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Horizon wist me met hun debuut-CD al behoorlijk te verrassen, maar met de opvolger 'Worlds Apart' heeft men het hoge niveau nog wat opgetrokken. Het is natuurlijk altijd leuk als je verwacht gitarist Patrick Hemer te spreken en wanneer je de hoorn opneemt het volgende te horen krijgt: 'Hello, this is Krissy Friedrich from Horizon calling'. Weg voorbereiding. Gelukkig is uw redacteur flexibel genoeg om snel om te kunnen schakelen en bewijst Krissy een zeer aangename gesprekspartner te zijn, wat tot het volgende gesprek heeft geleid.

Door: Sjak | Archiveer onder

Your debut album “The Sky's The Limit” more or less came as a total surprise. Can you tell me something about the early days of Horizon leading up to the release of your first album?

The band started in 1998 and Patrick and I started it. We were both studio musicians and we worked quite a lot together. While I was building my own studio, we just played with the idea of forming a band together instead of just working as a studio musician. We recorded some songs in my studio and looked around for some other guys to join in. With the recording finished we tried to get a proper record company to release the album and we came in contact with Massacre Records, who were pretty positive and so the album got released in 2002, if I'm not mistaken. So actually it took about four years before the first album got released. The recording in itself just took about one and a half year, but we still had to work as session players and it took also some time to found the other guys to complete the band.

What kind of music did you play as session musicians and can you name some of the guys/bands that you have worked with?

Well, not really important artists. We just acted as hired guns for anybody who needed a good guitarist, drummer or backing vocalist. It was just something we did to earn some money to get a decent living. The more important artists we played with have a clause in the contract that we are not allowed to talk about it, so I really can't give you any names.

As you already stated, the album was released on Massacre Records. Was it a one record deal or did they have confidence enough to go for more records in the contract?

It was immediately a deal for more than one album. Before we met Massacre Records I contacted a marketing company called Bottom Row who have artists like Pink Cream 69 and they really found Massacre Records for us. Massacre Records immediately got the final album, they just asked for a remix because they weren't so happy with the sound.

I myself was quite impressed by your first album and so was the majority of the press. If you take a look back, how do you feel about the actual end result and if you had the chance would you change something?

Yes, I would definitely change the keyboard sound. I really don't like the keyboard sound on our first album. When you look back a few years later, you'll always find something to improve. Despite of this I'm really quite happy with the end result.

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What did the record do for you as a band?

Not that much in fact, we sold a few albums but not really many. It was quite okay for a first album, especially the press was very positive. It set a decent foundation for us as a band.

After the really good reviews it got awfully quiet concerning Horizon. What did you do in the period after the actual release?

Well, trying to do the next album, which takes always a lot of time. We didn't tour for the first album, but we also had our obligations as studio musicians, which kept us quite busy as well. Furthermore we had to write new songs and discuss the direction where the band should go. The new album was supposed to be released last year already, around end of the summer, but unfortunately we got some problems with our line-up so we had to postpone it for a while.

Talking about the line-up, after the release of the first album it was told that Horizon was looking for another singer, so that Patrick could concentrate more on his guitar work. On the new album we see Patrick not only doing the guitar parts, but also the bass parts and still the vocal parts. Please explain?

We had a lot of contacts with a lot of guys who wanted to become our new lead singer. We did try out a few, but it just got us nowhere. Some were just in it for the money, which is not something Horizon is making a lot of. We also had a lot of guys who just didn't fit. We really got serious with an American and a Canadian lead singer, but in the end it didn't work out as planned. So Patrick is still doing the lead vocals, but we're still looking for another lead singer.

Why, because Patrick's vocals are not bad, on the contrary?

Well, Patrick is just not able to do everything as the guitar parts are pretty complex and he wants to concentrate on it more. Of course he has a pretty nice voice, so for the moment we're very happy with it but we all think it's best to go for a real lead singer. For the future we really want to become a five-piece band with a real frontman.

Horizon nowadays consists of you and Krissy, with J.P. Giraldi on keyboards? What happened to Bruno Frank (bass player) and Vinnie Angelo (previous keyboard player)?

Bruno has got an accident and he's got a few health problems. He's still an active member of the band but at the time we started the recordings he just wasn't able to play, so Patrick did the bass parts as well. We don't know if Bruno wants to remain a member of the band, but we'll see. Vinnie is quite a different story. He was a session keyboard player and he just joined to play but was more interested in his own projects. He was more interested in technical music and that's not the direction where we wanted to go as a band, so he just had to leave. He just didn't fit with what we wanted to do.

