~ Interview mit Jake Dreyer und Joseph Michael ~
Dieses sensationelle Album dürfte niemanden kalt lassen. WITHERFALLs drittes Album ´Curse Of Autumn´ ist bereits jetzt für alle Menschen, die US Metal mit Power und Esprit lieben, eines der großen Sternstunden des laufenden Jahres – und darüber hinaus.
Leider konnten wir das vielbeschäftigte Duo – Gitarrist Jake Dreyer und Sänger Joseph Michael – nur für einen sehr kurzen Plausch aus ihrem derzeit stressigen Leben reißen, um mit ihnen ein paar Worte zu wechseln. Ihr könnt diesen dennoch im englischen Originalwort nachvollziehen:
Did you feel more pressure this time, because ´Curse Of Autumn´ is the third, the so-called make-it-or-break-it album?
Joseph Michael: I think if we ever feel any pressure it’s to not let outside influences change our writing process.
Jake and I work best when we just show up and start working without any pretense.
Jake Dreyer: No, we don’t really think like that at all. We don’t think about what others are going to think of the record. All we know is whether we like the songs or not. We wouldn’t let anything go out that we did not approve of.
This time you didn’t produce it yourself. Were you afraid of handing your production over to someone else?
Joseph Michael: Well, we co-produced this one. Also, we wrote everything before we went in. On the other hand, Jon Schaffer was definitely a major influence on the record. He really brought out some great performances from us. Politics aside, Jon is undeniably a major force musically and the recording process was emotional and a lot of fun.
Jake: We had long lengthy discussions with Jon on how we wanted him to be in that position and he understood what we wanted and needed from him. Joseph and I had everything already written before a note was played in the studio. We wanted Jon there to really push us to get the best performances that we could get. We think he did a great job.
How did Jon Schaffer convince you that he was the right man? Has he been a fan of yours for a long time?
Jake: I always enjoyed working with Jon in the studio as I have on several releases. It sparked up in the summer of 2018 when ICED EARTH was out doing a European tour and Jon heard a few early mixes of some songs off of ´A Prelude To Sorrow´. He wanted to work with us then. During the North American tour with DEMONS AND WIZARDS is when we all sat down and really discussed us all working together.
Joseph Michael: I’ve been an ICED EARTH fan for a long time. I knew Jon was passionate about music and he came to us with real enthusiasm.
The album is extremely varied – from hard to delicate, from melodic to progressive! A conscious decision of structuring?
Jake: Again it is all natural the way that Joseph and I write is just with Acoustic guitar, red wine and pen and paper. We just serve the song. We like records that are diverse and that have emotional peaks and valleys so of course that will organically come out.
Joseph Michael: Jake is barely conscious during the last hours of the morning during our writing sessions… but seriously we don’t do anything regarding the writing intentionally. Whatever comes to us that we feel is good gets written down and recorded.
Do you still see yourself as Power Metal, or as Prog Metal, or do you meanwhile don’t care about the stylistic description?
Joseph Michael: WITHERFALL does not fit into any category. We label it „Dark Melodic Metal“ to give something to the label to market.
Jake: I think labeling WITHERFALL has hurt us actually, we do not fit under one genre specific banner which I pride us ourselves on, but it is hard for people to grasp on paper. We like to think of ourselves as a heavy version of QUEEN multiple different types of songs and records but all one common sound.
Did Tom Scholz‘ BOSTON classic ´Foreplay / Long Time´ have to complete the work, essentially round it off, or do you only see the song as a bonus?
Jake: We thought it was just going to be a bonus track. Actually, Schaffer demanded that we put it as a standalone part of the record. The full 9-minute version with foreplay is available as a Japanese version and a video will be out soon.
Joseph Michael: I saw it as an after-dinner aperitif. We decided (Jon and Myself) that the acoustic version should be at the end. The full version should stand alone. It is not the same song. The Version that made the album is my interpretation of the lyrics. Instead of BOSTON’s happy joyous take, I decided to interpret the lyrics as if I was Brad Delp in the throws of the depression and sadness that ultimately led him to take his own life.
Do you write longer on a longtrack like ´… And They All Blew Away´ or on a melodic stadium hit like ´As I Lie Awake´?
Jake: It’s not the song duration that really makes a song take longer to write. At least not for us. It is more or less making sure the theme and song is staying on track. A song like ´As I Lie Awake´ took one night where ´All Blew Away´ was spread out through multiple sessions. Though the visions of the song are almost always instant.
Joseph Michael: That’s partly true. ´As I Lie Awake´ was edited in my studio before vocals were written. I moved around and edited some guitar parts. The chorus was my idea. I used what is not the acoustic breakdown as the basis for the chorus and just figured out the progression. Once Jake and I got into the same room to work the full arrangement was done in an evening. ´All Blew Away´ was an undertaking, not because it took long to write, but because it takes hours to figure out the tempo and time signature of what we are hearing and create a template in protools. In the end it’s not the length of the song as Jake was saying, but the story and musical expression of the story that can take the longest to nail down.