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Saltatio Mortis

The German act Saltatio Mortis is very popular in the Heimat and Austria, but almost no one here knows them. A real shame, because the music is really not just for people with an understanding for the German tongue. Their latest album 'Das Schwarze Einmaleins' was a hit and the gig I visited recently in Osnabrück was just as great, so it was time for an interview with bandmembers Alea der Bescheidene and Falk Imfried Von Mummelstein.

By: Wilco | Archive under different metal

Meine Herren, I attended your show in Osnabrück. You felt like winners after the show, am I right?
Hi there - this is Alea and Falk of Saltatio Mortis. How could we have felt any different? It was a great show - in front of a big and happy crowd. Everything went well and we had as much fun as our guests. I hope you did too.

It was the last show but one on this tour. Are you taking a break now, besides the summer festivals? Or are you preparing to write new material now?
A break? Saltatio Mortis never takes breaks, we are still on tour. It is another kind of tour, but still a tour. We are on the road each and every weekend with the Mittelalterlich Phantasie Spectaculum. On this market we perform our acoustic show – presenting our last album - the blue ray 'Provocatio' that we released just before Christmas 2013. Beside that, we have played Wacken Open Air as well as many other festivals. And if we are not travelling, we write songs and practice. This business is hard work.

I have to be honest; the oldest album I know is ‘Aus Der Asche’. How much has the band changed since the very beginning in 2000?
The band changed a lot. Many years ago a few youngsters/greenhorns started a band without thinking too much about tomorrow. We just wanted to play and have fun. Now we are all pretty much grown up. The youngest one is in the twenties and the oldest in his mid-fourties. I started with Saltatio Mortis as one of the grounding members at the age of 22. Being on tour for all those years does change you as much as time does. You get to know a lot about yourself and everybody around you. That´s what life is all about. Change! As much as each of us has changed throughout the years, our band and everything around us has changed as well. Long-standing members left because of these changes. They left the music scene and started searching for new goal of their own. If you listen to our slbums since 2000, you will find these changes everywhere - in the lyrics, the song writing, and composing of the songs each band member enriches with its talent and last but not least - in the expressions/performance on stage. Check it out and enjoy.

I have seen your gigs quite a few times now and it strikes me that most songs you play live are form the last four albums. With most bands fans love the oldest stuff the most. Is it different with your fanbase?
Well, as I mentioned it before – many of our fans grew up and matured with us. To be honest, I don´t like the first two albums too much. There are a few cool songs, but the lyrics and song material of our albums since 'Aus Der Asche' are much more my kind of music and the lyrics are more grown up. This kind of lyrics are what made Saltatio Mortis as popular as it is now. The fans like them as much as we do, so why play other songs?

From the last four albums ‘Wer Wind Saet’ is the least interesting I think. Looking at the set lists of your gigs you feel the same…or not?
Not at all, we just have to try to keep up a good mix and still be able to play as much as possible of the last album 'Das Schwarze IXI'. Maybe there will be more songs of ‘Wer Wind Saet’ in the set-list of our next tour. Who knows?

A couple of weeks ago I had a talk with your colleagues of Ingrimm from Regensburg. I asked them to explain the popularity of mittelalter metal/rock in Germany and Austria. They couldn’t. Since you are around longer, I would like you to answer this question.
Sure we can. When we started, the scene was a small side scene of the Gothic-Movement. Presently, the medieval rock scene is growing bigger and bigger. The music got more popular and is no longer an underground scene. Bands like Subway To Sally, Schandmaul and even us worked hard to shape/influence the esteem of medieval rock bands far beyond the underground scene. If you keep an eye on the charts you will see that the top ten are no longer a place for pop and the common rock music. No it’s a place for bands like us as well. I personally think that the reason for this change is: Germany has a great medieval history. Many people have romantic imaginations and ideas of this time. They block out the real historical facts of the dark ages, but it is quite understandable, in times like this, people need dreams and an escape from the present. Our music, combined with the medieval markets in our country, give a home base for all these dreamers. I think it is wonderful to be a dreamer. Beside this most bands of the medieval scenes have great and even critical lyrics. They talk about real life and real stories that each one knows from his struggle. These Songs are companions in hard times, others are great buddies in good times, and others again can be sung at parties. So you see our scene is a place for dreamers, for those who need hope or help in hard times, for those who like to party and for those who want to follow their heart, for everybody, even for the youngsters.

