First of all, congratulations on your new album 'To The End'. But before we go into that, you are just a few days away from hitting the road with Luca Turilli's Rhapsody and again Freedom Call. Excited and maybe a bit stressed out?
To be honest I had almost no time to feel excited because so much work was to do before we left for the tour - preproduction things, rehearsing, merchandise, new stage outfit, new stage banners, backdrops and so on. But we have been on tour with Freedom Call before and they are great guys so we felt happy from the first day to hit to road again with those guys. All the Rhapsody guys seem to be very nice persons too, as well as the Italian opener Vexillum. So we are really having a great time.
Also congratulations on this tour by the way. This is a great sign that all your hard work from the past years is finally paying off. Also a lot has happened since the release of 'Easton Hope'; you have done many shows including support spots for some interesting names and festivals, you had the 'Vale' album re-released and this tour will – hopefully – also open new doors for the band. Of course this is a very cliché thing to ask, but how does it all make you feel?
There was so much happening in the last two years that I honestly didn't have a single moment to sit back and watch the things that the band achieved. It feels good of course, we are very happy that we have got the opportunity to do what millions of musicians dream of - play festivals, tours and focus on making music instead of having to work in regular job all day. But you know - we never saw Orden Ogan as a commercial product and we are just doing what we love to do - making music. I don't ever wanna come to the point where I have to do this and that with the band to pay my bills. So even if Orden Ogan a small underground band we would keep going making records and so on.
'To The End' is definitely your strongest and most diverse effort to date. Both 'Vale' and 'Easton Hope' were received very well by both the fans and the press, so the expectation for the new record were very high. Did that put any kind of pressure on you during the songwriting process?
To be honest: no. what I said before - we are just doing what we love to do - so why feel any pressure - Orden Ogan is not affected by anybody else's opinion on how our music should sound like, and it is good the way it is.
When we look at the band's musical evolution, 'Easton Hope' was a bit faster and more “aggressive” (although I'm not sure if aggressive is the correct term here) than 'Vale'. 'To The End' is also a fast album in general, but in my opinion you have combined the sound of the previous works into a more solid piece. What did you have in mind for the direction of the new album?
On 'Easton Hope' Nils (keys) and Tobbi (lead guitar) did some songwriting work as well. I had a very crappy time in my private life the last two years and I somehow needed to deal with that by doing the songwriting stuff myself. That's why I think the record turned out the way it turned out. It was almost like a therapy. Like a collective "fuck you all" - that's why it is so heavy, hard, forward and straight in your face. Nils (former Keyboarder) came up with a lot of good ideas, but they were more progressive and atmospheric and I just couldn't work with that. So, basically I did almost everything myself on 'To The End'.
Orden Ogan has always been quite a unique band, but in the past it was easier to compare the band to especially Blind Guardian. The comparison with the compatriots is still audible in your music, but you seem to have mastered and definitely developed a true “Orden Ogansound” even more. Your opinion please…
Journalists have to compare bands with other bands to give the readers impressions of what they are talking about unless you can't expect that everybody knows Orden Ogan. I think it's a big compliment. We are often compared to Blind Guardian, because of the choirs and so on, but I think that is somehow like comparing EBM and techno. You know, both electronic music, but the approach is completely different. Orden Ogan is more riff orientated and the darker and harder band, while Guardian are more focussing on licks and nowadays progressive arrangements and so on. Also Orden Ogan focus a lot more on philosophical lyrics and darker topics than Blind Guardian, who are a lot more in the fantasy genre.
One of the strongest sides of your music is that it's fast and powerful, yet melodic and atmospheric, and also sounds very modern, yet traditional. Thanks to this not only does the band distinguish itself more from any other band in the genre, but you also have the ability to appeal to a larger audience. Again your opinion please…
Though I hate to answer like this - I can just say: Yes. Agreed.
Both 'Vale' and 'Easton Hope' were concept albums, the latter one dealing with the pre-story of the first, hehe. What about the lyrical themes on the new album? Is 'To The End' also a concept album? And if yes, please tell more about the story or the main theme…
The record follows a loose concept about the time after the end of the world and the last people left, struggling for their, well, survival. Orden Ogan's music is very melodic on the one hand but is not and will never be cheesy. Though we are all funny people we take ourselves serious as artists. Our lyrics also almost always are dark and sad, plays on thoughts, philosophical. There are no dragons, swords and unicorns.
The keyboards and atmosphere play a major role in Orden Ogans music, and 'To The End' definitely has gotten a dreamy and cold atmosphere which fits perfectly to the cover artwork and the layout. “Coldness”, and thereby also “somberness” are recurring themes. Was it also the intention to make a sort of a soundtrack for the winter?
First of all I would like to mention that the coverart work fits perfectly to the music and not the other way round. Andreas Marschall painted the artwork while listening to the first rough-mixes of the record. We immediately liked the idea of having the whole record play in that setting since its very dark and hopeless. It offered a lot of opportunities for metaphorical levels. the ice kings for example is not about some fantasy characters but political leadership and blindly following politics. It's about emotional coldness, about recklessly sacrificing people's lives and so on.
What is in your opinion the added value of concept albums by the way? Also due to the fact that so many bands are doing this nowadays!
To be honest I hate concept records, because it is too limiting while you are doing the songwriting. I think songs can not develop in all directions that may be necessary if the boundaries are set from the beginning. We had all songs finished for the 'Vale' record when we saw that there are certain connections between the songs that made it possible to put a common setting, a storyline around them. This was also the case with 'Easton Hope'. Talking about 'To The End' we just used that common setting where it all plays and not a storyline that starts in song number one and has to be continued till number eleven.
I'm always curious about where the artist gets his inspiration to create the right mood and atmosphere. How does that work for you, and especially for the new album?
As boring as that may sound - such things just come naturally. It just happens. It might happen that you wake up and have dreamed a song, it might happen that you are in the car, driving and all over sudden have that chorus in your mind or that you just jam around with your guitar and find a great riff. While working on 'To The End' having those post apocalyptic pictures and the ice scenario in our minds helped a lot to follow the central theme and mood.
By the way, what does the band name “Orden Ogan” actually mean?
Orden is the German word for "order" and Ogan is old-Celtic for "fear". So basically it is the Order Of Fear.
As already mentioned, you'll be supporting Luca Turilli's Rhapsody and Freedom Call till the end of the year. What can we expect from Orden Oganin 2013?
We are planning on doing a small headlining tour in early 2013, but it is not clear yet if that is going to happen, because we also have other things to focus on. Of course we will play some festivals in summer 2013 and maybe another tour in autumn. If you wanna keep up with the band please "like" our official Facebook profile.
Well, I guess we can wrap it up for now. Unless of course there is anything left that you'd like to mention…
Without you guys going to concerts, still buying CDs and merch - in one word - supporting the bands you like - there won't be any successful band at all. So everything I can say, and it comes from the heart, is: Thank you!