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Gotthard

De Zwitserse band Gotthard is al vijfentwintig jaar een gevestigde orde in het melodieuze rock-genre en hun laatste plaat ‘Silver’ laat horen dat ze nog steeds genoeg in hun mars hebben om die positie in te blijven nemen. Bassist Marc Lynn was degene die mij bijpraatte over de laatste stand van zaken omtrent de band en hun nieuwe plaat.

Door: Sjak | Archiveer onder hardrock / aor

The last time we spoke with Gotthard was somewhere in May of 2014 for the previous studio album ‘Bang!’. How important was that album for you both from an artistic as well as a commercial perspective?
The ‘Bang!’ album was really important for us, both from an artistic and a commercial perspective. Commercially it was important to show our fans that Nic was indeed the right guy for us to bring Gotthard back to the level where we want to be. From the artistic side, Nic came closer to the band, we got to know each other much better especially while touring and song writing. So we really got to know his strengths as well as the areas where he still needed support from us and that provided us with a strong basis to keep on making quality music and to show our fans that we’re a real band again that’s here to stay.

’Bang!’ was the second album you recorded with singer Nic Maeder, so I guess he was already more accepted by the fans than on his debut album ‘Firebirth’?
‘Firebirth’ was somewhat like a blind date as we already had some songs ready when Nic came on board, so he wasn’t really able to influence things anymore. With ‘Bang!’ we already had about three years’ experience working together and that gave us the opportunity to write songs that were better suited for Nic’s voice. He also brought some ideas to the table and that makes the album much more of a team effort than ‘Firebirth’ was. And of course, the more that our fans leaned about Nic’s voice and his sympathetic personality, the more they accepted him as the singer of Gotthard.

Three years after ‘Bang!’ you’re back now with the new album ‘Silver’. What was the game plan that you had with this new album when starting with the actual preparations?
The game plan was easy and straightforward, writing a great new album. The original idea was to write an album that style-wise could be placed between ‘Firebirth’ and ‘Bang!’, but with a retro-touch and some influences from the seventies. We started with the preparations in November/December of 2015 when we brought all our ideas together to create really great songs. We worked really fast as in March of 2016 we already had twelve songs written and ready to record. It was a very intense period as we not only wanted the album to sound different but also to be better than the previous one. As said earlier, Nic was much more involved in the process this time and that was, besides adding some retro influences, the biggest change compared to the song writing process for the previous album ‘Bang!’. We wrote the album as a band, although the majority of the material is coming from Leo, Nic and Freddy. Although we were trying to incorporate more retro influences in our music, the essence was as always writing the best songs that we could. That’s also why ‘Silver’ has such a wide range of colors style-wise, but it’s still pure Gotthard all the way.

’Silver’ is even much more “back to the roots” and shows the more “traditional” side of Gotthard than ‘Bang!’ in my opinion. Do you agree with this and if so, was this a deliberate action or did this happen quite naturally during the song writing process?
As I stated earlier, the adding of retro influences was definitely part of our game plan for this new album. When you’re in a band for about twenty-five years, it’s logical that you’ll find parts of that history on this record. We started to learn how to play our instruments in the seventies, so it’s also quite logical that these early influences keep on shining through in our music. So I think it’s a combination from a deliberate move to the seventies retro feel and a natural progression during the actual song writing process.

The track ‘Stay With Me’ was chosen as the first single. Why this particular track?
Actually, we have so many great songs on the album that it was really hard for us to choose the right one for a first single. We had ‘Stay With Me’, ‘Beautiful’, ‘Not Fooling Anymore’, ‘Miss Me’ and ‘Why’ as possible candidates, so we just sat together to discuss things and in the end everybody in the band had ‘Stay With Me’ as a prime candidate, so that was the most obvious choice. Next to this, it’s the song that best shows the whole spectrum of styles on ‘Silver’ and therefore it was also the song that represented the album best. Last but not least it is also a song that is commercially attractive and that can be played on the radio.

You’ve also shot a video for this song. How important do you feel that a video still is for a rock band as there aren’t too much channels around anymore that broadcast these videos?
For me personally it’s not important to have a video for a single, but to show the fans that Gotthard is back. Furthermore a video is spread very rapidly via social media nowadays, which gives you exposure to your fanbase and for that reason you just have to release a video. It’s not the regular channels that are important anymore nowadays, but Youtube and Facebook which are an essential part of the lives of young kids.

Which song will be chosen for the second single or is that not discussed yet?
We are actually discussing this topic right now, but we haven’t made up our minds yet. We will take this decision after the tour.

On the catchy ‘Beautiful’ female choirs are introduced. Who came up with this idea and who’s taking care of these choir parts?
It’s Leo who came up with the idea of using female choirs in this song. A good friend of ours, called Melody Tibbits, has a fantastic voice and had already helped us on the ‘Bang!’ record, We felt that ‘Beautiful’ needed a female voice and, since she did such a great job on the previous album and she happens to live close to the studio, we asked her if she would be able to step in and luckily she did.

’Miss Me’ has some Latin influences, how did that come about?
This is a song that has grown during the song writing process. Initially it was meant as kind of a “fireplace” track with only a couple of instruments, but during the time in the studio several things were added along the way, including the Latin influences. It was just to show another side of Gotthard, which we already showed on the unplugged album ‘D-frosted’ back in the nineties. It’s another color of the Gotthard color palette.

