First of all let me start to congratulate you with the new album 'Radical Peace', which blew me away and is greater than I ever expected it to be! But before we get more into that; your last album 'Ethnolution A.D.' was released three years ago. What happened in Mob Rules camp in the meantime?
After the intensive 'Ethnolution' tour it was time to rest and charge our batteries again. But everyone of us already had several ideas for our next album. We threw them all together an tried several things out an then worked on the whole concept with some shorter tracks and the eightteen minute long epic piece, the continuation of the 'ethnolution' idea. At the beginning of the songwriting much to our regret our drummer Arved Mannot decided to leave the band after being a part of the band for fourteen years! For the first phase of songwriting we found a temporary replacement in our dear friend Michi Ehre (Metallium / Uli Jon Roth) who helped us out. In the spring of 2008 we found a great replacement in Nikolas Fritz. In the summer of 2008 we played a few festival shows in the new line-up, before again taking care of the songwriting.
On 'Radical Peace' you introduce your new drummer Nikolas Fritz, who I must say has done a great job. Although I liked Avred's style, Nikolas is a more versatile drummer in my opinion and I think his playing has brought the band to a higher level. Do you agree when I say that Mob Rules is slowly, but surely on the way to ultimate perfection?
Of course. We always trying to improve ourselves with every new album. We had some line-up changes the last years with Sven, Nikolas and me. Fresh blood and new influences came into the music. Nikolas is an awesome drummer and is very creative. His powerful dynamic and versatile drumming has added a great amount of energy to the new songs. He fits very good into the band as a musician and also as a person. Its so much fun to work and play with him. We are very glad to have him as a part of the Mob Rules family. One more example for his creativity is the whole cover/booklet artwork that he did for 'Radical Peace'.
I think you will agree that 'Radical Peace' is absolutely the band's best effort so far, both musically and sound technically. Everything about the album is grand; from the keyboards to the drums and the thundering bass and from killer riffs to beautiful solos and strong vocals. 'Ethnolution A.D.' was already a very strong album and to be honest with you, I wondered if the band had what it took to top that album. But after hearing 'Radical Peace' I must say that I stand corrected!!! Due to the quality of 'Ethnolution', did you feel any pressure when you started working on the new album?
Thank you so much, we appreciate this. We always try to make the best sounding album and of course we are trying to improve ourselves. This time we feel that this is a really strong, energetic and dynamic metal record. I guess one important thing this time was that we could take our time to make it perfect without making any compromises. We had no record deal when we wrote the album so we had no pressure that the album had to be finished to an fixed date (as it was in the past). Mob Rules is writing songs with the complete band. That means you have six persons with different musical tasts, opinions and so on. Its hard work until everybody is satisfied but in the end its all worth the effort and we are very proud of the result.
I was also wondering whether you would continue the more orchestral path of 'Ethnolution' or the more traditional approach of 'Temple…' or 'Hollowed'. Although I like these albums, I'm happy you chose for the orchestral approach. Mob Rules seems to have found they sound that fits to it best. Your opinion about this statement please…
I think with 'Radical Peace' we have found a very good mixture for us. Compared to the last album 'Radical Peace' sounds more heavy and dynamic but still has the traditional Mob Rules elements and great orchestral parts and choirs were they are needed. And thanks to our sound engineer Markus Teske who mixed the record we succeeded in developing our style and sound.
For the classical parts on 'Ethnolution' you had some help from Chris Wolff, but if I'm right you did it all on your own on the new album! In how far did you work on your “classical” education during the last few years and for the new album?
Well, that's right, Chris helped us on the orchestral arrangement for 'Better Morning' on the 'Ethnolútion' album. But usually we do all classical parts and arrangements on our own. Sascha is a studied musician and he comes up with great ideas and arrangements.
You know, at the time I'm writing these questions, it's two days before the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall! Which brings us to the next subject: 'The Oswald File'! Can you tell us more about the reason you chose to do a concept about the subject?
