Lady Obscure: Hello guys! Thank you for taking the time for the Lady Obscure Music Magazine!
Moja: Hello dear Lady Obscure! After that great review in your magazine we were especially glad to have this talk with you.
Manfred: Hello, thank you very much for the invitation to the chat.
Thomas: The pleasure is ours!
Lady Obscure: Wow! That felt good guys, thank you!!! Honey Badger indeed did justice to your work! So, let’s start with the band! Your music is brilliant but I’ll come to that… So where have you guys been hiding? Tell us a bit about yourselves.
Moja: We come from Germany from little towns near Düsseldorf. We all gathered our musical experience in different areas and in various projects, so the story of Blacklands started in 2006. The first years were not always easy. It was pretty tough to find each other. There were times when Manni, Thomas and I were sitting in a cold rehearsal room around a stove and tying to keep the pot boiling with songwriting.
Every time when we had found the right guitarist or bass player, something unpredictable happened and we had to start searching for new band members all over again. In 2010 it finally came to a good end. Within just a few weeks, we found, with Rüdiger and Michael, two great musicians. Shortly after that a new rehearsal room was rented as well so we could get started right away. Having the right amount of motivation and ideas was never the problem and we could finally start to develop all those ideas which we were all looking forward to.
Lady Obscure: I’m glad that you could! You guys are from a different time, different musical backgrounds and tastes (although a convergence around Rock is obvious). People usually put together bands with a common style or genre in mind and of course their “side interests” seep in to make it a good blend of different inspirations. Your album though, coupled with your bios on your site, gives the impression that you preferred working with quirky musicians with different tastes, first and foremost! Not complaining, quite the opposite, I consider it richness and the product is beautiful, but was that intentional?
Michael: That was not the intention when the band was founded. It just happened!
Manfred: I think the reason why our music is so interesting is just because musicians from different genres have found a common home. In our cooperation is a kind of creative energy that makes more from every song which is written. For me it becomes more and more a bit of family who love to play together. In addition …I like to hear music from different music genres. This could be Jazz, Rock, Pop or almost anything else. I would say I like music that sounds popular and well composed. I have to admit, there is a special connection to the progressive rock bands of the 70s. Bands like Genesis, Pink Floyd and Yes are always a big influence to me.
Thomas: Any idea of each band member is valued, no matter in which musical direction we move forward. Thus, we are able to present a wide range of music.
Lady Obscure: Brilliant! So, I find your music very approachable – and aside from some people who would only listen to the extreme examples of their favourite genre, I’m pretty sure everyone could find something to their liking in your music. How would you describe your sound?
Manfred: I think we have found a unique style in merging our different music preferences. There is a fundamental background in the Progressive Rock of the 70s but with a modern sight in the music of today. I think the title track “A New Dawn” is a perfect example for our working process. Writing the song, I have thought about music composed by Genesis in the early years with Peter Gabriel. In fact this song was very approachable in the beginning, too. As a part of working together on this track the music changed to contemporary Progressive Rock. By the way there is one thing I would like to mention. There is a mistake in some music magazines we have to hear a lot. Nothing in the arrangements or in the way we play our songs has changed because of the collaboration with guest musicians. All the songs were ready on tape before! This has nothing to do with the fact that we are very proud and happy to have worked with those excellent musicians on our first album.
Thomas: For all who love progressive rock, perhaps we`re too catchy, even though too complicated for melodic rock fans. Probably we are too soft to a metal band, but too hard for the gentle rock community. I guess we sound like Blacklands. 😉
Lady Obscure: Haha! Sweet… And your themes? What do you write about?
Rüdiger: As far as our lyrics are concerned, we are not restricted to certain emotional or political content. We are trying to touch people in an expressive kind of way, whether the lyrics are about the loneliness of the individual or the inner strife of many. We like using metaphors and pictures when we write our lyrics which certainly trigger emotions in many people.
