First of all; congratulations with Symphonity's debut album 'Voice From The Silence'. The name Symphonity is fresh to the world and also the former band Otter/Nemesis might not be well known internationally, so please take the time to introduce the band to our readers a bit.
Sometimes in 1994 I launched the band called Otter with my friend Tomas Suchacek on the drums. During that time we were listening to bands like Running Wild, Helloween and Gamma Ray. As time went on the line-up changed many times. Also the band name was changed to Nemesis… yeah, I know – not a very original name… and in 2003 the Italian label Underground Symphony released our debut album 'Goddess Of Revenge' with Vilem Majtner on vocals. It was also licensed by Hot Rockin' label for the Japanese market. The next two years were in sign of some gigs to present the band to people. During the composing the new material we were forced to changed he lineup again as well as the band name. The brand new album 'Voice From The Silence' was released on August 15th, 2008 via LMP.
After some line-up changes you found a perfect singer in Olaf Hayer! How did you get in contact with Olaf and convinced him to join?
When we were looking for a new singer I sent an email to Olaf with some demos of the new songs. He asked me for a CD with songs as well as our debut CD. Luckily, Olaf liked it and had an interest to work on the new record. We made five songs promo CD a spread it to labels. After we signed a contract with Limb we finished the rest of the CD. In the meantime Dionysus (the band in which Olaf used to sing – Nima) split and Olaf became a part of Symphonity as a regular member.
Except for his wonderful voice, what made your choice to fall on Olaf? Where there other singers you could choose?
Initially, I sent the emails to three singers at the same time but when Olaf replied me that he is interested in working with us, I stopped searching for someone else. I am really a big fan of Luca Turilli's first solo album and Olaf is my favorite singer. So it was an easy decision. Moreover, we are on the same wavelength regarding the musical taste as well as the human element. Every time we were together there was a lot of fun… and beer, haha!
In continuance to the previous question; doesn't having a singer in Germany while the rest of the band lives in the Czech Republic make it hard for the rehearsals and for the songwriting? I mean, when you are writing songs and rehearsing, it's good to hear a singer with the new pieces, at least that's what I think. How do you deal with this?
You are right and it is not the only point. For example, without a singer you sometimes do not estimate exactly a range of his voice and some songs need to be transposed down or up to a different scale, etctera. Unfortunately, Olaf joined at the final stage of the recording process so his contribution is not so big. In spite of this he wrote two lyrics and some vocal lines. Of course, in the future we want to cooperate much more and involve Olaf in the song writing, so we will see how it will work. I think that in today's Internet era it is not so big problem, because you can easily send demo recordings or ideas. Also the distance between the places where we live is not so big, and thus we are able to do rehearsals with all band members from time to time.
The music on 'Voice From The Silence' is definitely high-class heavy/power metal. The only point that is a pity in my opinion is that it seems you have done everything “by the book”. I mean, although the songs are highly convincing, it appears that you have chosen to sound “safe” and therefore the album sounds very familiar and a bit standard…
Of course, we are not bringing a new music style or something absolutely original and some influences of our idols are readable in our music as they are in every band. First, I believe that we do not copy the style of any band blindly. I simply compose the music that I like. It is very hard to be "original" in these days. I mean, maybe I could create something "original", but would it be the metal I like? Or, in other words, what is actually original? Is it for example Nightwish? Do you know the movie composer Hans Zimmer? Tuomas only combines power metal with Zimmer's elements. Of course, it is not a shame and their success is well deserved. All what I am trying to say is that I prefer good and strong melodies to originality at any price. On the other hand I never understand this "originality" mania. In almost every review of a new power metal band you can find a few words about the "lack of originality". It was also the case of some bands that are popular in these days. Interesting thing is that when a band becomes popular after a few albums, journalists do not write about originality anymore.
I don't mean to be a hard-ass on this, but don't you think it would have been more interesting to distinguish Symphonity from the rest of the power metal scene by using traditional Chezh music with metal? I mean, guitarist Emir Hot proved that a combination of Sevdah and metal could be great and 'Voice Of Silence' is the proof that the musicians in Symphonity have great abilities!
