Interview Credit: © Robert Cavuoto
Piet Sielck of Iron Savior takes an Introspective look at new CD – Rise Of The Hero
German heavy/power metal band Iron Saviorreturned to the scene after a 4-year break in 2011 with The Landing. Where The Landing left off, their latest CD, Rise Of The Hero (RTHO) picks the science fiction saga back up with a new character from ancient Atlantis. RTHO captures the essence of Iron Savior while incorporating their trademark sound.
Iron Saviorbegan in 1996 when the band was founded by Piet Sielck (vocals / guitar), Kai Hansen (guitar) and Thomen Stauch (drums), at first only to be a studio project. But the musical direction was clear right from the start: traditional power metal with science fiction concepts linked lyrics. The rough, expressive voice of Piet set additional accents that gave the band its own profile. After a few member changes the band is now tighter and better than before while still carrying their metal roots and heritage.
I had the chance to catch up with Piet to talk about the latest release, Rise Of The Hero, and what it took to make a perfect sonic sounding CD.
Robert Cavuoto: Congrats on the CD, it sounds amazing, can you tell me how the new CD; Rise of the Hero (ROTH) may differ or be similar to The Landing?
Piet Sielck: Thank you for the flowers! (laughing) Well, ROTH is pretty much the continuation of The Landing. Here in the Iron Savior camp we are not trying to reinvent metal, but we always try to get better and better. So with The Landing on our back, a lot of things appeared to be done right! (laughing) We based the production and the songwriting on that, trying not to copy ourselves and avoiding ‘riff-recycling’ but yet to bring out all the trademarks fans would expect from us not an easy task, but I think we did quite good.
Robert: How does this CD rate for you personally and which are your top three Iron Savior CDs?
Piet Sielck: At this point ROTH is my personal favorite and I really mean it, because this is pretty much the essence of the entire band’s evolution. Whether it’s the early years or the Condition Red / Battering Ram period it’s all there blended with some new elements. I am really proud of this album. Second would be The Landing, because it is maybe the most important album in our history and has a very personal meaning to me. The third in rank is our debut CD. This album will always be very special to me, because this is where it all started out.
Robert: You have some crushing guitar sound, what guitars, amps, and pedals did you use to track the CD?
Piet Sielck: I have a rather simple setup based on a POD II, a Marshall 9100 poweramp, a Boss SD1 (very important for that speed shredding!), a TL Audio valve mic-preamp, a decent cabinet and an SM 56. At this point I use the POD signal as an enhancement for the straight mic signal (not using any cabinet or AIR features of the POD). But how exactly I do it, will remain secret, (laughing).
Robert: The CD sonically sounds great too, can you share your thoughts on the key production aspects that went into making this it?
Piet Sielck: As on The Landing I wanted a yet natural but punchy in-your-face sound. Of course the guitars are one key aspect to that, but also the drums do play an important roll. Being still very happy with the natural and totally sample free drum sound from The Landing, we went back to the same studio, used the same kit and skins to archived the same results. In fact – since you cannot simply push ‘recall’ two years later – the sound turned out to be even better still sounding absolutely natural. At this point I am really happy of how the instruments and frequencies are divided adding up to each other without disturbing each other. This brings a major punch to the overall sound and keeps it transparent but yet powerful.
Robert: Can you tell me a little about the CD artwork and how it ties to the title track?
Piet Sielck: Once again the artwork was done by our friend Felipe Machado Franco. Besides the fact that we also wanted continuation in the visual, he just an awesome artist who shares the same addiction to Sci-Fi as me. Therefore it’s almost as if he reads my mind. I don’t have to explain too much to him, he understands instantly. The cover is based on the continuing Iron Savior saga based on a new character from ancient Atlantis. The Last Hero is displayed in the foreground.
Robert: My favorite track on the CD was “Last Hero” with its powerful Queen-like chorus. Are there any religious connotations between it to the story of Jesus?
Piet Sielck: No. Although the storyline deals with resurrection and incarnation it has no Christian influence.
Robert: Are there any songs from the new CD that you look forward to playing live?
Piet Sielck: For sure, “Last Hero”, “Revenge Of The Bride” and “Burning Hearts” are already part of our live set.
Robert: You have had several member changes since your formation, how has that impacted the band over the years?
Piet Sielck: Actually there have been a couple of changes in the early years, but Thomas plays with us since 1999, Piesel joined 2000 and Jan already played bass on the very first gig in 1998 at Wacken, so this is rather stable, I’d say. But you probably are talking about Kia Hansen. Well, his participation sure helped in the first years but became a bit of a curse when it turned out, that he just wouldn’t find enough time and we finally had to split. Even though he is not the tallest guy, he has a big shadow which wasn’t easy to get away from. But here we are now, 14 years later, the metal universe finally accepted, that Iron Savior is an independent force and not just something Kai is doing “on the side”. That has been hard work, but I’m glad that we finally stepped out of his shade.
Robert: How have you see the metal world change over the years?
Piet Sielck: Not too much. I guess it’s still cool to hang out in your car listening to metal and drinking beer (laughing). So the fans didn’t change too much, but the industry did. With the more affordable computer based recording platforms resulting in way cheaper productions the marked gets flooded with releases ever since. There is nothing wrong with a huge variety, but the pure mass does make it very hard for fans to find new stuff, which is great among all the not-so-bad-but-unoriginal-like-bablabla-and-so-and-so stuff. And because of that they rather stick to names they know, even though it may not be the greatest stuff, but it’s reliable and you don’t waste money. That’s a pity for all the unknown artists out there who are doing great but can’t get the attention to step out of the mass.
Robert: Without rock radio stations and video channels how important are social media sites to Iron Savior?
Piet Sielck: Super important! Social medias are a great way to communicate with all our fans. Even though NSA reads it all (laughing) it moves people together. Especially in the US. I remember receiving emails 10-15 years ago from fans telling me, that they are the only metal heads in town, now with social media all those “lone metallians” can connect with each other, which made the scene in the US grow quite a bit over the years. And hey, nowadays there are 5-6 metalheads in town. (laughing)
Robert: What is the band’s tour plans for the US?
Piet Sielck: Right now we are working out a lot of shows and would love to come to the US. But this is not that easy, as you may know. All I can say is, it’s a top priority issue to us and we will do our best to make it happen.
Robert: What makes you most proud as you look back over your career?
Piet Sielck: That I am doing Iron Savior for over 15 years by now and that I’m still around, realizing, that people honestly like what I’m doing. I’ve never been a lucky guy, so all this band stuff is based on really hard work. I am proud of what I have archived so far.