It’s all change for Germany’s Deadlock as they release their sixth studio effort, The Arsonist. With two members leaving in the time between releases and the band moving to a new home in Napalm Records, they have had a roller-coaster two years. They’ve made it to the other side a more compact unit, so let’s see how they’re faring…
Sabine Scherer – Vocals
John Gahlert – Vocals
Tobias Graf – Drums
Ferdinand Rewicki – Guitar
Sebastian Reichl – Guitar
Hey, thanks for taking the time to answer our questions, please introduce yourself and your position in the band…?
Hey Lee, thank you for the interview! My name is Sebastian Reichl. I am the guitarist, main songwriter and a founding member from Deadlock.
The Arsonist is your first album on Napalm Records after your move from Lifeforce Records – why the change of label?
You have to know that Stephan from Lifeforce and Deadlock became friends for lifetime. We have to thank Stephan for his great work and efforts to push our band further and he will always be a big part of the deadlock family. So there was no bad blood or something, we fulfilled the contract and had several options to go on.
Napalm was interested in signing Deadlock for over 2 years from now and we felt that they can help us doing the next steps. Napalm is an acknowledged and renowned label along with “major” power and professional and friendly personnel! So it wasn’t hard for us to sign the contract.
How does it feel to be sharing a roster with the likes of DevilDriver, Tristiana and Ex Deo?
Awesome! Not only the roster but also the power behind napalm feels really good. We feel like we have found the perfect base for the future, and we are not unwilling to tour with some of our awesome label mates!
Not only is this your first with Napalm, but it is also the first album since the departures of Johannes Prem on vocals and Gert Rymen on guitars – how has that affected you as a band?
Of course a new vocalist and a new guitarist might change a sound, but when it comes to arrangements I am responsible for the songwriting of Deadlock, since the very beginning of the band. My personal development as a musician represents the development of the band, so music wise it didn’t affected us that much. On the personal side I can say that we found a line-up where we advanced the fact that deep humanity is the base of all decisions, and this feels really good!
How did it feel recording in the studio without them?
You have to know that in the past the studio work was completely done by myself. I pre-produced the albums, played all guitars, bass and synths and arranged some vocal lines and lyrics for the recordings, so it felt totally the same with “The Arsonist” in some way.
This time we had an external producer with Benny Richter (Caliban, Moonspell) and I guess this had a deeper impact on the working and recording process.
Having covered for Prem on occasions, how does it feel for John to have stepped out from behind the bass to take over the harsh vocal duties permanently?
Well we had some big names and some other options to replace Joe when he left the band. John always did vocals in several bands before Deadlock and we knew that he is an outstanding frontman and a great harsh vocalist. The point is that we started to play live shows with John even a half year before Joe left the Band officially. I know that John feels really good with this internal solution and loves what he is actually doing!
How does John differ from Prem, both in the studio and up on stage?
I can say that the studio work was more productive cause we had more time, more teamwork and much more love. Joe Prem is a good studio singer but he has some weak points on stage… John knows how to catch people live. He is also a great harsh vocalist live on stage and on tape.
It was always fun to record and perform with Joe but I think we found the perfect solution for the vacant male vocalist.
Speaking of the stage, you have plenty of shows scheduled for Germany – are there any plans for international tours?
We will start with some festivals in summer and have our third headlining tour through Germany. Maybe Japan and Russia again by the end of the year and hopefully a longer European tour at the beginning of 2014. So hopefully we can make it over to the UK. So far we only played two shows in England – Newport and London…both shows were awesome and we would love to come back!
Going back to the album and judging from the video to “I’m Gone”, you’re using 7 and 8-string guitars – were you aiming for a “heavier” sound on The Arsonist by using the lower registers they provide?
Yes “heavier” is the right word! We also wanted to integrate NEW things to the basic “Deadlock-Sound”. Maybe Deadlock 2.0 😉 I really like to sound “fresh” and “new”.
We decided to play 8 and 7 string guitars because we can have a darker and wider range and we wanted to extend our low end to create more heavy and emotional music.
In addition to their lower tuning, the guitars have a grittier, more guttural tone – was this result of the new guitar setup or is it just a progression from the previous album?
I think both. The new Tuning (sort of a Drop F Tuning) causes a more “grittier” sound. On the other hand we wanted to create a more unique sound and this is kind of a progression I think. We used less gain and less room on the guitar amp setup and we tried to find frequencies which are friendly to hear but also unique. I think we found a sound which causes some kind of “friction”, and that’s great for me!
What were your influences going into writing this album?
Playing with people’s expectations; new Instruments (8 Strings), switching modes, more heaviness, more “big” vocal melodies/harmonies….Epicness. These things were our foundation pillars.
Was Bronski Beat an influence in any way, given your cover of “Small Town Boy”?
Bronski Beat is not an influence musical wise, but they were really courageous back in the days. That’s really impressive and something to inspire to.
A lot of people of the so called “liberal” and “open minded” scene harm us through the internet with things like “we are a gay band” or something like that because we have female vocals and melodic choruses and synths and dramatic passages in our songs etc… So what can be cooler than to cover a song from THE gay band in the 80’s? We DON’T want to make fun of gay people but we want to make fun of pseudo open minded or intolerant people.
Lyrically, you have always dealt with more social topics – was this more of the same for The Arsonist?
Yeah absolutely! In my opinion you can set the earth on fire or you can set your thoughts on fire. Like a spiritual Arsonist to rethink traditions, rethink behaviours, bringing back humility and so on… I think mankind maybe will destroy “a nature” in which it can live but mankind will never destroy the earth as its whole.
It was said a thousand times before but we have to comprehend that we are all people of this beautiful planet and until we fully understand this simple logic maybe we set this world on a funeral pyre. So let’s revolt, This is what “The Arsonist” is all about in my opinion.
Sebastian typically writes the music for Deadlock, but was the writing process any different on The Arsonist as opposed to your previous effort, Bizarro World given the line-up changes?
The main difference was the work with an external producer Benny Richter. A lot of synths and orchestral parts were written by Benny. He also had a big impact on song structures and the whole process of arranging the songs. He also recorded and produced the vocals, especially the vocal harmonies of Sabine…he also had this idea of melodic male background vocals.
As I said the line-up changes didn’t play a big role in the song writing process.
What was the overall sound that the band wanted from the production side of things and why?
We wanted to have a very clear sound with a lot of low end. Everything should sound very modern and precise. The vocal harmonies for example should sound “big”, the guitars very unique… and so on.
We had this idea of a very loud master but without squeezing it too much. Overall we wanted to create an ageless sound which is modern enough to please the listener ears. I think Eike Freese and Olman Viper did a great job!
As previously stated, the video for “I’m Gone” is already out but can we expect any more videos from the album?
Yes we will release a second video for the opening track “The Great Pretender” early September. Also shot and directed by ambitious films. We are really looking forward to the clip cause there will be a lot of big pictures and a great story behind including masked people, priests and a lot of darkness!
You’ve dedicated it to fans of extreme modern music and your own fans, but what was the concept for “I’m Gone” that Carlo Oppermann was after? Or did you, yourselves, develop the concept?
Below the line… Endtime.
Carlo developed his very own story. We wanted to let him free hand with his visions and film making expertise. We think he did a great job and for us the lyrical and optical concept of “The Arsonist” is really well converted.
Finally, thank you for taking the time to answer these questions! Is there anything you’d like to say to our Gorgeous Freaks readers?
Thank you Lee for this great interview.
We hope to see you guys and girls on our upcoming European tour next year. If you want to hear fresh and emotional music without any boundaries please check out our new record “The Arsonist”! All the best!
Photography by Severin Schweiger