I’ll hold my hands up from the outset – before our intrepid PR Co-Ordinator Mark Wrigley let me know that I was scheduled to do an interview with German goth/vampiric metallers Powerwolf, I’d never heard of the band. A quick listen to their material on MySpace, however, instantly endeared me to them. The band’s strong sense of the theatrical seeps through in their every element, from the choirs and church organs backing their Lordi-esque metal anthems, to their singer’s larger-than-life performance, to the band’s vampire-inspired appearance (and bear in mind, we’re talking proper Count Dracula-esque vampires here, not the sparkling, angsty-emo types).
Impressively, despite having flown under the mainstream radar, Powerwolf have managed to land themselves a deal with illustrious label Metal Blade Records, and on the day I caught up with keyboard player Falk M. Schlegel, were not far away from making their debut live appearance on UK shores at the Sophie Lancaster stage of the Bloodstock Open Air Metal Festival. Not bad for a band I hadn’t heard of. So, eager to find out more, I thrust a dictaphone under Falk’s chin in the hive of activity that was the Bloodstock press tent and endeavoured to find out more…
OneMetal: First off, welcome to the UK. I understand this is your first UK gig.
Falk:This is our first show ever in the UK, so it’s an honour to be here at Bloodstock. That we’ve had the possibility to headline the Sophie Lancaster Stage is a great honour.
OneMetal: For people that might not be so familiar with Powerwolf, could you give us a brief history of the band?
Falk:We formed in 2005, and then we met our Romanian singer, Attila Dorn. We released our first album, Return in Bloodred, and toured with Brainstorm and Candlemass.
In 2007 we released Lupus Dei, and then in 2009, Bible of the Beast, so we’ve had a few years of writing songs and recording – but going on stage is the best thing!
OneMetal: So do you definitely prefer the live experience to the studio, then?
Falk:We have to do this. It’s also a good job to be writing songs, but I prefer to be doing things like this, having some interviews and being on stage.
OneMetal: It’s not very often we hear of metal bands hailing from Romania. What’s the metal scene like back home?
Falk:Only our singer is from Romania, the rest of us are from Germany [Editor's note - in my defence, the band's MySpace lists the band as Romanian - honest mistake]. It’s Romanian roots, so to speak, but he’s also living in Germany now. It’s quite funny, because when he came to join the band, he didn’t listen to metal music – but that was good for us, because we’re all addicted to metal. So, a new guy coming into the band with new ideas and new spirit, as well as classical singing was a good combination.
OneMetal: Are there any new elements to Powerwolf’s sound on the new album?
Falk:We use a lot of choir. We had a really good choir and we went into a church to do come recording. To do stuff like this is a lot of work, but it was important to us. When I’m playing a church organ and we’re recording a choir in the studio, it’s a little bit unique, but it’s like we are on stage.
OneMetal: How did the church feel about having a metal band recording within their walls? Were they okay with that?
Falk:In Germany it’s a bit tricky to do, but we’re living very near to France! In France it’s a bit easier, we said we need a church for some recording stuff but we didn’t mention it was for a heavy metal band or an album called “Bible of The Beast”!
OneMetal: Did you use the choir for all the tracks on the new album?
Falk:No, just four or five. We could have used it on all the songs, but it would have been a bit boring. We’d listen to a song, and think if we could use the choir on it. But you can make a worse song better with the choir! *laughing*
OneMetal: This is your first show in the UK. How does it feel to make your live debut at the Bloodstock festival? That’s a pretty big first gig.
Falk:It’s really good – we have played some European festivals before, like Wacken. It’s great to be here, at such a well known festival. I’ve had a lot of emails from people in the UK, saying please come here and play at Bloodstock so we called a booking agency and said “please, do it!”
OneMetal: Have you managed to check out any of the other bands so far?
Falk:We’re actually doing a show tomorrow back in Germany, so we can’t stick around – but I saw Cathedral.
OneMetal: Powerwolf’s sound and image have got quite a dramatic, theatrical aspect to them. Can we expect to see that carried across in the live perfomance?
Falk:Yes, of course.
OneMetal: What kind of things do you do live?
Falk:Normally we have some fire shows in Germany. Tonight we have some special stuff, it normally looks like a church. I think we celebrate the metalness, that’s the thing we want to deliver, and also we want to entertain. Live music is about entertainment!
OneMetal: Your singer’s vocal style developed quite a lot between the second and third album. Was that because the song writing demanded he broaden his range, or did his range expand and you changed the song writing to follow suit?
Falk:After “Lupus Dei”, we played Wacken Open Air and we tried to develop this live feeling on CD. I think Attila learnt a lot of things on stage and in the studio because he was new to this, and now he loves metal. Powerwolf’s live performance should be transformed into the studio but that’s the most difficult thing we’ve had to do. It’s like with Iron Maiden. You go to their shows and go “Wow, Bruce Dickinson, who the fuck is Blaze Bailey?” and then you listen to their albums and there’s a lot of power there. Powerwolf is trying to do this.
OneMetal: Can we expect a Powerwolf headlining tour of the UK any time soon?
Falk:I hope this is the beginning! Bloodstock is the first step, hopefully we can get some support shows. I’d like to because I get so any emails, I think it’s time for us to come to the UK.
OneMetal: It sounds like you’ve already developed quite an extensive fanbase over here without even actually playing. I should imagine that the reception in a little while will be good for you.
Falk:Yeah, I’ll be talking to the booking agencies afterwards!
OneMetal: Are you looking to tour with any other Metal Blade acts?
Falk:We’d love to tour with Amon Amarth, we’ve played five or six open air shows with them, so they’re like family. It’s not the same style, but it doesn’t matter.
OneMetal: That’s about it – thanks for taking the time to talk to us! Any message you’d like to pass on to the onemetal.com readers?
Falk:Yeah, they should buy our new album “Bible of the Beast”, look out for the next album, and enjoy the metalness!
Check out what we thought of Powerwolf’s set at Bloodstock in our review of the first day of the festival: http://www.onemetal.com/2010/09/06/bloodstock-open-air-metal-festival-2010-day-1-review/
This interview was transcribed by OneMetal.com scribe Amy Drewnicki, who bravely volunteered to fight through excessive background noise, my Black Country accent, Falk’s Teutonic tones and the background rumble of the Bloodstock press tent to bring this piece to fruition. Cheers, Amy!