After we wrote the first songs for 'Radical Peace' we had the idea of writing an continuation of the 'Ethnolution' idea .The eighteen minute epic track 'The Oswald File' is the focal point of the album. This tune is about the Kennedy assassination and raises the question whether the alleged killer Harvey Lee Oswald (who was later shot himself) really was responsible for Kennedy's death. The Kennedy assassination is one of the most thrilling files in political history. It was never forgotten and there are still a lot of open questions. With the election of Barack Obama there now seem to be a similar spirit in the USA as in the early sixties when Kennedy was president and we all know that Kennedy played an important role in the reconstruction of Germany. And as luck would have it, Obama will be coming to Berlin on a state visit four days before the release of 'Radical Peace'. This automatically brings to mind Kennedy's legendary speech featuring the unforgettable words “Ich bin ein Berliner”, which were used as the intro of 'The Oswald File'.
Did the fall of the Berlin Wall have anything to do with choosing this subject as well?
No, nothing! But we had this subject on 'Ethnolution AD'. The song 'Fuel To The Fire' is about the fall of the Berlin Wall.
On lyrical matter you have again chosen to handle relevant subjects and deal with the troubles that have been going on in the world at the moment. At least that's the impression I get from the lyrics. In how far can you agree and what more can you tell us about the lyrics on 'Radical Peace'?
I think its one of our trademarks picking up subjects and troubles that have been and are going on in the world. We already had critical lyrics about environmental pollution, the politics of the Catholic Church in medieval times and the alarming political situation in the Middle East on our early albums. On 'Radical Peace' we continued this trademark with, for example, 'The Oswald File' that is about the Kennedy Assassination and we don't scare to pick up very serious subjects like the Holocaust in the opener 'Children Of The Flame', that tells the story about the deathcamp children in Auschwitz.
Do you think it's important for musicians to make people aware of the global issues we have to deal with?
I wouldn't say its important because the media like TV, newspapers and Internet are excellent sources to get informed. But in my opinion its nothing bad to remember people again and again on serious things that happen around us or that have happened in the past. As a musician you have the chance to spread a message to lots of people with your music an lyrics. So why should a band always sing about dragons, demons and the sweet rock n' roll life?
Something different then; 'Radial Peace' is the first album for AFM Records and you have said farewell to SPV! Did you change labels before SPV got in some trouble at the beginning of the year?
The contract with SPV expired after 'Ethnolution AD'. So we had to look for something new anyway. AFM was the first choice from the beginning. They got rough mixes from a few songs and they were really convinced from the material .We are very happy that everything worked out and that we are part of the AFM family finally. These guys have great ideas, are deeply committed and they are doing an awesome job for us!!
You know, when I heard that SPV was in trouble and close to bankruptcy, I felt something strange and a certain fear. After all, this label has had a great influence on the landscape of metal! As a musician; what were your first thoughts and feeling when the new about SPV hit the world?
Well, it's a scary and sad feeling for an musician to see such an big company get into trouble like this and that people might loose their jobs. Especially during the last year with the financial crisis lots of companies got into trouble. The market and the record sales are going down every year and the main problem is the internet with the illegal downloads. That all makes it harder for smaller bands to produce high quality music. I hope that people wake before its to late and stop the illegal downloads and copies or the fans will get more and more low quality productions the next years and in the end the CD will only be a promotion thing.
Back to Mob Rules; I think with a strong masterpiece like 'Radical Peace' Mob Rules is on the way to the absolute top of the metal, but unfortunately the band's “big break” is still not a fact. As far as I could see you have only a couple of shows planned in Germany until the end of the year! Do you think there will be a tour somewhere next year to introduce the album to a larger audience?
As you mentioned we will play a couple of headliner shows in November and in December we support Ronnie James Dio on this German Tour. We actually working on some plans for spring 2010, and we also work on an small UK Tour around Easter. But its not fixed yet. We cannot wait to hit the road to promote 'Radical Peace' and to play for our fans but in the past it was hard work for a band like Mob Rules to get many gigs. But hopefully with our new record company and a strong album like 'Radical Peace' we can make the next step in our fifteen year lasting career and play more shows and reach more fans all over the world.
Well, I guess we can wrap it up for this time. If there is anything left that you'd like to mention, please do so…
Yes, thank you and the team at Lords Of Metal so much for this interview and your support. We also like to thank the whole team at AFM and our true fans in your country. We are looking forward to come to your country again for some shows in the near future. 'Radical Peace' is in stores now all over Europe and we hope that you all are going to check it out.