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Edguy

Met de release van hun verzamelaar ‘Monuments’ markeert Edguy de vijfentwintigste verjaardag, en dat is natuurlijk een enorme mijlpaal voor een van de grootste bands in de geschiedenis van de Duitse heavy metal. Omdat we hier te maken hebben met een product wat een stuk geschiedenis vastlegt, is het een mooie gelegenheid om met de band deze geschiedenis eens uitgebreid door te nemen. Zodoende heb ik een half uur aan de telefoon gehangen met gitarist Jens Ludwig, en het resultaat is een mooie tijdreis door de vijfentwintig jaar Edguy. Lees vooral verder!

Door: Jori | Archiveer onder heavy / power metal

So Jens, twenty-five years of Edguy, how does it feel?
Haha well, it’s two-faced. On one hand we’re proud on everything we have reached, especially now in preparation for the monuments album. We’re going through all the areas of the band and that’s a lot of memories. It also makes us seem older than we are haha. In the beginning we were thinking about if we should celebrate the 25’th anniversary. And well, it’s probably the only 25’th anniversary we are going to have in our career, so we should celebrate it.

Well, after all there’s not many musicians that can look back on a career like this on your age, being all still in your thirties
Precisely. We are very pround of what we have reached so far, and we hope we can continue for at least a couple of more years. At least twenty-five more!

So when did this idea of the best-of album first pop up?
I think it was last autumn that the decision was made to make a best-of album. With every release we want to give the people value for their money, we really put a lot of effort into a release. We’re not just making a best-of, we need something extra to add. That’s why we’ve collected all those pictures, the complete history of the band, we also found some missing recordings we thought were lost forever. We really want to make something valuable, also for ourselves. We want to hold it in our hands and be able to say, this represents our career. So it had to be made with a lot of effort.

Were there any other ideas about how to celebrate the anniversary?
Eehm, no, that was it haha.

Okay, clear! One thing that struck me about the best of, why the decision not to remaster of re-record any of the songs and release them as they were?
Well, they are somehow remastered. They are from such different albums. ‘Rocket Ride’ for example was a pretty loud album, so those songs didn’t have to be remastered. Songs like ‘Reborn In The Waste’ for example (a previously unreleased song from the ‘Savage Poetry’ recordings – Jori) we polished a little bit. We decided that the songs that were in good condition, like the ones on ‘Rocket Ride’ didn’t have to be remastered, but the rest is lifted up a bit to the level of the newer songs, songs from the older albums particularly.

You also got a concert coming along from the Hellfire Club Tour. Why a show of this tour exactly?
Well, back then it was the idea to release that show as a DVD. I don’t remember the exact reason, but in the end we just took three songs and added them to the ‘Superheroes’ DVD. So the material was still there. We felt it had to be released yet, and that’s why we took this concert. We had all the material, it just took a lot of work to make a good cut of the whole show, but it was worth it, it’s fun watching.

I hope so, it did not come along with my promo so I’ll take your word for it. Since this interview is due to the release of your best-of of 25 years of Edguy, I would like to take a little stroll through history with you. I’d like to hear a few words from you as founding member about all the major releases.

Starting with ‘Savage Poetry’, was this your first official release? How do you look at this?
No, it was not an official release. We had like 900 copies made and we were very excited. Before this we had some demo tapes with four songs each, and we played some shows with those. We decided we had to make a whole demo album, we had all the songs already. So we went into a studio for two weeks and we recorded this, well, this classic album haha.

Two years after you had ‘Kingdom Of Madness’, on which you had your first quite notable guest performance by Chris Boltendahl of Grave Digger. It is also the only album not featured on the compilation.
Ehm… yes. This one had something special since it was the first album that was officially released, in Germany, Belgium and also the Netherlands if I remember it correctly. But looking back we did not treat this album very well. Sometimes we play ‘Deadmaker’, but overall we have never been totally happy with the sound. We think other songs are more important than the songs of this era, both for this compilation as for the live set.

Then comes ‘Vain Glory Opera’, that did have a big hit, even two, both found on the compilation. Can we say this one was your first international success?
Yes, that was the first time we were recognized by some journalists and people were really into it. We also had guest performances on this album which was in my opinion a very smart move looking back. We had Timo Tolkki from Stratovarius and of course Hansi Kürsch from Blind Guardian. Having people from the most successful bands from this musical style on our record bought us a lot of attention. People would listen to it and they would really like what we were doing. I would call this a break-through album definitely. It also gave us the first opportunities to play support tours like with Iron Saviour, This one was the start of something special.