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Is your popularity limited to German speaking countries or are you popular in other places as well? I mean, we hardly see you in The Netherlands….
In fact to perform in foreign countries is not so much the language barrier or the music, we just do not get booked, that’s all. I know we would have great success in the Netherlands, Russia, Spain, England or even Asia. Years ago we played in Sweden and in Portugal. Our acoustic show worked wonderfully with and without lyrics. All we need is a local promoter to book us. Maybe you have got a few ideas?

The themes on your albums are often quite theatrical and prosaic. How do you come to these themes?
Quite easy. We consider us modern bards. We do what the bards of our past always did, we tell stories, sing the truth as we know and understand it and try to entertain our audience while doing so.

On the other hand, sometimes your lyrics are about more general, everyday life subjects. Is there a need to use some recognisable themes now and then?
We always walk through this world with open eyes. Our lyrics reflect what we see and feel, stories that touch our hearts and souls, as well as political statements. We only sing what we feel is important and our success has proven us right. There is a mutual agreement among all members of the band that we feel proud to be on stage to bring out messages of what is going on nowadays. We are minstrels and we do not do differently than our fellow minstrels of the dark ages. We make jokes about the clerics and the leaders of our time. We are a shoulder to cry on and we are a jester to party with. That is what Saltatio Mortis is all about.

Would you describe your selves as a metal, rock of other kind of act? Do you consider yourselves as part of the metal scene?
I would say we are at home in many music scenes. We are part of the folk scene as well as ahead of the gothic scene, the rock and the pop scene. Speaking of myself – I am really proud to be part of the metal scene of which I am part of since I was a teenager.

Depending on your answer of the previous question, you are still with the Austrian label Napalm. That is a well known label of course, but not as major as for instance Nuclear Blast or Century Media. Have ever thought to switch? Or to switch to a less metal oriented label?
Yes, we are still part of the Napalm records family and everything works out great for us. So why change?

How important is the theatrical aspect of Saltatio Mortis? I mean on the albums as well as on stage.
I love to work at the theatre of my hometown when I am not on the road with Saltatio Mortis. So why not use this knowledge on the rock stage, in albums or videos. Theatre and acting is about telling stories, it fits great with Saltatio Mortis. I must say the theatrical aspect is really important for me. Its just fun...

I have read you went to number one in the German charts. Does that make you a really big act in Germany? Can you still go shopping without harassment? Do you play in major tv-shows in Germany? Or are you still too metal for the average consumer?
Of course to be No one of the charts made us a bigger in Germany but, we still do metal, do folk and do hard rock mostly in our scene. TV shows: no, being played on radio: no. Only the really big and conventional songs are played on German radio stations. Our music is not made for everybody. May be some day we will get a chance.

Do you still need additional jobs or does Saltatio Mortis make a descent living?
I guess it would be easier to pay bills with an additional job but to be true there is no time for this.
We are on the road too often – this would not match with a job. No employer would deal with this.

Any chance of seeing you around in Europe, or even better, in The Netherlands soon?
Check our tour calendar on our website. There are a few shows with the MITTELALTERLICH PHANTASIE SPECTACULUM (MPS) near the Dutch border. Come and enjoy a great day with us.

Alright then, I guess we can wrap it up for this time. Unless of course there is anything left that you’d like to mention…
Thank you very much for the interview. Also I would like to thank showing interest by reading it. But last; we would be delighted to play in the Netherlands more often. If there are places to play and festivals who would book us we would love to be there and have a blast with all of you. All the best!

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