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Cede Dupont, Andy B. Franck, Markus Pohl, Dennis Wohlbold and Sascha Sauer
In the middle of their tour with Wizard and Grave Digger, we saw Symphorce play the Zeche in Bochum. Afterwards Cora, Nico and yours truly sat down with the whole band and had a long, funny talk about the new CD "Twice Second", touring and future plans. We had a lot of fun and the "(laughter)" comment just didn't cut it on a number of occasions, so I had to add a "(hilarious laughter)" here and there ;) Even though German is everyone's mother tongue (except for Nico and me, but we speak it well), we did the interview in English for the zine's sake. Sometimes German words would suddenly pop up in the English sentences, like Andy talking about "this one Pflanze" (plant) and Dennis about "the power and groove of the... Strophe " (verse), where we all just burst out in laughter that would fit the "ROTFLMAO" abbreviation :) In the text below we just translated it for your reading convenience, but those were actually the most hilarious moments of them all :D Brace yourself and have a good time with Andy B. God, Bobby Of Hell and the rest of the Kings ;)
How's the tour going, the response of the crowd and the conditions of the tour?
Cede: So far it's been very very great. We have been playing... I think around six shows so far and it's been a lot of fun and I have to say that also the other bands, Grave Digger and Wizard, we have a lot of fun with those guys. I mean, they are very very kind and we are sharing our tourbus with Wizard and they are really party animals, so it fits together pretty well. Symphorce and Wizard in one bus is......
Cede: ...is like Romeo and Juliet (laughs). No, it's a lot of fun and the response from the crowd is also very cool so far. We didn't exactly know what to expect because the Grave Digger crowd might be a little bit different than people who are listening to our kind of music but at the end of every show it looks like people like our music and we have a great time with the audience.
Because I would suspect that Grave Digger fans would be more into Wizard than into Symphorce at least, from the kind of music.
Cede: Yeah, but in the end, we get everybody in the crowd. (laughs) Right Andy?
Andy: Jajajajajaja ;)
Today is the release date for "Twice Second". The reactions so far are overwhelming already, CD of the month in several magazines.
Andy: Yes, and way better than we had expected. Absolutely, it's just overwhelming like you said, that the new CD receives such good reactions and so on. But it's ok, you know, it's a real band-product, everybody was truly involved in the music- and songwriting process, so it feels good. It's something special for the whole band, everybody knows this is Symphorce and this is our kind of style and thus I always said, I don't know how the next album will
sound like but if it sounds like this and people do like it, it's ok.
Cede: I also think the fact that we played a lot of live shows in the last year made us much tighter as a band. We got better musicians, we got better songwriters and you know... concerning the songwriting, it was Dennis and me who wrote the music for this new record and Andy just came up with his vocal lines and wrote all the lyrics. But as he said, I think right now we have a very very great time with this line-up and everybody in the band is able to bring himself into the band and that's absolutely awesome.
Symphorce has always been Andy's baby, does it mean Andy does have the last vote on everything or has it become a democratic thing?
Andy: They are all kings, but there can only be one God! (hilarious laughter)
Andy B. God! (laughter)
Cede: I think it is important to have someone in a band who leads everybody because if there were five guys coming up and say "let's do it this way or that way", it's just gonna end in one big fight. But it's ending in one big fight anyway! (laughter) No, but it's important that one or two or three guys are actually leading the other guys. I mean, it's not really about... for example Andy comes up and says "hey motherfucker, we're gonna play that and that riff and that song and if not, you're gonna have to leave the band" - it's not the way it works.
Andy: But it should be the way. (hilarious laughter)
Cede: Did I say that I hate this guy? No, but it's important that at least one or two guys lead the band.
Andy: The fact, that especially Dennis and Cedric wrote all the songs shows exactly that it's not just an ego project or something like this. This is a real band and everybody got involved in the songwriting process, you know. It's a band. I formed the band, ok, some years ago, but now it's more a band than ever.
Cede: And anyway, the fact that Dennis and me wrote the songs doesn't mean that for example Sascha and Markus don't have anything to do with the songs. I mean, Symphorce wouldn't sound like this, if there weren't those five guys in the band. And you know, Dennis and me wrote our songs at home but in the end we practise in the rehearsal room and Sascha comes up with his incredible drumming and Markus... I mean, Markus wrote some songs as well for "Twice Second". He was co-writing with me on "Cause Of Laugher" and "Two Seconds To Live". So everybody in the band is able to bring something new.
How often do you rehearse? Because you all - or some of you - are living further apart than others. Is that not a problem?
Cede: No because we are not a band that is rehearsing once or twice a week. I mean, that wouldn't be possible, obviously. We just rehearse if we have new songs or if we have to rehearse for shows, that's actually how it works.
