OBSCURA INTERVIEW

TM - Hi this is Amelia and Elizabeth from Twinmusix.com, and you are here with Steffen from Obscura. Thank you for having this interview with us today, we really appreciate it.

 

SN - Hi there, I’m talking to you from Germany, greetings.

 

TM - What can fans expect from your new album?

 

SN - Well according to Freddy, who produced the record, it is the best of metal! I mean that literally, it goes to 11 because we have 11 tracks, with almost every music style! If you are into extreme metal, you are really going to enjoy the record, that is for sure.

 

TM - What was it like working with Freddy Nordstorm?

 

SN - He's definitely a character and a very nice one at that. He's a walking encyclopaedia, he can tell you about anything and everything in metal. It was definitely a pleasure for me, it was the first time I've produced music abroad. The last 20 years we have recorded everything in our hometown in Germany, which is not far from Munich itself, and this time we just changed literally everything within the band. I was flying over to Sweden and working at studio Fredman with Freddy Nordstrom, and we tried to combine the bands sounds. We have the expertise, he has the live experience of probably 30 - 35 Years of working with bands such as: At the Gates, Arch Enemy, Dimmu Borgir and In Flames Just to name a few. There was definitely an adventure, and a good one as well, it's fantastic and I am very, very happy with how the album turned out!

 

TM - So how was it travelling with covid? That must have been interesting and strange?

 

SN - There was actually a lot of headaches for everybody involved. We had Our first Studio session booked probably 5 or 6 months earlier, but due to travel restrictions our bass guitarist and drummer we're not able to enter the country. We are spread throughout Europe, our bassist is in the Netherlands, and our drummer is in Austria, guitarist in Germany, and in the end Mixing and mastering engineer in Sweden. So, we had to record everything inational Studios and I booked a flight to Sweden Gothenburg. Usually that is not a big deal, but I start counting how often the flights were being rebooked. By the 7th time, I just got emails from the flight company every now and then saying “Oh by the way this date changed” or “here It's not a direct flight” it was a bit of hassle here and there, but in the end we made it somehow, and in Sweden the restrictions have been lighter than in Germany. In Sweden the virus is only causing restrictions at 8pm, the entire day you are able to do whatever you want, no restrictions, no masks, no anything, and at 8 everything closes. It was a different approach, but it worked quite well, so working in the studio was quite regular and quite normal. Unfortunately, in the evening we hadn't been able to do anything aside from keep working on the music. We hadn't seen too much from Sweden, maybe next time. So far as I mentioned the result is sounding really really good. It was quite fun to work with Fredrick and also his assistant engineer Robert. I would also love to work on the next album with him and fly to again Sweden without the virus.

 

TM - Your last set of albums was a series of 4 concept albums. Is this album the beginning of a new concept series, or will this be a one-off album?

 

SN - This is a new chapter for the band. We have another series of concept albums this time, we are planning for it to be a trilogy, but it's not a real guideline. I do have certain ideas for art works and colours, I do have the album titles already here and song titles as well for the next records. It's a little bit freer or loose so to say, for example, the new album ‘A Valediction’ has this headline, the album title, but the stories themselves are just on the loose end somehow related to the album title. On the previous long 10-year lasting concept, everything was a little bit more plain to the core. On one hand it's easy to know what to do, on the other hand It's hard to set up your own restrictions musically, lyrically, and visually, now with the new album we have many changes within the band. Not only did we change the producer Freddy, we changed the record label, we had some line-up changes, I also changed the person who does our artwork. We switched to Eliran Kantor, so the entire big picture of the band shifted towards I would say, a rubber organic way to unfold this human touch of a band. I want to hear a real band performing, I don't want to have an entirely polished album, not sterile edited to the max. I wanted some dirtiness within the entire sound. The artwork is painted with oil on canvas, not Photoshopped. All the lyrics are more digestible and more direct with real attitude, and the approach is a little bit different. Still, we kept what I would say is the roots and origins of this band. I’m still alive, you’re here, the band is performing also. We had all those changes and I say it all turned out quite well.

 

 

TM - How do you come up with the contacts for your album and do you research them?

 

SN - Some yes some no, ‘A Valediction’ simply came together, because the consideration that we had finished this long-lasting concept album. We finished our contract with the previous record label, we left behind a lot of positive and negative things. On the other hand, the last couple of years I have lost a couple of friends, musicians and family members barely regarding covid. For example, Alexi Laiho passed away, who we have been on tour with. Sean Reinert passed away, I've been touring with him, He used to be on the second album. Sean Malone passed away, I had the chance to travel with him and others as well. The bassist from my second band passed away, and all of this we all have been a little bit on pause due to the pandemic, and the live shows, and you simply sit down and reflect a little on what you did in the past and what you are going to do in the future. and ‘A Valediction’ was the result of all this in the end.

 

 TM - I'm sorry for your loss

 

SN - Thank You

 

TM - You said your album cover was painted with oil on canvas, that's really cool! Who designed the cover, and was there a meaning behind it?

