It’s been a pretty eventful couple of years for German symphonic metallers Xandria – February 2010 saw the departure of their vocalist Kerstin Bischof, who had herself joined the band back only a year previously to replace former singer Lisa Middelhauve. The band didn’t sit around in despondence, however – choosing instead to recruit Lisa once more as a temporary replacement while they played shows and continued to write their latest album. In December 2010, the band announced that they had found their new singer, Manuela Kraller, and in August 2011 they signed a record deal with Napalm Records and entered the studio to record Neverworld’s End.
Mere weeks after the release of Neverworld’s End, OneMetal.com’s Nicholas Cleeve got in touch with Xandria‘s bassist Nils Middelhauve to talk about the writing and recording of the album, the band’s touring experiences, and how the band feels about YouTube commenters’ constant comparisons to Nightwish.
OneMetalCongratulations on the new album! Can you tell us what the title of Neverworld’s End means?
Nils Thank you so much! “Neverworld’s End” deals with a certain point during a process of maturation. As a child you think of all the great opportunities that seem to waiting just to be taken by you. You dream of being famous, rich, a pilot, an astronaut, what have you… And of course, the world is a nice place to be. Growing older, you will see most of your dreams and fantasies destroyed. But it’s up to you to keep them alive.
OneMetalIt has been about 5 years since the last Xandria album, did you approach writing and recording any differently this time?
Nils This was indeed the case. Not so much in the process of songwriting, but we wanted to have at least some songs on the album which should be more complex than our prior material. As for the recording sessions, we were in the lucky position to record most of the guitars and the bass at Marco [Heubaum, Xandria’s guitarist and keyboardist -Ed]‘s place, which – for obvious reasons – gave us the freedom to try, test and experiment a lot.
OneMetalWas [new vocalist] Manuela involved in the writing process?
Nils Not in the writing process of the music, although she fine-tuned some of the existing vocal lines. But she contributed the lyrics for “A Thousand Letters” and parts of “Call of the Wind”.
OneMetalDo you have a favourite song on the new album?
Nils I would not pick a single one as THE favourite song of mine, but there are some I particularly like: “A Prophecy of Worlds to Fall”, “Valentine” and “The Lost Elysion”, for example.
OneMetalHow did the production of the music video for ‘Valentine’ go? Are you happy with the result?
Nils The video was shot in December 2011 in an old sanitarium near Berlin – and it was freaking cold there! And yes, we really like the clip.
OneMetalThe comments on the Youtube video for Valentine are full of comparisons with Tarja era Nightwish, do you feel that this comparison is useful or limiting?
Nils If you want to give somebody who does not know the band an idea of the overall sound or type of singing, then the comparison may be useful. But if you take a good listen, you will clearly hear the differences between Manuela and Tarja. Apart from that, we have been compared to Nightwish from the very first album on, though “Kill the Sun” has got nothing to do with Nightwish. Of course, there are certain similarities on the new album which make those comparisons understandable. But I take it as a compliment.
OneMetalYou recently visited London as part of the Out of the Dark tour, how was that tour for you?
Nils To me, it was one of our best tours ever. Great bands, great guys, a fantastic crew – I simply loved it.
OneMetalCan we expect to see you returning to the UK in the near future to support Neverworld’s End?
Nils There are no dates fixed yet, but of course we hope to play the UK as soon as possible again.
OneMetalWhere is your favourite country to tour? Is there any place you particularly hope to visit on tour in the future?
Nils Basically, I love to travel and tour everywhere. This is my reason to do all of this… But of course, there are some places I always will love returning to: South America, Russia, and the UK, just to name a few.
OneMetalHow do you keep yourselves entertained on tour?
Nils Being on stage as long as possible. Seriously, it is hard to entertain yourself on tour (at least for a “small” band like us). There is usually too little time to really move away from the venue. Whenever possible, I try to walk around the city we are playing. I like to do some sightseeing (if possible). Sitting in a small café, watching the people on the streets or reading a newspaper can be a perfectly relaxing way for me, as well.
OneMetalHow has signing to Napalm Records worked out for you?
Nils Up to now, perfectly well – Napalm is a great label for our type of music with a roster of great bands. And we all seem to have the same ideas about Xandria.
OneMetalA new label, a new singer and a new album; would you say that Xandria has been reborn?
Nils This indicates we were dead before, which is not the truth – we even played live after Kerstin had decided to quit, with Lisa stepping in. Of course the band underwent some major changes and many things are different now. But this does not feel like reviving something actually dead – it’s rather a relaunch.