Where did you get J.P. Giraldi and what is his musical background?

He is also a session musician and Italian, just like Vinnie. It seems that we found a nest of keyboard players in Italy. We don't know if he will stay in the band. He did a good job and he's a cool guy, so for now he's still in the band.

The core of the band being you and Patrick live in France and Germany respectively. Furthermore you work with an Italian keyboard player. Doesn't that create any problems?

Not really. First of all we all speak English more or less and all communication is done via the Internet. To work on the new material we just send tapes to one another or files via e-mail. Nowadays distance is no limitation any more. We don't really rehearse that much, since Patrick is doing almost anything anyway.

The actual recording has taken place in Krissy's own studio; I guess that was the most convenient option?

Absolutely, it was a very relaxed way of working for me.

Did you use digital recording techniques (like Protools) or are you more into the traditional way of analogue recording? If so, why?

We used both as a matter of fact to really get the best out of both worlds. Of course we don't use pure analogue tape machines but digital ones. The stuff we use is quite reliable and powerful, so it was quite okay to do the recording in my own studio.

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What do you see yourself as the biggest difference between “Worlds apart” and your first one?

The sound is absolutely better, although I didn't have much time to mix it. I think the songs are better; they're more actual for this time. We took a little bit more time to work on the songs and they became a little more complex and powerful. I guess you could say that the songs are more power metal now, while the songs on our first album were more melodic and progressive.

Both yourself and Patrick did the production job. Never felt the urge to get an outsider in?

Yes and no. We know pretty well how we want it to sound and I got my own studio, so I don't think we need somebody. Sometimes an independent ear can help, but I don't like somebody watching over my shoulder and interfering with what were doing. Also Patrick doesn't like interference from outsiders, but in the future, who knows. Furthermore we don't work on songs and recording everyday, so also from logistic perspective it would be a little difficult.

One of the most important assets of Horizon is the spectacular guitar playing of Patrick. When did he start with playing and what are your main influences as a guitar player?

His influences are various. In the metal scene it's more Ritchie Blackmore, Yngwie Malmsteen, Marty Friedman, Paul Gilbert, Jason Becker and Uli John Roth, you know the traditional eighties metal guitarists. He also has a more classical background and he is listening to a lot of classical music as well. So his influences are really diverse. He's been playing for more than fifteen years now, I guess and really into the traditional metal guitar parts with lots of solos. We strongly believe that guitars should be dominating in metal music. Metal for us is guitars, guitars and more guitars.

The title “Worlds apart' is not one of the song titles. Do you have a special meaning with this title for the album?

No, not really a special meaning. Maybe you could say it's different from other bands nowadays so we're worlds apart from them.

There's also an instrumental on the album, any special reason for this? No inspiration to write any lyrics?

No, we had inspiration enough, but Patrick likes this instrumental stuff. In the eighties it was more common to have instrumentals on albums and as I told you before Patrick is very much influenced by this stuff, so why not include one. Probably there will be one again on the next album. It's just like the guitar taking over the vocal part, for the rest it's a song like any other. It's fun to play instrumentals.

Talking about lyrics and songwriting, who's responsible for this?

For the music, Patrick and I talk a lot before we start writing songs and we rehearse both together. That's how some of our songs are born. But most of our music is written by Patrick, he really comes up with a lot of ideas. For the lyrical content, we just try to find some interesting subjects. Patrick again is the main writer, and I act more as the guy he mirrors the stuff to.

Do you want to express something with the lyrical content of the songs?

We try to write some intelligent stuff, but it's not really poetry as well. We use subjects from normal day life, without getting into the nonsense that a lot of bands are using nowadays. We don't want to express a real message in our songs, although.

As said before, it got really quiet after “The Sky's The Limit”. What are your plans this time? What are you going to do different?

We will try to find a lead singer pretty fast. Hopefully we will also tour for this album, but unfortunately as a new band you don't really have that many opportunities. Before we can even think about touring, we have to find a stable line-up, including a lead singer. If we can find one fast enough, we might be able to play live this time, which could really help us bringing the band one step further.

Your plans for the short-term future are quite clear. To round it off, what are your plans for the more long-term perspective?

We want to go as high as possible, just like any other band. Going on tour, selling lots of records and become more known as a true high quality band. And we want to do this as long as possible, as long as people like us.

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