 

 

SN - The cover artist is Eliran Kantor, he's quite a well-known face in the scene these days. He works for Testament, Helloween, Heaven Shall Burn, and a thousand other bands. He's quite marvellous, and it took me a while to find the right artists because in the last three albums they established a style. We had quite a symmetrical arrangement of all the artworks, I was looking to somehow find a transition from what we did in the past and to this new personal approach. I was looking for somebody who first of all has the right technique, as you mentioned on canvas, but also understands where this band is going. I talked a lot with Eliran, I sent him a lot of inputs, I have the colour concepts, the album titles. I sent him pre productions lyrics, or even put together a playlist of bands that could influence him and us on the new album. So, a lot of input to him, but in the end, you have to let it go because someone is painting on canvas. It's not a photoshop artwork where you simply copy and paste some pieces and delete here and there, that's not possible. He delivered a first sketch and we talked about it, and he finished the artwork immediately. What I love about his artwork is the fact that it looks quite simple but actually it isn't. In the centre is a person that is in the foetal position, but at the same time, you have a second person most of the people see at a second look that are holding him, connected but disconnected. This, in my opinion, is quite a poetic relation to ‘A Valediction’ because you can interpret the artwork from so many different sides. You could for example, interpret it as father and daughter, but you don't know which one died. Maybe it's the daughter that passed away and the father is sitting down in grief, or vice versa. Maybe the father is sitting down and committed suicide and the daughter is still the one that is living on the planet or something. It's so open minded and well done in my opinion it's fantastic! I'm very happy how it turned out.

 

 

TM - You have a tour coming up in 2022 in Europe, what can fans expect? You must be excited?

 

 

SN - Yeah, we can't wait to finally hit the stage again! In the meantime, when no shows happened, we assembled an entire new live production. We built everything from scratch, we designed everything new. First glimpse you see is in the music video we just delivered for the song When Stars Collide, you see a tiny little part of our stage production. So, the tour will be quite interesting, there will be a lot of surprises that you might not have guessed a technical band like Obscura is doing. We will announce more tour dates in the very foreseeable future. We just booked a 50 date North American tour, we are also working on shows for Downunder and Asia to combine them again, so lots of flying again. I can't wait for that! Lots of good food in Japan, we hope we'll make it to New Zealand. It was definitely an adventure last time, would be a pleasure to come over again.

 

TM - Are you excited for Hellfest?

 

SN - We have been there a couple of times, it's a fantastic festival because backstage every band, except the few big headliners, get treated exactly the same. Although, if you are behind the curtain in the VIP area where all take part, It's exactly the same in the front of the stage. You just enjoy yourself and see many smiling faces and it's so diverse, you have so many different styles; Hardcore to black metal, to everything in between. Guns N Roses and Metallica are headlining next year which is exciting!

 

TM - It's a 7 day festival with over 350 bands, I don't think you can go past this festival next year.

 

SN - No it's basically everybody.

 

TM - If you could have any band play one of your songs, what band would it be, what song would it be, and would it be in your style or their style?

 

SN - I would like to see Metallica covering Anticosmic Overload in their style. That would be quite interesting because it's quite demanding, but at the same time, the structure is quite easy to digest. The main riffs are quite Iconic, that could be very interesting.

 

TM - Maybe you could ask them at Hellfest, they are on it as well.

 

SN - I doubt I will see any of them backstage, because all the bands will do exactly what you have mentioned meeting them.

 

TM - You never know.

 

SN - Lars Ulrich was seen at a Satyricon show in Los Angeles a while ago, so he is still going to shows and watching bands

 

TM - What's your favourite band you have seen live, can you tell us a story?

 

SN - I've seen many bands, many many many bands, but I think when I was blown away was Metallica a few years ago in Munich. I had never seen a big artist when I was a teenager and growing up and starting to visit concerts of course everybody was broke. We had to decide between watching one of the big artists Like Megadeth or Metallica or anyone or alternatively, with the same amount of money, you can visit 10 underground shows. Of course, I probably saw every underground band in Germany Probably 15 times, I never saw the big bands. So, when I went to Olympics Stadium And saw those kind of old guys pulling it off for 2 1/2 hours, and simply destroying everything, I was blown away! It was impressive how good and how tights this band was. I didn't expect this, so many people complaining all the time about the old man, but I was really blown away! I think that was one of the best performances I have seen in years.

 

TM - What was the first ever band you saw live?

 

SN - I think the first band was a tour package in ‘99 in Munich downtown. It was everything that can be thought of. It was Cannibal Corpse, Nial, Dark Funeral, Marduk, and one or two other bands. Since then, I'm in love with that type of style.

 

 

TM - That's an awesome line up too! Did that inspire you to be a professional musician?

 

SN - I never thought about being a professional musician to be honest, I decided not to visit a conservatory. I was rather interested in everything behind that, like the gear and techniques. I studied media production and acoustic, so I have an entirely different approach to that. Becoming a musician that makes a living out of It was just a coincidence, we toured so much with Obscura That at a certain point they had to decide between following this route or choosing a regular job. In the end music was more important. I think if I would like to earn money, I would do something entirely different

 

TM – Well, I think everyone does it for the love of music, and I couldn't think of a better career path to be honest. So, I don't blame you for picking music. Last question: is there anything you would like to say to your fans?

 

SN - If you are into real music just listen to ‘A Valediction’. Listen to the entire record from number 1 to 11. Let us know which one is your favourite, because according to Freddy Nordstorm it’s BOM, best of metal.

 

TM - Thank you for this interview today, we really appreciate it!