So sometimes you don't even rehearse for months?
Cede: Yeah, right now we didn't have any rehearsals from September, when we were in the studio until now when we were rehearsing for the tour. So we are writing emails all the time and we are on the phone, that's our way to rehearse, haha.
Back to the new album, "Twice Second". What does the album title stand for?
Andy: It's nothing special...
It's just one of your wordgames again.
Andy: Yeah, sure... I mean, it's "twice": one, two and "second": one, two. So in the end we had two records for Noise Records and now this is the second album for Metal Blade, so this is just "two - two", it's the fourth album in total and that's it. It's nothing special, no big meaning behind it or something like that.
So it's kinda like two plus two equals four and that's it.
Andy: Yeah, that's basically it. It's the same with the seahorses on the cover, you know you have four seahorses. The funny thing is now I found out that on our first album we had this one plant, on the second album we had these two faces - the old man in the back and the skull on the right side, on the third album we had these three alien faces and now we have four seahorses on it.
And that wasn't deliberate?
Andy: Not really, I just told Travis Smith, the designer of the cover, that I wanted something blue and he came up with the idea of the seahorses and everything else. On the first things I've seen of the cover, there were about like 5, 6 or 7 seahorses on the cover and I told him just to make only 4 on the front... but in the end I found out, "hey, this is funny, it's the fourth album and it has four seahorses on the cover" and if you have a closer look to the cover you can find out that two seahorses form the number 4.
Cede: Anyway, what he wants to say is that on the upcoming album you will see five cocks. (hilarious laugher) Next question please.
Who did get in touch with Travis Smith?
Andy: Me, me, me!
Mr God. How did you get in touch with him, you just felt you needed Travis for the next cover?
Andy: It was just a big dream for us because especially Dennis and me were totally into those covers he did for Nevermore and many many other bands too... Dead Soul Tribe, Strapping Young Lad and stuff. I tried, that's all, I tried. The guys from Metal Blade gave me the email address, telephone number and everything else and I tried and I asked him. He wasn't sure until two or three weeks before the deadline for the cover and he still wasn't sure how he would make it but it came out fantastic and for us, especially as I said for Dennis and me, a dream came true having a Travis Smith cover and total artwork by Travis Smith. That was something..."wow"! Killer. He's got his own style and it fits perfectly.
The first time I saw something from the new website, Dennis showed me something, I asked "that's Travis Smith's artwork, isn't it?", it's so recognizable.
Andy: Yeah, nobody expected that, we're really a small band. But the funny thing is when I wrote Travis the first email, I introduced myself "Hi, I'm Andy from Brainstorm and Symphorce" a short message came back with something like "Are you kidding? I know you, I got all your albums at home, I love your voice, so hey - what's the deal?" And I was like "Woah! Ok... God knows my name"! (laughter)
What was the idea behind it, especially behind the seahorses?
Andy: No idea. Just..."make something blue", haha. There's no need to always have a bigger meaning behind that. It's bullshit, who cares? It looks good, so what?
In general, I would say that Symphorce makes timeless metal with a modern sound, in that way comparable to Nevermore and bands like that. But I've heard some comments of people saying "oh, they downtuned their guitars" and "nu metal influences".....how do you feel about that?
Andy: Sure, no problem. If we do sell like Korn or Limp Bizkit - hey, what's the problem? (laughter) Cedric always wants to do a video clip with Halle Berry.
Who wouldn't, haha!
But I think that should be the time where I would have to say "No! I'm the singer and I have to do the video clip".
With whom would you do the video clip then?
Andy: I would like to do the Desperado thing.
Andy: Oh no..."From Dusk Till Dawn", with the liquor on her leg, that would be very cool. (licks an imaginary leg - laughter)
Cede: I should think that as a songwriter you have to be openminded to let in more influences. It wouldn't be the right way if you tried to copy older albums or something like this. You can't always do the same thing and I mean, for sure everybody in the band has different influences. Andy's listening or loving this 80's thrash metal, Dennis is more into prog metal stuff, I'm listening from old Helloween to Pantera to almost everything....
Cede: I know you know. (laughter)
Andy: The only and easy answer to this question is: Andy's into thrash metal and the rest of the guys are too young for it! (laughter)
Cede: I just think it's important to let new influences also come into our music. We're not afraid to let new influences come to our sound. In my opinion it's also nothing bad if somebody comes up and says "you sound like nu metal", nu metal isn't a bad thing, I don't have a problem with that, so..
I restrain from comment there, hehe.
Andy: I think there are so many other influences in there, it's just our kind of style. Sounds good, makes fun... for us, as long as we do not earn millions of dollars with that, we should have fun on stage and we should have fun while we're recording the stuff.
