Generally speaking record labels aren’t too keen about releasing double albums, due to the high recording costs and the small revenue they bring up. However, this didn’t discourage German experimental metal outfit Die Apocalyptischen Reiter to release such an album under the “Tief/Tiefer” moniker. ThisIsNotAScene caught up with guitarist Adrian “Ady” Vogel to discuss the background of this remarkable album, the need of the band to evolve constantly and the cultural wealth of their home town of Weimar, Germany.
“Tief/Tiefer” is double album, one metal orientated the other half rock orientated. Where did this idea originate from?
We were sitting on three years worth of material, mostly written during our extensive travels and breaks between touring. We really like the music and there’s simply not enough space to put it all on a single disc, hence the idea of releasing a double album. Some of the material was more heavy metal influenced, that ended up on “Tief” and the rock/folk orientated material ended up on “Tiefer”.
Many songs originated from the extensive journeys the band made. How did all those different regions and cultures influenced the album as a whole?
It influenced the double album quite a bit. Many of the more happy material was written during our trip to the Florida Keys during the 70,000 tons of metal cruise. We rented a mobile home and travelled through America after that. We also rented a house in one of the most desolated areas in Germany and that’s where most of the more aggressive songs were created. We also lived on a houseboat for a while and that where we wrote the folk stuff on the album. We didn’t have any electricity there, so that’s where all the acoustic stuff on ‘Tiefer” comes from.
How did Nuclear Blast react when the idea about releasing a double album come up?
At first we wanted to release an EP with solely acoustic tracks on it, but the good people at Nuclear Blast weren’t too fond of that idea. As time went by we had more stuff and luckily for us they were more receptive for releasing a double album (laughs).
For as I far as I can understand German the lyrics have a certain poetic edge to them. To which extent is this true and can you take us through the themes and subjects discussed in the lyrics?
Fuchs (singer.ed) wrote all the lyrics and this time around he really wrote things from a more personal perspective. ‘Ein Leichtes Madchen’ is more of romantic songs and the song is about a carefree girl, but it also about chasing a spirit. Just when you think you caught her, so just eludes you like a spirit. The opening song on “Tief” is a very political song and it reflects the special times we live in. Fuchs’ lyrics do have a certain poetic quality to them and they’re full of little references and double meanings.
What I really like about the amount of different sub genres covered in your music, yet the managed to keep the whole cohesive as well. How did you guys manage to pull it off?
Within Die Apocalyptischen Reiter there are five members with very different tastes who all write music. That’s why it takes us so long to put an album together. We have endless discussions about which parts should go in which song and we try out many different versions of a song before we’re all are satisfied. For some reason the material always fits together in a more or less cohesive fashion. It’s the chemistry we have together. It’s very hard for me explain (laughs).
“Tief/Tiefer” was all about capturing and staying in the moment. Why was this so important for you guys?
We really wanted the capture the energy of our live shows on our new record, so we played the songs pretty much live in the studio, instead every member coming, play his part and put it all together during the mixing stage. We didn’t care about little mistakes, it was more important to stay in the moment and capture that energy and enthusiasm. It also enhances the human element of our music. Another example is that we had at last three different versions of a song called “Der Wahnsin”. We still weren’t happy with it, so at one point we decided to radically alter the arrangements and suddenly everything fell into place. It was one of those moments of sheer inspiration that we tried to capture on this double album.
Metal fans in general are very loyal and but also a tad conservative in their taste at times. How do you handle being a member of such a forward thinking and experimental outfit as Die Apocalyptischen Reiter?
We simply don’t care. The most important things for us it to have fun with the music we write. Of course we need to make a living out of it, but our band is all about moving on, evolving and pushing musical boundaries. Making the same twice is very boring and the music on “Tief” and “Tiefer” represents three years of our life. No one stays the same in three years and certainly not a band like us. I’m a big fan of AC/DC and I find it amazing how they can release essentially the same album over and over again, but such a thing wouldn’t work for us. Die Apocalyptischen Reiter is all about evolution and musical growth.
The band is based in Weimar, one the cultural centers in Germany. How does the city, its history and all the cultural things going on influence you as a musician and as a human being?
Funny that you ask this question, because I’m the only band member who’s originally not from Weimar. I moved to the city just five years ago. Weimar is a very important cultural and musical centre in Germany. People like Goethe, Schiller and Nietzsche all come from here. The city has a very rich artistic climate, so it’s very hard not to get inspired or influenced by it as a musician. Our singer Fuchs is a well-known figurehead in the local art scene. In his house artists and painters often gather and create art. It’s almost an artist community if you will (laughs).
Next year the band is going to celebrate it’s 20th anniversary. What do you got in star for the fans?
We’re looking into organising a festival in our hometown of Weimar featuring bands we really like and admire. It’s a lot of work and it’s really tough to combine this with the touring schedule and the promotion of our new record. Such a festival would be a brilliant occasion to record a special anniversary DVD or something like that though.
Finally, what touring plans do you guys in support of the new album?
We did some shows in Germany already and we’re going to tour in Austria and Switzerland as well. When those tours are done we’re looking into performing in the Netherlands, Belgium and France. Early in 2015 we’re also going to do a small acoustic tour in Germany. As you can see, there’s a lot going on (laughs).