Interviewed by Denys (Site Founder/Senior Staff Writer) Myglobalmind Webzine
Myglobalmind: Thanks for taking the a few minutes to chat with us here at Myglobalmind Webzine Oliver!!!
Oliver: No problem, you’re welcome!
Myglobalmind: Congratulations on your 4th studio album “Balance”. What’s been going on in the Hartmann camp since the album was released?
Oliver: Since the release on the 1st of June we received many positive reactions on it by the press and also by fans. We’re absolutely happy with “Balance” and personally I think it’s the best HARTMANN album we did so far. During the last weeks we already played a few live shows and right now we are planning a bigger tour for autumn.
Myglobalmind: Before we get into the bulk of the new material, let’s give the readers a brief history of your music career for the readers who may not already familiar okay? When did you first get in the music scene? And which part of Germany are you originally from?
Oliver: I was born close to Frankfurt/Germany and grew up there, too. I first grabbed my uncle’s guitar at the age of 10 and also started singing a few years later. After finishing school I joined my first professional bands at the age of 20 and had the first international release with the prog metal project CENTERS which was formed in 1995. This later turned into AT VANCE, a neoclassical power metal band that became pretty well known. During the same time around 2000 I was involved as a singer in the first AVANTASIA album, too which really became an unexpected megaseller. When I left AT VANCE in 2002 started to concentrate more on my solo career and released the first HARTMANN album “Out in the cold” in 2005. Since then I was also involved in many other hard rock and metal productions as singer and guest musician, so besides AVANTASIA I was recording with EDGUY, AINA, HELLOWEEN, HAMMERFALL and lots of other well known bands and projects.
Myglobalmind: Early on you we’re part of a cover band? Which band was it and what kind of stuff did you guys cover?
Oliver: The cover band you mention was called SPIDER. Touring all over Germany for a few years we covered all kind of well known rock, hard rock and metal songs from A to Z and of course this was very helpful to develop and improve my skills as a singer and guitar player, too.
Myglobalmind: After a transition from other works you were’ involved in, yourself and Olaf Lenk formed the metal band At Vance. How was your time in At Vance and what happened which led you to part ways and begin you solo career as Hartmann?
Oliver: Of course I’m still proud of what I did with AT VANCE and I think we really released some good albums. But despite the success we unfortunately somehow reached a point after a few years where it became more and more difficult to get along well and to work together. Besides a handful of tracks written by me I didn’t have much influence on the songwriting of the band. Of course it wasn’t easy to jump off the train since I was a main part of the whole thing but after our tour in 2002 I draw the decision to leave the band. In the end it was the absolutely right decision and then started to concentrate on the songwriting for my solo project.
Myglobalmind: Even though the music in At Vance was melodic metal with neoclassical influences, your voice always showed versatility and was very melodic. Did you always have in mind the more modern melodic rock sound that you have brought to the table on your solo albums?
Oliver: I think the style I represent with HARTMANN is a mixture of all my influences, both regarding the voice and the music. I grew up with the british and american rock and hard rock of the 70’s and 80’s, from Free, Deep Purple, Whitesnake, Gary Moore, Rainbow and Dio up to Journey, Survivor, Van Halen, AC/DC and all the other great bands of that time. Simply all the bands that combined great singers and guitar players cause that’s what somehow always impressed me. So that’s where I have my so called “roots”. Of course I was also listening a lot to classical music and funk rock, soul and blues and I think you can hear a lot of all that here and there in our songs on “Balance” and the earlier HARTMANN albums, too. Nowadays I’m listening to many different musical styles and artists – too many to count or mention but in the end it just matters to me that it’s good music. That’s maybe the only thing that counts. It’s still somehow melodic rock but – as you said- with modern elements, too and that’s important for me.
Myglobalmind: Was the transition difficult from a metal band to the style you play now?
Oliver: No, not at all – at least not for me. When the first album came out of course many people would have expected something heavier than this due to my musical history. But I felt that this is a hundred percent me and I knew that this is my style of writing songs. In the end the first album “Out in the cold” already received many great critics all over the world and I was absolutely happy with it.
Myglobamind: How have you progressed as a solo artist in Hartmann since the very well received debut in 2005?
Oliver: Yes, of course. You’re always in progress when writing songs and playing in a band so when you finished something you always look forward to what comes next. We play with the same line up since our first show more than 7 years ago so the whole band had that time to develop. I think that when you listen to all Hartmann albums and then especially to “Balance” you can definitely hear the development and that the band and the songwriting have still grown.
Myglobalmind: Did you listen to a lot of Melodic Rock/AOR growing up through the years?
