Hello Heiko, thank you for your time to answer some questions about Poverty’s No Crime and the new album ‘Spiral Of Fear’. First, are you and the band happy with the end result of the album?
Hello Winston, thanks for your interest in the band and for doing this interview with me. Regarding the new album 'Spiral Of Fear' we are very happy with the result. The songs were written already some time ago and it is great to finally have them conserved on a CD. The production is superb. We were discussion different studios and peoples for mixing the album and ended up with Simone Mularoni who did a great job. I have been a big fan of his band DGM for years now and absolutely love the production especially of their last album. Every instrument is recognizable in the transparent brilliant overall sound plus it sounds intense and powerful. Just the way we thought our new album should sound. He did a great job!
It took the band nine years to come up with a follow up to the previous album ‘Save My Soul’, did that just happen or did you need to re-focus in some way?
It just happened. We started writing new material right after 'Save My Soul' in 2007. However, there was no pressure to make progress and so we worked on these songs for years, changed stuff, had some times of inactivity, prepared for shows and so on. We all have demanding jobs and most of us family and kids. That took away the focus from getting the record done. The process just took up speed when Theo booked a studio for the drum recordings. That was clearly the point when all of us realized that the songs have to be finished and that no further changes and amendments were possible. You work in a different way when you have a fixed deadline.
’Spiral Of Fear’ was labeled by me a comeback album in the review I did, do you agree or was that too bold a statement?
From an outside perspective you could say that this is a comeback album. We haven't been very active during the last years. So you could have gotten the impression that we made a break. From an inside perspective we have never been inactive since 'Save My Soul'. We had our more or less regular rehearsals, wrote songs and exchanged song ideas, did barbecues together. Those are obviously not the things to do when you stop being an active band. However, you were not the only one naming 'Spiral Of Fear' a comeback album. First we were a bit surprised by that but of course you cannot complain about it if you show now visible life signs over years as a band!
As I read in the album info sheet, the album took about three years to record and complete, using more studios than one. Yet the music sounds fresh and sparkling, how did the band keep the spirit to keep it fresh and energetic?
For us creating songs which sum up to a complete album is a process with several steps in between. In the beginning it is more a plain piece of rock which has to be shaped and formed into a PNC song. There is an initial idea which is exchanged between us and everyone can work on the song. When it has reached a certain state we rehearse it together and discuss necessary amendments which again are done at home and when everybody has done his part it is rehearsed again and so on. At some point we decide that the song is done and does not need any further changes. That's when we start recording a pre-production version which is the foundation for the final recording. I think this process with several stages until a song is complete makes it sound fresh and energetic. The final recording process for the album took place in our home recording "studios". Just the drums were recorded in a rented studio (Soundlodge). We invested in recording equipment during the last years and every one of us is capable of recording their tracks in a more than satisfactory way at home. Mixing and mastering was done by Simone Mularoni in his studio in San Marino. This is a process - what we learned - which cannot be done at home without having a lot of experience and the proper professional equipment. And as I already stated we are extremely satisfied with the result!
What are or were the inspirations for the songs? Did you look back on the other six albums or did the creative process took its’ course naturally?
The first songs of 'Spiral Of Fear' were written already during the time the predecessor 'Save My Soul' was released in 2007. So, the process was just like our normal songwriting process. One of us has an idea about a new song, sends it out to the others and then the song is developed further within the band. And in the end it is always Voker who finalizes the song and gives it the typical PNC sound and structure. However, this is never done considering the songs and sound of past albums.
The genre of prog rock/ progmetal has grown extensively over the years, especially since the 90’s when Poverty’s No Crime started out. Is it difficult to keep in the picture, especially when you take a break for a while?
We don't have an understanding of us as a band belonging to a musical "scene". We just write and play our music without looking at the genre itself of other bands. Some critics stated that we are not modern enough and that new prog bands like e.g. Haken have shaped the prog sound in a new way and we did not catch up with it. What a nonsense. We are Poverty's No Crime and a new record will always sound like a PNC record regardless what other bands are playing. If you don't like it, don't listen to it. No one is forced by anyone to listen to our records.