I think, some bands are doing these things and this is reason why many do not know them! No, seriously, I am not sure if everything from traditional Czech music is good enough to be mixed with power metal. Maybe some elements from East Moravia or from Slovakia are useable but the typical Czech traditional music is similar to German one played by brass bands and those are very disgusting haha!
Haha, I take your word on that! Speaking of the musical abilities; it's clearly audible that you guys have had classical education, which of course also reveals itself in the influences from the classical music. In how far am I right at this point and what can you tell us about your musical past and education?
In fact, only some of us have a musical education. I was attending a music school and taking private lessons on classical guitar for more than twelve years. It was very helpful mainly for my composing. Simultaneously I was practicing the electric guitar myself. Keyboarder Ivo was going to the music school too and later he studied a music history at university. Martin who plays drums on the new album passed out conservatory. The rest of guys are self-taught, I think.
On lyrical matter I can't figure out if there is a concept story behind the album, or whether we are dealing with only fantasy, or both fantasy and reality! And it's also a bit hard to connect all this with the cover artwork! Can you enlighten us on this a little bit?
There is not a concept or common theme. There are for example lyrics based on real historic stories, others a little bit of fantasy stuff and the rest about the feelings, faith or everyday worries. In this respect 'Voice from the Silence' is very miscellaneous. On the album we present four lyricists and they had a freedom in choice of the themes. The cover artwork is related to the long 'The Silence' trilogy.
Something different: Czech Republic is not exactly a country known for its metal bands. But metal is of course without boundaries and Symphonity proves that. However, I wonder about the scene in your country! I mean, how hard is it for a metal band to get recognition, promotion or a decent gig?
In Czech republic there are very popular bands playing something like "beer" rock or metal and some of them even play in big arenas and sell a lot of CD's. Their success ends at the borders because they usually sing in Czech language and also the quality is not often very good. They are rather fun like than make serious music. The real metal scene is deep in the underground. There are much more bands playing black, thrash or death metal than melodic styles. It is not a big problem to play gigs, but its usually in very small clubs. The only chance for bands to play at big stages is a support for foreign bands, but such an opportunity does not come every day. Regarding promotion, there are some webzines and one big printed magazine. Overall, situation in metal scene is not very good and most of the bands are under very small local labels or unsigned. Absolutely different situation is with respect to foreign bands. Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, Nightwish, Manowar, Stratovarius, Helloween and many others have very strong position in Czech Republic and they play in big halls and open air festivals like Masters Of Rock.
My knowledge about the metal scene in your country is as good as nihil. Can you name a few bands that might be interesting to hear?
The most popular band is called Kabat, but as I mentioned earlier, I guess nobody knows them behind the borders. Their music is for Czech fans only. Another popular band is power/thrash metal band called Arakain. In the past there were popular bands like Kreyson or Citron. I do not know if you have heard about these bands, but probably not (and you're right – Nima). On power/speed scene we have currently active Salamandra or Eagleheart. There are also some progressive bands like Personal Signet, but they are very deep in the underground. I am not sure, but I guess that the better situation is in black, trash or death metal scene. There are or were some bands known in Europe. I could mention for example Master's Hammer, Krabathor or still active band Root (now those two I know haha – Nima) that was on tour with Moonspell last year.
Now that the album is finally released and has already reached most parts of the world thanks to LMP, what's the next step in introducing the band furthermore?
In the near future we would like to go for tour as an opener for some better-known band. We also think about the possibility to play at some bigger festivals in Europe. Of course it will depend also on the sales and many others things. Currently, we are also looking for a new drummer because Martin is now a full-time member of Cradle Of Filth and it would be difficult to coordinate their tour dates with our activities.
Well Libor, I think all is said for this time! Of course the last words are for you…
Thank you very much for the interview and interest in the band. I wish you as well as all the metal heads a lot of good melodic metal music…