Lady Obscure: As I mentioned earlier, you guys come from different – and in some cases multi-instrumentalist – backgrounds. Thomas, the founder and the drummer was with Blind Guardian before they were called that for instance – and not as a drummer as far as I can tell! And you came together to record this brilliant album. All experienced musicians, it took you guys some time to come together and write and record, didn’t it? Tell me about the road leading to the coming together of the Blacklands… and the completion of your debut album.
Moja: At this point I would like to mention the tireless drive of Thomas. Right from the start he has always believed in the band and even in hard times he has never given up hope that this first album would be produced. Perhaps it means so much to us because we have waited so long and we don’t take for granted the fact that we got the opportunity to record it. Once the band was put together, we started with some demo recordings, continued to gather ideas and worked them out until we had the final selection of songs for the debut album. And on a day in March, Thomas sat behind his drums and recorded the first songs.
Lady Obscure: I mean you guys list as their all-time favourites bands from Warlord to Dream Theater, to Art of Noise. Your inspirations are as fantastic as your musical amalgamations, I’d say!
Moja: Yes, we all have very different musical tastes. The ability to put these tastes and preferences together to the best possible creative score is random and a very lucky coincidence. We use our different musical backgrounds as our main inspiration.
Lady Obscure: As far as I know Thomas, you have a day job as well as another project – Heavenward. So, is this the same with all the members? I hear Moja is teaching piano for instance! How do you guys find the time?
Thomas: Heavenward depends on the leadership of an iron will, especially because the guys are also integrated into other band projects. But because Heavenward has always been a big part of me, I will lead the band to produce a new album and play some festivals. However, I don`t rehearse as much as I do with Blacklands.
Rüdiger: We all have jobs that cover our living expenses. However, we are in close and constant contact with each other, swap ideas on a regular basis and meet up as often as we can.
Lady Obscure: Now that you have the whole line-up back, will you be touring soon?
Rüdiger: One of the next steps is definitely to play live this year!
Lady Obscure: Awesome. I’d love to catch a show myself. So..the search for the perfect fits in musicians took you guys a tad longer than usual to complete the first album, I’d say. Now that’s out of the way, we will not wait for the second album just as long, will we?
Manfred: No, definitely not! We’ve just started to work on new songs for the second album. There are already a lot of ideas that are waiting for Blacklands – first!
Thomas: Michael has already become scared because there are so many new song ideas in my head! 😀
Lady Obscure: Ahahahah… Nice! Are you planning to sign with a label for the second album? Or do you have something different in mind? Since your first album is getting so much acclaim, I’m sure you’ll have more options now…
Moja: It was a clear and conscious decision by the whole band not to sign with a label for the moment. We haven´t made any plans about the second album yet. At this time it seems more right to work independently and without any commitments. But who knows what the future will bring? 🙂
Lady Obscure: Tru dat!
Thomas: If one day the right label wants to sign us under the appropriate conditions…
Lady Obscure: I hear yo Thomas. OK, let’s talk about Warlord and Sacred Heart. You recorded the song and released on YouTube. I understand it is a tribute song. Did you want to keep it special in some way by not including it in the album or was that a technical decision.
Michael: “Sacred Heart” in our opinion is not a typical Blacklands song for us. It´s more a very personal piece of music for Thomas, who wrote this song, who has been deeply touched by the music of Warlord and the personal faith of Bill Tsamis. Therefore we thought, that this song would better fit on a Warlord tribute album.
Thomas: “Sacred Heart” is a very special song with a very special story, dedicated to a very special person. And that’s why this song will remain very special.
Lady Obscure: I understand that you want to keep it a secret Thomas, but you didn’t have to make me even more curious.. hahahah.. Anyways… Moja, Thomas, Michael, Manfred, Rüdiger, I thank each one of you for this lovely chat!
Manfred: We would like to thank you for your time and the chance to be your guests.
Michael: It was a pleasure for us!
Thomas: Thank you and to all those, who like our music and support us. May God bless you all.
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