And then came ‘Theater Of Salvation’, which was an even bigger break-through I guess? The whole album had this anti-religious theme that can also be found on the song ‘The Kingdom’ and the first of Sammet’s Avantasia releases.
Haha yes, Tobias has never been a real fan of religion I think. Musically I think this was a bigger, better and faster era of the band. With ‘Vain Glory Opera’ we started to have proper choirs on the record, good double bass songs. I feel that with ‘Theater Of Salvation’ we tried to push all that to the limit, even bigger choirs, faster double bass tracks. The fast part in the title track is the fastest double bass track that we have ever done so far. Everything was bigger and more compared to ‘Vain Glory Opera’, and it opened up a lot of doors. We could play support tours with Gamma Ray in Europe, with Hammefall in Sweden et cetera. It definitely was the basics being set of the next records and the first headlining tours.

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One year after ‘Theater Of Salvation’ you re-recorded your demo ‘Savage Poetry’ as ‘The Savage Poetry. What were the reasons leading to this decision?
We saw the original recordings of ‘Savage Poetry’ were handled on the internet for 500 dollars and more, and we thought this was a rip-off for the real fans who wanted to have the original record. We did not want them to pay shitloads of money for it. But then we said we can’t release the demo CD as it was, because it does not represent the band now. So we decided to take the old songs and give them an update in terms of sound, arrangements and our improved instrumentation, since we got a lot better since that time haha. We decided to give the original as bonus and then we have a product that represents the band from the year 2000, and people don’t have to pay shitloads of money to listen to the original recording.

Sounds fair indeed. So after that you got to ‘Mandrake’, which featured the first signs of the change from power metal to a more heavy metal oriented sound. Of course it also had the title track that became this enormous hit.
Yes I agree. Like I said, with ‘Theater Of Salvation’ we’ve reached the limit of what you can do with this epic power metal. We had the big choirs, we had the fast double bass tracks and we thought there was no way we could go any further in this direction. So to keep it interesting and take the next step we decided to take new influences in our music. Like we had the song ‘Jerusalem’ on which we had the bagpipe, we also had the Hammond organ on an Edguy album for the first time. That was the first time we started to reach out for different directions to give it something special. We never wanted to be that band that releases the same record for three times with just changed song titles. We are always looking for new challenges, new ideas, new elements. ‘Mandrake’ was really the starting point of the change of style we have been going through for the last fifteen years now.

Then things started to go a bit slower for Edguy because of Sammet’s Avantasia. But after a few years there was ‘Hellfire Club’, which is really a landmark album in my opinion. It features the modern Edguy sound for the first time if I can call it that. You had some big hits on that one like ‘Mysteria’, ‘King Of Fools’ and ‘Lavatory Love Machine’…
Yeah I totally agree. It’s still one of my favourite albums from us. A lot of energy went into the process of making and releasing this album. It was also the time of our record company change, we changed from AFM records to the way bigger Nuclear Blast records. So there was a lot of tension in the air when we released the album that built up while we made it. We knew things would probably get bigger after that. Suddenly we were invited to tv shows and more and more people took an interest to the band. Also musically it was the album we put the most work in. We had a real orchestra on this album, we had this EP before the album (‘King Of Fools’ – Jori) and every one of those songs was worthy to be on the album as well, no B-sides, it was all high-class material. It was a blast at that time haha. So many things were happening, the tours got bigger. We had our first headlining tour back with ‘Mandrake’, but with ‘Hellfire Club’ everything got to a whole new level, pretty cool times.

And then a few years pause between albums and then came ‘Rocket Ride’, which might be called the odd one out. It was heavier and less serious than most ‘Hellfire club’ songs, and no really big hits that survive to the setlists of today?
Don’t forget ‘Superheroes’! Actually this was the first album we did with Sascha Paeth, who is also our current producer and he had a lot of impact on this album. Especially with songs like ‘Matrix’ and also ‘Superheroes’, they would not have sounded as they sound if Sascha did not produce the record, that’s for sure! Back then there were still limits to be broken through. We did ‘Aren’t You A Little Pervert Too?’ Or was that on another record? Now, I’m starting to mix them up haha. Anyway, ‘Rocket Ride’ was a very diverse album in my opinion, and it continued the path we started on with ‘Mandrake’ and ‘Hellfire Club’.

the next one was ‘Tinnitus Sanctus’, which really is the darkest Edguy album.
Yeah that one had dark appearance, but in my opinion it could have turned out even heavier in terms of sound, but that was a dark one indeed. We had down tuned the guitars a little bit and stuff. In my opinion it’s the most underrated Edguy album. The songs are great and it’s much better than the impression that some people have of the album. It has many great songs, especially ‘Nine Lives’, which is my favourite of the album.

