First of all, congratulations with your debut ‘Phoenix’. It’s the band first full-length album. Was it a difficult writing process or did you have a huge amount of inspiration?
Thank you! Actually the whole album was written within three months so I’d say there was quite a lot of inspiration. Otherwise we would’ve never been able to write all those songs in such a short amount of time. The songwriting was of course stressful because we always had in mind that the studio was already booked and we had to get it done but luckily we can all work very well under pressure. Personally, I like it and I need it to push myself to my limits, hahaha. We draw our inspiration from everywhere and just use it subconsciously when we write songs so I can’t really point out anything specific regarding that.
Alazka is kind of an odd bandname, and until I read the biography I though you guys where Americans or something. Who came up with this name, and what does it mean or represent?
We’ve already heard that a few times. The story is quite long. When this band was started we called ourselves Burning Down Alaska. At that time only Marvin and I were members of the band. To us it’s like we’re a completely different band now compared to that time and we wanted to have a name that represents who we are, now that we finally feel like we’re complete. Marvin and I actually had the exact same idea independently of each other. That gave us the feeling that we had found the right name. ALAZKA represents us in every way. Where we came from and where we’re heading.
Are there any other bands out there you guys truly admire? Like the bands perhaps that influenced you to pick up some instruments yourself?
Since we all have different tastes in music it’s hard to point out bands that influenced all of us. I knew I wanted to be in a band since saw Parkway Drive for the first time. In the early months of the band we even started every rehearsal by covering a Parkway Song. Of course every one of us has his own reason for wanting to be in a band but Parkway Drive is a band that never stopped inspiring us. Not musically of course but because of their way of doing things and especially because they are such down to earth guys.
Which bands/artists did influence Alazka the most? And what was so special about them? By the way, in the song ‘Everglow’ I even heard some influences from Sigur Ros. Am I right or am I just imagining things?
I have never heard of Sigur Ros before, haha. As I said before it’s hard for us to point out specific bands that have influenced our songwriting. I’d say pretty much every band we’ve ever listened to had an influence on us. There are a few artists I personally admire for the lyrics they write. Corey Taylor from Slipknot/Stone Sour and Tim McIlrath from Rise Against are such artists. I don’t draw inspiration from them but rather see them as goals in terms of quality and feeling. That might sound weird but to me that’s a difference.
It seems that the lyrics play a very important role for a band like Alazka. But how does it work? Does one person write them all, or does the whole band has a say in what’s written?
I write all of them and also most melodies and rhythms for the vocals. Tobi and Kassim show me their ideas and I’ll shape them into the final versions. During all those steps I talk to Marvin and Dario to make sure it’s not only me who likes it. Though I write the lyrics on my own the others always help me with their opinions.
Talking about lyrics, what is the main theme you guys write about? And is there some red line through the songs, a concept perhaps, or are it just a bunch of songs tucked together?
I can’t write about things I don’t feel so this might be a red thread running through all of our songs. When it comes down to writing Phoenix it’s a little more specific. The whole concept of the album is about the image of going through the fire to achieve something as the phoenix has to burn before it can be reborn. In life there’s ups and downs and those downs can make us hesitate an doubt but they are part of our lives. Looking back on whatever you’ve gone through you shouldn’t think ‘I wish this never happened’ but rather accept them as part of your life you can’t change. They are part of your story and they make you unique. I like to think of them as the scars life leaves upon us.
Alazka is labeled as metalcore and new wave hardcore. Honestly, I personally heard a lot of very good and beautiful music but not really metalcore or hardcore. What description would you give yourself to your music that fits best?
I don’t know who still tries to label us as metalcore. It’s ridiculous because even our debut EP was neither metalcore nor hardcore. We chose the genre new wave hardcore ourselves because we didn’t even know which genre we fit into. ‘Phoenix’ is an evolution and even further away from those genres. Even today we’re still unsure how to label our music. Someone on YouTube said we sound like heavy Ed Sheeran. Until we find something better I’ll go with this.
The music and vocals sound at times very emotional. Are the band members such very sensitive and romantic souls?
Tobi and Kassim are both very emotional people. I think you can really hear that in their voices when they shout/sing. But it’s not only them. Every artist puts their emotion into their art. It’s part of their creativity.
The tracks ‘Legacy’ ends like a real gospel choir. Is that a statement that the music from Alazka knows no boundaries?
We don’t really like limits. If there’s something we think could benefit a song, we’ll do it. We always want to try new things and we want our music to evolve over time. Doing the same thing over and over again is the death of creativity.
In 2016 Kassim Auale joined the band as second vocalist. Did you had the feeling that there was really need for an extra singer? I mean the voice of Tobias Rische is already excellent…
You could say the same thing about Kassim. Each of them can do what the other one can’t. We really like working with contrast and those two are the most noticeable one in our music.
Short after Kassim joined the band was signed by SharpTone (part of Nuclear Blast). How did this happen, and what does it mean for the band to be backed with such a label?
We were simply contacted by SharpTone Records last year. They showed us what they had to offer and we liked it. It’s really simple, haha. Having such a big team behind us is a really cool thing we didn’t have until now. There are lots of people trying to help us achieve our dreams. That’s something that really boosts your confidence. We’re still a small band and having such companies put their trust in you is really something.
The album will be released September 1st, but as we speak all the magazines that matter have received the promos. How are the reactions so far?
Very positive! Many high ratings and very kind words. Seeing people mentioning ‘Phoenix’ as a candidate for their album of the year is really flattering.
How important is good press for you guys anyway? Does a band still really need it, or is it possible to reach new fans also through social media?
Of course it’s still important. Reaching new fans through social media is a great thing but since every band does it I think there are still better ways to gain people’s attention. Personally, I still value professional reviews and I think many others do so, too. On Facebook you’re just another band pushing their new song into the people’s newsfeed.
The band logo and the artwork proves that Alazka is a modern band that expresses itself not only musically, but also graphically. Does any of you have a talent for this kind of art, or is it the work of an outsider who visualized your ideas?
Marvin designed both our logo and the design for our new name. The logo actually consists of two Zs and an A taken from the name. He’s quite talented with Photoshop and also does a lot of our merch designs. The album artwork on the other hand was created by an external designer.
After the release of ‘Phoenix’ you’ll be doing a short tour through Europe with Imminence and Across The Atlantic. You’ll be playing in Germany, Italy, England, Wales, Switzerland, Austria, Czech Republic, Poland and of course in The Netherlands. What can we expect from Alazka on stage?
Of course the same energy we’ve always put into our live shows plus lots of new songs from ‘Phoenix’. It’ll be the first time we’ll play such a long set every night so it’s something new for us as well. We’re really pumped for that tour because we’ve been waiting such a long time to play all those songs live. People can expect our best shows so far!
And to finish the interview, are there any last words of wisdom you want to share with our readers? The space below is yours....
The cake is a lie.