old? 15?

JL: Yeah, 14 when we started, and we started a record deal when we were 17 years first. Especially if you think about the timing when we started playing. We’ve always been fans of traditional heavy metal like Iron Maiden, like Saxon these bands were our influence, and when we started the band it was 1992, it was where this music nobody was interested in it at all. So, we had pretty tough times at the beginning, because everybody told us we would go nowhere with this music and see where we are right now.

Did you look at the scene at the time and think, “Are we sure we’re doing the right thing here? Was it a difficult decision to carry on in that particular genre?

JL: No, it’s what we liked, what we wanted to do, what we wanted to hear. There was never any question like doing something else just for the sake of probably being successful, because nobody knew if that’s what happened. What we always thought – we wanted to be true to ourselves and that’s what we kept on doing throughout our whole career. We were always honest. You can be sure that whenever we put out an album that we stand 100% behind it. Whenever you see us on stage, it’s the same five idiots that you meet later on backstage [laughter]. We just try to be honest and that’s something nowadays which is, in my opinion, very, very rare in the music business.

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You’re still working closely with with Nuclear Blast?

JL: Yes [chuckles]. Of course with every album there can be negotiations as to whether you stay / continue to produce albums for them but in all honesty, I don’t know if there is any better label for us at the moment right now.

I think you’re probably right given the current scene as well there are very few labels that work that well in your favour.

JL: Yeah. Right.

Looking at how many years you have under your belt, is it difficult – do you need your own space at times? Has it been difficult to stay that close as a band? Because I imagine you’re all good friends as well by now.

FB: Yeah I think – not really, of course sometimes we have discussions. But, as far as I can remember, we’ve never had any serious fights about anything. I mean, usually we just get very drunk [laughter], and then everybody likes each other. I mean, even in a tour bus, I think everybody has his privacy. I mean, during the day, everybody can do whatever he likes. Some of us like to play or watch movies, other guys like walking around. When we have off days, we usually have hotels and everybody has his own room. Well, of course, if we want to, we get together and if not, then…

You have the space if you need it.

FB: Yeah. So everybody can more or less, do what they want, and that works.

JL: I think when somebody asks me this question, How do we get along for that such a long time, I always say, ‘We have super powers in the band, we can listen and we can talk, so there’s nothing that can’t be solved.” The thing is, everybody in the band really… we know that we are kind of, what can I say, we’re kind of privileged, what we’re doing. We really love what we are doing, we enjoy it with these bunch of people, with this really close connected people. And everybody treasures this way too much than to throw it easily away with some ego stuff or something. We’re a unit, and we try to keep it that way. If there are problems, of course there are discussions, and there are different opinions, and as I said, there is nothing that cant be solved or that cant be talked out, or we won’t find a compromise. It’s always worked so far.

On that final point we leave Jens to his medication and head into the venue to cover the gig the same night. Details of the gig review can be found here:

https://myglobalmind.com/2014/09/21/edguy-live-o2-academy-islington-london-september-14-2014/

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