Then the time between albums got longer, most likely due to Avantasia being kicked up a notch. But then you released ‘Age Of The Joker’ that really brought the comedy element back, not in the last place because of the video for ‘Robin Hood’.
Yeah, we always had this… need to do stupid things haha. I like the video though, it was fun producing it and this stand-up comedian, Bernhard Hoecker, he was a pretty nice guy. The thing about Edguy you know, it’s always the same. We are sitting in the rehearsal room discussing ideas about the cover artwork, the songs or topics, and we always end up laughing about something. I’ve never seen ourselves as a comedy band or something, more like a band that shows that they like what they are doing and let people be a part of this. We never hide that we have fun at what we are doing, we are having fun in the rehearsal rooms, we always make jokes and stuff. On the other hand we always wanted people to take our music serious. They should not take us too serious, but the music was always meant to be serious. A good thing about ‘Age Of The Joker’ was the sound. In the time that everything got louder and louder and dynamics got totally lost, we made a statement with this album, like we don’t join this competition of who will have the loudest record. We want to have dynamics in the music and we want to have a sound that people can enjoy. That is something very special about this album. We did not want to lost the dynamics by just turning on the compressor as everyone else did. It was at the same time as ‘Death Magnetic’ from Metallica came out, which was, well, a bit too much, let’s put it that way.



And you put that nicely! And last but not least we’ve got ‘Space Police’ which really is an all-in-one Edguy album, it has everything Edguy ever sounded like.
So you say ‘Space Police’ is already the best-of we are releasing now?

Well, in a manner of speaking…
Haha, well you’re totally right though. It has songs like ‘Sabre & Torch’ which has a more old school appeal, while ‘Space Police’ for example has the more modern Edguy vibe. But yeah, it has a good mixture. It’s a good album with a lot of good songs I think.

And ‘Space Police’ has been released about three years ago now, three years has been your gap period between albums for a while now. So… that makes a promise?
Eehm well, I don’t know, I can’t tell. Actually the plan was to make a new album last year or at least start with a new album in that year. But Tobias became so busy with Avantasia at that time he didn’t really reel like doing too much Edguy stuff at that time. We all were a bit disappointed of course because we were like pumping and ready to go and write new songs for the Edguy album, we were ready to go to the usual mode of writing, recording and releasing an album. But it just didn’t happen, so then we came with the idea to celebrate the 25’th anniversary with a really big box of old and new songs. The original plan was to put one of two new songs on there, but most others had finished song ideas that we could quickly put on the record and we finished three more songs. So we have five new ones which is in my opinion a good sign for the future.

So now you are going on tour with your compilation album as latest release. Does this mean we can expect some setlist surprises from the older days as well?
We have quite a big pool of songs we have prepared for the tour. Last week we had our first live appearance on Sweden Rock which was quite fun and pretty successful. So we have the opportunity to change the setlist a bit here and there. We of course have some songs from the compilation and also some that are not on the compilation as well. I hope we’re going to play at least one of the new songs, and we’ll leave it up to the people a little bit, on how they react to certain songs when we play them live. We always have something in the background so we can adjust the setlist a little bit.

If it was up to you and you alone, which not often played Edguy song would be put on the setlist instantly?
Which not often played song… ‘Jerusalem’ definitely! That is a song I always wanted to play live but it never happened.

That’s cool, one of my favourites as well! You are closing the tour in your hometown Fulda. On your fifteenth anniversary shows in Fulda you had some special treats, like Chris Caffery from Savatage playing a guest performance. Anything special in store now?
Not that I know so far. Nothing special planned, but there is still a lot of time until October, so we still have some time to come up with some stupid stuff haha!

So after this tour, what are the future plans of Edguy, and how is Avantasia twisted in here as far as you know?
Pffff that’s a tough one. I would love to have an answer on that, but I don’t. I know that this tour is going to take place, but after that, no idea. I don’t even know if Tobi already has the plan for himself whether he wants to do Edguy stuff now or focus more on Avantasia. We just don’t know at the moment, we’ll have to wait and see. If it was up to me, I would continue and play in this band forever, it’s too successful and too valuable to not continue with it.

Well I think we’re almost out of time, but that actually was the last question I had in story for you. So, the last words are on you, any closing remarks for our readers?
To all of you, thank you for your support for the last 25 years. Even though we did not make it to The Netherlands that often, I don’t know exactly why but that’s how it is. Hopefully that will change somewhere in the next 25 years haha. No, I really hope to play in The Netherlands more often. It’s our neighbour country and we don’t often come there. But then again, we are still young and we have a lot of time to work on that issue!

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