POWERWOLF has been a reputed name in the German Heavy metal circuit over the years. The band is currently on tour and we managed to catch up with the drummer, Roel Van Helden, for this quick interview with us. Read on and share around!
MJM. Greetings, we’re thrilled that you’ve taken the time to make yourself available for this interview amidst your tour. Thank you so much!
Roel: No problem, you’re welcome! Thanks you for your interest in Powerwolf.
MJM. Blessed & Possessed is the sixth studio album. How is the life on the road so far and give us an update on the tour.
Roel: We’re currently doing intensive touring through Europe and we’re visiting Russia next week. That’s the way to go for a Metal band like us; we don’t get played on radio or television, we need (and want) to tour to reach our audience; the best audience there is; the Heavy Metal fans!
Life on the road is getting better and better. On average you can say that every city where we have played before the audience doubles itself in comparison to the last time we were there. We consider that the greatest compliment we can get. We are blessed with a solid fan base that’s still growing.
So you can imagine the touring conditions getting better, bigger venues, better catering (very important!) and a better way to celebrate our Heavy Metal Mass by fully using the bigger stages we play.
MJM. Heavy metal being the grinding force of Germany’s rise into global metal, with bands like Accept and Grave Digger, and later giving rise to various sub genres of death thrash and death core and many others. How do you see Powerwolf standing out in changing times, do you think heavy metal is here to stay?
Roel: Heavy Metal stays! And it has been going strong since it’s origin! There might have been a dip in the nineties with all that depressing music going round back then. But it survived and will keep on doing so. Even myself as an impressionable teenager in the nineties quickly realised that a band like Iron Maiden had so much more to offer than the shallow trendy grunge stuff of the time. Let alone dance or trance or whatever you might call that crap.
We are proud to be a part of the Heavy Metal community, and we are blessed with friends and colleagues such as Sabaton, Battle Beast and many more.
Although Powerwolf stands firmly in the Heavy Metal tradition, I think we distinguish ourselves with our unique style and image; the combination of power, melody and the religious themes in both music and lyrics.
MJM. The new album has a lot more speed and aggression compared to the previous albums which is pretty interesting. What was the thought process that the band went into when writing this album?
Roel: I think the increase in speed is a natural consequence of being on the road a lot. We notice that the songs which have more power and velocity just work better on stage.
We started writing songs right after we finished the last tour for our previous album “Preachers of the Night”. So we were still in the live “vibe” when coming up with new material.
The increase in speed and aggression seems to be a development which has been going on over all our albums. So as a drummer I wonder where it’s going to end. There are already some songs such as “Dead until Dark” or “Secret of the Sacristy” which are full of lengthy double bass drum attacks. Which is very cool to play, but on stage I start to feel more and more like an athlete these days… But that’s a good thing, it keep me fit.
MJM. Describe Matthew Greywolf’s take on artwork? Seems like there’s a struggle between the forces of good and evil.
Roel: The scene Matthew Greywolf has illustrated is the Biblical scene of the banning of Lucifer from the Heavens by Archangel Michael. This scene is closely related to the album’s title because this is one of the key metaphors in the Bible dividing the antagonistic good and evil.
MJM. Is the Powerwolf mascot the main theme behind the music? What other components drive the band creatively or emotionally?
Roel: The main drive both creatively and emotionally are our fans. They feed us with so much energy that we can put in absolute devotion to repay them with the best music and live show we can offer. That is one of the aspects the album title “Blessed & Possessed” stands for, we are blessed with our fan base and we’re possessed to give them back what they deserve.
MJM. What has been the band’s biggest breakthrough till date?
Roel: There have been several highlights so far. One of them was touring with Sabaton in 2011, after that we could see a dramatic increase in popularity.
There is also the fact that our album “Preachers of the Night” entered the German album charts at number one, which of course we celebrated. But there’s a little twist to that.
As a Metal band we feel very much connected to the underground scene. Which is basically the whole Metal scene, perhaps with a few exceptions, but I would still consider bands like Iron Maiden or Judas Priest a part of the underground; no radio or television airplay and still credible despite of the immense popularity of the bands.
After reaching number one in the album charts we suddenly got a lot of attention and offers from mainstream media. Offers where we could have played (play backed/lip synced…) on national television for millions of people. But that would mean compromising everything Powerwolf stands for and offending our loyal fan base that have been supporting us for many years. So (to the dismay of some industry-people) we decided against selling out and kept true to ourselves.
MJM. What are the bands that Powerwolf tours most with and explain the chemistry shared with the touring bands?
Roel: Our Finnish friends from Battle Beast have been very good company over the last few years. I personally was very pleased with Skull Fist, their youthful energy both on and off stage was very entertaining.
I believe we are very fair to our touring support bands. In contrast to what is routine in the music business we actually pay our supports, instead of having them pay us to be on tour with us. We also take notice that they get enough time to sound check and are able to perform their best show.
We also meet up with our friends from Sabaton a couple of times each summer when we share the stage at several open air festivals.
MJM. Do we expect a Live album to be out any soon since Alive in the Night. Perhaps post this tour?
Roel: Not only a live album, but a complete DVD package consisting of three show; Last years headline show at the Masters of Rock festival in the Czech Republic, the show at Germany’s Summer Breeze festival and a club show from our last tour, plus a lot of extra behind the scenes material to get a good view of the life of Powerwolf on the road.
MJM. How was the response to ‘Preachers of the Night’ and how different has it been received when compared to this album?
Roel: I think both albums have been received very well by both press and fans. This is something we are very pleased with.
In the past I’ve played in a Metal band which was much more progressive. When we released an album it got great reviews (journalists tend to like complex and arty music). But it sold very poorly. On the other hand, I often read very bad reviews of band which actually sell records, in other words; which the fans like. To have both journalists and fans appreciating what we do is something we are very thankful for.
MJM. What are the plans post the tour?
Roel: First of all there’s a lot of touring planned. Finishing the DVD package is a priority and we’re starting writing songs for our next album. So there’s no time to rest, the possession is still going strong.
MJM. Thanks once again and good luck with the rest of the tour!
Roel: Thanks you and thanks to your readers for the interest!
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Farrah Joseph (Metaljesus Magazine)