Oliver: Yes, I still listen to a lot of Melodic Rock, sometimes to new bands but mostly to older records. But as I said I’m open to all kinds and styles of music and there’s always something you can pull out of for your own ideas. I think it’s important to never stop searching for new things and the end that’s what makes and keeps music interesting.
Mygobalmind: Talk to me about the new record Balance and explain a little about the album title in reference to the actual songs on the record?
Oliver: We’ve been working on this album a bit longer than we used to in the past – close to two and a half years now. The main reason is that I was touring a lot with other projects like AVANTASIA in 2010 and ROCK MEETS CLASSIC last winter so I didn’t have the time to really concentrate just on HARTMANN. That’s why the songwriting for the new album somehow happened in steps. Although we already had enough new material in mid of last year I decided to write more tracks and to work over the arrangements here and there. In the end it was the right decision because we didn’t have any time pressure to release a new album so we had the chance and time to sort out just the best tracks for the new album. Our bass player Armin also wrote a few songs this time and we decided to take “Like a river” and “From a star” which are great and perfectly fitting songs. Our guitar player Mario came up with the idea to call the album “Balance” while searching for a fitting title. Somehow this album has the right balance of everything that is important for us as a band regarding the music. On the other hand the inner balance in general is important for everything you do in your life. There’s no black without white, no good without bad, no ying without yang. When you are following your way there’s always something from the outside that’s pulling you to the left or to the right. The goal is maybe to find the right mixture of both sides to lead your life into the right direction – and sometimes it’s really like dancing on a wire, haha 😉
Myglobalmind: All the songs have a mature/modern but still melodic feel adding a sense of commercialism but not abandoning your melodic rock style completely, is that the formula you we’re going for? Did you write most of the material yourself? And is this the best record in your opinion you have done to date?
Oliver: All in all I’m I really feel that Balance“ is the best album we’ve done far.I was always the main songwriter of the band and although the musical output of HARTMANN also contains certain commercial and poppish elements it’s not a calculated formula at all. It just feels very natural for me to write these kind of songs. Regarding the new album you can find songs like that too, for example „You are the one“ or „Like river“. Both have a very catchy chorus and could be easily entitled as pop songs, too.
Myglobamind: What do you hope to accomplish with your solo career? Are there plans of other projects aside from Hartmann? More in the vein of Avantasia style material or other type of collaborations?
Oliver: I always try to find the time for collaborations here and there as guest musician in other projects too. So let’s see what the future brings but right now I really try to concentrate a hundred percent on HARTMANN and our new album because that’s what I want to push forward at the moment.
Myglobalmind: The last track on the album is called “The Best is yet to Come”, perhaps a precursor of things to come in the future?
Oliver: Of course we still didn’t reach all our goals with HARTMANN at all so I really hope that the best is yet to come 😉
Myglobalmind: What has been the highlight of your professional music career so far?
Oliver: Besides some great moments with HARTMANN one of the highlights was indeed the first world tour with AVANTASIA. Starting as a studio project we never expected putting this on stage as a real band. Even if it was a dream somehow we all never thought that it could really happen to be headlining Festivals like Sweden Rock or Wacken.
Mygloblamind: Who is the best live band you have ever seen?
Oliver: That’s hard to say. I’m a big AC/DC fan and I’ve definitely seen a few great shows. But I think the best and most perfect show I’ve ever seen was AEROSMITH a few years ago. Some people say that it really depends on their mood and them having the right day, so it seems that I’ve seen a show on the right day 😉
Myglobalmind: What model instruments guitar most specifically do you play?
Oliver: I play many different guitars, mostly older or vintage style Strats or Les Pauls, some PRS too .But since one year ago I’m working together with a new Japanese brand named FGN and they are really building amazing guitars. I’m getting my own signature model in a few weeks and I’m looking forward to have it in my hands – I’m really curious!
Myglobalmind: What’s your biggest source of inspiration when writing music?
Oliver: I think everything can be inspiring for me: Listening to good music, reading a book, watching a movie and making up my mind about all that happens around me. You can’t control to have the right idea for a song in the right moment but if you got one: Record it and write it down. That’s how I try to do it.
Myglobalmind: If I was to ask you to name something about yourself that most wouldn’t know, what would that be?
Oliver: Asking me right now I have to say that I really don’t know – maybe that as a child I wanted to become a fireman? – haha, just joking 🙂
Myglobalmind: Thanks for taking the time and playing along Oliver, congrats on the new album and the final words are yours.
Myglobalmind: Of course I’d like to say HI to all readers of myglobalmind.com and to all fans of Hartmann out there. Let’s see how our tour plans develop so hopefully we’re gonna some of your readers on our live shows, too!
Oliver: Thanks, too.
Webzine Review for Hartmann – Balance