Cede: And we had a lot of fun tonight!
Dennis: Only him. (points at Cede)
I bet you say that all evenings.
Cede: Yeah... tonight it was the best crowd of the whole tour ;) No, it was ok. I had some technical problems but in the end the show was ok. It wasn't one of our best ones but it was ok.
And in regards of the audience? Is it more fanatic here in this area?
Cede: Well, it could be better... but...
Andy: The time we started wasn't that good.
Andy: Way too early but... I knew it.
Cede: Feels like playing before having breakfast. (laughter)
We are back to the live thing again, but I still want to talk about the album... I guess this one's for Andy. In "Take What's Mine" you sing "My time has come to take what's mine". It seems like a love-related text but I can't help thinking that you're thinking about Symphorce and how it's about time you get the recognition for Symphorce after you became more successful with Brainstorm.
Andy: Sure, also with the lyrics it's the same as what I said about the cover... there are not too many meanings behind the lyrics, really not. But "Take What's Mine" is exactly, ok... Cedric got a lot of success with Freedom Call, I got a lot of success with Brainstorm, that's ok. I love being in Brainstorm, as I said, baby and family and stuff and I'm really looking forward going on tour with those guys. It was a pleasure to meet Todde and Milan yesterday again, we were like "wow", meeting parts of the family again. But when I started with Symphorce in 1999, of course I always wanted to go on tour. It took us four albums to go on tour and now we're here and this is... it's not easy to say. We always wanted to go on tour and always something happened, you know, sometimes with the record company, sometimes with the money and so on... but now we're here and that's absolutely perfect. I felt - when I heard the songs for the very first time - that this album could be very very important for us, for our career, so I just wanted to say the people that now it's time for us to show you that Symporce is not just only one of those million other acts out there. We have our own style and that's good.
You just mentioned other record companies, meaning Noise in this case...
Andy: I haven't said this. (laughter)
Well, what other companies were there? I never understood why... well, let's say company X, never did anything for you when you released "Sinctuary".
Andy: That was a desaster.
I mean, "Sinctuary" was a great album already.
Andy: "Sinctuary received fantastic reviews, Symphorce was named one of the most important newcomer acts in 2000...or 2001? I don't remember at all ;) That was horrible... and still, always when I'm listening to "Sinctuary" I still think we could have reached way more with this album. We had the offer to go on tour with Rage and Noise said "No, they have to pay you, we do not pay anthing for the tour, so - no chance. But now we have another record label in the back and it feels good. We had a few shows with Kamelot, we played all the festivals, and now we're here with Grave Digger. That's good, that's the best promotion you can have, perfect. And as the guys from the record company told me yesterday it's also fantastic for the distributor, for SPV. It looks really really good, we're selling way more than with the last album.
Yeah, but about the last album, I mean... you didn't tour that much and how come you wanted to make a new album so soon?
Andy: I spoke to Chris (Grave Digger) in Coburg at the Blind Guardian Festival and I knew that he wanted to go on tour in January with Grave Digger and I asked him about the support band and he said "still no clue". And so I said to him "hey, you know, Symphorce is there, so let's do it" and he said "yeah, maybe... but if you guys want to support us you must have a new album out". And that was exactly the time when I told the other guys we had to start writing songs and everything happened really fast. But in the end I think that was the best thing that could happen to us because that's the reason why this album sounds absolutely honest, fresh and so extremely powerful. We never had the time to change anything in the songs, this is straight from the heart.
So the pressure worked in your advantage?
Cede: Symphorce has always been a band that works better under pressure. The perfect example is this... we had this almost two-year break after "Sinctuary" and it was a real hard time because nobody knew how we would continue but everything went really really great when somebody came up to us and said "you have one month left, then you have to have 10 or 12 songs", so maybe we work better under pressure.
Is that also a reason why you are all in other bands as well?
Cede: Absolutely ;) I mean, it's not like Andy's busy with Brainstorm 365 days a year or me with Freedom Call. I mean, everybody... Markus is playing with Valley's Eve, Sascha has his melodic metal band Fallen Angels, Dennis is playing guitar in another band called Shades Of Grey... I don't see any problems behind this. Maybe it's also a very good thing because you can get other experiences and you can let them go into Symphorce as well. So, it's not a big problem, we're not really that busy with Symphorce or any other band, it's not a problem.
But it could happen now with this album, that Symphorce reaches the next level. And Brainstorm and Freedom Call are also popular bands.
Cede: I mean, we're not assholes... if everything works out totally good we will let Gamma Ray, Brainstorm and Freedom Call play as support acts, haha! (laughter) No, we'll see, it's just important that we talk to each other, it's not a big deal.