Have you and/or the others been doing other things in music as well? Other bands or side projects we may not have noticed?
There are several projects and bands going on besides Poverty's No Crime. I think Theo is the most active musician of us all. He was part of the deathcore band Pride Shall Fall, recorded a record and went on tour with them. Afterwards he joined the Prog Rock Band Eyevory for a couple of months. As far as I know he is currently playing drums for some other bands. That's the death metal band Scythe Beast and the prog metal band Life Artist which has been around in the scene during the time when also PNC started their career. And of course he is part of Marcos second band Level Fields which he has together with Alan Tecchio. Level Fields started out with Marco having written some songs that did not fit for PNC but reminded him of older Non Fiction songs. So he came up with the idea to ask Alan Tecchio to contribute the vocals. Alan liked it so much that they decided to bring this to the next level and start a new band. I don't exactly know if Volker an Jörg have other projects but I don't think so. At last, none they have been talking about. I joined the progressive power metal band Assignment one year ago. First it was just a recording job but we came along very well and I like the music. so eventually I joined the band We are releasing our new album on 22nd of July. It is the first album with our new singer Diego Valdez from Helker and Necronomicon. It is kind of Symphony X meets Dio style. And I have another progrock project going on with some great musicians for a couple of years now. However, we haven't recorded or released anything yet. the band doesn't even have a name. Regardless of those activities - for all of us PNC is - without question - the main band.
Now that the band is back, what are the plans for the immediate and longer future? Touring (I hope)?
We really would like to play a lot more shows. However we don't work with a booking agency and that makes it a bit difficult as we have to take care for the shows ourselves. Having family and jobs to take care of, looking for shows is unfortunately not what gets the most attention. Second obstacle for extensive touring is the fact that Marco and Jörg are teachers and so we have the limitations of school holidays in Lower Saxony for touring. Otherwise we can just play shows which are not so far away from northern Germany or during the weekends. This doesn't make us very flexible when it comes to touring. But if anyone wants to book us for a show should get in contact with us. We love playing live!
On a more personal note. The grim reaper has found his way in the music scene…who’s passing away affected you as a musician the most and why?
I haven't really been affected by the deaths of all the musicians passed away lately. I guess I am not old enough to have a personal connection to the musicians and their bands. I never listened to David Bowie or owned a record of him. The same goes for Motörhead. I owned a Michael Jackson tape as a kid though. However when listening to music I am usually not so very interested in the people behind it. For example I usually don't read interviews with musicians or read biographies. Death belongs to life and so I think it is better to look upon the good things in life that a person has achieved and not to mourn a lot when people die. It does not chance anything anyway.
A question I often ask musicians. I call it the ‘lightning strikes moment’. Do you remember the moment or event when you realized “yeah, this is my music” and when did you start playing music yourself?
There was definitely such a moment in my life. When I was about eleven years old we stayed over night at a friends place with a couple of other friends. His elder brother had a huge poster of Dio's 'Holy Diver' artwork on the wall of his room. I told him that this is a very cool poster. He said that the music is even cooler and if I would like to listen to the record which he had in his small record collection. I definitely wanted to give it a try. So while all the other kids were watching TV I had the headphones with Holy Diver on my ears and was fascinated and almost stunned by the energy and power of the sound I was listening to. I just listened to this music the whole evening and from that moment on I was infected with hard rock. Some years later when I bought my first own records from my grandmother's holiday money those were - what a surprise - the Dio records 'Sacred Heart' and 'The Last In Line'. I looked out for bands with a similar sound and that was the beginning of a hard rock and metal career. I started playing bass guitar when I was fourteen years old. I was fed up with my boring piano lessons and told my parents that I wanted to play an instrument on which I could play the music I listened to. Bass was the natural choice as my sister already played guitar and I liked what I thought is the bass in the music I listened to. So I ended um with my sister in my parent's basement playing along to songs from Metallica and Iron Maiden - until the neighbors complained.
Anything else you would like our readers to know about the band and/or yourself?
Nothing I can think about right now. Thanks!