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’Not Fooling Anyone’ is the most subdued song on the entire album with a big singer/songwriter feel. How did this one get established and did you feel there was a need for such an acoustic piece in the middle of the album?
‘Not Fooling Anymore’ is maybe even a surprising song on this album, as we had a lot of these acoustic type of ballad tracks in the past but not with a real retro feel. We wanted this song to feature those elements more and adding some choir parts to it. It shows again another side of the band, but it remains one hundred percent Gotthard. We placed it somewhere in the middle because we felt that at that point the emotion of this particular song fitted best.

If you had to name one song that would represent Gotthard best anno 2017 which one would that be and why?
If I had to pick one, my personal choice would be ‘Everything Inside’ because it’s a real heavy track. It starts very rock oriented but also incorporates bluesy influences in the choruses. For me this is really a good representation of Gotthard in 2017.

Did you write and/or record more material than the thirteen tracks that are present on ‘Silver’? If so, which ones and what’s going to happen with them?
Yes, we recorded a couple of songs more during the process. On the digipack version two bonus tracks being ‘Walk On’ and ‘Customized Lovin’’ will be added, while on the Japanese version and the iTunes-version another bonus track will be present called ‘Comin’ Your Way’. All bonus tracks are truly great songs which could have been placed on the regular album, but as a band you have to make certain choices.

What are in your opinion the biggest differences and/or improvements when you compare this new one to ‘Bang!’?
The biggest difference is of course the cover…haha…on a more serious note though, it’s really hard to say. I think ‘Silver’ has more influences from the seventies than ‘Bang!’ and it shows more different aspects from Gotthard as a band during their twenty-five years of experience. Besides that both are great albums in true Gotthard style.

I think that ‘Bang!’ has been able to regain some of the lost ground for Gotthard. Will ‘Silver’ be able to bring you back to the level where you were in your heydays with Steve?
I definitely think ‘Silver’ will be able to bring us back to the place where we want to be. Steve was truly loved by the Gotthard fans, but he had twenty years to build up his career and his stage presence. This is only the third album with Nic as a singer and performer, but he’s really building his own style and performance in a very good way and that’s recognized by the Gotthard fans. They see that he’s not a replacement for Steve but a great continuation of Gotthard as a band.

The artwork of the album is kinda simple and sober in my opinion. What did you want to express with this?
After ‘Bang!’ we wanted to change something as this one was more into a comic direction. We had our twenty-fifth “silver” anniversary, so that needed to be obvious in the cover artwork as well. So we really wanted to focus the artwork on the silver look, that was the idea behind everything.

You’ve been very successful during your twenty-five years of existence with numerous platinum albums and world tours. What have been the absolute highlights for you during those twenty-five years?
We have had so many highlights, so many great moments that it’s really hard to name just a few. One of the absolutely highlights is the fact that we’re twenty-five years together as a band and still going strong. We definitely had our hard times along the road, but in the end we managed to remain intact as a band and still add value to the music scene. Next to this, we had a show in the Kremlin in Moscow, we supported Bon Jovi In the Olympia Stadium in Munich, we supported AC/DC in Torino, but as said the biggest highlight is to still be together after twenty-five years and still having success as a band.

Of course the absolute low in your career is the death of Steve in 2010, but were there more lows that caused some setbacks for the band?
All lows in a band’s career are normally a learning experience for the future, but in the case of Steve’s death this was really not the case. At the height of our success he was killed during a terrible accident and as a band you really have to start over again. I’m just very happy that we were able to overcome this dramatic event as a band, but for sure the death of Steve was the absolute low in the band’s career.

Of course you will go on tour to promote the album, but as it looks now you are not performing in the Netherlands. Why is that as I’ve witnessed some packed shows in the past in our country?
We would love to play in the Netherlands, but the promoters that we’re working with at the moment have given us a certain routing that doesn’t bring us to your country (yet). We haven’t released all the shows that we will play in 2017, as we’re still planning a second tour so maybe that will provide opportunities to play in Holland.

Besides touring, what are the other plans that you have in store for us in 2017?
There are no other plans for 2017 than touring, touring and some more touring!

On the Gotthard website I saw that there also is an official bootleg available called ‘Live & Bangin’’. What the idea behind this one?
We had some great recordings of some of our live-shows and we thought it would be a great idea to bring these to our fans to thank them for their support during all those years. It’s a limited edition to 4461 copies and the idea behind this number of copies comes from the fact that on the CD there’s exactly 4461 seconds of music available. The bootleg is also a way of showing the fans that haven’t seen us playing live before what a Gotthard show is all about.

You’ve been in the business now for twenty-five years and you’ve accomplished quite some things already, but what are still some of the dreams that you want to realize with the band?
We still have many dreams, like writing a song that really rules the world like Europe has done with their ‘The Final Countdown’ song. But also to just continue like we’re doing now is part of our dreams, to be able to still have success after being together for more than twenty-five years. As long as we have fun and can still bring great quality music, we will continue with what we’re doing.

Okay, I would like to thank you for your willingness to answer my questions. Is there anything that we didn’t cover that you want to express to our readers?
Thanks for the interview and the interest in Gotthard. I hope that we can soon come back to Holland to play there and I hope that the fans in your country will like our new ‘Silver’ record.

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