You already played "Cause Of Laughter" on Summer Breeze, how was that received and how were the summer festivals in general?
Markus: We liked to play these festivals and it was great to play for this big audience. It was the first time for me to play concerts like that and it was great for me to have this and the people who support us from in front of the stage to us on stage, and the energy was great on these concerts. I liked it and for the band it was very important to have these shows, it was very important for the band, for growing together.
And the new song was received well? I mean, it has a pretty catchy chorus, it's not difficult to get into.
Markus: Yeah, it's very catchy but I think this is the new album, that's a little bit the style of the album, that it has more catchy songs...
But not too catchy...
Markus: No, it's not too catchy, it's very heavy, very hard music, but that's the way we like it. It's a little bit the different styles of all of us. He's the catchy music, and I'm more the heavy part. (laughter)
I'm always teasing him with it. (nodding at Cede)
Cede: "Fuck man, I play in Freedom Call." (holds his nose up)
I rest my case!! (laughter)
Cede: It was a lot of fun playing "Cause Of Laughter" on Summer Breeze because it was the first time we got to hear Andy's vocal lines so that was kind of a good experience.
That was even before recording?
Cede: Yeah, we started recording I think two weeks after the Summer Breeze festival and it was fun hearing the song with all parts, that was really cool.
So it was a surprise for you as well.
Cede: Although he blew up the chorus, haha, but it was ok.
What is your favourite track on the album?
Sascha: Mine is "Fallen", it has great vocals and a great chorus.
Andy: I think especially "Whatever Hate Provides" shows exactly what the band is all about, you know. There's so many differences... that song kicks fucking ass.
I wanted to hear that live but I can't have everything.
Andy: Yeah, exactly! (laughter)
Cede: It's difficult to play it live because the vocals are cutting into each other, so it's a complicated song to be played live. But I think for me personally at the moment it is "Two Seconds To Live", the chorus is so aggressive. This song is one of my favourites.
Dennis, you got a favourite song?
Dennis: Yes, "Cause Of Laughter" is my favourite song because I love the power and groove of the verse.
Andy: And "Cry On My Shoulder" is very important.
Yes! Very personal song.
Andy: Very personal song, my new baby screams at the end and the guitar solo...
Markus: ...from Bobby Of Hell
What did he say? Barbie Of Hell, did I understand that right?
Markus: Symphorce insider joke, hehe.
Cede: "Cry On My Shoulder" is a very melancholic song in some ways, I like it very much. It's following something different that we have never done before, it's very good. And everytime I'm listening to that song I get goosebumps.
I have that too and especially when little Yannick (Andy's son) gets to join :)
Cede: He's gonna be a great singer some day.
Oh, he should have the genes for it.
Cede: Yannick B. Franck's coming out to your town soon! (laughter) That's how a career starts.
What are the plans for Symphorce after this tour? Maybe playing festivals?
Andy: We hope that we can play some more festivals in the summer but the problem is that we for sure have played all the important festivals like WOA, Summer Breeze and Metal Dayz last year with the last album...
But Bang Your Head's still open for you!
Andy: Bang Your Head... the billing's complete, except for the second headliner but...
Cede: Well..... why not!? ;D (laughter)
Andy: Now... that's the thing we are talking about, hehe.
Still negotiating, or what? ;D
Andy: I'm still trying to bring us again on the WOA or Summer Breeze stage... we will see. The problem is that a lot of booking agencies from France and the Netherlands do want to have us on the billings... but they do not have the "right" festivals, you know. For example Graspop is maybe too big, Dynamo doesn't exist, Bospop is....
Well, we've seen Bospop and Brainstorm... it's a mixed crowd so it's not very good for...
Andy: Well, it worked good for Brainstorm but for Symphorce we need a real good metal crowd, that's it. It doesn't make any sense for us to... but ok, I think what we should do is tour Benelux and France because it looks like that our kind of music is the kind of music for France and the Benelux, really. Because we received fantastic reviews in those countries, sometimes better than in Germany. I think our kind of music is not the kind of music for Spain, Italy or Greece.
It's not traditional enough...
Andy: Yeah...but really, France, Benelux, it looks very good over there. So maybe in the summer, or May/June, something like that, I'd like to play four, five shows in the Benelux and France, that would be great. When he's back from the Freedom Call tour (points at Cede) and I'm back from the Brainstorm tour, we will try.
I think Symphorce would also be a great band for ProgPower, any ProgPower.... Europe, USA....
Andy: That could be cool.
Hey guys, thanks to all of you for joining, it doesn't happen often that we get to interview a complete band :) Have a great time on the rest of the tour!
Cede: It's been fun, thanks!
submitted by Marlies 09.02.2004